Let me begin by briefly reflecting on the artists that aren’t represented on this list. I feel that will help me deal with the slight guilt I have for excluding them. The big illustrious robotic elephant in the room is Daft Punk. I can already hear the dandruff from your hair hitting the table as you shake your head in disapproval. I can’t justify its exclusion other than to say that there were other songs/albums that eventually crowded it out in the 11th hour of my decision. There’s also honourable mentions for The National, Run The Jewels, Flume and Rhye that were on heavy rotation throughout the year. Last thing, in appreciation for remaining a loyal subscriber I’ve made these songs available for you to download here.
*Disclaimer: I apologize ahead of time for the language in some of these songs. Please listen with discretion!
Artist | Black Joe Lewis Song | Come To My Party
This is the boisterous clarion call to leave behind our baggage at the door because “the answers to life is on the dance floor”. With the horns, guitar and seductive voice, I can’t imagine being anywhere else for the next 2 minutes and 39 seconds.
Artist | Devendra Banhart Song | Für Hildegard Von Bingen
This Venezuelan-American singer-songwriter crafts songs that feel like Instagram’s Valencia filter. It’s a soft, crisp, unencumbered moment that soothes the senses. So put on pause whatever stuffy thing you’re doing, undo your top collar and allow your mind to wander.
Artist | Tegan and Sara Song | I Couldn’t Be Your Friend
When I interviewed Tegan and Sara for Georgie Magazine, all the early signs of Hearthrob being embraced by a larger audience were visible. It was catchy synth-dance-pop done well with the added maturity of veteran singer-songwriters. For me, this song strikes the balance of both perfectly. (Not to mention the vulnerable honesty I’ve come to expect from the Quin sisters).
Artist | Stwo Song | Syrup
Without a doubt this 20 year old Parisian producer/DJ had my attention with the EP he released earlier this year. I had originally planned his addictive LOVIN U to be included in the list. But then my friend made me a mix that had this dulce treat that after the first listen; I was hooked. I urge you to listen to it on the best speakers you own because your laptop just won’t capture the weight and reach of what this track accomplishes.
Artist | Drake (feat. Majid Jordan) Song | Hold On, We’re Going Home
It’s been a long time coming, but I finally like a Drake song. Actually, it’s more like I’ve “crushed” on this song and we’re on the dance floor grooving so intimately to the throwback R&B vibe that we don’t realize we’re the only ones left on the gym floor. Ahem.
Artist | Poliça feat. Justin Vernon Song | Tiff (Doc McKinney Remix)
By the time you hear Justin Vernon, you’re already so deep into the songs magnetic pull that you faintly acknowledge his presence. It’s also kind of a heartbreaking song complimented by brilliant rhythmic textures.
Artist | Mala Rodriguez Song | 33
This is my favourite Hip Hop album of 2013. This flesh-scorching monster is an example of this veteran Spanish MC’s veracity and hunger. But don’t be fooled; she also plays it sweet, introspective, and political in her LP Bruja. With her recent Latin Grammy win for Best Urban Music and as the first female to win this accolade I look forward to seeing her get the recognition she deserves.
Artist | Lorde Song | Royals
I first heard this song through my brother’s crappy iPhone speakers so forgive me if I didn’t become an instant fan. A few months later I heard her song waft through much better speakers and I was smitten.
Artist: A Tribe Called Read (feat Black Bear) Song: The Road *Song not available on Grooveshark
I’ve been following this Ottawa-based super group since they released their free LP Electric Pow Wow in 2012. Their new album is a continuation of the fresh, unique, powerful music that awakens the senses. Having been short-listed for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize, it’s no wonder they’re gaining momentum, yet, as proud supporters of the Idle No More movement, don’t be surprised to hear their music in protests and blockades as well.
Artist | Shad Song | Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)
Sampling Kanye and Jay-Z’s Otis is great. Turning it into an honest and triumphant ode to the immigrant experience in Canada is brilliant. Here’s the thing; Shad gets me and for that, I’ll always anticipate what he releases. This year was no disappointment. My favourite line of this song captures it so well: “Now when you’re Third World born, but First World formed/ Sometimes you feel pride, sometimes you feel torn”
Artitst: Tech N9ne (feat. Kendrick Lamar, ¡MAYDAY! & Kendall Morgan) Song: Fragile
Tech N9ne and company are letting the world know that despite how hard, rich and famous they are; the words of critics can still hurt. I think everything about this track is killer!
Artist | M.I.A Song | Only 1 U
Speaking of killer…here’s another track that slays so hard I don’t know if your dashboard can handle the repeated impact of your head as it moves to the beat. M.I.A is always innovative, smart and fused with scorching production that I don’t notice any of her contemporaries in the vicinity.
Artist | Das Racist & A Tribe Called Red Song | Indians From All Directions
This is a glimpse of the ghost of “what could have been”. After Das Racist disbanded this year, we have this monumental track capturing two bands at the peak of their game.
Artist | HAIM Song | Falling
This is an irresistable song that was in pretty much in every mix I made this year. Even my boys can’t resist from dancing whenever they hear it. Jay-Z is onto something for adding these sisters to his label.
Artist | Arcade Fire Song | Here Comes The Night Time
I’m a big fan of this album. This track is one of the stand-outs for having a danceable beat and something honestly revealing to say about Christian missionary work.
Artist | Childish Gambino Song | Shadows
Donald Glover is back and more focused than ever. With his ambitious, self-depracting and flawless delivery, he’s managed to create a rewarding album that leaves you grateful for his hiatus from Community.
Artist | Vampire Weekend Song | Step
Is it possible for there to be a perfect song? If so, this one is pretty dang close. In fact, the entire album is sheer near-perfection! Lyrically tight and musically creative enough to deserve it’s presence (I’m assuming) among the greatest albums released this year.
Artist | José González Song | Step Out
In the category of “Epic Musical Soundtrack That Should Accompany Every Mundane Moment Of My Life”, Step Out is the clear winner. (Which is a delightful surprise coming from a delicate lo-fi singer like Jose Gonzalez.) So, excuse me for a moment as I step outside to clear the snow off my driveway…
Artist | Danny Brown Song | Lonely
Danny Brown’s dexterity as an emcee is unquestionable. His album is a testament to his prowess as a lyricist who is serious about his craft. Not since Eminem, has an artist from Detroit captured so much well-deserved attention.
Artist: Charles Bradley (feat. Menahan Street Band) Song: Strictly Reserved for You
Although this album is not as satisfying as his previous one, Mr. Bradley is still just getting warmed up. This track captures the soul and infectious joy I love about him.
Artist | Willis Earl Beal (feat. Cat Power) Song | Coming Through
With a powerful voice and an interesting and enigmatic past, Willis Earl Beal has captured my attention. With lyrics like-Now, righteous indignation and blood dedication
everybody got a cause, everybody separated but there are no separated spaces-it’s difficult to ignore what he has to say.
Artist | Kanye West Song | New Slave
Yeezus is a difficult album to listen to. It’s vulgar, dark and brash. Yet, when you unearth all of these layers you realize that there’s something of worth. This track is an example of that. Love or hate Kanye, he’s a creative genius always pushing and challenging the public beyond predictability and mediocrity.