This is the year that electronic dance music started to rightfully and consciously separate itself from stuff like Skrillex, Deadmau5 and Calvin Harris. That stuff’s fun, sure, but we never thought it could be so sophisticated and elegant. The debut from these brothers from Surrey, UK was a surprise because it was so packed with quality and included guest spots from London luminaries: Jamie Woon, AlunaGeorge, Jessie Ware, London Grammar (“Help Me Lose My Mind” is my song of the year) and Ed Macfarlane from Friendly Fires. And while the Lawrences were in some fierce company for best dance music of the year consideration (props to Jon Hopkins, DJ Koze, Classixx, Daft Punk, Autre ne Veut and Baths), they somehow managed to scale the mountain. Let’s hope that, in 2014, there’s more magic where this came from.
Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
A longtime favorite in the intellectual lady rock genre, Case didn’t disappoint with her sixth studio effort. The 43-year-old country-minded and politically suspicious renegade usually doesn’t let the world see anything that’s not brilliant. She’s one of the best songwriters in the game, cleverly slipping feminism in wherever she can.