So here we are, my Top 10 tracks for 2018* in no particular order. I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and thanks to all the artists we’ve featured, everyone who sent us music and everyone who listened and read our schtick over the year. Special thanks to Rerry too, the SW to my IT. So without further ado have a listen to these crackers!
*I couldn’t narrow it down to 10 so there’s actually 13 tracks here. But like whoever heard of a top 13?
Jetstream Pony – Self-Destruct Reality (Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten)
This is one of the finest indie-pop songs you’ll hear this or any other day. Where to start? The immaculate rhythm section? The faultlessly beautiful guitar intro? The candy-sweet vocals/melody? The track carries a really raw in-your-face punch too that just makes you want to play it again and again (which is what I was mostly doing for months).
Someone Who Isn’t Me – Gomenaki
Someone Who Isn’t Me (aka S.W.I.M.) is a new music project by three women in Athens, Loo, Maria & Gina. They make beautifully off-kilter organic, synth-laden pop songs and this was their second time on SWIT. Maria Hatzakou from the band is also a film producer with Haos Film in Athens. The band worked with queer filmmaker Alkis Papastathopoulos for two years to make the excellent short film/video for “Gomenaki” and as you can see it was well worth the time and effort. It’s a fantasy anchored firmly in reality. It’s a stunner.
Distance, Light & Sky – Slowed It To A Stop (GlitterhouseTV)
“With practice, we all break the same” – I love the sound, the atmosphere of “Slowed It To A Stop”, it’s a widescreen miracle. Listen to the careworn voices, the stunning percussion and just the room to roam the song evokes. Sure, it’s got some regrets but all the best songs do, It’s a folktale for modern times, big music with a big heart. Distance, Light & Sky are Chris Eckman (of The Walkabouts), Chantal Acda (Sleeping Dog, True Bypass) and avant-jazz percussionist Eric Thielemans (of the EARR Ensemble).
Marie-Louise Munck – Dead Calm Ocean (DME)
Elegiac, poetic, mesmeric, a requiem for a dream, sad and hopeful in equal measure, Marie-Louise Munck’s “Dead Calm Ocean” has been the song I’ve played over and over. “Dead Calm Ocean” was the first single and video from her album “Moon Dogs” (DME). Both song and video are profoundly moving, I’ve found myself lost in time when listening/watching. This is wonderful, wonderful music.
Barbara Morgenstern – Brainfuck (staatsakt label)
We used the headline “Holy fuck it’s Barbara Morgenstern!” which we think Barbara liked – What a track, built around the insistent repetition of the kantele, the low drone of the saxophone and the glitchy electronics, the hypnotic intro lulls you until the initial shock of “Brainfuck”. The juxtaposition between the mood of the music and the lyrics is a beautiful surprise. Reminiscent for me of David Bowie’s “Blackstar”, it’s a brilliant song.
Culk – Begierde/Scham (Siluh Records)
Ever wondered what The Cure might sound like if Marlene Dietrich was the lead vocalist? Well, wonder no more friends. OK, perhaps that’s a gross simplification but you get the gist. “Begierde/Scham” is dark, ice cold and melodramatic, underscored with lush melodies and stunning cut glass vocals from Sophie Löw. It’s hard to believe this was their debut single for Siluh!
Kristal & Jonny Boy – In The Morning (La Tempesta)
” In the Morning” is a sophisticated, delicious electronic rumination, suffused with worry and regret – listen once and it will be in your head all day. The video by Anders J Larsson and Mia Kasaalainen is class as well, the imagery and choreography resonate perfectly with the music. The song was the first single from the excellent album “It’s My Heart”.
Örvar Smárason – Flashlight (Morr Music)
Flashlight is beautifully crafted, full of light and evoke voyages to far off planets, journeys of discovery, observing myriad wonders for the first(and possibly last time) for there is a sense that there is no return ticket on this trip.
King Coya – E-Chango (zzkrecords)
“E-Chango” by Argentina’s King Coya is just something else. Immediately catchy – fusing dance, funk and South American folk, the interplay of the main vocal and the dreamy female samples is simply genius.
LE SUPERHOMARD – Springtime (Elefant Records)
Is it their best song yet? Quite possibly. Swoon to the melody, the dreamy vocals and the sixties-infused sci-fi-vibes. It was only a matter of time before this wonderful French band ended up on Elefant Records, wasn’t it? The video, Directed by Pooley @ Woom Studio, is a great evocation of the band’s aesthetic as well, it just looks amazing.
PETER ZIRBS – Let’s Fail (Fabrique Records)
Samuel Beckett’s wrote the story “Worstward Ho” in 1983. It gave us the famous mantra “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” I’d like to think that if Sam had decided to form an electro-pop outfit at the same time that he might have written a song like “Let’s Fail’. I would certainly have enjoyed him grooving with Legs & Co on Top Of The Pops.
Peter Zirbs has created an irresistible catchy paean to fatalism and defeat. “I wish I could ride a horse – but I can’t.”. Not many songs can start with this line. And it just gets better from there. It’s a catalog of broken dreams. The glacial, emotionless vocals perfectly match the mood. It ends “As long as we keep tryin’ we gonna feel we are alive, Come on and fail one more time.” It’s a coded message from a wild optimist and it makes me smile.
Spirit Fest: Look At The Colours (Morr Music)
Look At The Colours” was recorded while the band was touring Europe last winter. A truly magical combination of avant-garde electronics with more traditional instruments underpins this simple, elegant ballad. This song is suffused with gentle happiness. Land ahoy. Makes you smile, doesn’t it?
VERANO – BOMBAFRAGOLA ( 42Records)
Verano says “For all the “Bombafragola” I’ve been drinking for and for the ones I’ll drink again.” “Bombafragola” is “an absurd cocktail and (they say) deadly, bright pink, which is prepared in a historic bar in Milan”. The song itself is a killer – lovely guitar work, splendid organ and a deadly tune that quite possibly fell from heaven itself. From Verona’s outstanding LP “Panorama”.