20. The Men – Please Don’t Go Away (Open Your Heart)
With The Men, there are no complex story lines or deeper meaning, just unbridled desperation. The distorted guitars are turned up to within an inch of their life and strummed furiously as he begs her “please don’t go away”. By the end, you’re left tired and defeated with nothing but your own blood and sweat for company. This is rock n’roll.
19. Danny Brown – Grown Up (Grown Up [Single])
Danny Brown takes us through his childhood on this track as he evolves from a poor kid in Detroit with ADHD into the weeded-out rap king he is today. The track is equal parts nostalgic and celebratory and flawlessly executed by an artist on top of his game.
18. JEFF the Brotherhood – Sixpack (Hypnotic Nights)
“Sixpack” is simply a fun song about loading the car up with ice and beer for a fun weekend with your bros. After a tough week at the office, who couldn’t use some good company and a cold one?
17. Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t (I Know What Love Isn’t)
Going through a breakup myself this year, Jens Lekman’s breakup album was always likely to resonate. But completely separate from that connection, Jens Lekman’s songs are brilliant. The melodies are catchy and the stories are downright funny without slipping into “being a joke”; there’s always an underlying sadness to every quip. The highlight comes in the second verse where Lekman sings “So let’s get married/I’m serious/but only for the citizenship/I’ve always liked the idea of it/a relationship that doesn’t like about its intentions and shit.”
16. Father John Misty – Only Son of A Ladiesman (Fear Fun)
Joshua Tillman’s ability lies in his incredibly poetic and detailed storytelling. On this track, he chronicles the ruins left behind by the death of a ladiesman. When he sings “couldn’t see his used up body at the funeral/by virtue of the flailing of his conquests” you’re transported to the scene of the funeral where a gaggle of distraught former lovers look on as a decrepit body is lowered into the ground.
15. Tame Impala – Why Won’t They Talk To Me? (Lonerism)
Tame Impala is an update and expansion on the psychedelic rock of the late 60s and 70s. On “Why Won’t They Talk To Me?”, Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker sings about alienation while the synthesizer constantly wobbles and shifts behind him adding to his overwhelming uncertainty.
14. Flying Lotus – Between Friends Featuring Earl Sweatshirt & Captain Murphy (Adult Swim Singles Series)
“Between Friends” is a track shrouded in mystery. At the time of the release, this was the first appearance of Captain Murphy, a completely unknown rapper whose actual identity was never revealed (later revealed as Flying Lotus himself). On the song, both rappers’ voices are altered and constantly changing it’s difficult to tell who’s actually rapping. Finally, Flying Lotus’ beat is futuristic, ambient and spacious which gives it the feel of a twilight zone episode. This song had a lot of people (myself included) intrigued.
13. The Antlers – Drift Dive (Undersea [EP])
“Drift Dive” is reminiscent of Burst Apart’s standout track “Rolled Together” both musically and lyrically. The songs are both built around an ambient guitar riff, which allows for exploration and expansion. Lyrically, Silberman repeats one provocative line, “Dissolving into a million pieces,, in a billion places” which adds to the atmosphere of the song. Using the ocean motif, Silberman takes us on an journey through the abyss.
12. Kendrick Lamar – m.A.A.d city Featuring MC Eiht (good kid m.A.A.d city)
On his newest album, Kendrick Lamar puts the listener in the backseat of his mom’s minivan and takes them on a trip through his childhood in Compton. On m.A.A.d city, Lamar paints a detailed picture of blood and violence that turns the streets of Compton into a battlefield. You want nothing more than to escape but are crushed are under the weight of hopelessness and despair.
11. Frank Ocean – Pyramids (channel ORANGE)
“Pyramids” is a 10 minute, two part epic uses Cleopatra to discuss the degradation of females from the queens/goddesses they were to the pieces of meat for male consumption they have become. Part two is where Ocean’s songwriting ability really shines as he tells the story from two different perspectives. In the first verse, Ocean watches his “queen” Cleopatra get ready for work as a prostitute. The second verse is told from the perspective of Cleopatra’s pimp and in the third verse she returns home as Ocean comes to the heartbreaking conclusion that “her love ain’t free no more”.