Yaeji was one of my favourite discoveries of 2017 so her return is most welcome around here. The NYC/Korean perfectly brings ambient house, whispered vocals and pop melodies in a way that feels understated but gets deep into your skin.
A singer-songwriter favourite, Nadler is an artist who pops up regularly with a tuneful track that draws you into her atmosphere. ‘Blue Vapor’ was a pre-release single from her latest album For My Crimes, released in September. The album, like the track, found Nadler take up the mantle of haunting minimalism and to the point lyricism.
De Acquí No Sales
The Spanish Flamenco artist Rosalia’s new album El Mal Querer confirms a global star in the making who fashions a new contemporary pop style inspired by a thirteenth century novel about a woman imprisoned by her jealous fiancé. ‘De Acquí No Sales’ is a thrilling blend of Rosalia’s yearning vibrato and rhythms motorcycle engine rev samples that coalesce into a stomping handclap thriller of a song with low-end borrowed from hip-hop production. Dramatic and individual.
Dublin based pop-punk group Pillow Queens have been providing us with catchy guitar tracks all year. ‘Favourite’ is our, ehm, favourite. Dynamic guitar lines and an earworm refrain make for fantastic listening.
One of 2018’s surprise turns, Swedish pop artist Lykke Li came through with Sex Money Feelings Die. The heavily trap-inspired album features a wealth of sultry pop bangers. ‘Deep End’ is among the finest of them, detailing Li’s obsessive relationship with a lover. Take a shot every time she mentions smoking a cigarette throughout the LP.
Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Future & James Blake
The first of three songs from the Black Panther album on this list. A posse cut with a switchup that has Kendrick maxxing out his energy in the second half.
Give A Little
Maggie Roger’s ‘Give A Little’ is a cleverly assembled pop tune. The artist has clearly been working on her songwriting and production skills in the run-up to her new studio release. There’s definitely an 80s vibe in there and the chorus wouldn’t sound out of place on a Haim record. A bright prospect in modern pop music.
Mix & Fairbanks
‘Hooly’ got its name from a comical Facebook ad for a local bar in the duo’s home county of Kildare that said: “Now available for 21sts, communions and general hoolies”.The track takes influence from ’80s music and Linndrum machine sounds that shares a similar Inspector Norse-esque as their previous release ‘Girls’. Infectious.
Short Court Style
The Virginian singer-songwriter ripped up the plans for her second album once Trump won the US election and started again. The result, new album The Future and the Past finds her wearing some soul and funk influences and it suits her nicely. This lead single is infectious, sparkling with new energy and wears a great bassline.
Laura Marling & Mike Lindsay
Curse of the Contemporary
Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (Tunng) teamed up to release a full-length album this year as LUMP. ‘Curse Of The Contemporary’ was our first taste of it, a woozy folk song with an eerie aura. “If you should be bored in California / I’m sure I’m not the first to warn you / We salute the sun / Because when the day is done / We can’t believe what we’ve become / Something else to prey upon,” Marling sings sounding more like Broadcast or Stereolab than her customary influence Joni Mitchell.
Let’s Eat Grandma
Falling Into Me
The English eerie alt-pop du oLet’s Eat Grandma made huge improvements on their second LP I’m All Ears this year. ‘Falling Into Me’ is a melodramatic pop song with a John Hughes-ian sense of romance. It’s all high stakes, end of the world songwriting. You got this.
Kids See Ghosts
Ye and Kid Cudi’s long-awaited collaborative LP birthed some of the most palatable experimental hip-hop of 2018. ‘Reborn’ is Cudi’s shining moment, a powerful ode to self delivered with innumerable auto-crooned vocals and a bombastic synth beat.
Our favourite British R&B artist, Jorja Smith’s ‘Blue Lights’ is an exceptional song that interpolates Dizzee Rascal’s 2007 song ‘Sirens’ with glazed and cold synth chords to Smith calming youth not to run in the face of the police. “There’s no need to run / If you’ve done nothing wrong / Blue lights should just pass you by.”
With a title inspired by Pat Butcher from Eastenders and a sound that is nocturnal and lo-fi, London rapper Casisdead’s ‘Pat Earrings’ creeps up on you.
Thom Yorke has described working on the soundtrack of the remake of Italian horror film Suspiria as like “making spells”. ‘Suspirium’, is the takeaway highlight from his work on the film and is certainly enchanting, a piano waltz of ominous proportions, which wisely sidesteps Goblin’s original’s iconic prog rock soundtrack and becomes the audio blueprint for the remake.
Garage rock in all its glory. Australian three-piece Phantastic Ferniture lead by Julia Jacklin, absolutely killed it this year with the release of their debut self-titled LP. ‘Fuckin’n’Rolling’ is a Warpaint-esque giddy indie pop song and one of the most immediately memorable of its ilk this year.
To say I waited a long time for Norwegian synth-pop band HubbaBubbaKlubb’s debut album would be an understatement. I had given up on getting any more new music from them but then they surprised me with the warm and engaging album Drømmen drømmerne drømmer. The opener sets the vibe perfectly.
Lindsey Jordan’s Lush is among the strongest indie releases of the year. The Baltimore native’s downtempo slacker-pop guitar aesthetic and disaffected vocal style are best heard on ‘Pristine’.The song is a catching combination of introversion, cool and a heady sense of harmony which betrays her classical guitar training at a young age.
Wide Awake (Danny Krivit remix)
Danger Mouse was at the controls for Parquet Court’s newest album Wide Awake! and gave the band a sharpness that wasn’t obvious on previous releases. The title song is a surprising twist for the band into punk-funk and was remixed ably for the dancefloor by vintage NYC DJ Danny Krivit.