With the New Year well under way, the good folk here at Getintothis look at some of the finest albums of 2018 that somehow escaped our magpie eye.
The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time for reflection. After the full force of Christmas and New Year has died down, we can find time to look back over the last 12 months, replay those events that, for good reasons or bad, have stuck in our minds.
2018 contained some incredible gigs. From Paul McCartney playing a ‘secret gig‘ at The Cavern, to male masturbation when Pussy Riot played the Arts Club, this has been a year of surprises. The long hot summer made LIMF an absolute delight, despite its controversial £5 entry fee and Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle powered on as the creative hub it undoubtedly is.
2018 was also a great year for albums. Christine and the Queens’ Chris album topped our list of the year’s 100 best albums and has seen the birth of a new superstar. We are confident Chris will conquer the world in 2019.
But, however diligent we are in bringing you the best albums we can lay our grubby little hands on, there are always a few we miss. Sometimes this may be down to the sheer number of albums released in some months, or there may be an album that slowly grows on us over time, its charms unfolding slowly with repeated listens. It may even be that an album is released by an artist that we simply haven’t heard of before and by the time we have found it it’s already a few months old.
Whatever the reason, we are aware that there will be some gems that we weren’t able to cover. So, we are now pleased to present a roundup of some of the tricky little buggers that got away from us over the last year.
Sit back, break out the last of the Christmas chocolate and pour out the last slug of Baileys as we present 18 albums from 2018 that we missed first time around. Salut! – Banjo
Bambara: Shadow on Everything
Wharf Cat Records
Ever wondered what a Dashiell Hammett novel would sound like? Look no further, it would sound like Bambara.
Shadow on Everything is good. Very fucking good, actually. Simmering with manic rage, sprawling with unhinged Gun Club noise, Shadow on Everything has a Crime and the City Solution feel about it, but make no mistake, Bambara are very much their own band and easily the band which flew completely under the radar in 2018.
The southern gothic freight train blues that is Shadow on Everything doesn’t possess one single weak spot, unearthing poetic genius – frontman, Reid Bateh who parts with many a lyrical gem from the outset until the album’s conclusion. – Simon Kirk
Black Belt Eagle Scout: Mother of My Children
The debut album from Black Belt Eagle Scout is an understated and intimate piece of grungy rock.
Mixing the personal and the political Katherine Paul, a Native American, laments about her loses, unrequited loves and lands that have been taken from her people. There’s moments on this album where you feel like your intruding into Paul’s deepest, most painful memories such as opener Soft Stud where she softly sings ‘I know you’re taken, Need you want you’ and later on in I Don’t Have You In My Life she muses ‘I don’t have you in my life, I’m just what is around you, Took a moment, You forgot me’.
It’s not all melancholy though as Black Belt Eagle Scout also know how to rock out the aforementioned Soft Stud ends with a J Mascis style guitar solo, Just Lie Down begins with the grittest and fuzziest guitar on the album and closer Sam, A Dream ends with a slow building solo that leads to an uplifting climax.
Mother of My Children is an album that sees an artist coping with loss, finding love and coming out the other side with their thoughts focused on the future. – Michael Maloney
Dead Can Dance: Dionysus
It is difficult to predict what Dead Can Dance will do from one album to the next. From their art-goth beginnings, they quickly established themselves as being somehow outside of contemporary trends and topics. For their latest album they have chosen to tell the story of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, in two largely instrumental acts.
While this may sound obscure or even pretentious for some bands, Dead Can Dance have long made a habit of having ideas, sounds and ambitions on an epic scale. In truth, there is a sense of continuation here that was missing from their last album, 2012’s Anastasis.
These days it is always a surprise to hear that a new Dead Can Dance album on the horizon, as they seem to exist only fleetingly. The work and scale of Dionysus would suggest that they are spending their time out of the public eye writing and researching, which can only be a good thing.
The music on Dionysus is rich, textured and layered. Bird song, tribal vocals and exotic instrumentation mesh together to create a music that is hard to categorise. There are world music aspects to it, but it all goes way, way beyond that. This is something else, something other.
