There was plenty of music to love in 2018, and we’ve spent a little time assembling a list of our favourite releases of the year. For your listening pleasure, we’ve also put together a playlist highlighting some favourites from our picks, which you can listen to here. Sit back, press play, and enjoy.

Primitive Knot – Thee Opener Of The Way

// We think Primitive Knot are one of the most exciting Manchester bands on the scene at the moment. This mysterious outfit can be hard to pin down, combining black metal, industrial noise and experimental drone, but the record speaks for itself. They last played here in December over at The White Hotel, and we advise you keep an eye out for their next live dates.

Szun Waves – New Hymn to Freedom

// Made up of Luke Abbott along with Portico Quartet’s Jack Wylie and PVT’s Laurence Pike, Szun Waves are where modern spiritual jazz and heavy synth electronica meet, creating a fluid, blissful music with rising crescendos and hypnotic grooves. We caught a superb set from them at Soup Kitchen in November, complete with excellent visuals.

Various Artists – We Out Here

// Our only compilation on the list, this is a brilliant snapshot of the current UK jazz scene, released on Giles Peterson’s label Brownswood Records. Curated by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, the man behind Sons Of Kemet, several talented young jazz musicians combined their talents in the studio for this collection.

Sleep – The Sciences

// The Sciences came with little warning last year, naturally on April 20th. With songs about astronauts getting high, Antarctic explorers getting high, and Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, things get very pseudo-spiritual. It’s their first release since 2003’s ‘Dopesmoker’, and we think one of their best. Chunky riffs as usual along with some great breakdowns, it’s a solid rock record, and ‘Marijuanaut’s Theme’ is one of our favourite tracks of the year.

Lera Lynn – Plays Well With Others

// Initially brought to the public’s attention as the downtrodden bar singer in the second series of True Detective, of which she contributed music in collaboration with Rosanne Cash and T Bone Burnett. This album is, again, a collaborative album, with each track seeing her team up with another artist, including Shovels And Rope, John Paul White of The Civil Wars, Dylan Le Blanc and JD McPherson. Rooted in country and blues, the album has a fresh modern feel and really puts her superb vocal prowess to the forefront.

Tim Hecker – Konoyo

// Tim Hecker adds another collection of stunning soundscapes of his already excellent discography. Made during several visits to Japan, there he enlisted the help of musician Motonori Miura to assemble gagaku ensemble, also sampling traditional Japanese flutes, the hichiriki and ryūteki.

Sebastien Tellier & Dita Von Teese:

// French songsmith Sebastien Tellier once again shows off his knack for chord progression and his flair as a melodist, while burlesque dancer, model and actress Dita Von Teese steps behind the mic. It may be a peculiar match on paper, but this is more than another take on the classic ‘Serge Gainsbourg x English-speaking femme fatale’ formula. The result is a superb electro-pop record brimming with catchy hooks, and Dita’s vocals more than hold their own. Lead single and opening track ‘Sparking Rain’ is our pick of the bunch.

Daughters Of Darkness by Francois De Roubaix:

// A re-issue, but we’re still chucking it in. Well deserved of a long-awaited re-release, the soundtrack for Belgian cult ‘erotic vampire’ classic ‘Daughters of Darkness’ from ingenious French composer Francois de Roubaix is a brooding, seductive collection of music. The score was finally graced with a proper release last year, naturally on blood-red vinyl.

Singularity by Jon Hopkins:

// Master musician and prolific producer Jon Hopkins saw off the release of fourth studio album ‘Singularity’ in May, following up his 2013 breakthrough record ‘Immunity’. A record full of wistful ambience, hypnotic ambient techno and bass, while it may not take a huge leap forward from previous work, it builds on his sonic signature.

Nils Frahm – All Melody

// Contemporary classical creative Nil Frahm added to his already stellar back catalogue this year with release of his critically acclaimed seventh album ‘All Melody’. Recorded in a bespoke studio built from scratch in Berlin, expanding on his credentials as one of the best neo-classical composers working today.

And as for the rest of the team…

Thomas Says:

Rae Morris – Someone Out There
Parcels – Parcels
U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
Jack White – Boarding House Reach
Robyn – Honey
Allie X – Super Sunset
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born Soundtrack
Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
Superorganism – Superorganism

Jonny Says:

Blocks & Escher – Something Blue
Skee Mask – Compro
Kamaal Williams – The Return
DJrum – Portrait With Firewood
Pariah – Here From Where We Are
Christine & The Queens – Chris
Kamasi Washington – Heaven On Earth
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Gas – Rausch
Leon Vynehall – Nothing Is Still

Olive Says:

U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited
Palm – Rock Island
Beak> – />>>
Baxter Dury – B.E.D
Low – Double Negative
Ought – Room Inside The World
Kahdja Bonet – Childqueen
The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment
Drinks – Hippo Lite

Frenchie Says:

Panopticon – The Scars of Man On the Once Nameless Wilderness
Brockhampton – Iridescence
Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
SUMAC – Love In Shadow
Under – Stop Being Naive
Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of
Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die & Love Will Bury It
Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses
Autechre – NTS 1-4
Pijn – Loss

Reece Says:

Ólafur Arnalds – re:member
Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile
Clown Core – Toilet
Avantdale Bowling Club – s/t
Giraffes? Giraffes! – Memory Lame
Hannah Peel – Particles in Space
Jeff Rosenstock – Post
Noname – Room 25
Nils Frahm – All Melody
Laibach – The Sound of Music
Louis Cole – Time
mouse on the keys – tres
Polyphia – New Levels New Devils
Vein – Errorzone
Zeal & Ardor – Strange Fruit


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