With Blake and Ladi6 on high-rotation

By Paula Yeoman

Paula Yeoman share her favourites of 2013.

David Bowie 2013.
David Bowie 2013.

We're told albums don't sell anymore. It's all about the single. But there are still a few loyal followers of the old-fashioned long-play format out there; many, in fact, are back to buying vinyl. For the benefit of them, and for those bored with vacuous three-minute pop tunes, don't let the year pass without giving these 2013 gems a spin. For those not available on vinyl, digital download - even CD - will suffice.

No less than five of this year's highlights were shortlisted in Britain's esteemed Mercury Prize - David Bowie's Next Day, James Blake's Overgrown, Foals' Holy Fire, Laura Marling's Once I Was An Eagle and AM by the Arctic Monkeys.

Holy Fire encapsulates a band on the brink of greatness, with Inhaler and My Number undoubtedly among the best songs of the year. While in contrast, Bowie popped in with Next Day to remind us that even after 10 years of musical obscurity you should never write off an artist who has achieved greatness more times than the years Foals' frontman Yannis Phillippakis has been alive.

The Arctic Monkeys didn't fail to live up to the hype that preceded AM, reaffirming their status as one of the best bands in the world right now. And Marling maintained her unblemished track record with the stunning Once I Was An Eagle and its cracking single Master Hunter.

Each one of these albums is a work of brilliance and could have won the award, but there were no complaints from me when Blake's Overgrown triumphed. It's the album that I've most thrashed this year - an intense listen that can only truly be appreciated when blasted at maximum volume.

It wasn't the only record I had on high rotate this year. Ladi6's Automatic was pumped in the car, on my computer, on my phone, but sadly not on vinyl. Let's hope it is soon.

One True Vine, Mavis Staples' second collaboration with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy was another firm favourite. For me, it was a deeply moving journey that saw one of the most important artists of our time return to her gospel roots.

There are a bunch of others that deserve special mention because they really are great albums - Anna Calvi's One Breath, Little Green Car's Absolute Zero, Laura Veirs' Warp & Weft, Norah [Jones] and Billie's [Armstrong] Foreverly and The Phoenix Foundation's Fandango.

And for the rockers, it's imperative you hear ... Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age.

Then there are those that you really must listen to because they're coming to NZ soon and if you don't familiarise yourself with their latest works before then, you really are doing yourself a major disservice.

Start with Neko Case's The Worse Things Get ... At the time of its release I described it as "her most honest and in your face, lyrically powerful, solo record yet". I still stand by that.

Haim's Days Are Gone is another you should get to know. The Wire and Falling are fantastic summery tracks. Grouplove's Spreading Rumours is another made for long, hot summer days and will go down a storm when they play the Big Day Out.

Your year wouldn't be complete without hearing Lorde's debut either - although I suspect there aren't too many who haven't. My 80-something-year-old grandparents could probably recite Royals word for word. And, fair enough, the song was a stroke of pop genius. And Pure Heroine is certainly one of the top pop records of the year.

Try fellow 17-year-old Birdy's Fire Within, while you're at it, too. It's a beautiful album.

To wrap it up, give Sigur Ros' Kveikur a whirl. It evokes emotions of joy, rage, sadness, fear, peacefulness and hilarity, which, pretty much sums up 2013 for most of us.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 27 Aug 2014 23:38:48 Processing Time: 517ms