The Top Releases of 2018 So Far
This list is one week late (apologies) so please note the below only includes releases up until 29th June 2018. These are the albums we’ve been loving/listening to the most so far this year. It’s a pretty mixed bag; a list that takes on various forms of artistic appeal.
A common theme throughout seems to be this idea of music as a form of escapism, a way of making sense of the world. Let’s be honest, it’s been a strange few years, so it’s no wonder some of these anxieties have come to life in the form of wonderful records. Here's some of our faves, in no particular order:
Amen Dunes – 'Freedom'
Producer: Chris Coady (Beach House)
Damon McMahon’s fourth LP is a masterpiece. His ability to articulate his emotions via sound is incredibly powerful. Every note and lyric on the album is a deeply considered one, which explains why it took three years to fully bring to life. I’d wait another three years for the follow up if it makes me feel the things ‘Freedom’ does. Welcome to pop-rock heaven.
Key tracks: Blue Rose, Calling Paul The Suffering and Miki Dora
Hookworms – 'Microshift'
Producer: Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson
Microshift sees Hookworms step into a steady state of groove. Hailing from Leeds, the psych rockers have taken us on more of a danceable krautrock journey with their third album. Uplifting lyrics, swirling synths and persistent basslines are the bones of what has become one very addictive album.
Key tracks: Static Resistance, Opener and Negative Space
Dream Wife – 'Dream Wife'
Finally people are starting to realise that girls love fuzz too. On their impressive debut album, the fierce trio lead the way with their pop-punk attitude. The lyrics are meaningful, (particularly on ‘Somebody’) and the live show is yet another poignant reminder that ladies need to move to the front a little more often. Both on and off the stage. Thank you, Dream Wife, for keeping it romantic and real in 2018.
Key tracks: Somebody, Hey Heartbreaker and F.U.U.
Jon Hopkins – 'Singularity'
Producer: Jon Hopkins
Jon Hopkins graces us with his genius once again on ‘Singularity’. This really is an album that you need to listen to from start to finish; immerse yourself in the journey. While many of the tracks are standalone bangers, the real beauty resides in the soft intros and atmospheric builds. This album is a stunning collection of electronic sounds from a visionary producer.
Key tracks: Everything Connected, Feel First Life and Emerald Rush
Parquet Courts – 'Wide Awake!'
Producer: Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse)
On their fourth album, Parquet Courts take us down a particularly danceable rock avenue. It’s still got all of the sharp lyricism and swift tempo changes, but it’s a lot more upbeat than their last. I mean, these guys can do no wrong. Their sound is completely their own, so each rendition is just a refreshing twist on the last. Again, they’ve managed to capture the enjoyable yet often anxious feeling of simply existing, via sound.
Key tracks: Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience, Wide Awake and Freebird II
Young Fathers – 'Cocoa Sugar'
Producer: Young Fathers and Timothy London.
Young Fathers are somewhat ground breaking in their approach. The Scottish trio don’t sound like anyone else, opting to move to the beat of their own drum. Their third LP is outspoken, inspiring and beautiful – with their overall creative direction often set to shock, just take a look at the ‘In My View’ video clip. It’s hip-hop, it’s punk, it’s pop – it’s hard-hitting, profound and a real work of art.
Key tracks: In My View, Lord and Tremolo
Perel - 'Hermetica'
Producer: Annegret Fiedler (Perel)
From what we can gather via social media, German Producer Perel is a bundle of fun. Her music on the other hand is somewhat darker – the persistent basslines often bringing with them a sense of urgency or chaos. Her haunting vocals feature throughout and her playful personality shines though in the most unexpected of places. It’s an exciting and intriguing debut, with very few moments where you don’t feel inclined to move.
Key tracks: Alles, Pastarella Al Limoncello and Die Dimension
Good Morning – 'Prize // Reward'
Producer: Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons (Good Morning)
Good Morning’s delicate DIY charm is infectious, making their debut album a special one. Soft percussion, off-kilter guitar and warm vocals combine seamlessly to create a feeling of ease. The piano plays a big role too, drifting underneath most tracks to add yet another level of depth and emotion. It’s raw, honest and surprisingly joyous in a live setting. We haven’t numbered this list, but if we had, this one would definitely be up there.
Key tracks: $10, For A Little While and Escalator
MIEN – 'MIEN'
Made up of members of The Black Angels, The Horrors and Elephant Stone, it would be hard for this album to be anything but a psychedelic dream (and a psychedelic dream it is). I’m a sucker for a supergroup and this album proves exactly why. It’s a spacious and immersive release with layers upon layers of textured sound. The kind of album that allows you to make new discoveries with each new listen; the gift that keeps on giving.
