Whittling down your favourite tracks of any year is an arduous task and this year, a particularly good one musically, has proven equally if not more difficult.
That said, in the interest of posterity, I condensed it down to ten and there is a nice extended 30-track playlist below too.
So, in no particular order, here are my favourite ten (then 30 below) tracks of 2018. Enjoy!
Omaloma – ‘Bubblegum’
Welsh artist Omaloma aka George Amor (Serol Serol & Sen Segur) has carved out special space on the musical landscape with a series of blissful, spacey psych-pop singles; ‘Ha Ha Haf’, ‘Aros O Gwmpas’ and ‘Eniwe’ in recent years.
This year, Omaloma added ‘Bubblegum’ to this burgeoning list of stellar singles. A first on vinyl, released as a 7″ single, ‘Bubblegum’ is utterly divine and marks the pinnacle of the project thus far. Sung in English and Welsh, ‘Bubblegum’ is a four-minute sojourn to a spellbinding interstellar paradise. It coolly swaggers as it moves on by, leaving us in a dream-like state, with an alluring blend of slinky, synth-pop with psych brush strokes, woozy synth lines and Amor’s soft, soothing bilingual vocals. Instantly lovable, it breezes gracefully by with a seductive soulful underbelly and charm to woo you.
ilu – ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’
Dividing their time recording between Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, Ilu are a Welsh Psych/Krautrock outfit crafting epic, spacey, interstellar hymns – of Spiritualized proportions. Backing up these lofty claims is stunning debut single ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’. Propelled along Krautrock, motoric grooves ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’, spacey synths and heavenly harmonies envelop spiky post-punk guitars and bass rumbles which coalesces into one coherent, unstoppable sound. Sizzling danceable grooves are woven tightly into their mammoth tones and grinding churn, which is all punctuated with a beautiful yet melancholic sense of longing. As far as debut singles go, they don’t come much bigger or better than ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop'; an immaculate palate of sonics, sounds and textures.
Accü – ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’
Accü is the multifaceted, genre blending solo project of Cardiff-based musician and producer Angharad Van Rijswijk. Accü’s debut album Echo The Red is one of 2018’s very best and lead single ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is quite something. An offbeat exploration of imaginative experimentation and colourful, kaleidoscopic sounds, ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is a spellbinding cosmic sojourn to psychedelic space. Fusing elements of frayed electronics, squelchy synths, soft-edged psych-pop it tips along a tidy drum beat with reverb-laced vocals swaying through a cascading sequence of crackling, frazzled electronics. Moving with a dreamlike, otherworldly aura; ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is colourful, imaginative and fearlessly exploratory off-kilter pop.
Silverbacks – ‘Dunkirk’
Dublin-based outfit Silverbacks have delighted and excited at every turn thus far and none more so than with ‘Dunkirk’. A sprawling three-minutes of post-punk underpinned by an insistent, nagging bassline and increasingly manic, winding guitar lines, metronomic drumbeat and Gang of Four calibre bass lines. It is the ideal backdrop for Daniel O’Kelly’s stream of conscious musings of a dystopian future where Dunkirk, despite its history, has become a built-up holiday destination for young families. ‘Dunkirk’ is Silverbacks at their finest and signals strongest their evolution beyond their early Pavement-esque beginnings, to a coveted plain where parts Talking Heads, Television, LCD Soundsystem and Gang of Four can all coexist and flourish.
Dioscó na mBó – ‘Tea Song’
Sligo natives Dioscó na mBó have been turning heads and filling floors with their insanely catchy, extremely addictive and pretty brilliant mix of funky, disco inspired electronic jams for a while now. Earlier in the year, ‘Tea Song’ slid into view, strutting its funky wares like a beautiful love child of Mr Scruff and Public Service Broadcasting. Skipping along a contagious groove, arm in arm with big banging beats, exquisite electronic flourishes cascade and delight as ‘Tea Song’ utilises some old-time, PSB style samples explaining the secrets behind a perfect cup of tea. An astonishingly infectious and flamboyant big beat beauty designed and destined to make people dance.
