Words by various TMB contributors
June’s finished so we’re halfway through the year. Here are our individual favourites so far in no particular order with one album per writer. There’s something for everyone in the eclectic mix we’ve assembled but don’t expect it to look identical come December – we changed our minds at least 4 times for this list so who knows how we’ll cope with twice the albums to choose from.
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
A re-recording of a Bandcamp classic, Twin Fantasy is portrait of young love, uncertainty and sadness. Encapsulates what it means to be youthful through emotion, with some humour.
Listen to: Sober to Death
FFO: (Sandy) Alex G, Snail Mail, The Strokes, Deerhunter, Chastity Belt
Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
This London supergroup are proving significant in the rising popularity of the UK modern jazz scene, typified by, arguably, one of the most relevant albums of the year.
Featuring the likes of dub poet Congo Natty and Josh Idehen on vocals, along with band members hailing from across the globe, the album is a social commentary on the oppressive nature of current UK politics. Told from an outsider’s perspective, this oppression is set against the sense of belonging found in African culture and heritage and reflected in the propulsive rhythms and melodies found in Sons of Kemets’ music.
Listen to: My Queen Is Ada Eastman
FFO: Mammal Hands, Ezra Collective, Badbadnotgood
Confidence Man – Confident Music For Confident People
Fizzing, larger than life alt-pop that bounces between house, pop and indie with some funk basslines thrown in for good measure. The soundtrack to your ego’s dance party.
Listen to: C.O.O.L. Party
FFO: Superorganism, Le Tigre, Jagwar Ma
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
Eschewing the expected components of the country genre but imbued with the kind of forthright lyrics we’ve come to expect from this Nashville queen, Golden Hour possesses a dreamy, psychedelic pop vibe that suits her to the ground.
Listen to: Lonely Weekend
FFO: Margo Price, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert
Boy Azooga – 1, 2, Kung Fu!
A record that’s full of singalong choruses and melodies that get stuck in your head for days. A debut from a band that sounds professional enough to be their third or fourth.
Listen to: Losers in the Tomb
FFO: The Magic Gang, Blaenavon, Tame Impala
Halo Maud – Je Suis Une Ile
One of the surprise albums of the year. Deserves more attention than its had so far. Also probably the best band I’ve seen live this year.
Listen to: Proche Proche Proche
FFO: Beach House, Lowly
Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
An album that highlights their progression as a band, moving them beyond their post-punk and garage roots into something far more interesting where they marry elements of funk and soul with whip-smart lyricism.
Listen to: Total Football
FFO: The Strokes, Television, Iceage
Shame – Songs of Praise
A 10-track record full of epic punk classic tracks reflecting on topics from suicide to sexual affairs to politics with heavy bass lines. The mixture of vocals from narrative to screams shows why Shame have the best debut of 2018.
Listen to: Dust on Trial or Friction
FFO: The Fall, Fat White Family, Idles
Field Music – Open Here
A fantastic collecting of smart and uplifting tracks from the Brewis brothers. Clear standouts such as Count It Up are not exactly lonely: you get endless joy, depth and nuance from an album that, four months after its release, is still throwing out gems and new ideas. A sure-fire contender for album of 2018.
Listen to: Count It Up
FFO: Intelligent lyrics, jam-packed music and fantastic choruses
Superorganism – Superorganism
A bonkers, bizarre album, the musical equivalent of Marmite – on first listen it might sound like garbage but keep going and it’ll weasel its way permanently into your brain and affections.
Listen to: Something for Your MIND
FFO: Weird noises
Soccer Mommy – Clean
A beautiful record that is equal parts delicate and fierce, Soccer Mommy has crafted an album that defines adolescence. A document of tried and failed romances that will make even the hardest hearts swell.
Listen to: Blossom (Wasting All My Time)
FFO: (Sandy) Alex G, Snail Mail, Frankie Cosmos, Elliot Smith
Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer
A humongous fuckery in its own right and a beautiful telling of modern love is as hilarious to listen to as it is painful in its process. Some gorgeous writing.
Listen to: Hangout at the Gallows
FFO: Modern-day rappers and introverted Netflix shows
Mount Eerie – Now Only
A continuation of the style and story from A Crow Looked at Me, Phil Elverum continues his long form dissection of life after loss.
Listen to: Distortion
FFO: Sun Kil Moon, Grouper, (Sandy) Alex G, Told Slant, Hovvdy
Suuns – Felt
For when the reality that you’re dealing with gets suspended. You have to deal with a different reality. You start to fall over your words, slurring. Can’t really make out what’s being said. Then you’re stuck.
Listen to: Control
FFO: Clinic, Liars, Beak>
Hookworms – Microshift
Microshift is an excellent pick-and-mix of textures, filled with bubbling synths and motorik rhythms, sewn together with the Leeds 5-piece’s twisted take on kraut-pop and a newfound voice from frontman MJ.
Listen to: Negative Space
FFO: LCD Soundsystem, Can, The War On Drugs, Beach House
Hovvdy – Cranberry
Double Double Whammy have always had a knack of finding the most understated but talented music around, and Hovvdy are this year’s shining example. New album Cranberry is lo-fi indie folk-pop at its finest, with hints of early (Sandy) Alex G at times with a fuzzy fog that drifts across the entirety of this delightful album.
Listen to: Petal
FFO: (Sandy) Alex G, Girlpool, Soccer Mommy
Beach House – 7
However unfairly, Beach House are a band that leave themselves open to criticism of being formulaic. Their seventh record follows the same tried and tested methodology, but with subtle additions of brilliance, amending the old adage of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” to “if it ain’t broke, let’s make it a masterpiece.” 7 propels the band into the upper echelons of cosmic shoegaze, and proves they’re here to stay.
Listen to: Pay No Mind
FFO: Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Beach Fossils