Best Track Of 2013

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Miracles Of Modern Science
"Dear Pressure"

MEEMS by Miracles of Modern Science was probably the most enjoyable listen of 2014. An exuberant, poppy, and quixotic EP, the highlight is "Dear Pressure," a track which pays homage to recording, touring, and friendship. While most tracks aren't able to transcend the one-liner or one-dimensional, Miracles of Modern Science seem to be able to one up themselves repeatedly on every track. "Dear Pressure" begins with a beguilingly muted line which explodes by the first chorus and just when you think that's not going to be repeated, Miracles of Modern Science seem to transcend and push the boundary from chorus to bridge and back. Rather than one-dimensionality, this track thrives on its incredibly intelligent instrumentation and a wry sense of humor that has been achingly absent from music since the heyday of Pavement. 


Nerves Junior

There is an evil that lurks around on Nerves Junior's track "Intern".  The song begins with a confident stroll wrapped around smoky electronics that fold on themselves as the track progresses and gobbles up its previous sounds only to build and build.  If you've ever seen Blue Velvet, "Intern" is the song version of Frank, pure darkness balancing between slick grins and pure rage.

Look to the 2:51 mark to understand why this track tops 2013.  In that moment, "Intern" explodes with drums seemingly breaking on each strong hit, a grimy guitar that has the sharpness of a knife, and a lead singer crooning to the point his vocals swirl and lift out of the atmosphere occupied by the rest of the sounds.  My favorite tracks are always those that can excite the emotions in new ways.  "Intern" scares, tricks, turns, and has an underbelly of fire beneath beautiful melodies.

Caleb McCoach ­ 
"With A Song"

Despite the immediate, effortless beauty of "With a Song," I take enjoyment in the fact that, most days, I'm not convinced it's the best track on Caleb McCoach's debut LP Songs From an Empty Shore. To paraphrase what I wrote at the time of the album's release: Once you've navigated the isolated minimalism that serves as the benchmark of this LP, the simple, restrained piano lines and gentle maracas of "With A Song" come across as lush as the largest symphony. This track is a foggy­eyed release from the tortured, crises of faith that appear like street signs along the journey that is Songs From an Empty Shore. I love that it's a song about the healing power of songs. I love its honesty. I love the ease with which the lyrics drip from Caleb's tongue. I love the way it could dance by unnoticed on the jukebox of a dusty barroom. Yet, if you give it the attention it deserves, it can reduce you to tears.

Armand Hammer 
"Frog and Toad are Friends"

More than any song I listened to in 2013, Armand Hammer's "Frog and Toad are Friends" is the one that consistently reminded me why I love music so much in the first place.  The song's raw, hypnotic production from Marmaduke and no-chorus, tag team vocal approach from billy woods and Elucid is clearly more influenced by the likes of the Wu-Tang Clan and MF DOOM than anything from the modern rap scene, but this is not throwback rap.  Elucid and woods mix traditional skills and aesthetics with challenging perspectives and wordplay to create multidimensional music that feels familiar and fresh at the same time.  While Elucid and billy woods are both experts at creating layered concept songs, "Frog and Toad are Friends" is perhaps the best example of the duo just flexing their rapping chops Run The Jewels style and the results are spectacular.  


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