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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Teleman – Family of Aliens Review

The third album from Teleman has  somehow managed to improve on their previous two releases; it being a more electronic, robotic and dance-able collection of songs while showing off more of their personalty than ever before.

When an album has a couple of very strong singles i’m always worried that the rest of the album will disappoint, and with ‘Cactus’ being an absolute banger and probably the best Teleman song to date I certainly had those fears.

They were quickly dismissed as soon as the opener, and title track ‘Family of Aliens’ began. The same brilliant Teleman as usual, but sounding even more energetic. ‘Between The Rain’ is a Paul McCartney-esque upbeat piano track, and ‘Always Dreaming’ is a slower, calm moment on the record. These two tracks show just how diverse Teleman can be while still maintaining a consistent sound.

Another album highlight for me is the very groovy ‘Twisted Heart’,with the opening synth riff sounding like a Pokemon battle theme gone wrong and it just generally being one of the catchiest tracks they’ve put out to date.

‘Somebody’s Island’ has another great melody throughout, with the song again being one of the best the band has ever put out, it being so well produced and full of emotion and personality. The album closer, ‘Starlight’, aptly sounds like a really dramatic end credits song for a movie, a fitting end to a great album.

This is Teleman’s best album to date, and one of the best albums of the year so far.

96%

Best Three: Cactus, Twisted Heart, Starlight

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.

Teleman live at Queens Social Club, Sheffield review

Teleman played at Queens Social Club in Sheffield on 21st October with support from Katie Pham and The Moonbathers.

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Katie Pham & The Moonbathers

Katie Pham & The Moonbathers got proceedings underway at Queens Social with a short but sweet set of surf-rock ish songs, with Katie being very funny on stage, making remarks about ‘everyone looking like they are going to be shot’ thanks to the laser glitterball.

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The social club was filled to the brim by the time Teleman took to the stage, who started off their set with last year’s one off single ‘Strange Combinations.’ Having loved their second album ‘Brilliant Sanity as well as their debut ‘Breakfast’, I was very excited to see what they would be like live, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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I need a Hiro

Playing an extremely tight show, the band performed tracks from both of their albums, with almost every track being received like it was their biggest hit, and when Dusseldorf, which arguably is one of the tracks of the year was played, the crowd reacted suitably.

A highlight of the show for me was ‘Not In Control’; often when bands play a song that has potential to turn into a ‘jam’ they can drag it out for what seems like ages until the crowd gets bored, but that wasn’t the case here.

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Jonny b good; Synth player Jonny Saunders

Finishing with an encore of ‘Christina’ and ‘Glory Hallelujah’, Teleman proved themselves to be a great live band as well as being brilliant on record.

5/5

Teleman are still on tour, with dates at Portsmouth, London, Wolverhampton, Cardiff, Belfast, Dublin and Hull still remaining. For more info and tickets go here: http://www.telemanmusic.com/

Teleman – Brilliant Sanity review

Teleman’s debut album, Breakfast was, and still is one of my favourite debut albums when it was released in 2014. I was worried that this album would be either completely different from Breakfast, or that the album would effectively be Breakfast II.

With Brilliant Sanity, Teleman have managed to improve their sound whilst still maintaining the charm of their debut. From the opening track and album highlight Dusseldorf, it becomes apparent that the production on the record is a lot grander this time around, with the whole thing sounding overall more ‘poppy’, but in the best possible way.

Fall In Time is another highlight from the album, the track being very dynamic, sounding like about three songs at once, and shows off everything that Teleman can do.

Tangerine is a great track that is situated near the middle of the album, with the synths and guitar riff fitting amazingly well together.

Overall, Brilliant Sanity is, ahem, Brilliant.

5/5

You can stream Brilliant Sanity below, and find out tour dates etc here.