in memory of
SCOTT HUTCHISON | DARREN BARCLAY | DAN WILD-BEESLEY | GEORGE CHRISTIE
Over the last 12 months, we have been dedicating ourselves to discovering and exposing the finest underground music out there, and in the process, we have experienced an insane amount of great albums, and because of that, we wanted to do something special in order to celebrate the best of the best that personally made the biggest impact on us.
So let’s cut to the chase! Without further ado, we present to you all…..THE SMALL 100 OF 2018!
SOME HONOURABLE MENTIONS THAT NARROWLY MISSED THE CUT:
- BEAUTY IN CHAOS – Finding Beauty In Chaos
- B*TCH HAWK – Joy
- CORALCROWN – The Birth
- DOPESICKFLY – Dreamerz Never Sleep
- JUNIPER GRAVE – Of Hellions And Harridans
- LEONOV – Wake
- MODERATE REBELS – Shared Values
- NEON SATURDAYS – Freaks In The Ocean
- NOT UR GIRLFRENZ – New Kids In America
- STAND ALONE – Falling, Faster
- THE BLINDERS – Columbia
- THE HONEY FARM – Welcome To The Honey Farm
- TONGUES – Fight
- URNE – The Mountain Of Gold
- WE SET SIGNALS – Abandon Hope
Scotland’s premier pop punk act prove their worth with a cracking debut EP that has a lot of passion thrown into it and energy levels that are through the roof.
Mark McG’s sophomore hip hop album expands upon the character of Jack The Lad, established in the predecessor Need The Character(s), and builds a plot constructed over a line of engagingly blunt tracks that are well-written, well-performed, and elevated with the assistance of supremely talented artists and producers.
The Nottinghamshire punk veterans – and Tony Hawk Pro Skater alumni – complete their comeback with a hefty EP that is glorious from start to finish, proving that they still have what it takes to get the job done.
The Reading funky rap-metal quartet trumped their great debut EP with an utterly superb sequel. It’s just so intoxicating as a whole, and the urge to headbang along is so hard to resist. They promise a new era in 2019, so we’re interested to see if they can continue to top themselves…
We only came to know of the London indie pop trio back in November, but oh boy, did they quickly hook us with a joyfully infectious record jam-packed with many memorable numbers such as Wait It Out, Free Time and the lyrically interesting Different Views.
One of the most underrated acts in all of the UK, the Manchester synthpop duo pulled through with a dazzling EP containing tracks that are dark, atmospheric and overall stunning, built upon great guitar and production work from Chris, and chillingly beautiful harmonies courtesy of Liv.
After almost a decade of establishing themselves as a notable name in their local scene, the Manchester melodic folk rock outfit finally turned out their first full-length effort, which is professionally crafted from top to bottom, taking advantage of their abilities that they have been constantly refining since day one.
A fellow Kilby man and the winner of the SAMA for best rock act, one of the most outspoken artists in Scotland and his fellow musicians delivered a hard-hitting EP that makes a mark with a mixture of poignant themes and a ballistic energy.
From one SAMA winner to another, The Dunts continue their meteoric rise with their second EP that, while short, is so sharp and blistering from end to end, leaving you with an itch to hit the replay button again and again.
Another EP which didn’t get enough appreciation and appeared to fly under many people’s radars, the Edinburgh four-piece continue to develop a niche, intriguing sound that bounces back and forth between being light and ambient, and harsh and rocky. The lead single Kickhimintheshins is highly recommended.
After taking a hiatus, Perthshire alternative folk group made a staggering return to the scene with an album that is simply excellent, with every song bringing their own attributes to the table, which combined make for an endearing listen.
Following a debut EP which gave us a small taste of his talents, the Glasgow electronic artist took his work in an unexpected direction, using the medium to put together an album that touches upon many negative topics that affect people everyday.
It’s dark and generally uneasy, but really engrossing, and it proved Craig to be more than just another face in a crowded scene.
Graced by one of the coolest covers of the year, the Leeds doom quintet give us one of the most satisfying dark and psychedelic trips in recent memory that improves upon pretty much aspect furnished in their first two albums.
This EP is a mere few weeks old, but this is one that we’ve dedicated a lot of attention to already. The Swindon rockers upped their game big time here, with a record that is both exciting and packing a lot of emotion.
Now that the quartet have hit a quality standard, bigger and better things will be quickly coming their way, and deservedly so.
Granted, this record doesn’t have the same level of depth as some of the prior entries by any means, but damn, is it entertaining. Mixing up a variety of genres, the tracks here are wild, seriously catchy, and donning enjoyable lyrics.
The Finnish prog-rock quartet came out of nowhere and made an impact on us with a top-notch EP that is only three tracks long, but said tracks are beefed up with a tonne of depth and complexity, not to mention they are structured with such perfect precision.
This fine band from Dunfermline have been slowly but surely gaining more attention both locally and across the pond this year, and this EP is the perfect showcase as to why, featuring a line-up of sweet, infectious pop-rock tunes that are appealing and addictive.
While falling short compared to their previous works, Empire’s final album does get better with repeated listens, and despite most of the tracks not leaving that big an impression, they do still feature that large, captivating energy that the group were well-known for.
Among the highlights, I for 1 is a hidden gem, My Party My Rules is a blast, and Time Ain’t No Healer is both enthralling and stands out from everything else that the band have ever done.
In 2017, the Chelmsford rockers properly reclaimed our attention for the first time since the dissolution of The Hype Theory with the enjoyable Like It Is EP, and they improved tenfold with this belter of a follow-up.
From an invigorating opener in the form of Paranoid, to the mature closing number The Cycle, the band make a prime impact over the course of the whole thing, and in the process deliver what is by far their finest work yet.
Just one of many great acts that we had the pleasure of discovering while surfing the web for new music, the Munich metalcore band give us a no holds barred thrill ride that is not only heavy, but also highlighted by jarring writing that stays with you after just one listen, and eventually leaving you with that yearning to go back and experience it again.
