It has been a great year in my opinion for music and even more so for the album a format that we were all told had had it's day. I have bought more albums that hang together as a piece of work over the past 12 months than for many a year. Purchasing all of these has not come without its problems also, firstly there is the cost aspect, we shall not get into the question of why some new releases can be bought on vinyl for £13 and other are upwards of 20 quid but it is becoming very costly. Secondly and more worrying is that I am running out of space and even I can no longer justify the piles cluttering up the floor to the increasing comments regarding lack of visible floor in what should be the dining room. Recently I have bought some on cd, even when available on vinyl! but am not yet ready to go round the download only route.
It has been difficult to pick my top ten, five of them were a given but there are lots of others that would have been shooty in in previous years but didn't make the cut in 2018. Notable mentions being the Orb, Daniel Avery and Jon Hopkins. I could have easily made this a top twenty but decided to keep it to the ten. There are others that if I had bought earlier and had a chance to listen to more may have edged something out of the list, I'm thinking of Beak in particular and there are most certainly at least two that would have made the ten if I had gotten round to buying. But this is the ten as of 08th December.
10. Mattiel - Mattiel
This is a raw, retro mix of soul and 60's garage sounds which is pretty effective, My only gripe is that the vocals of Mattiel Brown can sound a bit shouty after repeated listens.
9. Tomorrow Syndicate - Future Tense
Find of the year for me. Retro futurist sounds from Glasgow. All analogue synths and sci-fi inspired dreamy pop that would not have sounded out of place in those 70s programmes about the future, that's not to say that the music is not fresh it just brings to mind that kind vision of what was to come as forseen during that decade.
8, Mien - Mien
Psych rock supergroup made up of members of The Black Angels , the Horrors and The Earlies which is as good and diverse as that would suggest.
7. Psychic Lemon - Frequency, Rhythm, Distortion
There seems to be a glut of good psych rock bands out there at the moment and Psychic Lemon with this their second album must be amongst the top of the pile. A great mixture of Kraut, Spacerock with plenty of fuzz and distortion on 5 mostly instrumental tracks. Great stuff when played loud.
6. She Drew The Gun - Revolution of The Mind
Another second album, this time from Liverpool's Louisa Roach. More scathing social commentary expertly written to a soundtrack of catchy and at times quite poppy modern psych that deserves to be heard by a lot more people. What is it about Liverpool and psychedelic sounds at the moment?
5. Tracyanne & Danny
Sublime album from Traceyanne Campell and Danny Coughlan. So many highlights on this lush mostly laid back album. If Alabama, Tracyanne's tribute to her friend and bandmate Carey Lander doesn't leave you with at least watery eyes then you are one cold hearted bastard that I never wish to meet.
4. Rival Consoles - Persona
I'm not sure that a more different album from the one above would be possible on this list. Ryan Lee West's fifth long player as Rival Consoles has been compared to the most recent release by Jon Hopkins and I can see why. However I found this flowed better and held my attention a lot more than Singularity. There are lots of 4x4 beats and immaculate techno on show here but also a couple of sublime less frantic moments.
3. The Lucid Dream - Actualisation
In any other year this would easily have been top of the list. The Carlisle psych-rockers experiment with acid house sounds and come up with something a bit different which got them tagged as "psych traitors" a badge that they and some of us wear with pride., The album had been highly anticipated after the release of SX1000 and did not disappoint over the 6 tracks, a hybrid of dub, psych and acid house. Very much looking forward to seeing them headlining in February after their all too short support slot with Wooden Shjips at St Luke's a couple of months ago.
2. Primal Scream - Give Out But Don't Give Up (The Original Memphis Recordings)
I have debated over including this in here but I think that it is different enough from the original release to warrant it's inclusion.
When I first read that Primal Scream were releasing the original Memphis recording of GOBDGU I thought to myself "oh aye, sounds a bit like barrel scraping to me" and then I thought that it might be worth having as a companion piece to the original which I really liked at the time. It can't be that different can it.
Fuck me, I was stunned on first play, those horns, the guitars, Bobby G's singing! There is such a warmth to the tracks on these recordings. At first I thought that they were mad not to release this at the time but on reflection, there was a lot of disappointment at what was released these recordings would not have been reviewed more favourably, 1994 was not the year for something as beautiful as these songs turned out under Tom Dowd's expert supervision. Even Rocks, my least favourite Primal track up until this point is nearly bearable. Who would have thought that Gillespie was capable of singing as well as he does on this record.
1, Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt
It's Spiritualized, what more do you need to know.
If this is Spiritualized's swansong, (I hope not) then there are worse ways to bow out than this.