Here are PopLib’s Top 10 songs for 2013.
Most of these have been featured here during the year, but a few have not. And, yes, all but one are from NZ artists. My PopLib ears have been tuned locally most of the year.
I will add my Top 10 albums later in the month – you can expect a few more international releases there. But not too many more.

1. “Eden” by Astro Children.
My favourite music this year has been from Astro Children. Millie & Isaac were 19 when they recorded their album “Proteus” earlier this year (following up their Mini-album debut “Lick My Spaceship” from 2012). And, not content with recording one great album in 2013, Millie also recorded an album called “Floristry” with her other band Trick Mammoth (set for NZ & UK release early in 2014). It has been hard picking just one song from Astro Children. “Gaze” was an early favourite. Then “Nora Barnacle” stunned with it’s caustic boil of fury. But “Eden” is just perfect enough to top them all. It combines all the elements I love about Astro Children – sweet & strident, rough & smart.

2. “Avant Gardener” by Courtney Barnett
Best ever song about a panic attack. Or gardening in a heat-wave. The two EPs released by Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett are brimful of character. Short stories set to song, and most songs pack golden choruses to match their wry verses.

3. “Winded” by Kane Strang
Baroque psychedelic folk from world-travelling Dunedin troubadour Kane Strang. On this song he expands his usual acoustic guitar & vocal template with assembled instruments including a bowed saw. As with every song on the album, the vocals become an instrument and an essential part of what makes the songs on his self-release debut album – “A Pebble & A Paper Crane” [now removed from Bandcamp by Kane] so perfect.

4. “Sugar C” by Misfit Mod
Minimalist electronica & voice. Just perfect. And made even better by being available as a delicious 7″ single with screen printed cover.

5. “Dim the Droog” by Mavis Gary
Alter-ego of Trick Mammoth’s Adrian Ng, Mavis Gary is an evolving – and intriguing – solo project from Dunedin’s shy over-achiever. The songs are generally darker and stranger than his Trick Mammoth fare, although some eventually end up as Trick Mammoth tunes. But the ones that don’t – like “Dim the Droog” – have a dark pop brilliance that draws you into the seedy underworld of Mavis Gary.

6. “Dear _____” by Death & the Maiden
Dunedin electronic trio Death & the Maiden add some post-punk to their dark-wave electronica and make songs of strange longing and distracted beauty. I’m hoping 2014 is the year they find the courage to release their developing songbook.

7. “Field Recordings of Animals Noises” by X-Ray Charles
X-Ray Charles are from Christchurch & their “Selph Titled” mini-album release is a fine lo-fi 4-track cassette-recorded slice of mangled melodic rock. It seems as much influenced by “Bee Thousand” era Guided By Voices as it does The Clean. Yet this song also echoes the descending perfection of Pere Ubu’s “Waiting for Mary” (which I doubt they have ever heard).

8. “Amnesia” by Strange Harvest
This Dunedin electronic duo self-released a wonderful album this year & this song is my favourite from it.

9. “Infinity Kiss” by LTTLE PHNX
‘Bummer-synth’ is a great genre to invent. The LTTLE PHNX album is sweet & sad & resigned to its fate (whatever that is). I first warmed to the Suren Unka re-mix which was just a shade more shimmery and bright than the album & But the more I listened to the album I preferred the original oppressive bass thrum and enervated vocals. A crushingly beautiful song to infiltrate your mind.

10. “Complicity” by Sonny Carver/ Opposite Sex
Not sure whether this should be attributed to Opposite Sex (as it is on this fine Sunday Porch Session live video) or Sonny Carver (the name Lucy Hunter & Reg Norris play under when they have performed this live). I’ve also seen Lucy play it solo. Whatever & whoever it is I adore this song. It started life as “My Murders are Fine” & is now known as “Complicity” & its southern gothic theatrics have haunted me since the night I first heard it.

I’ve excluded anything I’ve released via Fishrider Records, because that’s an alternative list for me in its own right.

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