Songs of 2013 (so far)

It’s bang on six months until the Greatest Day of the Year, aka Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown. At the halfway point, here are the first five songs I’d be voting for if polls closed today.

Vance Joy – Rip Tide

Good grief I adore this song. What I originally wrote off as a cute and catchy – but ultimately forgettable -ukulele tune might have become my favourite three minutes in music this year.

It’s in the vocals – they’re strained, desperate, ragged. It’s a foot stomping pop song that drips with longing. It’s not about the search; it’s about finding what you’ve been looking for and spending the rest of your life terrified that you’re going to lose it.

And just try to get through the “this cowboy’s running from himself” line, or the wolf-like, pre-chorus “ooooohhhhhhh” howls without belting it out yourself.

CHVRCHES – Recover

Not sure what I like the most about this song. Sometimes it’s the synths kicking in at the end of the chorus. Sometimes it’s the hand claps at the beginning of the second verse, the reward for the build-up. Most of the time it’s the way she says “number”.

The National – Don’t Swallow the Cap

Probably the bounciest and most musically buoyant song we’ve ever had from the The National (which isn’t really saying much because it’s, you know, The National).

Something of a sister song to “Bloodbuzz Ohio”, with its driving drums and abstract, introspective lyrics, “Don’t Swallow the Cap” is about struggling to make sense of your life; about feeling a little off and not knowing why. It’s about drinking too much and thinking just a little bit harder than you should. So basically like every other National song – except this one comes with gorgeous, restrained backing vocals from St Vincent to add an extra edge of melancholy and defy the upbeat tempo.

HAIM – Falling

It’s a rare occurrence, but I don’t have the words to do HAIM justice. All I can really say is that they make my soul feel good. At their HiFi Bar Melbourne show this month, during a lull in sound, a fellow audience member yelled “You’re very good at what you do”, which has to be the most accurate and polite piece of crowd conversation I’ve ever heard.

Houses – The Beauty Surrounds

Folk-electronica with tragic and tear-jerking lyrics is right in my wheelhouse, so I was always going to be all in on this one. Throw in a visually stunning and so-sad-it’s-painful video, and there was no way this song was going to miss out on a spot on the list.


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