The Bloggers Gamut Best Albums of 2018 List! Andy Smith, Jazmine Codrington, Amber Denwood, Mike Nelson, Hassan Ul-haq and Jack Press December 31, 2018 Albums, Music, Thoughts 294 Say what you will of 2018, you can’t deny it has spawned many a great and forward thinking projects that we have loved listening to and dissecting! However this does mean conjuring up an end of year list becomes a tough task. We would much rather this wealth of a problem though, and after much tough conversation the Bloggers Gamut team have come together to present this following selection of what we determine to be our top records of 2018 – listed in no particular order. Shvpes – ‘Greater Than‘ (Spinefarm Records) Having evolved as a band and grown into a weighty prospect of soaring melodies mixed with alluring breakdowns aplenty, Shvpes came with a purpose on sophomore effort ‘Greater Than‘. With their genre-defying effort, the group managed to concoct a project that’s coursing full of energy and warmly seizes your attention. Guilty of one of the most enticing opening runs to a project this year with ‘Calloused Hands‘, ‘Undertones‘, ‘Afterlife‘ and ‘Someone Else‘ coming one after another like a series of fierce fists to the face, you are glad of the let up provided by ‘Two Wrongs, No Rights‘. More than anything this project is downright exciting and bloody good fun beginning to end and explores the great potential Shvpes wield. Words: Andy Smith Hayley Kiyoko – ‘Expectations‘ (Atlantic Records) It would be nothing short of a crime to leave the soundtrack of the 20gayteen movement off of this list, therefore Hayley Kiyoko’s Expectations has earned its spot right here. With queer love songs that aren’t just for show, written just for a little controversy or there as a novelty, this album offers something that a whole group of people have waited for, for far too long. Representation. And oh wow, does it feel good to be represented. From tracks that document a yearning that many queer girls know all too well, like ‘Sleepover‘, to pop classics that finally (FINALLY) have a queer twist, like ‘He’ll Never Love You‘ this is one of the most exciting albums that have happened in a while. Both musically and socially. Hayley’s ability to switch between upbeat and downbeat is incredible, if you haven’t already listened to it, be prepared to fall in love. Words: Amber Denwood 5 Seconds of Summer – ‘Youngblood‘ (Capitol Records) ‘Youngblood‘; the 3rd album by Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer is a masterclass in musical evolution. A ‘chameleon band’, 5SOS are able to adapt their style to both stay current and stay in touch with their own personal tastes. Stasis is a luxury in the music industry, and in a business dominated by battles to stay ‘fresh’ and ‘relevant’ these Australian born men have found a way to make their own kind of noise without playing too hard into the over-produced noise that labels are trying to sell. With vulnerable lyrics and well-crafted visual content (Andy Deluca, you genius) the band have sold not only brilliant music, but pieces of art. Their style is a combination of modern alt and 80’s rock (think The Police) and yet is completely their own. Words: Jazmine Codrington Nine Inch Nails – ‘Bad Witch‘ (The Null Corporation) The first album in 5 years and the last of the trilogy that started with the 2016 EP ‘Not The Actual Events‘. The album is a fresh revamp of the Nine Inch Nails name that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have constructed. Its shoegaze like sound that creates a wall of chaos and balance and an almost Bowie like aesthetic, makes the record standout from what else has popped up in the last year. What’s important to note is that while the Nine Inch Nails name has been around for 30 years, Reznor and Ross are willing to try and experiment with new ideas and in turn allow their anger and frustration to be showcased in the one way they can. Words: Hassan Ul-Haq Black Foxxes – ‘Reiði‘ (Spinefarm Records) Black Foxxes returned this year with a rock album which feels like it’d be quite at home among the 90’s alternative rock scene. ‘Reiði‘ is packed full of songs which could reasonably stand as singles, including ‘Manic In Me’ and ‘JOY’. But it’s the way that Mark Holley embroiders their music with his own emotional turmoil’s, as he did on debut album ‘I’m Not Well‘, which proves to be the highlight once again. He manages to weave together