Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Taking On 2013 - Top Tracks (Q3 Quarterly Review)

Man, sometimes time gets away from you. Or me, I guess as this case may be. The days keep passing and I keep listening but I don't keep writing and then now I do start writing and it's like I'm just about to write. And I keep listening, still. And listening. And listening some more. But to what am I listening? Well, a few months ago it was these songs. But these past three months, I mean it's kind of all a Yeezus sort of thing. With summer coming to an end perhaps Kanye's vice grip on music is starting to fade. Or perhaps not. I guess let's look at the list.

10. "95 Til Infinity" - Joey Bada$$ (+1)

There was a vocal backlash to Joey Bada$$'s follow up to 1999, with many detractors focusing on how he altered his voice and delivery as if it was all some kind of gimmick to fake freshness. Lyrically, few songs have hit harder this year than this one, vocal shifts or no, and "95 Til Infinity" serves as evidence of Joey's lasting appeal.

9. "No Below" - Speedy Ortiz (NE)

There's this melancholic feeling to breakout track from 2k13's indie darlings (or not? it seems like they haven't been talked to death so far) that I find captivating. There's this slow build and serenity to the instrumental work going on that juxtaposes the lyrical content. I've always been a sucker for that kind of stuff, and Speedy Ortiz do it better than most others this year.

8. "Warrior" - Demi Lovato (-2)

When it comes to picking my favorite song from Demi I have a bit of trouble because she so masterfully works in many different sounds that my preference could change by the day. So, as I always tend to in these situations, I lean toward lauding the most serious tracks. And so the most masterful ballad type track, "Warrior", continues to stand out as one of the year's better slow songs.

7. "Diane Young" - Vampire Weekend (No Change)

I fluctuate between really loving and just kind of liking Vampire Weekend's latest release, but one thing that has yet to change is the infectious "Diane Young" that blends some fun word play with a bit of dark undertones. Sure it doesn't veer completely in to morbid territory, that would kind of be way too at odds with the sound, but it's hard to fault a song for not being something I want it to be when what it does is so great.

6. "Chain Smoker" - Chance The Rapper (NE)

Energy can do an awful lot for a song. That's not to say that Chance The Rapper's "Chain Smoker" is nothing without its energy, but the variations between the more somber hook and the higher octane verses culminate in an exasperated version of the hook near the end the result is magical.

5. "Bakers Man" - Migos (NE)

After releasing the summer jam 2k13 in the form of "Versace" it would be easy to just throw that up here as the essential Migos track and be done with it. But I can't do that, despite the greatness of "Versace" in just about every sense of the word. Why? That's simple, because there's nothing quite like the brilliance of a line like "Calling plays in the huddle, just like Christian Ponder!"

4. "DEAD ISLAND" - kitty (-1)

Okay, I've given up on trying to figure out how to properly spell the name of this song with the icons that kitty uses, but what becomes apparent the more that I listen to this is just how nuanced the song can be. There's something hypnotic about the beat, but once I get past the trance the track reveals a slow building quality that has kitty's voice constantly growing louder as the track progresses before fading out once again at the end. It's a brilliant aural device she uses that adds a dreamlike quality to the song and emphasizes the quick hitting lyrics that kitty brings to the table.

3. "Twin Hype Back" - Run The Jewels feat. Prince Paul (-1)

Remember a few entries ago where I said that I tend to favor the more serious songs artists put out? Maybe that's not always true, especially when Prince Paul's abrasive feature is one of the parts that makes this Run The Jewels song so great. I mean next to the switching off between Killer Mike and El-P, that stuff if pretty good.

1a. "Blood On The Leaves" - Kanye West (NE)

It's not surprising that I still can't decide which song from Yeezus is my favorite, what surprises me more is that Kanye isn't at number one. Not for now anyway, though I guess he probably should be. Who knows. The samples used on this track, along with the shifts he makes between the literal and metaphoric lyrical content definitely make this a contender for the year's best track. There's this brilliant indulgence on what is Yeezus' longest track as well that manages to separate itself from the indulgence of MBDTF while still maintaining the greatness of his work on MBDTF. It's just so great.

1b. "Birds" - Death Grips (NE)

It came out of nowhere (the song, not Death Grips as their work last year alone made them worth monitoring going forward), and outside of Kanye's debut of "New Slaves" on walls across the country no other single this year has me more excited for new music. The sound fluctuations at the beginning, the droning lyrics, it all comes together for this brilliant display of artistry.

1c. "Christopher DRONEr" - Ab-Soul (NE)

Yeah this makes 11 songs and it also means I am cheating for the first time in three years in this series by not picking a song at number one, but I mean the list is still in flux and there will be decisions made by year's end. As for now though, given Ab-Soul's lyrical prowess, the insane hook, and perhaps 2k13's single best line at the end of this song ("Went and bought some Alexander Wang after I heard 'New Slaves'") earns this a third of the year's best songs so far.

On The Bubble

"Dropla" - Youth Lagoon
"We Can't Stop" - Miley Cyrus
"1Train" - A$AP Rocky feat. Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T
"ODB" - Danny Brown
"Yay Yay" - ScHoolboy Q

And with that we have reached the end of this final installment of Top Tracks before the final list at the end of December. What will change? With releases from ScHoolboy Q, Danny Brown, Willis Earl Beal, Sleigh Bells, and many others on the horizon I am sure a ton will change. We shall see. Keep an eye out for the Top Albums and Top Films of the year so far in the next couple of days as well!


Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

Also, I am on the old Twitter thing so I guess you can follow me at twitter.com/r_thor1.

And if you want to know what I'm watching, listening to, playing , and reading you can follow my tumblr account!
© 2013 Richard James Thorne

No comments:

Post a Comment