Top 10 Lists 2018 #23


Album of the year

  1. Jon Hopkins - Singularity
  2. Low - Double Negative
  3. Idles - Joy as an Act of Resistance
  4. Beach House - 7
  5. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs
  6. Parquet Courts - Wide Awake
  7. Belle & Sebastian - How to solve our human problems
  8. Villagers - The Art of Pretending to Swim

Gig of the year

Film of the year

  1. Three Billboard outside Ebbing, Missouri
  2. You were never really here
  3. Free Solo
  4. Roma
  5. Lady bird
  6. Black '47
  7. Black Panther
  8. Phanthom Thread
  9. Annihilation
  10. A quiet Place


Scott Balikian  Declan Bates  Enda Bates  Garbhán Blake  Mark Butcher  Gerard Cagney  Brian Fenton  Tom Corcoran  Tony Corrigan  Zoe Eustace  Richie Evans  Martin Hayes  Ronan Hickey  Chris Louca  Niall Lynch  Dave McGuinness  Derek Murphy  Mary Naughton  Martin O'Gorman  Caroline O'Reilly  Mat Thomas 

Scott Balikian

I've been unemployed all year, so I haven't spent much money on music. I did just pick up JD McPherson's Christmas album, "Socks" which I love. I've never listened to him much before, but will probably give it a listen. I've also continued to listen to the same stuff that I enjoyed last year - John Moreland, Tom Waits and Jason Isbell. I know I made it out to some shows this year, but I can't recall which. I recently looked at the A.V. Club's top 20 albums of the year and I only had heard of 3 of the artists.

Oh, here... My favorite song of 2018 is "Ghlana" by Noura Mint Seymali. I haven't gotten the album yet, but this song just floored me in its emotion and power.

In life, I've had a good year. Spent it keeping my son alive. He turned 1 on July 30th.

I made it to NYC to catch my first broadway play with my wife and her sister (Harry Potter). It was their choice and production was impressive. I was really confused at the sound, though as it sounded horrible. The music really seemed canned too.

Made it to Cuba too which was interesting. Wish I could have spent more time there to explore, but the US makes it hard to do.

A couple cool milestones - I climbed Mt. Stuart here in Washington State for the 2nd time, then a week later met my 18 year old nephew and hiked a week of the Pacific Crest Trail with him. He completed the whole thing from Mexico to Canada. I only did 5 days, but it was really enlightening.

And we made it to Oktoberfest again this year.

Hope everyone had a great year and a better 2019!

Declan Bates

The louder I call, the faster it runs – Wye Oak
Muchacho de Lujo – Phosphorescent
What’s next to the moon – Mark Kozelek
Ghosts of the great highway – Sun Kil Moon
Apollo Atmospheres and Soundtracks – Brian Eno
Discreet Music – Brian Eno
Visions of a life – Wolf Alice
Somersault – Decoder Ring
Con todo el mundo – Khruangbin
New energy – Four Tet

Enda Bates

Top Ten Music (quite a few here are from previous years, but I only caught up with them in 2018)
1. Beak - >>>
2. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
3. Protomartyr - The Agent Intellect
4. Josh T. Pearson - The Straight Hits
5. Donnacha Costello - one two three four five six
6. Pauline Oliveros - Accordion & Voice
7. Xylouris White - Black Peak
8. Godspeed You! Black Emporer - Luciferian Towers
9. mogwai every country's sun
10. Richard Dawson - Nothing Important

Top Ten TV (there was a lot of good TV this year)
1. Atlanta
2. Better Call Saul
3. The Terror
4. Corporate
5. The Deuce
6. Sharp Objects
7. Escape at Dannemora
8. My Brilliant Friend
9. Maniac
10. Homecoming

Honourable Mentions (Billions, Bojack Horseman, Succession, The Americans, Barry)

Top Ten Films
1. You Were Never Really Here
2. Roma
3. Phantom Thread
4. Annihilation
5. Sorry to Bother You
6. Black '47
7. The Death of Stalin
8. The Endless
9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
10. A Quiet Place

Garbhán Blake

Blocker's Best of 2018

Highlights of my year.....


  1. Nils Frahm - NCH
  2. Really excited about this from a long way out - surpassed all expectations. 6 Keyboards arranged in 2 horseshoes on the stage - Nils going manically from one to the other recording loops and playing melodies. Incredible from start to finish.
  3. David Byrne - 3 Arena
  4. His live shows never disappoint. This time, all twelve band members are mobile (all drums are strapped to percussionists) and loosely choreographed to songs that range from the late seventies to today. Didn't have as many Talking Heads classics as the recent NCH show - but brilliant nonetheless.
  5. Michael Chapman - Whelans Upstairs
  6. Amazing jazz / folk guitar playing from a 77 year old legend. Didn't know the first thing about him before I went into the show - his record was on continuous play for a couple of weeks afterwards.
  7. Nick Cave & Patti Smith - Kilmainham


  1. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs
  2. Nils Frahm - All Melody
  3. Jon Hopkins - Singularity
  4. Low - Double Negative
  5. Olafr Arnalds - re:member
  6. Bill Ryder Jones - Yawn
  7. Parquet Courts - Wide Awake
  8. Phosphorescent - C'est La Vie
  9. Richard Swift - The Hex
  10. Mark Lanegan, Duke Garwood - With Animals

Honourable Mentions

Sporting events...

The hurling final was amazing - edge of the seat stuff. Was in among Limerick supporters and they were convinced it was all lost when Joe Canning took control in the last 10 minutes. Great to be caught up with the madness and jubilation at the end - for me The Cranberries will always be associated with that outpouring of joy. Football final was predictable - incredible to see Dublin being so dominant - but like Kilkenny up to recently does not make for a great spectacle.

The stars aligned for me to attend game 6 of the National League Championship Series (World Series semi-final!) in Milwaukee where the Brewers took on the Dodgers. Despite a poor start, Brewers came back for great win. Incredible atmosphere and result to take the Series to a game 7 in Milwaukee. Didn't really have an option to stay for it - and really knew that they hadn't got the strength in depth to take the decider the following night. Fantastic to see the smallest market team putting it up to the big boys.

Last minute ticket to see the All Blacks in Aviva. Didn't expect a win - was confident that Ireland would keep in competitive for 50/60 minutes. Couldn't believe the dominance of the home team. Memorable night.

