[END OF YEAR] Best of Dark Indietronica 2013

[END OF YEAR] Best of Dark Indietronica 2013

[END OF YEAR] Best of Dark Indietronica 2013


[END OF YEAR] Best of Dark Indietronica 2013

Dark Indietronica, as a catchall term for dark pop/synth/electronica, is music about the courage to expose both vulnerability and the hard edges of the heart. It’s dystopian at its core, not connecting deeply to any pure belief despite constantly searching for some version of what’s.really.fucking.real. Set over haunting and soaring synths alike, I want to show that Dark Indietronica, especially in 2013, isn’t a destructive affair, but an exhilirating, billowy listen that might blow your heart away. So here’s my top 20 songs of the year, in descending order.

A FREE DOWNLOAD of all tracks can be found at this Soundcloud link, and through the playlist at the end.


20.  Jaymes Young- Dark Star (Kiely Rich Remix)

“My heart was borne out of the fire/If I told you everything/Would you call me crazy?


19. Fallulah-Out Of It (WHAMS Remix)

“I wish I could love without having to fear”


18.  Ghost Loft- Seconds (Ta-Ku Remix)

“I’m bound to return…”


17.  Battles-My Machines (Clark Remix)

Welcome to the sound of my life/Come inside and be all that you dreamed of


16. Ghostpoet- Meltdown (Squarepusher Remix)

So it won’t be forever then/Just can’t do forever, friends/Something in my character just takes a hold/And throws me out the car


15.  Sailor & I – Tough Love (Jonas Mantey Triebkraft I Remix)

It’s not getting any better/It’s not getting any easier/I never I thought I’d become so cold inside


14. Max Cooper (ft. Braids)-Pleasures (Teen Daze Remix)


13. Ra Ra Riot–Angel, Please (Little Daylight Remix)

“This guy showed me something that I thought I was, but I wasn’t”


12.  Keep Shelly In Athens- Flyaway

I know I’ve got/Something to fight for/I know I’ve got/Something to sort/And somehow I feel/Oh so alone


11.  When Saints Go Machine- Iodine

With the certainty/To outwit an Army/I’m out of reach


 10. FKA Twigs- Water Me (M.A.U. Remix)

He won’t make love to me/Not now I’ve set the fee/I guess I’m stuck with me/He told me I was so small/I told him water me/

Few songs sent me for such a loop this year as “Water Me”. M.A.U.’s remix,  though, hit me right at the eye of a confluence of an emotional whirlwind in my head. It forced me to think about the impoverished way I viewed exchanging my body and my heart, the walls and the barriers that kept me from being a real, live human. Eventually, I spent a month chewing on that idea. Much to the chagrin, I’m sure, to the band awaiting their writeup. But M.A.U. has this hold on me, and has for sometime. I think I get some part of the band’s emotional on a darkly visceral level that crosses oceans through soundwaves that feel domestic and I just wish more people did as well. You should definitely check out more of their work, always a winner.


9. SOHN-Bloodflows

Contract killer prose/Calmly walks away as blood flows/Open, the wound grows/Melt away, the water froze

I remember listening to this the first time in Seattle this early spring. With the Puget Sound wind whipping at my nose, frostbite on my heart. I suddenly felt frozen, aware of how cold I’d been inside for years…a block of ice masquerading as a heart. I wanted to throw myself in the Sound and drown (much like Meredith Grey). Oh, escapism felt so right at the moment; but I dug my heels in on solid ground and let the song make the frozen water of my blood flow again. SOHN has an unparalleled knack for touching and carrying mercurial moments of the mind safely from birth to  new beginnings.


8. Foals- Bad Habit (Alex Metric Remix)

I know that I’ll change/I’m chained again/You’ve lost your way/There’s nothing I want today

Progress is never one directional. Most of this year I spent making a stride here, a pace in the right direction there, and 85% of the rest of the time beating my head into a bloody pulp against the same goddamn millstone. I’ve picked up some self-destructive patterns, some of which I love and are essential parts of me, others…well, they needed to see their way out. But like bad habits, they’re pull on me, their ability to plunge me into the darkness, was so innocous, so barely noticeable in its insiduousness, that I’d find myself instantly chained after having just broke free. ‘Bad Habits’ was my contemplative song, my cajoling anthem to let these toxic traits go.


7. Until The Ribbon Breaks-Pressure

Maybe in another time, if there is another time/ Maybe in that time, I could learn, to love you

I’ve loved Until the Ribbon Breaks all year, having reviewed “Pressure” back in January and many of his other tracks throughout the year. “Pressure” stuck with me the most, though, as a clarion call to my state of being. Maybe if I wasn’t so fucked up, so knee deep in trouble, hell, in a whole other life… I could pretend to care about that love thing again. I appreciate Until The Ribbon Breaks drive to keep some of love’s flame blowing even as it has to contend with the dystopian world his music–and our world–find itself in.


6.  SZA-Julia

“Funny how life is turning out/Momma said I’m sensitive/I’ve got to work on that/Young man, trying to hold the world in a broken hand”

“Julia” is the epitome of dark indietronica at its most billowy, of cruising at altitudes that lift the heart into the stratosphere right before nosediving down back to purgatory. I’ve lost myself countless times in the soaring vocal arrangements that drip with a tincture of hope and sadness. Earnestness exudes from SZA and its endlessly enticing. Plus, the spoken word freestyle at the end just floors, fucking floors me every time. I’m the type of person, though rarely put into practice, that could convey like exploding smiles out of my sadly, sartorial oriented, but naturally naked spirit. Sometimes I hide all the most effusively wonderful parts of me. Good on SZA for giving me the memory again of what that feels like.


