Happy new year! I'm aware I'm extremely late on this, but you know how this time of year is... 2018 was so good for music, so I thought I'd do a proper roundup! Here we go, in no particular order:
Fave NZ albums:
Carb on Carb - For Ages
I feel like this one just came at me out of nowhere and left me so stunned! As soon as "It's Been a Rough Year" hit in March, I was hooked and just waited, left hanging, for each new single. God, and what a mood for the year, eh?
I'm trying not to double up in this list but if I was, "Mitimiti" would also be in the best track section.
For Ages is just such a gorgeous, glorious piece of indie/emo/nostalgia-punk
Sarah Mary Chadwick - Sugar Still Melts in the Rain
This is a very similar thing to For Ages, actually, in that I hadn't really heard of Sarah Mary Chadwick before, the first single, "Five Months" dropped followed by the album a few days later, and I just did not stop listening:
This is another album I will not stop listening to. I'd been quietly excited for its release - this single dropped on Wednesday ahead of the album on Friday, and god, her writing, lyrics, the keys and how she keeps her voice quite casual/with the accent still clear just really cuts right to me.
She's really upfront with her feelings and opinions in the tracks, and I really appreciate that. The production is lovely, and I think her efficient approach to recording ("The album came together so quickly partly as a result of the duo's commitment to efficiency and partly due to Sarah's lack of attachment to the idea of “the perfect vocal take”) leads to a crisp, raw, and real vibe through the whole album.
Coco Solid - Cokes
This was such an exciting release, the people that Coco Solid brought in to help produce and feature on Cokes are just incredible, alongside her own incredible talent. It's full of just such good tunes, most of which are constantly stuck in my head ("Crop That Back", "But That Voice Is Still There", and "Just One Kiss" in particular).
Fave international albums:
Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
I'm such a fan of Courtney Barnett's writing, she has such a way with lyrics - not the waxing poetical way, but a way of writing true and rough and confrontational that just sounds so good. The opening track to Tell Me How You Really Feel starts with what I feel is a different side - it's melancholic and gorgeous, and a really nice way to open up the album, and it just builds and builds. "City Looks Pretty" is the perfect followup - the two set the tone for the album so well, and it's just a masterpiece okay?
Princess Nokia - A Girl Cried Red
Hey, there's a theme here, eh? A Girl Cried Red is also so wonderfully, painfully upfront, but so fucking gorgeous and catchy at the same time. I've been known to drop "Your Eyes Are Bleeding" in the middle of DJ sets because in my head it's just such a good song to dance to, but people aren't expecting "smash my heart in pieces / it looks so good on the floor" while they're drunk and dancing, and they really aren't expecting the "i thought you loved me x4" outro...
But damn, it's just so good! She's so incredibly talented and I just really appreciate a good banger filled with emotional turmoil, okay?
Frankie Cosmos - Vessel
This is just some real nice guitar-indie-pop stuff, the real good shit. I'm a real fan of Greta Kline's vocals - the whispery falsetto suits the album so so well. It's real lovely for those conflicted, nostalgia-y post-breakup or pre-relationship emotional feels, you know? The album dropped in March last year, and it was just a constant throughout the whole year, I keep on coming back to it.
Mitski - Nobody
I distinctly remember telling at least a couple of people (and possibly also one of the weekly posts) "Un-Follow Me Now, This Is Gonna Be the Only Thing I Tweet About For The Next Week. Ive Wanted This For Years Fuck. What The Fuck." because holy shit, this song, the album, everything about it. Be The Cowboy was absolutely one of my fave albums of the year, but I'm trying not to double up and "Nobody" was even MORE probs my fave song of the year. I lied up top, part of this post is in a particular order, because this is my number one from 2018. I love everything about it, I love the lyrics, I love the drums, I love the disco elements, I absolutely adore the repetitive chorus/bridge (and I love SO much that she can carry this song a capella). Fuck me up, I just love this song so much.
High H00ps - Madly
This is just such, such a good groove. The album, Seasons on Planet Earth, is definitely worth a full listen, but "Madly" was absolutely the standout for me. It dropped in September and it was perfect timing, it felt like it was just on repeat until summer hit, and then there it was. The video is also fucking fantastic, I really love the caption narration.
Janelle Monae - Make Me Feel
I mean, the whole fuckin world just lost it at this video, right? I'm not sure that I've DJ'd a gig since where this hasn't been played... and where I haven't left the booth to go dance to it. Janelle Monae just continues to deliver and deliver, and Dirty Computer definitely brought it - another album you should go listen to, and would've been on the album list if it weren't for just how goddamn perfect this track is.
Avantdale Bowling Club - Years Gone By
This is such a gorgeous piece. Tom Scott is fantastic - his lyrics have always been wonderful, and this is an incredible shift. Dominic Hoey summed it up the best in his review:
Where Home Brew was a celebration of being a broke twenty-something-year-old in Aotearoa, and @peace was testing the limits of where you could take hip-hop music, this album is an artist using their past – fuck-ups and all – to realise a creative vision.
In particular the line "One of Tom’s talents as a rapper is the feeling that he’s speaking directly to you" from that review stands out - that's exactly it. It's as raw and honest as the Home Brew writing, but it's a different stage of life. I guess nostalgia is another running theme in the music I tend to enjoy the most - and it's present here in a really nice, reflective way.
Hybrid Rose - Just Press Play (feat. Fanfickk)
This is just such a good collab between two fantastic artists! Hybrid Rose's Warhol is definitely worth your time, and while you're at it you should check out Fanfickk's work too.
The thing that sticks with me about this song is the way it just shifts so suddenly and brutally and viscerally in the chorus... I had a real good chat to Hybrid Rose about the album and this track:
i was so excited to work with fanfickk, she was perfect. i did have someone else in mind for the song as well, so when that fell through, and me and fanfickk started writing together, the chemistry was just too real. but it was such an exciting song, i still listen to it like every day.
This is my fave section, probably - the artists who just came out of the blue last year and blew me away.
Polyester's self-titled debut was something special. "Maybe" jumped out at me as soon as it hit my inbox - that real nice disco vibe it brought was great.
This is possibly one of the most exciting things to come out of last year - Tāl are a duo of twins, and their music is folky, it's electronic, and they play tabla and sitar. There's a fantastic vice feature on them, and "What You Are" is just gorgeous.
Also incredibly exciting; for some reason I really hate the word 'supergroup' but it describes Fanau Spa really well. The amount of talent in this crew is just incredible, and this mixtape is just huge.
The title track from this EP just blows me away. It's such a gorgeous tune, and the production is fantastic. The whole EP is really, really worth your time.
This is such a promising group - they're a trio who've been on the live scene in Pōneke for a bit, and this is their first EP. Kōwhai came to my inbox, and it's lovely, gentle, distant.
2019 release hype:
This is a special one - the albums due this year that just had single after perfect single last year.
Tiny Ruins - Olympic Girls
God, I am always going to be excited about new Tiny Ruins. The singles that were released last year just kept me hanging on, and now we're so so close to album day (1st February!)
Sharon van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow
I'm especially excited about this because, as I'm writing, it's due for release in a matter of hours!! "Jupiter 4" when it came out late last year just really hooked me in, over the tipping point, and I've been waiting so so impatiently for the rest of the album.
So, there we are! What a damn good year for music! I'm really looking forward to seeing what this year brings!
On that note, some promo... if you've got music coming out, I'd love to chat to you about it, or include it in weekly roundups! This year I want to get much more back into music writing, and I'm really keen to do album reviews, features, interviews, all that good stuff! Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's talk!