2018 – A Year In Indie/Rock
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that 2018 has been a massive year for the music world.
We’ve had some of the best debut EP’s and albums of a long time, the comeback of many artists including indie-rock legends, Arctic Monkeys with their sixth studio album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino and their massive global tour and we’ve had announcements from major artists for next years releases. However, you can read more here about how to start playing instruments and creating your own music.
As always, this year has lead to the breakthrough of some incredibly talented artists and seen many new and upcoming bands form. Tours have also been at large, with artists such as Courteeners, DMA’s, Tom Grennan, Sam Fender, Blossoms and Wolf Alice.
2018 has been a year powered with good tracks, albums and Ep’s. 2019 looks to be equally as huge. The end of the year calls for reflection of the last twelve months of music so here are my top five favourite songs, EP’s/Albums, and my top three to watch for 2019.
TOP FIVE SONGS OF 2018
Dead Boys – Sam Fender ★★★★★
Dead Boys by Sam Fender is possibly one of the most important songs of the whole year. It is a three-minute track highlighting the issue of rising male suicide rates, through a series of poignant lyrics. The song is bound to become a classic in years to come for the immensely talented Fender and his incredible and hard-working band. The last verse of the song manages to radiate a mixture of different emotions through a single repetitive line (‘All the Dead Boys in our hometown’) Dead Boys was released ahead of Fender’s debut EP, under the same name as the single.
In The Air – DMA’s ★★★★
DMA’s are a three-piece band from Australia, who in recent years have been consistently linked to Oasis, due to frontman, Tommy O’Dell’s Gallagher-esque vocals. Their sound has also lead to them being compared to other Britpop icons, such as The Stone Roses.
‘In The Air’ has quickly become one of my go-to DMA’s tunes after their second album, For Now, was released earlier this year. DMA’s have recently returned to home soil in Australia, after a period of touring across the UK.
They have expressed their love for gigging in the UK on multiple occasions and we cannot wait to have them back as soon as possible
Be My Mistake – The 1975 ★★★★
‘Be My Mistake’ is the sixth track from The 1975’s third studio album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. It is incredibly toned down, and completely acoustic which shows another side to The 1975 who are usually renowned for upbeat and summery vibes powered by synths. Lyrically, ‘Be My Mistake’ is beautiful in a way that you wouldn’t expect it to be, with lines such as ‘You do make me hard, but she makes me weak’, which to put it simply, states that sex is great, but have you ever been in love, because that is so much better. It is a lyric that a whole generation driven by lust opposed to true love just really needed to hear.
There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) – Blossoms ★★★★★
What sets Blossoms aside from other bands at the minute, is Ogden and Co.’s ability to disguise heartbreakingly honest lyrics about love, relationships and life with tight guitar and keyboard/synth driven backings. There is a massive juxtaposition between their usually melancholic lyrics and their beat backings. The Stockport lads have had another big year, with an even bigger one laid out ahead of them. In 2018, they have released their second studio album, ‘Cool Like You’ and towards the end of the year, they embarked on a UK tour.
How Can I Compete – The Magic Gang ★★★★
How Can I Compete sums up the feelings of a generation battling self loathing whilst trying to be in love. The song opens with two snappy and repetitive lines of ‘Exit the same way you came’ and has an incredibly memorable chorus. Since The Magic Gang’s formation in 2013, the Brighton based band have built up a name for themselves by extensive touring and festival runs, such as All Points East (London) and Benicasim (Spain).
TOP FIVE ALBUMS/EPS OF 2018
Cool Like You – Blossoms ★★★★
At the start of the year, Blossoms announced their second album, Cool Like You, by forms of a short documentary ‘Where Are Blossoms?’. The album follows two years after the previous debut ‘Blossoms’. Cool Like You sticks to Blossoms main and safe principles, heart wrenching lyrics about love fuelled relationships and tied together with well-rounded keyboard, synths and guitar riffs. In an interview with Ogden (frontman) and Donovan (drums), it is similar to their first album, but different in so many ways. If one thing is for certain though, it’s that lyrical masterpieces are still being churned out by frontman, Tom Ogden. 2019 holds a lot more for the five piece Stockport band, such as their largest headline gig to date at Edgely Park stadium in their home town, playing Community in London and Reading + Leeds Festival, and with the possibility of new music on the horizon.
Dead Boys EP – Sam Fender ★★★★★
Dead Boys is titled after a song on the EP, almost a homage to all those ‘Dead Boys’ lost Fender sings about in the title track. The six track EP also includes the single ‘Poundshop Kardashians’ where Fender sings about flaws in his home town and among his peers. Writing about his hometown and where he grew up (North Shields, Newcastle) has become a common theme within Fender’s music, with ‘Leave Fast’ also written under the same cap. Some have suggested that although he romanticises small town vibes, it’s clear to see that Sam, 22, wouldn’t have it any other way. Other tracks on the EP include ‘Spice’, which is a punchy tune following the narrative of a young boy’s venture and exposure to the world with a juicy chorus threaded together with guitar riffs and a drum beat as Fender belts ‘Spice up your life, who would want anything else? These moments of oblivion are all I need’.
