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Best Albums of 2018

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Best Albums of 2018

Posted on 17 December 2018 by Joe

It’s been a good year for debut albums in our latest Best Albums list.

Politics has also loomed large, with a number of releases, including our top placed  album, trying to make sense of the chaos of Brexit.

We have also included a special focus on acts from one of our bases – the South West of England, which continues to produce some of the UK’s most best music.

16. Nicholson Heal –Big Jupe

Bristol based Nicholson Heal impresses with his debut album, with a keen focus on melody and  featuring a wonderful brass section. Deservedly one of our  Glastonbury Festival emerging talent competition longlist entries back in 2017. Full review.

NicholsonHeal

15. Tigercats- Pig City

Tigercats are back, bigger, brassier and they’ve brought the party with them, careering round the capital on this gem of a third album, which makes great use of their new horn section and African influences. A deserved spot in our best albums of 2018 list. Full review.

Tigercats

14. The Billy Shinbone Show – The Billy Shinbone Show

Jesse Budd from Glastonbury based psychedelic popsters Flipron becomes Billy Shinbone for this eclectic solo album that blends 1960s psychedelia with country and Cajun music. Fans of Robyn Hitchcock’s recent albums will find a lot to like here. Full review.

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13. Superorganism – Superorganism

This global octet, with members from the UK, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, have impressed us greatly with their stunning debut, which is packed with a range of styles, big choruses and delicious hooks.

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12. Okkervil River – In the Rainbow Rain

In the Rainbow Rain is Okkervil River at their best, featuring great tunes in the likes of Love Somebody and Pulled Up The Ribbon as well as some of the strongest personal writing yet from their leader Will Sheff. Full review.

OkkervilRainbow

11. Guided by Voices – Space Gun

Space Gun may well be the best album that Robert Pollard has recorded under the Guided By Voices moniker since he resurrected the band back in 2012. Full review.

Space Gun

10. Papernut Cambridge – Outstairs Instairs

Former Death in Vegas man Ian Button and his crew continue to reinvent 1970s pop, this time covering themes of grief and loss as he reflects on the passing of his father, whose words of wisdom on No Pressure are among many, many highlights. Full review.

Papernut Cambridge

9. Alex Highton – Welcome to Happiness

For his third album Liverpudlian Alex Highton has turned up the synths and 1980/90s influences to great effect. This is particular notable on opener Benny Is a Heartbreaker, an Ultravox-esque thriller of a song. Full review.

Alex Highton

8. Front Person – Front Runner

Canadian singer songwriters Kathryn Calder (The New Pornographers) and Mark Hamilton (Woodpigeon) come together  produce one of the best albums of 2018. Their trademark passionate lyrics and beautiful vocal delivery combine perfectly on this debut, which features some smart use of vintage electronica. Full review.

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7. Neko Case- Hell On

The world’s best female vocalist? We certainly think so, especially after hearing this latest highly charged release. She certainly has a lot to be emotional about this time around with this album arriving after her house burnt down and amid a battle with stalkers. Yet another career highpoint and a worthy entry in our best albums of 2018 list.

Neko Case - Hell-On

6. Jack Hayter – Abbey Wood

A derelict children’s home provides the inspiration for former Hefner man Jack Hayter’s latest, where everything falls into place. It has a strong back story, some moments of genuine drama, great music and above all sincerity. Full review.

abbey wood

5. Robert Rotifer – They Don’t Love You Back

The Austrian musician, broadcaster and Kent resident has created an epic stream of folk, psychedelic consciousness that perfectly encapsulates the senseless chaos of  Brexit. Recorded as a 77 minute track as part of a Wiaiwya Records project to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières. Full review.

Rotifer - they don't love you back

4. The Go! Team- Semicircle

Eu-bleedin’-phoric! There’s no other word combo to sum up the sheer exhilarating joy of this Go! Team latest. Full review.

The Go Team SEMICIRCLE album artwork SMALL

3. Parquet Courts Wide Awake

Parquet Courts had already done their bit for guitar rock on their first three albums. Now they expertly take their music into new directions, thanks to Danger Mouse on production duties.

parquet courts

2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

Melbourne band’s three guitars pack a punch, especially on this album’s fantastic opening featuring  An Air Conditioned Man, Talking Straight and Mainland. Full review.

Hope Downs

1. Field Music – Open Here

From its chamber pop gems to pop-tastic foot stompers, this latest from Britain’s most interesting act continues to delight.  There are serious messages too, as the band eloquently express their fears around parenthood in post-Brexit Britain. A deserved top spot in our Best albums of 2018 list. Full review.

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Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Brighton Concorde 2 (October 23, 2018)

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Brighton Concorde 2 (October 23, 2018)

Posted on 30 October 2018 by Dorian

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (Rolling Blackouts C.F. for shortish) have been around for half a decade now but only started releasing music in 2016. That debut EP (talk Tight) and 2017’s French Press were very well received but they didn’t really break out until they released their debut long player, Hope Downs, this year. So it is curious how much their live show seems like a greatest hits set by an artist with dozens of releases to draw from.

Rolling Blackouts CF

It might be partly their set-up of three singer-songwriters that contributes to this as it adds a freshness and variance of style through their set. Crucially though it is the quality of the songs that carries them through; the standard hardly drops all evening and even though they don’t play my personal choice (‘Julie’s Place’) I’m still greeted with a barrage of favourites through the evening.

The performance is great, with the three singers switching the lead, and knocking out some great guitar lines throughout. Even though they each have a distinctive voice and songwriting style there is enough consistency of sound to demonstrate an undeniable Rolling Blackouts C.F. sound.

The rhythm section is consistently brilliant, a real driving engine behind the sound that really boosts the songs with energy and urgency. It is perhaps this frenetic driving quality that makes them sound quite different to The Go-Betweens, an act they are often compared to.

They’ve finished their UK tour, although I’m sure they’ll be back again next year, so if you aren’t familiar with the band give Hope Downs a listen. In my view the best debut album released this year.

By Dorian Rogers

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs

Posted on 04 July 2018 by Dorian

This is going to be a short review. It is, to some degree, written out of necessity. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are a band that are completely new to me. I hadn’t heard anything from their debut album, Hope Downs, or either of their previous two EPs prior to this week. Within a couple of days I‘ve purchased tickets to see them play in October and they are currently my new favourite band.

Hope Downs

They are everything I love about guitar music. Great melodies, interesting lyrics, vocal harmonies and the perfect blend of professionalism and sounding like they are just on the edge of losing it.

They remind me of Eyelids if they’d come from Melbourne rather than Portland, or Parquet Courts if they’d grown up listening to The Go-Betweens rather than Sonic Youth. Lazy comparisons aside they are just a great band, three guitarists all singing and song writing backed by a solid rhythm section. Ten excellent songs coming in at an economical 35 minutes.

It is a great album from start to finish but smartly hits you with a knock-out three-punch of ‘An Air Conditioned Man’, ‘Talking Straight’ and ‘Mainland’ (surely the feel-bad hit of the Summer?) at the start of the record.

It’s only July but we have a serious contender for album of the year on our hands.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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