PlaylistDecember 2013: 31/13

NeilBy | posted on 1st December 2013

My take on the obligatory end of year run-down. Not necessarily the 31 best tracks or singles of the year, or tracks from the 31 best albums of the year; just 31 tracks from 2013 that made me go "ooh", and "aahh", and leave me dizzied, slightly scared, chilled, and knowing they deserve to be shared.

So, in no particular order (which is, like, just fantastic for a playlist, right?) here's a whole heap of music that has kept my faith in the art through 2013.

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Track of the Day John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts Share TagsbreakupsynthMagnificently threatening synths match the dark heart of John Grant as he reflects on the roadside trees from his days growing up in Colorado; trees that he would drive … >>
Track of the Day Chvrches - Gun Share Tagsbig synthsynthpopThe album might have been too long, but who cares, frankly, when the singles are this good? Share
Track of the Day Cults - I Can Hardly Make You Mine Share Tagsbreak-up3 days into the end of year retrospective, and thus far manly indie-guitaring is notably absent. The times they are a-changing. Has the world changed or have I changed? … >>
Track of the Day Okkervil River - On a Balcony Share TagsfolknostalgiaAn entire album harking back to a 1980s childhood could have been a cloying nightmare of cheap nostalgia, but Will Sheff deftly sidesteps the pitfalls as he takes you … >>
Track of the Day Speedy Ortiz - No Below Share Tags90sangstangularGrr! 90s angst and sharp edges! I am definitely on board with all of that. I'm lukewarm at best about the woodland rituals, however. Share
Track of the Day Suede - It Starts and Ends With You Share TagsreunionFor every cynical music fan (for there are many) wary of cynical cash-in reunions (for there have been many), let Bloodsports be the exception that jumps up on the … >>
Track of the Day Pulp - After You Share TagsdiscoreunionI so nearly forgot this one. A lost classic swept up from the We Love Life studio floor, "After You" was reborn a decade after it was abandoned, first … >>
Track of the Day Club 8 - Stop Taking My Time Share TagselectropopsynthFrom the smoky late night lounge synths of "Kill, Kill, Kill", to the hedonistic pop of "A Small Piece of Heaven" and "Less Than Love", on Above the City … >>
Track of the Day Foals - My Number Share Tagsindiemath rockFrom Antidotes five years ago, to Total Life Forever in 2010, and now Holy Fire, Foals have progressed smoothly from a talented but erratic math rock group to … >>
Track of the Day Matt Berry - Bonfire Share Tagsautumnfolkpsych-folkwinterWhen I stumbled across Matt Berry's wonderful album Kill The Wolf earlier this year I couldn't help feeling a little foolish for having previously ignored his musical career. Surely, … >>
Track of the Day The Leisure Society - The Sober Scent of Paper Share TagsacousticlivepoetrySylvia PlathHalf a century after her death, the poetry of Sylvia Plath seeped into Nick Hemming's unconscious mind. The resulting song, "The Sober Scent of Paper", is as beautiful … >>
Track of the Day Vampire Weekend - Hannah Hunt If you really forced me; if I had to name a favourite track from 2013, I'd hesitate, and hedge my bets with a top 3 if I could get away with it, but in my heart I know I'd be thinking about Hannah Hunt. >>
Track of the Day Everything Everything - Kemosabe Share Tagsart-rockindieAlthough it surfaced in late 2012, it wasn't released until January 2013, as the second single from Everything Everything's second album Arc. We're not the sort of band who … >>
Track of the Day Ólöf Arnalds - German Fields Share TagscrowdfundedetherealfolkicelandicOn this, her third solo album but first sung in English, Ólöf Arnalds weaves folk landscapes around simple guitar lines and her leaping, dancing vocals. Every now and then … >>
Track of the Day Nils Frahm - Says Share TagseuphoricinstrumentalminimalismIt takes a lot of skill and control to to let a piece develop slowly, but the more anticipation you can hold, the bigger the release you can unleash. … >>
