Recommended Tracks of 2018

Written by on 28th December 2018

Okay so, admittedly we had a bit of a tough time with this one – selecting 10 top tracks of the year with so much choice has certainly proved the hardest compared to all our other 2018 round-ups!

From some of our well-known favourites artists returning with fresh material, like the face-slamming ‘Same’ by Oneohtrix Point Never, to the rise of newer artists such as Tirzah with her soothing ‘Gladly’, our ears have constantly been spoilt with new and exciting sounds. With the help of MDR hosts and contributors, we’ve managed to whittle it down to the following recommended tracks of 2018 – a selection so diverse and wonderful, consider it a box of chocolates  (minus the Bounty’s). Tuck in!

 




Otha – I’m On Top – Self-released
Chosen by Kate Hazeldine (LUNA, MDR Producer)

Irresistible, addictive, euphoric. Hailing from Norway, Otha is the first act in a long time to get me this excited. Bridging the gap between ambient soundscapes and club culture, ‘I’m On Top’ is the follow-up to her debut single ‘One of the Girls’. Both tracks are a juxtaposition of melancholy yet empowering; lyrics such as “I dance like a queen” sung in a quietly-confident manner enables us introverts to listen and let loose. Her music has the power to communicate to you whether you’re dancing in a huge club or sat alone in your room in the dark. The future looks extremely bright for this unstoppable artist and producer.

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Détente – what if gucci gang god? – Self-released
Chosen by Bryn Davies (BЯYN)

Are you looking for that perfect track to disguise your favourite track from 2017? From your parents who won’t let you listen to trap/rap because it’s a bad influence on our generation? Well, the French producer DÉTENTE has facilitated that. He blends ‘What If God Was One of Us’ by Joan Osbourne (released in 1995) with 2017’s hit ‘Gucci Gang’ by the critically acclaimed lyricist Lil Pump, to form a fresh 2018 anthem that has become an ongoing joke for myself and close friend Ling. There was a lot of options for my favourite track this year; ‘Crypto Poser’ by Ingrate would definitely be my second choice for it’s unique production style and sound, whilst still being a club banger. However, I wanted to choose a track that would clear Liverpool’s dancefloors of all the boring, uptight music snobs that pull faces of disgust or shout “F*** Off!” when acts play anything other than a 125 bpm 4/4 kick with the odd hi-hat. Why? Because I just want to have a good time in 2019.

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Disk – The Game – Whiteloops10
Chosen by Nick Ibbetson (Archive Liverpool)

For me, Disk seems to have been one of the most slept-on yet prolific producers in 2018. Rumoured to be an alias of Ukrainian producer iO, disk has had quite the output over the last 2 years, with 9 releases in 2018 alone across his two labels, Whiteloops and Blackloops. (Whiteloops being more breakbeat led productions, and Blackloops being more housey.)

‘The Game’ is my favourite track of the year because for me it’s so versatile – It’s right at home in a laid back house set, as something to switch gears with when warming up for someone in a club, or to provide that hands in the air moment during peak time, thanks to the floaty synth line that contrasts so well with the drums and the bassline. It also helps that it’s got a fat breakbeat on it, which means it automatically goes in my bag for when I’m playing out. If you like ‘The Game’, have a listen to ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘Broken Soul’ for more.

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Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones – God – Planet Mu
Chosen by George Maund (Cartier 4 Everyone)

This feels like a triumph in many ways. On an EP of 7 tracks, ‘God’ has the Fractal Fantasy duo reach the apex of their own hard-to-pin-down maximalist style and sound palette. With backgrounds in globally-facing takes on Footwork and Jersey Club, to production credits for the likes of Kanye West, the impact here is as awesome as the title would imply.

‘God’ packs as much of a punch as the Eurasian all-female choirs it either samples, emulates, or conjures from nothing: this is omnipotent musicalchemy at work. Zora and Sinjin also quietly came equipped with the most creative (and enjoyable) use of technology I saw in a live show all year. They’ve saved their best material for the release this comes from (possibly the result of a creative partnership long kept simmering); I imagine 2019 will hold some very curious production credits for them both.

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Shame – The Lick – Fnord
Chosen by Joe Bardsley (MDR Social Media Manager)

A song fuelled by aggression, angst and a distaste for the modern world, Shame deliver an immersive tale of youth repugnance and trips to the gynaecologist; two environments which seem all to frequent for the post-punk five piece. This expression of escapism is propelled forward by the relentless bass lick and slices of reverb drenched guitar, which hang in the distance as lead vocalist Charlie Steen coarsely communicates his taxation of societies ‘sweet disorder’.

