The 25 Best of Albums 2018

25. Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations

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The debut album from Hayley was one of the strongest pop releases of the year – with consistently good tracks and a really coherent, flowing tracklist and clean, shimmery production.

24. Spring King – A Better Life

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Sadly now confirmed to be the last Spring King album, A Better Life is more of what made their first record great but with amped up production and more variety and experience in the songwriting, making for a great indie-rock record.

23. Chvrches – Love Is Dead

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Now on their 3rd album, Chvrches returned with their poppiest album yet, showing they can still knock out some really strong synth-pop bangers with strong melodies and catchy hooks.

22. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really FeelImage result for courtney barnett - tell me how you really feel

Courtney again proves herself to be one of the best singer-songwriters in the world (definitely the best in Australia) with this album, with witty poignant tracks and great guitar hooks abundant.

21. Panic! At The Disco – Pray For The Wicked

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Brendon Urie and co returned with an album full of massive hits with a big band flavour; brass and strings aplenty make this album feel like the biggest production they have ever had. The album almost sounds like a greatest hits collection with the amount of big singles on show.

20. MGMT – Little Dark Age

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The title track was one of the best songs to come out of 2017, and the rest of the album followed suit; quirky synth-pop tunes with lots of character and great melodies make this one of the catchiest albums of the year, and the relatable and relevant lyrics make it a great project, and revitalised MGMT.

19. Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer

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Following on from last year’s Pure Comedy was always going to be difficult, and while GFC doesn’t quite match up to the conceptual heights of the last album, this is still a brilliant collection of moody, witty tracks with the likes of Mr.Tillman showing Josh’s songwriting at its very best.

18. Brockhampton – iridescence 

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One of the strongest rap albums of the year, iridescence shows that Brockhampton are here to stay and really aren’t messing around. A varied but still coherent project that showcases all of the members of the best boyband on the planet.

17. Nick J D Hodgson – Tell Your Friends

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The debut solo project from Ex-Kaiser Chief Nick is a brilliant first effort with a selection of tracks that showcase just how good of a songwriter he is, with tracks like ‘Tomorrow I Love You’ sounding like it could have been a hit in any of the past few decades.

16. Twenty One Pilots – Trench

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Coming through with their strongest album yet both lyrically and sonically, Top have made a really thematically strong, coherent pop/rock/rap album and have perfected the sound that they have carved out for themselves over the past few years.

15. David Byrne – American Utopia

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With American Utopia, David Byrne has proved that he is as on the ball as he ever was, with hard hitting relevant themes matched to catchy, funky tracks full of his trademark wit and charm such as ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’ and ‘Dog’s Mind’.

14. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears 

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Electro Duo Let’s Eat Grandma have really come through on their second album with a brilliantly produced project full of expansive, erratic but focused electronic pop songs. ‘Falling Into Me’ is an album highlight, it being an amazing progressive banger.

13. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

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A really varied, well produced album with a multitude of influences used to deliver clever and relevant social commentary about the state of the world with references to mental health, immigration and social media is the best project from Matty Healy and co so far by far, and it’s great.

12. Ariana Grande – Sweetener 

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Ariana really showed just how good she can be on Sweetener. The singles dropped from the album were consistently bettering the last, and the album did not dissapoint with amazing production from Pharrell on tracks like ‘R.E.M’ and those singles like ‘God is a Woman’ and ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ showcasing her amazing vocals and just general talent.

11. Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises

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Manchester goth-pop group Pale Waves have had one of the fastest rises in indie in recent years, and their debut album is testament to why they have shot up. Great, catchy songs with hard-hitting honest lyrics and 80’s inspired production and melodies that still manage to sound modern and cutting edge are bound to gain popularity. And it’s well deserved.

