Top Austin Songs of 2013: 40-31


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.

Songs Countdown: [50-41]

40. LRN GRN – ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’

Lauren Green is the lead singer of Mirror Travel, but earlier this year she released her second solo EP, filled with wafting dream pop. Green’s take on a classic Neil Young song illustrated not only the strength of the original, but that she can croon just as easily as she can wail. It’s the kind of track that suggests that if Mirror Travel ever ends, Green will have an enchanting solo career. – Carter Delloro

39. Pure X – ‘Thousand Year Old Child’

Pure X changed directions rather dramatically on their second LP, Crawling Up the Stairs, and “Thousand Year Old Child” does the best job of fusing their old sound with their new one. Acoustic guitars and a straightforward rhythm section emerge out of a colorful haze, and continually contend with some pretty thick atmospherics. Though Nate Grace’s vocals are clearer, they are still fragile and other-worldly, delivering off-balanced uncertainty amidst the chaos. – Carter Delloro

38. Frank Smith – ‘How Many Ways’

There are a lot of elements at play here: Aaron Sinclair’s country-inspired vocals, churning 90s alt-rock rhythm guitars, a noodly synth melody. No matter how disparate the pieces seem on paper, Frank Smith expertly meld them around a killer song. “How Many Ways” is a great rock song performed by a great rock band that rises above the sum of its parts. – Carter Delloro

37. Growl – ‘Abbreviations’

Growl’s “Abbreviations” got a lot of play from me in 2013 because it has the immediacy of a klaxon call mixed with the melodic potency of a teen pop anthem, the buzzsaw synths weaving in and out of the fuzzy chords of power pop guitars in pure indie 7” bliss. Ryan James McGill’s lovingly detailed production gives every instrument its moment in the sun, from the jangly strums to the insistent drums to Santiago Dietche’s sweet, impassioned croon. Like Big Star and Vampire Weekend forming a supergroup just for one legendary house party, “Abbreviations” is music for the start of a night that doesn’t end even when the sun comes up. – Nick Hanover

36. Serafia – ‘Waterfall’

There’s no one in Austin making music like Serafia does. Her combination of soul with EDM-style dance music results in something fairly original, and “Waterfall” is the finest example of Serafia’s sound. Built around offbeat disco backing vocals and heaving synths, “Waterfall” is augmented by tender piano trills and a delicate male vocal in the chorus. Serafia mixes swagger and sensitivity just as easily as she mixes genres, and the result is intoxicating. – Carter Delloro

35. Curbside Jones – ‘Pink’

An examination of Jones’ frustrations with the limits of his abilities and resources, “Pink” succeeds in part because of the contrast between the melancholic music and Jones’ aggressive, fiery delivery. Rather than drown in his sorrows and be crippled by self-doubt, Jones turns inward, dropping self-deprecating lines that keep things lively. Jones is equally adept at production, though, and “Pink” functions just as well as a showcase for his talents at arranging, making him a hip-hop auteur, something that’d be rare in any scene but is the ATX equivalent of winning the lottery. – Nick Hanover

34. Little Radar – ‘Siren’

The first half of Little Radar’s “Sirens” is a classic shoegaze, dream pop track backed by rumbling bass, whiskey soaked guitar, and twinkly synth. It’s all a set up though, because with less than a minute remaining everything amps up over the refrain of “it’s the sirens that let me know,” turning my mellow swaying into a full on pogo and leading out this short, but sweet track. – Brian Audette

33. Shakey Graves – ‘Passionate Kisses’

Come to think of it, Shakey Graves and Lucinda Williams aren’t that dissimilar. They both have gravelly, distinctive voices, they know their way around an acoustic guitar, and they write raw, powerful songs. This cover has floated around for a while, but Shakey finally released it on this year’s Story of My Life, and it shows his immense range. He gets out of the way of a great song and ends up delivering a stunning performance. – Carter Delloro

32. Gorgeous Hands – ‘Desperate Mainstream’

Gorgeous Hands’ debut album, Tender, is full of more beautiful melodies than you could count, but “Desperate Mainstream” stands above the rest. Just listen to those soaring backing harmonies in the verses, straining against the sky, filled with pain and joy. Perhaps that’s the definition of desperation. You almost don’t even notice the expert arrangement and musicianship that help make this a perfect power pop gem. – Carter Delloro

31. Mirror Travel – ‘I Want You to Know’

“I Want You to Know” is a shot to the central nervous system. It screams into existence and doesn’t let up for even one of its 172 seconds. The guitars crackle, giving this track more life than you would normally expect from a psych-rock number, but then Mirror Travel have crafted their own powerful sound. On this perfect track, they dispose of the need for any dynamic pretensions, and show that sometimes you just need to cut the brakes. – Carter Delloro