Both Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry have the incredible voices you are ever likely to hear, and at first, it may seem a little cavalier to largely ignore these talents in favour of long instrumental sections, but Dionysus works as a whole rather than as a collection of songs, and the vocals are used where and how the songs need them.
Whilst Dead Can Dance fans of old won’t find anything as immediate or as contained as Host of the Seraphim or Severance, what they will find is a world of richly detailed music that will unfurl over repeated listens. In some ways, Dionysus is a crystallization of all that has come before and proof that Dead Can Dance are still as beautiful and unpredictable as they have ever been. – Banjo
Dedekind Cut: Tahoe
If you’re after something to kick start your day you’ve come to the wrong place. Former hip hop producer Fred Warmsley III aka Dedekind Cut has ditched his previous beat-orientated terrain for something so very still, that if you were to play this album lying in bed in the dark you may still not notice it’s there.
Tahoe is eight ambient collages which vary between feather weight and pin drop on the loudness scale. Yet the detail and subtlety is what make this album so rich and warrant repeated listens.
Three hefty collages weigh in over the 10 minute mark – and it’s the second MMXIX, which offers the most variety juggling throat singing, bird chatter and undulating watery soundscapes – it’s hymnal and soothing and near spiritual in its calm.
The ten minute Crossing Guard is a shimmering blissful aura juxtaposing the 12 minute Hollow Earth which straddles genuinely uncomfortable white noise and dubby electronic radiance.
For long time fans of Kranky you’ll know what to expect – Dedekind Cut is an ideal addition to this already wondrous record label. – Peter Guy
Ed The Dog: Shame
Former Fish Tank frontman Ed Wetenhall unveiled his new solo project last summer, with his debut album Shame.
Declared Album of The Week on one of Huw Stephens’ final Radio 1 weeknight shows on release back in July, the High Wycombe troubadour’s record has a distinctly 1990’s feel about it, evoking the sound of the US (Weezer) and the UK (Blur, vocally at least) and it’s ramshackle nature, fuzzy guitars and pop sensibilities should really have found a far greater audience than it did.
He still has the possibility of an underground to overground success story with the album as he has just announced some decent live festival dates (as a band set up rather than solo), this really is a record that rewards a listen. – Steven Doherty
Well there’s been a few notable albums last year that quietly slipped through on the uncharacteristically downbeat slide – Roddy Woomble’s The Deluder springs to mind – maybe that best explains the debut solo release from Elena Tonra, guitarist, vocalist and lyricist of Daughter.
Running alongside her usual day job. Ex:Re (pronounced x ray) is a deeply personal exorcism, shedding a record that screamed it’s formation. It’s an early hours, sleep-baiting affair perfect for those cold, quiet winter nights ahead.
With minimal instrumentation there are characteristically wandering thoughts and ideas put down that are intriguing as much as they are audio soothers.
Tonra agonises on lead track Romance over the comparative nature of former and potential partners, tormenting herself with decisions, punishingly made for humane reasons ‘See he saw me as a human…this one thinks I’m a slaughterhouse.’ How far more scathing a dissecting of this cruel existence we endure.
Defiantly riding both sides of the Gregorian calendar, physical formats drop next month. – Howard Doupe
The Fernweh:The Fernweh
It’s easy to see why this record has garnered so much positivity, and from so many circles. In this, the shimmering and elegant eponymous debut from The Fernweh, we have, to put it simply, a modern British classic.
To say it is comfortably up there with The La’s and The Magical World Of The Strands would be no exaggeration. There are crucial differences, though. While The La’s album was also a debut, anyone who knew even half the story at the time recognised the air of finality with its release.
That record was the closing signature of a fraught but delightful tale, and most of us were just happy and surprised that it even got released at all. At least there was something there to cling to, something for us to take from the wreckage and into the future.
The Magical World of The Strands was, it thankfully turned out (because nobody could have guessed it at the time), simply a chapter. One of many chapters of Michael Head’s songwriting, and an outstanding one at that, but a chapter in an ongoing story. It oozed class and distinction, and rightly became an instant favourite with anyone who knew a well turned song when they heard one.