10. Gorillaz – The Now Now

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Much more focused than 2017’s ‘Humanz’ album, ‘The Now Now’ is the best Gorillaz project in a long time, with tracks like ‘Tranz’ and ‘Hollywood’ (which has a great feature from Snoop Dogg) showing Damon can still write a great pop banger, and ‘Souk Eye’ being one of the most beautiful songs he has ever written.

9. Anderson. Paak -Oxnard

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A really smooth, catchy funky album from Andy here is a late entry into this list, but with glistening tracks like ‘Tints’ with Kendrick and the amazing flows and production shown on tracks like ‘Who R U?’ means this is Anderson’s finest album so far, and one of the best of the year.

8.Christine & The Queens – Chris

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What difficult second album? Chris levelled up with a collection of sleekly produced groovy pop tunes that built upon the themes of her debut in every way, becoming more confident and explicit while still maintaining that charm that drew everyone to her in the first place.

7. The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment

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Perhaps the grooviest album of the year, Silver Dollar Moment is full of great, funky tracks with great story-telling lyrics and a real sense of fun throughout. ’48 Percent’ is one of the happiest, catchiest tracks of the year, and ‘Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist)’ has potentially the best bassline. Nice.

6. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino

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I’m so glad they decided to go off on one on their latest album, because it really worked. Alex took the Arctic Monkeys to the moon, with a concept album about a Hotel and Casino that proves that sometimes being as outlandish as possible does work. He did what he wanted, and it showed just how brilliant he can be.

5. Kero Kero Bonito – Time n Place

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Changing your sound after a breakout album will always be risky, but KKB made the right choice here on ‘Time n Place’, building on their original sound added even more layers to their personality, and matching the clever, upbeat tracks that tell great little stories with the more complicated production really makes this album stand out from their previous.

 

4. Teleman – Family Of Aliens

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At this point I just expect Teleman to be great, and thankfully they were. Bettering themselves yet again with their best album so far, ‘Family of Aliens’ is an album full of grooves and great melodies with really thoughtful lyrics full of heart that really get better with each listen. ‘Cactus’ is an absolute banger too.

3. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

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As soon as I heard ‘Make Me Feel’ from this album, I knew that Janelle was going to release one of the best projects of the year, and I was right, with ‘Dirty Computer’ being her strongest to date. The run of tracks from ‘Django Jane’ to ‘I Like That’ is incredible.

2. Kali Uchis – Isolation

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‘Isolation’ is Kali’s debut full studio album and in my opinion no other debut has shown as much promise. A cohesive, flowing album full of varied, lively tracks with great vocal performances and featured producers make ‘Isolation’ one of the strongest albums of the year.

1. The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land 

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‘Merrie Land’ was the album that hit closest to home for me this year with its messages and themes; pairing that with the consistently brilliant songwriting from Damon Albarn and the great musicianship from the likes of Paul Simonon and Tony Allen, this album couldn’t have come at a better time.

 

 

 

 

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Upcoming! The rest of 2018: A preview.

According to my calendar, it is the end of July. This means that somehow we are over halfway through 2018 already. However! The year is far from over, with many top musical artists set to release an LP before ’18 is up. Let’s have a look at a few, shall we?

August

Ariana Grande – Sweetener (17th)

The follow-up to Ariana’s 2016 banger filled ‘Dangerous Woman’ album is set to release mid-August. With production from Pharrell, features from Missy Elliott and three already released, very good singles, this could be the best pop album of the year.

Spring King – A Better Life (17th)

Following on from their blistering 2016 debut album ‘Tell Me If You Like To’, Spring King will release ‘A Better Life’ in August. Expect the same level of energy as their previous effort but with higher production levels and even more bangers, as shown with lead single ‘Animal’

Animal Collective – Tangerine Reef (17th)

Experimental Americans Animal Collective are releasing an audiovisual album in celebration of the International Year of the Reef on the 17th August. Should be interesting.

Interpol – Marauder (24th)

Returning for their first album in 4 years, New York indie legends Interpol will release Marauder on the 24th August. Lead single ‘The Rover’ is pretty damn good so i’m hopeful that the rest will follow suit.

