The Happyoblivion Best Singles or Random Tracks of 2013

Here we go into more detail on the Happyoblivion Best of 2013 lists. First up, these are 2013’s top 10 singles or random tracks (songs that came from albums that were good, but not stellar enough to be a top 10 album of 2013). I will post up the 10 best overall albums of 2013 (aka the consistently best LPs and EPs from beginning to end, with no filler or weak songs) next week!

10) Summer heart—Beat Of Your Heart [single]. On the show I played Summer Heart’s 2012 release “I Wanna Go,” when I meant to play ‘Beat of Your Heart,” which was released in 2013. In any case, I can safely say that many people, including me, dug both tracks with equal fervor. This the moniker of David Alexander, who hails from Sweden, and evokes that relaxed feeling that is indicative of many synthesizer-based summer tunes.

9) Gypsy and the cat—Bloom [LP—The Late Blue]. This Australian band surprisingly snuck up on me with their LP release, “The Late Blue.” I might have prejudged the name and album cover and thought I was getting some folk music. But what amazement when my ears picked up just wonderful pop tunes coming from the speakers. Shame on me for not knowing about this band earlier, who has had success in their home country. They’ve harnessed a little bit of new wave feel to progressive pop rock and have been compared favorably to MGMT. The gem of the album is the track “Bloom,” a definite hum-along tune.

8) Washed out – All I Know [LP—Paracosm] This is the sophomore album from Washed Out, the artistic nom de plume for Ernest Greene. Pretty much following in the tracks of the first album “Within And Without,” we hear more of the chillwave sound. “All I Know,” along with “It All Feels Right” and “Falling Back” are highlights of this solid album. Washed Out has achieved significant commercial success in the U.S., so you’ll likely hear these tunes alongside your favorite Toro Y Moi songs at the hip clothing stores in the mall.

7) The yearning – Still In Love [LP—Still In Love] Reminiscent of bands such as the School (both are on the Elefant label), the Yearning hit that sweet 60s pop sound. Maddie Dobie is the lead singer with the wondrous voice, and was only 15 at the inception of the band in 2012. This was one of Tracyanne Campbell’s (of Camera Obscura) favorite tracks of the year as well. The title track from their LP release is quite the pleasant gem!

6) Obedient wives club—Murder Kill Baby [EP– Murder Kill Baby] Out of Singapore, this is another female-fronted band with that wonderful 60s sweet pop sound that Phil Spector would love. Instantly sing-along-able songs of heartfelt longing, the title track of the EP hits all the right notes. Oh, and the band’s name is ironically adopted from a real-life organization that tells wives to be submissive to their husbands; happily, this band is here to espouse just the opposite, and the world is much better for it.

5) Paradise—Stars Shine Bright [single] Hailing from London, Paradise continues to create buzz with their cheerful, danceable tracks. Tony Harewood and Joseph Marshall comprise the duo, and the echoey chillwave vibrance infuses the tune. It’s the cheerfully layers of guitar haze on top of swaying synthesizer in the perfect delicate balance that carries us all upwards and puts a smile on our faces.

4) Wild Nothing—Ride [Empty Estate EP]. Jack Tatum continues to bring us excellent tracks as the one man band that is Wild Nothing. Though not as consistently excellent as his two full length albums, this EP is still not bad. However, the EP does seem to wander a bit more, and it suffers from comparison to the stellar LPs. Clearly for me, the standout track on this EP is “Ride,” a pleasurable track that definitely has been played many times over this past year.

3) Alpaca sports – telephone [single]. Pure indie pop goodness! “Let’s go somewhere, let’s go somewhere alone” is part of the lyrics and really this is just pure wonderful indie-pop at its cheeriest. Happy melodies and vocals are all part and parcel of the great twee music from Swedish band Alpaca Sports, who are on a roll and set to release a full length album in 2014. There is stiff competition, but they might very well be my favorite Swedish pop band, and that is certainly saying a lot.

2) Northern portrait—The Young And Hopefuls [Various Artists – A Sunday Matinée CD] What I said two months ago still stands true, and every bit of music from this Danish indie pop band is like a delicious morsel that I want to savor but can’t help but gobble up so quickly it is gone before I realize. This track can be found off of the Matinee Records compilation release “A Sunday Matinée,” which has many other great tunes on it from bands such as Strawberry Whiplash, Bart & Friends, and the Math & Physics Club. This track from Northern Portrait is a superb teaser after their excellent debut LP “Criminal Art Lovers.” Northern Portrait are like a less melancholy and more upbeat version of the vaunted Smiths/Morrisey sound that many enjoy. Their lyrics are also quite insightful, though sometimes the melodious sound and delicious hooks are deceptively cheerful enough to cause you to sing along without realizing it. At the end of the song, singer Stefan Larsen croons, “We have no social ambitions; as we don’t care about the rest.”

1) Teen runnings – Sightseeing [single]. Tokyo’s own Teen Runnings, formerly known as Friends, is back with a killer track that is one of my favorites for 2014. The guitar hooks and somewhat tropical sound combined with hopeful yet eerily ominous lyrics create the subversive contrast of happy and melancholy that speaks to creative indie types such as you and me: “See the towns, see their darker sides. There’s no paradise that you hope to be.” With a clearer, more focused sound on this song, they really hit it on all cylinders, delivering a singable, hummable, head bobbing song that is simply indie pop perfection.

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