a sense of melancholia, and, dare I say it, a quiet optimism, without it feeling disjointed or directionless. Invest some time with this one, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Words: Michael Nelson Tom Odell – ‘Jubilee Road‘ (Columbia Records) ‘Jubilee Road‘ is at once a satirical concept piece on the lives of millennial East Londoners, an open book of piano-guided laments on love and loss, and Tom Odell’s most original and most experimental album to date. If it’s 5-minute titular opener doesn’t narratively provide you with a thorough lay of the land, guided almost solely by the sounds of a piano-man we thought we’d lost on 2016’s ‘Wrong Crowd‘, the album version of lead single ‘If You Wanna Love Somebody‘ will fill in the gaps. Odell has always had the remarkable ability to map out the nook and crannies of my private life in his own songs, and none more so here than on the likes of early-highlight ‘Son Of An Only Child‘ and the heartstring tugging tear-jerking ‘Wedding Day‘. On the former, he sings the line most of us think: “I’m sick of singing ‘bout my broken heart” – and if that isn’t 2018’s most relatable lyric, I don’t know what is. From the glittering glimmers of piano to the overindulgent saxophone solo’s, the lives of ‘Jubilee Road’s residents are far more entertaining than an episode of Eastenders. Words: Jack Press Denzel Curry – ‘TA13OO‘ (Loma Vista Recordings) An album that encompasses all you could want from a hip-hop record, ‘TA13OO‘ is Denzel Curry’s most ambitious and accomplished project yet. The journey it takes the listener on both sonically and thematically is a considerable one, where you are best to “make like a roller coaster, put your hands up” as Zeltron states midway through the perspective shifting ‘Mad I Got It‘ that aptly portrays the envious nature of so-called friends. As the title suggests, Denzel forays through a number of taboo subjects in a dexterous and well executed manner to prove with the project that you can embed thought-provoking and conscious content within the remit of ‘bangers’ instead of the usual hedonistic garish lyrical accomplices. Words: Andy Smith Post Malone – ‘Beerbongs and Bentleys‘ (Republic Records) This is an album that, for me, truly encapsulates the essence of 2018. In a year full of juxtapositions and an attempted suspension of shallow views, Post Malone – an already successful artist – rocketed to renown, becoming a well known (if slightly controversial) name. Politics of the industry and culture policing aside, Post’s 2nd album is masterfully produced, with brilliant collaborations and haunted vocals making it memorable. ‘Rich and Sad’, ‘Rockstar’ and ‘Stay’ are standouts with each song bringing a different vibe to the album and showing a wealth of influences. Post’s unconventional appearance and quirky views aside (not that his conspiracy theories are super reaches or anything) his music is refreshing and ‘Beerbongs and Bentleys‘ is definitely one of the best albums of the year. Words: Jazmine Codrington BTS – ‘Love Yourself: Tear‘ (BigHit Entertainment Co) Being a high school student who liked K-Pop, I quickly learned that people who liked K-Pop had a reputation for being ‘weird.’ “How can you like this music, you can’t even understand what they’re saying!” was a common question I would get asked. Well, BTS have done something that a younger me would never think possible – and started to change this. Topping charts across the world and catapulting these men to global domination, the boundary breaking ‘Love Yourself: Tear‘ has taught so many people that music doesn’t have to be in your language for it to speak to you. Tracks like the colossal ‘Fake Love‘ are full of emotion that you can feel, even without translating the lyrics. Plus, they are delivered with an energy and confidence that I truly believe is unmatched right now. Love them or hate them, it is undeniable that both their vocal and rap ability on this album is of the highest calibre, and if you don’t find yourself bopping along to ‘Anpanman‘, well… you’re lying. Words: Amber Denwood Confidence Man – ‘Confident Music for Confident People‘ (Heavenly Records) Australian dance-pop outfit Confidence Man’s debut album is pure pop escapism at its finest. An addictive and infectious listen right the way through, the album feels like a mish-mash of all of your favourite pop artists, from LCD Soundsystem and Scissor Sisters, to the Madchester