Category Archives: Gotta Hear This Music

RIP 2016 Retrospective Dance Mix: David Bowie, George Michael Prince and More

I didn’t want to celebrate 2016, nor was I excited to ring in 2017. The future looks bleak, and we lost so many greats. Especially the loss of David Bowie, which hit me harder than any celebrity death ever has, or likely ever will. So this year, instead of bringing you the best dance music of 2016, I’m offering up a retrospective dance mix comprised of musicians who died in 2016.

Honestly, I wasn’t all that hip to new music this year. I had David Bowie on repeat after his death in January, and with every unarmed black man shot by police, I put Louis Armstrong on repeat. It was a year for listening to Nina Simone and a lot more Louis Armstrong. With so many celebrity deaths, it felt like a year for looking back, not only to those who died, but to those living we might not be honoring because they have the nerve to keep breathing without releasing new albums.

If you’re looking for a retrospective mix, this one touches on most of the notable musical deaths of 2016. Download or stream it right here.

I think this tweeter put it best:


NOTE: If you are throw this on at a party, make sure you stop it on the next to the last track. The final track is a Leonard Cohen song read as a poem. It’s not remotely dance-able, and it’s grim enough to suck the cheer out of any room. But I felt it was the right tone to wrap up 2016 (on that note, lots of posts coming up about American fascism).

RIP 2016 Retrospective Dance Mix

(right-click, “save as” to download mp3)

Playlist of songs below.

cover image for 2016 retrospective playlist, shows me dancing to Too Funky by George Michael

RIP 2016: Retrospective Playlist of Artists Who Died in 2016

  1. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy
  2. Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It?
  3. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
  4. David Bowie – Modern Love
  5. Prince – Seven
  6. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – Natural Born Lover
  7. George Michael – Freedom 90
  8. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie cover)
  9. George Michael – Faith
  10. Leonard Cohen – Partisan (Melle Kuil deep house mix)
  11. David Bowie – Young Americans (Impeach the President remix)
  12. George Michael – Too Funky
  13. Parliament – Flashlight
  14. Prince – Kiss
  15. Vanity 7 – Nasty Girl
  16. Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit (Fuzzion remix)
  17. David Bowie vs Eric Prydz – Dunproofin’ (Let’s Dance)
  18. Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows (Tiger Tooth Rerub)
  19. David Bowie – Space Oddity (Munk Machine remix)
  20. Wham! – Everything She Wants (’97 version)
  21. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker (Paul Kalkbrenner remix)
  22. Leonard Cohen – Democracy (as a poem, Neil Gaiman with Amanda Palmer on piano)

Dance Along to RIP 2016 with Me

Staying home on New Year’s Eve was a big deal for me. I always go dancing, mostly because its’ the one day of the year I can rally my homebody pals into going out. Like David Bowie says in “Modern Love,” “I don’t want to go out, I want to stay in, get things done.” Since I’d been meaning to try out live-streaming, I decided to ring in the new year dancing to my retrospective playlist. It’s pretty silly, and yes, I’m three sheets to the wind in this video. But if you want some company, or if you just want to have a laugh, you can dance along with me.

This playlist is a little different than the one above. I made a second draft with a few artists I’d left out the first time (Phife Dawg of Tribe Called Quest, Signe Anderson of Jefferson Airplane and Vanity of Vanity 6). Also after the first song it stopped, so I started it anew from where we left off. I am hoping to upload a dancing video with the new edit over it, but LightWorks crashes whenever I open it so it seems unlikely.

Google flagged one of the Prince songs in the video for copyright, so that section is muted, and due to the other tracks, it forces the video to have commercials…I’m beginning to see why people prefer Vevo.

Watch it on Facebook to avoid ads, muted Prince.

Post Script: No Comments

Comments are turned off for this post because I’m moving the articles here from to, and I can only have spam protection on one or the other. Feel free to reach out to me on social media in the meantime.


Four Hot New Indie Pop Singers I Can’t Stop Listening To

You may have noticed a dearth of posts lately. That’s because I’ve been getting a lot more paid blogging work, and at the end of the day writing an extra blog post for a personal passion project hardly seems worth the time. But in the past week I got complaints from two people who told me they missed these posts, and relied on them to find new music. Meanwhile, a friend of my was lamenting that there were no new pop songs this summer as infectious as last year’s singles from Lorde. This was enough to spur me to action, as you know no phrase tickles my ranty bone like “They don’t make good music like they used to,” even when “they used to” was just a few seasons ago. My reply to such an audacious untruth is always, “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.”

NPH as Barney Stinson saying Challenge Accepted

In fact, I’ve chosen to limit this post to girl pop singers, because, hey, I don’t have all day to tell you about all the great music out there so I need to narrow it down, OK? These aren’t fast-paced songs like you’d get from Dragonette or Icona Pop. As this post was inspired by Lorde, these are songs paced similar to her work, the kind of songs you could dance to, but will just as likely listen to while doing a thousand other tasks. They are songs that, like Lorde, reward repeat listening with interesting lyrics.