The thing about The Fernweh is the promise it holds. The sense not only of its influences, but of its influence on others, its innate sense of future. Because, if a story starts this well, where will it go next? What’s the next steps? An air of instancy and familiarity permeates through this album, and the songs carry themselves nobly. It truly feels as though we’ve known these picturesque and unashamedly pretty melodies and harmonies for much longer than we have. Timeless and mercurial, each and every one.
There’s the English country garden stylings of Syd Barrett and The Kinks, the rich harmonies of The Band, the effervescent edge of Roger McGuinn’s 12 string work with The Byrds, the sunbleached West Coast baroque psych of Arthur Lee and Love, 60s film and TV themes, and the English folk of Carthy, Jansch and Fairport Convention.
Steeped in classicism, warm and inviting, this album lifts us, it is an album that begs further listens, revealing something new of itself with each turn, each deeper listen. And there is real depth, it’s not all pastoral, blanket on the ground in the meadow. Music teachers in schools (or at least, in the schools that are still allowed to teach the value of creativity and art) should step away from Elgar and Für Elise and teach The Fernweh and those other modern classics.
All popular music is folk music, stories to be passed on, to educate, entertain and enthuse. If Cecil Sharp were here today, he’d collect songs like these.
Not only is this the album of 2018 for me, this is an album for every year, for now and today, for tomorrow and for a future unknown. Carry it with you on your journey, for this is a glorious and truly perfect record. – Paul Fitzgerald
Fishmans: Night Cruising 2018
Fishmans have been a treasured gem for music fans in Asia for over two decades, but 2018 was an important year internationally, having accrued a large number of listeners through the import of their music to services like Spotify and YouTube in August.
Discussion of their work quickly bubbled in specialist music forums, solidifying them as internet darlings. Night Cruising 2018, one of the countless compilations after lead singer Shinji Sato’s death and the band’s end, is an ideal introduction to the Fishmans’ catalogue of music, styles and their place in the music industry.
The titular Night Cruising is the first track – a gorgeous slide into sleepy melodies and softly-sang Japanese lyrics. The track builds to an intense buzz, distorted guitars over a warm bassline and finished with the sparkle of a piano. Fishmans’ dreamy sound here is timeless.
What follows is the gloriously playful I Dub Fish, which bears all the hallmarks of classic dub a la King Tubby, mixing it with joyful samples and themes reminiscent of Mr Scruff.
The rest of this mini-compilation is well-selected, starting with the prototype mix of Walking in the Rhythm, a track first released as a 13-minute groove on their 1997 album Uchu Nippon Setagaya. Next up is the upbeat, reggae-infused pop piece Magic Love and then the richly textured dub track Atarashiihito, which sets the pace a tone in time for the final track, a Night Cruising remix from ZAK.
Use this album as a diving board. Launch yourself into 98.12.28, Fishmans’ final release and a stellar, jaw-dropping live album. Find yourself lost in their long-form track Long Season, return to their earlier work, and thank Night Cruising 2018 for bringing an incredible band into your life. – Dominic Finlay
Phil France: Circle
Manchester-based composer Phil France’s latest LP Circle is one of my personal musical highlights of 2018.
Signed to the eclectic Gondwana Records, Circle is a masterful work of ambient electronica unafraid to explore new territories. Expect crisp basslines (The First Thing That You Say), lush pads (Bells), and gorgeous piano reminiscent of the works of Glass (Circle – Reprise).
Clocking in at 37 minutes in length, Circle feels like a truly cohesive album rather than simply a collection of unrelated pieces of music.
Such is the quality of the album that I cannot in all honesty place any tracks above others as ‘standout tracks’, the entire record is simply an exquisite work of electronica that is not to be missed. – Max Richardson
David Harrow: Gold Aspect
David Harrow has been hiding his light under a bushel in LA. The electronic amigo to On-U Sound and Andrew Weatherall, the erstwhile James Hardway has been whittling away as Oicho for many a year. Gold Aspect is his first solo release under his own name this century.
