Music - James' Best of List

The Best of Two Thousand and Thirteen

#5 Courtney Barnett- The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Photo by Lisa Sorgini
Last year, singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett was a 24-year-old waitress living in Melbourne and self-releasing a couple of EPs out of her bedroom. In 2013, those recordings were combined for her international debut - 'The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas'.

Lead single 'Avant Gardener' tells the story of an anaphylactic panic-attack in the midst of a heatwave, with lyrics like “The paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar, I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying.”

Courtney has a sound that comes from NYC Folk 1960's but has the lyrical wit of that cool girl in your country high school. You are  not sure of  half of what she is  talking about but you know you should and there is no mistaking her Aussie sense of humour.

#4 Daft Punk - Random Access Memories.  Photo. Billboard.
They haven't showed their faces since the 1990's. They don't like interviews, or PR, or marketing.While they’ve striven to protect their mystique, to the point where we know more about their robot helmets than the people behind them, it doesn't matter. Retro is in. Daft Punk are data mining a rich vein of bits.

Released in May 'Random Access Memories' has been a huge success for everyone associated with it - Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams, Giorgio Morodor whom Daft Punk homage. It has sold well, downloaded  well and been well danced too.'Get Lucky' is an unstoppable song. It is already topping varied song of the year polls from 891 ABC to an inevitable Triple J Hottest 100 nod (surely I am right here?). My favourite is their collaboration with Julian Casablancas on 'Instant Crush'.

a fantastical vision of American popular culture between 1975 and 1985." Being of a generation raised on the Moroder camp classics 'Together in Electric Dreams' by the Human League (Johnny Five is Alive!) and 'The NeverEnding Story' it sounds like Willunga Primary School in the last week of term '88. We were a little bit behind the times, or were we ahead?

#3 Haim - Days Are Gone

Rock's coolest sisters - the Haim girls - began as a family covers band playing weddings, parties anything and ended up with... A REALLY GOOD ROCK AND ROLL RECORD .'Days Are Gone' is pop power rock (not as jokey as The Donna's c. 2001 or an update of Verruca Salt), radio friendly, catchy and  have a touch of the Bolan T-Rex. Good thing! 

On Triple J high rotation 'If I Could Change Your Mind'   and 'The Wire'.

#2 Arctic Monkeys - AM

What Daft Punk is to 1977 Disco then the monkey are to 1977 Sabbath. A little bit Sheffield Steel and a little bit War Pigs.  Frontman Alex Turner described 'AM' as the band's "most original [album] yet," merging hip-hop drum beats with 70's heavy rock. He has said that the song 'Arabella' expresses the two styles of the album most effectively in one track. Released in September the album was a UK #1 (the Monkey's 5th straight). 

If you want a quick listen put 'Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High?' into a  playlist. Interestingly this album topped Triple J's 2013 Listeners Poll which I wouldn't have thought possible for a rock band onto their 5th release who were big in 2006.  Ol' school.

#1 Arcade Fire - Reflektor
Arcade Fire aren't a cool band. They have been accused of being too moody and smart for their own good (Bowie was too). Accused of unjustified delusions of grandeur (ditto Bowie) and you need Google on hand to understand what messages they are trying to get across. [Google search: Orpheus and Eurydice Results: Orpheus is either a romantic or a coward, depending on whom you ask (Wikipedia). Eurydice is either a victim or a harlot, depending on whom you ask (Wikipedia).]

Yes, is it as high art as modern music can get, and it is more for your head than your feet and arms, but 10/10 from me. 'If you shoot you better hit your mark' 'Joan Of Arc'

The band posted to Youtube an 85-minute video which cued up the entirety of the double-album to visuals from Marcel Camus' 1959 film Black Orpheus a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set during the time of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. The video of 'Afterlife' gives a taste. 

What would make your list?


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