Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part Four

Just Music That I Like's Favourite Albums of the Year 2013 - Part Four

Previously posted: Part One // Two // Three // Four // Five

10. Hannah Cohen - Child Bride

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Hannah Cohen was an artist I don't think anybody had heard of this time last year, her introduction to the world of music (after a successful career as a model) was the haunting beauty "The Crying Game", which stirs up powerful emotions on its place towards the end of the Hannah's debut LP, the melancholic Child Bride, fluttering between those painful and torn moments are a couple of upbeat numbers like "California", a light and breezy departure where loosely strummed guitar and sweetly cooed vocals let in rays of sunshine, bright and catchy, it's a welcome addition to the record but it is those aching, heart wrenching moments that stay with you the longest.

"Don't Say" is simply divine, the sweeping guitar waltz and gentle drum brushes provide space for Hannah's vocals to pierce your heart, her voice is genuinely gorgeous possessing a devastating tone that is capable of shining like a star,or being sweet and mysterious, or being haunting and emotional, and then heartbroken all in the space of half an hour. You can pick your own superlatives, Hannah Cohen deserves them all.

The instrumentation is equally elegant as the central theme of love lost tugs at your every sense, it remains delicate and controlled throughout but once in a while it shimmers and swells luxuriously, never better than on the sublime "The Simplest" and another of the stand-out's "Shadows", a fragile, ethereal ballad that's one of the more heartfelt tracks in an album of them.

Child Bride is the perfect soundtrack for a candlelit evening in with a loved one, or alone if you'd rather

9. Allo Darlin' - Europe

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Allo Darlin's second LP Europe is one of those rare albums which flows perfectly without any duff tracks over forty minutes so full of sunshine and wistful memories it can't help but bring out memories, which as with life, are good, bad but on the whole, a journey likely to leave you overwhelmingly fuzzy inside.

Lead single "Capricornia" is a joyous, sweet slice of pure pop about vocalist Elizabeth Morris' home country, it will definitely steal your heart with its fun-filled guitars jangles, colourful drum splashes and pitch perfect vocals, mood inducing and just lovely.

Elsewhere Europe similarly shines, whether it's the albums beautifully crafted ballad "Tallulah" which sees Allo Darlin' go back to their roots with Elizabeth's emotional lyrics pouring out over simple uke plucks, or the wistful highlight "Some People Say" it's utterly glorious, bright and immediate with rich guitar-led melodies that are so irresistibly charming you'll soon be bouncing around your room. "Northern Lights" is another moment to saviour, unashamedly upbeat with sunshine guitar jangles and pitch perfect vocals. Simply put, Europe is a real gem.

8. Novella EP

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Novella's self-titled EP might only be five tracks in length but is deserving of it's place here as it's one of my most listened to releases of the year, and if a list about your favourite albums of the year isn't almost a copy of what you've been listening to most, then you are doing it wrong...

Kicking off with "Eat Yourself" Novella introduce their sumptuous cocktail of sugary vocals buried in a sea of hazy, grungy guitars and battering drum beats, it's all kind of wonderful, the ultra catchy "Don't Believe Ayn Rand" perhaps does it even better... Dreamy, psychedelic guitar lines and luscious vocal harmonies one moment and then seconds later, they're making a whole lot of noise with sprawling, fuzzed out guitars and big pounding beats.

The hypnotic "You're Not That Cool" is my highlight from the EP, slowing building around droning riff cycles moody and nonchalant until it explodes for the last two minutes under an avalanche of noise, one of my favourite tracks of the year. Bring on Novella's debut full-length in 2013 (hopefully).

7. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

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The Lion's Roar takes the First Aid Kit to another level, their impeccable debut 'The Big Black & The Blue' focused on delicate acoustic picks and beautiful layered harmonies, here the sisters are backed by a full band, the title tracks vocal tone is just as stunning whilst its soaring country-waltz tinged arrangements and stomping drums sweep you away on its emotive, beautiful journey. Lyrically the developments are just as obvious, alongside "Ghost Town" I'd place "The Lion's Roar" as their darkest track to date, honest and plaintive reflections that (cliché time) are mature-beyond-their-years.

Sincere and heart-felt, latest single "Blue" the perfect insight to their beguiling balance of sweet voices and rich production with earlier single "Emmylou" another catalyst for the sister's successful year, combining a classic contemporary country sound with the sister's heavenly vocal harmonies, it's simply gorgeous. One listen and it's obvious that the track is a tribute to a whole number of legendary country artists, Carter, Cash, Harris and Parsons are all name checked in the chorus and the sisters managed to earn rare praise from Johnny Cash's daughter along the way. It's not hard to realise why, their music is so majestic, their voices are so beautiful, First Aid Kit deserve all the praise they are getting as they become real darlings of the folk world.

6. Shrag - Canines

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Canines, Shrag's third and in my opinion best LP is to put it succinctly, all kinds of awesome, with swaggering bass and a stomping drum beat the track "Devastating Bones" is easily the best biology lesson you'll ever have, raw and exuberant, much like the album it is taken from, it sizzles with melodious delight from start to finish.

Earlier lead single the wonderful "Show Us Your Canines" also sums up the feeling of the album perfectly, infectious pop music with mood-enhancing melodies, racing rhythms and more bounce than your average trampoline exhibition. Equally brilliant is the punchy "Tendons in the Night", Shrag take a tough, fuzzy pop-rock approach to most the album and throughout show themselves capable of effortlessly crafting dance-friendly indie pop gems that are dynamic, distinctive and compulsive. From the scuzzy bass-lines and skittling drums to the call and response boy/girl vocals and shimmering keys with boy/girl shouty vocals that range from bitter-sweet to lusciously syrup.

Other highlights include "On The Spines Of Old Cathedrals", "Chasing Consummations" and the slow build-up of the epic closure "Jane With Dumbbells" - the whole fucking thing really.