But instead of relaunching himself upon us with a bombastic show of production strength, he’s elected to creep back in to our collective consciousness via the minimalist ethos of the West Coast with this gentle, restrained and at times melancholic album.
While many were still lost looking for music behind the screens of their samplers, Harrow was already building his array of modular synths – and the experience shows. The panoply of electronic sounds he’s teased from his modular synths refer to Tangerine Dream, or Bob Ostertag‘s adventures with the Buchla. Yet this improvised electronic tour-de-force is in juxtaposition to the defining sound of the album: a found DAT tape of violin recorded in the mists of the nineties.
This is no acid jazz’d string arrangement – Harrow has taken the sampled solo instrument and mashed it up big time in his morphagene. The result is a strange and oblique duet between the past and the present, the electronic and the acoustic, a conversation between an instrument expanded and enlarged to twice its size or more and an analogue system so nimble and complex it can respond to every nuance.
Let this album find its way into your life and join the conversation. – Jono Podmore
The HIRS Collective: Friends. Lovers. Favorites.
SRA Records / Get Better Records
The HIRS Collective exists to fight for, defend and celebrate the survival of trans and queer folks who face violence, marginalisation and oppression. Not exactly a band, they are an anonymous and fluid “collective of freaks and faggots that will never stop existing”, an entity that is “infinite and never ending”.
For this their first album they are augmented with fellow anti authoritarians such as Sadie Switchblade from G.L.O.S.S., Laura Jane Grace from Against Me! and Martin Sorrondeguy of Los Crudos and Limp Wrist.
Garbage’s Shirley Manson delivers an intense spoken-word section on Invisible, a visceral piece that turns the violence of ignoring back on the ignorers: “YOU are now the ones not noticed or prioritised“. Driven by a punk ethos light years beyond the possibility of compromise,
Friends. Lovers. Favorites. comprises 25 tracks mostly under a minute and a B-side featuring the fruits of further collaborations in the form of five remixes. Grindcore? Powerviolence?
Wherever this might be categorised in the spectrum of hardcore punk this is a relentless onslaught of truth and beauty, reflecting aggression back on the aggressors and validating its community of resistance – the sound of raw bloody screaming attesting “anything we’ve ever put out into the world is being returned in the sweetest way by the sweetest people.” – Roy Bayfield
Hen Ogledd: Mogic
The latest from Hen Ogledd – recently expanded from Richard Dawson and Rhodri Davies to include Dawn Bothwell and Sally Pilkington – is an intiguing mish-mash. Anyone expecting the alt-folk concept album concerning a time traveller stuck in Wales, as suggested by first single Problem Child, may be disappointed, but when Mogic hits – when a vocal hook catches or an odd melody connects – it hits hard.
Problem Child is the stand-out: it’s messy but focused, meandering yet propulsive. Dawson‘s glassy bass is the pioneer and the anchor, allowing for atonal guitar and ascending Casio lines to buzz around the main structure.
First Date is all swampy, 8-bit dub, with programmed beats delaying and disintegrating as they weave in and out of the main track. It illustrates the improvised basis of many of these songs, displaying the group’s knack of finding catchy melodies in unlikely spaces.
Tiny Witch Hunter is weird, Pokemon pop, with Pilkington‘s vocodered voice sounding like that of a 7-year-old girl. It all hangs on the ear-worm vocal hook in the chorus, which only this group could pull off.
One of the drawbacks of being an improvisational band, however, is that sometimes the record suffers from a lack of cohesion, both lyrically and musically. Welcome to Hell – a cover of Newcastle extreme metallers Venom – sounds good, but the lyrics seem little more than a throwaway gag.
Anyone looking for clues regarding Dawson‘s next step – Hen Ogledd has often been used as something of a testing ground for his solo material – will be none the wiser. But it’s clear from this inconsistent and yet sometimes inspired album that Hen Ogledd is only growing in stature as its own entity. – Matthew Eland
Fucked Up: Dose Your Dreams
I went on a trip to Ireland many years ago with a mate. We were headed to Cork. I hadn’t booked the ferry anything like early enough and we ended up having to go the long way around from Liverpool to Stranraer to Belfast and then Cork.