The cosmic pop quartet cemented themselves as one of our new favourite Newcastle bands with an EP chocked with a set of five tunes that are all melodic, vivid and mesmirising.
It was utterly infectious the first time around, and many months (and listens) later, it’s still just as satisfying.
For anyone who fancies their share of soul and R&B, this London duo’s debut album is a must-listen, being an enthralling and funky record that gets better with time and features superb vocal performances, excellent productions and mature writing.
One of the most hyped British underground metal records of the year, and for good reason. The Brighton progressive trio impress with a mighty, resonant album that, while suffering from a couple of minor issues – including a drawn out ten minute closing number that goes absolutely nowhere – is still an epic work to behold, quickly making an impact and never leaving you.
It’s one thing that this EP from the Stoke-On-Trent threesome is an immense, pulsating rush of the senses, but it’s the high-quality writing that elevates this from being something purely entertaining, to something mature and on another level. These guys will be ones to watch across 2019 and beyond…
Just wow. The notable Glasgow metal quintet took their game to a whole new level with their latest album, which ranks among the most insanely heavy records of the year that completely trumps all their previous efforts. We’ll never forget how much this blew us away on the first listen.
Just one of many celebrated releases to emerge from Holy Roar in 2018, the Manchester progressive post-rock outfit delivered one of the most engrossing, cinematic albums of the year that is so enticing and never slips in quality across the hour-long duration.
It’s a real shame that the Stevenage alternative rockers decided to call it quits before this album saw the light of day, because it’s a really superb record that showcases the supreme talents for these five guys through dynamic performances, a constantly infectious energy and some genuinely inspiring writing. What could have been…
The Kilmarnock rock trio are long overdue their major breakthrough by this point, and this album is crystal clear proof of that. The guys’ third record is by far their best work to date, which starts out good, but by the halfway point has the listener thoroughly hooked with grand sounds and fantastic writing.
Ghost is a candidate for the single best track they have produced to date, being fiercely addictive and having such a massive scale to it.
An EP that doesn’t get enough credit from people, including ourselves admittedly, because we always forget just how amazing this is until we revisit it. The harmonies are tremendous, the keys are sublime and the rhythms are so catchy.
The lead title track is great enough, but Weapon and Ground are overlooked gems with engaging hooks, and Don’t is a very fine, smooth piece; all adding towards one of the most wonderful pop packages to come out of Scotland this year.
The Paisley artist had us taken aback with what turned out to be one of the most emotionally pulling EPs of the year that makes a permanent mark after only one listen, courtesy of authentic vocal performances, delicate acoustics and excellent writing.
As far as contemporary folk is concerned in the Scottish scene, there is no single person that has caught our attention as much as the MG ALBA Scots Singer of the Year prize winner, and the Huntly lass certainly cemented our love for her abilities with an exceptional debut full-length release.
Our top picks from the album include the wonderfully hooking Guise Of Tough, the chilling title number, the ravishingly goosebump-inducing Banks Of The Tigris, and the oustanding Pit Gair.
It’s insane to think that Iona is only 20 years old, considering she has one of the most pure, sensational voices we’ve ever heard, and her talents are only going to improve with age.
And speaking of incredible voices, Melisa Kelly is another supreme singer who has a broad range and also a tonne of personality to boot, and teamed up with an entourage of other very talented people, they collectively came out with our favourite blues record of the year.
A mixture of upbeat, bouncing tunes and stunning low-key numbers are brought to life through a combination of marvelous united harmonies, flashy guitars, nice keys, utterly catchy rhythms and a fiercely enticing brass section.
Seriously, given the amount of raw talent here, why aren’t this group bigger?
Rising from the ashes of JPNSGRLS, the first record under the new banner is a brilliant one that is both engaging and diverse. Charlie continues to prove himself as a charismatic frontman, the divergent riffs are superb and the bass tones are pulsating, not to mention the writing is transfixing.
Giving us memorable pieces such as 3 AM Lullaby, Baby and Ginger Ale, the trio are certainly one of the most appealing acts currently going on the Canadian circuit.
The former Allusondrugs guitarist has carved out his own path in a big way, bringing us his brand of so-called space pop and exceeding our expectations with an EP that is out of this world, defined by a bizarrely intriguing, trippy sound that is hard to compare.
Bother and Ghost feature catchy as hell hooks, Scribbles is abstractly wonderful, and Poorly Boy is both excellently produced and lyrically hard-hitting.
From the day that we were presented with this group’s first single, we instantly recognised a tonne of potential behind them, and their recently released debut EP has realised that fact.
The hard rock quintet from Newcastle give us an astounding record with a large, buzz-generating sound fueled by a mixture of incredible vocals, blazing riffs, potent rhythms and staggering choruses; We Are The Lost and Insane being the primary go-to examples.
If they keep going down this route, then they will be destined for big things across 2019 and beyond. Also, we continue to wish Cass a speedy recovery!
We’ve said many a time that we are keen fans of shoegaze, and honestly speaking, this might just be the best album we’ve ever heard under this category.
The Californians deliver one of the most absorbing, dream-like experiences on a level that so few other acts have this year, and this comes down to eloquent harmonies, enchanting rhythms and lush melodies, with the likes of Undone, Breaking and Diverging in particular getting us really sucked in.
After fighting tooth and nail for a number of years, the Manchester-based Argentines finally started to get the attention they deserved with what is by far their best record yet.
It’s one thing that all the songs are entertainingly heavy and energetic, but it’s the deeply personal, affecting lyrics that make this an EP that truly resonates with us and many others, with This Is Not OK being the pinnacle track in that regard.
The Livingston experimental duo of Monique and Kye came out of nowhere and caught us off guard with what is an immensely addictive EP that we have been unhealthily hooked on since we first discovered it.
Each of the four tracks are unique in their own ways, but all are so damn catchy and driven by a stimulating post-punk sound with that slight gothic tinge for good measure.