Mark Butcher


Top Ten

  1. Joy as an Act of Resistance - IDLES
  2. Hope Downs - Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
  3. Wide Awake! - Parquet Courts
  4. High As Hope - Florence + The Machine
  5. Revolution Of Mind - She Drew The Gun
  6. Psychic Data - TVAM
  7. Move Through The Dawn - The Coral
  8. Tell Me How You Really Feel - Courtney Barnett
  9. 1, 2 Kung Fu - Boy Azooga
  10. God’s Favorite Customer - Father John Misty

Honourable Mentions


Top Ten

  1. Nick Cave - All Points East Festival, Victoria Park, London
  2. IDLES - o2 Institute, Birmingham
  3. Florence + The Machine - Genting Arena, Birmingham
  4. Arcade Fire - Genting Arena, Birmingham
  5. The Flaming Lips - Blue Dot Festival
  6. The Chemical Brothers - Blue Dot Festival
  7. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hare And Hounds, Birmingham
  8. Parquet Courts - SWX, Bristol
  9. First Aid Kit - o2 Academy, Birmingham
  10. The Coral - o2 Institute, Birmingham

Honourable Mentions


Top Ten

  1. Black Mirror - Bandersnatch (Netflix)
  2. BlacKkKlansman
  3. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Netflix)
  4. Black Panther
  5. Avengers: Infinity War
  6. Annihilation (Netflix)
  7. Black 47
  8. They Shall Not Grow Old
  9. Spiderman into the Spiderverse
  10. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Gerard Cagney

dj koze - knock knock

beach house - 7

amen dunes - freedom

wadada leo smith - solo

tom harrell - moving picture

ambrose akinmusire - origami harvest

hilary hahn - bach solo violin works

macmillan - stabat mater

barry douglas - brahms complete solo piano

strauss - four last songs (nina stemme)

eric satie - socrete (barbara hannigan)

and some nostalgia:

john & beverley martin - the road to ruin:

fairport convention - liege & lief

julie covington - the beautiful changes 2

Tom Corcoran

Albums  Song  Vinyl  Gigs  Play  Film Documentary  TV Series  Reading  Podcast  Armchair Sport  Hike  Climb  Swim  Run  Destination  Breakfast  Game  Productivity hack  Gadget  App  Browser Extensions 



  1. Persona - Rival Consoles
  2. Singularity - Jon Hopkins
  3. Piano & a microphone 1983 - Prince
  4. Dance Music - Mastersystem
  5. All Nerve - The Breeders
  6. Big Red machine - Big Red Machine
  7. Black Panther soundtrack
  8. SR3MM - Rae Sremmurd
  9. Black in Deep Red, 2014 (EP 2018) - Moses Sumney
  10. Pleasure - Le Galaxie
Honourable mentions
  1. Daniel Avery - Song for Alpha
  2. The art of pretending to swim - Villagers
  3. Aldous Harding - Party
  4. The How - The Redneck Manifesto
  5. Still EP - Mazzy Star
  6. Gardenia - J Colleran
  7. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Sparkle Hard
  8. Anna von Hausswolff - Dead Magic
  9. Nils Frahm - All Melody
  10. Engine Alley - Showroom
  11. Compro - Skee Mask

Song of the year

  1. Peaks troughs & graves - Mastersystem
  2. Spacewoman - The Breeders
  3. Bells & Circles - Iggy Pop & Underworld


  1. Prince - Piano & Microphone (1983)
  2. Pearson Sound - Rubble (12")
  3. Dean Wareham - Luna Demos
  4. Fabriclive 100: Kode9 & Burial
  5. Luna - A place of greater safety
  6. Luna - A Sentimental Education
  7. Engine Alley - Showroom
  8. Thom Yorke - Suspiria


I missed live music this year. It's my biggest pleasure but an expensive business to frequently gig from the midlands. I sold my Electric Picnic ticket this year too so no bulking out of life shows from a festival.

  1. Talos - Dolan's Limerick, 21 Dec
  2. Engine Alley Workman's club, Dublin, Showroom album launch - 14 Sep


  1. Grief is the thing with Feathers - Adapted by Enda Walsh, written by Max Porter, staring Cillian Murphy - 19 Mar, Black Box Galway

Big screen films

  1. Three Billboard outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh)
  2. The shape of water (Guillermo del Toro)
  3. Lady bird (Greta Gerwig)
  4. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee)
  5. Phanthom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  6. Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton) - 9 Feb, Dublin Film festival
  7. You were never really here (Lynne Ramsay)
  8. Black Panther (Ryan Coogler)
  9. Creed 2 (Steven Caple Jr)
  10. Let The Sunshine In (Claire Denis)
Honourable mentions Family film of the year
  1. Paddington 2
  2. Mamma Mia here we go again

Big screen documentaries

  1. Free Solo - 12 Dec, Lighthouse, Dublin
  2. The other side of everything (Druga Strana Svega) - 9 Feb, Dublin Film festival
  3. Banff Film festival Red program - 9 May, National Concert hall, Dublin

Small screen films

Available on Netflix

  1. Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
  2. Annhilation (Alex Garland)
  3. Sicario (Dennis Villeneuve)
  4. Million Dollar baby (Clint Eastwood)
  5. Don't Breathe (Fede Álvarez)
  6. Wind River (Taylor Sheridan)
  7. To all the boys I've loved before (Susan Johnson)
  8. Hold the Dark (Jeremy Saulnier)
  9. Prisoners (Dennis Villeneuve)
  10. Set It Up (Claire Scanlon)
Honourable mentions

Small screen documentaries

  1. Meru
  2. Wild wild country
  3. Players of the faithful
  4. Whistleblower: The Maurice McCabe Story
  5. Karl Meltzer: Made to Be Broken
  6. Safety Third
  7. Under an artic sky
  8. The Longest Swim

TV Series

  1. The Handmaid's Tale S01
  2. The Handmaid's Tale S02
  3. High Maintenance S02
  4. Better Call Saul S04
  5. The Good fight S02
  6. Maniac - 10 episodes mini series
  7. Sharp Objects - mini series
  8. Succession S01
  9. Press - 6 part BBC
  10. Dynasties
Honourable mentions

All the honourable mentions below are great TV too, when will this golden age stop?

  1. Detectorists S02
  2. Spiral (Engrenages) S06
  3. Black Mirror S03
  4. Black Mirror S04
  5. The Bridge (Broen) S04
  6. Westworld S02
  7. Big City Lies S01
  8. Killing Eve
  9. The Sinner S02
  10. Mr Mercedes S02
The rest, for the record
  1. Silicon Valley S05
  2. La Mante - French Mini series
  3. The Bodyguard S01
  4. The Affair S04
  5. Alerted Carbon S01
  6. Safe S01 (Harlon Cobon)
  7. Suits Season 7
  8. The Walking Dead S08.2 & The Walking Dead S09.1


  1. Push - Tommy Caldwell
  2. Exit Strategy (A Nick Mason Novel) - Steve Hamilton
  3. The Cow book - John Connell
  4. North - Scott Durek
  5. On the Nose - Hans Florine & Jayme Moye
  6. Stealing Fire, How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work - Steven Kotler, Jamie Wheal (Audio book)
  7. The 5 Second Rule - Mel Robbins (Audio book)

I made the top 1% of readers in Pocket, it says I read 2.5m words in 2018, equivalent to 34 books. Here are some of the articles I recommend:


  1. West Cork
  2. Serial Season 1 + Updates
  3. 30 for 30 Podcasts Season 3
  4. 30 for 30 Podcasts Season 4
  5. Second Captains
  6. Jam Crack - Niall Grimes climbing Podcast
  7. The Blindboy podcast
  8. WTF (Mark Maron)

Armchair Sports

Definitely reduced armchair sports watching this year but caught come crackers.

