Here it is after careful consideration and many many rewrites. These are my top ten albums of 2018. This year my list features a lot of EPs so that’s a big difference than previous years. So without further ado and of course in sequential order from the number one on …

1. BASTILLE // Other People Heartache Part 4

“Other People’s Heartache Part 4” caught me off guard in the most fantastic way. The EP opens onto one of the most beautiful covers of the Cat Stevens classic “Wild World”. It ties a thread between the last Bastille record “Wild World” to next one “Doom Days”. We then segue into the next cover of a somewhat obscure song “Would I Lie To You?”. To which Bastille gave it a much-needed update leaning towards a more RnB and Trap music sound. The next song is “Grip” which is a fun and straightforward EDM track. My only criticism is it just seems a bit out of place on an EP filled with RnB, Hip-Hop and Trap-Pop jams. But the song is so good though. The two stunners for me are the En Vogue cover of “Don’t Let Go (Love) and “Flowers” where the music and vocals by everyone (in particularly Dan Smith) are so on point oozing just enough sex appeal to not overdo it. The EP ends on “The Descent” which is just such a badass track and has the most heart aching surprise towards the end. We rightly close out on the “Warmth (Outro)”. The fact that Bastille uses these “Other People’s Heartache” mixtapes as a thread between records is so brilliant. I love that they also wanted to feature new British talent as well. The artist on the opening track is Kianja and her vocals blend so well with Dan’s. She’s featured prominently on this EP, along with the likes of Jacob Banks, Moss Kena, Lily Moore, Charlie Barnes, S-X, Craig David, SEEB, Swarmz, Rationale, and James Arthur. All in all Dan’s vocals, the production, and Bastille as a band have never been better on this very diverse and very unique mixtape style EP. That is why it’s still ‘On Repeat’ for me.

Standout tracks: “Would I Lie To You?” , “Don’t Let Go (Love)”, “Flowers”, and “The Descent”.

2. Bishop Briggs // Church Of Scars

I don’t think there has been a more inspiring album for me this year. “Church Of Scars” has a vulnerability to it that’s raw and Bishop Briggs vocals pack so much emotion throughout each and every track. For a debut album, this is a stunner, one that hits you in the heart lyrically and melodically. Having seen her twice this year; where I heard this album live in both a quiet acoustic setting and full throttle live show; just adds another dimension to “Church Of Scars”. Therefore making Bishop Briggs not only of one of my favorite new voices and artists currently, but “Church Of Scars” my number two pick for favorite albums of 2018.

Standout Tracks: “Tempt My Trouble”, “River”, “Hi-Lo (Hollow)”, and “Wild Horses”.

3. The Wombats // Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life

The Wombats “Turn” ended up being one of my absolutely favorite songs this year. “Turn” is also track number three from “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life” which has landed at the number three spot on my songs list. The Wombats are a trio hailing from Liverpool, their 2018 release is a fresh and lively rock number with guitars reminiscent of 90s Brit Rock and Pop. It’s chock full of quirky and fun lyrics relating to the aches and pains of love that just scream The Wombats. The numerous danceable melodies and catchy hooks populate songs like “Cheetah Tongue”, “Lemon to A Knife Fight” and “Lethal Combination” from start to finish. On the extended version release, we got new songs like “Bee-Sting” (which is fantastic live) and “Oceans”. By the end of “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life,” The Wombats had me fully converted. This is an album worth hearing and also a band you should definitely see live if only to hear this record.

Standout tracks: “Turn”, “Cheetah Tongue”, “Bee-Sting”, “Lemon to a Knife Fight”, “Out Of My Head”.

4. Shawn Mendes // Shawn Mendes

Though I had been following his musical career since I heard “Stitches”, I thought the song was catchy but I never thought that same guy would come to create this Soulful Pop Rock gem. From the massive stadium rocker and first single “In My Blood” which speaks to the frustrations of anxiety and social pressures of being young. To the funky and come hither “Nervous”, and the acoustic ballad “Like to be You” which features Julia Michaels. But the super funky smash “Lost In Japan” is the stellar standout. The song has a super cool “Lost In Translation” inspired video to go with it and an EDM remix from Zedd. Overall, this was my favorite “Pop” album this year featuring, great hooks and choruses, fantastic production, and Shawn’s guitar and songwriting skills amped up several notches. We should also take into account Shawn’s creative and business savvy in choosing to continue to work with the perfect people on this album, most notably his longtime songwriting partner, Teddy Geiger.