We are glad to have came across this pair, and we genuinely believe that they harness quite a lot of potential. It’s just the case of getting them some public attention, which we believe will become a reality in one form or another in 2019.
A great act that we totally overlooked until they introduced themselves to us, the London quartet fuse together punk and indie rock to give us a superb EP from top to bottom, with a line of tunes that are intoxicating, driven by smashing performances and highlighted by some of the candid and clever writing we’ve seen all year.
The Kent hardcore band were riding a wave of momentum heading into the release of their sophomore EP, and the final result turned out to be a really tight, sizable record that includes some cracking tracks such as the empathetic Coincide:Collide, the sweeping Solis and the riff-loaded Reflect:Resolve. A substantial product all around.
One of the best Norwegian releases of the years come from a group of veterans who gave us a truly compelling metal record which captivated us with a sense of unpredictability, as they took their sound in all sorts of directions, and they succeeded in an admirably creative fashion.
Who the f*** are The Ronains? They’re a band from Clydebank who have been garnering one of the strongest hardcore followings of any act in Scotland, and their debut album precisely showcases just why that is a reality.
Built upon a new wave rock sound with a clear blues influence, this is filled to the brim with tracks covering a range of real, down to earth themes that many working class folk can either relate to or understand all too well. Few records this year have featured writing as magnetic as that which this quartet have displayed.
While the content doesn’t particular stand out in terms of depth, the debut EP by the Manchester rock trio is nonetheless a blinder of a record that is a constant blitz of blood-rushing energy which never lets up at any moment.
Whether it’s the catchy Honestly, the punchy Between You & Me or the heart-stopping DownDownDown, all the featured tunes hit the mark, and this is one we regularly return to for a dose of no-nonsense thrills.
Pegged as the future of Scottish rock music by so many, the band lived up to expectations with an outstanding album that is consistently first-rate from beginning to end, donning a supreme sound that gets kicked up a notch through the many magnificent choruses on offer.
We were never aware of Mike Vennart until we came across this album not too long ago, and we still remember the sheer impact that it made on us during our first listen.
Mashing up a variety of different sounds and styles across the rock and metal banner, this is undoubtedly one of the most weighty, complexly produced records we’ve had the pleasure of indulging in as of late.
Three years after the release of their incredible debut album, one of the finest prog rock acts in all of Scotland deliver again with a smashing EP that has not slipped at all in quality since it hit the scene.
Each song has their own distinct merits to remember them by, and the interesting direction they have taken in particular ones showcase the evolution of the group’s craft. They even recruited the services of local hip hop musician and SAMA winner Solareye, and effectively so.
Another act that only came to our attention recently, and boy, did we latch on to them quick. Their first full-length record is just plain awesome, boosted by a mental energy and pushed by this relentless aggression that is constantly in-your-face.
The choruses pack a punch, and they throw out many sweet breakdowns across the board. Lauren puts in a hell of a shift on the mic, and Jarrod Alonge proves he’s not only a funny guy, he’s a pretty capable guitarist too.
Upfront, when you hear of a band made up of “intergalactic circus people”, you may think to yourself that it sounds ridiculous, but underneath all the theatrics, there is actually a quality to the music.
This turns out to be a very strong industrial hard rock record that is rich in content, shining with fierce, incomparable personality and the songs on offer are really memorable, with just some of the high points including Hellawake, HeXXX and the addicting, intense lead single Megalomanical.
The chap who once performed under the guise of Panic Anchor turned out one of the most brilliant solo albums to have come out of Scotland this year, exceeding even our expectations.
The writing is incredible; no matter if an upbeat ditty with a catchy melody, or a more gentle and sentimental number that just exudes emotion, the lyrics are just astounding and make a serious impression.
The London punk rockers excel on two fronts with this album. On one hand, they go all in with impressive performances to create an overwhelmingly energetic, adrenaline-charging sound.
That would have been enough, but it’s the sharp, tenacious politically-themed writing that truly helps the record to make an indent that won’t have you forgetting it anytime soon, certainly sparking the need for repeat listens, and only improving with each subsequent revisit.
The Scottish riot grrl duo of Jo and Nicky impressed us with their first record Jilt The Jive a couple of years back, and they topped themselves with this smashing follow-up that we can’t get enough of, judging by how many times we’ve given this one a spin.
With key essentials such as On The Table, Hate Hate and Juliette, the pair impress with an addictive raw sound, plenty of attitude and a stronger variety than ever before, perfectly showcasing their evolution as a top-notch act.
The London-based Venice musician Jacopo Rossetto established himself as a tour de force with what is easily one of the most stunning EP’s of 2018.
Infectiously warm melodies, tender harmonies, graceful pianos, cool guitar chords and many more factors contribute to a record that is simply wonderful on all accounts, capping off with one of the most fervent closing tracks of the entire year in the form of Stones.
People have been going on and on and on and not shutting up about just how immense this release is…and rightly so, because it IS immense.
The Nottingham quintet as always give us a record that is delightfully heavy and tightly performed, but the definitive quality is the sound, which strays off the beaten path in different directions not explored before, and it paid off so well.
Braille transformed us from distant admirers of Palm Reader to straight up fans with a divergent album that still rocks our socks off in the process.
There are few acts who made an impact on us as this alternative soul artist, courtesy of this EP that displays a legitimate star quality.
Over the course of these 4 songs, Kadija shows off her expertise in sensational style, with her performances leaving us stunned, and her aptness to transverse multiple genres effortlessly is a testament to her ability.
There was a lot of hype surrounding this London rock trio prior to the release of their sophomore album, and this was the case where the high expectations were met with ease.
There’s not a single weak track on this, with the likes of My Favourite Stranger, Years and especially the thematically engaging Celebrity Summer making the biggest impressions. Additionally, the riffs, rhythms and the vocal performances are nothing short of superb.
In 2017, members of The Smoking Hearts, Nervus and Gallows gathered together to form quite the ensemble of talent, and they all brought something to the table to bring us a thoroughly engaging rock record.