  1. All Ireland Hurling, Limerick 3-16 V Galway 2-18
  2. Ireland beating the All Blacks
  3. XXIII PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games - Men's slope style - Red Gerard, Colorado (17)
  4. Ester Ledecka - Olympic Gold in women’s super-G skiing & snowboarding parallel slalom
  5. Shaun White winning his 3rd Halfpipe Olympic gold
  6. SuperBowl - Eagles 41 V Pats 33
  7. Ireland V France 6 nations
  8. Mbappé at the world cup

Hike of the year

Climb of the year

Swim of the year

Run of the year

Destination of the year

Breakfast of the year

Game of the year

Productivity hack


  1. Doogee X20L Dual sim phone

Android Apps

Browser Extensions

  1. Grammarly - a must, correct your grammar on the fly for anything you write in a browser

Tony Corrigan

Top Ten 2018


The 4 of Us, Whelans, January Saw them on a Tom Corcoran recommendation sometime c.1989 and have admired from afar. Very decent lads and a great show...they don't seem to have stopped touring since....

Network, National Theatre, February It was the day before when a reminder flashed up on my computer of something called Network. I'd no idea what that was; rang Maeveanne in New York who thought it might be a play... Indeed, I'd booked tickets so long ago, I'd forgotten - anyway couple of flights later and we were enjoying the majesty of Bryan Cranston....Alls well that ends well!

Boys & Girls, Royal Court, March Another play I didn't manage to get tickets for so had to do a stub hub on it. I'd seen Carey Mulligan a couple of years back and she was amazing so couldn't really pass this one-hander up....she was entirely majestic again!

Boston Marathon, Boston, April Not sure I'd call this a highlight (I've written about it elsewhere), but it was certainly an experience. I think I'll give it another go in 2020 to celebrate being 50 and still acting like a young fella!

Grief is a thing with Feathers, Belvedere College, April. Enda Walsh's most recent (re)exploration of the themes of grief and death. Cillian Murphy was 'the show' - awesome as they say...

Nick Cave & Patti Smith, Kilmainham, June - Wow! Patti was amazing and Nick was even better. Never seen either before and it was so much more than I expected - even with the hype of all those who'd been at the Olympia a few years back. t

Robyn Hitchcock & the Squires, Manchester Academy Robyn with a full band. This show easily slotted into the top 5 of all time gigs I've been to. Less than 200 people, in an underground 'club'. Mesmerising on every level. .

Robyn Hitchcock , Workmans Club - Couple of weeks after Manchester, saw Robyn Solo in Dublin - first time in 20 years and fantastic as always..

John Cale, NCH You'd want to be a fan to have appreciated this...I'm a fan so I did!!.

Fussen Marathon Romantik, July Not sure what I was thinking but as I was on holiday in Bavaria and there was a marathon going, I did it....poorly mind.

Dublin City Marathon, Oct 31 Yay, a PB or even a Boston Qualifying time for 2020!

The Breeders, May - Kim Deal is still the coolest women in rock. The Breeders are so uplifting - totally amazing show- best gig of the year after Robyn in Manchester.

Courtney Barnett, Nov, Olympia-Normally Dave sponsors my gig going, but I got him back on this one. Great gig entirely

The Good, the bad and the Queen, Dec, Hackney For some reason this Damon Albarn combo were playing a 750 capacity venue in London and I was there. Incredibly intimate gig with multiple legendary ,musicians on show....genius

Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dec, Koko - Charlotte is fierce shy apparently so doesn't play much. Not often I'd go to a gig full of French London, but had to be there as I've been a fan for a while. Interesting rather than great...


Starting where I finished off, I got the first 5 John LeCarre books - love his style. Added another few Robert Harris to the list and read multiple business books from the House that Jack Built to Cliff Lerners lessons learnt while losing $75m


  1. House of Cards Season 5, Netflix
  2. Better Call Saul, Season 4, Netflix
  3. The Handmaids Tale, Season 2, Sky


I've listened to a lot this year...but not much that's 'new'. It's not that I'm not interested, just that it's really hard to actually find new things that aren't just 'things recommended because of something else that you like'....wonder would somebody come up with an app for that! A random music generator!!

Zoe Eustace

So here’s my Top 10s or there abouts. I may be a little biased in one or two of my choices but I stand by my decisions :)


Better Call Saul
The Terror
My Brilliant Friend
The Deuce
Escape from Dannemora
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

Honourable mentions: Sharp Objects, Harlots s2, Flowers, South Park, Ozark s2


You Were Never Really Here
First Reformed
The Phantom thread
Sorry To Bother You
A Quiet Place
The Kindergarten Teacher


Beach House - 7
The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock - Lockout
Protomartyr - Consolation
Josh T Pearson - The Straight Hits
Metz - Strange Peace
Cat Power - Wanderer
Julia Holter - Aviary
Rostam - Half Light


Metz - Whelan’s
Josh T Pearson - Whelan’s
The Spook of the Thirteeth Lock - Pepper Canister Church
British Sea Power - Whelan’s
Rostam - Workman’s Club
Gavin Bryars- NCH

And so it goes,


Richie Evans

Same issue with 2018 as with previous years, only more so. Too much music, too little time.

Top 10 Albums (in no particular order)

No album truly knocked me back on my heels this year, but there were a lot of really good releases.

