Yep, it’s that time of year again, and as I mercifully find myself in the rare position of being finished my year’s work early for once (!), I thought I’d list my highlights of the year.

I do love a good list, but not necessarily to rank ‘x’ over ‘y’ – I find that it’s really helpful to read other peoples’ lists and maybe get a good sense of any albums/songs/films that may have bypassed you during the year. It’s so easy to overlook records when you’re listening to so much stuff for work, and it can be difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of stuff being released. Nevertheless… below are my  favourites of 2013.

Have a lovely Christmas!


1. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City”


It was a tough call between this and the magnificent John Grant, but the New Yorkers just edge it with possibly their best album yet. They’re more ambitious than ever, yet can still write short, sharp, intelligent pop songs like Diane Young that just burst from the speakers. I thought it’d be the soundtrack of the summer with tunes like the Caribbean lilt of Unbelievers and the fingersnapping, singalong stomp of Ya Hey, but it really is a record for all seasons. The best thing about Vampire Weekend is that you don’t even feel that this is their crowning glory – the best is yet to come.

2. John Grant “Pale Green Ghosts”
3. Arctic Monkeys “AM”
4. The National “Trouble Will Find Me’
5. Little Green Cars “Absolute Zero”
6. Villagers “{Awayland}’
7. Johnny Marr “The Messenger”
8. Anna Calvi “One Breath”
9. Lisa O’Neill “Same Cloth or Not”
10. Matthew E. White “Big Inner”



1. Daft Punk “Get Lucky”
Hard to escape, impossible to resist. A combination of factors tied together by the bona fide genius of Nile Rodgers made this a modern pop classic; sexy and slick without having to resort to out-and-out sleaze (we mean you, Robin Thicke).


2. Vampire Weekend “Unbelievers”
3. Lorde “Royals”
4. Franz Ferdinand “Right Action”
5. Arctic Monkeys “Do I Wanna Know?”



1.  Little Green CarsAbsolute Zero
I knew they were good, I just didn’t think they were this good. I was absolutely gobsmacked by the maturity of songwriting, proficiency of musicianship and the sheer beauty of LGC’s multi-part harmonies; this sounded like the third or fourth album, not a debut – and there’s only so much credit that can be attributed to their producer, Markus Dravs. A hugely impressive calling card from a band who could well go on to be hugely influential in Irish music – not that we’ll expect to see them ’round these here parts that often… the world is theirs for the taking.

2. Villagers{Awayland}
3. Lisa O’NeillSame Cloth or Not
4. O EmperorVitreous
5. The Duckworth Lewis MethodSticky Wickets
6. Bell X1Chop Chop
7. CrayonsmithMilk Teeth
8. Foy Vance Joy of Nothing
9. Girls NamesThe New Life
10. ChequerboardThe Unfolding




Pic c/o Ed Webster

A tie between John Grant @ Electric Picnic (September), Johnny Marr @ The Academy (March) and Little Green Cars @ Vicar Street (May)



1. The Place Beyond the Pines


A film that caught me totally by surprise. I’d seen Derek Cianfrance’s ‘Blue Valentine’ and liked it; he is obviously a filmmaker that spends a lot of time crafting his output and getting the tone right. The Place Beyond the Pines is not without its flaws, but it is a visually beautiful, exciting, brilliantly-directed and superbly-acted film of real depth, with an extremely engaging storyline. At times, it felt like I was watching a play in three acts – a quality that won’t resonate with everyone – but it seemed like a Scorsese opus at times. I can’t remember enjoying a film so much in ages.

2. Gravity
3. Prisoners
4. Django Unchained
5. Captain Phillips
6. Nebraska
7. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
8. Wreck-It Ralph
9. The Way Way Back
10. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa




The Counsellor

Written by Cormac McCarthy, directed by Ridley Scott, starring Fassbender, Pitt, Bardem – what could possibly go wrong? Umm… pretty much everything. The most bloated, pretentious, awful thing I’ve seen in a cinema this year. And I’ve seen jOBS (shudder).




Breaking Bad, hands down (side note: Biggest Disappointment: Arrested Development S4)




Although published in October 2012, the best book I read in 2013 was Donal Ryan’s ‘The Spinning Heart‘. Looking forward to getting stuck into his second one over the Christmas break. (Honourable mention: Morrissey – ‘Autobiography‘)


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