The entire thing is chockablock from end to end with a catalogue of insanely catchy numbers driven by a full-frontal ferocity, laced with resonating hooks and topped off by whopping choruses.
Circles, Over You, Lightning, Lovebirds, you name it; it’s all freaking sweet stuff.
Fewer bands in the British underground have made as big an impact as the Lancaster quartet, making headlines as this stormer of an album climbed all the way up to #16 in the charts.
The record has such a monumental sound to it, with a classic, old school rock and roll feel to it that appeals to all fans of the genre, plus the performances are simply brilliant from all members.
Massive Wagons’ latest work has deservedly earned them a wider audience, and it’s clear as day that they are heading to the top.
We are so gutted that these guys decided to call it a day, but given the unfortunate circumstances, it’s completely understandable, and it’s safe to say they went out with a resounding bang.
This is sure as hell one of the hugest, most bloody insane hardcore albums in recent memory. Seriously, from bell to bell, the guys throw everything they’ve got into each of the forcibly intense tracks, whether it’s the mind-blowing dual vocals from Joe and Sam, the shredding riffs or the colossal breakdowns.
2018 has seen the Cumbernauld band continue their sharp rise in popularity, and in the midst of that, they put out their second EP, which just happened to be one of the most exciting, seriously wild rides to come out of the Scottish scene this year.
Each song is propelled by soaring, blood-rushing rhythms that are built from a combination of wailing harmonies, exhilarating riffs, punchy basslines and stable drumming.
The first time we listened to this, we were completely blown away, and that hasn’t changed much with the subsequent listens since.
The Tottenham trio already had one highly acclaimed EP under their belt, and they surpassed that with one that is even better.
This is a fine collection of sweet pop pieces that have this sheer, rich quality to them, basking in an enticing ambience that is joyous to the ears.
The vocal performances are so utterly crisp and vibrant, the smooth rhythms have a nice groove to them, and the melodies are infectiously catchy, with the sensational title track being the champion in that area.
Continuing the ongoing theme of acts topping themselves, we have the Keighley rockers who outdone their previous effort with an EP that is nothing short of sensational.
The entire band put in everything and use their talents to their full potential, giving us a record that makes an impact upon every listen with its frontal excitement and deeper underlying emotions.
Every track succeeds, with the stand-outs including Lily, My Other Ghost and the really memorable In My Mind, where Benji Webbe adds an extra layer to what is an already awesome, loaded number.
This quartet really began to make a name for themselves and hook in a new wave of fans throughout 2018, and we were more than happy to hop onto the bandwagon, especially given the quality of their debut album.
They combine elements of indie pop and garage rock to curate an infectious sound that is so dreamy and emanating a strong tinge of the 90’s.
Cordial harmonies, slick guitars and sweet chords are the key aspects that give wonderfully melodic pieces such as Sunflower Seeds, Blue Suitcase and Let Your Dog Tooth Grow a caliber that has grown on us in a big way.
In 2015, we named ReFlowered by Erin Bennett our favourite solo record, and in 2018, restating her entourage as EBB, she has excelled with a superior sequel.
The performances from the whole group are enchanting, the general standard of the songs are persistently top notch and never boring, and the writing is among the most blunt, honest and mesmerising of the entire year.
This is a very talented band that have impressed us time and again in many ways, and they are honestly not getting the attention that they warrant. It’s about time that changed.
This ranks as both our favourite release to come out of Norway in 2018, and our favourite rock and roll album of the year, hands down.
An off-the-wall energy, gruff vocals, frenzied guitars, crunchy bass lines, sturdy drumming, addictive choruses, vulgar writing…what’s not to like?
This record is nuts, to say the least. It’s an insanely berserk and entertaining flux that hooks you in from the beginning and keeps you buckled in for the entire daffy ride.
Of all the great bands to have called it a day this year, Dead’s sudden split was the most shocking, considering they were growing in popularity and seemed set on breaking through the glass ceiling.
Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain – this album kicks ass, being one of the first in 2018 to make an impact, and it has remained towards the top of the list the whole way along.
The writing is insanely good, there’s a lot of attitude behind the vocals, and the majority of the zealous tracks boast utterly hooking rhythms; the best examples being Enough Enough Enough, The Boys The Boys and the blinding Up For Ran$om.
And yet another great act gone this year, the Manchester trio took their game to another level with their immense first and only full-length effort.
The guys had evolved their sound to a point where it was so dense and packed with many layers, making for a index of complex tracks that are so vast, so vivid, and touching upon a selection of intriguing themes.
The highlights are too many to count, with just some including Who Is Your God, Destroyer, To The Bones, Science & Progress and the classic Hollow Skies. Although they called it quits right after it was put out, the band had finally realised their full potential with this one.
In terms of bringing mass exposure to an act, Holy Roar’s greatest achievement of 2018 surely has to be the release of the Midland metal outfit’s debut album, which has received nothing but acclaim since it burst onto the scene, and we can’t lie, we love it too.
The whole record is just a barbaric charge of monumental tracks that are so murky and so aggressive, pummeling unrelentingly at the eardrums with such a sheer force, and it maintains that horsepower all the way right through to the end without ever dipping. It’s a beauty.
French electronic metal artist Remi Gallego returns with his most stellar album yet, which is just a frantic, rip-roaring blast all the way.
Cluster alone is worth the asking price, but the entire record is like it, exciting us with amped-up, palpitating beats and a hair-raising energy that is constantly firing on all cylinders.
We thoroughly recommend this one with a resounding “oui”.
When we first discovered the Welsh post-hardcore outfit back in 2015 via their debut EP, we immediately realised the potential that was there and urged people to get them checked out. Well, our wish eventually came true, with the group suddenly gaining a tonne of notoriety in a swift amount of time, culminating in the release of this amazing follow-up.
This record is just electrifying, with this vigorous buzz that carries through, and it helps that the performances from dual guitarists Aled and Rhys, the tight rhythm section of Danny and Jamie, and the distinguishable gruff vocals from CJ are equally exceptional.
