Words by Murray Collie.
2018. A summer of love. A World Cup semi-final. A government in chaos, again. And Danny Dyer’s daughter doing bits on ITV 2 every night. It’s been a weird one, hasn’t it?
But between Kieran Trippier’s right foot and Gareth Southgate’s waistcoats and between Theresa May’s dancing and Georgia Steel’s loyalty, there has been some phenomenal music to act as a fitting soundtrack to the past 365 days.
Alex Turner returned, with a keyboard from space nonetheless. While Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa continued to dominate the charts with, quite frankly, absolute anthems.
We couldn’t resist picking out a few of our favourite singles from 2018. LFM’s very own Murray Collie has put together his top picks from the past year. From emerging talents to familiar old faces, we’re sure you’ve got an opinion on the below list. Take a look and let us know who would make your own.
Sam Fender – That Sound
Brits Critics’ Choice Award winner Sam Fender is tipped to have a massive 2019, and if his ‘Dead Boys’ EP is anything to go by, this is a tip to be believed. Featured is the swooping ‘That Sound’, a truly anthemic tribute to music and it’s ability to pull people from the greatest depths of misery and despair. You need to hear this sound.
DMA’s – For Now
The title track from DMA’s not-so-difficult second album is an impressive homage to the Stone Roses’ ‘Second Coming.’ Similar to what we enjoyed so often on the band’s debut album, the track comprehensively showcases the talents of Mason, Took and particularly O’Dell, whose vocals are as jaw-droppingly distinct as some of Britpops greats.
Miles Kane – Loaded
Miles Kane broke his five-year solo silence with the punky, glam-rock sounding ‘Loaded’ which features a strong influence from Lana Del Rey and Jamie T, who helped to pen the track. The result is worth the wait; a Bolan-esque tune with quality vocal delivery and an electrifying Kane riff that is now everything you’ve come to expect from the boy from the Wirral. This wouldn’t seem totally out of place in a Bond movie.
James Bay – Pink Lemonade
James Bay’s rolling, rocky return to music came in the form of ‘Pink Lemonade’ – an unexpected yet welcomed step away from the soppy pop that was familiar on his debut record. Although it’s still heart-on-sleeve stuff, the tune is far more Strokes than Sheeran and illustrates that Bay clearly has more to offer than many first thought. Massive credit where it’s due.
The Snuts – Manhattan Project
The relentless graft of West Lothian’s ‘The Snuts’ over the past few years was deservedly rewarded in 2018. Alongside huge festival appearance and a sold out UK tour, the band found the time to team up with producer Dave McCracken and release ‘Manhattan Project.’ Described as a “combination of war and romance”, the track is rip-roaring, anthemic and is perfectly crafted for the kind of high-spirited buzz that the quartet create in a live setting.
Arctic Monkeys – Four Out of Five
You’ll do well to find a list of 2018’s best releases that doesn’t feature something from the Arctic Monkeys, and rightly so. The greatest of Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino’s ‘short stories’ is a whip-up of fuzzy guitar, crooning vocals and groovy keys. ‘Four Out of Five’ documents the renovation of Alex Turner’s cosmic taqueria (you’ll also do well to find a more original topic for song) whilst showcasing the band’s sheer talent; it’s a track that makes you wonder – what can’t they do?
Yonaka – Creature
Eerie, and aggressive, topped with killer bass and drums, the title track from Yonaka’s impressive ‘Creature’ EP throws down a statement of real, ambitious intent. There’s a true sense of originality on display here from the Brighton based quartet – a mixing pot of indie, contemporary rock, emo and hip-hop. Watch their space in 2019.
CHVRCHES – Miracle
Glasgow’s CHVRCHES made a storming comeback in 2018 with their stunning album ‘Love is Dead.’ Of the four singles released in the months previous, it’s the poppy ‘Miracle’ that steals the show with its catchy chorus hook that is surrounded by powerful synth lines. Emotionally charged and energetic, the track was significantly elevated by seasoned producer Steve Mac who challenged CHVRCHES to experiment with the track even after they were convinced that they had a final product.
Circa Waves – Movies
Circa Waves certainly left 2018 on a high note, whetting the appetite of fans and giving a teaser of what they should expect from their third record which is due in mind 2019. Sticking to the familiar guitar driven, feel good, loved-up, indie rock formula that Circa Waves executed perfectly on ‘Young Chasers’, ‘Movies’ doesn’t reinvent the wheel but is a solid return for a loved band that still have much more to offer.
The Blinders – Brave New World
The release of The Blinders debut album ‘Columbia’ in 2018 was one that was welcomed by fans of Royal Blood, Slaves and QOTSA. Ten songs deep, the massive sounding ‘Brave New World’ rears it’s head with all the ingredients of a great punk tune – the rebellious lyrics, the fierce guitar riff and the the punchy, in your face delivery.
The Kooks – Four Leaf Clover
For a band who have been on the indie-rock scene for almost 15 years now, it’s surprising that The Kooks can still find sparks of brilliance on their new releases. ‘Four Leaf Clover’ steps away from Luke Pritchard’s partiality for soft love ballads to tackle the topic of hate and negative energy, but sticks to an upbeat, ‘Kooksy’ kind of rhythm.
Blossoms – There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)
Blossoms’ adoption of 80’s inspired indie-synth pop gave their second record a particular distinct sound, particularly the albums opener ‘There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls.’ Lyrically the track is at its strongest as Tom Ogden tells the story of two former lovers reuniting.
Slaves – Magnolia
There are few bands out there that can hold their hands up and say “we’ve made a single about the UK’s interior decorative habits.” But Slaves can. ‘Magnolia’ from the duo’s most recent album is more comical than punky but still incorporates Isaac Holman’s distinct vocal and drum talent with Laurence Vincent’s sharp guitar prowess. Combine this with a memorable chorus hook and an entertaining music video and you’ve got yourself one of a kind.
The Vaccines – Nightclub
2018 was the year that saw The Vaccines return to their former glory with an album that was as good as their flagship record – ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ There’s a punky element to the heavily aggressive ‘Nightclub’, which rollicks on for just under three minutes leaving you craving more. It’s clear that this is a band that are back to their best.
Tom Grennan – Sober
Tom Grennan carries every ounce of his swagger onto the vocally immaculate ‘Sober’ which is the clear highlight of his debut album ‘Lighting Matches’. The Englishman doesn’t hide behind booming instrumental fills and instead shows a refreshing confidence in his distinct, soulful and bluesy tone.
Words by Murray Collie, you can follow Murray on twitter here.