Julian Moon – Good Girl

Listening to Julian Moon reminds me of the first time I heard Sheryl Crow. It’s music that’s a little bit twangy, but too clean for country, and a little bit rock while still firmly cheery enough to be pop. This is one of those songs that is so clever, you’ll wonder how pop music has gotten along without it for so many years. The song is everything the “Good Girl” next door should be: sexy but approachable, familiar but unforgettable.

As of this posting, Julian Moon is offering “Good Girl” as a free download on Soundcloud, so there’s no reason her flirty voice shouldn’t be keeping you up all night, playing this number on repeat.

Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls

Hayley Kiyoko is also offering a free download, so I’m sharing the Soundcloud link below so you can grab it, but first I have to show you the video. I’m going to be honest with you, this video makes me more verklempt than Linda Richman at a Streisand concert.

Mike Meyers as Linda Richman on SNL's Coffee Talk saying "I'm getting a little verclempt"
This is me when I watch the Hayley Kiyoko video

I know there have been a ton of songs about girls liking girls, but for some reason this one feels really right to me. Many of the earlier bi-curious anthems feel more like they are in service to a man’s fetish than reflective of something real (I’m staring rudely at you, Katie Perry). At best, they are pointed political statements about equality. But “Girls Like Girls” is more like, “yeah, sometimes girls like girls, so what?” And I think that’s how the upcoming generation truly feels about it. I think this song makes me cry not because we need another gay rights anthem, but because of how casual the whole thing is. We waited so long for progress, so long it seemed impossible, and then it came all at once, so swiftly was justice brought about that a single generation later and the kids can hardly see what all the fuss was about.

Hayley Kiyoko – Girls Like Girls Video

So good, right?! Do you need a tissue? I do…every fucking time. And the chemistry between the girls is so true, like  even though they’re not doing anything in the video, you can feel it between them. And the scene at the end, you can see not how much they lust for each other, but how much they care about each other.

As far as I know, Hayley Kiyoko isn’t queer, I don’t think she’s even in the video (however, she did direct it). She’s primarily an actress, a Disney actress no less, best known for parts in CSI and as Velma in Scooby Doo. And those are the sorts of things that would normally prejudice me against a performer. But based solely on this song, I can’t wait to hear what this Disney princess puts out next.

Now here’s the Soundcloud so you can buy “Girls Like Girls.” I hope to listen to it enough times that I can hear it without turning into Linda Richman.

Bebe Rexha – I’m Gonna Show You Crazy

If the queer pride movement has crested (and the trans pride movement is currently on the rise) I believe the next big social movement is going to be for the nutters. Half of everyone is on some kind of psychiatric drug these days, while social services for mental illness are either terrible or non-existent. Which is not to say that every dance anthem has to have some moral underpinning. I mean to say, there are always a lot of crazy girls on the dance floor and those girls will immediately embrace this song, dancing their asses off with fists pumping. Rexha has a sultry and powerful voice and the with the fierce music behind her, she makes Meredith Brook’s “Bitch” sound like a family campfire song in comparison. Though we may not all be medicated, I think everyone can identify with this song, that moment when you cut loose and decide to own all the labels thrown at you, and then some.

Alessia Cara – Here

You know that feeling when you’re at a party, and you’re just so ready to go home? There’s someone trying to talk to you, and they mean well, and it’s nothing personal, but they could really just drop dead as far as you care, and everywhere you look there’s annoying people making bad decisions, and you don’t want to force your friends to leave, but you don’t want to spend another second in these uncomfortable shoes, and this loud music? YES I KNOW YOU KNOW THAT FEELING. Because even I know that feeling, and I’m always the last person who wants to leave the party. Alessia Cara has captured that feeling perfectly in “Here.” She doesn’t just tell us, she shows us, with all kinds of details about her surroundings, and that’s what we call good writing.

For the main sections, she sing-raps in the way that has been popularized by artists like Keisha, but Cara has a fantastic voice, deeper and more sultry than I’d expect from one so young. But the lyrics are interesting and she sings them fast enough that you get sucked in, want to learn the words so you can sing along. The back up vocals and the single piano key give the song weight.

I have this song followed by a remix of it on my Hypem list, which means that when I listen to my playlist I hear it twice. I’ve yet to skip either version.

These four songs are fighting it out to be my new favorite thing in the world right now. They are the soundtrack for my summer. What’s yours?

It’s a Very Special Peacheater Indie Christmas playlist!

Gremlins know your new favorite band

I used to think I hated Christmas songs. I dreaded the moment when the manufactured atmosphere coming off the Wal-bucks speakers would all be playing songs from the same playlist of all that is snowy and ribbon-wrapped. But in my first December as an obsessed radio-streamer, I discovered many delightful Christmas songs I’d never heard before.