Of course, we’re treated to the well-known numbers White Lies and In This Hell, but it’s the hidden gem Solace that deserves to be spotlighted. Not only large and featuring a blowaway chorus, it also contains Dream State’s best writing yet, which connected with us like few every tracks across 2018 have.
Glasgow artist Peter Kelly spent a whole 3 years putting together his latest album, and it has to be said that there are few others that caught us as much off guard as this one did. Not that we mean that we expected it to be bad, we definitely expected something good, but the final result turned out to be even better than we could have imagined.
Across all the gripping songs, Peter hooks us with some incredible, emotional writing that is so well conveyed through the heartfelt harmonies. It’s nearly flawless in how consistently strong it all is, and the more we listen, the more that certain elements begin to pop out and elevate our appreciation.
It’s so clear that Peter put everything into Silver Cords, and the efforts really did paid off, to the point where it sits comfortably as our favourite folk album of 2018.
Okay, it’s just becoming depressing the amount of great acts that disbanded this year, and the Hertfordshire progressive metal quartet are no exception, but it pains us that little bit more because they did not get enough credit for putting out an EP that made an unfathomable impact when we first heard it.
Every track, from Martyr, to Excuses, to Swine, is just immense, and are crammed with a concoction of rowdy vocals, resounding guitars, bulky bass tones, fiercely rowdy drumming, and just a perpetual aggression on the whole.
Pale Grow is absolutely extraordinary, exceeding in all fronts imaginable and leaving little to no flaws in its wake. Supposedly, the members are moving on to new pastures, which we truly hope so because their talents cannot afford to go to waste.
Our appreciation for alternative rock artist Jack Bennett was taken up quite a few notches with a sophomore EP that delivered beyond expectations with a quartet of songs that are engrossing and astonishing on all fronts.
Red is nothing short of phenomenal, Heron is melodic and magnetic, Bravest Soul has an infectiously hooking rhythm, and finally Luna Blue is emotionally gripping.
Now taking up vocalist duties for Lonely The Brave, it’s looking like he’ll be putting most of his attention towards that and steering away from the Grumble Bee project for a while, but if this turned out to be the last thing he ever did for it, he’s leaving it on an extraordinary note.
We’ve been well aware of the Dundee artist for a long time now, but it wasn’t until we took the plunge and gave his debut album a spin that we truly realised just what a remarkable talent he actually is.
From a performance standpoint, Kyle’s vocals are excellent and his acoustic work is real fine. The songs themselves are sublime in their own ways, with the majority of them defined by hooking rhythms, and there is really engrossing writing across the board, with Poor Me, The Therapist and the emotional Family Tree being our personal highlights.
Kyle Falconer has seen a high amount of good fortune come his way over 2018, and he is set for an even greater 2019.
The 2015 SAY Award winner is a one-of-a-kind commodity. She’s mysterious and unlike anybody else in the entire Scottish scene. She also happens to be a miraculous talent.
This is an album that is enveloped in a sound which is dark and more often than not stilled, but in a way we cannot properly describe, it’s also very warm and comforting. It’s utterly rich in atmosphere, the subtle keys are radiant, the writing is just so gripping, and the harmonies are simply astonishing.
Kathryn has topped her award-winning predecessor with what has to be one of the most magnetic listening experiences that we’ve ever lent our ears to.
It really does pain us that the Falkirk artist doesn’t get more attention, because he is something special. We became hooked to his work courtesy of his 2016 album Taser Revelations, and earlier this year, he returned with this feature-length sequel that just left us stunned.
He gives us these astounding tracks with these grand, cinematic soundscapes that are formed from these intricate, multi-layered overdubs that are systematically looped, mainly mixing the use of his guitar with an assortment of effects, and his own extensive voice, which is utilised in such a fascinating fashion.
Zero Distruption, The Witch Hunt and Penshaw Monument are the definitive highlights of this, and serve as a perfect introduction for newcomers to one of the country’s most creative and overlooked talents.
Livi Morris is hands down our favourite newcomer of 2018. The London-based Brummie electronic pop artist has only been on the scene for mere months, but she made such a strong first impression like nobody else has this year, and we were right to get invested in her, as she followed up with the release of a tremendous debut EP.
She makes a tantalising mark with tracks that have this mesmeric resonance, simultaneously being carried by wonderful melodies and generating tingling atmospheres. She also shines with stunning vocal performances, the choruses are so great, and most definitively, the writing is amazing.
The strikingly addictive Good For Nothing, the very single that introduced her to the world, is the prime example that combines the best of these elements, and truthfully speaking, it’s went on to become our very favourite tune of the year. Penny Drop also warrants attention, being a beautifully produced and immersive piece.
She might be only getting started, but Livi has already showcased some real promise, and we are excited to see what the future holds for her.
Over the course of a few months, Charley Buchan scoped out a variety of musicians across the country to produce an interesting compilation, with just some of the artists featured including Katie Buchan (Best Girl Athlete), Michael Chang, Sam Goodwill, Alexander Ironside and Iona Fyfe; the latter making her second appearance on this countdown, incidentally.
We went into this expecting something worthwhile, but what we did get was nothing short of fantastic. This is a massively entertaining collection of tracks that are not only diverse, but contain many positive elements that had us coming back for more; we were and still are addicted to Mystery.
But what elevated this for us and bumped it higher up this list is that it helped to prove just how rich the Scottish music scene truly is, being chock full of terrific people that deserve plenty of credit for their capabilities and creativity, and at the end of the day, it is just so commendable to see these folk get together to create a product that is simply special.
This did a lot to restore our faith in the country’s music scene at a period when we were feeling unsure, and not a lot of records come along and do that. So who else is up for a sequel?
The London artist embarked on an arduous year-long journey in order to produce this album, and it relived us so much that his ambitious trials and tribulations proved to seriously pay off.
