(I've done far too few of these this year - my intention is to post them with greater frequency in 2019.)
1. 'Moving Away From The Pulsebeat' - Buzzcocks
How better to pay tribute to the late Pete Shelley than to listen to Another Music In A Different Kitchen on repeat for the best part of a fortnight? Buzzcocks are widely seen as the one of the key progenitors of pop punk, but this track illustrates that, like Wire, they could also take punk's punch in a more experimental direction, and betrays Shelley's love of Krautrock.
2. 'I Shall Love 2' - Julia Holter
The phenomenal first single from Aviary, which left me open-mouthed on first listen. The album that still seems a bit intimidatingly sprawling and abstract, though. Despite being misleadingly described as her Kid A (as though her previous records were relatively conventional), it's certainly no Have You In My Wilderness - but I'm sure I'll come round in time.
3. 'Our Girl' - Our Girl
Not only did former Coral man Bill Ryder-Jones put out a fine album himself this year (Yawn), but he was responsible for production duties on the even better Stranger Today, the debut album from Our Girl, the other project of Big Moon guitarist Soph Nathan. The live version I've linked to above features Ryder-Jones on guitar and is superior to the album cut. I just wish I'd been as obsessed with the album when they came to Cardiff in October as I am now.
4. 'Material' - Flasher
Ditto Flasher's debut LP. Their performance at Clwb in early November really didn't do much for me - but I subsequently fell for Constant Image in a big way. Not only is 'Material' a great single, but it also has a fantastic video - a hilarious commentary on the zero-attention-span YouTube generation and the more bizarre recesses of the internet.
5. 'Mess Of Wires' - Metz
One of the things I pondered most often in 2018 was how on earth I had never really got into noise-punks Metz. In the months following August's appearance at the Globe, Strange Peace was never far from my stereo.
6. 'In The Beginning There Was Rhythm' - The Slits
The more I see and hear of The Slits, the more I see and hear evidence of their influence. This track, a 1980 split single with kindred spirits The Pop Group, is an odd, loose and irresistible form of deconstructed funk.
7. 'Destroyed By Hippie Powers' - Car Seat Headrest
I've been reliably informed that Car Seat Headrest weren't quite at their best on their November tour. If that's the case, then I can only imagine how bloody fantastic they must have been in the past. Teens Of Denial hadn't struck me as the work of a band that would be an amazing live act - but 'Destroyed By Hippie Powers' (in particular) caused chaos.
8. 'Losing, Baby' - Brooke Bentham
As a gig reviewer, occasionally you get onto the guest list of the support act rather than the headliners. That was the case back in September for the Soccer Mommy show at Clwb. I did the decent thing and went early to be sure of catching Brooke Bentham - and it was definitely not a decision I was to regret.
9. 'I Can't Listen To Gene Clark Anymore' - Marissa Nadler
If anyone else had released For My Crimes, it would have got a lot more effusive praise. But as brilliant business for usual for Marissa Nadler, it undeservedly went under the radar.
10. 'How I Faked The Moon Landing' - Silent Forum
On which vocalist Richard Wiggins sings about the struggles of being a band trying to get a profile and not fitting in in the local scene. Many more singles like this (dancefloor-ready gloomy post-punk a la Interpol and The Cult) and they'll fit in even less, looking destined to raise themselves head and shoulders above the rest of the Cardiff crowd.