Here we are again.

Another December’s end, another Album of the Year list, and another note to say that there’s no way this particular list is definitive. But then, with so much music released in 2018 and so many different ways to hear it, I’m not sure that any list, even those that stretch to a top 100 releases, can claim to be so. From the unique (anything Colin Stetson brought to life) and new (Vein’s taste of chaos), to the grand returns of Tim Hecker, Daughters, and Hopesfall, it seemed as if more essential records emerged than there were hours in the day to listen to them.

Instead these are the albums that made the greatest impact on planet Moderate Rock this year, the stuff that rolled around in our collective head the longest, the music that made 2018 just about bearable.

11 because Spinal Tap.

11. FOXING- ‘Nearer My God’
‘Nearer My God’ is not perfect. But flights of bold creative fancy and brave artistic endeavour like this rarely are. This is the boat pushed out as far as it might go. This is glorious ambition. A feat.

10. YOUNG FATHERS- ‘Cocoa Sugar’
The singles stand out but this remains unique as it is cohesive. ‘In My View’ is the song of the year.

9. THE LION’S DAUGHTER- ‘Future Cult’
Like John Carpenter crossed with Johnny Truant, this could be a mix made especially for me. Hypnotic fury.

8. WILL HAVEN- ‘Muerte’
This doesn’t recapture the same molten metal magic as Will Haven’s heaviest efforts but it isn’t trying to. This feels like a new phase for a band at their best.

7. HOLY FAWN- ‘Death Spells’
The leap this band have taken from their first record to get here is gargantuan.

6. DRUG CHURCH- ‘Cheer’
To copy wholesale from a friend who is much smarter than me: “The Pixies don’t make good Pixies albums anymore. Thankfully Drug Church do.”

5. FUTURE USSES- ‘An Existential Haunting’
A deep and rewarding, genre-defying, dizzyingly brilliant record.

4. RIVAL CONSOLES- ‘Persona’
Electronic music that feels alive and evil and peaceful and honest and… just so unlike so much other electronic music.

3. NIGHT VERSES- ‘From the Gallery of Sleep
A stunning record. Somehow tightly-wound, confidently loose, deliciously experimental and addictively catchy, all at the same time, it is as rewarding on first listen as it is on the tenth.

2. ROLO TOMASSI- ‘Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It’
‘Time Will Die…’ is evolution in action. It’s not just a new high watermark from a band who were already one of Britain’s best heavy acts, but captures them becoming something new, something more. Rolo Tomassi are excellent. But this, quite simply, is the best thing they’ve ever done.

1. TENGIL- ‘Shouldhavebeens
The first track here begins with a brisk, shimmering sound. As it goes on, the shimmer increases and the beat intensifies and a choir of high, strong voices begins to soar before it all suddenly fades away, leaving only a whisper. Other bands might have left it there, around the four-and-a-half minute mark, one song in the bank, but Tengil, it turns out, aren’t just another band and they crash the silence, vaporise it, with the first of many huge crescendos. It sounds like five post-rock bands playing at once, it’s almost like white noise, but it’s wonderful. And- catch your breath- nearly every track here is like this. This is an incredibly dense record, with something new to hear on every listen. I feel like I could spend years with it and not catch everything that went into its construction.

And breathe! If you’ve already heard these albums, where did they finish on your list? If you haven’t, I hope you find something to love.

Shout out too to Vampillia for releasing if not the best then certainly the noisiest EP of the year, and to Lirr for the album I liked most this year that actually came out last year.

See you in 2019!


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