Standout tracks: “Fallin’ All In You”, “Lost In Japan”, “Nervous”, “Particular Taste”, “Why”, and “Mutual”.

5. MAY // Phantom [EP]

MAY is someone that truly only comes around once in a blue moon. I used this phrasing because she evokes that type of nostalgia and so does her absolutely mesmerizing EP, “Phantom”. Harkening back to days of Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack and when jazz standards were the Pop hits. MAY and her Phantom EP brought some of those ghosts forward in the most heartbreaking and beautiful manner. With elements of gothic charm strewn throughout, the “Phantom” EP was not dated whatsoever. Her voice was a siren call to anyone who has ever felt any type of loss or heartbreak. The personal interludes from her life interspersed on the EP were a lovely and thoughtful touch. The only other thing I would tell you to do besides listening to MAY is too see her live, as that is a special experience all on its own.

Standout tracks: Falling, Last September, Northern Lights, and Baby Save Me Tonight.

6. James Bay // Electric Light

James Bay is the third artist of three on this list I saw twice this year live (the other two being Bishop Briggs and Bastille). Electric Light really was all over the place but in the best way possible. We saw James dip his musical toes into so many other genres such as RnB, Pop, Soul, Electronic, and even a bit of edgier Rock on “Electric Light” and for what it’s worth it made a solid effort that grew on me as the year wore on. Seeing him play these songs live from the record and hearing how hard he worked on these tracks gave me a new perspective on the album. Edgier cuts like “Pink Lemonade”, with its punk leanings, “Fade Out” with soul and RnB swagger, “Us” and “Wild Love” in there soft beauty stand out the most for me. “Slide” and “Wanderlust” and “Stand Up” are all also great moments. The album despite its confusing genre blending moments turned out to be a favorite of mine because of the talent behind all of it. Something that is still quite hard to find.

Standout tracks: “Wild Love”, “Pink Lemonade”, “Us”, “Fade Out”, “Slide” and “Wanderlust”.

7. Saint Clair // D2 [EP]

This soulful EP by Childcare bassist and newcomer Emma Topolski truly came out of nowhere for me. If you follow this blog you know I have previously reviewed it but as the months wore on and after repeated listens it just stayed with me. The overall haunting and forlorn vibes flow throughout the EP. Although the genre leans towards Electro and Indie you can very much hear other elements and genres that Saint Clair found inspiration in. The EP opens up with the groovy electro-pop jam “Human Touch” and Saint Clair’s smoky sexy timbre sets the tone for the rest of EP. On the utterly tragic “I’ll Stay” you can hear echoes of nightclubs and smoky jazz clubs amidst the track. The pumping 80s like synth beat you hear dropping in and out only adds to the dark mystery of the song. “D2” for being something that came out of nowhere was certainly a welcome and beautiful surprise.

Standout tracks: “I’ll Stay”, “I’m Still Standing”, and “Human Touch”.

8. Rationale // High Hopes

From the opening notes on “Explosions”, I can tell that the “High Hopes” EP has Rationale in a much different head space and form. His influences have gone far beyond his home base which is London and cultural influences of Africa (in particularly Zimbabwe). The opening track opens with sounds that any touring musician is familiar with, sounds from an audience before transitioning into a throbbing bass line. A sound that is more familiar in Hip-Hop and RnB songs in America. The rest of the EP unfolds at a lovely pace with Rationale digging in quite well to what he’s great at …creating heartfelt and emotional songs with lyrics that can be felt amongst a cross-section of people. On the title track “High Hopes” his voice is strongest I’ve heard and “One by One” we see him fuse London, African drums and beats as well as the influences gained from touring to create an absolute banger. No wonder this EP stood out for me garnering repeated listens.

Standout tracks: “Explosions”, “High Hopes, and “One By One”.

