40. Oberhofer – Away Frm U (Time Capsules II)
Brad Oberhofer creates catchy Pop Punk tracks replete with “Ooos”, drumming conducive to hand clapping and he throws in some whistling just for good measure. The results are pure, unadulterated fun.
39. Killer Mike – Butane (Champion’s Theme) Featuring El-P (R.A.P. Music)
Killer Mike’s newest album is an overt political statement for the current generation. On “Butane” Killer Mike takes a break from his political musings and provides a brag track in the truest sense. While El-P’s verse follows his usual dystopian themes, Killer Mike gives us a documentation of his considerable skills, the most compelling of which comes in the second verse when he raps “like prostitutes to mattresses/this shit just comes naturally.”
38. Death Grips – Come Up and Get Me (NO LOVE DEEP WEB)
Death Grips are punk rock. Sure, their music is technically classified as hip-hop but everything about them embodies the spirit of punk. From their aggressive instrumentation to their passionate lyrical delivery and even their hatred of the powers that be (see their public dispute with their label over the release of their second album of 2012 NO LOVE DEEP WEB) Death Grips are keeping punk alive. Oh and how could I forget to mention that album cover? “Come up and get me” is the perfect mission statement for their art.
37. Schoolboy Q – Hands on the Wheel Featuring ASAP Rocky (Habits & Contradictions)
The best hip-hop songs are often intelligent and complex narratives about the hardships of growing up surrounded by violence and poverty that feature political undercurrents about racial & social inequality. This is not that song. Sometimes we just need a song about good ‘ol fashioned excess. Schoolboy Q and ASAP Rocky provide us with just that as evidenced by the opening line of Q’s verse: “ life for me is just weed and brews/see the hoes flock to you when your name is Q”
36. The Tallest Man on Earth – Revelation Blues (There’s No Leaving Now)
Kristian Matsson is one of the finest singer-songwriter’s working and its his consistency that sets him apart from his peers; he’s never written a bad song. “Revelation Blues” is the perfect representation of his focus on the new album as it discusses the reflection and resultant sadness about the man he used to be. Check out his performance for Pitchfork's City of Music.
35. M. Ward – There’s A Key (A Wasteland Companion)
When you’re as good a musician and songwriter as M. Ward, there is no need to do anything groundbreaking or boundary pushing. “There’s A Key” is as simple and straightforward as it is beautiful.
34. Gates - …And To Those Who Carry On (You Are All You Have Left to Fear)
Gates takes the best elements of post rock giants like Mono and more technical math rockers like American Football and fuse them together to create massive rock epics. What sets “…And To those Who Carry On” apart from the rest is the yearning sing-along in the bridge about watching a friend die before their time.
33. Dr. Dog – Lonesome (Be The Void)
Dr. Dog take one of humanities biggest fears and turn it into a rollicking sing along. Nicely played fellas.
32. The Walkmen – We Can’t Be Beat (Heaven)
On “We Can’t Be Beat”, Hamilton Leithauser and co. enlist the help of Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold. As can be expected, there are vocal harmonies aplenty and the results are simply breathtaking.
31. Grizzly Bear – Sun In Your Eyes (Shields)
Grizzly Bear’s music is synonymous with perfection; the production is flawless, the instrumentation is dense and their harmonies soar. Like many of their more epic tracks (“Colorado”, “Foreground”, “Lullabye”), “Sun In Your Eyes” ebbs and flows, eventually builds to a beautiful climax and then leaves with nothing but a whisper.