Thursday, 20 December 2018

Richard's Top Ten Albums of 2018


10. American Nightmare by American Nightmare


New material from legendary Boston hardcore mob, American Nightmare, was long overdue. Brutal, fast and angry, the self-titled release was a perfect addition to their amazing back catalogue. Perhaps more accessible than earlier releases with the abrasive edges softened, it’s a fantastic example of the genre in 2018.

9. Love Against Capture by Heavy Heart


The French punks Heavy Heart pulled off a fantastic follow up to last year’s Distance. Full of big songs with big choruses it’s a joy from start to finish. Tracks such as Winter Years and Holding On pop and fizz with energy and youthful exuberance, whilst generally speaking it’s also a more mature effort and the development of their songwriting is evident from the get go.

8. For the Sake of the Bit by Elway


The ever impressive Elway proved that quality definitely usurps quantity with 8 perfect gruff punk anthems that continue their melodic and considered development, producing one of the most heartfelt releases of the year.

7. Never Gonna Die by Pennywise


The skate punk legends Pennywise returned with their most essential release since the turn of the millennium. Fast, political, personal, aggressive and most of all a ton of fun, Never Gonna Die dials the clock back on an impressive career to date and asks what’s next for the pioneers?

6. Only Strangers by Only Strangers


Genuinely, I’m gutted that this album by Only Strangers wasn’t picked up by more people. Its near perfect throaty fist-in-the-air anthems have such a broad appeal whilst the melodies instantly draw comparisons to icons such as Iron Chic and Timeshares. Seriously, you need these Stoke-on-Trent boys in your life!

5. LP5000 by Restorations


Philadelphia natives Restorations’ fourth LP is a massive return to form, taking you on a journey through day to day life filled with vivid imagery and angst. Every song tells its own story but collectively it has the ability to transport you to a dystopian not too distant future. Is it a warning? Is it an allegory on these troubled times??? Maybe... what it is however is essential!

4. Cheer by Drug Church


The third album from Albany natives Drug Church ups the ante on past efforts and then some. Creative, visceral, melodic and vitriolic in equal measures, Cheer is not only a welcome return but the pinnacle of their career to date. Tracks such as Foam Pit, Unlicensed Hall Monitor and Tillary are the real standouts in an album of instant classics.

3. Magic Gone by Petal


Petal’s sophomore release is a heart-breaking journey of emo-tinged angst that ultimately triumphs through the most gorgeous lyrical content and emotional musicality. Full of introspection, frailty and an underlying determination, it’s a beautiful journey of an album that you need to immerse yourself in. Everything is just delivered with meticulous precession that by the time you reach the closing track, Stardust, you’ve felt every bump and turn on Kylie Lotz’s emotional rollercoaster ride.

2. Schmaltz by Spanish Love Songs


This album is a juggernaut of hits from start to finish; it drags you on an emotional journey of miserableness whilst tied together with the most amazing pop sensibilities and lyrical anthems. Schmaltz has rightly propelled Spanish Love Songs into the hearts of many a punk this year and the fervour and passion with which audiences sang along at their debut UK tour suggests this is just the start for the San Franciscans.

1. Desire Paths by Turnspit


Desire Paths by Turnspit is simply the most relevant socio-political album release this year. Whether it’s in response to campaigns such as #MeToo or the heightened awareness that is permeating mainstream culture around gender identity and celebrating diversity, this album is just so perfect in capturing this, the struggles that go with it and the progress we need to make to build a society that works for everyone. My rationale for putting this ahead of any other release this year is quite simply the goosebump test... this album will have hairs you didn’t know you had standing on end and inevitably have your fists-in-the-air. Tracks like Apologies I Have So So Many, Midsentence and Walk Away are destined to fill rooms with hundreds of voices whilst Skin and Invisible could stun a crowd to silence with ease. It’s a combination of perfect social commentary, gorgeous songwriting and fun anthems which mean this is an album that will be on repeat for many years to come.

EPs / singles
5. Wires Crossed by Arms and Hearts
4. Dead Bars / Red Car Burns split
3. Eureka / Esther by The Hold Steady
2. Good Friends Bad Luck by The Run Up
1. Out There by Timeshares

This top ten was written by Richard Mair.