Putting these lists together can be a huge pain in the ass. I may have things down to a science after doing these year-in and year-out for a long time, it’s never easy to rank songs or albums, leave off tracks you really like, and then try to make sense of the final order. It’s never totally accurate and I always forget songs despite keeping a running spreadsheet throughout the year.
Over the course of this month I’ll be doing a few different lists, including (probably in this order) songs, videos, albums, and 2013 bands. While I like to be as thorough as possible, I’m not lucky enough to have music sent to me anymore (at least not as much as I used to), and furthermore, I can’t wait until the last day of the year to put things together.
The list was finalized mere moments ago after a lot of writing and erasing on a few pieces of crumpled paper. My hands are cramped and covered with pencil marks and I’ve sort of lost any desire to go back and revise this. It’s final, and here are numbers 50 to 41. Click the links to see a video or hear the song.
Expect a (mostly) complete Spotify playlist when I post the top 10.
50. Bloc Party “V.A.L.I.S.”
Buried in the middle of Four, this track is the tender side of the all-out assault of the new album. Not a single, at least not yet, but it should be.
49. Clock Opera “Man Made”
A band that I’m still really unable to pigeonhole, which is normally a good thing, but I still don’t know what to make of their debut album. A good record that splices together some nice indie with electronic washes, there are a few too many dull moments. This isn’t one of them.
48. St. Gregory Orange “Salem A.M.”
Remember Arab Strap and how they basically did whatever the fuck the wanted musically, and everyone loved them for it? These guys are blazing the same path, and this track would be a massive hit in the same universe where Spock has a beard. Click the link for a free download.
47. Everyone Everywhere “Queen Mary II”
It’s emo for people who remember emo the first time around, and this local band softly killing it while most of the world is missing out.
46. The Joy Formidable “The Ladder is Ours”
Second albums can be tricky business, but if this Welsn trio follows this path and not the one laid out in “Cholla,” then we’ll have no reason to be let down by the new record. At least not musically, because that artwork is terrible.
45. Wildeflower “Good Girl”
A nice find from London label Stella Mortos, home of Entrepreneurs, this tune is both haunting and uplifting and hints at an artist that has the potential for something very special in the near future.
44. Django Django “Hail Bop”
Like the comet Hale-Bopp, this group has come from deep other space. A few years back they were playing music that was ahead of the curve for most people, and with “Hail Bop,” off of their debut album, they haven’t changed a thing. I’ll spin this record in 2022 and still feel like I’m in the future.
43. Big Deal “Teradactol”
This duo’s first record was decent, but not up to par with anything from vocalist Alice Costelloe’s former band Pull in Emergency. “Teradactol” is the first big moment from Big Deal, and with the reverb kicked way up, it seems that may have just found a shoe that fits.
42. Ellen & the Escapades “All the Crooked Scenes”
The title track from the band’s debut album had me hooked from the onset. It’s indie folk without the pomposity, slowly building into a chorus that makes you wish that this group were ultra famous rather than those Mumfords.
41. This Many Boyfriends “Number One”
When a band wears their influences on their sleeve, it’s often hard to separate the two, but the mastery of this Leeds group is that they’re referential without ever being unoriginal. And tracks like “Number One” make you feel like you’ve been listening to them forever.
My relationship with London-via-Wales band The Joy Formidable began sometime in early 2008 while I was living in Boston. I was running a music blog and getting solicited by every clown band under the sun. Most weren’t very good and tried way too hard to sell me, but TJF had just posted the tune “Austere” on their MySpace page (hey, remember that site?) and sent me short, polite message and I gave them a shot. They reminded me of ’90s Tanya Donelly-led project Belly, but with the fuzz turned way, way up – very impressive stuff.
As subsequent singles “Cradle” and “Whirring” were released, followed by the mini-album A Balloon Called Moaning, my fandom intensified even further. These guys were really that good. In May of 2009 I finally got to see the band play in England, at a small venue in Brighton as part of the always essential Great Escape conference.