Staff Albums of the Year 2018
Sam Allison (Rough Trade Nottingham)
1. Brian Fallon - Sleepwalkers
I have been a huge fan of Brian Fallon ever since The Gaslight Anthem's 2012 album Handwritten and have held Fallon in very high regard as a songwriter ever since. After getting the chance to meet and see him perform live here at Rough Trade Nottingham back in February there was no way I couldn't have this album as my number one! Sleepwalkers is Brian's second solo album after the 2015 release Painkillers, emotionally powerful as it is musically excellent Sleepwalkers has Fallon pushing the rock 'n' soul sounds he's known so well for to new heights and I can't wait to see what he does next!
2. IDLES - Joy As An Act Of Resistance
When I first heard this record I'll be honest as far as rowdy, in your face punk albums go it was good but would it have made number 2 on my AOTY list? Probably not. But then I saw IDLES live here at RTN for the albums in-store performance and that's when it hit me, I got it! This record pushes so many social boundaries in modern music, touching on issues such as sexism, nationalism, class warfare and toxic masculinity and it has to be praised for that! The song below Samaritans speaks volumes and has such an important message that means a lot to me personally!
3. Father John Misty - God's Favorite Customer
FJM couldn't be any lower than top 3 could he? Otherwise you'd all think I've lost my mind! GFC follows last years epic, Pure Comedy my AOTY for 2017. But in no means is this a lesser album than its predecessor, GFC is shocking in its simplicity! The album has its fair share of Father John's off-the-cuff humor and sarcasm that only he can provide but ultimately this album goes in a different direction to FJM's earlier work. A sincerer and more profound record which focuses more on heartache and seclusion, asking the listener a lot of questions but not really giving you any answers! Date Night is a banger!
4. Boygenius - Boygenius EP
Yes, I know this is AOTY and here I'm sliding in an EP, but I had to because this record is so god damn beautiful! Boygenius is Julien Baker, Pheobe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, all fantastic artists in their own right! This supergroup style collaboration features 6 tracks 3 written by each super talented lady and 3 unfinished songs that the group all worked on together. Every track has its own sense of magic and delivers a lot of emotion and feeling, it truly is something very special! Boygenius are the most important supergroup in the world right now!
5. Jonathan Wilson - Rare Birds
This is Wilson's 6th solo album, he describes the album as a maximalist high-density record with 80's British influenced production which pretty much sums the album up perfectly! This record is loud, triumphant and dreamy, at times its almost cosmic transporting you to a different world altogether! Wilson's soft vocals really give the album another level over the captivating and sprawling sounds through the entirety of Rare Birds! Fun fact: Jonathan Wilson produced the first 3 Father John Misty albums!
6. Snail Mail - Lush
What a debut! Lindsey Jordan really jumps out of the gates and starts to change the game immediately, shaping a new direction for the future sound of indie rock. 19-year old Jordan moves through this record showing what it's like growing up contradicting yourself and how naive and stubborn you can be to such concepts as love.
7. Soccer Mommy - Clean
Another album debut coming to you at number 7! Sophie Allison (no relation to yours truly), who records under the name Soccer Mommy comes across as very humble and relatable throughout this album on tracks like Cool and Flaw. There's a lot of truth, feeling and a sense of vulnerability to Allison's lyrics, songs such as Your Dog which just grabs you and screams get your act together, polarises with the later hypnotic track Scorpio Rising about watching the sun-rise with a boy you know is about to leave you for another! Surely Allison is set to join the list of great young American songwriters and I feel the next record will resonate even louder than this one!
8. Nothing - Dance on the Blacktop
If you're like me and love, bleak and despairing shoe-gaze look no further than this record from Nothing! The bands 3rd full-length recording that pulls together sounds from all over the shop shoe-gaze, alt-rock all intertwined together with elements of pop and post-punk! There is something very pure and angelic about this record fused together with apocalyptic, reverberating walls of distortion and sound. Imagine if someone took Smashing Pumpkins, Beach House and Radiohead and just smashed them together, that's what you have right here, perfection! There aren't many bands out there like Nothing right now!
9. Kagoule - Strange Entertainment
You can hear a lot progression in sound from Nottingham heavyweights Kagoule on this new album compared to that of their 2015 release Urth. This is a band who knows exactly how they want to sound and how they go about achieving that. The contrasting vocal styles between Cai Burns and Lucy Hatter keep things fresh and exciting throughout the whole of Strange Entertainment giving a whole new level of depth to each track! The album combines elements of rhythmic alt-pop along-side psychedelic fuzzy guitars and heavy bass lines that will infiltrate your brain and leave you crying out for another hit of Kagoule!
10. Jon Hopkins - Singularity
During my 27 years of life, I have never really delved into the depths of electronic music. So this year I thought I'd open my mind up to the genre and this Jon Hopkins record stood out from the rest in 2018. This album is more ambient than his 2013 release Immunity and flows seamlessly from track to track. Starting things off with a little rough around the edges techno, progressing into more transcendent solo piano sounds, pulling you towards a psychedelic ambient finale! Hopkins created this record with the intention of it been listened to in one sitting, and Singularity takes you on an epic journey that ultimately leaves you with a sense of peace and belonging in the universe.