What Else Is There?

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When you need something new
When you need some fresh air
When you ask that question
What Else Is There?

#What Else Is There's Top 100 Songs Of 2013
#What Else Is There's Top 100 Songs Of 2012
#What Else Is There's Top 100 Songs Of 2011
#What Else Is There's Top 100 Songs Of 2010

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Beat Me Up
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Afraid Of Heights
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Wavves
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#34. Wavves - Beat Me Up (2:20)

Wavves stoner king Nathan Williams is no stranger to being on the receiving end of internet scorn, and although it may not always be entirely deserving, his self awareness and willingness to embrace this loathing is probably one of his biggest strengths. The best song on his newest album Afraid Of Heights may be a straightforward story about a girl who repays Nathan’s affections with emotional (or even physical) abuse. But I think it works just as well to imagine “Beat Me Up” as a surf-guitar based taunt addressed to all his haters out in the world. You could beat him up. See if he cares. Even if you do, he’ll just go right back to playing guitar.

Best Moment: Nathan’s exposed and fragile “Do you really think I easily bruuuuise?” contrasting against the driving rhythm at 0:11 and 1:07.

The Album [Afraid Of Heights]: 6/10

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Fear Of My Identity
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Fade Away
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Best Coast
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35. Best Coast - Fear Of My Identity (3:38)

Even though Best Coast’s recent release Fade Away only arrived a year after their second full length The Only Place, it’s actually their most consistent release yet. Of course, part of that may lie with the fact that it’s only an EP, but I’m a fan of quality over quantity anyhow, so I think it’s a good thing. It was tough choosing between this song and the Mazzy Star/Dum Dum Girls-esque ballad “Baby I’m Crying”, but in the end I went with the rocker. “Fear Of My Identity” finds Best Coast at the absolute peak of their songwriting ability, delivering us a track that’s 100% catchy and hair raising, whilst still holding on to the carefree, beachy sound they’re known for as Bethany Cosentino grows worried of dealing with her heart after a breakup. Even if you previously wrote this band off for being a bit too sappy for your liking, this might be a song that could rope you in.

Best Moment: Bethany’s final run at the chorus along with some chugging guitar and drums at 3:01.

The Album [Fade Away]: 7/10

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The Leopard & The Lung
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Wolf's Law
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The Joy Formidable
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#36. The Joy Formidable - The Leopard & The Lung (6:00)

One nice thing about compiling a year end list is that it gives me a chance for do-overs. The first time around, I had “Maw Maw Song" pegged as my pick from The Joy Formidable’s second album, but I’ve since realized that while "Maw Maw" certainly shreds, the true centerpiece of Wolf’s Law lies elsewhere. “The Leopard & The Lung” begins with a fake out, prompting us to reach for our volume knobs to turn them up before the full force of the band arrives, as if to say “yeah, we’re loud, and we know you like it that way”. After the piano opening, we get to ride through six minutes of rolling crescendos, proving that no one is safe from The Joy Formidable’s tenacious ability to rock.

Best Moment: The final time Ritzy Bryan comes back around with the chorus at 4:47.

The Album [Wolf’s Law]: 6/10

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Halo
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Melophobia
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Cage The Elephant
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#37. Cage The Elephant - Halo (2:58)

Cage The Elephant are a band adept at donning many masks over the course of an album. Frontman Matt Shultz’s frequent Frank Black styled outbursts cause some tracks to sound like the Pixies, while “It’s Just Forever”, another moment on Melophobia, sounds like The Kills (although I suppose that may be partly due to Alison Mosshart’s guest spot). The one constant about that band is that we can always count on them for some incredibly creative solutions which set them apart from the vast sea of similar sounding indie rock. “Come A Little Closer" and "Hypocrite" are very good, but "Halo" has a few subtle things that help it rise above the rest. Things kick off with a driving percussion combo that eventually coaxes Matt into spilling the beans about his recent inability to break things off with a former flame.

Best Moment: Every time Matt’s exasperated and strained falsetto pops up to emphasize his frustrations at 0:33 and 1:35.

The Album [Melophobia]: 7/10

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Satellite
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Hesitation Marks
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Nine Inch Nails
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#38. Nine Inch Nails - Satellite (5:02)

Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor may be all grown up and married with children, but somehow, he hasn’t run out of things to brood about. In fact, he’s been pretty darn busy, releasing an album with his wife Mariqueen under the name How To Destroy Angels earlier this year, and now dropping quite possibly the best NIN album since The Fragile. The first half does sag a little after “Copy Of A”, but the second brings plenty of heat, including “Various Methods Of Escape”, “Running”, and my favorite of the bunch, “Satellite”. It opens with a set of alternating electro-blips and bass before using some feedback fuzz and a bit of guitar to bridge the verses together. The lyrics are slightly vague, but I’ve taken to pretending they refer to staying one step ahead of the bullshit NSA surveillance that’s been recently leaked, and it works pretty well. The song peaks near the end as Trent brings all the pieces together and builds to a sinister, anxiety ridden finish. NIN’s glory days may be in the past, but if Trent can keep crafting tracks like this one, I don’t mind following alongside him into his new, domesticated future.