Top 10 Electro Albums (in no particular order)

Top 10 Gigs (in no particular order)

2018 Live Moments

2018 Distractions.

Brian Fenton

very quick list of music

S. Carey
Tom Adams
James Holden
Let's Eat Grandma
Hannah Peel
Ger Lane
Peter Broderick
Cigarettes After Sex
C Duncan

Plus a Spotify playlist of the songs that Spotify tells me I listened to in 2018 (even though I don't even know some of them)

Martin Hayes


1. Jason Isbell - Live from the Ryman.
2. Bruce Springsteen - Live on Broadway.
3. Half Man Half Biscuit - No one cares about your creative hub so get your fucking hedge cut.
4. Camp Cope - How to socialise and make friends.
5. Eels - The Deconstruction.
6. Sunflower Bean - Twentytwo in blue.
7. Heartless Bastards - All this time.
8. The Greatest Showman soundtrack.
9. Christine and the Queens - Chris.
10. Years and Years - Palo Santo.
Honourable Mentions
In a year for good soundtracks I'd also pick Spiderman - Into the Spiderverse and A Star is Born as well worthy of a shout out.
Suede - The Blue Hour
Florence + The Machine - High as hope
Lori McKenna - The Tree
Trophy Eyes - The American Dream
The Beths - Future me hates me.
The Carters - Everything is Love.


Live Music

Smith Street Band - Vicar Street
Iron and Wine - Body and Soul
British Sea Power - Whelans
Talos - Whelans


Spiderman - Into the Spiderverse. Really striking visually, creative and a very strong script. I loved it.
Three Billboards outside Ebbings Missouri.
Deadpool 2
The Greatest Showman.
A Star is Born.
Black Panther.
A Simple Favor.
Isle of Dogs.
The Meg - I have to say that I enjoyed this immensely - despite myself!


Westworld - simply outstanding.
Springsteen - on Broadway. Two and a half hours at nearly 70 years of age. Some man.
Dr Who. ...and about time ;-)
The Expanse.
Lost in Space.
Killing Eve.
Great News.
The Good Doctor.


Gold Cup Native River doing it the hard way. Leading from the front and daring the rest of them to come and have a go if they think they're up to it. One by one they drop off the back and then the Rockstar Might Bite tries to reel him in. That's it - nothing can last this pace for three and a quarter miles round Cheltenham. But No! it's the Rockstar that would cry enough at the finish. A classic.

Ger Ryan (Limerick Youth) Cup Aisling 2 Pike 1 My young fella's last game as an underage player. Bittersweet as many of them had been with me all the way up from 6 years of age. Pike were the favourites, league champions and stuffed with all the signings that Aisling could/would never make. Not a great game but the result was all that mattered.

Enable Once again. It's rare enough for a flat horse to make this list twice. If she returns for a historic third Arc de Triomphe it will make for a pretty strong case for her being the best we've ever seen.

Ireland Beating the All Blacks And no fluke about it either. The better team by some distance. Can we do it in a world cup year?

Limerick's hurling All Ireland ...and of course we had to make hard work of it. I suppose after such a famine there'd have to have been some type of drama about it. As a colleague was wont to remark - " but what are going to do now that we've no right to be in a bake anymore?"

Limerick FC being relegated doesn't take long to find something of course. Tax issues and derisory budgets are in the tea leaves for 2019. It might take ages for us to get back into the top flight so we're facing into years of trips to Wexford or Shels or Cabinteely. Nothing personal but Ugh...
No Collingwood for UL in 2018 as predicted last year - at least we get to host it again in 2019. UCD are better than ever of course (they gave Dundalk a pretty decent game in the FAI semi-final). We're OK this year but it's the hope that'll kill you of course...

Ronan Hickey


  1. METZ @ Whelan’s
  2. Bitch Falcon, David Kitt and The Frames @ Footsbarn, Ballintubbert
  3. The Punch Brothers @ National Concert Hall
  4. Amanda Palmer @ National Concert Hall
  5. They Might Be Giants @ The Button Factory
  6. Orbital @ Beatyard

Brilliant, noisy, sweaty and a less shambolic gig than their last Whelan’s affair Toronto based noise rockers METZ were my highlight gig. A 200Km round-trip drive for an amazing Frames (ok ok…each to their own) gig in the Footsbarn Tent one night in September was a highlight as well.


  1. Hamlet @ The Gate
  2. Richard III @ The Abbey
  3. The Lightkeepers’ Last Stand by Loosy Smokes @ Dublin Castle

The Ruth Negga Hamlet in The Gate was everything it promised to be. She dominated the stage, absolutely breathtaking stuff. Similarly Druid’s Richard III in the Abbey was practically flawless. Some amazing imagery that still stays with me.


  1. Meru
  2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
  3. Where Dreams Go To Die
  4. All The Wild Horses
  5. Free Solo
  6. Suspiria

A lot of laptop based films these days. I did get to see Free Solo in the cinema having already seen Meru from the same wonderful directors. Both films are fantastic. All the Wild Horses is about the world’s longest horse race in Mongolia and despite the critics I enjoyed Suspiria.


  1. The Scramble for Africa - Thomas Pakenham
  2. The Bitmap Brothers Universe - Duncan Harris
  3. The Long Goodbye - Raymond Chandler
  4. Greenmantle - John Buchan
  5. Sailing Alone Around The World - Joshua Slocum

I went pretty old school in my reading this year. “The Scramble for Africa” was a surprisingly readable and exciting book about the madness of the conquests of Africa. The kickstarter funded book about one of my favourite computer games companies The Bitmap Brothers (Speedball, Speedball 2, Xenon, Xenon 2 Megablast, Gods, Magic Pockets) was really interesting and The Long Goodbye has got me addicted to Gimlets.


  1. The Maumturks Challenge
  2. Neil Gaiman @ The Convention Centre
  3. The Vietnam War
  4. Dublin Bikes

I have been off running for about a year and a half with a hard to get rid of knee injury. I will hopefully be back this coming year but I couldn’t pass up on a chance to do the Maumturks Challenge again which is always such a brilliant (and brutal) day in the hills. The last descent had me wailingout in knee pain but it was a great day.

Neil Gaiman was fascinating to listen to at the Convention Center and he dealt with the usual inane Q&A questions very graciously.

“The Vietnam War” PBS TV Series was absolutely gripping. A must watch for everyone. So much so that I dug up two other related documentary series, one on the American Civil War and “Eyes on the Prize” about the struggle for American civil rights. But for sheer impact “The Vietnam War” wins hands down.

My Dublin Bikes membership came up for renewal and I thought I would look at how much I had used them. In the last year I have taken 212 Dublin bike rides for a total of nearly a day (23hr 54 minutes). And this even though I cycle my own bike to and from work. They continue to be one of the best things that has happened to Dublin

Happy Christmas to all and looking forward to being inspired by your lists!

Chris Louca

2018 - The Year That Was For Chris Louca

Well 2018 was a typically busy year - plenty of work, overtime and trials but enough time to sneak in a nice holiday in Northern Spain and a few outings with mates.

