The NME office is geeking out this week over our favourite specific moments in songs this year: the bars, key changes, riffs, lyrics that hook you in and make life better. The vocal tics, chords or beats that cause you to rewind and rewind and rewind till you feel a bit mad. The year 2013’s been one of the most exciting years for new music for a while, and it’s difficult to choose just one.
I toyed with the burbling riff on Merchandise’s ‘Anxiety’s Door’, the flowering of Jon Hopkins’ ‘Open Eye Signal’, the chilling yelps on Kurt Vile’s ‘Shame Chamber’ and the filthy beat on Pete Rock’s ‘No Uniform’ feat. M.O.P but I’ll go with the coda on ‘Jubilee Street’ from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ stunning album ‘Push The Sky Away’. It is, on record but particularly live, one of the finest moments of the year. The beginning of the story is relatively straightforward. “On Jubilee Street there was a girl named B, She had a history, but she had no past”. As the song continues, it gets more abstract: “I got a foetus, on a leash”. As the song speeds up and crescendos the lyrics become surreal: “I am transforming/I am vibrating/I’m glowing/I’m flying”. Warren Ellis’s violin lets rip and, live, Cave goes batshit on the piano. Thrilling stuff.
Here, NME staff reveal their own top moments, from Savages to Mount Kimbie, and Kanye West to Pond.
Since February, I have been repeatedly playing the LA sisters’ third single on my iPod and immediately scrolling to 2 minutes 17 seconds in. That’s the time when the beat dissipates, the soundscape clears and all that’s left is Danielle and a killer shred guitar solo. The best thing about it is it’s relatively simple to play on air guitar while walking down the street. You can even do it single handed, ensuring you still have another paw free for your Tesco’s bag. Not that I’ve tried…
Geeky tip: on the YouTube of Haim performing this acoustic at Maida Vale studios Danielle only goes and plays the guitar solo twice. At 2 minutes 38 seconds and then at 4 minutes 23 seconds. I’m going to have a lie down now.
Obvious, sure. But also a hilarious, ridiculous, knowing and self-obsessed moment from Kanye West’s ‘I Am A God’ that will, surely, be the most quoted moment from any song released this year.
The thundering riff kicking back in at 3:24 after a brief lapse into something uncharacteristically delicate in Pond’s ‘Xanman’ is pretty unbeatable. Introducing the final frenzied stretch of a song that in a perfect world would never end, it’s an unrelenting shot of aural adrenaline that never fails to sound absolutely, intensely exciting.
There have been so many good moments in music this year, from the gospel choir on Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ‘Sacrilege’ to the moment Mariah Carey crashes the vocals on her track ‘#Beautiful’ but I think my favourite segment of anything I have heard so far is on Mount Kimbie’s ‘Made To Stray’. The song builds gradually and subtly, restrained by the moody clicks and sullen beats of South London. However, it soon abandons all notion of cool around the 3 minute mark, bursting into life with an unexpected chorus that comes on like Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ for the Soundcloud generation. It’s not exactly Katy Perry but for an act like Mount Kimbie it feels like the pop chorus of the year to me.
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It’s been many months since I first heard it, but I still haven’t found another sound as cool as the moment during Daft Punk’s ‘Giorgio By Moroder’ when the titular narrator says: “I knew that it could be a sound of the future but I didn’t realise how much the impact would be. My name is Giovanni Giorgio, but everybody calls me Giorgio” and then, at 1:52, the simple backing click track is replaced with, well, the sound of the future.
Kevin EG Perry
Holed up in an internet-less part of the Lake District, to hear the first strains of ‘Where Are We Now?’ on, of all places Channel 4 News, was a complete surprise. While the track is far from joyous, hearing the raspy voice of a icon I’d never expected new music from, was, and still is, an exhilarating moment.
Savages, you have been responsible for inducing myriad heart murmours in my chest: panicky palpitations of both utter ecstasy (hearing ‘Husbands’ for the first time) and downright terror (being dispatched to interview the none-more-stern bunch last December made me stammer and squirm like a loon). But it’s ‘Dear Marshal’, the closing track from their debut album ‘Silence Yourself’, that ranks number one on the list. Before the album’s release, I’d began to fear – weak-willed heretic that I am – that all the big talk may fall short; that their citing of highfaluting playwrights, obscure art films and, in particular, first world war literature as influences might all just be a fancy smokescreen. But ‘Dear Marshal’ re-affirmed my faith: a snapshot of some dismal and doomed theatre of conflict, all ominous bass and understated piano, with lyrics that combine futile statistics (“You will die soon, I give you a quarter of an hour”) and resigned terror (“There are suicides in every dream”). And then, that clarinet solo at the end: clearing a path through the rubble of noise with a rude, unfettered squawk before leveling into something elegantly, exquisitely poignant and poised. Savages, I am sorry for ever doubting you.
Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Nitrous Gas’ is a black-blooded scab-pick of a song, brooding black-humouredly over frontman Scott Hutchison’s inescapable attraction towards gloom, his Midas touch of melancholy: “Suck in the bright red major key/Spit out the blue minor misery/I’m dying to bring you down with me”. As the song mopes beautifully towards its climax though, eased by acoustic guitar and gently chorused backing vocals, the bitter, pithy gibes die away into bare honesty, and we get the real one-liner: “If happiness won’t live with me, I think I can live with that.” OOOOF.
The drops in Jagwar Ma’s ‘The Throw’ are big enough to trip over on record, but seeing those bits performed live is even better. No-drugs-necessary raving ensues.