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Best of 2018

2018 IN REVIEW: Top Tracks

For all musical acts, there are tracks that stand their own. Whether it cements their career, signifies a change in direction or, on a grander scale, is unique to the industry – musicians are graded song by song. Over the twelve months of marvelous music that 2018 brought us, there were a whole host of singles that catalysed careers and united fans across the country. But which records stood out for the contributors at MCR Live? Which songs will outlive the year and remain lodged in our brains (and playlists)? Take a look at what we picked, right here:

‘Curse of the Contemporary’ – LUMP


‘Curse of the Contemporary’ was released, seemingly out of nowhere, in April by Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (Tuung) under the name LUMP. It was at the beginning of our heatwave, and that bass-line became the staple of my summer. Now, it feels just as fresh as it did back then – Marling’s gorgeous vocals glide effortlessly between octaves over Lindsay’s almost hazy sounding guitar. ‘”f you should be bored in California, I’m sure I’m not the first to warn ya” threatens to stay in your head on a loop for weeks, but it’s hard to complain; it never gets old.

‘Only My Honesty Matters’ – B.E.D.


By now, you’re used to lyrics about anguish and pity towards the World, cast alongside a heavy punk-edged, indie bassline. The lead singer straddles their Fender, gaunt black makeup streaked down their face. ‘Only My Honesty Matters’ gladly sets that image aside. The ‘B’ in B.E.D. is Baxter Dury, the stark voiced son of punk legend Ian Dury – of Madness fame – whose vocals take lead in the track. Much like his famous father, Baxter’s voice is a thick, cockney drawl which pours out the lyrics put together by himself and singer/songwriter Dellilah Holiday ‘D’, of London-based punk act Skinny Girl Diet.

It’s a modern-day poem that speaks of how predictable and complacent society has become: “Listening to Florence & The Machine and having a roll-up/Impudent white, obvious people with shocking clothes and awful music, red death and assigned to being a nob/alternative thoughts, alternative clothes or leisurely dressed boss, corduroy, all-in-one time team”. The backdrop is a repetitive chorus of drums and synths orchestrated by Dellilah and ‘E’: composer and musician Etienne De Crecy. It’s not the commonplace political, bohemian angry song, that leaves you with sweat dripping from the nape of your neck. It’s stating the obvious, it’s matter-of-fact, it’s not mocking us, it’s pointing the finger. It’s Dury.

‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ – Peggy Gou


Early on this year, lady of the moment Gou released a classic house track on Ninja Tune that undoubtedly deserves a mention. What makes this such a stand-out tune is that it has so many layers throughout, possessing both buoyant energy and features her own enchanting Korean vocals throughout. The depth of the track stands out against her previous releases, a step away from her synthy disco signature.

‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ has since had many remixes, which reveal the appeal it has had to more artists in the electronic music scene. It remains fresh and current while lending to the classic 1990s-house background, and it’s clear this is just one of many more exciting releases coming from Peggy Gou.

‘Four Out Of Five’ – Arctic Monkeys


Known for crafting a U.K. rock sound so iconic that it would later be engrained into the woodwork or concrete of every rock dance floor across the country for a decade. Arctic Monkeys released ‘Four Out of Five’ in 2018 with a completely fresh musical idiom.

With a new ’80s funk-influenced, down-tempo and up-stroke guitar infused sound that stunned fans everywhere, Alex Turner and the rest of the band released a really dynamic and thoughtful concept album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, and ‘Four of Five’ was released as its lead single.

Accompanied by an awesome music, video which pays great homage to science fiction movies; ‘The Shining’ and ‘A Space Odyssey 2001’ by Stanley Kubrick, ‘Four Out of Five’ is jam-packed with layers of lyrical storylines and cryptic narratives, a unique and brand new sonic pallet with instrumentation that is off the charts, and a whole new artistic direction.

‘Lux Prima’ – Karen O and Danger Mouse


Last month, Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and prolific producer Danger Mouse dropped Lux Prima, the first single from an exciting project (due next year) the two have embarked on. It’s a nine-minute-long, sandwich of a song – it opens and ends with an ambient, winding synth section featuring an Air-esque drum and bass line. Three minutes in, this ends and Karen’s distinctive vocals work together with a string staccato, crooning ‘I’m nowhere / I’m no one / I’m nobody / There’s nobody but you’. The looping structure enables us to get fully immersed for a while in a dreamy, astral soundscape while we wait for more of this fascinating collaboration.

‘Pick Up’ – DJ Koze


If you found yourself circulating electronic music festivals this summer, this will surely be one of your most heard and remembered tracks. The blissful tones of this relaxed yet stimulating dance track will be sure to inspire minds for months to come. Sampling the vocals from 1972 track “Neither One of Us” by Gladys Knight proves a success running throughout creating a haunting edge and a message about heartbreak.

