The Quality Streets have been scoffed, the Baileys is on hand and us lot at DIY HQ are getting all misty-eyed and reflective looking back on the last twelve months. And what a twelve months it’s been for music! So, in true end-of-year fashion, we’re running through some of 2018’s biggest highlights, along with a handful of our own favourites.
Let’s not forget: just as summer was coming to its toasty heights - remember that heatwave?! - football fever had swept the nation, no thanks to Jordan Pickford’s penalty-saving skills. So while The Killers returned to play a tiny post-TRNSMT show at Glasgow’s King Tuts, George Ezra was encouraging his own fans to stop listening to ‘Shotgun’ in favour of that World Cup classic, ‘Three Lions’. And - in summer 2018 - it once again hit the top spot in the UK Singles Charts. What a time to be alive!
Remind yourself of some of the other big moments from July, August and September - including the release of BODEGA’s brilliant debut, the sheer brilliance of IDLES’ new album and this year’s edition of the Hyundai Mercury Prize - now
Things get 3D for our Black Honey cover
Ever since they emerged cloaked in mystery back in 2014, we’ve had a bit of a thing for Black Honey. Creating an all-encompassing world of cinematic melodrama and twisted romance, the Brighton quartet spent an admirably long time diligently fleshing out every corner of their fantasy and pushing their sonic boundaries further (Disco? Sure! Grinding synths? Sure!), until finally, this year, they unveiled their long-awaited, self-titled debut.
Heading down to the seaside town to catch up with the band and take a snoop around singer Izzy B. Phillips’ childhood bedroom (shock revelation: it’s not exactly minimalist) for our July cover, we found a band dreaming big and, er… storing pink coffins in their garage. In our review of the record, we noted that “by evolving from their earlier guise and pushing their sound forward before finally committing it to a first record, ‘Black Honey’ avoids any pitfalls its long gestation period could’ve created.” Then, we threw a big party at the Tate Modern with a set from the band to celebrate the whole shebang. Good things come to those who wait, indeed.
And the Mercury Prize nominations are….
Ah, another year, another Mercury Prize. This year’s prize saw established indie faves get nominations, with Arctic Monkeys sonic curveball of an album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ get a nod, as well as Florence & The Machine’s fourth album ‘High As Hope’ and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ ‘Who Built the Moon?’.
There were debut record nominations for Jorja Smith, Novelist and XL Recordings’ Richard Russell, and jazz quartet Sons Of Kemet. Everything Everything and Wolf Alice were back with their second shot at the prize, whilst Lily Allen’s fourth album nomination for ‘No Shame’ finally put her work under a more critically acclaimed spotlight and Nadine Shah’s third album ‘Holiday Destination’ emerged as somewhat of an underdog favourite with its socially and politically conscious lyricism.
Festival season gets a bit bonkers
Was it a dream? Surely a festival couldn’t fit Arctic Monkeys and Jack White on the same day, let alone the same bill? And then follow them with Queens of the Stone Age and Nine Inch Nails? Putting Tame Impala on the second rung with Franz Ferdinand, Dua Lipa and Kasabian? And then smuggle in Slaves, Wolf Alice, FIDLAR, Perfume Genius, Goat Girl, The Big Moon and MGMT? Sure, we might have fallen asleep more than once during Pearl Jam’s epic several-hour headline set on the Friday, but Madrid’s still-new-kid-on-the-block Mad Cool did all this and then some.
It was followed just a week later by the much more established - but no less showy - Benicassim on the coast, where The Killers sparkled as The Man and pals rattled through their hits, Bastille lead a giant singalong, Pale Waves won over the (tbh mostly British) crowd, and Liam Gallagher got whacked in the face by an actual fish. Who brings a fish to a festival?
BODEGA burst onto the scene
It was only back in March that we were first exposed to the brilliantly sardonic tones of NYC’s BODEGA via single ‘How Did This Happen?!’. On release, we said: “If James Murphy put down the synths and decided to pen a concise, updated ‘Losing My Edge’ with a few pals and some six-strings, then you wouldn’t land too far off,” and debut album ‘Endless Scroll’, which we gave five stars upon release in early July, brought plenty more of the same excellence, as well as the best song we’ve ever heard about a certain ‘90s film heartthrob. It was the surprise of the year.
IDLES make the most profound impact of the year
Looking back on the last 12 months, there’s been comebacks and career progressions, great new bands and great old bands, but there’s been no victory quite as heartwarming and well-earned as that of IDLES. Ending 2017 with a slow-burning cult success story in debut ‘Brutalism’, 2018 is the year that they blossomed into a true one-off and transcended all of our wildest hopes to become a genuine, bona fide Big Band.
