In a difficult year, music has at least been a constant. Hip-hop, particularly in the UK, has been strongly represented by Kojey Radical, Stormzy and Loyle Carner, the latter of whom were up for the Mercury (losing out to the mighty Sampha, whose work straddles hip-hop, soul and pop experimentation.)
Indie very much belonged to young women- LA Witch; This Is the Kit, Peggy Sue, The Orielles, The Courtneys, Pins, Girl Ray, Mary Epworth, Nadine Shah, Jane Weaver, and The Big Moon brought out quirky, lo-fi music which had much of the John Peel alternative spirit within it, whereas new acts like Superorganism and Sir Was veered towards oddball sonic individualism, hard to pigeonhole and better for it.
Scottish acts like Sumshapes, Sacred Paws and Teen Canteen made my year considerably better- looking forward to what they do next… and not just cause I know certain band members! (Hey, Jer and Sita…)
Old favourites like Brix Smith-Start returned, albeit with ex-Fall alumni The Extricated.The Breeders are still cheeky minxes. Lost Horizons are ex-Cocteau Twin and Bella Union label boss Simon Raymonde’s wonderful new band. Perfume Genius blew everyone’s mind at The Glasgow School of Art this autumn. And Ezra Furman’s new synthy and string-based material teasers, Driving Down To LA and Love You So Bad, point to a mouthwatering musical departure from the rock ‘n’roll-inflected Teddy I’m Ready et al.
I have, I know, missed out loads- every week, I seem to get obsessed with a new band or song I haven’t heard in ages. It seems too like bands who have had success elsewhere in the world are finally having their day in Britain- Re-TROS from China, who have been shaking things up since 2004, seem a dead cert to crack the UK next year, all being right in the world. 6Music’s Marc Riley, who has impeccable taste, has been all over their dementedly catchy single Red Rum Aviv.
So, here is to the ones who defy genre, and who consistently surprise, delight and provoke. Keeping it independent in the truest sense of the word. And in the words of the tote bag, ‘Shut up Morrissey!’ Here is to a peaceful 2018. Cheers.