2019 is already looking choc-a-bloc with work, with a distinct possibility of relocating to Liverpool for 4 months between May and August… (the wife is super impressed…)

Top 10 Albums 2018 (no particular order)

  • Boy Azooga - 1,2 Kung Fu (an absolute beast of a debut release)
  • Car Seat Headreat - Twin Fantasy
  • Idles - Joy As An Act Of Resistance
  • Kurt Vile - Bottle It In
  • La Luz - Floating Features
  • Parquet Courts - Wide Awake
  • Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Sparkle Hard
  • Ty Segall - Freedom’s Goblin
  • White Denim - Performance
  • 77:88 - Jellies
Notable mentions to

- Underworld (ft Iggy Pop)
- Teatime Dub Encounters, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs
- King Of Cowards, Gruff Rhys
- Babelsberg, Charles Watson
- Now That I’m A River and BC Camplight
- Deportation Blues

I know I’ve missed many decent albums but you can’t listen to them all!

Top 10 Films (warning - may contain 2017 movies if watched on DVD)
  1. The Quiet Place
  2. Calibre
  3. Avengers: Infinity War
  4. Mission Impossible: Fallout
  5. I, Tonya
  6. You Were Never Really Here
  7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
  8. The Meg (much better with a strong Gin & Tonic or three!)
  9. Annihilation
  10. Coco
Top Gigs (not fortunate to go to 10…)
  1. Parquet Courts - SSX Bristol (top night out with Marky B too)
  2. Boy Azooga - The Cavern, Exeter
  3. Gruff Rhys - The Phoenix, Exeter
  4. David O’Doherty - The Corn Exchange, Exeter

Looking forward to reading through everyone’s entries to pick up some missed gems! Wishing you all a great 2019 and thanks Tom for sorting this out again!

Niall Lynch Top 10 2018

Spotify Playlist:

  1. Kathryn Joseph - From When I wake The Want Is
    My top album of the year, I love the pictures that the music and her voice create, they work beautifully together deep and dark and emotional. I love her back story too, it goes to show it’s never too late to follow your passion.

  2. Marissa Nadler - For My Crimes
    Similar vein to my number 1 album of the year and another distinctive and beautiful voice, but a bit more country influenced. Pared down and quiet it’s a gorgeously intimate catalogue of a relationship. Some great collaborations on the album too, Angel Olsen, Sharon van Etten, if you like Mazzy Star you’ll like this.

  3. Low - Double Negative
    Low continue their renaissance mixing their usual slow moving lo-fi sounds with electronica and a bit of industrial noice. It really works, some epic tunes on this album like Fly. We caught them in Vicar St., the crowd were reverential, pin drop quiet between each song, a pleasure to see them.

  4. Marlon Williams - Make Way for Love
    Marlon Williams sounds like he is from another age, some dark 50s moviescape, a lot of heavy lyrics perhaps something to do with previous relationship with my favourite artist from last year Aldous Harding.

  5. Traceyanne & Danny - Traceyanne & Danny
    This is such a happy sounding album, can’t but put a smile on your face, great melodies, great harmonies and it’s no accident at it’s the talent behind Camera Obscura and Edwin Collins behind it all. That unmistakable brass sound that was so good on Collins’ work is spattered through these songs as is the beautiful 50s guitar sound. You can even hear a bit of Edwin backing on one of the tunes.

  6. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
    I heard this guy on John Kelly’s show and his voice reminded me of Patrick Watson and Jeff Buckley. I checked out the album and it’s packed with brilliant mellow R&B melodies and some excellent electronic beats and dance tunes.

  7. August Greene - August Greene
    This is a Common and Robert Glasper project with lots of guest appearances. Plenty of great piano and jazz influences and of course Common’s great lyrics make it really superb.

  8. Blood Orange - Negro Swan
    Blood Orange continues the legacy of prince, this is where his royal purpleness would be going if he was still around. Hiphop, soul, jazz, it’s got it all on this album, a bit more mellow than his previous release.

  9. Aidan Moffat - Here Lies the Body
    It’s great to hear that strong Scottish accent Aidan Moffat again against some gorgeous melodies. Each song is a great story, that’s what he’s been always good at, telling great stories. He also has released a Christmas Ghost stories album in a similar vein his regular stuff.

  10. Belle & Sebastian - How to Solve our Human Problems
    This goes back to the start of the year, so required a few relistens to remind me how good it was. Packed with really catchy tunes. They have really captured some of what made them great. Great tunes and lyrics and incredibly catchy sounds.

Honourable Mentions

  • Stuart A. Staples - Arrhythmia
    Stuart Staples is an acquired taste, his deep baritone voice is not for everyone. His new solo album is mesmerising, unusual sounds, electronic beats machines, his voice, creates something really gorgeous. On top of that you have his emotional dark lyrics, hard to decipher.

  • Young Fathers - Cocao Sugar
    Young Fathers continue to produce innovative interesting music, heavy electronics, rap, dance, mashed up together along with inner city Glasgow experiences produces a thrilling ride.

  • Prince - Piano & A Microphone 1983
    Some outtakes from prince just before he became huge, what a talent, great to hear the music as it’s evolving. Imagine 17 days never got onto any album, how many more epic tunes didn’t make it out.

  • Gwenno - Le Kov
    Cornish is the new islandic, Gwenno is like a mix of Bjork and the great Cocteau Twins creating sweeping orchestral sounds backed with indecipherable vocals. Not understanding anything being said does not reduce enjoyment of the album and probably lets you immerse yourself deeper into the music.

  • Caroline Rose - Getting to me
    There is something really refreshing and joyful about Caroline Rose’s album, her beautiful vocals, part reminds be of Andrew Bird and Owen pallet. It also makes me feel young again listening to it which is a bonus.

  • Kamasi Washington - Heaven and Earth
    This is a sprawling opus that sweeps through jazz, hiphop, funk and dance. It goes a little far for me sometimes but the absolute joyous choral highs that appear through the album make it brilliant. This is the new jazz. We’ll be seeing him in the Olympia in 2019, can’t wait.

  • David Byrne - American Utopia
    Great album with loads of great electronic sounds and Byrne’s usual brilliant lyrics.

  • Interpol - Marauder
    You know what you get with an Interpol album, they don’t stray too far from the usual formula, I like it that way.

  • Julia Holter - Aviary
    More avant guarde shenanigans and a little more challenging than her previous album but some excellent tunes in there.

  • OMDB - Big Red Machine
    This is the new vehicle of Justin Vernon, doesn’t reach the heights of Bon Iver but there are still some great tunes on the album.

  • Calexico - The Thread that Keeps Us
    Another excellent Calexico Album, pity they didn’t spin by Ireland on their European tour this year, the music really comes alive when they play it live.

  • Villagers - The Art of Pretending to swim
    I really like this album and the introduction of the electronic beats, lots of catchy tunes and his usual excellent lyrics.


