small but massive...a year in review ~ top 10 songs of 2013

To cap off a fantastic year for local music, Encore NI has narrowed down, in no particular order, our list of the top ten songs of 2013. Agree with our choices? Let us know!

10. The Wonder Villains ~ '33'

During a year of cementing their position as one of the countries hottest prospects with successful gigs across the country, indie-pop masters The Wonder Villains released this gem in a floury of trademark energy and excitement. Undercut with a beautifully arranged synth hook, '33' is an anthem that spans all age-groups, filled with uplifting lines of 'staying in' and having 'rockshows'. With a debut album already in sight, it wont be long before everyones favorite villains are more than just 'a big deal where they come from'. Expect big things in 2014.
For fans of | Alphabeat | Blondie | MGMT

9. Aaron Shanley ~ 'Skyline Of Matchsticks'

Floating in amongst an album of understated beauty, 'Skyline Of Matchsticks' is Aaron's ode to the simple things in life. A stunningly serene vocal is complimented by a soft, folk guitar. Perfected by a harmonica overlay that highlights a mature and mellowed twist, to add to Shanley's beautifully crafted acoustic prowess. Listen closely and you can hear the subtle influences of a young Neil Young. The album itself, 'Bedroom Tapes: Swiss Cottage Teal Roses' is arguably Shanley's best to date. Stunning.

For fans of | Donovan | Neil Young | Badly Drawn Boy

(Track 4 Below)

8.  Pretty Child Backfire ~ 'If We Can Last The Summer'

Though written sometime towards the end of 2012, 'If We Can Last The Summer' has technically not yet been released, and due to it's incredible live reception throughout 2013 it seemed to be impossible to leave it out of this final list. Encapsulating Pretty Child's fast paced, catchy indie riffs and combined with frontman Mark McAllister's trademark emotive delivery, the tracks harmonious interludes and poetic lyricism has captured the hearts of many. Long may it continue into 2014.

For fans of | Bombay Bicycle Club | The Wombats | The Maccabees

7. Foy Vance ~ 'Joy Of Nothing'

The title track from this years 'NI Music Prize' winning album has been an overlooked piece of genius from Northern Ireland's answer to David Gray. A delicate ballad, 'Joy Of Nothing' stresses the importance of reflection and clarity, in an age clouded by the strain of 21st century life. With lines like 'Calling the doves and fighter planes, sharing the sky like it's nothing strange', Foy's triumphant chorus is executed to perfection, as a soaring falsetto vocal highlights his incredible range and leads to an atmospheric finale. Despite being somewhat overshadowed by the big hitting 'Closed Hands, Full Of Friends', this fantastic song is a superb addition to an album you imagine will only be appreciated more as time goes on.

For fans of | David Gray | Paul Brady | Bruce Springsteen

6. Tired Pony ~ 'The Ghost Of The Mountain'

Another title track, this time from Gary Lightbody's Tired Pony and their second album. In a release that should have elevated the Snow Patrol frontman to near legendary status, instead was all too often simply panned as another trademark Lightbody release, with REM's Peter Buck thrown in for good measure. What a shame that was, as 'The Ghost Of The Mountain' bursts at the seams with the sort of lyrics that should stand the test of time for decades. Here we get a rare glimpse into the secretive frontman's clouded mindset,  'I'm not a man, just a shadow, just a fragment, just a ghost' echoing in your head for days after the first listen. A beautiful track from an excellent album.

For fans of | Stephen Fretwell | Kodaline | Ian Archer

5. More Than Conquerors ~ 'When The Well Runs Dry'

A firm fan favorite, 'When The Well Runs Dry' is a piledriver of a track from More Than Conqueror's debut album 'Everything I've Learnt'. Running on pure adrenalin, the track has all the hallmarks of a classic rock anthem. Complete with an invigorating breakdown and encapsulating over-driven guitars, the beauty of the song lies in it's flexibility. The band have regularly performed the track acoustically for various live sessions over the year and the result is as hauntingly melodic as the original at times and would not look out of place on an alternative Deaf Havana album. A rare accolade for a passionate rock and roll band.

For fans of | 6 Star Hotel | You Me At Six | Deaf Havana

4. SOAK ~ 'Explosion'

Captivating from the outset, the 2013 City of Culture's favorite songstress Soak again showed her incredible maturity beyond her years with the release of 'Explosion'. Soaks transcendent vocal glides through a melancholic backdrop of sad guitar, as she perfectly captures the pain of teenage heartbreak with breathtaking honesty. Tours with 'Bombay Bicycle Club' and 'Tegan & Sara' has capped an extraordinary year for her, which will only get better in 2014.

For fans of | Lisa Hannigan | Martha Wainwright | Gabrielle Aplin

3. Echo Raptors ~ 'Change My Way'

From the opening notes of Vincent Caddel's shimmering guitar it's clear that Belfast's Echo Raptors are on to something special. Looking to raise the art of Brit-Pop from it's 90's resting place, 'Change My Way' is the anthemic scream from the terraces that the people of Northern Ireland have been waiting for. Brimming with confidence and earning rave reviews in the process, Echo Raptors are the pin-up boys for Belfast's indie resurrection.

For fans of | Oasis | Cast | The Verve

2. The Late Twos ~ 'The Late Twos'

Possibly the closest any band have came to emulating the Arctic Monkeys early adoration, The Late Two's have burst onto the music scene in an explosive year for the band. The pick of an already beloved back catalogue of original songs is this self titled track from their debut EP. Driven by that wonderfully catchy opening riff, 'The Late Two's' is another track that alludes to the carefree abundance of youth, tinged with 90's nostalgia and an attitude to boot. Having developed a reputation as one of the countries best live bands, the lads from East Belfast are at the forefront of an adoring legion of mods and 'mad fer it's'. Enjoy them while you can, The Late Two's may not be our hidden gems for much longer.

For fans of | Arctic Monkeys | The Libertines | Manic Street Preachers

1. A Plastic Rose ~ 'This Side Of Winter'

As A Plastic Rose's dynamic frontman Gerry Norman took one final glimpse at the adoring crowd before him at the bands 'farewell Belfast' show he made a promise. A promise that, no matter where they were in the world they would be proud to wave the flag for their adopted city of Belfast. A year on and the countries favorite sons have kept their promise and then some, releasing new single 'This Side Of Winter' just in time for the big freeze. Packed with as much APR trademark energy as physically possible, this big hitting single sent waves across the UK, gaining consistent airplay on shows such as BBC Radio 1, the likes of Huw Stephens amongst others were keen to proclaim their new found love for one of the hardest working bands in the business. Filled with raucous guitar and a beautifully melodic vocal, 'This Side Of Winter' bridges the gap to APR's upcoming second album fantastically, showing a more radio friendly edge without ever sacrificing their fantastically crafted indie in the process. With a spell binding Ian McHugh guitar solo to boot, this may be the single that launches the band into the mainstream. One things for sure though, the Belfast boys from Sligo will never change who they are, and that's why we love them.

For fans of | Biffy Clyro | Nirvana | Weezer

Taylor Johnson

No comments

Powered by Blogger.