Taken from their debut Album Songs of Praise, released on Dead Oceans, Shame have defined what it is to be young in a time of Tory disparity and the overarching social disillusionment which comes as a consequence of the ‘four chord future’. Deservedly named No.1 Album in 2018 by Rough Trade, these South London lads are undoubtedly ones to keep an eye on.  

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Peach – Silky – Intergraded
Chosen by Eve Whiteside (MDR Journalist)

Released back in February on Midland’s new label Intergraded came this little number. With the label designed to be a platform for emerging artists, Peach certainly fits the description.

‘Silky’ to me possesses the ability to represent a classic house track, whilst featuring captivating deep vocals which causes the track to have a much more emotional depth than is initially given away. Her track provides a synthy and high-energy appeal, which changes and develops throughout the seven minutes as though the beats are gradually telling a story. We can only anticipate what’s next to come from such an exciting producer and DJ.

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Vessel – Paplu (Love That Moves The Sun) – Tri Angle Records

Chosen by Andrew Ellis (Immix Ensemble/Giant Artist Management)

I remember my introduction to Vessel, a friend played me ‘Red Sex’ from Punish, Honey and it was an absolute game-changer. The rolling beat, the alien sound pallet; you just couldn’t place it next to anything.

Vessel’s made a career of making music that sounds like nothing else, whilst also sounding like ten disparate yet cohesive things at once; combinations that shouldn’t work moulded into gems. We were lucky to nudge his eyes further into the ‘classical’ world when we collaborated with him on Transition for Erased Tapes with Immix back in 2016, and now with a thousand new reference points, he’s arrived with something entirely otherworldly. Pushing boundaries through the melding of textures, tones and sounds that shouldn’t gel but do, Paplu has moments of 90’s trance, baroque strings and industrial techno – but it isn’t any of those things.

The record takes a few uneasy listens and then like magic it all just falls into place. It’s impossible to predict his next step but it’s certain it’ll be like nothing you’ve ever heard before, other than distinctly Vessel.

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Djrum – Creature Part.1 – R&S Records

Chosen by James Zaremba (MDR co-founder)

Ambient music has made up a large part of my 2018, in such a way that jazz music influenced my listening habits across 2017 and sample-based house during 2016. Accordingly, my track of 2018 has to be the A3 cut on Djrum’s latest LP, Portrait with Firewood.

A departure from London-based producer Felix Manuel’s usual solo production method, Portrait with Firewood saw him integrate live composition into his work for the first time on a full length record.

Amid a sea of electrifying and often dark breakbeats, ‘Creature Part.1’ provides a soothing respite with beautifully melodic piano and live recorded cello chords throughout.

A hard one to describe with any real success… In the words of the legend Bernie Connor, “let your fingers do the walking.”

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Projekt Gestalten – He Bleeds Stories – VRAAA

Chosen by Léa Ben Saïd (Bruits)

It’s difficult to pick a best track of the year when there are hundreds of songs coming out next week which are all so different from each other. I had to break it down quite a lot, first and foremost realising what made me feel something special rather than judging a track on technical specs.

Projekt Gestalten’s ‘He Bleeds Stories’ definitely fits under this category. The song came out on the EP with the same title on VRAAA Records in July, a label which aims at ‘queer-ing up’ the genre. I discovered it as the producer closed his Pornceptual Boiler Room set in Berlin with it, which seemed to perfectly capture the Berlin queer scene at the time. The build-up, fast BPM and dramatic strings make it a catchy and euphoric number, while being coherent both as a track and in the scene it belongs to.

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Tourist – Apollo
Chosen by Chris Shennan (Nostromo)

From it’s ethereal opening to the delicious distorted center, this track gushes with emotion. The kind of music to soundtrack your own personal clime up Everest as it reaches its peak just as you do.

Lush cavernous chords swirl round as distorted bass and drums keep things deep and danceable without losing any of its introspective charm. Sonically stunning and recommended for any fans of John Hopkins’ current album ‘Singularity’ which shares a similar vibe.

One of only a few tracks this year to give me the warm fuzzies, I’m hoping 2019
brings an album of similar quality.

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