It's December, which means it's that time of year where everyone you know thrusts a list of their albums of the year at you and demands instant approval. Your mates at Upset are no different. We've raided the archives, checked out score sheets, and picked out fifty of our favourite records from the past twelve months.
You can find the full run down in our new issue, out now, or check them off day by day over the coming week right here on upsetmagazine.com. Today, it's numbers 40 to 31. If you missed the first instalment, you can find it here.
Nothing, Nowhere has done a lot in a short space of time. On 2017’s ‘Reaper’, he built a graveyard world from his fears of loss, death and the unknown. ‘Ruiner’ tears down the expectations of what comes next, replacing that focused gloom with something more fluid. ‘Ruiner’ burns with a soul-bearing honesty and the simple desire to connect. Ali Shutler
Ghost have always been an entertainment act. The stories, the outfits, their ever-shifting legacy exists for enjoyment. It’s something that ‘Prequelle’ embraces wholeheartedly. From the haunting nursery rhyme of ‘Ashes’ to the roaring disgust of ‘Rats’ until the closing serenity of ‘Life Eternal’, this record plays up to expectation. ‘See The Light’ marches with a shining celebration made for massive gigs, ‘Faith’ hits hard, and ‘Witch Image’ relishes the hellscape they inhabit. Ghost are storytellers, and as they’ve been thrust into the spotlight, they’ve realised there’s no hiding. Ali Shutler
2015’s ‘Around The World And Back’ put pop-punkers State Champs on a podium, flying the flag for America in the new wave of pop-punk. On its follow-up, ‘Living Proof’, they’ve revisited the straight-up eat pizza, write songs mentality of debut ‘The Finer Things’ and painted it in the polish of ‘Around The World...’. Much like All Time Low did on ‘Don’t Panic’ and ‘Future Hearts’, State Champs have entered a period of transition. The Mark Hoppus-featured ‘Time Machine’ plays out like a post-Tom Blink-182 cut, while ‘The Fix-Up’ would fit perfectly in The Maine’s most recent work, an alt-rock sensitive sheen shining through. On ‘Living Proof’, State Champs sound bigger than ever, with a songbook of anthems stacked up higher than the Empire State Building. Jack Press
From the firecracker fuzz of ‘Play’, through the electroshock of ‘Habits’ and off into the distance with the rolling credit score of ‘Run With The Rhythm’, Marmozets’ ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ bounds about the place with infinite enthusiasm behind every spring- loaded turn.
‘Insomnia’ lurches through the shadows, while the furious venom of ‘Like A Battery’ sees the band at their most vicious; it’s a fierce and defiant attack on the people who choose greed over equality while giving those “who ran out of luck” a voice.
Every track on ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ is a standalone wonder, but the record slots together, united and tightly knit. A mosaic of passion, excitement and wide-eyes. It’s an album of belief, of trust and of following your gut.
From their insatiable need to create to their want for a better world, ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ is uniquely Marmozets. Excitement is front and centre, but there’s a driving desire to push the boundaries, to toy with what they can get away with.
Pulling the pieces together and tearing down walls, Marmozets are building something beautiful in the chaos. Ali Shutler
Mixing punchy indie-punk hooks with the personal and political to significant effect, like its predecessor, ‘Fixed Ideals’ displays a deftness of songwriting that belies the heavy themes. There’s no sloganeering here, just sharply-observed lyricism that paints a colourful, sometimes trying, picture of life spent in opposition to fascism or dealing with mental health. Ali Shutler
With a storming second album released earlier this year, we caught up with vocalist Lande Hekt to find out her 2018 highlights.
We went to Japan in April and had so many amazing moments. My favourite show from that tour was in a practice room in Nagoya. The people who organised it threw me and Dean [McMullen, guitar] a joint birthday BBQ on the roof and they bought us a cake that we sliced with chopsticks.
Over a year after we recorded it, we finally released our album ‘Fixed Ideals’ at the end of August. The day before it came out we played a show with Camp Cope in Bristol, and then on the day itself we decided to celebrate big time - we went white water kayaking followed by a spa. In the evening we went to spoons for chips and then to Odeon to see The Meg.
Our UK tour in September with The Hard Aches from Australia was great. Apart from our London show, which was one of the most fun nights, my favourite part of that tour was sitting in our favourite Buddhist cafe in Newcastle.
Now nine studio albums into their career, ‘Thank You For Today’ is the sound of a band calmly navigating a path forward through troubled waters and a changing world. Considering the background turmoil, it could have been a messy, half-baked return but, reassuringly, Death Cab For Cutie have barely skipped a beat. The future for one of America’s outstanding indie bands looks brighter than ever. Rob Mair
Good Charlotte return for the second time since their lengthy hiatus, but rather than attempting to retread the glory of their youth, this time they are delving into subjects of a far deeper and darker nature. With mental health, the Opioid crisis, mass tragedy and the death of musical icons, this is at times a world away from the bright and breezy pop punk of the past and at times feels like an entirely different band. 22 years down the line, ‘Generation RX’ may be the best album that Good Charlotte have made yet. Jamie MacMillan
‘Grow Into It’ sees Doe stomp into the unknown. ‘My Friends’ dances on the edge of control, while ‘Labour Like I Do’ twitches and repeats, dipped in honey, broken glass and fizzing frustration. Lacing every call to arms with unwavering belief, the band aren’t just another voice in the bubble: they’re leading the charge. Ali Shutler
Brendon Urie’s time on Broadway has galvanised the performer within. Live, he has always been the spotlight, but now the songs have that same showmanship. ‘Roaring 20s’ high kicks and heads for the big finish, while ‘Dancing’s Not A Crime’ is full of pomp, promise and feel good fanfare. Elsewhere, ‘High Hopes’ hits harder knowing Brendon has always been a dreamer, and ‘Dying In LA’ fast forwards to an unknown future. Each song is fully realised, coloured in and celebrated. ‘Pray For The Wicked’ is about making wildest dreams a reality; there’s sadness in the victory, but resilience to what comes next. Ali Shutler
Hellions don’t have time for boring. From the opening drama of the bite sized ‘(Blueberry)’, ‘Rue’ is a record that operates on maximum saturation at all points. With a flourish that would befit a My Chemical Romance or Panic! At The Disco, it’s a day-glo antidote to the angry, testosterone soaked norm.’X (Mwah)’ remains a ray of ridiculous sunshine - if only every band was this much fun. Dan Harrison
Taken from the December 2018 / January 2019 edition of Upset. Order a copy below.
Featuring Black Peaks, Boston Manor, Creeper, Idles, Dream Wife and loads more.