SLEIGH BELLS - SUGARCANESleigh Bells may be best known for Derek Miller's headbanging guitar antics, but "Sugarcane" demonstrates Alexis Krauss's ability to headline a song on her own terms. Her breathy, airy voice leads the listener through an infectious melody, while the buzzsaw guitar riff lends an ample amount of energy.
DANNY BROWN FEAT. PURITY RING - 25 BUCKSThe low, bassy, hip-hop styling of Purity Ring's production have always begged for the presence of a bonafide emcee, and Danny Brown is here to save the day. Corin Roddick's production provides a new perspective to Brown's bleak tales of street life, while Megan James delivers a smooth but dissonant hook.
VV BROWN - IGNEOUSJanelle Monae released a popular album this year about an android. But VV Brown's latest sounds as though it actually could have been made by an android. "Igneous" packs a sneering, acidic edge and presents a bold, breathtaking representation of her mystical, whimsical, and highly conceptual space age pop music.
PUSHA T FEAT. KENDRICK LAMAR - NOSETALGIAIf you haven't paid attention to rap for awhile, here are two vibrant names to look into. If you have, you can barely escape mention of them. Pusha's flow is laid back but clearly focused as he delivers an intimidating verse. Not to be outdone, Kendrick rips into a tale of how he rose from the streets to find his own success.
PEARL JAM - GETAWAYCrunching, guitar driven rockers are Pearl Jam's bread and butter, and the opening track from their 10th album, Lightning Bolt, is one of their best in years. Jeff Ament's grooving bass, Eddie Vedder's questioning of the accepted order, and a litany of solos firing off here and there create a tasty rock and roll confection.
PELICAN - DENY THE ABSOLUTEAlthough it gets off to a rollicking start, Pelican's vision unfolds slowly but deliberately. Once their full vision of ravaging instrumental metal is laid out, however, you will come to appreciate the boundless sense of direction with which this band operates. That the song has such a badass title is just more points in its favor.
PAUL MCCARTNEY - NEWEverything about this song is Paul McCartney doing what he does best. It's very simple and straightforward pop/rock with crunching guitars, great harmonies, and a boundless sense of optimism, but what seals the deal on "New" is McCartney's undeniable sense of charm and charisma.
ARCADE FIRE - REFLEKTOREverything about this song delivers chills. It builds as it goes, contrasting Win Butler's airy vocals with Regine Chassigne's French language verse, before adding in some dramatic guitar work and piano that will make the hairs on your arms stand up. Butler's desperate pleas near the track's close could not be more perfect.
M.I.A. - BAD GIRLSIt may be unfair including this song on the list, as it was first released in early 2012. Yet "Bad Girls" is easily the most infectious cut from her newly released Matangi album. She stays true to her world music influences, but the main meat of the song is carried by a series of catchy hooks soaked in her irresistible accent.
CUT COPY - TAKE ME HIGHER
When you hit play on a Cut Copy album, you can always be sure a good time is about to ensue. The Australian dance outfit keeps things festive on "Take Me Higher," the third single from their third album "Free Your Mind," but the dazzling outro to this song ranks as one of 2013's most dancable moments.