Now that ’tis the season once again I’m looking forward to it. I’ve come to realize that what I hated about Christmas music was the same thing I’ve come to hate about commercial radio: it’s all so overplayed. Based on the narrow selection of songs you hear every holiday, you’d think that a new Christmas song only comes along every other year. This is ridiculous, of course. There are thousands of bands making music every year and even if many don’t have the holiday spirit, still many others must still be tempted to hop on the Christmas-cash-cow band wagon. The oft-praised Sufjan Stevens has released his third Christmas album, for Santa’s sake! And you don’t hear a one of those on the radio. Even Cardiff’s hippest hipsters Los Campesinos! are getting in on the action with their Christmas album, A Los Campesinos! Christmas.

But just as Weird ole’ uncle Al likes to harp on about walking to school buck naked in forty miles of snow, I’ll take any opportunity to complain about the dismal state of radio. The moral to this story is that there are tons of great Christmas songs out there that, just like in every other season, aren’t getting any airplay. Here are a few of my favorite indie Christmas songs.

Pas/Cal – Little Red Radio

An indie rock song that’s as pure as A Christmas Story. Much like the kids of that old Christmas flick, the narrative of this song is all about that one coveted present. And like the young characters in A Christmas Story the crooners’ want is just sweet and naive enough to make the consumerism palatable. “Little Red Radio” is probably the most spirited use of an organ ever used in a Christmas song.

Of Montreal – Christmas Isn’t Safe For Animals

If you like your music weird and if you prefer Buy Nothing Day to Black Tuesday, this is the song for you. Barely a Christmas song and more of an anti-consumer artistic statement. (I wish more of Of Montreal’s music leaned more towards social criticism and less towards whimsical fantasy.) It’s quirks like this that make me love Of Montreal all the more; either you’ll love this or hate it.

The Hives & Cyndi Lauper – A Christmas Duel

Currently this is my favorite Christmas song. Many have voted Fairytale of New York as the best Christmas song of all time, and if you’re in that crowd, you’ll love this track too. Like the couple trapped in the drunk tank on Christmas, this song highlights how Christmas brings together people who aren’t always happy to be in the same room together. Hilarity ensues. It would be a great song if it weren’t the Hives with Cyndi Lauper, but seeing as how it is, double the greatness.

Fallout Boy – What’s This

A punk cover of one of the best songs from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Does singing from the point of view of the Grinch count as punk rebellion?

Sally Shapiro – Anorak Christmas (Anoraak’s Christmas Remix)

For the electro lovers, here’s your sythtastic Christmas song.

Top Songs of 2013: Top Ten Best Indie Rock Songs

Murciélago y Demonio by Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez (aka Dr Lakra)

Murciélago y Demonio by Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez (aka Dr Lakra)

The Top Ten Indie Rock Songs of 2013

2013’s best indie rock songs combined simple guitar-strumming with emotive vocals and catchy piano riffs. What separates the top ten from the other great songs on the best indie rock list is usually something a little more, lyrically. While all the songs on this list and the previous top 20 Indie Rock Songs list will keep you jamming all year long, the songs below have the kind of lyrics that bear repeat listening. Either they tackle a more interesting theme, or their poetry puts a new spin on a cliche theme.

10. Wild Party – Outright (2:43)

Paul McCartney was right: there’s no shortage of good love songs, and yet here we go again. “Outright” (which, really the grammar snob in me feels should be two words) has twice the chance of becoming your latest addiction because it has two hooks. The fast-paced refrain may hook you, but I find the lines “I wish sometimes dreaming was as real as this feeling when I met you” just as catchy as the refrain, even if that line is also grammatically problematic (alas, no one seems to remember the English subjunctive these days).  Theoretically, if a CMOS snob like me were to like a song with this many grammatical errors, it would have to be a pretty good tune, eh?

9. The Neighborhood – No Grey  (3:25)

The Neighborhood’s starting to gain chart success in Oakland for their beautifully narrative song “Sweater Weather.” The reason it’s not on this list is that it topped my best-of indie music list last year. (If you’ve been here before, you know I try to stay ahead of the radio). “No Grey” didn’t catch my affection right away, probably because I loved “Sweater Weather” so much that it was hard to follow up. But I found “No Grey” creeping into my subconscious, found myself singing it even before I remembered who wrote it or the name of the song. It deals with a common theme among up-and-coming rock bands: balancing art with commercial success. I love “No Grey” musically, but it gets extra points for tackling a more interesting theme than boy-meets-girl.

8. Daughter – Youth (4:13)

Throughout 2013, I knew Daughter would be on this best-of 2013 list, it was just a matter of deciding which song. In some ways, though they’re so different as to not truly be the same genre, Daughter reminds me of The XX. The latter makes dreamier songs while Daughter’s music is more plaintive and folksy, both have mastered the art of subtlety. You’d be forgiven for not noticing there’s both a harp and a violin on this track, as the bare bones of “Youth” are Elena Tonra’s voice and a simple guitar melody.

