Review of the year – Chris Middleton

Favourite Album: The Lemon Twigs – Go To School

The Lemon Twigs released one of the most eccentric albums of 2018. One which did not go down with the critics as I’d initially expected it to. Its ambition and the sheer scale of the record is what really captivated me. Initially it threw me off, then pulled me back in and now I can’t shake it off. The band label Go To School as a musical. What you get is a modern day Tommy. Go To School is equal parts bizarre and charming with plenty of classic rock chops.

Go To School is all about the performances, the band are all in with their concept and it’s key to it paying off. They’re shooting for something totally different to what they did on their much celebrated debut Do Hollywood. Considering the praise and accolade Do Hollywood received, following up with an album like Go To School is an incredibly bold move, but The Lemon Twigs seem to traffic exclusively in bold choices. Go To School deserves a proper looking into, one it didn’t really get the first time around. Its ambitious music and honestly quite silly storytelling is a perfect combination and a certain stand-out from this year.

Favourite Gig: Hinds – Concorde 2

When reflecting on shows I’ve seen this year something always brings me back to seeing Hinds at Concorde 2. There’s a level of fondness that comes back to me everytime I think of it. The band exude positive energy and carefree fun and are slowly becoming something of a cult item in the UK. After seeing them for the first time, I completely get it. Their live show is energetic and generally a very wholesome experience. Their music is simple, fun and relatable and the band’s love of being in a band overflows into the audience. It was a show that brought smiles all round and it still does to this day.

One We’ve Missed: Daniel Blumberg – Minus

The debut solo album from the former Yuck frontman was seemingly overlooked for most of this year. Blumberg essentially disappeared for several years and slowly rediscovered his voice and passion in the meantime. Minus is a tricky and abrasive listen to say the least, it’s an album that sounds broken and jagged, held together by thin pieces of wire. It’s liberatingly free from structures and almost any expectations. Considering the album had so little in the way of announcement and promotion, its release was almost a complete surprise.

It’s unfortunate that Minus is clearly the product of a very dark time for Blumberg. It’s an album that’s stone cold and at points even feels tragic. However, for all its cold broken moments it’s energising and inspiring. Blumberg now holds improvisation above anything else, all his live shows are raw and alive – you’ll never get an album accurate rendition. Minus is a unique album from a musician exploring and rediscovering himself and continues to be my favourite album from this year.

Chris Middleton

Top Three Tracks:

Noname – ‘Blaxploitation’
Pan Amsterdam – ‘The Lotion Song’
Kero Kero Bonito – ‘Only Acting’