The HST Mixtape of 2013

Pola-Riot-Lenny-Laserdisc-Mixtape-The-Austrian-Tapes-01Another year, another mixtape! 2013 was another great year in music, and below are just twenty tracks that I believe made this year enjoyable. Of course, there are the rules I stick by every year, and they go as followed:

  • The songs must be release from January 1st to December 28th, 2011 (Just like last year, I’ve taken the future releases of the month of December into account. Even the new Beyonce was listened to).
  • The song must be from a complete album that is released during that time period, so no pure singles. (That new Young the Giant and A Great Big World singles DO NOT COUNT!)
  • No re-releases, remastered, rarities, or cover songs (The Voice does not count, and neither does The Sing Off.)
  • The songs on the list must total one hour and twenty minutes (Enough to fill a blank CD, making it a mixtape).

  • So, let’s get started!

  • “Endless Fantasy” by Anamanaguchi
  • Nothing this year was as bright or as sugary sweet as Anamanaguchi’s album Endless Fantasy. The title track is a long dance number that keeps escalating until its conclusion. This is the perfect start to this year’s mixtape.

    “Doin’ It Right” by Daft Punk feat. Panda Bear
    You thought it was going to be “Get Lucky,” didn’t you. Even though that song hit it out of the park this year, I found the robot duo’s song featuring Animal Collective’s Panda Bear the better song. It’s light, fun, catchy, and a great song to take out of this great album. Pharrell is good, but Panda Bear was better.

    “The Mother We Share” by CHVRCHES
    I had never heard of CHVRCHES until lead singer Lauren Mayberry came out with the fantastic article about sexism in music. That introduced me to their music, and more importantly “The Mother We Share;” a glossy pop song that demands multiple listens. Its glossy, fun, and enjoyable on every level. Also, it’s terribly addictive – you’ve been warned.

    “Closer” by Tegan and Sara
    SO WHAT if they changed their sound? Tegan and Sara might have evolved their sound into a more radio friendly sound, but they did it while still sounding fantastic. “Closer” is a gorgeous, sexy pop song guaranteed to be a hit at anyone’s party. Upbeat, fresh, and fun, Tegan and Sara might have found a nitch in the market. At least I’m buying in.

    “Royals” by Lorde
    Talk about out of nowhere! Out of nowhere, Lorde not only bursted onto the scene, she grabbed a smash hit in “Royals,” a minimal pop song with the catchiest chorus of the year. Sure, the lyrics throughout her full length Pure Heroine was a little too young for my taste, however, “Royals” just happens to hit the right spot at the right time. Who knows where Lorde will be in a year – hopefully still kicking ass.

    “Retrograde” by James Blake
    Without a doubt my song of the year. It’s dark, moody, sexy, and has this groove to it that is infectiously hypnotic. Blake’s voice is top notch here, looping a hum into one of the most iconic sounds of the year. That plus a hypnotic music video makes this song a must listen for the year.

    ‘This Is Gospel” by Panic! at the Disco
    Another strong album, another set of close songs. However, the opening to Too Weird To Live was a real highlight for the album. Sure the chorus is nothing to right home about, but the song as a whole makes it a must for every fan of Panic. Knowing that no album will sound the same as their other albums, I’m already waiting for what’s next from Urie and Co….and I don’t mind waiting another three years for it either.

    “Ain’t It Fun” by Paramore
    Two members down and about a year late, Paramore’s self titled album kept every promise they made. “Ain’t It Fun” might not have been their lead single, but it should’ve been. Mixing punk, pop, and a bit of gospel(?), this helped reinvigorate my admiration of Paramore the band.

    “The Phoenix” by Fall Out Boy
    I would’ve never thought that Fall Out Boy would come back together, I also thought that MCR wouldn’t break up, but obviously I’m wrong on both accounts. Luckily, they haven’t lost their swagger, as songs like “The Phoenix” really made this band worth listening to again. I don’t know how long they have left, but they’re killing it once again.