scene of the early 90’s. To listen to this record is like being the middle of a nightclub on a massive bender, with pulsating beats, simple yet effective lyrics, and a rhythm that forces you to move. Let loose, and get yourself down to this one! Words: Michael Nelson Logic – ‘YSIV‘ (Def Jam Recordings) In a year that saw him file for divorce, nominated for a Grammy, and drop a mixtape that topped the US charts, you’d be forgiven for assuming that’d be Logic’s 2018 highlight reel. However, not contempt with being outshone by a slew of heavyweight releases from headline names, Logic dug out his old ‘Young Sinatra‘ persona from his kit-bag to follow-up and close the door on 2013’s ‘Young Sinatra – Welcome To Forever‘. In ‘Young Sinatra IV‘, Logic painted the portrait of a man on top of the world; from a 7-minunte intro containing almost nothing but thank-you messages from fans to getting every single living member of the Wu-Tang Clan on one track, to creating the ultimate early-hours hazy-daze jam in ‘Ordinary Days‘ with Hailee Steinfeld to putting out one of hip-hops finest of 2018 in ‘Everybody Dies‘. Simply put, in ‘YSIV‘, Logic asserts himself as America’s undisputed king of headline hip-hop. Words: Jack Press Mike Shinoda – ‘Post-Traumatic‘ (Warner Bros. Records) Many albums are created from tragedies and ‘Post-Traumatic‘ is one of them. Released just a year after the passing of Linkin Park frontman and friend Chester Bennington. The album explores many themes of struggling after losing a love one but finding solace and peace. With the increase of suicide and mental health, the album comes at a time when finding that inner peace is so important. While I cannot answer what the band or Mike will do going forward, I can say that ‘Post-Traumatic‘ is certainly an experience and one that should be listened too. Words: Hassan Ul-Haq Jam Baxter – ‘Touching Scenes‘ (High Focus Records) Perceiving how Jam Baxter would be able to top his 2017 solo album ‘Mansion 38‘ was proving a tough task seeing how stellar a record that is, but come the hour come the man as they say, as Baxter stood up and delivered a phenomenal album in ‘Touching Scenes‘. Encased in the mystique that’s typical of a Baxter output, this latest effort is wonderfully lucid and musters a spellbinding capacity that sees Jam exploring exotic territory evocative of his gallivanting nature. His penchant for picking “the slimy chunks of beauty out the imperfections” with wicked imagery that fans should ‘Know By Now‘ is ever present and coupled with his tenacious flows like-no-other and ear for divergent production makes ‘Touching Scenes‘ the unique furore it parades as. Words: Andy Smith Idles – ‘Joy As an Act of Resistance‘ (Partisan Records) On second album ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance‘, Idles have refined their style and made a case for being one of the most essential bands in Britain today. The sharp, tongue in cheek lyrics are still there, such as on ‘Never Fight A Man with A Perm’ (“You look like a walking thyroid / You’re not a man you’re a gland”). But more than on debut ‘Brutalism‘, they’ve combined it with a bigger sense of rage at the state of society. Nowhere is this more apparent than on ‘Danny Nedelko’, a song which praises the contribution of immigrants by focusing on the experiences of a close friend. A record which flies by in a whirl of roaring punk guitar, and a must listen for anyone who craves music which has something to say. Words: Michael Nelson Probably one of the most celebrated albums of the year. The punk band from Bristol crafted an album like no one else. While it has the punk stamp of angry vocals, bass driven songs and hooks that will be shouted at in future footie games and protests to come. The album looks at society and a wider spectrum of opening up to mental health, immigration, love and so much more. I will officially put this out there now. If this album doesn’t win the mercury next year, I will forever be disappointed because at this moment Idles are the most important band right now, making the music that matters. Words: Hassan Ul-Haq Janelle Monáe – ‘Dirty Computer‘ (Atlantic Records) Is there anything that screams 2018 more than using ‘dirty’ technology as a metaphor for parts of you that don’t conform to societies’ strict standards? I don’t think so. This album leaves you considering your flaws, or rather ‘bugs,’ and embracing them as part of what makes