dinsdag 1 januari 2019
Wo.'s Top 10 records of 2018
2018 was a year in which several amazing records saw the light of day and a fair number of very, very pleasant ones. It was tough making choices.
2018 is also the year that another decade is getting close to its end. Will we have another roaring 20s? The 10s were a lot more peaceful, despite all complaining, than 100 years ago. At least in my part of the world. The end of the decade also means having to think of what were the best records of this decade. Still a whole year to go.
2018 was also a year in which many of my favourite artists of the past years released new records. Franz Ferdinand, 2004 and 2005, Arctic Monkeys, 2006, 2007, 2011, TMGS, 2013, broeder Dieleman and Sophie Hunger, (2015) . How did they fare in 2018? Are there any newcomers to welcome in the list?
2018 saw the light of day of several fantastic mini albums and EPs. I stand guilty of making it easy on myself and not include them in my top 10 of the year. Perhaps not fair, but I make the list so set my rules. What I can do is give you an insight into my truly favourite mini albums of the year.
Let me start by mentioning the beautiful and fantastic 'Heartbreak Hi' by The LVE. Pop music as it is supposed to sound and played. Punkrockers Justine and the Unclean made a perfect mini album called 'Heartbreakes and Hot Problems'. Then there is the three song single by Donna Blue. Not to forget 'Generation X' by the Greek one man band Vagina Lips. New wave and punk like they still make it in Thessaloniki. The four song EP by No Ninja Am I, sounds so pleasant. The price of prizes here goes to Belle and Sebastian who released three mini albums in three months gathered in one cd called 'How To Solve Our Human Problems'. Each EP was a gem filled with pop songs like there will be no (problems) tomorrow.
A fantastic reissue this year was '///Codename: Dustsucker' by an obscure band from the U.K. called Bark Psychosis. The four cd reissue box by Pere Ubu was a great introduction to the band for me. On top of that all is, again, The Beatles. "The White Album" gets all the attention this year, and quite rightly so.
Like every year it is fairly easy at first to be strict on the striping off albums from the longlist. A lot disappears in three to four sesions. The hard part starts when there are only circa 15 albums left. Which one to stripe off now, while they all deserve a spot in my opinion? The Peawees' 'Moving Targets', no matter how much fun, lost its place. Modern Studies' album 'Welcome Stranger' is extremely beautiful as is 'Bird Streets' and 'Gold Coast' by Distance, Light and Sky. The final one to go was Johan's comeback album, 'Pull Up'. Albums that all could have made it into this list, were it not for....
It is impossible, most likely, for broeder Dieleman to ever surprise me again like he did with 'Gloria' in 2015. Still, Komma is one of the most beautiful albums made in 2018. Impressive, soul-searching and deeply touching. With its experimental album and one with regular songs, for broeder Dieleman that is, it is also different from all other albums here. And then I haven't even started on the artwork. Museum worthy in many different ways. It is a miracle that albums like this can even be released in 2018. Deep respect for the people at Snowstar Records.
Yes, I hesitated but Django Django made the cut. An album filled with fun songs, each filled with little sounds, their beats, blops and peeps. The best songs on Marble Skies all make the sun come out. Little treasures they are. Django Django managed to make a third album, in a row, that matters.
Quite a risk Sophie Hunger took, as this certainly is not the album I expected. Electronics set the atmosphere of Molecules. A move to Berlin brought Sophie Hunger in contact with different music and different musicians, resulting in an album that in all its finesses is totally Sophie Hunger, while totally different from its predecessors. Quite a feat.
An album where all things Muse come together including some new influences as well. Overwhelming, yet somehow, somewhere, strangely human. This may over time prove to be the band's best.
Another album that nobody expected to sound like this. After taking a recording rest for 5 years Alex Turner and his men opted for a sound that is somewhere in between their last album, 'AM', and The Last Shadow Puppets, his other band. Resulting in a heavy duty album that needs investing into. In fact it is still growing on me, with no telling where it will end.
This album was my #1 for the first six months of the year and then other albums happened. I still love the energy of youth that is exhumed from every bit and bite of this disk. Raw energy, unnuanced, everything Arctic Monkeys was in 2006 and almost as good. Punk mixed with good old English brawl and a healthy dose of self-confidence. Shame?, nah, Pride would have been a better name.
Yes, yes, yes, another album sounding different than I had expected, yet a total triumph. Amber Arcades lays down a beautiful mood of things past, future and present. Melancholy, holding back on emotions, while they are evidently (omni)present. A fine balance is struck that intrigues every time I play this record and that happened a lot since summer.
From the very first note, this record exploded within me. This duo from Austria lays down something very, very special. With influences in music and sounds, a didgeredoo e.g., from all over the world and a truckload of reverb, fantastic songs are presented. And not just songs. With every other song something new is introduced, a change of heart, feeling and emotions coming through in the music. So utterly impressive. This would be my #1 if I did not have a slight hesitation whether the album will really stand up in the months to come. The top two does I am already sure. So things may change in the overview of the 10s in one year's time....
Does absolute and utter beauty in music exist? Yes, as these pages fairly regularly attest to. One of the examples I can point to is Ain't No Place by the Belgian band TMGS. It is music that silences me, singing along inwardly, following all the small details in the songs, that are so well crafted and arranged. There is so much going on. From soft country-tinged ballads to alternative country rockers, with guitar work from outer space, it all comes by and then that those trumpets enter. Ahhh! Peter Lodiers' voice suits the music so well. Not one song of the ten is weak and several reach for the highest peaks and scale them, with ease. TMGS, and I will write it once more, deserves a worldwide audience of devoted fans.
1. Always Ascending. Franz Ferdinand
And so the #1 in my list of 2004 and 2005 returns to the top spot. With an album that was announced as disco, Franz Ferdinand delivers an album that is totally balanced. With one song that deserves this place by itself: 'Always Ascending' is three songs into one. Each part would have delivered a great song if followed up solely. The music is upbeat, fun, danceable, pleases the ears in several ways as a lot is happening in sounds and arranging. In short, the sort of album I had hoped Actic Monkeys would have made (in its own style of course). Innovative, yet 100% recognisable and simply fantastic.
So, as a good friend once told me, "you are very loyal to your favorites of old". The answer is yes and no. Paul McCartney is not in this list e.g., but more recent favourites are and yes, they made albums that totally surprised me or simply touched on the right strings inside of me. There are only two new names compared to lists of the past years, but then, the old ones made fantastic new albums, so it can't be helped that they have found their way here. But, it is time to move on towards the music coming to us in 2019.