Key tracks: Earth Moon, (I’m Tired of) Western Shouting and Odessey
Let’s Eat Grandma – 'I’m All Ears'
Producers: SOPHIE, Faris Badwan, David Wrench
UK duo Let’s Eat Grandma have really outdone themselves on their second album. The vocal delivery is often the most powerful tool used throughout the album, usually met with moody piano and swirling synths. The lyrics reveal the journey of two young women leaving the naivety of their teens behind and confidently moving forward into the future – it’s rather magical.
Key tracks: Hot Pink, Falling Into Me and It's Not Just Me
DEN – 'Deep Cell'
Producer: Den / Micky Grossman
Sydney four-piece Den have blended a range of genres to create a truly unique debut LP. Shifting seamlessly between beaming synth and heavier instrumentals, they really do not hold back at any point. Things calm down momentarily, then suddenly you're smacked right in the face again with speedy, hard-hitting percussion and aggressive vocals. It’s pretty dark but it’s refreshingly alive too.
Key tracks: Eclipse, Division and Steel
Gabriella Cohen - 'Pink Is The Colour of Unconditional Love'
Producer: Gabriella Cohen and Kate ‘Babyshakes’ Dillon
Gabriella Cohen’s carefree approach shines through in everything she does. Even when she’s singing about feeling lonely, there’s always a glimmer of hope. Whether it’s communicated via beautiful harmonies, groovy guitar hooks or witty lyrical delivery, the positive charm is always simmering somewhere just below the surface. Cohen’s sophomore LP is a dynamic release that feels both authentic and fun, all the while exploring the darkness that life sometimes presents us with.
Key tracks: Music Machine, Baby and Hi Fidelity
Jonathan Wilson – 'Rare Birds'
Producer: Jonathan Wilson
It’s been almost five years since Fanfare - 2013’s masterpiece that still gets a frequent spin. In that time, Wilson has been busy producing other albums (Father John Misty, Lana Del Ray) and touring with Roger Waters/Pink Floyd. The calibre is high. His authentic vintage sound and graceful lyrics have the tendency to transport you to another dimension. On his third solo album, it’s as though every track feels ‘big’ and the risk of drifting into a meditative state is extremely high. Press play and enter the bliss zone.
Key tracks: Loving You, Sunset Blvd and 49 Hairflips
Against All Logic – '2012 - 2017'
Producer: Nicolas Jaar
Earlier this year Nicolas Jaar surprised us with a new album release under the alias Against All Logic. And what a magical surprise it was. As its title suggests, it’s a compilation of songs produced between the years of 2012 – 2017. Some already released into the world in that timeframe, and some completely fresh. It’s a mix of uplifting house, funk and techno that feels just as effortless as everything else Jaar touches. Endless gratitude to the man, the mystery.
Key tracks: I Never Dream, Know You and Such a Bad Way
Wooden Shjips – 'V.'
Producer: Wooden Shjips
Welcome to psych-rock heaven. The latest Wooden Shjips album is the first we’ve heard from them in five years, and what a welcomed return it’s been. In fact, their fifth album is a testament to the precision that you generally only ever find after many years of experience. It really is a thing of beauty. Only one track on the album falls under the five-minute mark, meaning the majority of songs have around 6 minutes to really do their thing. It’s relaxed, effortless and bursting at the seams with (quiet) confidence.
Key tracks: Red Line, Already Gone and Ride On
Leon Bridges - 'Good Thing'
Producers: Ricky Reed, King Garbage and Nate Mercereau
If you’re after a little soul, then you’ve come to the right place. Leon Bridge’s sophomore album covers a lot of ground – you hear him serenade with his 60s inspired soul songs and command the dance floor with upbeat disco grooves. It’s a really dynamic release that could easily soundtrack the needs of your entire weekend.
Key tracks: Bad Bad News, Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand and Shy
Snail Mail – 'Lush'
Producer: Jake Aron
Lindsey Jordan’s debut album is exactly that, Lush. At just 19-years-old she’s created a collection of hopeful, heartfelt indie pop-rock songs. You could quite literally listen to these angelic vocals for days on end - her vocal tone simply does not tire. Each track feels unique, which is largely due to the way Jordan is able to tell such a convincing story via song. It’s a simple approach, but it peaks and pulls back in all the right places. Delightful.
Key tracks: Heat Wave, Let’s Find An Out and Speaking Terms
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – 'Hope Downs'
Producer: Liam Judson
There’s something so refreshing about Rolling Blackouts CF. It’s like they’ve managed to harness a feeling of nostalgia and a glimpse into the future all at the same time. The perfect balance. Whilst we’ve already had the pleasure of a few EPs, their debut album certainly lives up to the international hype. These guys consistently deliver tight jangly guitars, meaningful Australian-inspired lyrics and an overarching feeling of freedom. One for the road.
Key tracks: Talking Straight, Mainland and Cappuccino City