Year Of The Snitch – Death Grips: I’ve always enjoyed Death Grips’ music, despite their awful fanbase. Naturally, I was anticipating Year Of The Snitch, though I was unsure what to expect. To my surprise, it absolutely blew me away and is probably my favourite record of the year. It combines elements from all their previous work into a subversive, grotesque, catchy and cohesive album; rarely missing a beat.
‘(4:30) Idler / Sleep’ – Jamie Isaac: Taken from his second album, this titular track has been at the tippy-top of my Spotify for quite some time. Though the record overall was somewhat disappointing, following on from his frankly brilliant debut, this particular track stood out to me with its mesmerizing vocals and rapid percussion.
Beyondless – Iceage: Another fantastic slice of contemporary punk-rock in their already excellent discography. My top picks would be ‘Hurrah’, ‘Pain Killer’, and ‘Catch It’; these three tracks demonstrate the subtle interweaving of aggression and beauty that’s prominent throughout the record. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and it’s fair to say that Iceage are killing the game right now.
Persona – Rival Consoles: It’s a shame I didn’t get to review this one, as Persona is one of the best records I’ve listened to all year. Inspired by and named after Ingmar Bergman’s masterful film, the record is an avant-garde, ambient electronic piece that fuses hard-hitting beats, tonal shifts, and echoing analogue synths to form expansive soundscapes. It’s an eerie, disturbing, and occasionally beautiful odyssey – just like uni.
‘Wish’ – Diplo (Feat. Trippie Redd): A dreamy melody behind harsh lyrics makes for a surreal track. Trippie Redd considers a Kurt Cobain-style demise while warning listeners to be careful what they wish for. The rapper practically screams his way through the post-chorus – painful but very effective.
‘Shades of Blue’ – Thythy: Shades of Blue is a standout track from the Lover Girl EP. Thythy (pronounced Tee-tee) mixes soft electric guitar and low-key beats to create a song which is both comforting and chill AF. Perfect listening times: during a balmy afternoon in the sun, or following a late night cry.
‘Hunger’ – Florence + the Machine: Florence + the Machine explodes back into the music scene with this powerful track. The super catchy chorus line “we all have a hunger” expounds how everyone has a desire for something greater. Florence’s soaring vocals and ethereal energy will have you dancing barefoot into the weekend.
‘Mariners Apartment Complex’wq – Lana Del Rey: The first single from Del Rey’s up-and-coming album Norman Fucking Rockwell conveys an upwards shift in sound, mirroring the sanguine nature of 2017’s Lust for Life. Although tinged with Lana’s trademark melancholic lyrics, this piano-led ballad sees the singer adopt a happier take on love.
A Laughing Death in Meatspace – Tropical Fuck Storm: WHOAH, these guys have ‘fuck’ in their name. What the fuck does that album title even mean? Look at that album art—wild. Maybe I’m like a magpie, but, instead of shiny stuff, it’s just that I’m attracted to weird shit, nevertheless, post-punk/blues punk str8 outta Aussie. The lead singers got a powerful and brooding delivery. This is best played LOUD.
God’s Favorite Customer – Father John Misty: Man, FJM is really in the poem zone. He’s moved on from the ‘we live in a society’-isms found on pure comedy to ‘oh god, I’m depressed. I’m gonna lock myself in a hotel for weeks on end’ and, y’know, I feel that, bro. Third life crisis spec; the father, like always, delivered some really touching stuff this year and even managed to tone down on the sarcasm (something I haven’t quite figured out).
Your Queen is a Reptile – Sons of Kemet: Jazz can’t die, baby. Each song is named after an influential black woman in history, so it’s got the added bonus of pissing racists off with funky jazz music. GOD DAMN, it is funky; just try not to at least be tapping your foot along to it. If you can, I’m afraid there’s nothing I can do for you, you’re lost.
Joy as an act of resistance – IDLES: POSITIVE PUNK music! It’s like punk music, but… well, it’s not all that positive; it’s quite nihilistic, but its very tongue in cheek at its best. This one is all about toxic masculinity, which they ironically talk about in a violent and macho way, but you know, that’s the ‘a r t’ of it. This album is important stuff for modern British music. Seriously can’t recommend it enough if post-hardcore/punk/post-punk is your thing.
