Staff top tens of 2018: Ian Breen

1. Daughters – “You Won’t Get What You Want”

Daughters incredible return from the wilderness sees them exploring sounds and ideas only merely hinted at on previous efforts. The sounds on this record are otherworldly and the performances from every member are astonishing. A masterpiece in every sense of the word, Daughters have come to absolutely fuck all of your shit up.

Favourite song: “Guest House”

2. Mount Eerie – “Now Only”

Phil Elverum experienced a harrowing loss in 2016 and documented it in extreme detail in 2017’s “A Crow Looked At Me”. “Now Only” further ruminates on death, loss, the absurdity of life and what it means to be an artist struggling with an horrific personal event. The vibe is way more cerebral and ghostly, making the album hit home even harder, especially on the unbelievable song “Earth”.

Favourite song: “Earth”

3. SOPHIE – “Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides”

SOPHIE creates music that sounds like the best hits from Madonna’s “Immaculate Collection” being mangled and re-imagined by Autechre. A blistering combination of shimmering pop hooks and ear-shredding distortion, SOPHIE’s take on pop music is frightening, exciting and completely exhilarating.

Favourite song: “Whole New World/Pretend World”

4. The Longcut – “Arrows”

A very, very long time in the making, The Longcut’s triumphant return sees them pushing their sound to the outer reaches. From glorious, stretched-out pop anthems to raging, distorted disco, the Mancunian trio are firing on all cylinders and sounding more confident than ever. These songs really come to life onstage, so if you get the chance to see them play live then you absolutely MUST do this.

Favourite song: “Popic”

5. Toby Driver – “They Are The Shield”

Toby may be more well known for his unclassifiable, progressive band Kayo Dot, but “They Are The Shield” – his third solo outing – further shows his skills as a wonderful singer-songwriter, backed by synths and strings complimenting his reverb-drenched guitar, piano and vocals. Mournful ballads aplenty, Toby’s gothic charm lends itself perfectly to late night quiet moments of contemplation. Extremely beautiful, sad and cosmic.

Favourite song: “The Knot”

6. Chad Valley – “Imaginary Music”

“Imaginary Music” finds Chad Valley in full 80’s synth pop mode – pumping out catchy, melodic, emotionally-tinged bangers that make you want to dance and smooch and cry at the same time. I’m a sucker for a big lad playing soft pop bangers and nobody does it better than Chad Valley.

Favourite song: “See-Through”

7. A Beacon School – “Cola”

I stumbled on A Beacon School during a middle-of-the-night Youtube-rabbit-hole journey – the album then became a daily listen for the entire summer. A gorgeous blend of the best bits of Minus The Bear, Algernon Cadwallader and Slowdive – the result is a short and snappy (the whole album is 25 minutes long) dreamy, dance-y indie pop smash. The gorgeous Caribou-vibes of single “It’s Late” showcase a band that deserve to be gigantic.

Favourite song: “Ash”

8. Olafur Arnalds – “Re:member”

Far and away the best album in Olafur’s extensive catalogue, “Re:member” finds the Icelandic composer perfectly melding bittersweet piano melodies, neo-classical strings and skittering live drums with truly euphoric results.

Favourite song: “Re:member”

9. SUMAC – “Love In Shadow”

Let’s be real – “Love In Shadow” is a terrifying album. It’s an unpredictable, bleak and austere album. The tones created by the three individuals in this band are insane – whether it be Aaron Turner’s impossibly frosty growl or his wild, almost-out-of-control guitarwork, Brian Cook’s gargantuan and explosive bass tone or Nick Yacyshyn’s propulsive, experimental percussive rhythms – everything here works to make you feel uncomfortable at all times… and it works. It works so well. There’s a healthy dose of improvisation thrown into the mix of hellish riffs and none-more-black vibes – it’s an album to completely lose yourself in.

Favourite song: “The Task”

10. Modern Rituals – “The Light That Leaks In”

Modern Rituals make incredibly dense and moody indie rock that moves slowly and purposefully, allowing melodies and hooks to linger in your brain while hitting hard and heavy in all the right places. “The Light That Leaks In” is an incredibly impressive debut album that oozes vibe and heart and confidence. Tracks like “Hermit Kuppling” and “Fog Machine” remind me of the excellent and sadly now-defunct Daitro’s final album “Y” which is particularly exciting – Also, can we just take a minute to pay particular to praise to them for their fucking killer bass tone?

Favourite song: “Hermit Kuppling”

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