Column: Albums of 2013 – Debut Acts Carry the Day, but a Homegrown Hero Prevails…

Posted: 07/01/2014 in Uncategorized

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As published in Sunday Business Post Magazine on December 1st 2013

My initial enthusiasm for 2013 lay with the prospect of three of my all-time favourite acts unleashing new albums within the year –  The National, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire.

If asked this time last year to predict my top three of 2013, suggesting that musical Holy Trinity would’ve been a no-brainer. Epic advance singles from all three respectively justified the fervour – yet, in hindsight, 2013 proved the year in which those staple long-time favourites ultimately came up short, while a new breed of internet darling wonder-kids flourished.

2013 has without doubt been a year of stellar debut albums. HAIM, CHVRCHES and MS MR have a lot more in common than just a penchant for capitalised monickers – each played their part in rejuvenating Planet Pop with their debut offerings, all jam-packed with irresistibly exciting hits-in-waiting.

Savages, Daughter and London Grammar all lived up to their indie buzz-band status with solid releases, most notably the latter’s atmospheric wonder If You Wait. AlunaGeorge and Disclosure joined forces to produce one of the singles of the year in ‘White Noise’, but also impressed separately with their respective career kick-starters.

On the home front, the opulent genre-bending stylings of Come On Live Long‘s Everything Fall impressed hugely, the complex sonic landscapes of Kool Thing‘s self-titled album proved an innovative slice of electronica, and Little Green Cars‘ long-awaited Absolute Zero surpassed even the loftiest of expectations.

The notion of the difficult second album was well and truly squashed by some – Local Natives, John Grant, Ghostpoet, Anna Calvi and in particular, purveyors of dark disco Austra all proved their mettle to firmly dispel any notions of one-album-wonder status. Follow-up fever also struck Irish output, with superb second offerings from O Emperor, Tieranniesaur and Halves, as well as Lisa O’Neill‘s stunning Same Cloth Or Not.

But the record that takes my own personal annual accolade is the very first one that I listened to back in early January – step forward Conor O’Brien and Villagers, with {Awayland}. This dynamic, evocative and mind-blowingly beautiful album proffered surprises at every juncture and captivated continually. A masterpiece for 2013 and beyond.

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