Lists

List time again, for what it’s worth.

Albums
It looks like 2018 has been a very good year for albums, a format everyone keeps suggesting is dead or dying. Making a long list was very easy. There are albums that came out at the start of the year I’m enjoying, albums that have come out recently I’m still getting into and albums I haven’t heard yet which I feel sure I should have (Beak for one, The Orielles for another and Neneh Cherry for a third).

Floating around above my top ten are all of these albums and placing them in order seems very arbitrary. All of them have brightened up my year and all are worthy of a mention- Factory Floor ‘Soundtrack To A Film’; Mogwai ‘Kin’; The Orb ‘No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds’; Hollie Cook ‘Vessel of Love’; Gwenno ‘Le Kov’; J Mascis ‘Elastic Days’; Tracey Thorn ‘Record’; Echo Ladies ‘Pink Noise’;  The Advisory Circle ‘Ways Of Seeing’; Half Man Half Biscuit ‘No-one Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fucking Hedge Cut’. A week ago AMOR’s debut album Sinking Into A Miracle arrived. If it had come out sooner I think it would have made the dozen below.

I should also mention a pair of albums out this year but not of this year- Primal Scream’s Memphis Sessions, Tom Dowd’s recordings left unreleased for two decades, and Joe Strummer 001, a compilation of Joe’s solo years with enough newly uncovered material to make it feel like a treasure trove. Today is the sixteenth anniversary of his death and the world feels like a poorer place without him.

Previously unreleased, this is a Joe and Mick Jones song from 1986. Ten minutes inside Joe’s mind with some of Big Audio Dynamite accompanying.

Albums of 2018- a top twelve

Twelve
Gulp ‘All Good Wishes’
Ace kraut-folk from Wales, full of invention and melody.

Eleven
Rival Consoles ‘Persona’
Perfectly judged laptop electronic dance music that works just as well at home/in the car. Very rhythmic and abstract in places but never without tunes.

Ten
Finiflex ‘Suilven’
A 2018 return for the duo from Fini Tribe- an album named after a mountain, aimed at the head and the feet with multi-tracked vocals, synths and chugging electronic drums. Uplifting and fresh.

Nine
The Liminanas ‘Shadow People’
Ten songs from France’s best kept secret, ten versions of a psych-folk-Velvets-1960s for the modern world.

Eight
Chris Carter ‘Chemistry Lessons 1’
Twenty five short electronic pieces- dance music, ambient, reflective industrial tracks, littered with found voices and shot through with melody. Brilliant and warm.

Seven
Jon Hopkins ‘Singularity’
Starting and finishing with the same note, a sort of cosmic joke, and between the two some of the year’s wildest techno and electronic tracks (especially the ten minute journey of Everything Connected) plus some very beautiful minor key piano pieces.

Six
Mr Fingers ‘Cerebral Hemispheres’
This record has been a bit overlooked I feel, a double album by one of the men who invented house music. He spreads it around on this in a multitude of styles and the peaks are very peaky. Acid peaks Techno peaks, Dub techno peaks. All sorts of peaks.

Five 
Spiritualized ‘…And Nothing Hurt’
If this ends up being the last Spiritualized album then Jason has finished it in fine Spaceman style. Bleak in places but well worth committing too and an album that rewards with repeated plays.

Four
The Lucid Dream ‘Actualisation’
They blew me away at Gorilla in September- I was expecting them to be good after the single SX1000 early on in the year but not that good. The album then followed it up in spades, a perfectly 2018 cut-and-shut job combining acid house, psych-rock and dub.

Three
Gabe Gurnsey ‘Physical’
The sound of a night out, late 80s drum machines, synths and some impressionistic vocals parts. Funky and sexy, and drenched in the smells of clubs- cig butts, dry ice, perfume and sweat.

Two
Daniel Avery ‘Song For Alpha’
Minimal techno, buckets of reverb and some lovely ambient noise, designed to be listened to from start to finish, packaged beautifully and utterly absorbing.

One
Wooden Shjips ‘V’
In a year when most of my favourite and most played albums have been electronic and dance music based the album sitting at the top of my list is the fifth lp from San Francisco’s rocker Wooden Shjips, setting out on a trip through their record collections (psychedelia, stoner grooves, krautrock) but done with a lightness of touch and some real earworm melodies. Ripley’s guitar playing and his tone are as good as anyone since the turn of the century. Why do I like this so much? It makes me happy.