The writing is sensational, with the songs on this covering quite the range of themes, with examples such as nostalgia, individuality, not-so-nice relationships and premature death, and without fail, he manages to absorb the listeners and hook them on these subject matters. Plus his performances, both vocally and on the guitar, are terrific, and you really get that sense of belief in the emotion behind everything he sings, and that he’s giving it his all throughout.
This is a brilliant, professionally curated work that is compelling from the first note to the last, and we find it really admirable just how far Dave pushed himself to get this project created.
Do you ever listen to a record for the first time that blows your face off so hard that you find yourself verbally acknowledging it with something along the lines of “holy s***”? This is one of those kind of records.
The Birmingham rock quintet made an impact a couple of years back with their debut album Pain Joy Ecstasy Despair, but this follow-up is on another plane entirely.
They’ve developed their sound to such an enormous scale that is tailor-made for arenas, and not only that, the performances and the writing have been stepped up big time, as proven in such explosive anthems such as Afterlife, Someone Else and Renegades.
Many thanks to Jim Gellatly for introducing us to Emily Meekel, whose latest release is among the best Scottish pop records of the year, without a doubt.
From the offset, she instantly awes with her bewitchingly stunning voice, which is sharp, pitch-perfect and able to convey the captivating lyrics so, so well.
The very proficient trio of Grant, Chris and Jordan-Lee help produce some beautifully melodic tracks that each daze in their own ways – whether on the livelier, catchier side, or slower and fiercely atmospheric – but all of them are mesmerising, no matter the tone or style.
This is a fabulous piece of work with supreme talent being put on display that left us speechless after the first listen, and we’ve been in love with it ever since.
We’ve been following these guys for a number of years now, and have always been privy to their abilities, but this debut album is on a completely different playing field from anything they have done in the past, and in the process they turned out what is our favourite progressive rock record of 2018 by a mile.
The sound is just colossal, driven by a vast, sweeping power that is heart-stopping and remains constant throughout the whole hour, plus the paired vocals are unbelievable. Even after several listens, it still continues to blow us away.
On the subject of bands who have outdone themselves, the Dutch metal quintet’s latest album is a major candidate for the heaviest we have heard all year, and it’s so difficult to properly convey just how bloody insane this is.
All the tracks give us great lyrics and are fast and furious in pace, packed with wicked screams, gargantuan riffs and intensely gut-punching rhythms that are just mindbogglingly deranged. It’s overwhelming, to say the least, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The London afro-metal trio’s second album made an impact on us like no other record has across all of 2018. The material is all very poignant, hard-hitting stuff, and features what is among the best and most significant writing in recent memory.
The vocals are utterly powerful and pack a tonne of power and spirit, the riffs are blinding, and the drumming is vividly intense. With these qualities unified, the group deliver tracks that are just massive, energetic and usually featuring insanely good choruses.
From both a musical and lyrical standpoint, Ascend is simply phenomenal and definitely ranks as one of the most pivotal albums we’ve experienced as of late.
2018 has been our most prosperous year to date for discovering a plethora of new talent across the country, and few made a bigger mark on us than this post-hardcore outfit from the south west, and at the heart of that is this staggering debut album.
For starters, Katie is a spectacular vocalist, the riffs and chunky bass tones from Karum and Lewis match up so incredibly well, building a sizable force that is topped off by the great drum work from Lewis. The writing is so magnetic, and they’re able to incorporate a range of different styles, with the biggest achievement being the chilling, low-key Smiling (Numb).
The quartet are proving to be something special, and they have so much potential to achieve bigger things within the next few years.
The indie punk quintet from Norwich give us a batch of short, snappy tunes running off raw, dynamic rhythms composed from a mixture of sharp riffs, rugged bass lines and hardy drumming, and they keep the energy rolling for more or less the entire duration. On top of that, the brash and bitter vocal performances convey the lyrics impeccably.
Speaking of which, the defining feature that becomes apparent pretty quickly is the writing, which has to be some of the best and most connectable of the year, as they tackle several subject matters all too real for many, such as faltering relationships, hatred for the day job, animosity between others, and financial suffering.
This is a bloody brilliant album that seriously needs more attention, being not only entertaining from a musical standpoint, but candid in the messages it aims to put across, sure to strike a nerve with many. It certainly did with us.
After half a decade on the go, the London alternative rockers at last put out their debut full-length album, and while it doesn’t strike a chord with us on a personal or complex level the same way as other entries on this list, this is by far one of the most flawless records of the year in terms of execution.
Without fail, every single track from this assortment entertains with sleek vocals, cracking guitar work and tight, utterly catchy rhythms, and a big chunk of the tunes are so memorable, just sticking in the head and never leaving, even after all these months.
Colour In Me, Space 1998, Abyssinia, The Calving Shuffle, Kill Saatchi, Strange Times…the highlights are endless.
What can we say about this album that everybody else already hasn’t? It’s simply a masterpiece.
The quintet have delivered perhaps the most elaborate and divergent record in all of 2018, where they push beyond their limits to produce material that goes in every direction imaginable and integrates a broad spectrum of styles – heavy, soft, energetic, serene, grand, subtle etc.
It’s a testament to the band’s commitment that they are still going after 13 years, and they’ve built upon their experience and mixed that with the desire to do something different and evolve their sound in order to give us something that is awe-inspiring.
We have been well aware of the Scottish alternative pop group for the longest time, but it wasn’t until the release of this absolutely album that our heads were turned in a monumental way.
We get an assortment of numbers that all have different qualities that make them utterly consuming, but what is continual throughout is a palatial sound created from very catchy, magnificent melodies, excellent choruses, gripping atmospheres, empathetic performances and captivating harmonies.
Holy Esque’s latest record is truly something to behold that is more or less flawless in execution and never lacking whatsoever, blowing away their previous efforts out the water with ease.
The Midland rockers have undoubtedly seen their turbulent share of ups and downs as of late, but they can seek consolation in the fact that they delivered one of the most rowdy, raucous, fiercely passionate – and heavily underrated – rock records of 2018.
