Top Austin Songs of 2013: 20-11


Over the course of 2013, we’ve reviewed over 100 EPs, LPs and singles. We’ve covered dozens of live shows, premiered a handful of new videos and interviewed some of our favorite local artists. All in the name of making the Austin music scene accessible to as many of you as possible. Culled from hundreds of submissions over the course of the year, these are our 50 favorite Austin songs (limit: one per artist) of the last year.

Previous Songs In This Countdown:
[21-30],[31-40], [41-50]

20. Feathers - "Dark Matter"

Is it possible for a song to be futuristic and retro at the same time? On “Dark Matter,” Feathers achieves this by mixing a cold, synth-fueled aesthetic with a groove as unforgiving as the dystopian landscape from which this song emerged. And yet, in the chorus, through a combination of shimmering synth chords and ethereal backing vocals, something approaching light enters the picture. “Dark Matter” is the moment on Feathers’ debut when it all comes together, and you realize that this is a special band. – Carter Delloro

19. Black Books - "Favorite Place"

Have you seen the movie Gravity yet? In my mind, when I think back on Sandra Bullock gazing longingly down on Earth from outer space, this song is playing. Just listen to its grandeur. I picture those cymbals shimmering off into the stars, and that bass rattling back and forth between Mars and the moon. I hear that screeching guitar line sent down from the gods, and then I see Ross Gilfillan sitting amidst it all singing back down on all of us. It’s the only setting that could contain a sound this massive. – Carter Delloro

18. Mother Falcon - "Blue and Gold"

Imagine the Pixies/Nirvana quiet-loud-quiet format as applied to symphonic pop music and you’re halfway to Mother Falcon’s latest single, “Blue and Gold.” Led off by whispering vocals and accompanied by equally sparse instrumentation, “Blue and Gold” briefly builds to a string and banjo-backed hillock of sound before quieting down again, only to rise to a horn-fueled crescendo several moments later. This is a dusky summer evening track that, like so many other Mother Falcon songs, should come with an expertly curated wine and cheese recommendation or perhaps a nice brandy and a mellow cigar. – Brian Audette

17. Pswingset - "Traceroute"

When Jordan Welker’s vocals waft in over the minor key reverberation of the lead guitar and syncopated drumming in “Traceroute”’s opening moments, it’s like a humid late spring breeze, and it seriously gives me goosebumps. Between the precise, dreamlike execution of vocal layering and the building crash of cymbals leading into the chorus, “Traceroute” takes Pswingset to a new high in what is hopefully a brilliant portent of things to come from this Austin quartet. – Brian Audette

16. Wild Child - "Crazy Bird"

With its bouncy whistled hook and infectious boy-girl vocals, it’s easy to see how “Crazy Bird” catapulted these local indie-pop troubadours into the national spotlight. Don’t let the saccharine sheen fool you, however; smart, nuanced layering of instruments (with help from producer Ben Kweller) means this pop flows deep. – Kevin Allen

15. White Denim - "Come Back"

I love it when bands that sound like White Denim hail from my own city. Groovy and easy to listen to, “Come Back” starts off with a Southern rock guitar lick that instantly draws the listener in. This is followed by vocals that sound like they are being sung by that nice young man who lives next door to your grandmother who always does her yard work for her in the summertime. That is my mental image of White Denim – nice men helping grandmas in the Deep South. – Brittany Bartos

14. Quiet Company - "Gun Control Means Using Both Hands"

There’s an ominous tone to “Gun Control Means Using Both Hands”’s opening moments, reinforced by the steady EKG-like beeping in the background, antagonistic bass line, and Taylor Muse’s refrain of “I’m gonna call you when I get home / and you better pick up the phone.” By the time the song reaches its midpoint, however, we’re in full rock and roll mode and Muse’s vocals make it known that he’s not taking shit. As one of two new Quiet Company tracks on their recent re-issue/re-recording on their debut Shine Honesty, this has me eagerly awaiting great things from them in 2014. – Brian Audette

13. Wood & Wire - "Bet the World"

This song hinges around a refrain that could have lived just as easily in a Doc Watson songbook as in the modern day: “I bet the whole damn world, little darlin’, I bet the whole damn world / That the sun don’t shine like it does when you’re mine, I bet the whole damn world.” Sprinkle on some sweet bluegrass harmonies and rollicking solos, and you’ve got a damn fine old-time number. – Kevin Allen

Wood & Wire - 'Bet the World'

12. The Black Angels - "Don’t Play With Guns"

The first time I ever heard this song was back in the spring at End of an Ear, playing around with their listening stations. When the sample for “Don’t Play With Guns” came on, I was immediately hooked into the endless acid-washed loops of fuzz and distortion. I even distinctly remember starting the song sample over and shoving the headphones forcefully at my boyfriend. “Don’t Play With Guns” grips us from the beginning and doesn’t want to let go. With lyrics about a demonic female antagonist – “Now Angie, she was a demon / She had six arms and Lucifer eyes” – it’s easy to get lost in the dark acid trip lyrics and the mid-sixties reverb, fuzz, and looping psychedelic sounds. – Brittany Bartos

11. Phranchyze - "Oreo"

Phranchyze has long been Central Texas’ freestyle king, leaning heavily on (admittedly good) wisecracks. On “Oreo,” Phran drops his guard. Here, he has crafted an emotional coming-of-age story that is at once specific (being caught between racial expectations) and universal (feeling out of place with your identity), and comes with a hook both memorable and affecting. It’s takes a lot of confidence to get vulnerable, and on “Oreo” Phran delivers some unexpectedly touching swagger. – Carter Delloro

Tomahawk Playlist

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