The Lemon Twigs – Go To School (24th)

The New York Duo are set to release their second album, Go To School in August. They’ve released 2 singles from it so far, with ‘Small Victories’ being a peppy little number, and ‘If You Give Enough’ being a slower, piano based ballad.

Emma Blackery – Villains (31st)

Releasing her debut album in August, Emma Blackery has slowly built up her sound over the years to the refined pop it is today. Recent singles ‘Agenda’ and ‘Icarus’ should be good tasters for what is shaping up to be a very nice 1st effort.

Troye Sivan – Bloom (31st)

Kiwi pop prodigy Troye is set to follow up 2015’s Blue Neighbourhood this August. Lead single ‘My My My!’ was an absolute banger, and recent Ariana Grande collab ‘Dance To This’ was also rather good. Good.

September

Paul McCartney – Egypt Station (7th)

Sir Macca is releasing his first album since 2013’s ‘New’, and the first two singles from it have been very pleasant. You’d think he would have got the hang of this sort of thing by now anyway.

Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt (7th)

Spiritualized return for their first album in around 6 years, with ‘And Nothing Hurt’ coming out early September. They’ve released a double single to kick this album campaign off, and ‘I’m Your Man’ is very nice indeed.

Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises (14th)

Very fast-rising stars of indie-pop Pale Waves are set to release their debut in September. Featuring a few of their recent singles, but mostly new material, this could be one of the buzziest, and best albums of the year.

Christine and The Queens – Chris (21st)

Following up her massive breakthrough debut is a big ask, but the first two singles from ‘Chris’ – ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Doesn’t Matter’ have been her best work yet, so this could be very special.

Suede – The Blue Hour (21st)

Indie legends Suede follow up their brilliant ‘Night Thoughts’ album with a new LP in September. Latest single ‘Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You’ was a continuation of their good form, so i’m hopeful for the full project.

Black Honey – Black Honey (21st)

The debut album by Black Honey comes out in September. With big tracks like ‘Hello Today’ under their belt, the indie rockers should easily pull a belter of a debut off.

Amber Arcades – European Heartbreak (28th)

Consistently good since her debut in 2016, Amber Arcades has released a scattering of singles and an EP since then, and is building up to release her 2nd project proper in late September.

Doe – Grow Into It (28th)

London indie rock trio Doe will be following up their brilliant debut ‘Some Things Last Longer Than You’ in September. Lead single ‘Heated’ is a punky banger.

October

Twenty One Pilots – Trench (5th)

The emo rock/rap duo return after 2015’s massive ‘Blurryface’ album, which catapulted them into the mainstream. Lead double singles ‘Jumpsuit’ and ‘Nico and the Niners’ were both quality tunes from the lads.

Estrons – You Say I’m Too Much, I Say You’re Not Enough (5th)

The welsh rockers are winding up to release their debut album on in October, with lead single ‘Cameras’ giving a good taste of what to expect.

The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

Matty and co. have been working on two new albums since 2016’s ‘I Like It When You Sleep..’ and the first of those is slated for release some time in October. The 2 singles released so far have been good pop bangers so we shall see.

Some time this year (hopefully)

Charli XCX

She’s been working on her third ‘proper’ album for quite some time now, releasing a slew of mixtapes and singles since 2015’s ‘Sucker’. It will probably be worth the wait though.

Childish Gambino

Donald has been rather busy lately, and rumour is the singles he has been dropping so far this year are part of a full project slated for Autumn. Very good.

Vampire Weekend

Please hurry up you’ve had since 2013.

Brockhampton

We know they have an album out, just not when. Good singles so far this year though, especially ‘1997 Wildfire’.

The Good, The Bad and The Queen

One of Damon Albarn’s 100 bands has their second album ‘finished’ and will be released sometime in 2018. Their last one way back in 2007 was some of Damo’s finest work to date, so this should be very good.