    “Up In The Air” by 30 Seconds to Mars
    Honestly, if it wasn’t for the music video for the song, “Up In The Air” might as well just been another 30 Seconds To Mars track. However, the stylized visuals and over-the-top features of the video LITERALLY MADE this song. Don’t agree? Take a look and find out for yourself.

    “Sex” by The 1975
    There was no other debut this year that impressed me more than The 1975’s “Sex.” One of the catchiest songs of the year, this British foursome made a giant splash with a relatively simple song. The hook “she’s got a boyfriend anyways” made this song one of a kind, and one of the more enjoyable songs of the year. Let’s see where this goes.

    “Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend
    There were so many songs off of Vampire Weekend’s latest album that were fantastic, but only one could rise above and make it to the mixtape. It was “Diane Young” that took it. Stompy, loud, but incredibly fun, “Diane Young” is just one example of the fantastic album Vampire Weekend graced us with this year.

    “Right Action” by Franz Ferdinand
    It was such a pleasure when I got to listen to Franz Ferdinand’s latest album knowing it wasn’t going to suck. Almost ten years since their first Mercury prize winning album, and the Scottish band haven’t missed a step. “Right Action” isn’t as much a perfect song more than proof that a band ten years from their prime can still make great songs.

    “Recovery” by Frank Turner
    Folk didn’t have a big year like it did last year, but Frank Turner made an exception entitled “Recovery.” The song’s lyrics, as well as how they are delivered, make this song incredibly enjoyable. It’s nothing revolutionary, but still pretty fantastic nevertheless.

    “Dance Apocalyptic” by Janelle Monae
    The Electric Lady was a damn near perfect album, so it was obviously hard to pick one song from the album. But “Dance Apocalyptic” shined as an energetic, funky, and bombastic single that really helped shape Janelle’s album into what it is. And what it is is a fantastic – yet entirely underrated experience.

    “Her Favorite Song” by Mayer Hawthorne
    Sure, Mayer Hawthorne might have lost his geeky persona back with his last album, but “Her Favorite Song” wouldn’t have worked if he kept that style. His smooth style mixing in with some more contemporary production made his new album Where Does This Door Go? quite the treat. There is no song on that album that better personifies that than this.

    “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West
    I almost skipped Black Skinhead completely from this list. However, its resurgence in pop culture – most notably The Wolf On Wall Street trailer – put it back into my memory. The beat is kickass, Kanye himself goes in hard, and the song as a whole never gets old. Yeezus isn’t my favorite album of the year, but “Black Skinhead” is still pretty damn good.

    “1Train” by A$AP Rocky feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and Big K.R.I.T.
    I wouldn’t call this “star power” as I would call this “a shade of what is to come.” Each verse – one verse per guest star, encapsulates each of their respective styles. This not only makes for some interesting dynamics (going from the metaness of Yelawolf to the absurd Danny Brown verse, for example), but makes for an overall interesting listen. Everybody has a favorite verse, and while it’s pretty hard for anyone to agree on a “best,” we can all agree that they murdered the track in their own ways.

    “Hive” by Earl Sweatshirt feat. Casey Veggies and Vince Staples
    Murky, grimy, dark, and incredibly smart, Earl Sweatshirt first full length Doris took the spot of my favorite rap album of the year this year. “Hive” is the must listen track from Doris, mixing a slower, more methodical flow with some of the best bars I’ve heard all year. I don’t know what Odd Future has in store for next year, but I can only hope for more of THIS.

    “Car Radio” by twenty one pilots
    It seems like we are at a crossroad, twenty one pilots’ fans. Although Vessel is still not a favorite for me, the song “Car Radio” still sticks out to me as a 2013 highlight. Mixing a bit of spoken word, hip-hop, and electronics, “Car Radio” starts slow and methodical, then breaks out into a danceable breakdown that just feels right. I hope whatever twenty one pilots does next expands off of this – cause “Car Radio” is damn near perfect.

    Did I miss anything? What are your favorite songs of the year? Let me know in the comments.

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