Daughter’s music is sad, intimate, and the lyrics pull you in. Perhaps the perfect counterpoint to a couple who fell in love listening to Bon Iver is a to listen to Daughter when they break up. “Youth” is the song that captures this the most, with the beautiful idea that all the hipsters are drinking and smoking to set fire to their broken hearts:

And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones.
‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs.
Setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting names of the lovers that went wrong

A touching song that captures a moment, like a flame wavering in the dark. If you love “Youth,” you’ll enjoy the rest of If You Leave the album’s only flaw is that it’s too short.

7. Portugal. The Man – Modern Jesus (3:14)

Portugal. The Man has partnered with star-producer Danger Mouse to put out a terrific album with Evil Friends. These aren’t grab-you-by-the-neck songs nor do they get you with a pulsing rhythm. “Modern Jesus” is, not surprisingly, an atheist anthem (not the first to grace this site, see “Atheist Funeral” from 2011). When the drums and piano come in on the refrain, all that bass I’ve become accustomed to feels unnecessary. Like “Youth,” “Modern Jesus” is another simple song that rewards with straightforward but elegant lyrics and a perfectly balanced arrangement.

There are so many good tracks on Evil Friends, including the title track and the equally-satisfying “Creep In A T-Shirt.”

6. The Fratellis – Seven Nights Seven Days (3:25)

I’m a fan of every project Jon Fratelli has been involved in, from The Fratellis to his solo work to Codeine Velvet Club. Most of The Fratellis songs are about wine, women and song, with the wine replaced by something heartier and rustic, as more fitting to a rock band from Glasgow, Scotland.

“Seven Nights Seven Days” is just the kind of upbeat, rousing number that The Fratellis excel at. It’s the kind of thing you could imagine playing in a barn, with much stomping and beer-spilling. Continue reading Top Songs of 2013: Top Ten Best Indie Rock Songs

Top Songs of 2013: Best Indie Rock 11-20

Naoto Hattori
By Naoto Hattori

The Top 20 Indie Rock Songs of 2013

Below are ten of the best rock songs to come out in 2013. This list has everything from gentle lullabies to angsty guitar licks. What it doesn’t have are the 10 best indie rock songs of 2013, which are still yet to come. But I bet you’ll find these are so good that you won’t mind a bit.

Use the music player on the bottom of the screen to preview the whole list, or right-click and choose “Save as” to download. Songs will play in a new tab if clicked on.

20. Ball Park Music – Literally Baby (2:46)

“Literally Baby” isn’t even indie rock. This is good old-fashioned rock and roll that’s a little bit 1955 and a little bit 1995. For the latter I’m thinking of the vocalist, who shouts like one of the many nineties rockers influenced by ska or rockabilly. The piano tinkles like a golden oldie and the triumphant back-up chorus is one of many trills that give the song fullness.

The main reason this song didn’t find better footing on my list is that I’m perplexed by the refrain, which happens to remind me of my biggest grammatical pet peeve.  It’s not that he’s using “literally” wrongly, it seems more like for no reason at all. Maybe it’s a reference to the girl having a similar pet peeve—akin to Vampire Weekend’s “Oxford Comma.” But unlike the latter, it’s unclear what the singer is getting at with the refrain. Your thoughts on the lyrical intent?

19. Thee Oh Sees – Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster (3:32)

John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees
John Dwyer and his thumb buster [image via AlterEXA]

The opening shrill cuts like a knife and the thick, lusty guitar makes me want to sway right from the first riff. Not a lounge-y sway, but a raucous, wide-legged sway, deep enough to be a yoga move, best accompanied by a pumping fist. Next the drums and guitar relent in favor of the singing, unexpectedly soft. This is all just a breather, a chance to prep yourself for some more indulgence to the God of strings. I’m not one for long guitar solos (which half “Thumb Buster” is…I’m wondering if the title is a reference not to the song’s content but what it does to John Dwyer’s fingers). It all fizzles out in skillfully-dosed feedback. Fans of shoegaze and classic rock should check out “Thumb Buster”.

18. Born Ruffians – Needle (3:32)

The reason “Needle” didn’t get a better spot on my best of 2013 list is because it starts out too pretty. I like the pretty, but it’s a little too plodding, too plaintive. When the crisp refrain begins it feels like a slow slap in the face. Thirty seconds later I remember why I love this song. When Born Ruffians begin singing “A way! A way!” they have gorgeous harmonies it’s rare to hear in a rock band. And “Needle” does rock when it gets to that refrain. The rockage sneaks up on you.

There’s something to the lyrics too. Most of the song is a plaintive complaint of how the singer doesn’t fit in. But it’s not a sad song, it’s a love song. He’s found that someone, and what are the odds that such an odd fellow would find his needle in the hay?

I belong to no one
A song without an album
Long forgotten maxim spoken to the sea:
I belong with no one/ I belong with no one/ I belong with no one…

you belong with me

The typical lovesong would focus on the object of his affection but “Needle” is mostly lyrical navel-gazing. It’s narcissistic moping is touching because the more of an oddball he is, the more amazing it is that he found her.

