[sic] Magazine

2018: The Half-Term Report

Call us old-fashioned, but you can’t do an annual write-up until December at the earliest and, by extension, you can’t do a half-yearly summary until June is over. Heck, we’re so old-fashioned the intro to this year’s half-term report is recycled nearly word for word from last year and we own most of the below albums on CD! No matter, how is the year shaping up? Smouldering like Manchester’s moorland it turns out. That said, and we do say the same each year, if you’re of the opinion that music generally just isn’t as good as it used to be, you’re simply looking in the wrong place. You’ll no doubt have your favourites all the same. Mine are below.

New and lesser known talent lead the charge this time around. Arguably the highest profile of the bunch on the back of a barn-storming debut, indie urchins Shame from the Fat White Family stable are rising fast, whipping post-punk and Madchester together with strong, retro melodies as charming as they are sloppy. Needing no introduction to regular readers of these pages, however, is The Soft Moon’s Luis Vasquez and his latest is another pleasing plunge into the chilly pools of dark coldwave. With the prolific (but still underground) Gnod you never know quite what you’re going to get: psych, techno, art installation and anything in between. This time around, their drones have gone full doom, the resultant racket enough to raise the interest of even the deadest of listeners. Not in an altogether different ball park, the new Bambara LP doesn’t push the envelope quite so far yet still manages to bring all the unseasonably sombre noise-punk vibes you could ever hope for too. Springing forth from the ashes of Chicago band Disappears, there’s few surprises on Facs’ tense debut in turn – the way its insidious bleakness grabs hold is uneasily familiar, the following post-punk stabs in the dark highly accurate to boot.

Another enjoying a successful return, French 60s-psych fanatics The Limiñanas have brought in a rich supporting cast for their fifth solo album and it duly goes deep on modern chanson, Ennio Morricone influences and loungey exotica. Guest vocalist Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre does the most damage on his track though (as perhaps should have been expected). Less well known, but surely not for much longer, The Final Age can count many a psych head in their ranks and their chaotic, alluring results are an astonishing blend of post-rock, black jazz, kraut and psych-punk. You won’t hear another record like it … ever, never mind just this year. Keeping up the general gloominess of all that’s been great, Svalbard have achieved the impossible, their latest an absolute atom-smasher of post-rock and black-metal that is downright thrilling and in no way pretentious. It’s genuinely going to be one of the albums of the year for anyone who listens to it. And finally, a soothing balm to all this maelstrom noise, Lucy Dacus and Soccer Mommy have been doing their best to keep the end of the humble singer-songwriter up too. The former’s intimate tales conjure Sharon Van Etten at her finest, while the latter adds a dash of spicy angst by drawing on the indie-grunge tropes of acts like Speedy Ortiz and Waxahatchee, cementing their places as magnetic performers as they go.

While few real stinkers are yet to cross our path this year, the less said about sub-par rock of Arndales’ debut and Lonely Kamal‘s new LP the better, so too parts of that dated Hookworms return. Also in this camp, there was slight disappointment too in Gang Gang Dance’s largely wishy-washy latest. Nevertheless, and with plenty to still get the teeth into, it’s no surprise to report that 2018 is yet another year looking rather rosy six months in.

That list in full (no particular order – linked where reviewed):

The LimiñanasShadow People (60s Psych/Psych-Rock) [Because Music]
ShameSongs Of Praise (Post-Punk/Punk-Rock) [Dead Oceans]
The Soft MoonCriminal (Darkwave/Coldwave) [Sacred Bones]
Lucy DacusHistorian (Singer-Songwriter) [Matador]
Soccer MommyClean (Singer-Songwriter/Indie-Grunge) [Fat Possum]
FacsNegative Houses (Post-Punk/Noise Rock) [Trouble In Mind]
The Final AgeThe Final Age (Experimental/Post-Rock/Psych-Noise) [Cardinal Fuzz/Sunrise Ocean Bender]
BambaraShadow On Everything (Rock/Noise-Punk) [Wharf Cat]
GnodChapel Perilous (Doom/Noise/Drone) [Rocket Recordings]
SvalbardIt’s Hard To Have Hope (Black Metal/Post-Rock) [Holy Roar]

No longer a fan of the album format? Hear some of our tracks of the year so far too:

What’s been floating your boat? Let us know below.