Tracking Our Favorite Songs of 2013 #1

This week on Tracking you can listen to additions from A$AP Rocky, Toro y Moi, Beach Fossils and TORRES.

This week on Tracking––a regular series in which we discuss our current favorite songs––you can listen to additions from A$AP Rocky, Toro y Moi, Beach Fossils and TORRES.

(Click on the arrows to navigate through the songs.)

A$AP Rocky - "LVL" p. Clams Casino(1 of4)
Clams Casino and A$AP Rocky have a symbiotic relationship. Both have fed off of one another on their path to critical acclaim. If Clams happens to go the way of SpaceGhostPurpp and the partnership dissolves, at least we'll have tunes like “LVL” to look back on fondly. Clams' beat for “LVL” is not his most striking but it is a perfect example of how his productions feel like a beautiful wave crashing right on your face. The synth lines are lush walls of sound that sway the entire track when the melody shifts. These progressions are structured perfectly alongside the sparse snare hits. The sound he ultimately creates is equal parts children singing toward the sky and a pit bull with spit falling off his teeth.

ASAP Rocky

Rocky takes Clams' gift and drops an appropriately energetic verse, filled with quotable shit-talking. He notes that “niggas say a nigga blew up too fast/ fuck I'm supposed to do with all this new ass?/ fuck I'm supposed to do with all this new cash?/ thousand dollar draws just to hold my balls/ all I ever do it let my jewels sag.” He has some more rhymes that are well constructed but to be honest even awful rap, spat passionately, would sound great over this beat. Listen to this one with plenty of space around you so you can sway your body like one of those inflatable tube men. –– Drew Malmuth


Toro y Moi - "Rose Quartz"(2 of4)


“Rose Quartz” exemplifies the best of Chaz Bundick's take on pop, building its momentum by quietly adding different synth elements, percussion and tastefully manipulated vocal samples. “I feel weak,” cries one again and again throughout the song. Despite the repeated declarations of frailty, the song, much like the stone it’s named after (“Rose Quartz is the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace,” according to The Crystal Bible), is beautiful in a way that exudes and inspires love in its complex but remarkably cohesive structure. It's the weakness that we all want to feel, the thing outside of us that we have no choice but to surrender to—be it love, or in the case of this song, an infectious drum line. "Rose Quartz" builds into a shimmering crescendo at the two minute mark, and you're dancing by the time Bundick comes in with vocals (I wouldn't be surprised to see a bunch of dance remixes of this). More so than any other on Anything In Return, it will make you dance alone in your room and sing along in your car. Isn't that what successful pop is? –– Matt Conover


Beach Fossils - "Shallow"(3 of4)

beach fossils clash the truth

On the standout track, “Shallow,” from the forthcoming album Clash the Truth, Brooklyn dream pop band Beach Fossils transcend the soft, polite mumbling reputation of the genre. On their second full album frontman Dustin Payseur seems intent on adding more bite to the band taking the music to a slightly messier place.

The song seems comfortingly recognizable at first; however, Payseur is reaching back into his punk rock past. The song structure is economically tight and the precise rudiments of the rhythm section serve as a solid foundation.

The track is a study in juxtaposition. As cheerful and bright as the guitar lines sound, they serve as an ironic driver for the melancholy breakup song, “And when I say, I go away and I can’t stay/ I know I’m done, I’m done/ And when you say stay awake and roll away/ I know it’s done, so done.” And even though “Shallow” is rendered in a lo-fi treatment, its punk rock sensibility and bruised heart doesn’t stay hidden for long. –– Raj Dayal


TORRES - "Honey"(4 of4)


Torres is the recording project of a 22-year-old Nashvillian named Mackenzie Scott; "Honey" is the first single from her self-titled debut record and she spends most of it fighting with the ghost she sings about having crawled inside her guitar, wrestling with sharp planes of wide-open echoes of scuzz and reverb and the heartache rasp they draw out in her own voice as she grits out lyrics like "it happens all the time, heavy are you on my mind." Listen with your eyes closed and you can almost see her bullfighting for six tense minutes with all her demons, sometimes reigning them into resigned fingerpicked balladry, sometimes letting them break free in gloriously messy shards of chill-inducing fury, nerves bared as teeth. –– Genevieve Oliver