Best of 2018 - Simon Raymonde of Bella Union
We asked some of our favourite labels to tell us what their top tracks and EPs/Albums of 2018 were.
First up Cocteau Twins legend and head honcho at the marvellous Bella Union label - Simon Raymonde with his considered selections and a little bit about why he picked each one.
Helado Negro Please Won’t Please
Up there for me as one of the tracks of the year. A great producer and collaborator, (loved his project with Julianna Barwick a few years back called Ombre!) I was so excited when I saw he had new music out. This is just thrilling from start to finish.
There is a delicate balance to achieve when delivering observation and critique in an acerbic and yet also witty manner. Fatimeh Warner is clearly a brilliant and modern voice holding a mirror up to today’s America, today’s global ills. The duality in her work is also what makes it so special. She doesn’t spit out the burns, she almost whispers them. It’s so unusual and so affecting. As she describes it herself “I make lullaby rap music”.
TVAM These Are Not Your Memories
This has that euphoric feel about it. Sounds “familiar” like you know it already. It’s got all the right ingredients but ultimately it’s that fine combination of great writing and thoughtful production. Plus it’s an immediate ear worm. In this case, in a good way.
UMO - American Guilt.
Love bands who confound my expectations, my lazy jaundiced view of them. When they arrived on the scene all those years ago, I thought it was ok. They were great players but the music didn’t really connect with me. Holy cow, I caught them this year and heard the new record and could NOT believe it was the same band. What a groove, what soul they have. Phenomenal band.
Young Fathers “Holy Ghost”.
Loved them from the beginning and yet...a while back I was asked to DJ a charity event they were headlining in Shoreditch ( I live down in East Sussex) and was meant to play 2 hours of vinyl after they finished up till closing time. Sounded great and I spent a good while choosing me tunes for the night, set off to catch the train to London and arrived at the venue around 11pm (they were due off stage around 1130pm) and yet they hadn’t even gone on yet. It all over ran a bit which was fine and they were, of course, fantastic. As they started packing up, I sidled over to the side of stage where the table for DJing had been set up and stood with me vinyl next to the table waiting for someone to give me the nod. There were no turntables set up so I imagined it would happen imminently. It didn’t. No music after the set, band waltzed off, I’m guessing /hoping, oblivious to my existence and then all the audience who id hoped to be playing for, all left. After an embarrassed bit of shuffling around, the crew and promoter suggested they pack down and close up as no one was around. I went off Young Fathers for 24 hours but in hindsight why would they have even known who I was and who cares anyway. They blow me away. Fact.
The album is magic too and would make my top 5 list of Best of 2018
Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar
Khruangbin Con Todo El Mundo
They’re the best aren’t they? I love that a band can truly come out of nowhere with a name that doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as some, with instrumental music and yet be the sexiest funkiest soul band around. Sure there is plagiarism at the heart of their creations but so what? They’re just influenced by some rarer exotic grooves rather than being influenced by the same 4 indie bands that everyone else is listening to. That’s a band I wished I’d signed. Pipe Dreams Are Made Of This
Idles Joy As An Act Of Resistance
All the extravagant accolades usually put me right off a band but in Idles case every single one is justified. We are living in dark times and singers/writers like Joe are rare and beautiful and to be treasured. There’s a raw, brutal poetry to his work and I embrace this happening in 2018. Another incredible band from Bristol. We are blessed to have such art to help and guide us.
Haley Heynderickx I Need To Start A Garden
I sometimes think I’m not going to find another folk-tinged artist that connects with me in the way that many of the artists I love have done in the past. “There’s so much stuff out there.” And “I’m kinda over it” etc these things cross my mind and then I hear an album like this and I have to mentally slap myself around the head and wake up out of my cynics daydreams. This is quite one of the most gorgeous things I’ve heard in forever. Sublime.
The Vryll Society Course of the Satellite
I saw them in Liverpool a couple of years ago and they were incredible. They’re already one of the best young bands in the UK and I can only imagine how good they’re going to be in a few years time. The potential is frightening. The album is a superb debut and part of the reason I’m so excited about the UK music scene again. Bands like this and Penelope Isles have restored my faith which did waver for a long while through the 90’s and 2000’s.