Modern tunes for a Modern house: 2013
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A Modern house deserves good modern tunes, so here's my list of the best tracks of 2013. My preferences lean heavily toward electronic, so be forewarned. I've broken the list into uptempo tunes, downtempo tunes, and albums. Get yer ears on!
Top uptempo tunage:
1. "Poor Leno (Silicon Soul's Hypno House Dub)/There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (a capella)" by Röyksopp. I know, I know, this track came out in 2004, but this is the best thing I heard in 2013. It's a dub of Röyksopp's Poor Leno by Silicon Soul mashed with an a capella of Erlend Øye's version of a Smith's song (got that?). It works brilliantly! LISTEN
2. "Burning Bright (feat. Kim Ann Foxman)" by Maya Jane Coles. Maya had another stellar year with various brilliant remixes (see later) and a gorgeous album. There are many tracks I could have chosen, but this collaboration with New York's Foxman is especially yum-yum. LISTEN
3. "Gimme Your Love" by Morcheeba. The latest by Morcheeba brought Skye, their original soymilky-smooth lead singer, back to the fold resulting in this wonderful track. Love the dubsteppy whompa-whompa baseline and that Skye calcium-rich goodness. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is a yawner... LISTEN
4. "Bbb" by How to Destroy Angels. This was a b-sider on the new album which features Trent Reznor and his bride, Mariqueen Maandig. Maandig's vocals fuse with Reznor's industrial nastiness like a dove flying above a coal fired power plant. And this fan video is kinda awesome: LISTEN
5. "Bodycodes (feat. Asbjørn)" by Lulu Rouge. Hard to chose just one awesome track from Lulu's new album, but let's randomly go with one. Not as trip hoppy as the rest of the album, this track features Asbjørn, a Danish pop singer with a voice as tasty as a danish. LISTEN
6. "Fiction (Maya Jane Coles Remix)" by The xx. The sparseness of The xx lends itself well to the sparseness of Maya's electronics. Part of Maya's brilliance is not overdoing her remix on an already great track. LISTEN
7. "Came Back Haunted" by Nine Inch Nails. After releasing the How to Destroy Angels album with his wife, an album of new NIN material surprisingly dropped soon thereafter. I'd kinda felt that Trent had been off his game the last couple of albums, but this one finds him back in classic form. And check it out: This epileptic-unfriendly video was made by none other than David Lynch! LISTEN
8. "First Fires (feat. Grey Reverend) [Maya Jane Coles Remix]" by Bonobo. Yet another great remix by Maya of another great song. Bonobo was back this year with a downtempo gem, and Maya punched up this track for possible booty twerkage. LISTEN
9. "Nothing Matters feat. Nneka" by Tricky. Tricky, the prince of trip hop, also returned to form this year with an awesomely perfect album. Here's a randomly great track from that effort. Sad the dude canceled his Austin date from his U.S. tour... One of the best shows we've ever seen was when he played at SXSW a few years ago right before Deco. LISTEN
10. "U-2" by iamamiwhoami. Trying saying that band name three times really fast! Love the old-skool late-80s bass and the vaguely robotized vocals. Freakin weird video. LISTEN
Top downtempo tunage:
1. "Immunity" by Jon Hopkins. Sooper mellow track that evokes Iceland and green sweaty moss. LISTEN
2. "A Taste of Struggle" by A / T / O / S. A nice moody and ssssllloooowww electronic track. As Saddie said on the video link: "Oh, hey dopamine... I've been waiting for you." LISTEN
3. "All Inside" by Bondax. I generally dig deconstructed vocals, and this track got 'em. LISTEN
4. "Need to Feel Loved (feat. Zoe Durrant)" by Unclubbed. This track is arguably half and half: half ambient vocal and half upbeat, but let's go with the former since this would be a mood killer on the dance floor. LISTEN
5. "You Say I'm Crazy (feat. Alice Carreri)" by Lulu Rouge. Love the desperate foreboding of this track and the rewind of the lyrics. LISTEN
6. "Numb (feat. Kathrin deBoer)" by Max Cooper. Another desperately foreboding track. I loves me some darkness. Max might be Marxist: "We wanted to make something about the modern capitalist lifestyle for this project, and how it can induce a numbing effect from the overpowering demands of the machine in which we live in." LISTEN
7. "Heaven for the Sinner (feat. Erykah Badu)" by Bonobo. The Horny Monkeys new album is mostly mellow and nondescript instrumentals, but a couple tracks, including this one, expertly weave vocals into the jazzy loveliness. LISTEN
8. "Gravity (feat. Jana Hunter)" by Trentemøller. The Moller of Trent released a new album this year, purported to be more assessable than previous efforts, which may be why I didn't enjoy it as much. But this is rather nice. LISTEN
9. "Keep It Together" by How to Destroy Angels. Lemme guess: More foreboding? Why yes, Virginia, there is a lost cause... LISTEN
10. "Devastate" by Amanda Shires. Which song is out of place? Might it be this little country ditty? Then again, if country music had a goth movement, Ms. Shires would be at the front of the line. LISTEN
Bonus: "Are You Mine?" by Kim Deal. Sad song about a question Kim's mom, suffering from Alzheimers, asked Kim while Kim was taking care of her. LISTEN
I'm generally not an album buyer these days, preferring to pick over the carcass for the good bits before flying down the road in hopes of a fresh armadillo. Nevertheless, there seemed to be several great albums this year (defined as "each track is edible").
1. "Comfort" by Maya Jane Coles. Wowsy good. In addition to the aforementioned track, check out "Easier to Hide", "Fall From Grace (feat. Catherine Pockson)", and "Wait for You (feat. Tricky)".
2. "False Idols" by Tricky. After several hit and miss albums that went too dark, the Trickster is back with a trip hop spectacular. Besides the aforementioned tracks, also check out "Somebody's Sins", "Bonnie and Clyde", "Does It", "If Only I Knew", "Nothing's Changed",
3. "The Song Is in the Drum" by Lulu Rouge. These cowpokes are mining territory claimed a long time ago by Massive Attack and others, buy my o my do they do a great job. In addition to the above, check out "Landscape of Love (feat. Fanney Osk)", "Smoke Through Fire (feat. Asbjørn)", "Welcome to My Dream (feat. Tuco)", "Sign Me Out (feat. Fanney Osk)", and "Ghost Mosquitoes".
4. "Welcome Oblivion" by How to Destroy Angels. Trent and Co. had a good year. For example, listen to "Ice Age", "The Loop Closes", "Fur Lined", and "Parasite".
5. "Hesitation Marks" by Nine Inch Nails. And listen to "All Time Low", "Running", "I Would For You", and the oddly poppy "Everything"