Track of the Day Julianna Barwick - The Harbinger Share TagsetherealloopsHow do you describe an album like Nepenthe? You could focus on the mechanics: the loops, the choir, recording in Iceland with members of Sigur Ros and Mum; you … >>
Track of the Day Julia Holter - Maxim’s I Share TagsetherealfilmshimmersinisterThere's a scene in the 1958 Musical Gigi in which, two by two, couples enter Maxim's, a restaurant where everyone minds his own business. Or so we are told. … >>
Track of the Day Goldfrapp - Drew Share Never ones to sit still for long, in 2013 Goldfrapp launched themselves in yet another new direction with Tales of Us. This time there would be no more folktronica, … >>
Track of the Day Fuck Buttons - The Red Wing Share TagsindustrialmasochismnoiseoppressiveSo here's a slight mood change from yesterday's sweeping strings and acoustic melancholy. Slow Focus, the album "The Red Wing" appears on, is one of the more terrifyingly oppressive … >>
Track of the Day Ski Lodge - Just To Be Like You Share Tagsindie-popIf yesterday's track was a bit much, this should make for a more appropriate piece of evening casualwear, perfect the your local friday indie night: the kind of indie-pop … >>
Track of the Day Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Jubilee Street Share TagsdarkmoodymurderRay WinstoneWith his side project Grinderman allowing Nick Cave to indulge in a bit of sweaty rock grunting, and periodically expunge that lust, Cave's 15th album with The Bad … >>
Track of the Day Tim Hecker - Black Refraction Share TagsambientexperimentalI once had an argument about whether, in order to enjoy a piece of art, it was necessary to understand the piece. This was in an online forum, so … >>
Track of the Day Rose Elinor Dougall - Future Vanishes Share Tags80sbrilliancepopsynthpopLook, this is just brilliant, Rose Elinor Dougall is magnificent, and there is really no good reason why pop fans everywhere aren't making sure this flies off the shelves … >>
Track of the Day Los Campesinos! - Avocado, Baby Share How good were Los Campesinos! in 2013? Put it this way: "Avocado, Baby" features a children's choir and it's still gloriously catchy and fiercely intelligent. When not even caterwauling … >>
Track of the Day Public Service Broadcasting - Elfstedentocht Part I Share The full annual "Record, rewind, play" awards haven't quite been finalised yet, but here's a sneak preview of how a couple of categories are sure to shake out, barring … >>
Track of the Day Cate Le Bon - Are You With Me Now? Share TagsmemorymourningLittle emptinesses abound on Cate Le Bon's 2013 album Mug Museum: the emptiness of loss; the emptiness of memories; the emptiness of musical arrangements that less bold artists might … >>
Track of the Day Mutual Benefit - Advanced Falconry Share TagsbanjofolkloveSinger-songwriter Jordan Lee gathers round him whoever happens to be available at the time; together they make sweet, sweet music. Love's Crushing Diamond won critical acclaim across the board, … >>
Track of the Day Hookworms - In Our Time Share TagspsychedelicrockshoegazingwoozyI haven't yet experienced the absolute euphoria that led Drowned in Sound to name Pearl Mystic as their album of the year, and winner of the Neptune prize, their … >>
Track of the Day The National - Sea of Love Share Tagsbaritoneindie rockThe really odd thing about Trouble Will Find Me is that Drowned in Sound's snarky-sounding comment that the album somehow isn't the sum of its parts is actually … >>
Track of the Day Jon Hopkins - Open Eye Signal Share TagselectronichypnoticProving that there's more to his work than just endlessly mesmerising soundtrack pieces, Jon Hopkins added a bit of thump for his 2013 album Immunity and found himself a … >>
Track of the Day Tindersticks - What Are You Fighting For? Share TagscomfortablecontentoptimisticrerecordedFor the most part, the ten tracks on Tindersticks' career retrospective album Across Six Leap Years aren't radically altered from their original versions. You have to know the back … >>