Best Moment: The final build up and payoff from 3:37 through the end of the song that houses the “I know you’re up there somewhere”s and “so very high”s is just perfect, and goes a long way towards reminding us why we fell in love with this Trent guy in the first place.

The Album [Hesitation Marks]: 7/10

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Strong
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If You Wait
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London Grammar
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#39. London Grammar - Strong (4:34)

London Grammar had been on my listening homework list for awhile in 2013, but it wasn’t until the very end of the year that I got around to listening to If You Wait. Well, I’m very glad that I did, because the British dream pop trio has quite a few exquisite moments to drink in and fully experience. There are rarely more than a couple piano keys or guitar plucks backing Hannah Reid’s voice, but keeping her in the spotlight is the key to the band’s approach. “Strong”, my favorite track on their debut album, takes its time building up, utilizing the strength of Hannah’s haunting vocals to send waves upon waves of chills through our bodies. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen of these guys, and I know I’ll definitely be looking forward to any future releases they manage to cook up.

Best Moment: When the rest of the band drops out and lets Hannah shine all on her own at 2:00 and 3:16.

The Album [If You Wait]: 7/10

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Straight & Arrow
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Hardcourage
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FaltyDL
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#40. FaltyDL - Straight & Arrow (5:02)

Drew Lustman, better known as FaltyDL, is a New York future garage/2-step producer who released his third album Hardcourage last year. Lead single “Straight & Arrow” is driven forward by some some unique sounds, including a chugging, steam powered beat and plenty of soft yet jittery electronic piano. This all sets the stage for the real meat of the track which shows up about a minute in where Falty samples a section of Al Green’s “Could This Be The Love”. Al’s ‘someone like me’s unexpectedly jump around and mingle with stretched out ‘ooh’s and high pitched ‘ah-aah’s. The result is slightly haunting, but Falty’s impeccable production keeps things buoyant and addicting.

Best Moment: A best moment is pretty difficult to pin down for this track, but basically any part of the constantly-in-flux Al Green sample from 1:31 through 4:16 can count.

The Album [Hardcourage]: 4/10

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Oh Sheit It's X
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Apocalypse
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Thundercat
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#41. Thundercat - Oh Sheit It’s X (3:47)

Stephen Bruner AKA Thundercat just so happens to be buddies with experimental electronic producer Flying Lotus, and it doesn’t take much time listening to Apocalypse to hear some of FlyLo’s influence. The stand out track, “Oh Sheit It’s X” (which you may have heard before while driving around Los Santos in a stolen car, as it was in rotation in the FlyLo FM radio station in Grand Theft Auto V) starts out with some scribble-y bass and an addicting synth line that practically drags us right onto the dance floor. And dance floors are what the song is all about, as Thundercat tells us the tale of his latest (mistakenly?) MDMA fueled night out and how, thanks to the drugs and the music, he was unable to stop dancing. Equal parts electronic and funk, with just a touch of that FlyLo magic, and Thundercat has himself a winning formula.

Best Moment: The main attraction is that synth, appearing at 0:00, 1:02, 2:05, and 3:07 as it’s just too bold to ignore.

The Album [Apocalypse]: 4/10

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Play By Play
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Anxiety
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Autre Ne Veut
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#42. Autre Ne Veut - Play By Play (5:15)

I’ve been enjoying the direction electro-R&B has been going lately and this year we’ve received another great entry in Autre Ne Veut. Arthur Ashin is the man in charge here, and on his second album, Anxiety, he’s decided to coat the genre in buckets of glam. “Play By Play” kicks off with an extended intro that includes cascading chimes and Arthur dropping baby after baby. But eventually we get to that payoff in the second half of the song, and it’s all made worth it. Arthur and his background singers drop us off the peak after that slow climb to the top and let us ride those “play by play (by play by play)’s” off into the sunset.

Best Moment: At 2:47 when we finally reach that crest. Just ride it.

The Album [Anxiety]: 7/10

Music Video

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You're The One
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True Romance
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Charli XCX
19
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#43. Charli XCX - You’re The One (3:14)

It isn’t an easy to fill an album with catchy electro-pop songs, but it’s exactly what Charli XCX has managed to do on her debut LP, True Romance. It’s so stacked, in fact, that it made choosing a highlight rather difficult. Depending on how I’m feeling on any particular day, it could have just as easily gone to Nuclear Seasons, You (Ha Ha Ha), or What I Like. But today, “You’re The One” is gettin’ the job done. It’s got some great back and forth between the darkness that lurks in the verses and some hope which shines through on the chorus (along with a nice lil’ shimmer that descends from above). If you listen to just one poppy “guilty (or not so guilty) pleasure” album this year, True Romance should be the one.

Best Moment: The best part has gotta be that sassy spoken word section that closes things out at 2:28.

