With the first quarter of the year down, here’s an overview of the albums that have resonated most with me in 2018 so far.
Palmbomen II – Memories of Cindy
Smudged daydream neo-noir electronica
A compilation of four EPs from the LA-based Dutch artist Palmbomen II with a concept around a eulogy to a character called Cindy told through a “surreal, neo-noir lens.” and released over the last five years. Musically, that means lo-fi house, new age melodies, and soft-glow electronica with ambience and nods to AFX-style acid. Highlights include ‘Seventeen’ and ‘Love Story Fantasy’.
“Deli Daydreams is the unmistakable product of the city that spawned it.”
On Deli Daydreams, Dublin rapper Kojaque puts aside false bravado and instead offers a valuable insight into the psyche of the artist, as vulnerable as he is angry. The album skillfully avoids being overtly conceptual, being originally billed as the chronicle of the deli worker. Instead, Kojaque uses references to his working life in order to reflect how he and others view himself, most notably in ‘Love and Braggadocio’, “See I could love myself I’m just not there yet, they still make me rock a hairnet at the deli in fairness”. In many ways the underlying theme throughout the album seems to really be that of acceptance, both internal and external.
Deli Daydreams is short and sweet, coming in at just seven full-length songs and one hilarious interlude. Despite this, the album manages to comprehensively tell a story. ‘Last Pint’ dips into the seedier side of Dublin nightlife, spinning a tale of drug abuse and melancholic self-reflection. It’s hard not to make some lyrical comparisons to The Street’s Original Pirate Material. Both Kojaque and Skinner have the innate ability to tap into the cultural environment surrounding them, resulting in something truly relatable to those who’ve been there. From ex drunk-dials to medicinal flat 7-up, Deli Daydreams is the unmistakable product of the city that spawned it.
Future quirky pop now.
“When people were asked 20 years ago what they thought music would sound like and how it would be written in 2018, I’m pretty sure they would have replied with a vague description of Superorganism – and they wouldn’t have been far wrong. The album includes an eclectic mix of songs ranging from melancholy ballads to uptempo, “surreal” pop songs, an album that the band hope will act as a foundation for them to build upon in the future, in that the diversity of the music will allow them to pick and choose which direction they want to go in afterwards.” – from Ruth Cronin’s piece.
Imarhan – Temet
Algerian desert rock
Temet marks Algerian desert rock sextet Imarhan’s second studio album. The band’s name, translating roughly into “the ones I care about”, is reflective of the passionate music the group create. Employing a hybrid sound of Western surf-rock guitars with pan-African rhythms and vocal deliveries, this release finds the group sounding more polished than their debut album.
George Fitzgerald – All That Must Be
Yearning anthemic electronica
The second full-length LP from English electronic producer George Fitzgerald. All That Must Be which is out on Domino Record features collaborations with Bonobo, Hudson Scott, Tracey Thorn and Lil Silva. Tracks like ‘Nobody But You’ delves deep into a nostalgic territory of summer nights spent in South London, embodies a transcendent sound. The album documents the 10-year period Fitzgerald spent living in Berlin right through to his departure back to London to become a father. Each track has its own unique layered ambiance but hey are constructed with a common thread of building synthesizer electronica.
Soccer Mommy – Clean
Indie singer-songwriter youth
20 year-old Nashville native’s Sophie Allison’s debut album proper that comes after some Bandcamp releases and support slots with the likes of Mitski and Slowdive. Clean feels like an album in the tradition of debut indie singer-songwriter albums of the cannon. There are few production embellishments with Allison’s voice, lyrics and personality clearly the main attraction. Allison’s voice is relatable and dry above the music – a narrator of relationship melancholia and self-loathing self-identity shot through with a particular youthful lack of confidence in the face of others who appear more confident except on a track like ‘Your Dog’ when the singer becomes assertive.
Paddy Hanna – Frankly, I Mutate
Sweeping string-assisted retro pop music
Paddy Hanna’s second album represents a polished, reformed and mastered sound from the Dublin singer-songwriter. The album brings its own unique element of quirk that is harmoniously backed up with string arrangements by Éna Brennan aka Dowry. Paddy establishes himself as an artist with distinction and reverence.
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
Idiosyncratic indie-rock musician re-records his 2011 album to positive effect
Most artists focus solely on moving forward, writing and releasing an album to move on to the next project. Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo makes the interesting choice to revisit and re-imagine an old project with this remake of 2011’s Twin Fantasy. The addition of a bigger budget allows some of the lo-fi elements of the original release to be tweaked and upgraded. He told Rolling Stone “the old one is by a different artist that I don’t necessarily like as much as the one I’ve turned into.”
Hookworms – Microshift
Expansive LP from Leeds noise-rockers
Five piece psychedelic/noise rock band from Leeds, Hookworms’ Microshift is an album that draws on the band’s noise rock origins and expands it with electronic-pop, synthesizer, heart-on-sleeve experimentalism and kraut-rock sensibilities. That is all works so well is a testament to the band’s abilities. It’s like Passion Pit crossed with The Rapture with some extra grit and heart.
Quare Groove – Various Artists
Who knew Ireland in the 70s and 80s had some rare grooves?
Quare Groove, Vol. 1 is a compilation of Irish rare groove, punk-funk, and electro put together by the collector and archivist John Byrne, and released by Dublin’s All City label. We had a chat with John for the podcast. What he compiled is a fascinating and crucially, decent collection of music that goes from disco to new-wave to soul and funk and post-punk. Hopefully, volume 2 will follow.