Alright, so there were more than a couple of duds that stank up the charts in 2013. However, as we wait for the results of BBC’s Sound of 2014 Poll, our VFM writers cast their minds back over the Year of Miley and reminded themselves of the great songs that kept them sane…
***WARNING: CONTAINS ONLY AWESOME SONGS***
What a year it’s been for girls in the music industry. Scottish gal Lauren Mayberry and her band of merry men formed the band Chrvches a few years ago and last year they made my summer with their single “Gun” from their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. I’ve already gushed about these guys to my friends, family and online family (including my lovely VFM relatives) but what’s once more right?
The reason “Gun” rocked my world this year was a collection of things. Firstly, there is the totally synthetic beat, which is so stark and electronic and yet feels deeply connected to nature. Also, let’s mention the fabulously sassy lyrics that tells tales of girls threatening their bad men with tubular weaponry as they run away from the scene. Who doesn’t like a pissed off Scot with a pistol? In a world of ten-a-penny electropop bands Chvrches stand out as one of the most exciting because they are both accessible and fantastic, appealing to the masses and self-appointed prestige music critics alike. “Gun” represents their sound perfectly: raw, obtainable and just so wonderful!
LITTLE GREEN CARS- SPIDER LEGS
An Irish mix of singer/songwriter and folk has finally pushed the Dublin scene’s image away from the bland banquet of The Script. Harper Lee, their second release has something for everyone. It is well worth sitting down and listing to this CD all the way through, as it seems to be one of the few indie releases these days that have paid good attention to song ordering.
The title track takes you by the hand with well crafted vocal hooks to set you completely in the mood for the next 15 minutes. You are introduced to their American gothic lyrical styles, it’s very easy to find yourself quoting lines from all of these songs! However it’s the last two tracks “Red (Demo)” and “Spider Legs” that really make this band stand out. “Red” is a beautiful a capella with strong ties to Americana folk. They truly show off their harmonizing here, allowing you to be haunted by these cold lyrics. “Spider Legs” makes you truly question whether you are listening to a guitar based band at all. Melodies that leave you with goose bumps, textures so delicate that make you feel that if you were to pause the track, it would shatter like glass. That’s why “Spider Legs” is my track of the year.
NYPC- THINGS LIKE YOU
While I had some problems with their album, I do feel that in this, the third single off NYPC, the duo well and truly knocked it out of the ballpark.
With its stuttering riff and typical shouty vocals from Tahita Bulmer, this is a song that takes a while to announce itself. Instead it stands in your living room, and slowly inspects everything you own before turning your world on its head by shedding its dark cloak to reveal party clothes and shouting ‘SURPISE DUET!’ And yes, Morgan Quaintance’s added vocals on the irresistible chorus raise this from just a very good song to one of the best pop songs released this year. It plants trumpeting synths, churning guitars, and vocals and watches calmly as they come together and pay off, creating a dark pop anthem that hurtles with purpose towards the ‘replay’ button. NYPC were always good at creating music that sweeps you up and surrounds you, but this is beautiful.
“Things Like You” is a slice of musical perfection that commands you to dance and sing along, and you would be incredibly churlish if you declined its invitation.
DEAP VALLEY- BAD FOR MY BODY
Okay, so it hasn’t officially been released as a ‘single’, but coming from an album that’s had accolades thrown at it this past year, I think you’ll forgive me.
From the very first ring of that crisp distortion, I knew there was something special about these two girls from California. Intent on catching our attention at the biggest festivals this year, they’ve got the U.K sitting up and listening! Indeed, the duo has fast become one of my favourite bands and, judging by the time their debut album has lived inside my car’s stereo system, my favourite album of the year. So, why this song in particular?
The answer? Because it’s simple. Because it’s clever. Because it’s empowering. With its sharp, stabby verses, catchy refrains and explosive energy, this is a song for some good ol’ foot-stomping, air-punching, hairbrush-singing, head-banging female rebellion. And god knows we’re due for some Rock’n’Roll freedom. Lindsey Troy’s rough vocals are emotion-packed and her carefree attitude and lyrics something to aspire to. As is the duo’s stage presence and playing. Their song lyrics are blunt, bold, and (in this case) dare to criticise the hypocrisy of older generations. They sing about not being made ashamed by others for being young, for being a bit reckless; something I feel is more resonant in recent society than ever before.
There’s something raw about their music, an authenticity that’s been lost along the way. There’s a dash of Rock’n’Roll rebellion, a spoonful of classic rock ethos, and a whole heap of sticking it to the man; this is a song that (hopefully) marks a new era for girls with guitars and drumsticks everywhere. This is a band for the modern day feminist.
Check out Deap Vally’s debut album, Sistrionix!
FOALS- BAD HABIT
“Bad Habit”, a single off Foals’ third studio album, Holy Fire, is one of those tracks that you can keep playing again and again, yet it still feels fresh as the first time. Holy Fire as an album was a tremendous follow-up to their critically acclaimed predecessor Total Life Forever, and even though the album holds some great tracks such as “My Number” and “Inhaler”, I have to go with Bad Habit being my song of the year. I think it’s hard to describe music without sounding a little pretentious—so bear with me on this—but it’s just a song that stays with you. Yougetme? It’s a track filled with poignant lyrics, but because it’s quite upbeat you miss that the first time round. And that’s what I like in my music! Layers. Like an onion. “Bad Habit” was the perfect soundtrack to my own memories of 2013, and if you’ve not checked it out—do so.
CARO EMERALD- LIQUID LUNCH
My favorite single of 2013 has to be “Liquid Lunch” by Dutch performer Caro Emerald. The song was released on 21 May 2013 as the second single from her second studio album The Shocking Miss Emerald. Caro Emerald’s music has been described as a fusion of Jazz and pop and that is clearly shown in “Liquid Lunch”. It’s Jazzy, upbeat, beautifully sung and is such a fun song. Liquid Lunch is a tongue in cheek song from one sassy gal. What makes “Liquid Lunch” different from other contemporary pop music songs is that not only does it have a mix of jazz but it also breaks away with the running theme of singing about going to the club, instead focusing on a more realistic and relatable aspect of what happens when we have a little too much fun on a night out. It is a song aimed for anyone who has gone out with a group of friends (maybe just to get something to eat) and woken up the next day with a banging head ache and an empty wallet. It is the ultimate hangover song.
So there you have it! What were your favourite tunes of 2013? Leave us a comment below!