Round Up: Best of 2018

Best of 2018


Words: Elena Katrina, Daniel Burton and Samantha Sadler 

Elena’s Picks:

Sea Girls – Heavenly War 

From the first time I heard Sea Girls I was excited to hear more and as time has gone on I have yet to be disappointed. It’s always a relief, because, if I’m honest there can sometimes be a problem with loving new music – in that one brilliant song doesn’t necessarily mean there is more to follow and when a band starts with their best, it can lead to feeling underwhelmed later on. Heavenly War was a brilliant follow up to the band’s debut Call Me Out EP of 2017. Not only that but it’s set the scene for further guitar-pop gems to keep my heart happy and my foot tapping. I’m totally lost in it all.

Listen to Heavenly War:


The Van Ts – Suis-Je Cool?

I had to pick this because I felt like I waited all year for it. The Van Ts are a Glasgow based fourpiece who deliver fast, edgy keen rock n roll, with one foot already in 2019 and the other set in a variety of eras and genres. They’re already sat pretty as one of This Feelings Ones of 2019 set of January shows – and to be honest they could easily have been there for 2018 too. They’re one of my favourite live bands, which is handy that I’ve brought them to Liverpool twice so far and hopefully many more times to follow. They really are… bloody cool, I don’t know why they felt the need to ask!


Liste nto Suis-Je Cool:

Sam Fender  –  All the songs (I can do this – I’m the boss)

When I decided to include Sam Fender in this list I did so because he reminds me of the exact reason I still spend hours upon hours and all of my money on new music, to feel something rise up inside me when I hear or see something I think is beyond the every day. Sam is this, he has something special and the Nation is starting to have it put in front of them too. Ordinarily I would exclude him from this kind of post because he already has enough attention but I’ve watched him live this year more than any other artist and I’ve yet to feel anything other than utter delight and a feverish passion for what he is actually saying. Vocally he has talent but it’s not just that, it’s the smarts that come with it, and the humour you can learn when he allows it to escape during a live show. His music is so easy on the ear and so at odds with the grim social observations. Enough excitement from me, just listen!

Listen to Sam Fender:

The Mysterines – Hormone

I have waited an absolute age to be able to write properly abut this band. I’ve had a demo CD on the go for years but there’s been little to nothing to write home about since and I’ve seen Liverpool based band The Mysterines live more than a handful of times since around 2016. I’ve seen them really dig in and become something exciting. In fact, I’m fairly sure we’ve barely scratched the surface – which is a good thing because single Hormone is pretty much all we have to go on. Hard-faced, frantic and full of angst all the while tinged with psychedelia. 2018 might have given me the single I’ve so desperately waited for but 2019 is where I’m looking at for more Mysterine goodness.

Listen to Hormone here:

Sammy’s Picks:

FEVA – Makin’ Waves

2018 is the year I really fell in love with FEVA and I’ve seen them multiple times over the past few months. The energy that frontman Sam and co put into their live performances is incredible and they really are the epitome of a raw, upcoming band. It was difficult to choose just one of their tracks from 2018 as a favourite but I’ve settled on ‘Makin’ Waves’.

Infectious riffs clashing against chaotic cymbals create this anthemic track as Sam snarls that “loving ain’t for us all.” The rambunctious instrumental radiates with gritty rock and roll passion and you can’t help but be hooked. One of the best bands to come out of the Toon in a long time.

Listen to Makin Waves:

Llovers – Go Get Her, Go Getter


Llovers are another northeast band that I’ve had my eye on over the past year and with good reason. Their infectious cosmic-pop is something you can listen to on repeat for hours and it instantly fills you with happiness.

An atmospheric gem with dreamy loops and psychedelic riffs, ‘Go Get Her, Go Getter’ is a breezy sunny anthem that I can absolutely get on board with from its infectious lyrics to its dreamy soundscape. I’m really intrigued to see what Llovers come back with in 2019 but I’m hoping for more of what we’ve heard previously as it really does make them stand out from the rest.