Not a huge amount of gigs this year, going for quality over quantity.

  • Nick Cave & Patti Smith @Kilmainham
    Sorry about this Caroline! Best gig of the year by far. Cave is such a brilliant performer, what a show, takes the songs to new places. Patti Smith was amazing too and got the crowd singing along to that 80s anthem by Midnight Oil, feet

  • Low @Vicar St
    Pin drop silence in Vicar st. even between songs, it was the last gig of their tour and they covered a lot of old and new stuff, it was excellent.

  • Josh T Pearson @Whelans
    Good, but a bit too much conversation for my liking, nice band with him.

  • Belle And Sebastian @Vicar St. 
    I wish I went to both nights, brilliant set, brilliant fun, one of these days I’ll get up on the stage for the final dance off.

  • Bell X1 @Vicar St. 
    Music in Mouth night, great atmosphere, brought back memories of Amsterdam and sharing a house boat bedroom with a tall man.

  • Morrissey @Three Arena
    My least favourite venue in the world, but it was an enjoyable gig last song was Speedway, great to hear it belted out live. Also played Jack the Ripper which is one of my favourite solo songs.


Dave McGuinness

McG - Best of 2018

What's Another Year?


  1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex & Food. Super NZ album, virtuoso musicianship, and simply brilliant songs spanning genres
  2. Jon Hopkins - Singularity. Why haven't I listened to him before? Stonking tunes
  3. Beach House - 7. Hard to believe this is their seventh album. Some things do get better with age
  4. Courtney Barnett - Tell me how you really feel. This one sneaks up on you, before you know it you're hooked
  5. Villagers - The Art of Pretending to Swim. Gorgeous, my favourite since his debut. And my top Irish album in a great year for Irish music
  6. Somadrome - Wellpark Avenue. Another Irish cracker
  7. Hookworms - Microshift. Randomly popped up in a Spotify "Discover Weekly", and liked it from the off
  8. Le Galaxie - Pleasure. Brought me back to the Other Voices tent at EP. Cracking dancefloor fillers
  9. Elvis Costello & The Imposters - Look Now. He's back!
  10. Broken Social Scene - Hug of Thunder. They're back!

Best of the rest

  1. Daniel Avery - Song for Alpha
  2. Neil Young - The Visitor
  3. Belle & Sebastian - How to solve our human problems
  4. Gorillaz - The Now Now
  5. GoGo Penguin - A Humdrum Star
  6. John Grant - Love is Magic
  7. Slow Reader's Club - Build a Tower
  8. Let’s Eat Grandma - I’m All Ears
  9. Mastersystem - Dance Music
  10. David Kitt - Yous

I also enjoyed listening to all of these in 2018

  • Christine & the Queens - Chris
  • Rhye - Blood
  • Jack White - Boarding House Reach
  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs
  • Mount Eerie - Now Only
  • Poppy Ackroyd - Resolve
  • Yo La Tengo - There’s a riot going on
  • Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility base hotel and casino
  • Ry Cooder - The Prodigal Son

Older albums rediscovered

  • Tom Odell - Long Way Down
  • Fairport Convention - Unhalfbricking
  • Sufjan Stevens - Planetarium
  • Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
  • Slowdive - Slowdive
  • Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds from Another Planet


A decent few nights out this year

  1. Nick Cave + Patti Smith @ Kilmainham. Gorgeous sunny evening in a lovely venue with old friends. Nick and the Bad Seeds were in top form, but Patti still nearly stole the show
  2. Microdisney @ National Concert Hall. Amazing night with adoring fans. I'd never seen them before - some things really are worth waiting for
  3. Courtney Barnett @ Olympia. Owned the stage and the crowd from the off, another great night at my favourite venue
  4. Beach House @ Vicar Street. Came on, played their stuff, rocked the gaff. Simple
  5. Tom Odell @ Olympia. Much more rock n roll than his albums would suggest, really enjoyed this
  6. David Kitt @ Button Factory. Finally got to see one of Ireland's great acts of recent years
  7. Ezra Furman @ Tivoli. Went without knowing anything about him, came away a fan. Lipstick and dress, not so sure
  8. Saint Sister @ Olympia. Haunting, gorgeous - great to see them again, this time with Ric
  9. Gruff Rhys @ Button Factory. Always off the wall, always entertaining


  • Dublin City Marathon - Tom and I entered together, trained separately (save one magic run in Killary), and ran together on the day, all the way to the bitter/sweet end. The full story is another day's work!
  • Ireland beating the All-Blacks in a cracking match (wish I was there)
  • An endless Irish summer, countless sea swims, and camping weekends in Wicklow
  • Calendar events which keep on giving: Killary swim weekend + Wales MTB trip
  • The pristine beaches and mountains of Asturias, 2 weeks in July - during the Irish heatwave


  • Free Solo
  • Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Lady Bird
  • Banff (both nights)
  • Phantom Thread
  • Paddington 2

Boxsets in order-ish

  • Wild, Wild Country
  • Oasis: Supersonic
  • The Crown 2
  • Mindhunter 1
  • The Bridge 4
  • The Defiant Ones
  • Better Call Saul 4
  • Meru
  • Mad Men 7
  • Handmaid's Tale
  • I called him Morgan
  • Under an Arctic Sky
  • Youtube: The Last Hill… until the next hill
  • Alias Grace
  • Made to be Broken / Karl Meltzer



  • City of Bohane - Kevin Barry. Futuristic novel set in the wild west... of Ireland. A page-turner, great fun
  • Dog Soldiers - Robert Stone. Post-Summer of Love account of the fall of counterculture in America
  • The Sea, The Sea - Iris Murdoch. Booker Prize winner. Strange novel
  • War & Peace - Leo Tolstoy. Yes, it's quite long. A lot of war. Probably not worth the effort being honest


  • The Choice - Edith Eger. Thought provoking life lessons wrapped up in an incredible true story from an Auschwitz survivor
  • Born to Run - Christopher McDougall. Re-read while training for the marathon. Still a fantastic read
  • A Season with Verona - Tim Parks. A very different Verona than that featured in Romeo & Juliet. English football fan follows the club around Italy
  • The Comeback: Greg Lemond. As it says on the tin, he's the true king of American cycling. Well worth a read if you don't know much about him
  • Thich Nhat Hanh pocket book - short meditations on life
  • Moneyball - Michael Lewis. The book which preceded the movie. Not a baseball fan, but didn't matter, this is a great book for any sports fan
  • Dalo - Anthony Dalo. He's about as mad as you suspected
  • The Choice - Philly McMahon. Brutally honest account of his life in football and growing up in Ballymun

Have a great Xmas and New Year folks. Over and out

Derek Murphy

Feck! A panicked last minute list this year! But here we go…..

