The best albums of 2013 so far were evaluated in Part 1 of ‘Halfway House’, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the tracks. Inevitably, some of the tracks that made telling contributions in earning their albums a place in Part 1 will be featured here, but this is a chance to familiarize yourself with some of the tracks that have pricked our ears, whet the palettes and stood out amongst a very strong year for music so far. Again, we want to see what you think! Comment your views at the bottom of this post, and let us know how our list sits with you! Enjoy!
25. Peace – Follow Baby
Follow Baby is a big track, and a shining light in an otherwise underwhelming debut that quite simply didn’t live up to the hype. As a standalone tune, it finds its way into a very competitive list.
A bedroom producer from New Zealand, Zen Mantra is the alias of Sam Perry. Cloudgazer houses Francis/Deal-esque harmonies amongst perfectly executed dream punk. A highlight from a very strong debut album.
23. Splashh – Need It
Splashh drop their debut album in September, and are another hugely promising act with Australasian roots. Need It personifies why there is so much anticipation for the release of Comfort. Psychedelic, high-energy surf rock via London!
22. Foals – Inhaler
Inhaler was the first we’d heard from Foals for a while, and, equipped with a sensationally cool groove and a louder-than-ever-before chorus, the track signaled a fresh sound from a very accomplished band.
Thom Yorke has an exponential love for digitized beats and warped soundscapes, and here they are executed supremely, with the assistance of an all-star cast. Amok made our albums list, and Default is a reason why.
20. The Spills – Frakkin’ A
Yorkshire-based independent label Philophobia Music is without doubt one of the most exciting in the UK right now, and The Spills are one of the leading lights on their books. Frakkin’ A has echoes of The Cure, Placebo and a million others.
19. Pearl Jam – Mind Your Manners
Pearl Jam announced very recently that their 10th studio LP will drop in October, and Mind Your Manners was the first thing to whet our appetites. It’s a fast, high-energy track that wouldn’t be out of place on Vitalogy.
18. Queens of the Stone Age – Keep Your Eyes Peeled
The opening track from our album of the year (thus far). A toxic, horrible riff sets the scene for what would ultimately prove to be a deep, complex rollercoaster into the retrospect of a troubled period for the band.
17. Black on Black – Black Geometry
One of our finds of 2013 thus far, and some real red meat. A garage punk band from across the pond, Black on Black bring slamming guitars, urgent vocals and brash drums. Black Geometry shows all of these qualities off exquisitely.
16. Fur Blend – Valley Girl
Another exciting prospect from Philophobia Music. Valley Girl is a beautiful track, and another that has an angelic male/female vocal harmony amongst a gentle, distorted guitar lick. Another one we’re eager to hear more from.
Stone is the Alice in Chains that was a central part of the grunge landscape in the 90s. A filthy, sludge-ridden riff, and a Cantrell/DuVall vocal trade off. DuVall shows here why he is the prototypical protégé to the late Layne Staley.
14. Atoms for Peace – Ingenue
The second Atoms for Peace track to find it’s way onto this list. Ingenue is Yorke at his very best. Sloping, effect-laden digital sounds coagulate to form wondrous gradients, and they’re garnished beautifully with his famous, wailing falsetto.
13. Kurt Vile – Girl Called Alex
This is one of those tracks that renders you the best kind of mess. The soundscapes that Vile manages to express throughout Wakin on a Pretty Daze are no better executed than in this mesmerizing track.
A Joy Division-esque bassline launches you head first into Savages’ superb debut LP, and this is punk with sophistication. Appropriately titled Shut Up is unstable outbursts of energy under a regime of control. It’s a very intriguing sound.
11. Sons of the Sea – Where All The Songs Come From
The best-looking man that side of the Atlantic Ocean is back with a new solo moniker. Brandon Boyd, the cogs behind Sons of the Sea, brings this time a very precise, swirling, arty track that promises much for his latest, upcoming LP.
10. The Black Clouds – No Reason
Another very pleasing discovery this year that is another one for you red meat lovers! There’s more than a hint of Nirvana here. Very grungey, fast-paced and a breath of fresh air from a genre that shouldn’t have fizzled out.
9. Queens of the Stone Age – If I Had a Tail
An album as strong as …Like Clockwork is bound to spawn multiple entries into this list. If I Had a Tail is a meeting point for a plethora of superstars, but it’s 100% QOTSA. A sublime groove that Jools Holland would salivate over.
Laura Marling firmly established herself as an elite member of the British singer/songwriters club with Once I Was An Eagle. Master Hunter is an exhibition of her talent, and a real highlight of a superb record.
7. Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Day
This 9-minute sprawler is warmer than anything else in this list. It ambles along at a gentle pace, with simple guitars awash with Vile’s tantalizing vocals. The curtain raiser of our #2 album of the year (so far) is 9 minutes worth spending.
DPU supremo Matt Bigland is a true riff fiend, and Lip Hook Kiss is a minefield of huge, fuzzed out barnstormers. Now onto their 3rd LP, Bigland’s trademark, larger than life hooks are still screaming to be snatched at.
5. Deap Vally – Baby I Call Hell
We’ve established by now that Deap Vally are some bad-ass bitches. This track is the duo in a nutshell: obliterated drums, a brilliant, bass-laden riff, and a superb female rock vocal. Outlandish as they are, this is one of the tunes of the year.
A potential mainstay of British music for the long run, Blake is a special talent; his dubstep roots enable his current music to take a truly unique approach. Retrograde brings a voice to the forefront of mesmerizing, undulating beats.
3. Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?
Ever since the brilliant R U Mine? dropped in 2012, there’s been so much anticipation for the next Monkeys record. No longer the cheeky little Yorkshiremen they once were, Do I Wanna Know? is a much more matured limb of a sound that continues to sound cooler and cooler every time. The band even chose to open with this tune at Glastonbury this year, to scintillating effect.
This simply had to find its way to the top end of this list. Get Lucky is a simmering cauldron, where equal measures of Nile Rodgers’ niche guitar, Pharrel Williams’ silky smooth soul, and of course, Daft Punk’s herculean production combines to make a breeze of disco-funk cool. Forget the bandwagoners, this is one for the ages.
I Appear Missing is Homme’s final, desperate attempt on …Like Clockwork to salvage what it was he left on that operating table. It’s a haunting, drawling, number and an exhibition of the talents of a band that is just better than yours. Mind-blowing fills, frenzied strikes and astonishingly complex onslaughts of pace allow the track to saunter on its own, and the amount of definition and texture achieved is startling. The best album of 2013 houses the best track, and it’s going to be some feat for anything to knock either of them off the top spot. This haunting lullaby evolves into a tormenting vortex and will have you looking over your shoulder, checking your wardrobes at night, and fighting with a tsunami of foreboding. Fair play, Josh.
Again, feel free to comment and let us know what you think! If the second half of 2013 is as good as the first, devising the end of year lists is going to be the best kind of impossible task, and one we can’t wait to take on! Here’s the Spotify playlist to go with it, with each of the 25 tracks for your ears to feast on! spoti.fi/1687vX1