9. Akine // Don’t Foster Fear [EP]

This is such a heavy set of songs lyrically that you would not expect it to come from someone so young, 16 to be exact. Akine is a wise artist and old soul, something you find out quite quickly as the EP plays out. The use of electronic instruments is not drastically overdone so Akine’ slightly raspy and haunting vocals are not drowned out. Songs like “Money In Your Mouth” can speak to anyone having to deal with a certain type of guy that uses his fame (or power) and wealth to show off. The track also has a slight disco feel to it. My favorite tracks “No Gold” and “Pray for the Prey” stays with you long after you’ve heard it. The vocals have a pleading feeling to them, making the messaging behind those lyrics all the more urgent and Akine well aware.

Standout tracks: “Pray for the Prey”, “No Gold”, and “Money In Your Mouth”.

10. Lauv // I met you when I was 18

Technically a playlist/album but I think one of the most cohesive yet underrated albums this year. Lauv had a banner year with his mega-hit “I Like Me Better” that seemed like it came out of nowhere. That song is also how this album playlist opens up, introducing you to Lauv“Blue World”. So through beautifully layered vocals, melodies, electronic elements combined with live instruments and lovelorn lyrics, Most notably in songs like “Reforget” and “Paris In The Rain”. Lauv creates a world with this album, that not only has encapsulated young love and heartbreak for this era but beautifully tells his story. It’s no wonder people have been flocking to his shows.

Standout Tracks: “I Like Me Better”, “Paris In The Rain”, “Reforget”, “Comfortable”, and “Easy Love”.

So there it is a little late then normal but done with care. Let me know you thoughts in the comment section or on social media! 🙂

Until then,

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! 🙂

Brittney W.

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Good grief!

The Bastille boys have done it again, my favorite band has a knack for surprising us fans with music out of the blue and in this case beautiful shot soundcheck videos! If you haven’t seen Bad News it’s linked.

So with only a day of warning my favorite South London based band released the amazingly cinematic live performance version of their latest single Quarter Past Midnight. It was filmed during soundcheck at the Royal Albert Hall in London on the bands’ ReORCHESTRATED tour.

The video not only beautifully shot but well edited is interspersed with clips from the actual live show. All which help to not only capture the high energy and freneticism of a Quarter Past Midnight but a Bastille live show as well. It also features a bigger glimpse into the choir and the orchestra that was a major part of the ReORCHESTRATED tour for those who could not be apart. But don’t only take my word for it. Go watch now below …

“QUARTER PAST MIDNIGHT” // (LIVE FROM ROYAL ALBERT HALL)”

Until then,

Brittney W.

The British band ‘The Kill a King’ who are near and dear to my heart has an exciting new gig you need to hear about. And yes it is of the charitable kind.

The band which features members, Ralph Pellymounter, James Ball, Josh Taffel, Grant McNeil, & Ben Jackson are headlining their first fundraising gig in support of a addiction and mental health charity named “Music Support”. The concert (on May 28th) will be held at Omera in London, UK & hosted by Pearse Grady at Baker Boy Music and Amy Gordon of Diamond Jacks Management.

“This our first ever fundraising show and we are incredibly proud and excited that a band with the calibre of To Kill A King are joining us. It goes to show that we are really receiving support from all areas of the industry across the board, and events like this enable us to continue providing the crucial services to the industry that we saw such a need for.”
– Matt Thomas, Music Support founding trustee

The band ‘To Kill A King’ released their latest album, “The Spiritual Dark Age” this past January to a set of devoted fans and led by a string of single releases which include the title track. The record is a mix of soft acoustic guitar tracks to more upbeat jazzy rock numbers. The band followed up this album release with a opening tour slot with the band ‘Bastille’ on the “Reorchestrated” tour.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the ‘Music Support’ charity to help achieve it’s mission of insuring that no one in the UK music industry who suffers with addiction and mental health issues alone.

“Music Support do incredibly important work in an industry that can be exploitative of its artists and when we were asked to get involved, we jumped at the chance. Omeara is one of our favourite small venues and we’re planning on making it a really special night,”
– ‘To Kill a King’ guitarist, Grant McNeill.

To Kill a King’ has invited Singer-Songwriter Charlie Barnes, who has also toured with Bastille as both an opening act and most notably as a touring member, to perform with them. Charlie’s beautiful and atmospheric second album “Oceanography” was released back in March with the second single “Bruising” released on May 4th. The band have also invited Monty Taft to open the show. The 18 year old Singer-Songwriter from Jersey whose unique sound is genre blending allowing him to gain critical acclaim and music industry interest since releasing his first single “These Walls” in 2015. At 18 he has already performed at over 400 live shows. Monty Taft’s latest single, “Delay” is out now.