We ran out of fuel in Northern Ireland in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night and had to park the car up outside a petrol station and sit it out until it opened at 7am the next morning. There was no 24 hour economy in the Ireland of the late 80s. The Good Friday Agreement was a long way off and my brother, who was then in the Army and had done a tour in Northern Ireland, was horrified to hear of our antics.
The soundtrack to that trip was The Pogues Rum Sodomy and the Lash. It was the perfect set of pedal to the metal tunes that made the whole ridiculous ordeal not only bearable, but actually quite good fun as we barrelled across Ireland belting out Shane and the lads’ finest tunes at the tops of our voices.
Were that trip ever to be repeated, the perfect soundtrack this time around would be Fucked Up‘s Dose Your Dreams. The parallels are almost uncanny. It’s a heavier work, for sure, but you get the punk / folk crossover in much the same way that The Pogues delivered. The sense of speed and urgency is exactly the same, as are the rough edges. There’s anger and aggression from Damian Abraham’s hard core lead vocals, but there’s beauty too, in particular when he’s offset by bass player, Sandy Miranda’s rather lovely interjections.
This contrast of styles works incredibly well to create a pretty eclectic mix of tunes, in the sense the band is not afraid to experiment (title track Dose Your Dreams has a distinct 70s New York disco feel to it; the outro to I Don’t Wanna Live in this World sounds like Kings Choir at Christmas, except I don’t see much of an appetite at Kings for their sweet cherubs exercising their precious sopranos to ‘I don’t wanna live in this fucking World for one minute more‘ until it fades out to gentle piano). And unless it appears I’m arguing with myself, the eclecticism provides a coherence, if not in style, but in attitude.
Fucked Up aren’t for everyone though. As one, one star reviewer, said over on emusic.com, ‘What an awful name for a group‘. If that’s the best you can come up with then, this album’s definitely worth checking out. So is Rum Sodomy and the Lash, if you’ve never heard it. – Peter Goodbody
Gunship: Dark All Day
Horsie in the Hedge
2018 was a stand-out year for synthwave. Albums from the likes of The Midnight and Timecop 1983 had fans basking in a cool neon 80s soundscape. While Carpenter Brut and Gost produced compelling releases that combined synth-laden horror soundtracks with heavy and industrial rock.
Yet, even with the standards set high, one album raised the bar further. Gunship’s Dark All Day was the most captivating and immersive LP of 2018.
Emerging initially as a side project from British alt rockers, Fightstar, Alex Westaway and Dan Haigh’s Gunship is a vehicle that has continued to gather momentum as it conveys 80s video game vistas, horror and dystopian science fiction to sumptuous effect.
Their debut album Tech Noir had already seen them collaborate with the legendary film director and composer John Carpenter. On Dark All Day they once again deployed this collaborative approach on their magnificent title track, which features appearances from electronic pop siren, Indiana, and saxophonist Tim Cappello. Cappello is known most famously for his appearance in vampire movie, The Lost Boys and the video to Dark All Day is an action packed manga style sequel to that film which sees him reprise his role amidst a gory backdrop of vampire attacks.
While the title track is stunning, the entire album has tremendous depth. From the bitter sweet 80s pop of When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies, to the cyberpunk groove of Thrasher and Drone Racing League, Dark All Day never compromises on quality.
Although by definition synthwave (or as its sometimes known, Retrowave) has to adopt a sonic palette from 1980s film music and pop, Gunship have managed to accomplish the difficult task of sounding both ‘retro’ and cutting edge on an album that triumphs because of its song writing quality and production. If you rediscover one album from last year, ensure it’s this one. – Nedim Hassan
RP Boo: I’ll Tell You What!
Twenty years into the story of footwork, and here we have the latest album by the purported inventor of it all, RP Boo’s I’ll Tell You What! We may be two decades in, but this is one of only a handful of albums released by the Chicago DJ and electronic wizard.
