Best of 2018

I listen to an awful lot of music every day, it’s my job and responsibility as a radio presenter. But most of all, it’s a labour of love digging out interesting stuff, making new discoveries in all directions. The end of the year makes me think of my ultimate favourite tunes, which is never an easy thing to do. However, here’s some kind of a Best Of list with some records and artists I especially enjoyed in 2018.

Adrianne Lenker – “Abysskiss” (Saddle Creek)

Some of you are probably familiar with Lenker as a guitarist and vocalist in Brooklyn-based indie rock band Big Thief. Her full-length solo record is a stripped-down singer-/songwriter approach and with this, she’s covering intimate emotions on her stroll along the abyss. In a way it’s hauntingly intense, but nevertheless comfort for your soul. Adrianne Lenker shows a subtle, otherworldly brilliance with her light fingerpicking on acoustic guitar while her songs are thoughtful, deep and poignant. And with this combination, there’s a true affinity to other outstanding artists like Judee Sill or Connie Converse.


Ari Roar – “Calm Down” (Bella Union)

Sometimes it’s true: great art comes from great pain. Adrianne Lenker has quite a history with being born into a religious cult and she almost died, when a railroad spike crashed her skull as a kid. And she managed to create something special in the wake of the tragedy, just like Caleb Campbell alias Ari Roar. The Texan singer-songwriter struggled with panic attacks from early on. As a late teenager, he had an operation on the spine, which left him bed-bound for months. Of course, these experiences have an impact. And in this case, he’s doing the best by channelling it into beautiful melodic lo-fi pop. The sweet miniatures on Calm Down might sound effortlessly in the first place, but there’s something else underneath the surface, with traces of doubts and fear. It’s a glorious debut for repeat listens.


Clearance – “At Your Leisure” (Topshelf)

This band provides a compelling sound by picking up familiar indie rock in a modern way. They create something fresh and interesting and already got a lot of praise here in my blog. If you like passionate, bright guitar music from the 80ties and 90ties, you should listen to this one.


Field Music – “Open Here” (Memphis Industries)

Whenever there’s a new Field Music record, it always ends up in my top ten of the year. Again, the spacious production on Open Here is exquisite, the compositions are intricate and classy. Field Music are ambitious, but they have all the knowledge and the talent to follow their visions. It’s a beautiful and well-crafted record that needs to be heard, because it has something to say. Maybe it’s all a bit too smart to reach the big crowd – but I’m sure the time will eventually come and Field Music get all the praise they deserve.


Lake Ruth – “Birds of America” (Feral Child Records)

They like to go under the banner “baroque pop”, but there’s so much more to discover in the music of Lake Ruth: from folk to jazz to avant-pop. I’m a fan of Matt Schulz since his days with Enon – he’s an excellent, versatile drummer. And singer Allison Brice, she has a way of phrasing her poetic lyrics in meandering harmonies like no other. All backed-up by a multi-layered smooth texture with a slight vintage touch. Lake Ruth are quite unique doing their own thing, and Birds of America is nothing less but an awe-inspiring masterpiece.


Shy Boys – “Bell House” (Polyvinyl)

Undeniably, these guys know how to sing! And the harmonies all perfectly meld together. It’s a special quality that only happens, when siblings start a band. The family sound is so intriguing because the harmonies are amazingly organic. Music history is filled with such examples and just like Field Music, the Shy Boys are band of brothers, supported by a couple of best friends. I summoned up a rave review earlier this year in my little blog here.


Stephen Steinbrink – “Utopia Teased” (Melodic / Western Vinyl)

This singer-/songwriter is a terrific talent. And again, we have an artist here, who knows a lot about the dark stuff in life. Stephen Steinbrink was left devastated after a fateful fire during a warehouse party in Oakland, California that killed 36 people in December 2016. After a couple of months stunned with grief, Steinbrink quit a minimum wage job, locked himself up in a shipping container with all sorts of music equipment, stimulated by a daily diet of LSD. And the songs started pouring out of him. Utopia Teased sounds a bit different, less perfect than his previous records. It’s a bit more daring with field recordings and synthesizers, but again it’s a collection of beautiful songs with substance and a hidden treasure for eternity.