Anderson Paak.

Following on from the excellent ‘Malibu’ album, Anderson is meant to have 2 albums coming out in 2018. He’s leaving it late if that’s the case but still, something to look forward to.


Of course, there will be a few surprise releases, and there’s always a few date changes but that’s all part of the fun really.

Tramlines 2018 Review

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2018 sees Tramlines, Sheffield’s inner-city music festival celebrate it’s 10th birthday. To celebrate the occasion, it moved to Hillsborough Park for what was advertised as ‘Sheffield’s Biggest Ever Party.’ I’d have to agree.

Friday

The one bad thing about Tramlines 2018 was that there were just too many acts I wanted to see! With the likes of The Orielles and Everything Everything playing at the same time I found myself dashing between the stages to catch a bit of everyone.

Kicking things off for me were The Big Moon.

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Playing a selection of top indie bangers from their Mercury nominated debut album alongside a brill cover of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, The Big Moon again proved themselves to be a perfect, energetic live band.

A quick run over to the Leadmill stage for Sheffield locals High Hazels next.DSCN2254.JPG

Pulling in a big crowd for that time of day, High Hazels delivered a very pleasant set of their slick, old-school indie.

Another quick dash from Leadmill to Main stage now for the bold Everything Everything.

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You can always rely on Everything Everything to be a brilliant live act, and during the only rainy spell of the weekend, the lads pulled it off, getting the crowd going with older hits such as ‘Regret’ alongside tracks from their last album ‘A Fever Dream’.

Next up were The Orielles.

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Another Yorkshire act, The Orielles played a very tight, energetic show full of tracks from their debut album ‘Silver Dollar Moment’ – if you ever get the chance to catch them live please do as Sid is an amazing drummer.

Friday’s headline act was Stereophonics.

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Kicking things off with their best track in recent years, ‘C’est La Vie’, the Welsh rock legends provided the perfect soundtrack for the Friday sunset, with massive hits like ‘Maybe Tomorrow ‘ and ‘Dakota’ really getting Sheff singing.

Saturday

The second day of Tramlines kicked off earlier, with both music and comedy beginning at around mid day. I saw some great, innovative comedy acts in the Leadmill tent to start my Saturday, including the amazing Foxdog Studios, who got everyone’s phones linked up for an interactive experience, and the hilarious Barbara Nice.

Music-wise, for me first up were Redfaces.

Lighting up the main stage with their fast-paced tunes like ‘Kerosene’ – the Sheffield lads proved they deserved that place on a big stage, and they owned it.

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After that, I nipped over to the Library Stage to catch Self Esteem, the solo project of Rebecca Taylor, formerly of Slow Club.

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Rebecca and her band put on a great show, with songs such as ‘Your Wife’ being a perfect Saturday afternoon soundtrack, with the weather slowly getting hotter and hotter.

Next up were Sheffield legends Reverend and the Makers, who had the rowdiest crowd of the weekend, and for good reason.

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From the get go, Jon and Co got the crowd bouncing, and I mean the entire park was shaking, with massive tunes like ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ and ‘Bassline’ really kicking things off, with people of all ages going for it.

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Saturday was a big indie night out, with Blossoms next up on the Main Stage.

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From their first track, ‘At Most A Kiss’, the Stockport favourites played a blinder of a set filled with crowdpleasers from their first two albums, and the irresistible ‘Charlamagne’ got the crowd nicely warmed up for Saturday’s headliner.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds were the closing act for the Tramlines 2018 Saturday.

DSCN3257.JPG While I was obviously excited for Noel, he really surpassed my expectations. He was noticeably really enjoying playing in Sheffield, and his enthusiasm quickly rubbed off on Hillsborough Park, with many a mass sing-a-long to be had. Playing a great mixture of solo and Oasis material, the elder Gallagher really shone on Saturday night.