One of the most interesting points about this track is the fact that it is made up of synths and melodies quite simplistic, yet it does not sound simple in the slightest. Coming straight off his album Knock Knock, this tune is an ultimate crowd pleaser which will be circulating electronic music for a while to come.

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Sabotage MCR’s Top Acts to Look Out For in 2019


Of course, promoters are at the heart of pushing forward the next wave of musicians that meet the crowds. Sabotage is amongst them, eagerly selecting their best picks from the scene and vying for the attention of an audience. The collective presents some of the greatest upcoming musical talents from across the countries network of independent acts and hoists them on a pedestal at some of Manchester’s best venues. Previous events at Jimmy’s, The Castle Hotel and Soup Kitchen, have seen the likes of Catholic Action, Husky Loops, The Starlight Magic Hour and many, many more that passed under the Sabotage moniker. Next up, they have the likes of Deja Vega, Psyence and Deh – Yey taking to The Castle Hotel on Saturday 16th February. But. ahead of all that, check out their cream of the crop which their expecting to see big things from in 2019, right here:


After a busy first half of 2018 supporting the likes of Declan McKenna as well as a smattering of festival slots over the summer, FEET released 3 really high-quality singles. Their knack for originality both lyrically and musically under the ever increasing, cheesy, landfill indie blanket, sets them apart from so many similarly labeled bands. Their live show is manic, fun and exciting. If their new songs are anything like their latest releases, 2019 promises to be a great year for them.


Slowhandclap are a band that has taken a year or so to blossom, naturally, but now they are in full bloom and ready to fuck your earholes. Their influences are plain to see, worn on their sleeves – this is a band that is exciting and fresh though. Expect laid back, head bonking verses, silky grooves, meaty riffs, and guitars laden with enough tenacity and skill to impress any wannabe axeman. They’ve just recently sold out The Castle Hotel, in Manchester, and have a host of new singles coming out early in 2019. This band has everything at their disposal to be right up there. Watch this space!


Come 2019 it’ll have been 3 years on since La Mode released their incredible debut self -titled EP. In that time, they took a sabbatical for around a year, had a line-up change and really honed their sound. La Mode are now the complete package. Their exceptional vocalist Millie Sproston is an incomparable force to be reckoned with. The talent and musicianship of this band are exceptional, with maybe even the best rhythm section in Manchester. With a new EP currently in production and a live show that is exciting and monstrous, this could be the year that La Mode really pushes on. World, keep producing incredible female fronted bands.


In a time where “popular music” is so void of originality, Dylan sticks his middle finger up and says fuck you. Dylan is a dude, he can rap, sing, oh and he’s pretty damn good at the bass too. Hip-shaking grooves, laid-back rhythms, and bopping choruses are all part of his repertoire. His songwriting ability is only getting better and his live show is already polished, fun, and intoxicating. With a headline UK tour booked for March and more undoubtedly great music on the way, we see Dylan becoming a superstar.


Mealtime are an extremely exciting new band. Having only played 3 or 4 gigs, they are already in cahoots with promoting powerhouse DHP and rightly so. They’re cool cats, they ooze originality, have a knack for writing great songs. They also have an exceptional lyricist in Sam Craighan, at their helm. “If your love is a breeze in this blistering heat / Yeah then mine’s just the piss on the cold toilet seat”. They bring an army of synthesizers and a sound that is so raw and no-nonsense, that is nothing short of incredible.


We absolutely love this band. Two boys, Two girls, in your face, straight- up fun, aggressive, rock and roll.  They do not give two shits who you are, they make music because it’s fun and that comes across live, as it always should. Their live set is relentless, not a single bum note, banger after banger. Watch them live in 2019 at a small venue before they explode. But hurry, because the fuse is already lit.


Ah black midi. We first heard about black midi back in March, when there was a small mention of them in So Young Magazine. Immediately after, we scoured the internet far and wide: nothing. Having built a big reputation in London simply by word of mouth, they had no need for social media. On 27th April a live video emerged of them playing an untitled song in a session on YouTube (see above). This had us hooked, we understood the hype, reminiscent somewhat of the noughties underground math scene, although somewhat altogether more complete and encapsulating. We had to see this band live and immediately tried to book them. To our dismay, a band of this talent had already (obviously) been snapped up by a bigger and better promotor (Now Wave) and Black Midi played the opening weekend at YES, one of Manchester’s newest venues. If you can track them down, go and see this band live, for you will never have seen anything like it in your life. Who knows what they have planned in 2019 other than their first headline tour. They now have social media platforms, although they will delete posts shortly after uploading them. Stay mysterious Black Midi, Sabotage loves you.

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