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"Partners In Crime" - Coma Cinema

My favorite track off Mat Cothran’s latest Coma Cinema record was its most unassuming. “Partners In Crime” is devoid of vocal effects, an eye-catching title, or overt hooks of any kind. What it does have is an elusive tenderness just about unmatched in 2013. A gentle guitar and a Cothran at his most melodious make a song that, though I’m unsure asto the true meaning of, weaves around each and every heartstring. It reaches some delicate, difficult-to-reach wavelength of unhindered and unheeding warmth that is irresistible. 

- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013

"My Molly" - Sky Ferreira & Ariel Pink [Ariel Pink cover]

Sky Ferreira and Ariel Pink mess around in a new version of Pink’s “My Molly, with video by Grant Singer. Merry holiday or non-holiday. We’ll be flail-dancing in our old bedrooms.

- Tyler Hanan

"Mother We Share" - Chvrches

Though Chvrches’ The Bones of What You Believe was nowhere near my top ten for 2013, I’m not immune to the trio’s charms. I don’t want to be. Those sweeping, sugary sweet melodies are one of the many wonderful things that made this such a fantastic year for pop music (which I’ll be writing about for Cactus-Mouth at some point). To resist them is to embrace a life of less joy. 

The whole album didn’t hold up, but that hardly matters. When Chvrches is on point, they are a giant bowl of sugar-packed, icing-coated baked goodness. The musical sweet tooth can’t get enough of it. Those soaring choruses course right through your defenses and into your heart. You embrace the pitch perfect sheen unironically and cradle it close to your very soul. "The Mother We Share" and "Recover" inspire writing of the unapologetically cheesy gushfests you’ve ever committed to internet (which is quite fitting), and you don’t even care. 

- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013

"The Chronicles of Marnia" - Marnie Stern

Tap tap tapping virtuoso Marnie Stern released her sunset-lit, grin-inducing new album way back in March, but the effect of the album with the impeccably punny title can still be felt as we near the dead of winter. 

For an album made most delightful by Stern’s fretwork, the album is awash with great pull quotes. “Don’t you wanna be somebody?” she howls on “Noonan.” “Nothing is easy!” she asserts on the song of the same name. 

It’s an album of frequent highs, each carried by a euphoric riff of wide-eyed glee. This freight train/track of the same name proves to be its blissed-out peak.

- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013

"Port Dover" - Rika

Rika’s Count Your Lucky Stars-released How To Draw A River, Step By Step was a delightful surprise early in the year. Its gentle warmth was perfect for the last days of winter, when the thaw is coming but the ice and chill are still present.

"Port Dover" has a bit more of a step to it, the sound of driving down a sun-drenched endless highway. It hooks from the very first notes, and the consistent, alternating thrum of each instrument gives the choruses an extra bit of catharsis. 

- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013

"Romeo Must Never Know" - KEN mode

It’s entirely possible I opted for the easiest pick when selecting a track off Entrench after being unable to pick between the more furious “Counter Culture Complex” and “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick.” I’m okay with this. “Romeo Must Never Know” rips just as much as those two, if not more. 

I spoke on this song and video a month ago, but it bears reiterating. As great as they are at the fast and furious, KEN mode are equally up to the task of building longer, more patient pieces of brutality. It’s one of my favorite traits of a lazy comparison for this band: Converge. As easy as that comparison may be, though, it’s made honestly. Among the bands making ferocious noise, those two are at the top of the heap. 

Side note: Northern bellicosity done politely" is still the perfect description for these three noisy men from north of the border, even with the cell phone disdain. They’re only asking for their politeness to be reciprocated. 

- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013

"Black Me Out" - Against Me!

This may be of interest to you. It’s another taste of the Transgender Dysphoria Blues, though one more traditionally named than the previous preview

Everything about Against Me! is fascinating. Laura Jane Grace’s coming out as transgendered is an obvious storyline, but I’m also intrigued by those who comment on the band for, for lack of a better phrase, ”selling out.” It’s not a thread I necessarily subscribe to, but there’s certainly an interesting narrative there for browsing. 

Regardless, this will be one of the most talked about, and therefore “most important,” punk releases of the coming year. The stature of the band and the size of the Grace story are a combination few other releases will be able to match. 

There’s also the music, I suppose. Both tracks so far have been solid doses of punk goodness. Transgender Dysphoria Blues will be out on January 21 via Total Treble, and I look forward to hearing it. 

- Tyler Hanan

"Primetime" - Janelle Monáe ft. Miguel

The closest person you’ll get to a new Prince, The Electric Lady, gave us the sexiest song of 2013 and the greatest duet of 2013. This song is surpassingly, undeniably brilliant, and that’s beside the fact that it has already led to the conception of thousands of babies worldwide. Listen to this song. Look at this video. When the internet says “I can’t,” it’s because of “Primetime.” Just kiss already, you two. Please. 

- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013

"World" - Julia Holter

This year’s Loud City Song has been lauded by many as Holter’s best, most consistent effort yet, outdistancing the still excellent Tragedy and Ekstasis. It all started with “World,” the record’s first single and a song unlike any other Holter had yet recorded. 

Loud City Song was Holter’s first record in a studio, a fact that is most evident in the rich, open spaces of “World.” It’s a song that, though sparse, maximizes Holter’s best qualities: patience, precision, and her arrangements.

"World" has the first two in spades, stretching out the frequent silences into wide-eyed yearning for another word and blissful endorphine release when it would come. "Horns Surrounding Me" may be the epitome of anxiety and "In the Green Wild" her most fun song yet, but it is "World" that most showcased what Holter is capable of. 

- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013

"Rory" - Foxing

"Just you wait for the Foxing record," my friend said. "You’re going to love it."

Multiple times my friend told me this, though it was usually either with no caps or all caps. She told me this multiple times mostly because she has a terrible memory, but also because she truly believed the Foxing record would be the next big emo record, one worthy of being loved the way Whenever, If Ever has been loved. 

A show at some Flint bar this summer - I think it was Flint - was the first time I got an inkling beyond her word that this could very well be the record she hyped it to be. The set wasn’t the most rapturous concert I’d ever attended, but the potential was there for something on that level. A different venue, a few more fans who knew all the words, and it could reach that level of rapture,

Months later, that album - The Albatross - was streamed on AbsolutePunk and released by Count Your Lucky Stars. It turned out that the record was, as my friend insisted, pretty fucking great. If you’re into twinkly guitars, subtle builds, sudden shouting, and a high percentage of spine-tingling, paradigm-shifting, out-of-body moments, it’s likely you already knew this to be true. 

What I find most interesting is the desaturated palette. Colorless isn’t the right word, but there’s a certain faded grayscale to everything - the music, the album cover, the video for first single “Rory.” Everything feels a little washed out and worn, but in the best way. It’s fascinating, and especially effective given the album’s subtlety. There’s nothing quite like it.

Speaking of that for “Rory,” which premiered on Washed Up Emo, it’s quite arresting. The visuals, a bit wan, as mentioned, make quite the impression. Both throughlines - the performers separated into their two differently lit rooms and the young, fox-masked boy being chased and captured by similarly pint-sized pursuers - feature images of unsettling, autumnal beauty. It also isn’t too showy, but sticks with viewers regardless. It feels like an extension of the album in every way, and it succeeds as a result.

- Tyler Hanan