Singles/remixes/e.p.s

There have been so many great songs, singles, remixes and eps this year that I could easily extend the length of this list but 40 seems like enough (and although his name appears all over the place below I have actually left some Weatherall tracks out of this).  There are probably things I’ve forgotten too that I’ll kick myself about next week. In the meantime here’s a second list…

40. Johnny Marr ‘Hi Hello’
39. audiobooks. ‘Dance Your Life Away’ Andrew Weatherall remix
38. A Certain Ratio ft Barry Adamson ‘Dirty Boy’
37. The Liminanas ft Peter Hook ‘The Gift’
36. Timothy J. Fairplay ‘An Introduction To Consumer Electronics’ ep
35. Field Of Dreams ‘Nothing Is Perfect’ original and Andrew Weatherall remix
34. Aphex Twin ‘T69 Collapse’
33. The Twilight Sad ‘Videograms’ Andrew Weatherall remix
32. Steve Mason ‘Walking Away From Love’
31. The Long Now ‘Restoration’
30. Underworld and Iggy Pop ‘Teatime Dub Encounters’
29. Echo Ladies ‘Overrated’ Robin Guthrie version
28. Daniel Avery/Jon Hopkins remix 12″
27. Hardway Bros ‘The Laser’ ep
26. Tracey Thorn ‘Sister’ Andrew Weatherall remix and dub
25. Factory Floor ‘Heart Of Data’
24. Lost Cat ‘Postcode’
23. The Vryll Society ‘Light At The Edge Of The World’ Richard Norris Dub
22. Gabe Gurnsey ‘Eyes Over’/Eyes Over Extended Dub
21. Bob Mould ‘Sunshine Rock’
20. Noel Gallagher and His High Flying Birds ‘It’s A Beautiful World’ Andrew Weatherall remixes
19. Ride ‘Tomorrow’s Shore’ ep
18. Roisin Murphy ‘Plaything’
17. Rude Audio ‘Rude Redux’ ep
16. Daniel Avery ‘Slow Fade’ ep
15. Woodleigh Research Facility ‘Heilige Siedhr’
14. Marius Circus ‘I Feel Space’ 12″
13. Craig Bratley ‘99.9’ ep especially Take Me To Bedford Or Lose Me Forever
12. Daniel Avery ‘A Quick Eternity’ Four Tet Remix
11. Mogwai ‘We’re Not Done’

Ten
Circle Sky ‘If I Let Go’
Richard Norris and Martin Dubka slipped this single out, a totally beguiling song from the heart of a very human sounding machine.

Nine
Lana del Rey ‘Venice Bitch’
This took the top of my head off a couple of months ago- ten minutes of lullaby vocals about being ‘fresh out of fucks forever’, of being together and apart, some gorgeous atmospherics and a stunning guitar part.

Eight
The Lucid Dream ‘SX1000’
Roland synths banged all the way up, bassline from ’89- acid house reinvention from Carlisle.

Seven
Amy Douglas ‘Never Saw It Coming’/Crooked Man remix and dub
Straight out of New York and remixed and dubbed out of Sheffield, September’s moment of  late autumn sunshine Balearica.

Six
Gabe Gurnsey ‘Ultra Clear Sound’
A direct and sleek single ahead of the album back in May. A proper heads up moment.

Five
Andrew Weatherall ‘Making Friends With The Invader’
From a two track 12″ called Blue Bullet, a long exploration of dub and guitar that I cannot get bored of hearing. The other side is pretty smart too.

Four
The Confidence Man ‘Out The Window’ Andrew Weatherall remix
Weatherall’s had another excellent year as this list shows and this remix is up there with his recent best, a gorgeous gospel/rave/steel guitar tribute to staying out all night and coming home as the sun comes up.

Three
Death In Vegas ‘Honey’
Ten minutes of sleek, seductive techno from Richard Fearless and Sasha Grey. What 12 inches of vinyl was made for.

Two
Circle Sky ‘Ghost In the Machine’
I thought If I Let Go was good but this one worked its way into me a few weeks ago and refuses to leave. Futuristic and cool as fuck, deep and light and magical.

One
Roisin Murphy ‘All My Dreams’
Roisin has blazed a trail through 2018 with four 12″ singles recorded with Maurice Fulton, eight songs designed to work on the floor, covering a bewildering array of electronic styles. If there’s a better song out this year that this one, I haven’t heard it. Massive drums and bass, experimental dance music but still with a foot in pop and some great juddering shifting sections where the floor seems to give way beneath you. By way of explaining Roisin sings ‘ridiculously sexy, this is ridiculous’. Ridiculously good. For good measure she directed four videos too and this one looks like good club nights feel.

Jacuzzi

It’s probably going to save time and some arguments at the end of the year if we can agree now that Roisin Murphy has made a very convincing stab at the best single of 2018 with All My Dreams released back in the early summer (and the follow up Plaything which was nearly its equal). The third part of her four pronged 2018 dancefloor assault is out today, another two track 12″ single produced with Maurice Fulton. Jacuzzi Rollercoaster starts out with 80s synths and a wonky electronic bassline followed by a 4/4 disco beat and guest vocals from Ali Love. Funky, swish and seductive, the sound of a song coming out through the doors of a club that you can’t get into (wrong shoes most likely) but sounding like the best place to be.

The B-side, Can’t Hang On, is a squelchy, sultry, Moloko-like number with a very nice extended ending.