Still Parade – “Soon Enough” (Feel Flows)

This is a very fine piece of work from Berlin, but made with love in LA. It feels like Niklas Kramer had a very clear vision for his new Still Parade album and he obviously put a lot of effort and thought into it. It sounds warm like a cozy blanket and puts the listener at ease. Of course, the Beach Boys influence is evident, but in a clever way. Smart harmonies combined with a startling sense of intimacy, and the formidable production brings out a nice vintage flair. It’s the kind of music that makes the world a better place. Sometimes, that’s just what you need.


The Fernweh – “The Fernweh” (Skeleton Key)

Yes, I am repeating myself here – I already picked this album for my Best Of list two years ago! Back then, I received a promotional copy from the band directly. Thankfully, it just got a proper release via Skeleton Key because this sublime debut is really exceptional. It’s a beautiful collection of hazy late 60s, early 70s inspired folk and pop, combined with a gentle nod to British psychedelia. Treat yourself & give it a listen, if you’re not already familiar with this. The Fernweh demonstrate an exceptional level of song craft and the record deepens with every listen.


Tony Molina – “Kill The Lights” (Slumberland)

Tony Molina is deeply rooted in 60s songwriting and DIY aesthetics. With Kill The Lights, he created a truly glorious pop record by offering 10 tracks in under 15 minutes. His sensitive songs are infectious and short to the point. Just like Ari Roar, Tony Molina is able to put it all into a 60-second song and I never get tired of listening – again and again. This really is a lovely, but as well soul-baring record.


Teenage Fanclub – Vinyl-Reissues (Sony)

Why should I be interested into these reissues when I already have all the vinyl of Teenage Fanclub in my collection? Well, guitarist and singer Raymond McGinley of the band explained to me: back in the 90s, the vinyl was just a copy of the CD. But if you want the best vinyl sound, you need a special mastering. That’s basically, what Teenage Fanclub did: they took the original master tapes, worked through all of them at Abbey Road Studios and improved the mastering for this new vinyl edition. And it really does make a difference, especially the new pressing of 1993s Thirteen is now more immediate and has a much better dynamic. Also, each essential album includes a bonus seven-inch single, mostly of tracks which originally appeared only on CD singles and EPs. To promote all these reissues from the Creation era, Teenage Fanclub played a very special concert series in Great Britain. Here’s my review of the nights in Birmingham and London, which also marks my concert highlight of 2018.


SUPER 8 – T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies/Turn Around Or…/HI LO (Futureman Rec)

Frequent listeners of my radio show already know about SUPER 8 – Paul Ryan a.k.a. Trip got a lot of airplay in 2018. Not only, because he put out a lovely mix of guitar pop as a one-man-band with all sorts of instruments like cello and trumpet. He also managed to surprise again and again with new top material. Three homemade full lengths were released this year on Futureman Records and it’s hard to pick a favourite album really. Each release is kind of special and filled with a laid-back and sunny charm. Backed up now and again with some thoughtful songs and well-curated cover versions. It looks like SUPER 8 will be back in 2019 with a more acoustic-based album – a thing looking forward to!

23th December 2018


Musik, die alles darf und nichts muss steht heute auf dem Programm bei Golden Glades. Oberstes Freewheeling-Gebot: Der Eingebung sind keine Grenzen gesetzt. Als Konsequenz haben wir es etwa mit Bakterien der Gattung Burkholderia zu tun – Anthony Rochester aus Tasmanien weiß ein erstaunlich fröhliches Lied darüber zu singen. Die Transkünstlerin Mich Cota ergründet auf Kijà / Care die Geister ihrer algonkinischen Herkunft in Verbindung mit elektronischer Avantgarde. Zudem gibt es eine bezaubernde Hommage an den begnadeten Arrangeur Sean O’Hagan: Der Norweger Terje Torkellsen hat ihm seine Debütsingle gewidmet und verwendet dazu ähnlich harmonische Farben wie der Besungene.
Freewheelin‘ Bob Dylan kommt zwar nicht zum Zuge, dafür stellt das Einmannprojekt SUPER 8 bereits sein drittes Album des laufenden Jahres vor und behauptet dort Bob Dylan Said That. Heimliche Hits am laufenden Band – wie ja eigentlich immer bei Golden Glades.