5. Goldroom- “Embrace” (Cyclist Remix)

Now I’m lying down again/Staring up in to a cloud of questions, why/Blurry visions of tight eyes/Got a lot of things that I need to say/Got a lot of things that I need to/Find a way to rest my head

In 2010 I used to be a bit of a romantic–not effusively so, but markedly more than I am now–and then this era of darkness slipped over my life. I always told myself that I would, if things got better, find my way back to that part of me. But I spent the last half of this year meditating on that, trying to instill that warmer side of me again. And I didn’t want to, so much so that it became a bit of a cyclical mourning period: it’d reinvigorate inside me and then without warning, it’d die again. The romantic in me was just a poltergeist swimming in and out of my heart, and chasing the ghost was ridiculous. I just never am going to be that person again.  But I absolutely love Goldroom’s Embrace (and especially the Cyclist remix) not only because its sounds are so similar to 2010’s best hits (my favorite year in music in the last decade), but because it’s dark heart makes me feel like I can transport back to the last torrid love affair I had in that year, naked legs and filthy hearts cuddling in wintry weather in my college apartment. And that’s more than enough for me at the moment.


4. Phantogram- Black Out Days
Fireworks exploding in my hands/If I could paint the sky/All the stars would shine upon in red

Phantogram never tries to find their way out of the darkness. Sure,  they might some time become happy people, but they don’t feel its a necessity for great music.  I  despise music that feels it has to temper itself by giving—shudder–hope for the sake of hope. Or even worse, playlists  that make an upswing at the end like the journey you were just on was some kind of fucking fairy tale and we all have to vomit happily ever after.  Which is to say, that I appreciate music that is willing to claw at the world as the beast it’s suppsoed to be. “Black Out Days’ does that, inviting you into the cacophony of the thousand voices swirling in your head.


 3. HAERTS- All the Days (Joywave Remix)

You can’t teach/A heart to reach/Out to another

The amount of whiskey bottle as microphone singing moments I had to this song are uncountable.  I can’t help myself, once that chorus kicks in  I’m shout-crooning the pulp of the song’s heart like a teenage lush–before, of course downing another shot right after when the song’s lyrics have had to some time to land. “All The Days” is a track about forcing all the hidden energy–that sweetness you keep so fucking hidden–out into the world by sheer force and knockout dragout power.  There’s a one minute build in this song entirely dependent  on Nini Fani’s voice which she pulls off brilliantly.  When it reaches its crescendo, it unleashes all the potential energy it’d just scattered in the air in the stanzas leading up to it, singing the air like a solar flare to the face.


2. Polica-Chain My Name

So are we made/Just to fight/All of our lives/Who Am I?/He heard me/Who am I, heard my name, and it changed the day

There isn’t an artist out there who I connect with more than Channy Leaneagh of Polica. From being staunchly feminist (second LP, Shulamith, was named and inspired by the late feminist philosopher of the same name) to placidly evoking dark imagery in pursuit of your message (see self-torture “Tiff” video) to taking an acid laced scythe of precision to exploration of her ability [inability] to connect with others in the modern era. No artist jives so well with everything that is important to me. “Chain My Name”, and indeed much of Shulamith is a swirling mess of trying to stumble drunk up and out of a life that’s suffocating, that’s so unlike you. “Chain My Name” scintillates with intimate bravado, a feeling I’ve been trying to champion/master all year.


1. Josef Salvat-Hustler (SaneBeats Remix)

I’ve got the body of a lover/With a masochist’s brain/ I’ve got the heart of a hustler/ I’m playing a dangerous game

Josef Salvat is the best new artist of the year, hands down. Salvat’s music tends toward self-deprecation swung by a lyrical hammer powered by  an emotional heft earned via an honest peering at one’s parts in play. That’s my modus operandi as well, so it doesn’t suckerpunch me like it does others. Just reeks of home in my head. One gets the sense that Salvat is, much like myself, a bit misunderstood, a bit lonely only when he’s reminded of it, and a bit bewildered at fitting his oblong heart in the nice, round holes of the world.  “Hustler” is an exploration of the latter trait, rectifying internal/external expectations of what it means to really fucking connect in the ‘right’ way.  It’s never mentioned, but I think part of “Hustler’s” frustration lies in an understanding of the joy of quick rendevous. So it rhetorically asks: “What’s the value gained in an impassioned one night stand in a world that views one offs as a character flaw?”  The sound of scarring permeates “Hustler”, still even as he tips his formidable lyricism towards dark stabs at his own face, Salvat never ameliorates his inner self. It’s always there, introspective and mugging an eyeroll. For Salvat, unlike many artists, confession is less an exercise in penance than release shown through humbling, public self-flagellation.

Also: quick shoutout to Sanebeats who has easily been one of my favorite original electronic/remix artists this year.


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Kavi Senior Editor. Currently based in Bangkok. I review dark indietronica/pop with my signature style of delving into the sexuality, sensuality and emotionality of every song. If you'd like me to premiere your track, contact me at the email below or at soundcloud.com/discordbeing