The Best Albums Of 2018: 20 – 11
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 2018 Pure Rawk end of year albums list! Other lists are available, but frankly, they are inaccurate – this is the only list you need.
20 – 11 are below, and the top ten will follow later this week…
Words by Andy Close, Nick Spragg, Dave Ashworth, Ben Pollard-Mathias and Steve Brixey.
20. PETE SPIBY – “Failed Magician”
Offering a more bluesy take on modern rock than his previous outfit Black Spiders, Spiby’s debut solo outing Failed Magician is introspective, emotive, and all kinds of memorable. Take Friday Night Just Died (In Saturday Morning’s Arms) for example, a love song of sorts, it offers a taste of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s southern drawl, but with the hooks of a Guns N’ Roses ballad, just with fewer hissy fits. And for a seven minute song, it doesn’t overstay its welcome one bit. Elsewhere on the record, Bible Studies is a beautifully layered outing, whilst Guiding Light and Why Not Let Them Come are perhaps more akin to Spiby’s past, offering more up-tempo, classically riffy tracks which nestle nicely alongside the album’s starker songs. A versatile and instantly lovable effort (NS).
19. THE LIVING END – “Wunderbar”
An album from a band confident of their voice, and wanting to expand their sound, few albums have such a diverse collection of songs. From lead single Don’t Lose It, with it’s fun sing-along chorus that evokes earlier albums, to emotionally charged songs such as Amsterdam, Wunderbar is an album that demonstrates the breadth of the band’s songwriting. Every song could be a single, yet the band still find a way to tackle important subjects, such as in Too Young To Die, written for the veterans who gave their lives in World Wars I & II. Drop The Needle and Wake Up The Vampires are catchy rock songs that will stay in your head for days. Not many bands turn out a classic album 24 years into their career, but The Living End quietly just turned out their best album (BP).
18. BOSS KELOID – “Melted On The Inch”
Perhaps yet to pop up on everyone’s radar, greatness is surely just around the corner for Boss Keloid with the Wigan prog-stoners producing another stunning record in 2018, Melted On The Inch. Six cryptically titled tracks of heavy, throbbing sludge, MOTI is an incredibly finessed and well-produced outing, full to the brim of pounding bass and the epic wail of vocalist Alex Hurst. At times there’s an Opeth-esque noodle in there, perhaps a Mastodon-style Eastern tangent, but the band soon return to a punishing pulse, and no two spins of the record are truly the same. Operatic, intricate yet utterly devastating, Melted On The Inch is a unique record and one that is almost impossible to wrench off the death deck (NS).
17. MASSIVE WAGONS – “Full Nelson”
With the release of Full Nelson in August of this year, Massive Wagons became bona fide chart botherers, smashing into the top 20 of the UK album chart, and it’s hard to think of a band more deserving.
Full Nelson encapsulates everything that the Wagons’ devoted fanbase have come to love about the band, and whether you’re after rock and roll swagger (the Aerosmith-esque Sunshine Smile), cheeky northern wit (the Facebook baiting China Plates) or stadium sized choruses (album opener Under No Illusion), this album has it in spades. Full Nelson is the sound of a band hitting its stride, and the future for Massive Wagons looks very bright indeed (SB).
16. IDLES – “Joy As An Act of Resistance”
Lauded across the board as one of the albums of 2018, Joy As An Act Of Resistance is one of the most intense, but relatable, records of recent years. Taking the street level anger and delivery of acts like Slaves or Sleaford Mods, and allying that to strong messages, such as the pro-immigrant oi-oi of Danny Nedelko or the rant against toxic masculinity that is Samaritans, this is an album that takes some of the burning issues and conversations of the times and sets them to music. Violent, angry music, but peppered throughout with positivity. Idles are a very welcome catharsis, but one which offers solutions and hope, not just a thrashing release (although they’re great for that too, so it will be very interesting to see what they bring in 2019 (DA).
15. THE BRUTALISTS – “The Brutalists”
Upon hearing that former Quireboys bassist Nigel Mogg had hooked up with former LA Guns guitarist Mick Cripps to form a new group, most people were probably expecting another Sunset Strip by numbers effort.
As it turned out, they couldn’t have been more wrong, as the Brutalists’ debut album took in everything from lagered-up pub rock, through Low era Bowie style post-punk and mod revival aggro, to the odd Chas & Dave style knees-up. Mogg really comes into his own as a frontman, and the band sound supremely tight and assured behind him – definitely one of the surprise triumphs of the year (AC).
14. LAST GREAT DREAMERS – “13th Floor Renegades”
Having announced their return in style with 2016’s Transmissions From Oblivion, Last Great Dreamers released a more than worthwhile follow-up with 13th Floor Renegades. Like its predecessor, it sounded as though it had waded into some almighty brawl between the punks and the glam rockers circa 1977, and emerged grinning and clutching the prized scalps from each side.
However, this record also saw them turning their hands to everything from laid back country (Miles Away) to psychedelia (Broken Things and the epic closer Going Home), and showed the sound of a band continuing to grow and improve even after all this time in the business (AC).
13. EVIL SCARECROW – “Volume IV: Antarcarctica”
Four albums into their career and two things are clear – Evil Scarecrow are a) not getting any more sensible with age and b) improving album upon album with Volume IV: Antarcarctica picking up nicely where its predecessor, 2014’s Galactic Hunt left off. With such relatable (!) subjects as killer aliens disguising themselves as Red Riding Hood, gangs of Cosmic Goth Moths and the perils of summoning a two-headed turnip monster when your Satanic ritual goes wrong, the key thing here was that Volume IV was packed full of the killer riffs and headbanging choruses that have always made this group such an enjoyable proposition. Oh and just in case you were wondering, yes they do use the word “stranglewank” on Way To Die. Glad we’ve cleared that up (AC).
12. SHE MAKES WAR – “Brace For Impact”
Laura Kidd, aka She Makes War’s fourth full album has seen her deservedly reach a broader audience. While predominantly an indie-rock album, it has a broad range of musical styles. Fortify has an electronica vibe, while Weary Bird is a grunge driven song. At times the album evokes some of the best of the Manic Steeet Preachers, yet it still sounds fresh. The album’s songs draw on Laura’s own experiences, such as being evicted from her London home, mental health and heartbreak, making much of it feel deeply personal, but there are uplifting moments too, such as Hold On. It’s also worth noting the creativity of the different versions of the album Laura released. There have been some amazing coloured vinyl editions including the ‘Gigface’ and ‘Dogface’ pressings (BP)
11. SUEDE – “The Blue Hour”
An incredible album, from a band full of confidence; to create an album with no obvious anthems singles, yet full of heart and swagger, is quite an achievement. The album tells a loose story, much like their previous release Night Thoughts, but somehow this one manages to have a narrative without the baggage of a film or stage show. Each song is filled with emotions, telling the stories of suburban isolation and heartbreak. First single Life Is Golden has quickly become a fan favourite, that the band have closed recent shows with, and catchy songs like Cold Hands and Don’t Be Afraid If Nobody Loves You easily fit into Suede’s live shows, but all of the songs are great, no filler tracks. It’s wonderful to see a band such as Suede continue to fill the unique space they occupy in the UK music scene (BP).