Matt, Zach and Seb are such a dense team with a strong chemistry, which is clear through the vast, dynamic rhythms that they create together, and Tiggy might be a candidate for the best vocal performer of the year. Her voice is just unreal, as she belts out the lyrics with sheer power, conveying them with a blunt animosity like nobody else can.
A mixture of tight musical displays, an infectiously wild intensity and layered depth help make this a staggering return to form for a constantly growing act in the English scene.
The British music underground heroes spent ages in the studio compiling what they hoped would be their greatest album to date, and given the reaction from fans and press alike, they truly succeeded beyond expectations.
The duo dish out some insanely infectious hooks that latch on quickly and make a mark, particularly during many of the exciting choruses this record has on offer. Variety is a definitive factor here, with some tracks being on the lighter, catchier side, whilst others are driving, full-frontal rock anthems packing tonnes of energy. The writing is also a quality that is on top form throughout.
Ally performs double duty and delivers some fiercely powerful vocals and flashy riffs, and Danny backs him up perfectly with hefty drum beats that make up the intense rhythms.
Northern Sun Sessions is a sensational album, being a wild blast non-stop from start to finish, elevated by two fantastic performances and a massive sound.
Last year, the Brighton alternative pop quartet released one of our favourite EPs of 2017 in the form of Heavy, and have since emerged as what many consider to be one of the most promising up and coming young acts in all British music. In 2018, we got treated to not one but TWO new EPs, and while Creature was an accomplishment in it’s own right, it couldn’t possibly top this belter.
Theresa is hands down one of the best singers in the national scene, as proven by her piercing, hair-raising voice that is drizzling with attitude and enforced by a striking, in-your-face quality. But this is only one aspect that makes this record great.
On a technical level, every track is an amazing experience, not just because of the astounding production, but also the hodgepodge of massive melodies and catchy as hell choruses, hard, commanding beats, and most notably, the potent writing that makes an impact and is quickly ingrained in the listener’s brain.
After setting a high standard with Heavy, these four have delivered the most satisfying and impressive of follow-ups that just takes the breath away and rocks the core like nothing else. It comes as close to perfection as it gets and actually lives up to the established hype. Yonaka are going to be massive, and we’re more than happy about that fact.
It seems that with each passing year, this group continue to develop their sound and constantly push it to another level. In 2017, they began to find their niche, and in 2018, they would perfect it with one of the most supremely awe-inspiring records we’ve heard in a very, very long time.
It captivates with an overwhelming sense of elation that is so huge and utterly engrossing, and this comes down to many aspects. The melodies are incredible, the beats are resonant, the guitars and electronics are tremendous, the twin harmonies are superb and the choruses are absolutely unbelievable.
The EP just ignites a buzz that is palpable, and sprouts goosebumps all over every single time, and trust us when we say that this kind of thing does not happen often. The Ninth Wave are the future of Scottish music. No ifs, no buts.
We’re going to be blunt here – when we starting putting this list together, we knew the High Wycombe post-hardcore outfit would make it in some capacity, but never in a million years would we have thought to put them anywhere near the top ten.
But as we listened through all the entries, we revisited their sophomore EP, and after comparing it to others, it gradually worked it’s way up and would stand high as one of our very favourites of 2018, with virtually no flaws in sight.
This record reflects the changes that they were going through at that period in their lives, as well as their desire to put their past behind them and look ahead towards the future. The theme is detailed through the lyrics, which are magnetic and leave an imprint, and this is a factor that remains thoroughly strong across the board.
Driving each of the tracks is a colossal sound that rides off a wave of pure adrenaline. The riffs from Adam and Owen are aggressive, George and Liam bring a real weight with their bass tones and drum beats, Jon ups the ante with blistering synths, and Charlie’s vocals are formidable. Also, the breakdowns throughout are so broad and so massive. In fact, Despondency might have the greatest breakdown we’ve heard this year, no exaggeration.
At the end of the day, Closure is a complete perfect package with a range of awesome tunes that just blow the mind, thanks to tight performances and significant subjects. The best EP of 2018 proves that As Everything Unfolds are ready for the next level.
There are few musicians that we have encountered in our time doing this that are more down to earth than this Southampton artist, whose debut album is an assemblage of material that made such an impression on us that is beyond words.
The tracks recalls the firsthand experiences and honest thoughts of a real, working class bloke, who conveys these through blunt, naturally gruff harmonies and fiercely engaging rhythms. The writing is beyond brilliant, with the lyrics immediately cinching and keeping us hooked from start to finish.
There’s also a variety of tones across the songs. Songs like Porky Pies are forthright with an underlying humour behind them, whereas ones such as Springhill have an affecting emotional pitch.
Sean might just be the most legitimate singer-songwriter in the English underground. There’s nothing fake about him, there’s no sense of bulls***, what you see is what you get, and what we get is an extraordinary talent.
This may be our new favourite punk rock record of all time. Granted, that is a VERY bold statement, but like so many others, this insane album just shook us on such an immeasurable level.
The writing is perfect, the best of 2018 with no other act coming anywhere close. The lyrics are so explicit, so merciless and at times so obscene, without any sense of remorse whatsoever, but it has such a rigid grip on you that it forces you to listen and confront the scarily real subject matters that they tackle so impeccably.
That alone is enough, but it’s further backed up by brilliant and bitter performances, whether it’s the sharp vocals, the top-notch riffs or one of the tightest rhythm combos in all of the country, and they charge through the songs at a swift pace.
A crude, unrivaled musical affair like no other. Ah, lovely spread. Ten points to Gryffindor.
When the Leeds hard rock quartet announced they would be putting out their debut album, we were excited, but clearly we had our bar set too law, for this turned out to be a monster and a half. For 40 minutes straight, they go from strength to strength, stampeding through a barrage of tracks bearing huge, astounding sounds that get the blood rushing all over.
