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.
As autumn finally took hold, we saw the rather intriguing - and, at times, a bit bonkers - return of Sundara Karma, there was news that The Raconteurs would release a brand new album next year. Oh, and we got wind of our first Glastonbury headliner: Stormzy.
Remind yourself of some of the other big moments from October, November and December - including the return of Robyn, MØ’s long-awaited second album and our rather mad Class of 2019 launch show - now.
When Robyn returned with the poptastic ‘Missing U’ back in August, it felt like we’d been waiting a century (well, eight years to be precise) for new music from the singer; when the full album ‘Honey’ followed a couple of months later, we were treated to a collection of tracks that were unmistakably Robyn but full of growth from so many years away.
In our cover feature, Robyn spoke about no longer just being content with making the punchy breakup bangers that most of her audience originally found her through. “It felt like a dead end. I just couldn’t push this any further,” she explained. “It’s not gonna go anywhere. I can’t be writing sad love songs for the rest of my life - that’s just gonna be pathetic!” It may have been a long time to wait but after almost a decade away, Robyn’s comeback this year came with self-assurance and proof she’s stronger than ever.
IDLES play their biggest headline show yet
From the moment their second album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’ went top five at the end of August, IDLES were always going to have a triumphant gallop through to the end of the year. Almost straight after the album came out, they headed over to the States for a near-sold out tour - hopping back over the pond to wow Later… with Jools Holland half way through the tour - before bringing their touring circus to the UK for a completely sold out run.
At the London show at the Kentish Town Forum, the band had their crowning moment, a show of joy, acceptance, togetherness and rage. Before the gig, we spoke to the band, collaborators and fans about just what has made IDLES such a positive force this year, and how they’re forging vital communities out of their music. Read that feature in full here.
MØ releases her long-awaited second album
It’s no secret that here at DIY, we’re quite big fans of MØ. Such big fans, in fact, that way back in 2016 we decided to pop her on the cover of our July issue, crossing our fingers and hoping that her follow-up to ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ was on its way. Alas, things didn’t work out quite that way, but it was back in October that we finally got a taste of her second album.
Granted, it’s not like she wasn’t busy in the interim: she did after all feature on the super-smash hit known as Major Lazer’s ‘Lean On’. But, as she told us ahead of the release of ‘Forever Neverland’, she wasn’t content to just stand still. “It was really, really wild, and also flattering and exciting,” she said in our October feature. “But honestly, and this is how I am with everything in life, the only thing I was thinking about is what’s next. What do we do next? What’s the next song?”
Having overcome writer’s block and internalised pressure, she needn’t have worried all too much about what would come next: in our review of her latest album, we said that “she’s never looked more comfortable in her own skin.”
We take Do It Yourself out on the road
Back in June, DIY put out our inaugural Do It Yourself guide – a special issue combining sage pearls of wisdom from artists and successful bods from across the industry, aimed at giving those itching to join them a push in the right direction. But, as most people who contributed to the issue noted, getting a foot in the door is about getting out there and doing it, not just theorising. And so we did – bringing the Do It Yourself Neu Tour to Birmingham, Brighton and Leeds for three days of chats and gigs.
Across the week, we rounded up a load of speakers from some our favourite bands including Peace, Swim Deep, LIFE and Demob Happy, alongside people from some of the top labels, promoters and organisations out there (think: Dirty Hit, BMG, Live at Leeds, 13 Artists and more) to tell their stories and answer your questions. Then we served up three of our favourite new bands from each city, including headliners Penelope Isles, Caro and Youth Man, to see things off with a bang. We’ll be taking the Do It Yourself Neu Tour out to more cities in 2019, so stay tuned. And if you want to join us in this business we call music then we can recommend some light Christmas reading right here…
The 1975 release their incredible opus ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’
Ever since putting on a bet against themselves by uttering the words “The 1st of June, The 1975” repeatedly during their 2017 Latitude headline set, the stakes have been high for The 1975.
Even by the time that date actually rolled around earlier this year, their third album - not ‘Music For Cars’ after all, but ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’ - still wasn’t actually complete. “It’s a trip, man,” Matty Healy told us, ahead of the ‘Give Yourself A Try’ launch, reflecting on their massive marketing campaign. “The most amount of posters around London are our posters. There’s one in London Bridge and I went past it in an Uber and thought, ‘that’s me. And that’s advertising an album that I haven’t finished. What am I doing!?’”
What followed was almost an unfolding in real time: with each track released, another piece of the puzzle was uncovered, but it wasn’t until later November that their entire opus was fully revealed. Much like its predecessor, it held little back, and was all the more inspiring for it.
“A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ isn’t simple, or straightforward, and its points aren’t particularly easy to hear,” we wrote in our 5-star review. “But that’s not how it feels to be a young person in 2018, and on ‘A Brief Inquiry…’, The 1975 transmit how it does feel immaculately.” It’s an album that sees the band become the UK’s “most intriguing musical voice we have”, and proves just how vital pop music can be right now.
Things get messy with Sports Team, Anteros & Lady Bird for our Class of 2019 launch
Every December, we launch our latest Class Of issue, profiling the bands and artists we think are set for huge things the following year. This year’s mag, fronted by members of Sports Team, Amyl and the Sniffers and Whenyoung, and also featuring slowthai, Stella Donnelly, Fontaines DC, Westerman, Bakar and more, came out on 7th December, and to make the occasion extra special, we decided to throw a launch party for our new class down at the House Of Vans London.
Alongside an art exhibition of the Class Of 2019 photography, a photo booth and enough Christmas cheer to get even your grinchiest mate bellowing ‘Fairytale Of New York’, the gig confirmed the prowess of three of our Class Of bands, and proved they’re heading for huge things.
Lady Bird were first on, laying socially conscious, half-rapped lyrics over razor sharp punk, warming up a crowd who never really stopped clambering on top of each other the whole night. Anteros then incited the same kind of delirium, with Laura Hayden inviting girls from the audience on stage for the fantastic ‘Bonnie’, before Sports Team headlined the show, playing to a crowd genuinely dedicated to the six-piece, a band with both the attitude and the songs to make them a simply huge band, and one that inspires obsession from their audience. Watch them fly in 2019.