It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2018 rapidly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been another crazy year of highs and lows- it’s the releases that have pulled a lot of people through the year. Now in it’s 8th year, Circuit Sweet will be hosting takeovers from the featured artists/musicians/labels and promoters of the site with their personal top releases of the year.
Continuing our annual end of year tradition; we let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists. Telling us their favourite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
Our next take over comes from Asher Kenton, the force behind the incredible promoters Portals. Portals host an array of experimental rock gigs, all-dayers and a yearly festival in London. The acts that have graced their stages include Delta sleep, Gallops, yndi halda, Overhead, the Albatross, Totorro, Talons, Her Name is Calla, Alpha Male Tea Party, Axes, Vasudeva, Valerian Swing, Hark, Vasa, Toska, Polymath, VLMV, Big Lad and more. We find out about the year in music for Portals….
- Top Releases of 2018:
1. Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance
The Idles record is essentially old school ‘oi’ punk from a 21st century
perspective. It’s not the style of music that I would expect myself to really like. And yet, this album is just incredible. It’s furious, intense, deeply personal and absolutely mesmerising from start to finish. Vocalist Joe Talbot steals the show with a progressive
and sardonic take on ‘Brexit Britain’, and the unfathomably brutal death-march “June” which is about his stillborn child. The repeated lyric “baby shoes for sale never worn”, a nod to Hemingway, takes the breath away every single time.
2. El Ten Eleven – Banker’s Hill
It’s a beautiful record, understated and never overplayed. Just a drummer
and a bassist/guitarist with perfectly crafted loops which make it feel like a six-piece band. It’s not quite post rock, and not quite math rock, but has a lovely groove throughout. It never has to reach out and grab you, it just grooves and draws you in.
I’ve had it on repeat for about six months and each listen uncovers more layers, it can be great background music or great for just sitting and listening in silence.
3. MØl – Jord
This record is just about the opposite from the El Ten Eleven record.
It’s dark, powerful, immediately mesmerising post-metal. Whilst it’d be easy to describe this as Deafheaven-lite, this record has an intensity that arguably even Sunbather can’t match. It’s hard to believe this is their debut full-length album because it perfectly
achieves the balance of rawness and precision.
4. Jean Jean – FROIDEPIERRE
Jean Jean are a French electronic/math-rock band who played Portals this
year and I think surprised a lot of people. It’s infectious, dancey and fun whilst never playing on cliches. It’s perfectly crafted with synths, guitars and samples meshing together to create a glorious noise. The album is just a joy from start to finish and
their first record, Symmetry is well worth checking out too.
5. Black Peaks – All That Divides
It’s fantastic to see how Black Peaks have developed since I first saw
them play to a tiny crowd in Maguire’s Pizza Bar in Liverpool as Shrine (supporting Vasa) in 2014. They have developed into a furious beast of accessible yet experimental progressive rock. It’s clear to see their influences have become more varied too, with
Mastodon-esque guitar shreds interspersed with gigantic riffs that Deftones would be proud of and some of the catchiest choruses released this year.
Honourable mentions to Pijn, Talons, Rolo Tomassi, Emma Ruth Rundle, Death and the Penguin, A-Tota-So, Foxing (and probably loads more I’ve forgotten) who all released fantastic records this year too.
- The best show you have put on this year
Portals Festival was quite something, We’ve never worked so long on anything
so it was amazing to see it all come together. It especially all hit home during yndi halda’s set to close the festival. Whilst I actually only got to see bits of their set, seeing Dash and Blast was incredible. However, the highlight for me was how they beautifully
closed the set whilst playing windchimes and walking into the middle of the crowd. You could hear a pin drop. I’ll never forget that moment.
- The best gig you have attended
Mono at the Southbank Centre as part of Meltdown Festival felt almost
like a religious experience. I have no idea how they make that mind-blowing beautiful cacophony. Queen Elizabeth Hall was the perfect setting for such tender yet powerful music.
- Artist/Band to watch for 2019
The Guru Guru without doubt. Whilst technically released in 2017, the
debut album of the Belgian experimental/alt/punk/rock band ‘PCHEW’ is by far and away the best album I’ve discovered this year. It’s a perfectly crafted vision of raw ferociousness and bizarre experimentation. I’ve been calling them ‘the punk Volta’. They
were my highlight of ArcTanGent this year. I believe they have a new album out next year too so really excited for that.
- Plans for the New Year
Portals Festival will be back bigger and better. We’ve already confirmed one of my favourite all-time bands to headline and are really excited about how plans are coming along. We’ll also be doing a few rather special standalone gigs so keep an eye out.
A huge thank you Asher, every time we get to announce a new show for Portals the line up just blows us away. Wishing all the luck for 2019 https://portalsrock.com