Another year has passed in an instant. With the beginning of 2019 we’d like to take a look back at 2018 and pick our pop-culture favourites — as we did last year. Today’s time for the first part where we’re talking about music.
GusGus – Lies Are More Flexible
GusGus are known innovators of electronic music that don’t play by the mainstream rules. They come from a small, wintry but yet beautiful country Iceland. Their music covers a wide range of music genres: from techno to trip-hop, from house to progressive house/trance to pop. Their Icelandic origins are somehow really reflected in their music style that often times sounds beautifully melancholic and tranquil. Their new album “Lies Are More Flexible” is another solid record in their discography, becoming an instant favorite among the fans. Each song is well crafted and sends you on a musical journey. They bring out a wide spectrum of emotions by carefully crafting the sound of their lyrics. Take a listen below to their main single from the album called “Featherlight“.
Fall Out Boy – Mania
If you were born around 90s and had a thing for emo or punk music, you will probably know them. They’d gone a long way from their roots and in 2018 they released a new album called Mania (stylized as M A N I A). Their sound has changed a lot throughout the years, but they still have their kick. They’ve drifted away from their pop punk, emo sound and now sound like a modern (alternative) rock, pop rock band. The most surprising song to many people was “Young And Menace“. It kind of mixes EDM, rock and a bit of a dubstep. When I first heard it, I disliked it, but after a few more listens, it got stuck on repeat. Other songs mix pop, electronic and rock sounds, but they still have their own kick, and Patrick’s voice sounds soulful as always.
Depeche Mode – Spirit (2017)
I just have to cover this, since I missed it in 2017. Depeche Mode has been an iconic band for a long time and will forever be one of my favorites. With this new release they prove that they still can produce great new music and timeless hits. Over the years, the blues sound in their records has been incorporated more and more. On this record, the electronica and blues genre mix beautifully. The album starts with the track called “Going Backwards” – a comment about the politics about the world (and Trump’s election as the president of the USA). The second song on the album, “Where’s The Revolution”, extends the topic and asks people how long they will stand with all of this. The third song is a beautifully crafted ballad “The Worst Crime“, while the fourth one, “Scum“, is most likely another comment on today’s politics (or maybe just talking about a random scum who uses other people for their own gains). “You Move” is probably about a couple who have been in relationship for a very long time but the protagonist still feels strong love to their significant other. “Cover Me” is my favorite song from the album (many of Depeche Mode fans would probably agree with me) and became one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever heard! It’s a beautiful ballad with very well crafted lyrics, which take you on a certain journey. And the musical shift at the ending is unexpected but yet, at the same time, well-fitting. The rest of the album is still great, though it has few songs that I usually skip. If you like good music, I highly suggest listening to this album, especially the first six songs! And give “Cover Me” a listen below or on your preferred streaming service.
Confidence Man – Confident Music For Confident People
Well, what I can say about this band and their album? It’s weird, quirky and fun, although I have to admit that the songs work a lot better live than recorded and listened at home with headphones on. I found out this band at Positivus Festival. When I saw them on stage, my first thought was “WTF?”. They had a drummer and a keyboardist in black clothes completely covering their bodies, while two frontmen did a coordinated and a bit provocative dances. It was a lot of fun to look at. Even more so than to listen. Even if you’re not a fan of this music, it will keep you going, unless you have an unbreakable layer of ice surrounding your cold heart (if that’s so, you’re still awesome). Take a look over here at their live “Boyfriend” performance:
Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch
I’ve been a long fan of Nine Inch Nails. I’m always excited to hear new records they put out. Trent Reznor, the main artist behind the band, somehow manages to sound the same and yet so different with each new album. This one, however, gave me mixed feelings. While, with their other albums, I used to like pretty much all songs, this is not the case here. It does have some wonderful songs, like a catchy industrial noise rock piece “Shit Mirror” or “God Break Down The Door“, which goes into completely new and unheard direction – combining jazz elements, industrial and rock sounds with harsh background noise at the second part of the song. Unfortunately, other tracks seem kind of forgetful. Though it might be just me, as so far I’ve listened to this album only a handful of times. Maybe it will grow on me as time goes on. Below is “God Break Down The Doors” for your listening pleasure.
Alice Merton – No Roots (EP) / Lash Out / Why So Serious
Alice Merton was a completely new discovery for me. This singer comes from Germany and in 2017 she released her first EP called “No Roots“. This EP included the hit song No Roots, which was a sleeper hit and over time became chart-topping in many countries. I consider this piece to be a great and fun pop song with some influence of rock music. Other songs on the EP are very pleasant to listen too: “Jealously” is a power ballad, while “Hit The Ground Running” is powerful, inspiring and it incorporates more rock motives. The EP concludes with lyrical “Lie To My Face”
This year, the singer released two more singles: “Lash Out” and “Why So Serious“. Both are fun, have a very moving beat and quite enjoyable lyrics. “Why So Serious” tries to bring you back into the days when you were happier and tries to bring the best moments you have experienced in live. It tells you to bring back the spark you once had – dare to be silly, and happy; enjoy live. You can listen to this funky song with equally enjoyable music video below:
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
The 12th studio album by Kamelot was released on April 6th. They continue their progressive metal roots by giving us powerful tracks to ballads. It’s this kind of variety that helps Kamelot keep their unique sound and growing. The story-telling elements are still strong, as well. Lauren Hart and Jennifer Haben are two guests on this album. Along with the different sounds and music being enjoyable, Tommy Kaverik’s voice is a pleasure to listen to throughout the album.
