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Readers’ Poll: Top 25 Irish albums of 2013

Readers’ Poll: Top 25 Irish albums of 2013

10. Squarehead – Respect

SquareheadA hastily-released album gets the kudos it deserves.

“Where their debut was described [by me] as “no-nonsense slacker indie pop, a fuzzy collection of lo-fi rock ‘n’ roll inspired by surf-pop, old school rock ‘n’ roll and bright guitars,” Respect continues the shedding of the jangly side of the band. Upon first listen, Respect is more rockin’ overall: it’s an energetic guitar record that trashes, screams and hits harder that’s more indebted to American alternative rock from the last thirty years than eras previous. No slacking here.”

Listen: Bandcamp

9.Mano Le Tough – Changing Days

ManoIrish Berlin-based producer delivers well-crafted electronic album of substance…

“The vernacular of the album’s framework is, of course, dance music, particularly house, informed by Mannion’s spending years of week-in week-out DJing controlling and experiencing parties in Berlin so there’s a natural tilt to proceedings. The shift downwards is a suitable one in terms of allowing room for the unfurling of hypnotic melodies, atmosphere and Mano’s own sung vocals; the first time they are to the forefront.”

“That Changing Days is released on Permanent Vacation, the home to John Talabot’s own brand of contemplative house music, is fitting. Mannion veers closest to sounding like him on the title track ‘Changing Days’, a track which conjures cinematic vistas. Changing Days, the album, serves as an astute companion to Talabot’s own debut from last year ƒIN and puts Mano Le Tough up to the top in terms of electronic albums made by producers in the last few years. No guests vocalists or gimmicks required.”

Listen: Bandcamp | Spotify | Soundcloud | Deezer

8.Enemies – Embark, Embrace

EnemiesThe second album from Wicklow band Enemies is the sound of musicians moving further away from the obvious with aplomb.

“Where Enemies‘ first album, the Richter Collective-released We’ve Been Talking revelled in melodic instrumental rock and was definable by those parameters, Embark, Embrace is notable for the way in which the songs are less predictable than before.

“Yet it features the things that are recognisable as Enemies: an emphasis on melody regardless of instrumental focus underpinned by distorted and expressive guitars and drum rhythms. The album is a recalibration of the appeal of the band.”

Listen: Bandcamp | Spotify | Soundcloud | Deezer

7.Lisa O’Neill – Same Cloth Or Not

Lisa O'NeillA beautifully distilled album brimming with the Cavan lady’s personality and colloquialisms.

Same Cloth Not is a much more mature album, from a person who is now a better songwriter. The Cavan musician sings with a greater conviction and authority this time around. Her voice is softer, gentler, more controlled and commanding.

“O’Neill is rightly the focus on Same Cloth Or Not. The last two songs on the record leave a lasting impression. ‘Darkest Winter’ with its beautiful almost-yodel melody and lines like “so if you’re coming baby, you’re cutting it fine,” are followed by the album’s last track ‘Dreaming’, an affecting culmination of an album from a singer-songwriter who has really found her voice and a way to naturally convey her distinct personality.”

Listen: Spotify | Deezer

6.Solar Bears – Supermigration

SBsThe duo’s musical influences are more obvious but more adeptly conceived on their second album.

“If the dominant theme of Solar Bears’ debut She Was Coloured In was a pastoral take on soundtrack sci-fi, Supermigration takes a more focused route through the path between their film and music inspirations. Where the former was a trippy and sprawling wander into the cosmos, Supermigration has more of a grounded purposeful feel to it. Over the 40 minutes of music on their second LP, there’s still very obviously a filmic feel to proceedings. But Supermigration hits harder to the gut as well as the brain.”

Listen: Spotify | Soundcloud | Deezer

5.My Bloody Valentine – m b v

mbvWas it worth the 20 year wait?

“My Bloody Valentine are all about being in the moment. And m b v is a collection of endless moments – gauzy, heady, harmonious moments, with ambiguous song-titles that would befuddle even the most wide-eyed dream popper. ‘who sees who’ is a haze of formless melodies, buried under diaphanous reverb. ‘new you’ is a lesson in noise and repetition. ‘is this and yes’ is Belinda at her most bewildering. ‘if i am’ inverts the probable nature of instrumentation. ‘new you’ is a skilled tremolo duel. ‘in another way’ is a blistering assault. ‘wonder 2’ is a guitar battle under a flight path. m b v is music to my ears.” – Alan Reilly, State.ie

Listen: Youtube

4.And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures

ASIWYFA Their boldest statement yet, an album bursting with a positive vigour, that states a renewed case for a magnetising band at their best.

All Hail Bright Futures could be taken as both an ethos for the album and the band at this point in time. There is a new color scheme in place: new textures, emotions, sounds and voices. The 12-track, 43 minute album is dominated by a sunnier disposition, a positive uplift that more closely matches the euphoria the Northern Ireland trio has been instilling in audiences through their music in a live setting for the last five years.”

Listen: Bandcamp | Spotify | Soundcloud | Deezer

3.I Am The Cosmos – Monochrome

comsoMoody synth pop disco music inspired by a single source song makes for a fruitful album aesthetic.

“The idea for the band came from a single song. ‘Shinzo No Tobira’ by Mariah an early ’80s Japanese band, Turner told Noisey. That song’s motorik bass and resigned gentle synths are the template for much of Monochrome.

“Seeped in analogue equipment, the nine tracks here explore a similar aesthetic pinpointed by the Mariah song: the influences range from ambient Brian Eno records to Italo disco to the moodier side of ’80s synth pop, “tears on the dancefloor” as Murphy called it. Turner doesn’t so much sing as sulk in reverb over eight of the album’s nine tracks which reins in the persistent ryhthm of the instrumentation and injects it with languid melanchola.”

Listen: Spotify | Soundcloud | Deezer

2. Little Green Cars – Absolute Zero

Little Green CarsAn accomplished major label debut that saw the Dublin band expand worldwide on their debut album.

“…Establishes the band’s music as a concoction of the classic sounds of rock, folk, roots and Americana. Anyone who’s seen LGC live in the last few years will have experienced the depth of their powerful harmonies; which can really stun when they perform them in cascading fashion. There’s plenty of all-in harmonies on Absolute Zero, it’s the band’s most recognisable collective asset right now.

“When I talked to the band at SXSW for the Irish Independent, it was clear they are a group with the long-game in mind. “We are a young band and we want to one day be an old band,” Appleby said. Absolute Zero is that young band mining older sounds but creating something vibrant out of that. It’s still very much early days for Little Green Cars but they show they have the potential here for greater expansion, as well as enough great songs to build on to become that old band one day.”

Listen: Spotify | Deezer

1. Villagers – {Awayland}

VillagersConor O’Brien and band’s first record made completely together makes for a rich and dynamic second Villagers album.

“As ever though with O’Brien, it’s those simply constructed lines that repeat with the listener of which ‘Earthly Pleasure’ is perhaps the richest on the album. A story that starts with the protagonist ‘naked on the toilet with a toothbrush in his mouth / when he suddenly acquired an overwhelming sense of doubt,’ before being whisked away to the early 19th century to rant in front of a queen: ‘Lucifer is in our court; Beelzebub is in our banks.’

“Throughout, simple wordy treasures are largely matched with worldly textures. {Awayland} is a trove of confident and carefully crafted music and lyrics.”

Listen: Spotify | Deezer

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