Born Ruffians are one of many bands that hasn’t yet gotten the recognition they deserve. In “Needle” they sound a bit like they’re impersonating Vampire Weekend, but many of their best songs are more straightforward rocking out.

17. The Royal Concept – World On Fire (3:48)

Leave it to a Swedish electro band to show us how a synth was meant to be used. “World

Best Music of 2013 [Your New Favorite Band]
Check it: the Best Music of 2013 list is all into branding
On Fire” is yet another rousing tribute to soundtrack the march towards our dystopic future. “The world has gone mad,” the royal concept sings, and this is the song we lemmings will be dancing to as we go over the edge. Originally one of my top-five favorite songs of 2013, but I overplayed it so it lost its rank. Unfair? Tell me if you think it deserves a better spot.

16. Mounties – Headphones (3:08)

“I got my headphones on from the minute I’m up to the minute I go to bed.” That’s a refrain I feel more kinship with than I do with 90% of love songs.  I love the image of a pair of headphones as a sideways mohawk. These Canadian cops on horses are going to be buried in their headphones, proving they’ve done their homework. The guitar work pulls you in without drawing attention to itself while the chilled-out harmonies have a bit of edge in the refrain.

Mounties are a new band; they don’t even have their album on Amazon yet. Check out the Mounties website to feel all up and coming. Continue reading Top Songs of 2013: Best Indie Rock 11-20

Basic Bitches, Hate Labels and an Amazing Kreayshawn Remix

image of Kreayshawn from her Tumblog
Not a Basic Bitch

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, among them Slate’s Double X Gabfest. In a recent podcast they discussed the concept of the “basic bitch.” Immediately I thought of Kreayshawn’s 2011 hit, “Gucci Gucci” which proclaims “Gucci Gucci Fendi Vendi Prada: basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother.” At one point in the show one of the hosts declared she wanted a remix of that song, and I am here to supply. How can I resist when Party Ben’s remix is so damn good?

The hosts discussed basic bitches as compared to hipsters. They seem to me to be perfect binary opposites. Both groups are lashing out at the presumptions they expect from their counterpart. The basic bitch thinks the hipster is uppity for not following social conventions (I gave a perfect example of this in my first article on hipsters, sourced from Urban Dictionary’s hipster definition). While the hipster thinks the basic bitch is just the sort of girl who made fun of him/her in school for not wearing the right clothes or participating in sports.

If you’ll allow me to further digress, I was having a tangential conversation last night with a Puerto Rican woman I’d just met. We were drunkenly discussing Florida racial politics (a favorite pastime of mine) in particular the ongoing hatred between Cubans and Puerto Ricans.

She felt that Cubans were the ones keeping this going, always accusing Puerto Ricans of selling out, for not revolting against the Yankee oppressor. This parallax view fascinated me. As one raised amongst Cubans, the narrative was similar, but different. My upbringing taught me it was the Puerto Ricans who started it all, with their big flag necklaces and upper-middle-class pride. True, Cubans were proud of their revolutionary status, but the hatred was coming from the Puerto Ricans. They were the ones bragging about their status, thinking the Cubans were lesser, for both their poverty and their questionable legal status.

Now there’s a lot to this conversation, (and much of it that most people wouldn’t be willing to discuss or admit even sober), but the part that is germane here is that in both cases the prejudice towards the other group stemmed from some underlying insecurity. If that Puerto Rican in fifth grade hadn’t gone basic bitch on me for accidentally referring to her as Cuban, I’d not have had prejudices against Puerto Ricans and their pride flags. The prejudice was born out of my own insecurities. And if hipsters weren’t so frequently taunted and bullied as kids, maybe they wouldn’t be so eager to brag about their current elite taste in coffee, music and thrift shopping.

It’s so easy to see one side of that coin, from whatever side a person happens to identify with most closely. What is fascinating to me is that there’s insecurity coming from both sides. That the basic bitches and the Puerto Ricans were hating from a place of insecurity too. It reminds me that deep down there are no bad people, just terribly broken people in search of healing. And that all gets back to the opening of the Gabest episode, where they discuss the gender confidence gap. Nice when things come full circle, isn’t it (discuss!)?

I promise this remix is better than the one used in the closing credits of the Gabfest…though that one was satisfying too.

Kreayshawn – Gucci Gucci (Party Ben’s Bringing Back Fidget remix)

OK I really only meant to start this post as an excuse to share this Kreayshawn remix. This junk will really get you dancing. Seriously one of my favorite remixes of the decade, though Kreayshawn won’t inspire the Oakland hipsters like she used to. And for your patience during my rant, I’ll throw in this cover by suspected-hipster never-to-be-a-basic-bitch Neon Hitch. Neon Hitch drops the “basic bitch” from her version, take from that what you will.

Neon Hitch – Gucci Gucci (Kreayshawn Cover) (2:40)

If you like this cover, it’s in my Best Electro of 2011 list. There may be more there to your tastes.

PS, the women of the Double X Gabfest claimed Kreayshawn is now a “mommy blogger.” As a media professional well-acquainted with mommy bloggers, I’m going to challenge that. Having just visited her Tumblr, I’d say that Kreayshawn is not at all a mommy blogger, but simply a public figure how happens to be a mom and have a blog. A distinction a group of feminists should surely acknowledge!

Top Songs of 2013: Best Dance Music TOP TEN

best artist of 2013 Kukula
While we’re talking favorites of 2013, Kukula was the best artist I discovered last year.

The Top Songs of 2013 playlist continues, with the ten best dance songs playlist. By “best dance songs” I don’t mean “biggest bangers.” Anyone quality producer can lay down a floor shaker and even anthemic crescendos a la David Guetta and Calvin Harris are starting to sound tired. While the tracks below will make your hips shake, they also combine the zeitgeist of EDM right now and the direction dance music is heading.

The Best Dance Music of 2013

10. Smokey Robinson – Being With You (Clark Kent Remix) (4:34)

First posted August 2013 by Earmilk

As I mentioned in the previous post, this year’s crop of best dance tunes had a lot of retro remixes, but you’d not confuse this Clark Kent remix with an earlier dance era. Sure it opens with a ghostly a capella and follows that with a synth that could have come from 1984, but when the dubstep drops in you know this to be firmly 21st century. The washes and the thick bass make the song sick, and I’m just as impressed how he mixed Robinson’s simple piano melody with that very different-sounding synth. But mostly, somehow the Clark Kent remix makes this song sound so much more haunting than I ever thought Smokey Robinson could.

9. Miguel – Do You… (Cashmere Cat Remix) (5:07)

First posted April 2013 by the Astral Plane

I promised Cashmere Cat would make this list and here he is at number nine. I listened to this remix so much that I went and checked out Miguel, but it turns out what I really like about this song is 100% due to Cashmere Cat. Those looking for bangers may be disappointed to see this track on the list, it’s really an early-evening song.  But the best isn’t always the hardest, and I think Miguel is doing unexpected things with his mixes. I love his use of the squeaky bed springs, a tongue-in-cheek reference to sex that’s much fresher than the clichéd sound of a woman moaning. One of the growing trends of 2014 is slowed-down vocals, and this mix demonstrates this nicely. When you first learn mixing, playing with pitch is an easy way to kill a party so I’m doubly impressed to see it done effectively. I also like the way he picked out the particularly fun couplet of this song and focused on it, without making the vocals sound repetitive. Probably because of all that synthy magic he’s mixed together to make this into one delicious soup.

8. Wild Belle – It’s Too Late (Employee Of The Year Remix) (3:13)

First posted in January 2013 by Disco Demons

Speaking of early-evening songs, this Wild Belle remix is probably the slowest jam on the list. Yet I can’t help but want to sway when that disco groove kicks in at :50. What’s sophisticated about this remix is how he perfects the original. It’s a good song, but a little repetitve, and Employee of the Year drops some of that, focusing on the strongest lines of the song. “It’s Too Late” would make a great closer (or opener), or a funny ditty for washing dishes, walking the dog, or romancing a first date. Probably too short at just over three minutes, which is all the reason to play it again. If you like this low-tempo number, you should probably check out my best indie pop list.

7. RESET! – Stealin your soul (Original Vocal Mix) (4:15)

First posted January 2013 by Manalogue

Let’s pick up the pace a little with some house music. What really grabs me about this song is the fantastic vocals. His gospel-worthy voice combined with the short trumpet frill makes this 2013 song sound like it could have been a remix of some old 70s vinyl from the rummage bin. The group is Italian, so I can’t tell you much about them, all I know is that his enthusiasm is infectious.

6. Phoenix – Entertainment (Kastra Remix) (5:12)

First posted May 2013 by Surviving the Golden Age

I was disappointed by Phoenix’s newest effort after their breakout fourth album. The songs didn’t have that addictive quality that made me want to sing along despite the inexplicable lyrics (to be fair, they’re French). All that is quickly forgotten with Kastra’s irresistible electro remix. The song peaked at number 11 on the US alternative charts, but it’s Kastra’s remix that reminds me what makes electro so exciting and fun. Continue reading Top Songs of 2013: Best Dance Music TOP TEN

Top Songs of 2013: Best Indie Pop Top Ten

At last, here it is: The best pop songs of 2013 that you haven’t heard on the radio. The key word today boys and girls is SYNTH. The more the better. Get it in heaping doses below.

1. Flight Facilities – Crave

I don’t know why I obsessed over this song all year long. Maybe it’s because it’s so rare to hear a woman in a song who is shamelessly confident without being crass. Or maybe it’s because the lyrics are so evocative. Nah, it’s probably just that piano riff. In any case, it’s one of my absolute favorite songs of 2013.