Serol Serol – ‘Cadwyni’
Originally the pop-project plaything for producers Llŷr Pari (Palenco, Omaloma) and George Amor (Omaloma, Sen Segur), Welsh cosmic pop foursome Serol Serol are completed and fronted by Leusa Rhys and Mali Sion. Translating from Welsh to English as “Stellar Stellar”, Serol Serol is an apt handle as the Welsh cosmic pop foursome craft sumptuous celestial space-pop – of which their debut LP is littered with. The pick of their superb self-titled debut LP is ‘Cadwyni’ and treats us to a swooning space waltz, meandering gushing synths, heavenly harmonies and vocal interchanges, and an inescapable groove. An irresistible celestial pop delight.
Terra Pines – ‘Dream Big’
Self-professed purveyors “sludgepop” and “grungegaze”, Terra Pines is an Australian trio who make powerful, fuzz-filled guitar tunes. 2018 saw them release their self-titled album and the rambunctious ‘Dream Big’ is a perfect intro. An absolutely brilliant three minutes of fuzzed-up-noise, ‘Dream Big’ is tempered by her lilting vocals, while gritty guitars, heavy reverberating drums and rocking a crunchy, fuzz-heavy riff that rips through the track. For all the powerhouse pieces of post punk, shoegaze and grunge, there is a subtle seam of dreampop running through its core, eking out a near perfect space between sludge, fuzz and hazy pop.
77:78 – ‘Love Said (Let’s Go)’
As card-carrying members of the kaleidoscopic musical maestros The Bees, Aaron Fletcher and Tim Parkin were responsible for some of the most magical, downright brilliant moments of the last decade. The duo introduced their new project 77:78 with ‘Love Said (Let’s Go)’. It’s a radiant, jaunty and joyous cut of infectious soulful pop with some psychedelic leanings; namely the fluttering flutes and echoing atmosphere which abound on the peripheries. It’s breezy little gem with a subtle swagger that will whisk your mind far, far away to long summer days of glorious sunshine. Like The Bees, 77:78 echo classic pop, folk and psych of the past but just like their previous incarnation, they bring plenty of their own character to make it their own delightfully irresistible sound. The single is lifted from their debut album Jellies, which is worth some of your time.
Elsa Lester – ‘Pretty Bad, Man’
Elsa Lester, aka Lisa van Kampen, is a Dutch singer/songwriter with a penchant for no-frills guitar-pop. Working under a previous guise of Great Profile, she released debut album Stress Relief in 2017. Written, recorded and produced in her bedroom at her parent’s house, the record is 30 minutes of catchy-as-can-be fuzzed-up guitar-pop imbued with heart, soul and bouts of vulnerability. Introducing her new moniker, Elsa Lester stepped out with super single ‘Pretty Bad, Man’; lifted from the Dinner Party EP, it is three-minutes of guitar-pop perfection. It is endearingly ramshackle lo-fi, garage-indebted guitar-pop with an upbeat fizzy energy and coated in a warm layer of fuzz, and those riffs, man, they are sensational. Just sensational! An irresistibly infectious little earmworm, it will be fizzing around your head for days and days. Elsa Lester’s debut album and aforementioned EP come highly recommended also.
Badhands – ‘Waves’
Badhands is the musical project of Dublin songwriter and musician Dan Fitzpatrick. The former (The) Last Tycoons & The Mighty Stef man released his stunning debut album Predictable Boy in November. A captivating collection of vivid, textured songs that range in tone between dark and brooding to frantic and energetic, with moments of stirring euphoria weaved in to the mix, it was lead by ‘Waves’. Inspired by the experience when Dan and his brother Jamie swam out to sea to scatter their father’s ashes near their family home in Dublin, ‘Waves’ is a flourishing folk tune that will have your heart fawning from the first note. This warm, glowing organ hum swells, much like the sea, to engulf all in its wake but perfectly complimenting the rusticated guitar picks, that bubbles/buzzes in a Johnny Flynn-esque way and Fitzpatrick’s wistful vocals. Utterly beautiful.