It’s been an incredibly long time since I’ve done one of these! Now that the year is almost exactly three quarters through felt like a good time to collect together what I’m somewhat bravely calling “Best tracks of 2013 so far”. In reality we all know it will most definitely end up being a list of songs highly skewed towards the stand out tracks from the last few months. Not that that’s such a bad thing, 2013 has seen the release of vast amounts of incredible new music – is it really any surprise I can’t remember all of it..?!
As ever the list is roughly weighted with the “best” first, but really its meant to be viewed as a collection.
1. Angel Haze – No Bueno (Island Records)
This is how you do a diss track! Although it doesn’t call out anyone in particular its pretty clear it was written with at least half an eye on Miss Azeze Banks. “I’m your motivation bitch you owe me.” With this track Angel Lays down a solid intent for Dirty Gold – her upcoming album – be better than everyone else, something you get the feeling is pretty much guaranteed!
Sonically I’m not sure who the producer is but it’s got that Clams casino smoky hip-hop vibe, with a beat that is both intense and laidback, constantly building to a big pay-off that never materialises. As a result it’s pretty much impossible not to give this a straight rewind.
Whilst supposedly finished Dirty Gold is still lacking a release date, so for now why not go and have a look through her extensive back catalogue of mixtapes.
2. Sophie – Bipp (Numbers)
If any track deserved to be the song of the summer it’s this. Unfortunately for Sophie (Who potentially confusingly is a man, not that it really matters), our cruel and unpredictable British summer had other ideas, leaving this to be a pretty big track but not the summer smash that it truly deserved - For that you’re going to have to look to Breach. I can’t help feeling that without the internet fracturing music fans into ever smaller cliques big cross over tracks and collective cultural “I was there” moments the type our parents and their friends reminisce over are becoming increasingly sparser. That said even my notoriously difficult to please little brother was into this sugary sweet and incredibly hooky piece of House.
3. Roses Gabor – Stars (Girls Music)
Not strictly this year, but released right at the tail end of the 2012 through Toddla T’s Girls Music, I decided to include this on the basis that its “Close enough”.
With production by the man like Redlight this was always going to be a bit interesting. The result is a chopped UP slice of R&B that feels just as at home in the club as it does, well any where else really.
4. FTSE – St Tropez (Lucky Number)
Music is all about context, so maybe I’m a bit bias about this one. The first time I heard it I was heading to the south of France with a broken ankle. Maybe that’s why the lyric “Life’s hard and it aint getting any better, grab your shit we’ll go to St Tropez together, when we go we forget about it all.” Resonated so strongly with me. Personally though I like to think that it’s because he’s summed up the essence of life, and what it is to be young for my generation, but maybe I’m just over thinking it.
Either way coupled with what is essentially a dreamy chilled piece of synth pop, FTSE has managed to produce one of the most though provoking escapist tracks of the year.
Its out on lucky me September 30th, head over to bandcamp to pre-order.
5. Mount Kimbie – Made To Stray (Warp Records)
The first single taken from their now released second album “Cold Spring Fault Less Youth” made to stray contains all the hallmarks of a great Mount Kimbie song but at the same time marked an interesting departure from their previous material. Pretty much exactly what you want in a lead single.
A big theme in releases this year seems to be teasing the listeners, with slow delicate build-ups and short sweet pay-offs. Something incredibly well executed in Made To Stray. Building up slowly over almost three minuets, finally the vocal pay off arrives pulling the whole thing up yet another level before disappearing almost as quickly.
6. A-Minor – Thinking Bout The Things
If anything can be considered a Soundcloud hit then this is it. A warm disco house cut that has you reaching for the volume control and heading for the dance floor simultaneously.
Other than any information you can glean from his website, twitter and facebook very little seems to be known about A-Minor, with production this on point it seems unlikely that it will remain that way for too long.
7. Kanye West – Blood On The Leaves (Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam)
It’s almost impossible to pick a best track off of Yeezus, one of the most progressive and forward thinking Hip-Hop albums since last time Kanye decided to change the game (Especially if you compare it to Jay-Z’s totally un-inspiring Magna Carta). I’ve gone with what is arguably the most obvious choice. When you think about it blood on the leaves has been a long time coming in many ways sounding like a re-visit to the themes of 2008′s “808′s & Heartbreak” updated for 2013. In places it can feel a bit try-hardy “When she tried her first molly” – yeah we get it Kanye you’re still relevant – but to hold that against it is possibly to miss the point a little.
I’m not convinced this is the best track on the album but if you haven’t listened to the whole thing at least 100 times by now quite frankly were have you been?
8. Maya Jane Coles – Burning Bright
Lets get one thing out of the way – sure we all know that “Everything” is far and away the best track on Comfort, but that’s largely due to the presence of Karin Park’s vocal coupled with the fact that it feels as though it could have come straight off the second Knife album we’re all craving – so I’m discounting that.
Beyond that Burning Bright stands up as one of the albums high points. Kim Ann Foxman delivers an incredible almost pop star vocal working perfectly with Maya’s warm bassy sound. Comfort is yet another record that is totally worth checking out in its entirety.
9. Chase & Status – Lost & Not Found
In years to come this song will be the one that people hold up as the time when Chase & Status started the transition from underground stars to proper all out pop stars.
Whilst it definitely has a strong Chase & Status vibe Lost & Not Found is a more grown up, more relaxed song than the majority of their previous offerings. It almost sounds like it was written for mainstream radio play but not in a bad Connor Maynard kind of way. Listening to this you can feel the euphoric bliss dripping out of it. It’s almost impossible not to transport yourself back into some hazy 4 AM festival memories.
10. Dels – Black Salad (Ninja Tune)
And finally – Not that I set out to write 10 it just sort of ended up like that – Dels with black salad. Our interview with Dels is still by far and away (Like hundreds of times) the most read piece of content on the site.
This track is sort of half incredibly catchy if slightly weird, and half intro to the “Black Salad EP”. Either way it works for me. Also worth a mention on the EP is Bird Milk.