It’s been well worth the wait. I’ll Tell You What! – a common RP Boo catchphrase- plays loose and fast with an already innovative style throughout the whole album. This is not a music that’s hidebound by convention-even a convention as free-flowing as footwork- but one which fearlessly explores an experimental realm at every twist and turn.
His half-rapped vocals and references to Blondie’s One Way or Another and James Brown’s Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine in Bounty demonstrate how far he’s prepared to take it. Cloudy Back Yard is the sparsest and dubbiest thing you’ll hear all year; it sounds like music from the far reaches of the galaxy.
I’ll Tell You What! is a delight from start to finish. Listen to it and be amazed. – Rick Leach
S Carey: Hundred Acres
Hundred Acres is a wonderfully arboreal album, and is certainly a good listen to see you out of the winter. Whilst not a concept album, you can almost picture the dense woodland of the Bon Iver member’s homeland of Wisconsin.
Rose Petals is a breath of fresh autumnal air, all soft vocals and plaintive acoustic guitar, whilst the glacial strings and sharp percussion of Emery conjures up stony expanses and cold mountain air.
This kind of music transcends the limiting ‘sad boy’ label that some of Carey’s peers fit into; Hundred Acres is ultimately a peaceful and content album, and potentially just the mood we need for this new year. – Will Truby
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80: Black Times
Kitting Factory Records
Walk into any bar or club in Lagos and you will be temporarily deafened by the reverberation from one of Nigeria’s ever rising hip-hop or rap stars such as Olamide or Falz. This may be what the youth are hearing, but what they are listening to is a sound embedded in their heritage and culture. Afrobeat is as influential and poignant today as it ever has been, and the Kuti family are the absolute pioneers in this field.
Picking up from his father Fela, and brother Femi, Seun Kuti latest album Black Times has elevated him as the voice the people in the face of his homeland’s notoriously oppressive and corrupt government.
This revolutionary charged album is full of poise, purpose and power, and by a stretch is Suen Kuti’s most accomplished work to date.
Musically, Seun is again backed by his fathers Egypt 80 band whilst also enlisting support from Carlos Santana and co-produced by Robert Glasper. Adding to the vibrancy and funk in sax and brass sections, this wonderful amalgamation is one of the best Afrobeat records made in recent years. – Kevin Barrett
Yungblud: 21st Century Liability
As hard hitting as his songs are, they are all played out over an energetic and catchy musical backdrop fusing hip hop, ska riffs and a smattering of punk.
The willingness to discuss his ADHD condition is particularly laudable in an industry where so many young musicians are struggling emotionally, feeling unsupported and isolated. Highly critical of medication in Doctor Doctor, he condemns the over reliance of society on anti depressants; “I just want to take my medication; I just want to find my motivation”.
Similarly he references his own ADHD medication in Anarchist; “’I’m employee of the month at the Ritalin club, why do you think I’m so messed up?” Yungblud appears on the sleeve restrained in a straight jacket. Ritalin is his straight jacket.
An attempt at a love song is made with I Love you, Will You Marry Me?, a Romeo and Juliet for the modern age where declarations of love are displayed by messages spray painted onto walls which are later demolished to make way for highly profitable rabbit hutch homes in the sky. They are probably student homes if it is anywhere like Liverpool.
Polygraph Lies raises the question of consent by introducing a graphic Saturday night scenario.”Absent on absinthe, dancing to bad synth, Saturday night aint about romancing anymore”. An incoherent woman, Intoxicated to the point that she can’t even talk is abused; “Let it alone mate, she doesn’t want to go home with you”. The horrific aftermath is played out with her making a complaint to the police and her own boyfriend rejecting her. It is not the easiest song in the world to listen to, but its message is harrowing and highly relevant.
The album title track and final salvo; a haphazard harmonica infused 21st Century Liability finds Yungblud reverting to his raucous. Yungblud’s music is bold and brave enough to speak out about real issues which don’t conform to the requirements of a filtered and cosmetically perfect world. He is young and political. We need more Yungbluds. – Jane Davies