Because some albums just make more sense on record - this year's essential vinyl releases
Andrew Trendell

15:41 25th September 2013

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There's no question that 2013 has been a pretty astounding year for music so far, with some of the finest albums that we've heard in recent times being dropped in the last nine months - but it takes a special kind of album to sound truly 'great' on vinyl.

We may be ruled by the cloud, the stream and the MP3 in the reign of the Digital Age, but you can't beat sitting down with a solidly arresting album on a vinyl LP, but it doesn't work for everyone. Fun as The 1975's album may be, it's tightly-knit guitar pop anthemics don't really benefit from being given the rich ambience of the vinyl treatment.

So from Arctic Monkeys, Queens Of The Stone Age, The National and the Manics to Daft Punk and Boards Of Canada, drop the needle and check out these 11 records which are made all the more awesome on vinyl. 

  • Sigur Ros - Kveikur: This year's offering of pummelling but ethereal sounds from Iceland's finest post-rock outfit is all the more mesmerising on LP. Get lost in their sound and deep in the grooves of this brilliant record on vinyl (plus, it looks bloody lovely too).

  • Daft Punk - Random Access Memories: RAM is Amazon's biggest selling vinyl release of all time - and with good reason. The disco flourishes on singles 'Get Lucky' and 'Lose Yourself To Dance' are impressive enough on an iPod, but the deep, groove-laden bass doesn't truly come to life until it is heard on vinyl. That'd be to Nile Rodgers' credit (once again), as a man who has recorded astounding music through all modern music formats.

  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away: 55-years-old, still demented and very much in his prime, the majestic goth lord has ventured into a refreshing breeze of experimentation and freedom that we didn't even know we wanted. The sounds on Push The Sky Away float around the rhythm section and eery vocals like a thinly-veiled fog, but you can't truly grasp the forensic attention to detail until you've heard it on vinyl.

  • Queens of the Stone Age - Like Clockwork: Certainly the best QOTSA record since Songs for the Deaf, …Like Clockwork is a different beast entirely to its predecessors – but it’s still one hell of a beast. Rather than leaning on guest collaborators as a crutch, Homme has subtly interweaved their contributions to make a layered and intense listening experience - made all the more intense by the grooves of a good record.

  • The National - Trouble Will Find Me: If there’s one thing that’s clear from Trouble Will Find Me, it’s that here is a band staunchly set on trudging their own path – and firmly cementing their status as the Greatest American Band of Our Generation in the process.This is not an album for the iTunes generation, but it is a masterpiece for all of the right reasons. It’s just two sides of joyful noise. They're proper, old-fashioned alt-rock band. You should enjoy them the old-fashioned way.

  • Mogwai - Les Revenants: If you didn't watch TV series The Returned, Mogwai's 2013 soundtrack might lack a little impact no matter the format, the band's 2013 release was a desperately fragile collection of death-themed, mostly instrumental, tracks. Perfect late night listening, a vinyl playback added to the sense of loss, adding further distance between the listener and the record, but at the same time making it all the more intimate. 'Haunting' doesn't even come close.

  • Boards Of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest: We listened to this on computer speakers in the Gigwise office when it was released. It sounded dreadful. Tomorrow's Harvest has its roots in feedback and imperfect audio, and understandably sounds infinitely improved when listened to on vinyl, any stylus feedback only adding to the experience.

  • Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost (And Other Songs): The soulful funk of The Roots, the timeless and poetic song craftsmanship of Elvis Costello and a whole lot of politics with a punch makes this one of the most compelling and enjoyable listening experiences of the year so far. Get down and digest each and every layer of this incredible record by grabbing yourself a copy on vinyl. Well, go on then.

  • Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse: Gigwise readers voted it their favourite album of the year so far a few months ago, and the rich tapestry of alt-rock, folk and sozzled Scottish poetry is made all the better by the soothing sounds and crackling of vinyl. Wonderful stuff, this.

  • Arcade Fire - Reflektor: This epic art-rock meets disco extravaganza is made all the more boneshaking on vinyl - with each groove emphasising the intricacies of producer James Murphy's craftsmanship.

  • Manic Street Preachers - Rewind The Film: While it shares some of the stately grandeur of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, the Manics' 11th studio effort carries a great deal more adventure, scope, eclecticism, hope and vibrancy. To fully appreciate the triumphant wide-screen ambition of '30 Year War', '4 Lonely Roads' and the brooding title track with Richard Hawley, you should pick it up on vinyl for sure. Drop the needle and get lost in it's majestic, Autumnal nostalgia.

  • Arctic Monkeys - AM: This album was written with beefy, old-school rock n' roll anthemics in mind - it was meant to be enjoyed on an old-school turntable. Dropping the needle on AM and hearing the crackle and enhanced sound makes Turner's new found swagger and bravado on 'R U Mine?' and 'No.1 Party Anthem' make a whole lot more sense.

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