Chiaroscuro – Ocean Alley: The release of Ocean Alley’s new album Chiaroscuro in March was a godsend, serving up some beautifully mellow tunes just waiting to be played over the warm summer months. Easy lyrics, smooth melodies, and just some super good vocals to fulfil my psychedelic surf rock musical needs – defo an A+ from me.
New Light – John Mayer: John Mayer was easily the love of my life in high school, so much so that I still have all his CDs in my car now. So when I heard he was releasing new music I was understandably bloody thrilled. Long story short, ‘New Light’ is exactly what you’d expect from a 40-year-old single John Mayer; a groovy ‘80s-inspired track. Of course, a 10/10.
iridescence – BROCKHAMPTON: Say what you want about the little white girl from Auckland liking BROCKHAMPTON, this whole album is play-on-repeat-all-day worthy. Filled with band drama and even calling out BBC, this perfect mix of hip hop, RnB and rap is all you need. If you can’t find a track you enjoy on the album, perhaps you need better taste?
Blend Inn – Hockey Dad: Sweaty, careless, surf-rock. This Australian two-piece does everything that Skegss and the Good Doogs do – except better. They love what they’re doing and have a shitload of fun doing it, something which translates clearly through their sound. There’s nothing pretentious about it – it’s just fun.
Clean – Soccer Mommy: Indie songwriters tend to fall within a fairly strict set of cliches, and this is no exception. It’s mellow, emotional, and sincere; pretty much exactly what you’d expect the protagonist of a John Green film to listen to. Extended play will leave you feeling like a 16-year-old girl with a complicated crush on her neighbour.
Wax Man – Harry Permezel: While his natural poetic wit makes for some quality lyricism, it’s his production that really caught me. This Melbourne native takes a softer approach to typical math-rock, giving it more of a slow-core vibe with a Sufjan-adjacent folk twist – if that wankfest of a description doesn’t sell you, nothing will.
Puppy Love – Mom Jeans: Objectively this album is nothing special; as background music, I’ve found it useful, but other than that it’s stock standard. Though, to their credit, Mom Jeans have a knack for seamlessly jumping between twinkly mid-western and light-hearted power pop. If anything, this is the perfect example of a 2018 ‘emo’ release.
O – Ssion: Uncensored queerness. I’ll admit, I’m a bit over-sentimental about this LP. It’s helped me grapple with a new level of gender dysphoria, and provided some form of guidance while I scraped through a breakup. Tracks like ‘At Least the Sky is Blue’ paint the simultaneous warmth and bitter isolation of queer social lives, while ‘Heaven Is My Thing Again’ soars as an anthem of self-acceptance.
Family Portrait – Ross from Friends: Family Portrait has the supple grain of a John Hughes film – this is the most pretentious thing I have ever written. I’ll admit, I added the album to my Spotify library purely for the artwork, but upon further listening, was dazzled by tracks like ‘Pale Blue Dot’, ‘The Knife’ and ‘Don’t Wake Dad’. It’s an unassuming album; having flown under the radar of most music-heads this year. But Ross is worth your time – trust me.
OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES – Sophie: With the announcement of a new solo project late last year, Sophie stepped uncharacteristically into the media spotlight to openly discuss her identity as a trans* artist. Across this album, Sophie harnesses vocals provided by Cecile Believe to explore transcendence from the rigidity of human identity. OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES teeters between the hyper-pop that fans had come to expect of her and undulating electronic symphonies.
Safe In The Hands of Love – Yves Tumor: This LP somehow synthesises a high level of experimentation with accessibility. It’s experimental music through and through, full of chops, layering samples – but it’s got groove. Look no further than the lead single, ‘Noid’. You could mistake this song for ‘90s Britpop, or get caught up in the mid-century jazz of ‘Faith in Nothing Except in Salvation’. It’s a postmodern fantasia of pickings from the musical spectrum, filtered through the proudly black, daringly queer mind of Yves.