Best Songs of 2013 So Far
It's mid-June, the year's halfway point, and with that comes the inevitable Best Songs of 2013 So Far list. This 10-song tally was a real bear to compile, and that's because 2013 has been a great year for music. Picking the year's top 10 songs required a lot of soul-searching and quiet contemplation. At one point, we consulted a mystic. There's always the temptation to select super obscure or avant-garde tracks -- the more grating your faves, the hipper you are, after all -- but we decided to try a little honesty and stock our 10 Best Songs of 2013 So Far list with tunes we actually enjoy and find ourselves coming back to. We're confident we'll be spinning these in December and well into 2014, unless some dubstep-influenced free-jazz octet totally blows our mind and renders all other music unlistenable.
This one starts on a desert road -- "where everything ends up," singer Josh Homme tells us -- and rockets to the cosmos, where the titular deity prepares to rain fire on us earthly peons. The Queens bow before Ra, but they also bring some heat of their own, kicking off their first album in six years with an absolute scorcher of a lead single. Homme's riffs smolder with primal ferocity, making this 2013's go-to track for pagan sacrifices.
Not every Diffuser.fm contributor digs this L.A. band's indie take on freestyle -- the Latin-tinged electro-pop variant made popular by groups like Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam back in the late '80s -- but 'The Hardest Part' is a strong contender for the Summer Jam of 2013. On this, the standout track from their excellent sophomore disc, 'Kids in L.A.,' the duo of Jesse Kival and Zinzi Edmundson breeze into the party sockless and rocking blazers, the scent of mousse in their hair. Intoxicating stuff.
Indie rockers and EDM heads alike are psyched on this U.K. duo's debut, 'Settle,' and 'When a Fire Starts to Burn' shows why. The right mix of house throb and punkish attitude, this is the kind of dance music few can make but everyone can understand. The rest of the album is great -- soulful, pulsing and sexy as hell -- but thanks to its titular refrain, 'When a Fire Starts to Burn' will go down as one of the best songs of 2013.
The title track on Wavves' killer fourth album references Weezer in both its lyrics and overall sound, and while that's not surprising, given the pervasiveness of '90s nostalgia among today's guitar bands, stoned-out mastermind Nathan Williams does the fuzz-and-shrug thing better than just about anyone.
At first, we thought Vampire Weekend were covering 'Footloose' or 'Faith,' but then this thing gets seriously glitchy and noisy, and these erstwhile New York preppies bolt in a direction they've never gone before. That's the case on much of 'Modern Vampires of the City,' the band's third and possibly album.
Like so many of Camera Obscura's choicest offerings, this one just makes you feel good. Of course, the Scottish indie-poppers also excel at sad-bastard ballads, and there are a few of those on their new album, 'Desire Lines,' but when they up the tempo, turn up the guitar chime and let singer Traceyanne Campbell work a melody, even the thickest thug in the pub has got to swoon.
Just before he wrote this song, the second single on Depeche Mode's latest, 'Delta Machine,' a hot-and-bothered Martin Gore must have found himself debating between a cold shower and a cold-ass synth jam. He made the right call, and thanks to a lusty performance by lead singer Dave Gahan, the Mode emerge with one of their darkiest, sexiest tunes in ages.
The pride of Hoboken open their 13th studio album with a nearly seven-minute psychedelic drone-pop pep talk. "Sometimes the bad guys come out on top / sometimes the good guys lose," frontman Ira Kaplan sings. "We try not to lose our hearts, to lose our minds." Songs like this help the cause.
This one gives 'Touched By an Angel' a whole new meaning, as Karen O alludes to romantic dalliances with a feathery guy who "fell down from the sky." That right there might have been enough to land this on our Best Songs of 2013 So Far list, but the music is its own sort of revelation. What starts as a sparse art-punk jam turns into the grandest gospel-pop collision since Madonna's 'Like a Prayer.'
Can you keep a secret? Wild Cub's debut, 'Youth,' actually dropped in 2012, though the U.K. release wasn't until January 2013, and it was around that time we finally got hip to this Nashville-based retro-pop group. Slick and danceable, Wild Cub call to mind all of our '80s faves -- Prince, Tears for Fears, Pet Shop Boys, Talking Heads -- and totally achieve what singer Keegan DeWitt told us was his primarily goal: "creating moments."