Dream Theater – Untethered Angel (Single)
The single is from the upcoming album, Distance Over Time. Dream Theater has been leaving fans with mixed feelings with the past couple of albums. However, with the single being released and the band showing off their ability not just technically but musically especially, it’s leaving a lot to yearn for from the upcoming album.
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets and Dead Messiahs
Orphaned Land is a band I discovered many years ago only to rediscover them recently. They are an Oriental Folk Metal band from Israel and they include lyrics based on religion along with their art. They are accepted with open arms to play their music not only in Israel but also in all of the surrounding areas! Music to bring people together that have different beliefs and ideals. I believe that nothing is more metal than Harmonic Minors, and these guys fully take advantage of it. Their singer Kobi Farhi has an exceptional vocal range from a wonderful singing voice to powerful growls. The album starts beautifully and quickly brings in the guitars and metal singing. They blend those two elements together wonderfully and have only been getting better.
Ninja Sex Party – Cool Patrol
If you’ve never heard of this band, get ready for a wild ride. These guys write wildly hilarious music that fits the band name perfectly; Their lyrics and song titles are brilliant. They have grown as musicians – their album Cool Patrol shows this. Especially with the wholesome ballad, “Danny Don’t You Know.” Plus Ninja Brian [Wecht] holds a PhD in Particle Physics. A ninja is one thing, and it’s an entirely different level of deadly when one holds a scientific PhD.
TWRP – Together Through Time
Bringing synth alive! It’s like taking a trip back to the synth 80’s. Along with making loads of collaborations with Ninja Sex Party, they even had The Protomen as guests in this album. It’s easy to see they are heading to exciting places. They mix funk, synth, and rocking licks. Synth is one of the things I discovered in 2018 and TWRP further developed my excitement for the sound.
NINA – Sleepwalking
The debut album of NINA is something I was very pleased to discover. NINA is a Synth Pop artist based in London and born and raised in Berlin. Sleepwalking takes you back to years you never thought you missed – makes sense since one of her biggest influences is Depeche Mode. Looking forward to hearing more from her. Every track in this album is excellent and many of the songs are really catchy. She’s been called the “Queen of Synth” and her Sleepwalking album sold out on CD and Vynil.
Cœur De Pirate – En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé
Cœur De Pirate is the stage name that Béatrice Martin goes by. She’s a Canadian Indie Pop singer and mostly sings in French. The album has a melancholy sound to it, while it’s really enjoyable and relaxing with more upbeat tracks in the album. En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé has been a journey of healing from trauma and anxiety for the artist – those themes are carried in her music. Béatrice Martin plans on this being the last album she goes by Cœur De Pirate, and still plans on making music. Good thing too because I absolutely adore her and her silly meme videos.
Rise Season 1: The Album
This is the album that has constantly been on my playlist since its release in May. “Rise” is a television series about a teacher taking on a high school drama club. Together they stage a very controversial musical, “Spring Awakening” (you’ll be able to read more on the series on our site soon). The album incorporates all the songs from the musical sang by the TV show’s cast, including the likes of Auli’i Cravalho (“Moana”), Shannon Purser (“Stranger Things”), Amy Forsyth, Ellie Desautels, Ted Sutherland and Damon J. Gillespie. Their interpretations of the rocky musical tunes are beautiful and some additional songs, like the covers of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” or Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” could be considered better than the originals. Make sure to give it a listen, but beware: it is addictive!
Another soundtrack, although this time with original songs. “Westside” is a Netflix reality show about musicians coming together to write and perform a musical show based on their personal experiences. In each episode of the series, you can watch a few videoclips with the cast’s songs. The strength of the soundtrack collecting them all is it eclecticism. There are hip-hop, pop, country, R’n’B and rock tunes, all with meaningful lyrics about different situations: friend’s betrayal, alcoholism or even the difficulty to choose the right words. Below you can listen to one of these, “I can’t find the words” by Caitlin Ary. Make sure to check out the rest on your favourite streaming service.
My Indigo “My Indigo”
After returning from a tour with Within Temptation, Sharon Den Adel went through a writer’s block while composing songs for their next album and some personal problems. To cope with them, she decided to compose for herself. And thus the “My Indigo” project was born. Den Adel’s signature vocals meet modern, electronic pop sounds on the album, which — combined — are intriguing and refreshing. The album is also very introspective, letting the listener discover a whole new, vulnerable side to the otherwise powerful and energetic symphonic metal singer. Here’s the main single, titled — yeah, you guessed it — “My Indigo”.
The former lead vocalist of Vanilla Ninja had decided to go solo and this year she released her third album, called “3X”. Although not as strong as her previous records, this one is still an interesting blend of indie pop, mellow guitar sounds and a bit of electronics. And although they are in Estonian and I can’t understand a thing, I sure hum a few songs under my nose.
Agnieszka Chylińska “Pink Punk”
This one’s a Polish album. Agnieszka Chylińska has been my favourite singer, both as a part of her former group, O.N.A., and a solo vocalist. Her fourth solo record is a return to her rock roots. And although lyrically she’s not as ambitious as she used to be, she still delivers on the artistic level and manages to tell her truth — even the most banal one. Here’s her energetic single, “Mam zły dzień” (“I’m having a bad day”)