up the whole ‘Dirty Computer‘ that is you. ‘Dirty Computer‘ for me was everything I never knew I needed from an album. Experimental, empowering, engrossing and energetic in ways that left me unable to listen to anything else for at least a month. Showing off Janelle’s seemingly unending talents, whether she is rapping on tracks like ‘Django Jane‘ or teaching us what the future of pop looks like on ‘Pynk‘, it is no surprise that the album is up for a Grammy. Listening to it all the way through is like taking a step towards self-love, and will have you dancing while you do it. Words: Amber Denwood Bonny Doon – ‘Longwave‘ (Woodsist Records) If there was an award for the album most likely to be overlooked pre-release, and criminally underrated following release, it would be delivered to the front door of Detroit’s Bonny Doon. ‘Longwave‘ is the existential lovechild of ‘Atlas‘-era Real Estate, early-era Eagles, and Kurt Vile. Ditching the lo-fi fuzz of their debut, the quartet embraced alt-country as much as they have dream-pop, delivering a ten-song strong soundtrack to the perfect sunset, setting you on a journey of self-discovery. ‘I Am Here (I Am Alive)‘ in itself is a five-and-a-half minute masterpiece of gently-plucked acoustic guitars overlapped with the glimmering fuzz of dream-pop electrics, narrated by a songwriter who’s charm and wit wrap around melancholic reflection, providing some of the finest lyrics I’ve ever heard: “Me, yeah I’m a track with no train, I’m a cat with no name, sleeping through my dreams.” In ‘Longwave‘, Bonny Doon establish Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo as two of the most important songwriters of the last five years – it’s just a shame nobody knows who they are. Words: Jack Press Black Peaks – ‘All That Divides‘ (Rise Records) After bearing witness to the mass division and unrest coursing through the UK and Europe as they toured debut album ‘Statues’, the quartet chiselled their poignant observations into the aptly titled ‘All That Divides‘. A record that is truly as expansive as it is captivating, Black Peaks have with this album fused a momentous range of instrumentals with a politically charged message to result in a commanding and authoritative sound of a sentimental and thought provoking nature. The constantly and sometimes capricious shifts in tempo and aggression are the driving force of this rollicking project, lead by the incredible range of vocalist Will Gardner who often draws the listener into a calming lull with soft and highly melodic cleans, only to obliterate any sense of calm with some of the most vicious and snarling beast-like, earth shattering roars to rival the most brutal of screamers. Words: Andy Smith The 1975 – ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships‘ (Polydor Records) Keeping with the theme of technology, ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships‘ invites us to step back and take a good long look at the world we live in, where it is at and where it is headed. Full of political, social and other issues, presented in a way that leaves you racking your brain, if you want an album that really makes you think, while also being something you can yell along to, or bop to on a long journey then ‘ABIIOR‘ really is the full package. Plus, as with any 1975 album, it gives you an insight into Matt Healy’s weird and wonderful mind – which, if you didn’t know by now, is always a good thing. Every track makes for a very addictive experience, so prior warning, you probably won’t be over this album until the next instalment (‘Notes On A Conditional Form‘) comes along in 2019. Words: Amber Denwood ‘Black Panther: The Album‘ (Interscope Records) Marvel have had an incredible year and it began with the release of not only the movie Black Panther, but of this incredible album. Curated by Kendrick Lamar, the albums many tracks are not only representative of the many themes and ideas that are in the film. They become individualistic and with the variety of talent including the likes of Jorja Smith, The Weeknd, Future, James Blake and many more help the album become more than just an album for a superhero film. With the year that Marvel had, having an album like this not only cemented a film like Black Panther. It helped make this film album a standout of the year. Words: Hassan Ul-Haq Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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