Black Joe Lewis, Skulldiggin – I prefer 2011’s Scandalous album (with the Honeybears) over this year’s Electric Slave. But the big, deep, dark guitar of Skulldiggin drew me in to this track.
The Blow, I Tell Myself Everything – It’s cheeky and quirky, a syncopated electronic pop delight. “I heard a rumor that I was amazing.” You are, Blow. You are.
Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams, Get Lucky – Daft Punk lays down the groove, Pharrell emcees the party. Goes down smooth.
The Devil Makes Three, Hallelu – “They say Jesus is coming / But he’s walking / He sure ain’t running.”
Eminem, Berzerk – Nice to hear Eminem at the top of his game. Throw Rick Rubin in the mix, and kapow!
Frightened Rabbit, Holy – I prefer these folky Scots to their English counterparts, Mumford & Sons. They’ve matured well, learning to fill out their sound. Holy is a perfect example of that.
Iron & Wine, Low Light Buddy of Mine – I&W does that “so hushed it’s almost like it’s not there” thing better than anyone.
Hanni El Khatib, Family – Hanni rocks. All day. Every day. And twice on Thursdays.
Haim, My Song 5 – There are a scad of good pop songs on Haim’s 2013 disc, Days Are Gone. My Song 5 is the best of the bunch.
Har Mar Superstar, Lady, You Shot Me – Killer soul track that sounds like it was pulled out of 1972.
The Hawk in Paris, Freaks – Weird, cool and fun.
Houndmouth, Penitentiary – The Louisville roots rockers sing, “C’mon down to the penitentiary.” It sounds so good, you’ll find yourself considering it.
The Julie Ruin, Ha Ha Ha – Dance to this punk rock gem as the world ends.
Valerie June, Tennessee Time – My favorite new female vocalist of 2013.
Bill Kirchen, Down to Seeds and Stems Again – Mr. Kirchen wrote himself a Willie Nelson song, sad and funny, like most good country music is.
Little Green Cars, The John Wayne – Simple and easy to love.
Melvins and Mark Arm, Set It on Fire – I like me some loud, dirty Melvins. This fits the bill.
M.I.A., Y.A.L.A. – Bombs go off when she enters the building!
Milk Carton Kids, Honey, Honey – It’s got that sincere, Simon and Garfunkel quality to it.
Juana Molina, Eras and Bicho Auto – Argentina’s female Beck? Close enough.
nine inch nails, All Time Low – Not nin’s greatest album, but there are some truly excellent tracks on Hesitation Marks.
Parquet Floors, Stoned and Starving – It took me awhile to get into PF’s disc, Light Up Gold. But I’ve now boarded the bus and am taking the trip.
The Postelles, You Got Me Beat – An unabashed, joyful pop rock nugget in that lands somewhere between the Cars and Jackson Browne.
Britney Spears, Work Bitch – The producing crew gives La Brit an awesome musical tapestry to front, and the vocal processing perfectly masks her weak pipes. This will be banged from spinning classes in Peoria to strip clubs in L.A.
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Siamese Cat – Martin does what he does best – pick a banjo – and leaves most of the singing up to Edie. This track is a nice mix of melancholy and sass.
The Virgins, Flashbacks, Memories & Dreams – A new wave dance rock track with some terrific fretwork.
Kanye West, Black Skinhead – I loved Kanye West. Kanye Kardashian is growing on me.
Gin Wigmore, Black Sheep – Gin’s bluesy pop is so damn catchy.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Subway – What I love about this track is Karen O’s voices sounds so light it could float into the ether if it weren’t tethered to this plane by the sound of the subway car rolling over the tracks.
Young Fathers, Queen is Dead – A minimalist approach initially, then the volume and noise explode. What it lacks in catchiness is makes up for in madness.
* Best of the rest: Arctic Monkeys, Arabella; Avett Brothers, Vanity; Best Coast, I Don’t Know How; Blood Red Shoes, Cold; Brainticket, Black Sand; Neko Case, Nearly Midnight, Honolulu; Childish Gambino, Zealots of Stockholm [Free Information]; Cloud Cult, Sleepwalker; J. Cole, Villuminati; Dead Prez, No Way As the Way; Deerhunter, Leather Jacket II; Dengue Fever, The Province; The Dirtbombs, Crazy For You; Earl Sweatshirt, Whoa; Hanni El Katib, Nobody Move; Elvis Costello & The Roots, Walk Us Uptown; Frightened Rabbit, Holy; Haim, Falling; Houndmouth, Comin’ Round Again; Ivan and Alyosha, Be Your Man; JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, Security; Joanna Gruesome, Secret Surprise; Valerie June, Somebody to Love; Janelle Monae, Dance Apoclyptica; Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu, Q.U.E.E.N.; Janelle Monae feat. Prince, Give ‘Em What They Love; Laura Mvula, Make Me Lovely; nin, Disappointed; Parquet Courts, Borrowed Time; Pissed Jeans, Loubs; The Postelles, Sweet Water; Reignwolf, Are You Satisfied?; Savages, I Am Here; Sebadoh, I Will; The Shouting Matches, Mother When?; Sleigh Bells, Bitter Rivals; Skating Polly, Lost Wonderfuls; Speedy Ortiz, Cash Cab; Vampire Weekend, Diane Young; Waaves, Give Me a Knife; Dale Watson, I Lie When I Drink; Gin Wigmore, Kill of the Night; Wild Nothing, The Body in Rainfall; Young Fathers, Come to Life
* Honorable mention: Arcade Fire, Relektor; Avett Brothers, Open Ended Life; Blood Red Shoes, In Time To Voices; Civil Wars, The One That Got Away and From This Valley; Cults, I Can Hardly Make You Mine; Daughter, Youth; Dave Grohl & Friends, Your Wife is Calling; Devil Makes Three, A Moment’s Rest; Disclosure feat. Sam Smith, Latch; Elf Power, A Grey Cloth Covering My Face; Hanni El Katib, Sinking in the Sand; Elvis Costello & The Roots, Refuse to be Saved; Eminem, Rhyme or Reason; Flaming Lips, Be Free, A Way; Frightened Rabbit, Acts of Man; The Front Bottoms, Skeleton; Future of the Left, The Male Gaze; Ghostface Killah feat. Master Killa, I Declare War; Daughn Gibson, You Don’t Fade; Haim, Forever; Houndmouth, Come On, Illinois; Iggy & The Stooges, Burn; Jason Isbell, New South Wales; Jim James, Know Til Now; Valerie June, Somebody to Love; The Knife, A Tooth for an Eye; Talib Kweli, Turnt Up; The Last Bison, Quills; Shvona Lavette, All the Gold; Little Green Cars, My Love Took Me Down to the River; Mazzy Star, In the Kingdom; Juana Molina, Lo Decidi Yo; Pistol Annies, I Feel a Sin Comin’ On; Pusha T, Numbers on the Board; Queens of the Stone Age, Keep Your Eyes Peeled; The Relatives, Speak to Me (What’s Wrong With America?); Rogue Wave, Used to It; Seve Duo, Rid of Me; The Shouting Matches, Mother When?; Speedy Ortiz, Plough and No Below; Sterile Jets, Sustenance Jar; Tal National, Kaani; Justin Timberlake, Mirrors; Justin Timberlake feat. Jay-Z, Suit and Tie; Frank Turner, Recovery; Tyler, The Creator, IFHY and Treehome95; Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Day; Waxahatchee, Dixie Cups and Jars; Kanye West, Bound 2; Matthew E. White, Big Love; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sacrilege and These Paths