Diese Sendung war zu hören am Mittwoch, den 07.11.18 – 20:00-22:00 Uhr.
Wdh.: Samstag, 10.11. von 15:00-17:00 Uhr & Montag, 12.11. von 08:00-10:00 Uhr

Stream online here: ByteFM
Berlin: 91.0 MHz // Hamburg: 91.7 MHz


Mich CotaMadjashin / GoodbyeTin Angel Records
Jerry PaperSomething's Not RightStones Throw
Fenn is coolI Want To Be Rich and FamousZ Tapes
BrittaDie traurigsten MenschenStaatsakt
StereolabPop QuizDuophonic UHF Disks
Teenage FanclubAbout YouSony
Soft PeopleI Saw The Moon!Sandwich Kingdom
Dieterich & BarnesParasol GiganteLM Duplication
Astronauts, Etc.Stray ObservationsCompany Records
Ginger RootCall It HomeAcrophase Records
SUPER 8Bob Dylan Said ThatFutureman Records
Errant BoyTheme from 29 BusErrant Media
Du BlondeBuddyMoshi Moshi
Alexander TuckerObjectsThrill Jockey
Adrianne LenkerSymbolSaddle Creek
Nicholas KrgovichGoofyTin Angel Records
Invisible MindsThe Cut GirlMoshi Moshi
Anthony RochesterBurkholderiaJigsaw
CrepesDark DemonsSpunk Records
Robert SoteloLooking BackwardNicey Music
Terje TorkellsenSeanSellout! Music
The SeamsOn The ShelfMeritorio Records
ClearanceDestination WeddingTopshelf Records
ClearanceRumored SequelTopshelf Records
Molly BurchTo The BoysCaptured Tracks
Cape WeatherNever SayFuture Gods
IogiI Fell AgainRaw Tapes Records
IogiDelicate CreatureRaw Tapes Records
Lake Ruth & Listening CenterOnly An OceanKleine Untergrund Schallplatten
You Tell MeInvisible InkMemphis Industries
GulpFollowing RainE.L.K. Records


Thinking about Chicago, the jazz-inspired post-rock scene pops into my mind. Experimental-folk, alt-country and avant-rock delivered by inspiring labels like Touch and Go, Thrill Jockey or Drag City. It goes without question that the city gave a home to burgeoning genres and outstanding talents throughout decades. Nevertheless, I was slightly surprised to hear the band Clearance also hails from Chicago.

The quartet has been around since 2013, but I just discovered them with their sophomore record At Your Leisure (out on Topshelf Records). And this album instantly got me. It sounds to me like a good friend from the 90ties, a comrade I’ve missed far to long. But at first, I wasn’t quite sure where this friend was actually coming from.

That’s because Clearance have a lot of familiarity and expertise to offer: there’s the slacker attitude of Pavement in songs like Destination Wedding or Gallery Glare. Jangly moments taking you back to bright guitar-pop made in Britain. But then again slightly dissonant and complex sounds referring to Sonic Youth. Furthermore, there’s is a good feel of Kiwi-pop in the mix: strumming guitars with breezy tunes full of earworms.

It’s all thrillingly unpredictable what Clearance have to offer and it all sounds pretty organic and easy. And now writing this down, it makes perfectly sense this band is located in Chicago. This place has always been one of the best for innovative and reflective musicians and a good breeding ground for freewheeling indie rock bands – just like Clearance!

22nd October 2018

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial