out of the gates with a great track

robby-hunter-band

This is basically a flawless indie hip-hop/funk track: thumping bass, r&b flourish, a dose of smart rhymes (courtesy of Ghostwridah).

There’s no video, possibly because of the short-term nature of the collaboration, but you can stream the audio here on Soundcloud. I hope these guys hit it huge after this, their debut album.

robby-hunter-band

This song is track #20 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

so glad somebody discovered her

ValerieJune

This was apparently June’s 1st album as a signed artists, having self published a few albums before. I find it hard to believe because her voice and arrangement style seem like the kind that would stand out even if you heard them in some dingy basement bar open mic night.

Also, although I know it has zero impact on the quality of her music, her hair is amazing.

ValerieJune

This song is track #19 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

a guest vocalist who steals the show

Major-Lazer-Amber-Coffman-David-Longstreth-visit-Late-Night-with-Jimmy-Fallon-

I am no Major Lazer fan. In fact, I’ve never heard anything from them I even liked before. I was just about ready to turn off Jimmy Fallon on April 11, 2013 when I heard they were the musical guest, but I’m glad that I stayed tuned in and heard this. This song makes me want to give their back catalog a little bit more of a spin.

Major-Lazer-Amber-Coffman-David-Longstreth-visit-Late-Night-with-Jimmy-Fallon-

 

The real gem here is guest vocalist Amber of the band Dirty Projectors (from IJKGB2009 with “Stillness is the Move”). Man, it’s like she invented a whole new instrument the way that she uses her voice here. It’s like her vocals should be a part of the rhythm section at times.

This song is track #17 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

a voice to break your heart

page-jason-isbell

This song, this artist is so cutting and truth-distilling. As far as I can tell, there is no video for this song, but I did find a shaky, shot-from-a-phone, lousy-sound video that was shot in a tiny record shop live performance of it:

From that, i think you get a sense of how real this song is and also of Isbell’s amazing clarity of voice and emotional range. It’s also worth listening to the studio version, which you can stream on Soundcloud here to hear the solid piano that acts as a sweet foil to his melancholy vocals.

~swoon.~

page-jason-isbell

 

 

I could, and in fact have, listened to this song on repeat for over an hour.

This is track # 16 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

oops: embarassingly, a 2-year-old song made it into the mix

BOY

Ooops! Apparently, the Swiss/German duo Boy have been playing this infectious little pop ditty for TWO YEARS already, though it just spread into the states in April 2013. That makes me feel a little better. I mean, I can’t be expected to track musical trends in other countries, right?

Very sweet video.

BOY

This song is track #15 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

 

a catchy, energetic hook

Iron&Wine

Iron & Wine made a previous appearance on IJKGB, the 2007 version. Here they are again with a very simple, but very catchy chorus of a song that layers in strings, maybe? And horns? I’m not sure what all is going on here, but I like it. I also can’t find a video for it. Does Iron & Wine not do videos? That seems very counter-culture statement-y like I imagine he might be.

You can stream the audio of the song on Soundcloud here.

Also, is there anyone but Paul Giamatti who could play Iron & Wine?:

Iron&Wine

PaulGiamatti

This song is track #14 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

bonus track for #ijkgb2013

Haim

Several of you had already received a copy of my Best of 2013 playlist that only included 20 songs. There was one more I was struggling with: “the Wire” by Haim. I’d heard live versions of it and they were amazing on Saturday Night Live (video below–sorry, includes an ad up front), but the album version was totally disappointing: too full of silly instrumental flourishes.

I finally found the perfect version for my playlist, and it’s a great opportunity to plug another wonderful subscription service that you should join if you’re into music: Daytrotter, produced by the Horseshack recording studio in Rock Island, Illinois. They host recording sessions with many popular and up-and-coming artists in their studio and for 32 bucks a year, you can download them all.

Try out the Haim session on Daytrotter and tell me that’s not better than their original album session. Way better.

So, sorry for the incomplete playlists that I distributed in December but hopefully discovering Daytrotter totally makes up for it for you all.

Oh, and Haim is great. Three sisters. Rockin’ gweeeetars and vocals. Feel good rock music.

Haim

This song is track #21 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

I would never have guessed these guys were all white

stpaul

As I’ve previously mentioned, sometimes, I don’t view a video of a song until it’s already on the official playlist for the year and I’m just going to share it. That happened here and boy was I surprised that this entire band is white. Nevermind: they’re amazing blues artists. It’s just curious. The lead singer in particular does not match what I’d been imagining in my head.

This song is track #13 of 21 on my 2013 “It Just Keeps Getting Better” playlist.

stpaul