As someone who pretty much shuns the mainstream for the corporate beast it has always been in favour of the less celebrated or lesser known artists, this year a few albums have been in heavy rotation on my iPhone. Firstly the return of KT Tunstall with her surprisingly enjoyable and polished album ‘Wax’ which harked back to that skillfull song writing that made her name in Eye To The Telescope, and well just has some really good pop-rock songs on it.
Then we come to the stripped back, moody guitar simplicity of ‘Glitter and Spit’ the brilliant debut from female duo The Pearl Harts, who initially grabbed my attention when they supported Garbage during part of their UK tour in 2016. This album has a resemblance to The White Stripes but also adds gritty punk rock to it that made me think of Suzy Quatro. The guitaring and the attitude driven vocals make for a very promising start to a career in my book.
Chvrches impressed me previously with their excellent second album Every Open Eye, and even if their latest ‘Love Is Dead’ seems overly mainstream and a little bit lazy in places, it still has a sheen of slick production and Lauren Mayberry’s angelic vocals to carry it through. Not a massive highlight but an album I’ve enjoyed none the less.
Again favouring a more mainstream sound than their last records, Against The Current still delivered a polished and entertaining second album in the shape of ‘Past Lives’ which features several decent songs even if some of their punk-pop sensibilities are mostly absent.
For a re-issue Garbage’s 20th anniversary of ‘Version 2.0’ not only brought with it a stellar remastering that made the album sound amazing, but a wealth of quality b-sides that made for a hell of a package. Version 2.0 is not only my favourite Garbage album, it’s my favourite album … period. So this version, despite some odd tinkering on certain tracks was a genuine highlight of 2018 for me. Add to this the fact I got to experience it’s entirety live in concert at Brixton Academy, and well I think you can guess how happy that made me.
Music for me is certainly still a difficult hobby to truly embrace. I find myself trapped in the 90s or only listening to the same handful of artists. We live in a culture that favours repetition and mediocrity and worships heavily promoted familiar names rather than promoting the freedom to go and seek out something ‘different’. I feel it’s the only entertainment industry that really shuns creativity in favour of whatever music execs and narrow-minded radio stations consider the current cool trend, and so finding music that I can identify with and appreciate gets harder and harder every year. The above named albums seemed to stick with me this year and stood out when so much else just felt boring.