Murphs 2018 – Last minute panic of a list written in a campervan at Waikite Hot Pools, New Zealand.


The Homeless Gospel Choir - The Homeless Gospel Choir

The Allergies – Steal The Show

The Nextmen vs Gentlemen’s Dub Club - Pound For Pound

The Bronx - V

The Interrupters - Fight the Good Fight

Newen Afrobeat - Newen plays Fela & Self Titled

The Real People - Monday Morning Breakdown
Local Natives - Hummingbird
Tim Armstrong - A Poet’s Life
Songhoy Blues - Music In Exile


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Bladerunner 2049


Lady Bird

Deadpool 2

Red Sparrow

Isle of Dogs

Black Panther

I, Tonya

Isle Of Dogs


Ozark 2


The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein

Espedair Street - Iain Banks

1971 - David Hepworth


Neil & Liam Finn - Hawea Flat Community Hall

Aaaaaand once again… full respect to you Tom for keeping this going all these years. I love doing it, and I love seeing how out of touch with everyone else’s taste I am!

Merry Christmas and have a great 2018 one and all


Mary Naughton


My favourite was 'The Hearts Invisible Furies' by John Boyne, hilarious, sad, any book whose opening paragraph is set in Goleen has to be worth reading. I read it over the summer, devoured it.
other books I went back to - on audible actually, were my favourite Bronte books- Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfel Hall, read by Juliet Stevenson- perfection. At long last I got to Bronte Country, Haworth in West Yorkshire, with my sister in October. We got to completely immerse ourselves in Bronte life, the parsonage, the moors, Top Withens, gosh it was a super weekend. Strictly for Bronte nerds.
Also enjoyed 'Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine'- there's a reason it's on the bestseller list for so long!
'Normal People' and 'Conversations with Friends' by Sally Rooney, loved both these books, esp normal people, it sort of took me back to college days!
'North' by Scott Jurek, now this did inspire me to do the Appalachian Trail some day, but not the way Scott does it!
'Running up that Hill' by Alexander Vassos was another inspiring read, he seems like a nice guy and that book got me thinking about longer distances and the Lake District...
Tin Man by Sarah Winman
'Why we Sleep' by Mathew Walker- need no further prove that hitting the sack is number one priority.


Album of the year of course what else? Belle and Sebastian's 'How to Solve our Human Problems'. this is B+S at their best, some going after all the years. Play 'Show me the Sun' and try not to dance! which leads me nicely on to my concert of the year- B+S in Vicars Street, highlight? Dancing on stage with the band and Richenda to 'the Boy with the Arab Strap' and then 'Show me the sun'. This was my second time on stage with them but this time I got to shake Stevie's hand!! God it was surreal. Musically that was the best, really.
we also had a great night with old friends in Connolly's of Leap last Christmas for the Franks- they were in top form and nice to meet them afterwards, now that was a great night.
What else, Joe and myself got into a session for the the 'Masters of Tradition ' in Bantry- Martin Hayes on Fiddle, Nell Ni Chronin singing, and another amazing guy on the uileann pipes. Lovely venue in St Brendan's church, a bit of magic.
and I have to say that the St Luke's choir last Sunday in Douglas were a highlight, they almost had me in tears with their 'In the Deep Midwinter'. You can't beat the old carols and a big crazy organ. Loved it.
I went to Taylor Swift in Croker with Oisin in June- spectacular I have to admit and she really can sing/play piano etc. it was some show and cool to see Ois so excited, there was a touch of beatlemania about it!
We didn't get to Ed Sheeran in Cork, I am not a fan, but for the night that was in it, we cycled down to the Atlantic pond with the kids and got to sing along with him and a couple of hundred other people! Liked the vibe, it was good I have to say.

So now, movies, netflix etc.:

Black 47- what joy to go to a non animated movie at the cinema, I brought Eanna as a history lesson, I thought it was great. Wish i had seen it when I was studying history at school.
Roma- only saw this the other night on Netflix, stayed with me. it's so natural.
on netflix I really really enjoyed 'Wild Country', 'Bobby Kennedy', we went back again to finish Mad Men.


'West Cork' on audible- is there anyone left who hasn't listened to it?? do yourself a favour and get cracking. I listened twice to it. Outstanding really.


Quest Kenmare- mud mud everywhere but Gleninchaquin is still lovely. Pity the kayak stage was cancelled.
Dingle Half Marathon- snails pace for me as always but the views!
Ring of Kerry- finally. great old craic, took my time and enjoyed the buzz. note to self: avoid the pint at the finish line...met Enda Kenny, drank back my pint then couldn't get back on the bike- you live and learn.
Ring of Beara- not the event, but we cycled it over 3 days with the lads. If I had known how bad the hills were I would not have been such an irresponsible parent, but honestly it was a great little holiday, stayed in Allihies and Kenmare. Great chats on the road and weather ideal. we are planning the Ring of Kerry over three days this summer- any takers??

But really the highlight of this year was surely our beautiful summer. Day after day, we finally had the weather for our hols in Ahakista, swimming every chance, wet suits not necessary, it was so lovely. And the snow was lovely too! A break from normal. Still, am reading Mary Robinson's 'Climate Justice' so not sure what to make of it all.

Martin O'Gorman

A year of two halves for sure. Say hello to Luna, born in July, a little sister for Lily and a little miracle for us. Most of my music listening was done in the first half of the year, topped off with a memorable Field Day festival in June.

Dejavu, a psychedelic soft rock album by Matty Tavares, keyboard player with BadBadNotGood, was too good to shift from top spot, Mount Eerie tears me apart every time I listen to him, R+R = Now is Robert Glaspers new supergroup, The Lost poets return after 20 year, Low = wow - still making great music, some great south east London sounds from Loyle Carner and Catfords own ""saviour of UK jazz"", drummer Moses Boyd. Kendrick can do no wrong,Young Fathers, Matthew Dear and Sudan Archives complete this eclectic tribute to 2018 sounds.