2. Lily Allen – Hard Out Here

It speaks volumes about how much I love that Flight Facilities track that this tune from Lily Allen only landed the #2 spot on my list. “Hard Out Here” makes a statement about the state of women in pop music with wit and spunk. It was only released as a single in 2013, but oh, what a track. Without a doubt the best song she has ever done, and that’s saying something. Puts Miley Cyrus to shame.

Definitely check out the video, which is chock full of funny pop references, including a knock at the “Blurred Lines” silver balloons that declare “Robin Thicke has a big cock.”

3. Boy – Little Numbers

Another cute little love song featuring a woman and a piano. This track is more upbeat than “Crave” offering handclaps and a piano melody that works as a secondary bass line. And don’t you love the idea of a song about a girl eager to learn your phone number?

4. NONONO – Pumpin Blood

THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD IS WHISTLING because of this track. Hear it, and you will be too.

5. AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

There were a hundred and one remixes “Your Drums Your Love” in 2013 but all of them lacked my favorite part: that little robotic backup vocal.

6. Janelle Monae – QUEEN

I absolutely adore Janelle Monae. I got to see her in concert in 2013, and let me tell you she is flawless. I mean from her outfits to her dancing to her voice, she is a 10/10. All her songs center around an android, loosely based on Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Some suggest that the lyrics of this song are a veiled reference to lesbianism, and I can only hope so, as I want to be the first to volunteer to have her babies. Once science figures all that out.

Anyway, about the song. It’s funky. You can dance to it, but it’s a slow jam. The first verse is vaguely socially relevant, but not preachy. There are horns and violins. The high hat is a finger snap. And it features the backing vocal “the booty don’t lie” in a way that feels truly empowering (not, like, Niki Menage empowering).

Oh, yeah and Eryka Badu sings on this track too. What more do you want, blood?

7. Vicehorn and French Rebellion – Friday Nights

You know how in the eighties they had that really fantastic synth, that was even better because it was super fake? Where all the instruments are just fake synth? If you liked that, you’ll like this because Friday Nights has three of them. It’s just synth from dusk til dawn, and a guy who can’t get his sweet lady to call him back. She’s probably too bush shaking her tush to this song.

8. Sir Sly – Gold

This list is full of great songs to sing in the shower. “Gold” is the song for hate-crooning, as you soap the back your money-grubbing ex no longer gets to touch. Somehow “Gold” is both dark and light at the same time. The throbbing synth overlaps with a light and tingly piano. He always ends on “I hope you find your dreams” but the part you’ll want to sing the loudest is “I don’t owe you a goddamn thing!” If you like this, you’ll probably like everything else by Sir Sly, who is still waiting their own pocketful of gold for writing gem after underplayed gem.

9. Silver Medallion – Lost Ones

I haven’t totally wrapped my head around Silver Medallion yet. Is he a rapper? An electro artist? Wait, he’s trained as a classical violinist? There’s zero violin in this song. All I know is I think he’s found the theme for the lost generation, the sad moniker for these young folks who are coming into adulthood during the Great Recession (that’s a proper noun now, right?). Enough with the questions. I’m certain of a few things: the girls in this song probably are figments of his imagination, but they feel real to me. A bit like the lost kids of Bowie’s classic All the Young Dudes…but much easier to dance to.

10. The Knocks – Modern Hearts ft. St. Lucia

Nothing here but synth and a kickass beat. There’s a sample that sounds like a synth imitating a bagpipe, and another fast, high synth that swears it just arrived from a John Hughes movie circa 1987. A fun song that didn’t crawl higher on the list only because the other songs ahve stronger lyrics. But if you need something to pogo to at the gym, this will get your juices flowing.

Top Songs of 2013: Best Dance Music 11-20

[gif via Reddit]

2013 was another good year for dance music. In narrowing down this list, I focused on songs that capture the genres and artists of the zeitgeist…at least as it appears from my weird indie hole in the wall. Thus, there is no Miley Cyrus here, but I was more likely to include Lorde than a comparable remix that felt out of time. Despite such considerations, I think this list has more retro remixes than any previous year. Could it be that 2013’s producers were daydreaming of the sexual revolution? I’m just gonna assume its so.

20. BANKS – Fall Over Djemba Djemba Remix

First posted in April 2013 by Earmilk

Normally I don’t go for a song that’s so house-y there’s a sample of a dude shouting, “BASS.” What hooks me on this one is the way they lengthen her vocals, so it sounds like she’s just holding that note for half of forever. It has a dreamy quality too, not as in dreamwave, but as in mystical. There’s a melody in there that could have been ripped from a New Age meditation CD. It’s positively other-worldly.

infinite patrick
If the Banks remix were an animated gif [image via Imgur]

19. American Authors – Believer (Hyperbits remix)

First posted in August 2013 by Kick Kick Snare

Wait, is that a banjo? That breaks into a sick synth? Why, yes that’s precisely what happens at 1:20. Bonus points to Hyperbits for remixing a nifty up-and-coming band.

