8 records you should've listened to this year but probably didn't
Forget Sweetener, Iridescence and Astroworld… this is where it’s at.
There were a lot of great releases in 2018. A lot. JPEGMAFIA kicked the whole thing off in January with 19-tracker Veteran. Then Hayley Kiyoko started like she meant to go on with Expectations in March, as did Steflon Don with debut album Secure, and Twentytwo In Blue, the glorious second album from Sunflower Bean. Then came Cardi's Invasion of Privacy, SOPHIE’s game-changing OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES, BTS with Love Yourself: Tear, Courtney Barnett’s Tell Me How You Really Feel and Pusha T’s Daytona.
As we ventured outdoors and into the everlasting summer that once was, Jorja Smith was Lost & Found and Kanye had a campfire sleepover to unleash Ye on the world, swiftly followed by his Kid Kudi collab, Kids See Ghosts. In July, Lykke Li blessed us with fresh tears courtesy of So Sad So Sexy, and The Internet’s Hive Mind clashed with the release of 88rising’s crew album, Head In the Clouds on 20 July.
This’ll never end and we’ve definitely missed some of the greats, but then came Travis Scott’s Astroworld, Troye Sivan’s Bloom, Mica Levi and Tirzah’s Devotion, Robyn's Honey, Octavian’s Spaceman, Brockhampton’s Iridescence and Ariana’s Sweetener. Not forgetting the solid offerings from Yaeji, Yves Tumor, Rico Nasty, Mitski and so many more. But the thing is... you knew that. You’ve heard them all before. The following releases however, you probably haven’t. They bang though, so you really should.
So without further ado, here are eight records -- from a range of artists, genres and geographical locations -- that we recommend you get stuck into before the year is out.
1. duendita, direct line to My Creator
First off, the opening track from direct line to My Creator has no name, just a tiny picture of a cloud paired with 42 seconds of organ. Heavenly. For the uninitiated; duendita is the girl with incredible range and a whole lot of soul. On her beautiful debut project, the Queens musician muses on religion and relationships while, tears quietly streaming, gently breaking open your rib cage and stealing your heart. She’s in a lane of her own.
2. Frakkur, 2000-2004
Last month, Jónsi of Sigur Ros and Iceland fame released three whole albums worth of experimental electronic music under an early artist name. The collection of 24 tracks, produced in the early 2000s, is split across three LPs and divided by date. The music box-sampling 2000-2001 was made on his first ever laptop, sprung from his unrequited love for a straight boy in Reykjavik. 2002-2003, meanwhile, was made during a time filled with "blinding sunlight and pure fun creative energy" and 2003-2004, on tour with Sigur Ros soon after being introduced to Logic. Once assumed lost on a corrupted hard drive, the project was resurrected after a friend recently discovered it on an old CDR Jónsi had burned for them. Thank god!
3. Mister Wallace, Cool Mom
We’ve got a debut album over here! Mister Wallace, the ‘cool mom’ of the queer Chicago hip-hop community, bridges the gap between their biological family and their chosen family on this empowering and wholly fun record. “It’s not just about music for me,” they told i-D in a recent interview, “it’s about creating a sustainable world for people like myself -- and for the world in itself.” Play loud.
4. Kasper Bjørke Quartet, The Fifty Eleven Project
On October 19, his second anniversary since getting the all-clear, Danish DJ and contemporary composer Kasper Bjørke released a two hour ambient record on Kompakt Records. Musically documenting his cancer diagnosis and the following five years of hospital visits, the project saw him pair the product of his vintage analogue synths with instrument parts by a handful of equally as talented music pals. A lot of love was funnelled into this one. In need of something to cry to on a long plane journey? You just found it.
5. Kikagaku Moyo, Masana Temples
This Tokyo psych-rock band just moved to Amsterdam and put out a banging record. Out on their own well-named imprint, Guruguru Brain, their fourth album is a sitar-laden, spiritual af romp across 10 tracks. As for the title, they coined the word Masana to express a utopian feeling: "an existence where everything can interact harmoniously and offer inspiration and understanding”. Lovely. Oh and that’s not Japanese they’re singing in. Like many a band with a wild imagination before them, Kikagaku Moyo make their own language up as they go along. Those longhaired crazies!
6. Chynna, I’m Not Here. This Isn’t Happening.
Admittedly still hung up on the West Philadelphia rapper’s 2017 EP music 2 die 2, this is a strong follow up. Though technically first appearing on her soundcloud three years ago, Chynna’s existential I’m Not Here. This Isn’t Happening. wasn't officially released until May of this year, when it came out on Twin Records. Give it a listen and you’ll understand why A$AP Yams encouraged her to get into music in the first place.
7. Kamaal Williams, The Return
South London jazzer Kamaal makes what he calls, “Wu Funk, originated in Peckham. Est 1989.” His debut solo album, The Return, is a whole odyssey of sound that he reckons would be a good soundtrack for “anything with Bruce Lee in it. Or maybe a Kurosawa joint… Seven Samurai.” You’ll find more chat like that, as well as a seriously good mix that he made for i-D back in June, over here.
8. Audiobooks, NOW! (in a minute)
Welsh producer David Wrench and 21-year-old London artist Evangeline Ling are an odd couple with a killer project. Out on Heavenly Recordings, their debut album is full of stories -- real ones, surreal ones and the ones that read like the conversations you have with yourself in your head. This record sounds like people-watching and believe us when we tell you that it. is. fascinating. Get stuck in.