  1. Matty - Dejavu
  2. Kendrick Lamar - Black Panther soundtrack
  3. Mount Eerie - Only Now
  4. R + R = NOW - Collagically Speaking
  5. The Last Poets - Understand What Black Is
  6. Low - Double Negative
  7. Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar
  8. Loyle Carner - Yesterdays Gone
  9. Matthew Dear - Bunny
  10. Moses Boyd - Displaced Diaspora
  11. Sudan Archives - Sudan Archives

I put together a short playlist covering the albums above as a sampler Top Ten 2018


Field day festival was on in June - a brilliant couple of days for different reasons. I went on my own on Friday, crowds were manageable and the music was awesome - highlights were Zara McFarlane, Hailu Mergia, Sudan Archives, Moses Boyd Exodus, The Comet Is Coming, Loyle Carner and to finish up, the legendary Jeff Mills and Tony Allen. Friday blew me away - exactly what I expect from Field Day. Sadly, Saturday was very different, overcrowded, badly managed, Four Tet set shut down due to the chaotic mess, I could go on. On the other hand, it was a crazy 24 hours as Kevin McKellar flew in from Chamonix for the day and brought a chill vibe to the park. Hooked up with a couple of friends and we were set for fun. There were some great performances on Saturday, Jimothy Lacoste, James Holden & The Animal Sprits, Mount Kimbie, Thundercat and (the highlight of the day) Nils Frahm. If you have a chance to see any of these perform I highly recommend that you go.


  1. Man v Ocean by Adam Walker

    Great swimmer but boring as hell, could have been a great story, yawn

  2. Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart

    A classic that lives up to its billing

  3. The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold by Tim Moore

    Captures bike touring brilliantly, really enjoyed this once I got used to his joke a minute style


Much as I was hoping to complete some more Ironman events, it wasn't to be. I had a small op to repair my knee in February and that put paid to my ambitions. However, I stuck to cold water swimming and completed the 2km Great Fjord swim without a wetsuit in October in the Atlantic, bbrrrrr. Killary is becoming a reunion event for some of us, the weather is always perfect and the weekend couldn't be better. I plan to swim the year out in the Serpentine, at least once more before 2019

  1. The Great Fjord 2km swim - Killary, October 2018
  2. Cold water swimming Serpentine Lido, Winter 2018

Sporting Occasions

Memories of 2018 centred on rugby. Ireland are in superb form and I really hope they carry that through to the World Cup next year. I was lucky to see them beat England at Twickenham to take the Grand Slam in March. I went with my good friend Paul who had managed to get a gold dust ticket last minute. I had to resort to sneaking my way in...sort your security out Twickenham, but thanks all the same!!!

Mat Thomas

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

This amazing documentary charts the history of one of the most important punk rock scenes that was, the San Francisco east bay scene of the late ‘80s into the ‘90s, that started out with the Dead Kennedys and crescendoed with Rancid, Epitaph Records, and of course Green Day exploding around the world. Smart, funny, comprehensive, and narrated by Iggy Pop…so worth a watch if you dig punk.

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

Idles - Joy as an Act of Resistance.

Oh my word. This was a shocker, an amazing indie/punk band from Bristol that most everybody seems to have heard of after an incredible Jools Holland performance…I missed this however, and got the record as a birthday present from my little brother a week later, and was blown away. Amazing guitar music, rocking and layered, topped with superb witty and tough lyrics from a positive, progressive, loving perspective (“this snowflake is an avalanche!”). one hard and honest tune about losing an infant child – I often skip that one because I don’t want to listen to it, like that Nick Cave tune a couple years back. Gold.

Idles - Joy as an Act of Resistance. (Bandcamp)

Estuary Blacks - Estuary Blacks

A friend from back home (Swansea) recommended this band on favebook after seeing them play live, I clicked the link and checked their Bandcamp page, they were just putting out their first album – wow. Think Mogwai, with long guitar jams, vocals that jump out and surprise you every three or four songs or so and make a perfect instrumental track even better – so rocking. So much more than a local band – bought their record for all of the above reasons.

Estuary Blacks - Estuary Blacks

Dark Thoughts – At Work

Who likes The Ramones? This is an album of perfect energetic caustic romantic “heavy pop” (as Johnny Ramone used to describe the band) that comes in at slightly under 20 minutes, 12 tracks. So catchy, so rocking, so simple, so sing-alongable, so energetic – one of my favourite albums for cycling. And, by coincidence, of the last year… check this song, one minute forty…

Dark Thoughts – At Work (Bandcamp)

Graphic novels!

Cheating a bit here, but running out of space and time, so I’m wedging in two amazing books. The first is Sabrine by Nick Drnaso, which was the first graphic novel to be nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Imagine a really fuzzily shot Coen Brothers movie, one of those quieter ones with very little movement (like Barton Fink say), that is absolutely riveting. “Sabrina depicts a modern world devoid of personal interaction and responsibility, where relationships are stripped of intimacy through glowing computer screens. An indictment of our modern state, Drnaso contemplates the dangers of a fake news climate. Timely and articulate, Sabrina leaves you gutted, searching for meaning in the aftermath of disaster.”

And less earthshaking on the comics and literature scenes, two of my favourite artists published an adaptation of a famous contemporary Brazilian novel that is absolutely arresting – check this image search for a snapshot of the beautiful artwork. Twin brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá have worked together almost exclusively for their entire careers, and for their newest project took on a familial generation saga that centers around twin brothers Omar and Yaqub (and their unconventional family), who are separated early in life after a bloody, jealous incident. And then years later, the prodigal brother returns…and we begin. Slowly. Take a look at Two Brothers.

Both books are a million miles away from what most people think of when they hear ‘comics’, and gave me immense pleasure… :)

Holy Motors – Slow Sundown

This album sounds like all the best Tarantino soundtrack moments were distilled into eight tracks of dusky delight. The band is from Estonia, and it’s all smoky female vocals, restrained bass pace, and echoing guitars…mildly psychedelic and totally hypnotic…enjoy, if so minded:

Holy Motors – Slow Sundown (Bandcamp)

Agh, out of time but here are a few more albums that have been super important to me this year, that I think take me to over 10…sorry Tom! ;)

Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

This will sound daft, and something of an undersell, but imagine Mogwai crossed with blackmetal in a 70-30 ratio. Pretty blissful even with the heavy parts, I believe this has been a presence on many critics’ end of year lists:

Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (Bandcamp)

Turnstile – Time and Space

Young NY hardcore band with bags of energy and noise – another short album, but one that is guaranteed to make you move around, if you like that sort of thing. Really fresh-sounding heavy music, harkening back to inventive extra-dimensional hardcore and pst-hardcore bands bands like Snapcase and Quicksand.

Turnstile – Time and Space (Spotify)

Yob – Our Raw Heart

Uplifting transcendental doom. Honest. Spent a lot of time on this one, while it’s crushingly heavy in places, it’s the beautiful restrained meandering numbers such as (the aptly-named Beauty in Falling Leaves that I skip backwards to play for a second time. Lovely stuff, also on a disproportionate number of non-heavy critics’ lists…

Yob – Our Raw Heart (Bandcamp)

Marisa Anderson - Cloud Corner

She plays the most beautiful, haunting, instrumental guitar music. A restrained virtuoso with 6 strings. Worth investing some time, which you won’t want to ever get back…

Marisa Anderson - Cloud Corner