“It’s such an honour to have been asked to be part of this night for Music Support. Being involved in music can be a pretty weird job; of course it has its dizzying highs, but those can’t exist without some, in my experience, fairly daunting lows. It can be so easy to feel like you’re the only person in the world experiencing tough times in this industry, but organisations like Music Support are doing wonderful work to help us all feel a little bit less like we’re on our own. I’m also, like, totally pumped to get to see my new best buds To Kill A King again, and make a new friend in the Marvellous Monty Taft”
– Charlie Barnes

So folks if you’re in London on May 28th. This is a gig not to be missed. A great lineup of talented musicians all looking to help a great cause in a celebratory manor.

Tickets are on sale now!

Follow Music Support here:
Twitter: (@Musicsupport_uk)
Instagram: (@Musicsupport_uk)
Follow To Kill a King’ here:
Twitter: (@ToKillAKing)
Instagram: (@ToKillAKing)
Follow Charlie Barnes here:
Twitter: (@CharlieBarnes)
Instagram: (@CharlieBarnesMusic)
Follow Monty Taft here:
Twitter: (@MontyTaft)
Instagram: (@MontyTaft)
Follow Omeara London:
Twitter: (@OmearaLondon)
Listen to ‘To Kill A King’
Listen to ‘Charlie Barnes’
Listen to ‘Monty Taft’

Brittney W.

Hey kiddos, I’m back with another album review. Actually two. But the first review is the stunning record by the British Singer-Songwriter, Charlie Barnes who is also a touring band member with Bastille. The album is named “Oceanography” and aptly named as well. The entire album surrounding my ears with lush vocals and guitar tones all made to sound or correlate with the ocean I could only guess. The cover even features a circle of abstract ocean blues in the middle of a colorless nothing.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Barnes
Oceanography by Charlie Barnes

The opening track on “Oceanography” is quite a usual one appropriately titled “Intro”. The uniqueness of “Intro” fully sets in when you realize it’s all drowned out chatter, footsteps and random commotion. So … wait?! Are we in a Coffee shop Charlie? Next, we segue into the title track which is very reminiscent of Brit-Pop in the 90s with added electro elements and sweeping guitars. I even hear some classical instrumentation in the back which add to the dramatics of the song. We next launch into “Will and Testament” which also show how much touring with Bastille has influenced the Derbyshire musician. Not only are Dan Smiths’ (Bastille lead singer) vocals featured in the background. You can truly hear here the electronic production the most. On songs “Oceanography” and “Will And Testament” Charlie’s voice which is so unique and unlike most voices out there soars the most. Songs like “Bruising” and “Ruins” showcase more of Charlie’s roots as a musician with heavy melodic elements and acoustic guitar. “One Word Answers” is a fun guitar jam that’s heavy on the drums and melody. The chorus is where it truly shines through, with the lyric; “And I only give you one-word answers”. Pay attention for that high note and the bits of tambourine throughout!

“The Departure”, “Legacy”, and “Former Glories” are all slower more peaceful moments on the album that remind me of the tide rolling in. Where Charlie’s voice is at the forefront with more introspective lyrics. I even hear a bit of very early Coldplay with a slight jazzy or Bossa Nova vibe. The mood picks up slightly with “Maria” which has a slight shuffle to it beat … And a quite lovely guitar solo. The mood picks up even more with “All I have” which has a beautiful message all packed into this song. Never give up your dreams (in this case creative ones) no matter how hard it gets. You also must check out the video which I’ll post below! We end “Oceanography” with “The Weather”. A bittersweet piano-driven ballad with the most heartfelt lyrics, that features a coffee analogy in the beginning just like album’s “Intro” does.

Photo Courtesy of Charlie Barnes

Link to buy and stream: Oceanography

Charlie Barnes – All I Have (Official Video) https://youtu.be/C_oSzAHLGwc

Charlie Barnes Socials:

|Official Website|Twitter | Facebook| Instagram|YouTube|

Much love,
Brittney 🙂 xx

Twitter: @trbcreative
Instagram: @trbcreative