Since my review of 2017 in music was SUPER text heavy… I’ve decided to split 2018 into quarters because there’s a lot of music out there. I’ve also decided to reduce it even further and do a Top 10. The Spotify playlist to go alongside the article will contain a LOT more tracks that I’ve enjoyed – narrowing it down to the 10 best was really hard, especially when several of my favourites released new albums this year. So many artists that I listened to (to death) at University are back. Gomez, Eels, fucking SNOW PATROL! How exciting.
Top 10 Singles I’m loving: released Jan-Mar 2018
(in no particular order).
- The Deconstruction – Eels (Mr E. is back!)
- Face Behind Her Cigarette – Boy Azuga
- American Guilt – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
- Count It Up – Field Music (they’re back!)
- Wiggy Giggy – The Lovely Eggs (wiggy giggy giggy wiggy wiggy giggy giggy)
- Suck the Blood From my Wound – Ezra Furman
- Nighttime Girls – The Districts
- Tir Ha Mor – Gwenno (it’s sung in Cornish!)
- Long May It Sustain – A Winged Victory for the Sullen (Stunning. Listen with your eyes closed)
- Collapse – Gomez (they’re back!)
Cellophane Angel – Dan Auerbach (Preservation Hall Jazz Band!)I know it’s 11 but I couldn’t choose!!!
You Opened Up My Heart – The Slow Reader’s Club (Editors meets Killers)
Make Me Feel – Janelle Monae (I thought this was Prince back from the dead. Briefly.)
Baby I Love You – Ryan Adams (60’s drenched pop)
Jimothy Lacoste – Subway System (this guy is ridiculous. But amazing.)
Don’t Give In – Snow Patrol (I genuinely thought it was Bruce Springsteen singing the first few lines.)
Courtney Barnett – Nameless, Faceless (I’m hoping the rest of the album is a little better tbh.)
CHVRCHES – My Enemy (it has Matt Berninger from The National on it. DER.)
You’ll also find a hell of a lot more on the accompanying Spotify playlist – songs that weren’t necessarily released in 2018, but I heard for the first time and thought were awesome. Including DeYarmond Edison (more commonly known as Bon Iver).
Top 10 Albums I’m loving: released Jan-Mar 2018
(also in no particular order).
- Turin Brakes – Invisible Storm
I’m well aware they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, I’ve loved TB from the minute I heard Underdog (Save Me) on Reloaded 2 on tape. Everyone has bands that stick with them through thick and thin, Turin Brakes are my second go to band in any kind of crisis. (The National are first.) The first track on this album is a stand out return to form for Olly & Gale, there are nods to earlier albums Jack in the Box and Dark on Fire mixed in with a fresh outlook. Any band that references Stranger Things (Don’t Know Much – “life inside the upside down, you’re always on the run…”) is always going to be a winner with me though.
- Calexico – The Thread that Keeps Us
Nothing is ever going to be as good as Feast of Wire for me. Ever. Calexico are a great summer road trip band, and this latest album is definitely one of those. Nothing stands out as amazing, but it mellows nicely in the background. They’re my go-to ‘friends round for dinner’ band, I know most of my guests won’t know who they are, making me seem interesting and with good taste in music, whilst they’re also the right vibe of laid back and interesting without being loud and offensive. Wikipedia describes them as an ‘American, Tex-Mex indie band’. I’d go with that, although I prefer the later description of ‘desert noir’. Like a cactus in the dark. I like this album though. I just read a review of the TB album above and like it says, you don’t get to seven albums without being liked and Calexico have made it to 10. I’ll always be a fan.
- Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – Tearing at the Seams
You Worry Me is an absolute tune. I wasn’t sure at first, as it was a stark contrast to their debut album. After the success of their self-titled first album (and my obsession after seeing them in a tiny tin church at Latitude), this album is very different. Not very – it’s one of those second albums that falls into one of three categories; INSTANT HIT (Rush of Blood to the Head – Coldplay), COMPLETE MISS (The Darkness – One Way Ticket to Hell… and Back) or GROWER (Turin Brakes – Ether Song). This second album falls into the ‘GROWER’ category, and it really is. With subtle nods to Stax and Motown this band has grown exponentially from the raucous S.O.B. If you don’t agree with my examples that’s your problem.
- The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl
The Decemberists do bleak well. This album is really bleak. Albeit bleak in a very jolly way a la Decemberists. This time it’s not about concubines and getting stuck in whales, it’s about real stuff. I’m not sure I’m ready for The Decemberists to tackle real life. Despite the jollity of Everything Is Awful it does start to feel like everything really is awful. (I know it’s tongue in cheek, but, it’s the only takeaway I had from a first listen – and it’s not really something you should be muttering under your breath as your wander around an art gallery. I digress.) This, and the first two albums on this list have incredibly political undertones weaving all the way through them. And it’s allowed, they’ve all been around long enough that if people stop listening due to a bit of politics then so be it. It’s like lyrical weeding of your audience. I’m still here.
- Jack White – Boarding House Reach
Jack has gone SUPER experimental and I love it. I don’t need to say much more really. Just listen to the album. DO IT.
- Khruangbin – Con Todo el Mundo
I only discovered Khruangbin at the end of last year and an instant obsession occurred. They have good vibe guys, good vibe. I would also say they are good ‘dinner party’ music if you want to appear to be an interesting person. Nice and chill.
- Hookworms – Microshift
I’ll warn you now. If you drive whilst listening to this, you will get inexplicably faster and risk speeding fines. (a bit like listening to Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen, although it’s nothing like Queen. Far from it.) I only listened to this album because someone I don’t know tweeted about how good it was. It is good. A bit Django Django, a bit Daft Punk. Cracking.
- Django Django – Marble Skies
I always loved Default, (even before it was on an advert), but I never really delved into finding much more out about them until we saw them at Latitude. Turns out (probably thanks to 6 Music) that I knew a lot more songs than just Default. This new album is great. A little less poppy, a little more experimental but still with catchy tunes that will get any festival crowd going.
- The Sheepdogs – Changing Colours
They sound like Creedence! They sound like the Allman Brothers! What’s not to like?! Especially the nod to ‘Jessica’ on Nobody. Ruddy marvellous.
- First Aid Kit – Ruins
We always refer to these as Mark’s mates. I can’t even remember why anymore. I think he bumped into them at Latitude. Which would make sense. I feel bad that they are the only female artist on my list, but due to conditioning and being unable to sing in the same key as ANY female artist I am very fussy. I love these two though. Plus, they’re Swedish, and I pretty much love anything that comes out of Sweden. (Peter, Bjorn & John, The Concretes, Kent etc.) Their melodies have grown and lyrically they are more complex, and I still can’t sing along with them for shit.
There we go. I’m still an alternative indie kid at heart. But I think my tastes have expanded a little more outside of what the holy bible NME used to dictate to me. Also, the NME probably wouldn’t approve of my dislike of Cabbage (the band, not the vegetable, I’m quite a fan of cabbage) but the song Arms of Pleonexia is fab. Any band that uses such an archaic word as pleonexia (dictionary: extreme wealth for greed or personal possessions) is alright with me. Also, I purposely left Father John Misty off this list. I love Mr. Tillman, however, as anyone who was at Latitude with me two years ago knows, I cannot stand FJM. I absolutely adore his music though. I watched his entire set with my back to the stage. I’m looking forward to what the rest of 2018 has to offer. Hiding amongst the music seems a much safer way of interacting with politics than reading about it in the news!