I listened to 67 new releases this year so you don’t have to, these are the best 26 of those. Honesty was a big theme in this year’s list, and 2018 really was an exceptional year for music IMHO…
#26 – Mogwai – Kin OST
Layered, piano-centric soundscapes filled with electronics and that unmistakable ‘Mogwai sound’. I prefer Atomic to this to be honest, but still well worth a listen if you’re a fan.
Standout track – Donuts
#25 – Chris Carter – Chris Carter’s Chemistry Lessons Volume 1
Chris Carter (Throbbing Gristle, amongst others) releases his first solo material in 17 years. Precise pieces full of texture showcasing a diverse range of electronic styles from EDM to ambient to synthpop.
Standout track – Corvus
#24 – Creep Show – Mr Dynamite
Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire and many others) and John Grant have created a darkly humorous & quirky little album with lyrics built on wordplay. Recorded with various vintage synths and drum machines this album is a heap of fun.
Standout track – Endangered Species
#23 – Rhys Fulber – Your Dystopia, My Utopia
Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly, Fear Factory, Delerium and others) gives us an album of beautifully orchestrated electronic sounds, lush soundscapes and a diverse array of tracks ranging from EDM to techno to ambient.
Standout track – Anhedonia
#22 – Sleep – The Sciences
Their first full release in 15 years, this was dropped without a sound in April. Heavy, doomy, riffy, sludgy stoner-psych as you’d expect from these guys.
Standout track – Giza Butler
#21 – Enemy on Tape – Nightmares Vol.3
More industrial with an edge goodness from EOT, a nice change of pace on When The Sun Goes Down as well.
Standout track – When the Sun Goes Down
#20 – Slow Crush – Aurora
Post-rock, shoegaze & noise combine into swirling, complex melodies with vocals set way back in the mix so they become ethereal, and dare I say it, even a slight hint of grunge in parts. Very very nice.
Standout track – Beached
#19 – Mary Halvorson – Code Girl
Amirtha Kidambi’s vocals are amazing on this and Halvorson has become a superb arranger and songwriter – many modes apparent on this record from balladry to stompy, and Halvorson really is one of jazz’ finest experimental guitarists.
Standout track – The Beast
#18 – Wren – Thrall
Brooding, dense, sludgy post-metal. A single 20 minute track that gradually beats you into submission. Crushing, treacly riffs and rhythms built on relentless repetition.
#17 – Caustic – American Carrion
A huge album from Matt Fanale. From the pissed off chorus of Heads Down, Fingers Up to the mellow clubby The Coital Staircase this is a brilliant varied listen with something for industrial fans of all persuasions.
Standout track – Fuck That Fascist Beat
#16 – Laibach – The Sound of Music
A typically subversive Laibach take on the Sound of Music through the lens of their visit to North Korea & playing two shows in Pyongyang, one of few Western acts afforded the privilege. Sound of Music is one of few Western films/music that is acceptable for consumption in North Korea, Laibach played a number of these tracks in their live shows there.
Standout track – Maria/Korea
#15 – Pijn – Loss
An epic emotional album of prog-y post-metal post-rock. Rhythm section is fucking outstanding and there are some gorgeous melodies. Unspoken is a behemoth of a track.
Standout track – Unspoken
#14 – Aphex Twin – Collapse
Another gem from the master of electronic. Complex layered beats, futuristic synths & digitally altered vocals create dense, atmospheric tracks. A must listen.
Standout track – T69 Collapse
#13 – Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meatspace
Satisfyingly noisy, has an almost Bonham-esque ‘it could all fall apart at any moment but doesn’t because the band members are that good’ feel, which adds an unnerving tension to the whole thing on top of the already unsettling tension of the ‘we’re definitely fucked’ theme running through the lyrics 😉 Listen to it minus the prism of ‘OMFGZ 2 MEMBERS OF THE DRONES ARE IN IT !!’ – you’ll get more out of it if you do.
Standout track – Chameleon Paint
#12 – Alice Thompson – Solo Piano 2
Beautiful neo-classical rhythms, harmonies and melodies, superb musicianship and fantastic song composition.
Standout track – Worlds Collide
#11 – Randall Dunn – Beloved
A beautiful record of soaring ambient electronic soundscapes full of texture & colour. Turn the lights off, put on a decent set of cans & enjoy one of the year’s best electronic releases.
Standout track – Mexico City
#10 – The Necks – Body
Another cracking album from these guys. A single 57 minute piece, contemplative jazz rolls into a raucous post-rock jam in the middle of the album reminiscent of Swans in some ways (to me, at any rate).
#9 – Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
Mathy, grindy, industrial & post-punk laced noise. Dense, sludgy & asphyxiating. If Swans, Jesus Lizard & Killing Joke had a bastard child… Sounds fucking brilliant production-wise.
Standout track – The Reason They Hate Me
#8 – Dylan Carlson – Conquistador
Hypnotic, meditative. Lost track of myself/time listening through cans as I was taken on a journey. Many can play guitar well, not many can tell a story with a guitar that captivates & entrances you. Dylan Carlson is one of these people.
Standout track – Reaching the Gulf
#7 – Svalbard – It’s Hard to Have Hope
Soaring, melodic riffs, relentlessly heavy. The best thing about this album ? The sheer fucking honesty of it. In the music & the lyrics/their delivery. I hope these guys never stop making music about issues they give a fuck about.
Standout track – Try Not to Die Until You’re Dead
#6 – The Body – I Have Fought Against it, But I Can’t Any Longer
Bleak, dark, beautiful. Chrissy Wolpert & Kristin Hayter vocals are fucking stunning. Continuing to label these guys ‘metal’ sells short their willingness to push their musical boundaries/abilities. An emotional gut punch of an album in every possible way (lyrically and musically).
Standout track – Nothing Stirs
#5 – Conjurer – Mire
Fucking stunning debut from these guys. Doomy, sludgy, blackened hardcore crushingly heavy riffage, beautifully melodic in parts, dense & complex. Hate to make comparisons because they’re genuinely doing their own thing, but if you like Neurosis, early Mastodon, Cult of Luna, Converge, you’ll love this. Did I mention it had stupendously heavy riffs ? 🙂
Standout track – Retch
#4 – Gazelle Twin – Pastoral
A jarring look at post-Brexit Britain/attitudes & prejudices that caused the vote to fall the way it did – Nationalism, ‘Stop the boats’, ‘Fuck you, I’ve got mine’ (that have infected the entire West) – through the prism of the English countryside. A stunning album from Elizabeth Bernholz.
Standout track – Glory
#3 – Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses
Swirling, dark, atmospheric, post-rock, a tinge of shoegaze, a dash of Americana and that fucking brilliant voice. It was a great year for the gee-tar – this album is no exception & deserves your attention.
Standout track – You Don’t Have to Cry
#2 – Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
Ferocious. Beautiful. Dark. Eva Spence’s vocals are amazing. Mathcore blended with prog blended with jazzy interludes blended with modern classical. A band at the absolute top of their game. Probably the best thing they’ve done.
Standout track – Alma Mater
#1 – Lingua Ignota – All Bitches Die (2018 reissue)
Choral, classical, power electronics & dark industrial combine into a gut-wrenching, challenging listen, and let’s face it – all good art should be ‘hard’ – both to make and to listen to – this album is very much an example of this. A bleak, cathartic, beautiful record.
Standout track – All Bitches Die