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Sunday

Sunday for me was all about T’Other stage. Opening up the Tramlines Sunday for me were quick rising Sheff band The Seamonsters.

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Pulling a big crowd for the time of day, the Sheff six piece played a great, energetic set that proved to be the perfect start to the day.

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Next up was Nina Nesbitt.

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Playing a selection of her recent singles and older tracks as well as teasing some upcoming new tunes, Nina really impressed me with just how good she was live, witha  great vocal performance and stage prescence.

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After Nina were Gengahr.

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Beautifully playing tracks from their first two albums, including fan favourites like ‘She’s A Witch’ and recent hit ‘Carrion’, Gengahr played to a pretty much full T’Other Stage tent on the Sunday afternoon.

Following on from Gengahr were Little Comets.

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Little Comets really had Sheffield dancing with their upbeat indie rock, playing a great, tight set despite being down a member.

Next up, Pale Waves.

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Pale Waves are perhaps the buzziest band in the country at the moment, and they played a set that showed just why they have risen up so quickly, with the tent packed out to see the Manchester band play their indie pop to perfection.

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After Pale Waves, it was to the Main Stage for the last time of the weekend for De La Soul.

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One of the liveliest acts of the festival, De La Soul definitely won in terms of crowd participation, really getting the crowd involved in call-and-response games in between their legendary tracks like ‘Me Myself and I’. Another act who genuinely seemed to really enjoy playing to the Sheffield crowd.

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The final act of the weekend for me were Teleman, over on the Library Stage.

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Another of Britain’s Tightest Bands™, Teleman played a brilliant set of tracks from their first two albums, as well as tracks from their upcoming ‘Family of Aliens’ album, with ‘Song for a Seagull’ being a set highlight for me. Closing with the absolute banger that is Dusseldorf, they were the perfect end to a great weekend.


 

Tramlines 2018 was definitely Sheffield’s biggest ever party, and there was a really positive attitude throughout the park all weekend, with literally everybody having a good time. With organisation, food and entertainment that good it’s hard not to.

You could easily tell the amount of effort and love put into the event by Sarah Nulty and her team, and it paid off in a massive way. Roll on 2019.

Check out my full photo gallery from the weekend here!

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You can buy tickets for Tramlines 2019 already here. I would if I were you.

Tramlines 2018 – Who to Watch

This year’s Tramlines lineup is the biggest yet, so it might be a bit difficult to pick out who to see. Worry not, I’ve got you covered.

 

Friday

The Big Moon – Main Stage

The Big Moon always put on a good, energy filled show, and with the Mercury Nommed group opening up the main stage this year, there’s no reason to miss them.

Everything Everything – Main Stage

Everything Everything are one of the most experimental, consistent bands around right now, and their live shows are equally amazing. Not to be missed.

The Orielles – Leadmill Live Stage

Having released their brilliant debut album earlier this year, The Orielles are a perfect example of upbeat indie rock.

Saturday

Blossoms – Main Stage

Quickly becoming one of the biggest names in indie music over the last few years, Blossoms will be sure to get the crowd going on Saturday evening.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Main Stage

It’s Noel Gallagher.

Mabel – T’Other Stage

One of the best new names in pop from the last few years, Mabel is bringing her R&B hits to Tramlines on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday

The Seamonsters – T’Other Stage

One of the most exciting young bands in Sheffield at the mo, The Seamonsters open T’Other Stage on Sunday.

Pale Waves – T’Other Stage

One of the fastest rising indie bands at the moment, Pale Waves will bring their slick indie pop to T’Other Stage on Sunday.

De La Soul – Main Stage

Hip-Hop legends De La Soul will take to the stage on Sunday evening and are sure to put on a big, energy filled show.

Teleman – The Library Stage

Consistently brilliant and inventive, Teleman are bringing their synth driven indie sounds to the Library Stage on Sunday night.


Tickets for Tramlines are still available, with more info and the full lineup at http://tramlines.org.uk