The Album [True Romance]: 7/10

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Beautiful Naked Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Ur Face, Flame Grilled Painting
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19
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Kool A.D.
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#44. Kool A.D. - Beautiful Naked Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Ur Face, Flame Grilled Painting (5:28)

So earlier in the year I had “Eroika" pegged as the best song off of Kool A.D.’s new album 19, and while I still believe it’s his best music video, I’ve finally come around to realizing the comedic genius of “Beautiful Naked Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Ur Face, Flame Grilled Painting”. Besides the absurdly long name, the song itself is packed with subtle humor and like most songs off of 19, it has an off the cuff, improvised feel, as if Kool and his buddies Haji Springer and Bill Ding just tossed the track off in one take after screwing around in the studio for awhile. The cut mimics Lil B’s based “I’m so and so” trope, referencing many famous Daves throughout the ages, including Bowie, Byrne, Foster Wallace, and even Thomas with his square burgers. It’s silly, fun, and encapsulates everything great about Kool’s sharp wit and carefree style.

Best Moment: The biggest laugh out loud moment for me is when Bill Ding shows up and leads off his verse with quite possibly the funniest Dave of them all at 3:26. I wont spoil it, but it gets me every time.

The Album [19]: 6/10

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Swoll Tongue
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Exorcise Tape
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Demon Queen
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#45. Demon Queen - Swoll Tongue (3:14)

Tom Fec (the brains behind Black Moth Super Rainbow and Tobacco) is at it again, and this time he’s joined forces with airplane mechanic/ex-con turned MC, Zackey Force Funk. Due to the popularity of previous collaborations like “Dirt" with Aesop Rock and "Fresh Hex" with Beck, I knew I couldn’t have been the only person itching for full hip-hop album produced by Tobacco. Luckily for us, Demon Queen has what we’ve been waiting for. "Swoll Tongue" has all the great trappings of a Tobacco track; distorted bass, swirls of psychedelic synth, and even a touch of Tom’s signature vocodor, but in this instance it’s matched with Zackey alternating between some deranged falsetto and another, deeper voice as he attempts to describe one of his uncontrollable and possibly darker-leaning attractions. Exorcise Tape is full of great moments like this, and any fans of Fec’s previous works would do well to glean some Demon Queen.

Best Moment: When Tom’s shadowy, vocodor voice shows up at 1:11 and 2:46, reminding us that even though Zackey may be on lead, Tom is still lurking behind the scenes, orchestrating it all.

The Album [Exorcise Tape]: 7/10

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The Reason
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Leaving
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Skrillex
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#46. Skrillex - The Reason (4:16)

Ever since I heard “With You Friends”, I’ve known that Skrillex has had the desire and ability to craft some seriously blissful stuff, without the screeches and womps that tend to make him such a polarizing artist. On his newest cut, “The Reason”, Skrillex takes another nuanced approach to getting us moving. A low, muffled voice loops alongside a few synths for awhile before getting pitched shifted upwards for the first peak, but the second one is the real surprise. After a slow buildup the track bottoms out and instead of a bass filled drop, we’re standing amid nothing more than a simple beat and a lone airhorn which occasionally pierces through the din. Is it interesting enough to convert the legions of Skrillex haters? Probably not all of them, but I have a feeling it could change at least a few minds.

Best Moment: The “anti-drop” that finally bubbles up at 2:14.

The Album [Leaving]: 4/10

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Royals
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Pure Heroine
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Lorde
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#47. Lorde - Royals (3:10)

Please, everyone take a moment and raise your class to Lorde for winning this year’s “Somebody That I Used To Know" award! For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, the STIUTK award is given to the best song of the year that became completely ruined by near ubiquitous airplay. Lorde’s breakout hit does everything right: It’s catchy, clever, casts a wide net of appeal via its positive, anti-materialistic message, and amazingly, save for the back-beat, the whole thing is basically a single vocal line. Its only downfall was just getting so freakin’ popular that by the end of the summer, everyone in the world had heard the song enough to last multiple lifetimes. Congrats Lorde! Only 17 years on this planet and you already have people scrambling to change the station whenever your song hits those airwaves. Most artists don’t manage to reach that level of annoyance until they’re much older.

Best Moment: “And baby, I’ll rule (I’ll rule [I’ll rule {I’ll rule!}]), let me live that fantasy” at 1:02, 2:15, and 3:00.

The Album [Pure Heroine]: 5/10

Music Video

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If You Still Want Me
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Waiting For Something To Happen
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Veronica Falls
72
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#48. Veronica Falls - If You Still Want Me (3:07)

While the first single on Veronica Falls’ new album ended up in the 86th spot of WEIT’s Top 100 Of 2012, the full LP, Waiting For Something To Happen, has since been released and we’ve been treated to another great song in “If You Still Want Me”. The summer jangle contained on “My Heart Beats" has been traded for a wintery wash of strumming guitars and some not-so-subtle inquisitorial discussion. Have you ever wondered if someone was really into you or just experiencing "grass is greener" syndrome? Roxanne and James muse upon this inescapable human phenomenon while guitar tones streak down from the sky like big, soft, accusatory snowflakes.

Best Moment: Each time Roxanne’s “If you could have me” gives way to James’ backup vocals, at 1:04 and 1:57.

The Album [Waiting For Something To Happen]: 6/10