Released on 31st August, second LP ‘Joy As An Act of Resistance’ is a tour de force from start to finish. As cathartic and enraged as it is witty and playful, it earned them a full five stars (honestly, if we could have given it six, we would) and landed them a Top Five in the UK charts, nestled somewhat bafflingly among The Greatest Showman soundtrack and an old Ed Sheeran album. It was a glorious, insane moment, but one that couldn’t have been more perfect. IDLES are our unicorns – a magical, rare bunch of people here to bring hope and positivity and have a big old dance while doing it.
Adorning our August double cover, decked out in cupcakes and flowers alongside fellow punks Slaves, they spoke about rejecting old-fashioned tropes of masculinity, forging community and embracing your flaws. Now, as the year comes to an end and their online community AF Gang sits at 13,000 members and counting, these ideas and their influence are blossoming out into a whole new movement. The best bands are always about more than just great music, and right now, IDLES are the best band of them all
The circus of Bestival is a feast of delights
Fingers were crossed all round for this year’s edition of Bestival, after the relative wash-out of its 2017 edition. Luckily, punters couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful weekend in the Dorset countryside: the sun shone gloriously the entire time.
That wasn’t all either: as well as the circus performers, karaoke sessions and wonderful fancy dress costumes, the fest was packed out with incredible performances. From M.I.A’s incendiary headline set, to IDLES’ main stage takeover, via the brilliance of the intimate-venue-within-a-festival that was the House of Vans - which played host to loads of DIY faves, natch - it was a bloody brilliantly weekend for everyone.
Brockhampton finally touch down on UK shores
After their ‘Saturation’ trilogy from 2017 made them one of the most talked-about bands on the planet, Brockhampton finally touched down on European soil on August for their first tour outside the US. A turbulent year for the boyband, with albums shelved and founding members departing, seemed to be turning around on a tour that saw a now-six-piece core forging a new energy and identity, with simply cacophonous receptions at Reading & Leeds and the band’s pair of headline shows at London’s KOKO. Seemed like they enjoyed it, too - after the tour finished, the band set up shop at Abbey Road Studios (all casual, like) to write and record what would become fourth album ‘iridescence’, which we later awarded five stars in our review. Come back whenever you like, boys.
Wolf Alice bag the 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize
The 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize, as you’ll all know by now, went to long-time DIY faves Wolf Alice in a win that was in some ways surprising, considering they weren’t tipped as favourites throughout the lead-up to the ceremony.
“It means so much to pick this up with my three best friends,” singer Ellie Rowsell told the crowd, almost in tears, as they accepted their award, before Theo Ellis took the mic. “The first label meeting we ever had, we walked into a room, and the geezer said, ‘You don’t look like a band at all. What are you? What are you supposed to be? All your songs sound different. You don’t look like each other,” he said. “We never really figured it out, but here we are.”
The band then celebrated their win in style, heading to their local Camden pub The Hawley Arms to set off a massive Jäger train with the Mercury prize itself before getting on a plane and getting off to Australia. Impressive stuff.
Christine and the Queens returns with her slick alterego
When Christine & The Queens dropped ‘the Queens’ and first unveiled the character of Chris at the beginning of the year, we knew we were in for a treat with her second album and as the funky 80s inspired-beat of first single ‘Girlfriend’ later confirmed, we were in for a much more a sexier, more playful version of Chris for album number two.
“I initially set out to smash against macho culture and macho men,” she explained around the release of the single. “I became obsessed with the idea of this macho man, and still being a woman. What does it mean if I’m this figure, and I’m still a woman? Does it make me an aberration? Is it joyful?”
With the full album dropping in September and Chris featuring as our cover star that very same month, ‘Chris’ turned out to be one of the most important albums of the year, subverting gender norms and embracing sexuality unashamedly, not to mention being a collection of extremely good pop songs to boot. “I do want to turn your world upside down, you get it?!” Chris joked in our cover feature at the time. “I’m not here to just excite you. I’m here to take your place!” With ‘Chris’ we guess she can consider her place well and truly taken.
DIY descends upon the Reeperbahn (Festival)
September saw festival season come to a close (sort of), and we headed to Hamburg for the annual Reeperbahn festival, toasting those next in line for the buzzy throne.
Out at the fest, we hosted the DIY x Fritz-kola stage which saw the likes of Whenyoung, LIFE and Liza Anne battling the elements to put their stamp down as ones to watch for 2019.
Elsewhere at the fest, the likes of Octavian, Westerman and The Ninth Wave showed that the new breed from the UK come in all different shapes, sizes and genres. Oh, and there was a secret 1,000 cap show from Muse…of course. Danke, Reeperbahn.
Stay tuned for the rest of our 12 Months of ‘18 features, later this week.