A lot has been said of 2018, and most of it ain’t pretty. We’ve had deaths – notably The Fall‘s Mark E Smith, Frighten Rabbit‘s Scott Hutchinson and the mighty Aretha Franklin – and political turmoil abound. School shootings continued to plague the US; the flu killed a staggering 80 thousand people; bridges literally collapsed on people. Some things were very bad. But some things were very good, too.
For me the year’s been sort of alright. I got married, which though a reason to celebrate will hopefully never happen again! If only because the playlist took me 6 months to compile. I also progressed in my (other) career, had a cracking time travelling around Europe and made at least three new cat friends. That’s what I call a win.
Then there’s the music. You may have noticed DrunkenWerewolf quietened down in 2018 and that was by design. We’ve always been voluntarily run and though we truly love music, now we’re proper adults we usually have more important things going on it our lives that need attention. More to the point for over a decade, we’ve worked our arses off for no monetary gain and our fair share of industry bitchiness. This year we gave up the ghost on placating coverage demands and silly people who think they’re bigger than they are. Finally giving ourselves the authority to support music just because has felt so liberating.
What music has seen me through this journey? Some pretty inspiring stuff. I hope you discover something new to love in the list below, my favourite albums of the year 2018:
10// Elohim – Elohim
I had high hopes for Elohim‘s first album and to an extent the Los Angeles-based producer delivered with strong, EDM dancefloor hits including “F*ck Your Money”, “Skinny Legs” and a re-recording of 2016 single “Hallucinating”. The full length also debuts a softer side to Elohim‘s sound which fits better under the electro-pop banner and unfortunately removes from her original appeal, pushing the album to the bottom of my list. It’s still a great pick-me-up, but not as original as it might have been. Elohim was released 27th April via BMG.
9// Villagers – The Art of Pretending
Conor O’Brien is an expert at making the simplest of phrases sound beautiful and haunting, and he continues to master his craft on The Art of Pretending. The album was released on 21st September via the Domino Recording Company and supported by a UK-wide tour demonstrating the band’s powerful live skills. In late 2016 I took myself to a Villagers show in very poor mental health and I felt a real, genuine rush of catharsis in their hands. I needed music and they found me, and for that reason, I’ll always hold this band close to my heart.
8// Fenne Lily – On Hold
Bristol done good with this staunchly independent artist. Fenne Lily released her debut album On Hold on 6th April and made a decent splash in a supersized pool despite her humble, self-releasing status. Her success could have something to do with her intimidatingly cool online presence, it could be the exposure she’s gained through touring with the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, but it’s more likely fans have fallen for her admirable songwriting skills.
7// Tove Styrke – Sway
In 2018 Tove Styrke broke Swedish pop convention by following the path of chill on her third studio album Sway, which was released through Sony Music on 4th May. The release marks a departure from her MIA-esque begins to something akin to Lorde, and happily landed her a support slot with Katy Pery alongside her first headline tour in the UK. Tove has worked hard to slowly ascend the steps of fame, and now she’s finally getting the recognition she deserves.
6// Okkervil River – In the Rainbow Rain
Since the band’s 2015 member switch up things have been up in the air for Okkervil River, not usually in terms of quality but often in terms of style. For that reason, you never really know what you’re going to end up with when Will Sheff walks into the room. That made the release of In the Rainbow Rain on 27th April via ATO Records all the more delightful. Prepare for indie earworms and then some, just make sure you don’t wear the repeat button out.
5// Arc Iris – Icons of Ego
Someone cleverer than me once said the best kind of art is that which makes you think, and Arc Iris certainly do that. There was a time when the three-piece was considered to be freak folk, but they far surpass the genre on latest album Icons of Ego; a kaleidoscope of sound that landed on 12th October via Ba Da Bing! Records. There are so many layers of electro-pop meets indie prog goodness to the full length, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to explain it adequately in words. Come to my house and I’ll do my best to demonstrate my feelings in contemporary dance moves – that’s more fitting of the music, anyway.
4// Hero Fisher – Glue Moon
London based wordsmith Hero Fisher has a very confusing release history. I swear her sophomore Glue Moon was first put out sometime in 2017, but it was re-released proper – with little warning – on 2nd November this year through ie too. Her debut Delivery was dealt with similarly – this summer all references to any release disappeared from the internet and caused me to wonder if I was having visions of some ethereal being creating wonderfully wise music. That probably says something of the fluidity of the industry in the digital age; Hero Fisher is a 21st Century artist. She’s also criminally underrated, perhaps because it’s so hard to keep up with her. Anyway, at the moment Glue Moon is available to purchase and I would very much recommend that you do so.
3// Middle Kids – Lost Friends
Whether you know it or not, the world has been calling out for a decent indie rock album. Middle Kids have provided us with just that with their debut album Lost Friends, released 4th May through the Domino Recording Company. It’s a solid record full of emotional hubris and clever songwriting, that doesn’t remove from the music’s danceability.
2// Eliza Shaddad – Future
There are a few really great singer-songwriters on my albums of the year 2018 list, but Glasgow-based musician Eliza Shaddad creates the kind of music that both soothes and empowers, and that’s why she’s come out on the top. Her debut album Future was released on 26th October through longtime label Beatnik Creative and I was happy to find her she’d stuck true to her roots to produce a beautiful full length.
1// Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog
When I reviewed this album sometime around its release on Saddle Creek on 6th April, I bombastically declared there’s no point in listening to any other artist because Hop Along are always going to be better. I then had the pleasure of interviewing Francis Quinlan when her band supported The Decemberists in Bristol, and it was all I could do to get questions out of my mouth between hopelessly gushing out compliments. With that in mind, I couldn’t really put anything else at the top of this list. Bark Your Head Off, Dog is awesome. Read more review for further insight, or you could just listen to it here.