Paul B (Rough Trade Bristol)
1. Lingua Ignota - All Bitches Die
Technically released in 2017 then reissued in 2018 by the excellent Profound Lore, Lingua Ignota's stunning All Bitches Die has been with me for the whole year. Kristin Hayter's solo project feeds on a large spectrum of influences from metal to power electronics or the most haunted sides of folk, delivered with a spell-binding baroque elegance and a visceral desire for revenge. Revenge. This is also what this album is about, and Lingua Ignota delivers during the entirety of the album a cathartic explosion revolving around the question of surviving to domestic violence. All Bitches Die is as important as it's devastating
2. Varg - Nordic Flora Series Pt. 5 Crush
Varg's fifth installment in his Nordic Flora series is a stunning piece of electronic music. Techno rarely felt this intimate and free of all its usual prisons (the dancefloor being one of them). All along the album, it feels like Varg's gift is his ability to absorb the world around him and make it his. The result is sophisticated, elegant, spontaneous, highly emotional, and yet another proof that Varg is bigger than Techno. The world is a cold place.
3. Marissa Nadler - For My Crimes
God I love short albums. Especially when it's 35 minutes of perfectly crafted songwriting. Marissa Nadler delivers a beautiful yet simple (in the best sense of the term) record filled with eleven dark and moody folk songs, and a little moment of heartbreak lies in each one of them. Gorgeous.
4. Low - Double Negative
It's pretty fair to say that this one took many by surprise. Low's sublime songwriting sky-rocketed through experimental production techniques was certainly an incredible way to celebrate their 25th year of career. There are sprinkles of Andy Stott, Tim Hecker or Ben Frost everywhere on this album, but the novelty never seems to damage Low's brilliance. Double Negative is a perfect example of success in one of the most complicated artistic approaches: perfect balance.
5. Akitsa - Credo
While approaching its 20th anniversary, Akitsa released what might be one of their best albums to date (if not the very best). Credo is a pure black metal masterpiece, fueled with mercilessness, hatred in its purest form and desperation. While keeping a radically lo-fi approach, the Québécois outlet reaches rare levels of emotion and delivers a record of devastating beauty.
6. Courtney Marie Andrews - May Your Kindness Remain
This one has been on constant repeat all year in our Bristol store (probably in all Rough Trade stores across the globe) and grew on me so much it ended up here. Somehow, this album is way out of my usual comfort zone but its perfectly crafted songwriting and irresistible production gained it a well-deserved spot in this list. It's been an incredible year at Rough Trade, and this record soundtracked many of its highlights, from post-Primavera night drinks on the beach with new friends from London and New York to a superb intimate acoustic set in the Rough Trade tent at Green Man. Big love to the Rough Trade festival team for an incredible summer. Already looking forward to 2019!
7. Carseat Headrest - Twin Fantasy
One of the greatest perks to work in a record shop is the amount of time you get to spend with people with a music taste very different to yours. Yes, my colleagues were right about it and I was wrong. I must say that I had never really paid attention to Car Seat Headrest, but this newly recorded version of Will Toledo's Twin Fantasy caught me by surprise. Twin Fantasy ended up soundtracking most of my spring and allowed me to reconnect with the emotion that started it all for me, and the same probably goes for many music fans: pure and perfect teenage heartbreak.
8. Theda - Disaster
It is quite hard for me to describe that one without disclosing where it comes from. It comes from a friend, and for that reason this gorgeous debut album has a special spot in my heart. Nevertheless, Disaster is a stunning piece of music, and its beauty genuinely transcends the direct relationship I have with the person who crafted it. This is more than an album written by a friend, this is an album I want everyone to listen to. Give this album the attention and the love it deserves, and immerse in its fragile beauty, its blissful ambient textures and let the drones dry your tears.
9. Sister Iodine - Venom
I'm quite fascinated by the idea that it's possible to follow a thread between The Stooges' Fun House and Sister Iodine's Venom. This one is definitely not for the faint-hearted but it carries all that you need in a rock album (filth, sonic violence and intelligence) with accolades to the darkest alleys of the underground (from harsh-noise to black-metal). This is pure rock music, pushed to its boundaries and deconstructed with a rarely heard panache and extremism.
10. Yves Tumor - Safe In The Hands Of Love
It sometimes feels like Yves Tumor's generation is cursed by its direct link to the expansion of the internet and the way it opened the worlds of music. If this assumption remains true, it is also quite often limiting the vast spectrum of influences of many new artists to a virtual consumption of content. Safe In The Hands Of Love is brilliant proof that this generation takes inspiration in the material world, and in a reality that offers an infinite variety of influences, as vast as the online worlds. Yves Tumor's record has the flavour of wild techno after-parties, soul seven-inch records, experimental and noise DIY spaces, what I would assume to be college rock radios, and of the ubiquitous vital force that is 2018's mainstream pop music. All that remarkably blended with a dazzling confidence.