Lighting Matches – Tom Grennan. ★★★★★
When Lighting Matches by Tom Grennan was released in the July of this year, by Insanity Records, it instantly went down as one of the best and tightest debut albums for a very long time. After the release of ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’ almost a year before the debut was released, the album had been highly anticipated and did not fail to disappoint fans and newcomers to Grennan’s music in any way. It is no shock that the album has done well; at the time of announcement, Grennan was already selling out venues with massive headline gigs. Even playing the 4000-capacity Shepard’s Bush Empire four months before Lighting Matches was released. Tom Grennan has for sure come into the music world with a bang and, to put it simply, Lighting Matches is a musical whirlwind, which hits you with a taste of what is to come from this young and promising artist.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships – The 1975 ★★★★
The 1975 announced that they were to release their third studio LP in May of this year and released their first single, ‘Give Yourself A Try’. The release of the single and news of a new album sent tidal waves across the music industry. As the months progressed and the alternative indie-pop band churned out more singles from ABIIOR, they all had a similar response. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is an album that is all over the place in a beautiful sort of way; from the track ‘Love It If We Made it’, which speaks boldly about the state of the current word and leadership to ‘Mine’ with fragile piano notes and trumpets, whilst Healy’s ethereal vocals echo around, singing about how you don’t need marriage to be committed to a person.
‘The Man Who Married A Robot / Love Theme’ wins the award for one of the most bizarre features on the album; it’s an unconventional musical poem of a relationship with the internet. The poem is narrated by the voice of Apple’s Siri, and whilst it adds a hint of humour to the album, it also shows the need of our society to rely on social media forms to not feel alone. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships by The 1975 has already left a massive mark on the music world, despite only being released for just under a month. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is half of the two-piece album, ‘Music For Cars’.
Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino – Arctic Monkeys ★★★★
It’s only natural that when a band grows up and change as people, their music progresses at the same time. Change – it’s an important part of the industry and Arctic Monkeys are all too familiar with it. ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel And Casino’ is the newest and sixth studio album from the Sheffield indie-rock gods and it is a million miles away from their previous album ‘AM’, which focused more on an American rock sound and from there, it’s a lightyear away from their debut album ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ released in 2006. The album is lyrically and piano driven with seemingly less input from the rest of the band than in the past, with notable lyrics such as ‘I just wanted to be one of The Strokes, now look at the mess you made me make’ from Star Treatment. When it was released, it received mixed reviews and ratings, with many of bands oldest fans left feeling disappointed by the evolution of the band. The album has become the band’s sixth consecutive number-one debut in the UK. It has also become the country’s fastest-selling vinyl record in 25 years. Many say Alex Turner is one of the greatest frontman of our generation and he is in his peak right now, with Turner being praised for his songwriting style on Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino and fans saying is the best it has ever been.
TOP THREE TO WATCH FOR 2019
Thousand Thoughts (previously under the name Elsewhere) are a four-piece band based in London. They were picked up by a major record deal after being scouted at one of their shows and signed shortly afterwards. They have only been releasing music for a year but have already started to rack up thousands of monthly Spotify listeners and streams. Their YouTube video for their single, ‘This One’s For You’ teeters on the edge of 200,000 views already. The band are powered by heavy guar riffs, bass lines and powerful vocals.
SPINN are a four-piece band from Liverpool who are on the rise. Branded as ‘Approachable Lads’, it is easy to see and hear their work ethic and the confidence they have towards the band. They have already started to gather a small army of supporters following the release of ‘SPINN EP’ which is a four-track extended play, with the tracks ‘She Takes Her Time’, ‘After Dark’, ‘Who Are You’, and ‘November’. Next year could be a big one for these ‘jangly pop connoisseurs’, with new music and another tour on the cards. For now, the band continue on with a refreshing cheek yet optimism and the confidence that one day SPINN will well and truly have the whole world spun.
It has already been a big year for Scottish singer/songwriter Lewis Capaldi and things look to be getting even bigger for him. Last year, he was long listed for BBC’s Sounds Of 2018 and in the last month was shortlisted for the Brits Critic Choice Award. On the 8th November, Capaldi released his second Extended Play, ‘Breach’ which included tracks ‘Tough’, ‘Grace’ and his best-selling song to date ‘Someone You Loved’.
So, what will 2019 hold for music? Only time can tell, but based on this year’s releases and some announcements for the coming months, it’s going to be a big one.