Litsen to Go Get Her, Go Getter:

Pale Waves – Kiss

Ok, so they are the most ‘mainstream’ on my list but technically they only released their debut album this year and they are still very much new kids on the block. I’ve been a fan for a good while now, I pretty much idolise Heather Baron-Gracie and ‘Kiss’ is definitely in my top ten tracks of this year.

The track’s nostalgic vibes are contagious as Baron-Gracie’s mellifluous vocals dance over buoyant patterns transporting you to an uplifting romantic setting. A gorgeous stripped back bridge offers a brief respite from the energetic track and mystical synths intertwine and bounce off Baron-Gracie’s pleading of “kiss me hard just like you did in the start.”

Listen to Kiss here:

DEEP.SLEEP – Orange English Sun

Deep.Sleep are one of the canniest bands I’ve seen in 2018 purely due to how humble they are. I first caught them at Kendal Calling in July and the sheer emotion from the guys after their set was so lush to see. Since that moment, they’ve been firmly on my Spotify playlist and ‘Orange English Sun’ is definitely one I’m taking with me into 2019

Summery vibes aplenty with bags of jingly hooks and a distinct Americana style running throughout, I love everything about this track and it’s even better live. The boyish playful charm that clings to Deep.Sleep really shines through in their tracks and it’s difficult not to smile along as you chant back the lyrics. This lot will be on festival main stages before long, I’m sure of it.

Listen to Orange English Sun:

Dan’s Picks

The Hubbards- That’s Not Right

2018 has been a huge year for this Hull band. It has also been a long year for The Hubbards, with 3 mini headline tours, alongside some support slots with the likes of Bloxx and numerous festival appearances. This is accompanied by the release of 3 singles throughout the year, culminating in their most recent EP, Pretty Grudge Pop. With this ‘pretty grudge pop’ sound, my favourite single off of the EP is That’s Not Right. This infectious indie-pop tune has you singing the song title all day and brings great anticipation as to what more this band can produce in 2019.

Listen to That’s Not Right:


The Night Café – I’m Fine

The Night Café have been a long-time favourite band of mine since releasing their debut single, Addicted, in 2015, and 2018 has been no different. With the release of their second EP, Bunkbed, alongside a support slot with The Wombats and their biggest headline tour ever, it has been quite a year for the Liverpool band. Their latest 4 track EP is packed full of quality and every song could have their own argument for being in everyone’s ‘Best of 2018’ playlists, regardless of their taste in music, but for me, I’m Fine just beats the others to the post. Their typical dreamy guitar sound, prominent bass line and drum beats are, as ever, present across the whole EP, but the sound on this track just feels that extra bit special and the lyrics leave you reminiscing your thoughts for the rest of the night. The Night Café just optimise the quality of the Liverpool music scene at the moment and are one of the bands at the forefront of the revival of Indie music back into the nation’s eyes.

Listen to I’m Fine:


Hey Charlie – Love Machine

If there’s a new band that really know how to do rock’n’roll, then, in my opinion, one of the best out there right now is, Hey Charlie! Bringing a high-tempo rock sound that just sucks you into their world, they just amaze me with everything they do. Love Machine is their only release of 2018 but it encapsulates everything you need to hear from the band in one song. A simple heavy rock sound, with gripping lyrics that just seem to drag the listener even further into the song. Having caught them at 110 Above festival this summer, it is clear to see how much they have progressed since last year, and I am eager to see how much further they can go and I will definitely be seeing them in 2019.

Listen to Love Machine:

Bloxx – Sea Blue

This year has been one hell of a year for Bloxx, releasing 5 singles, playing a number of top festivals, 2 support tours and two headline tours. However, there is no rest for the wicked. They have just been announced as support for The Wombats European tour and another headline tour has already announced for next year, in support of their debut EP which is due to be released in 2019, and my personal favourite of their tunes is taken off of said EP. Sea Blue was released less than a month ago, and it is already one of my favourite songs of the year, it is that good. This is another typical Bloxx tune, containing upbeat pulsating drum beats, hip-moving bass lines, dreamy yet still rocky guitar sounds and a catchy as fuck chorus sung with Fee’s encapsulating voice. No matter what mood you are in, this song will get your spirits up!

Listen to Sea Blue:


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  • About Popped Music

    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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