Tank takes the lead, and does she ever live up to her namesake; her brawn voice is large and packing tonnes of vigor, adding so much to the size of their music, and this is only further boosted by intense backing vocals.
Murf delivers some hefty bass chords, Mitch’s riffs are off the charts, and Katie thumps out earth-shaking drum beats from end to end. The songs also feature some of the most outstanding and memorable choruses of the year, and the writing is consistently strong, quickly making an impact and sticking in the head not long after the initial listen.
Driven by an overwhelming, never-ending energy from start to finish, Faction is a sensational triumph where everything hits the mark, and it’s a genuine struggle to pick out any flaws on this. Not enough people are talking about the monumental work we have on our hands here.
Our most anticipated album of the year. The London trio produced one of our all-time favourites with their debut effort Good Intent back in 2015, and we had our fingers crossed that they would follow-up with something that would be equally special, and we were so happy to see our wish come true.
The guys expand upon pretty much every aspect of the previous record and step them up to another gear across a line-up of spectacular tracks that are so infectious and rockier than ever before, with the exception of specific songs like the stunningly mellow and mature A Place In It All.
Whopping ensemble harmonies, dynamic choruses and bloody good hooks are all the rage here, with just some of the focal points that expose these qualities including the title number, Familiar Ground, Itchy Fingers and the monumentally catchy If All Your Parts.
Luke, Adam and Lewis have upped their game in superb fashion, and they are now getting the praise and attention that they have duly worked hard to earn.
For the last 5 years, we have seen the Brighton quartet consistently grow and emerge as one of the UK’s most outstanding up and coming rock acts. They first gained traction with their debut album Statues in 2016, and we had such high hopes for this follow-up, but oh man, even our lofty expectations were blown far out of the water here.
The band have always been well-known for having a grand, imposing sound, and they’ve add a whole load of extra meaty layers upon it to a point where it is guaranteed to shock the senses, and when fused with a monumental energy that is sustained from the word go and right up to the climax, it proves to be something that is absolutely breathtaking.
The performances are next level. Will mighty, robust screams are scarily powerful, Joe’s riffs are vast and fluent, Dave’s bass tones are hard as nails, and Liam’s drumming is inhumanely kinetic.
All the songs are bare minimum great. Can’t Sleep, Electric Fires and Home are more simple by the established standard, but are so damn memorable. The Midnight Sun and Across The Great Divide are sweeping complex numbers, Aether features compelling writing, and Eternal Light is, to put it bluntly, a f***ing phenomenal rollercoaster.
Black Peaks are an unstoppable force with a massive presence and a fierce chemistry, and All That Divides is an experience that is, among other things, a pure epic in musical form.
We seriously did not give this album enough credit when it first came out. Don’t get us wrong, we certainly enjoyed it, and we made that clear in our original review, but in the months since this came out, we have found ourselves addicted to it, to a point where we were listening to it on an almost daily basis, and in that process, we have fallen so hard in love with it.
The dream pop quartet create these marvelous soundscapes with vintage vibes that provoke tantalising atmospheres, but the main ingredient that really makes this shine for us is that every single track is individually unique, each impressing in their own separate ways.
Home Sweet Home has sweet electronics and a catchy beat, Backup Baby has a beautiful chorus elevated by enchanting harmonies, Aloe opens up with a goosebump-inducing vibe in the first minute before it elevates, Float Through Wires is a beautiful piano-based piece that has this French quality to it that we can’t explain, and Cafe Electric is so delicate and immersive.
Suneaters has a warm first half with tender basslines that makes way for an excellent riff-driven second half, Space Junk has such a lavish intro that puts the hairs on end and it really hits us on a personal level with the subject of anxiety, Blue Flowers has those unforgettable five keys, Glitch constantly switches in tone as it progresses and kicks up the energy with wonderful guitar work, and lastly Annihilation wraps up the record on a soothing note.
This would have been a shoo-in for the #1 spot any other year, but as is, we can safely say this is one of the most dazzling listens we’ve ever experienced.
And now, we proudly present the Small Music Scene Record Of The Year 2018…
It was going to take something very special to knock off the Glasgow pop artist, but alas, that never happened, and Carla sits comfortably in the number one position.
We have a confession to make that we have shared with nobody. When we listened to Impossible Stuff for the first time in order to give it a review, we quickly fell in love with it, but around the halfway mark, our eyes genuinely started to water up. No joke. The album was affecting us to such a level that we were close to crying happy tears, and we can tell you right now that this had never happened in our lifetimes before or since. That’s a testament to how good this is.
So over-dramatic moment of enlightenment aside, what are the aspects that make this great? Well, the main facet that instantly stands out is Carla’s outstanding voice. Her plush harmonies are simply astonishing as she hits every note with pitch-perfect precision and is able to express slews of emotions whilst driving the captivating melodies.
She also uses this to her advantage to convey the writing, which is so engaging in just how charming and entrancing the lyrics are, and you hang on to every single convincing word with a smile along the way.
Another prominent element is the immensely infectious sound sustained through the entire course of the record, whether it’s a grandiose track like the bubbly Milk And Honey, a medium-paced number such as Lights In The Dark, or a gentle low-key song along the lines of Vagabond.
It’s simply breathtaking, formed from an assortment of instruments with a symphonic essence in mind that enraptures the listener and gets their hairs standing on end, and they will only be drawn in further by the great choruses, which are highlighted by immersive hooks.
Impossible Stuff is an unbelievable experience that shattered all expectations. It is utterly engrossing, and headed by one of the most unreal vocal performances to have been heard in recent memory. Months later, we still can’t find any flaws, it’s simply perfect.
This album is a tremendous achievement that, if nothing else, showcases just how one creative person can make such a metamorphic impression on another with an original work of theirs. Carla is hands down one of the most purely talented musicians in the entire country, and as we’ve said in the past, if The Wee Yin is not presented with the major opportunity to advance her career and move on to bigger things, then it will be nothing short of a travesty.