The Week That Was had already delivered to us a pretty impressive number of worthy songs for inclusion in this list, and then, outta nowhere, Death Grips dropped a whole new album, giving us 10 more songs to sort through for this feature (Government Plates goes 11 tracks deep, but the previously released “Birds” was ineligible). But did Death Grips do enough to crack the top 5 — and if so, which Government Plates track DID make it, and where did it place? And furthermore, what else remained after all the Death Grips dust settled? Answers, music below.
Stephen Malkmus explained that his upcoming album was inspired by (among others) Can, Sic Alps, Pavement, Pete Townshend, and Gas (Kompakt founder Wolfgang Voigt’s ambient moniker). But were any of us surprised that “Lariat” just sounds like … well, Stephen Malkmus? That’s not a bad thing, though, and with “Lariat” you get the impression that Malkmus’s inspiration meant embracing all those freewheeling attitudes, rather than just aping on some krautrock. So here’s Stephen Malkmus sounding like no one but himself and having a great time doing it. Alright — it sounds a bit like Pavement, but that’s not a bad thing either. –Miles
The assembled dudes on this song have probably made a box set’s worth of ridiculously catchy Atlanta rap anthems, so this track really shouldn’t have caught me off guard the way it did. But it did. Did it ever. When that aqueous, propulsive, enormous D. Rich beat hits like a tidal wave, your entire chemical makeup should change; it’s that sort of beat. And all three rappers achieve ridiculous levels of goofy joy while talking about selling illegal substances. Jeezy’s with that pistol and that work all day: Three Amigos. Rocko’s drugs smell like Funyuns. 2 Chainz just straight-up tells us what he orders at the titular restaurant: “Seafood combination, give me double rice!” It’s Friday, let’s all get our bank accounts hyperventilating. –Tom
3. Death Grips – “You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For…”
That shattering glass at the beginning of “You Might Think He Loves You…” was the most fitting possible way for Death Grips to open their spontaneously released new album. After a year of being in the news for everything other than their music, they’ve broken out from that glass house of public scrutiny to get back to what they do best. Zach Hill unleashes a heavy lurching stomp on his drums while Ride shifts between a creepily calm delivery (even more unsettling than his screams, and something explored more on this album than ever before) and manic hysteria. Throw in Flatlander’s seismic synth beats and you have a track that shows off just how strong and essential each member is to this project, and a reminder of why Death Grips’ music is so intoxicating. Frankly, there are even better tracks on Government Plates, but it’s this one that everyone heard first. It’s this song that appeared out of the blue and in two minutes made you, if not forgive, at least forget all the bullshit this band put us through over the year. –Miles
Laura Jane Grace has been through some changes since last we heard her, but some things are eternal. And so the former Tom Gabel, who’s begun living publicly as a woman since her band Against Me! dropped their last album, addresses the whirling world the same way she’s always addressed everything: through an intense, fired-up, catchy-as-fuck punk rock anthem. “FUCKMYLIFE666″ had power when it was just a solo-acoustic track on this year’s True Trans EP, but with the full firepower of the reconstituted Against Me! blasting behind her, it becomes something else entirely. “No more troubled sleep, there’s a brave new world raging inside me,” Grace yells, with something approaching triumph in her voice. –Tom
Starlito and Ryan Hemsworth are both rising to new levels of notoriety this fall, what with Starlito’s Don Trip collab Step Brothers 2 premiering on NPR and Hemsworth’s Guilt Trips earning Album Of The Week honors here, among other accomplishments. But they’re a natural pairing, and this sweeping, weepy breakup ballad might just mark the pinnacle of each guy’s 2013 output. “Can’t Get Over You” is a tour de force of mournful arpeggios and cracked-voice laments punctuated by orchestral brass blasts that lend it Spiritualized levels of grandeur. Let it come on down into your soul. –Chris