18. The Colourist Little Games (Saint Lucia remix) (4:33)

This is your morning on St. Lucia [gif via Reddit]

First posted in April 2013  by Hilly Dilly

If you run out of coffee, this rousing number may be the thing you need to get you moving in the morning. Gorgeous harmonies over light tinkly keyboards and so many washes you’ll think you’re in the shower.

17. The Magician – When the Night is Over (4:00)

First posted in September 2013 by No Nací en Manchester

“Leave your high heels, on I love it.”

If that St. Lucia remix was a little too chipper for your taste, have a bite of this dark, sexy number with some serious bass.”When the Night Is Over” sounds like the kind of song you’d first hear while meeting your new favorite one-night-stand on the dance floor. But it could easily become the kind of song you sing along with on your favorite dance mix. If you wondered what the heck Aeroplane was up to in 2013, it’s because the fellows behind it split. Stephen Fasano of Aeroplane is now The Magician. I hope he plays this name for all its worth: the tux, the rabbit, the wand.

16. JD Samson & MEN – All The Way Thru W. Jeremy’s Other Side Remix (6:32)

Thanks to Earmilk for being the only blogger of 2013 to share this track. August 2013

For those of you who don’t know JD Samson, s/he’s the beats behind every feminist’s favorite underground electro performance artists. I favor musicians that are a little subversive or queer, even when the music isn’t, so there may be some bias here. But this is a groovy, simple disco number that pleases me every time it pops up on my playlist. It’s not a 3 a.m. song, but it’s one of 2013’s best early songs. The odd metaphor, “My love is so deep it goes all the way through” will get folks flirting.

15. Lorde – Royals BWen Bootleg Remix

Only posted in November 2013 thanks to The Music Ninja

I’m not going to get into whether Lorde is an indie musician gone pop or whether she’s a pop star faking indie. Regardless it’s obvious that Lorde is 2013’s biggest teen sensation, grabbing the attention of hipsters and yuppies alike.  “Royals” was all over the radio and, though it is a silly pop song, on a deeper level I think the lyrics resonated with the zeitgeist. The song isn’t particularly danceable, yet it was so wildly popular last year that it brought a lot of people to the dance floor. Thus it seemed fitting that the very best “Royals” remix wind up on a best of 2013 list.

I listened to every remix of this song I could get my hands on, and then did the same process all over again at the end of the year. Both times, there were really only two remixes that got my attention, this one and the “Royals” remix by San Francisco’s Wild Boyz!. I was surprised that while some of the other remixes had thousands of reposts and likes, this remix only got posted once, on The Music Ninja. So, while I’m confident it’s the best, I’d love to hear your favorite “Royals” remix of the year—and whether you think this one tops it.

 14. Chief Keef – Hate Being Sober (Team Bayside High Bootleg) (4:51)

First posted in June 2013, also by The Music Ninja

hypno kitty gif
“Hey man, someone put on the Chief Keef remix”

To me the biggest musical innovation of 2013, at least for EDM, was the growth of trap music. It seems to pick up where dubstep was beginning to become tiresome, and merge with exciting new directions in hip hop. Team Bayside’s remix is a fine example. It’s a little bit dubstep, a little bit electro, and a little bit hip-hop, combining all synergistically into something better, newer and heavier. It takes a somber hip-hop song but adds the sonic trills of electro with the dark whooba whooba bass of dubstep. This is a 4am song for club revelers long past sober, ready to dance dirty and do all drugs mama warned them about.

13. The Toyes – Smoke Two Joints (Terravita Remix) (5:36)

First posted April 2013 by Earmilk

legen wait for it dary NPH HIMYM
How this remix makes me feel

Speaking of late-night druggie songs, here’s a familiar favorite with a drop that will hit you like a ton of bricks. Reggae lends itself well to dubstep, and this Toyes song from 1983 has been just begging for a truly solid remix. Last year it got its comeuppance. I wasn’t sure if the remix was truly from 2013, so I asked Terravita on Twitter, and he replied “some time in 2013,” an answer vague enough to make me think he’s been taking advice from a man in The Toyes. If you’ve had just about enough of dubstep, the Smoke Two Joints Terravita remix may just have you changing your mind. His wobbly makes that simple reggae guitar melody sound epic. Sick-sickity-sick.

Queen – We Will Rock You (Kiely Rich Remix) (3:37)

First posted April 2013 by Surviving the Golden Age

And speaking of epic songs from the days of yore, everyone loves a Queen remix and this Kiely Rich take is no exception. You’d think a remix of a classic song everyone loves would be a no-brainer, but such remixes tend to fail more often than not. The drunks get surly when they can’t sing along, thus too many DJs ruin a classic with too many chops and cuts. The Kiely Rick “We Will Rock You” remix does slice and dice Freddie Mercury’s vocals, but keeps the refrain chant-worthy, while mixing in some new magic to Brian May’s guitar wizardry.

That’s ten remixes for now, but once nap time is over get ready for the top ten dance songs of 2013.