Music by VICE

The 10 Most Underrated UK Projects of 2018

Bookmark this page for a proper list of all the EPs, mixtapes and albums that deserve a second wave of attention.

by Daisy Jones and Ryan Bassil
Dec 20 2018, 3:15pm

Lava La Rue; Image courtesy of PR

Listen. The Noisey team is global. We have offices everywhere, from Toronto to Denmark to New York and a bunch of other places we don’t have time to list right now. And so, when it comes to end-of-year music round ups, we use this complex, democratic voting system to ensure everyone’s voices get heard (it’s worth it: peep our top 100 albums and top 100 tracks of 2018 to see what an objectively flawless list looks like.)

What this means, though, is that some of the smaller, more UK-based projects might fall through the cracks. Thus, in an effort to correct this sad and inevitable fact, we’ve compiled a rundown of our favourite, most underrated UK releases from the past 12 months below (and by releases, we mean albums, EPs, mixtapes, whatever… just anything that bangs and is worth listening to). You can treat it as an accompaniment to Our Big Playlist of the Best British Songs of 2018 from earlier this week. Enjoy:

Big Joanie – Sistahs

Big Joanie describe themselves as being “like The Ronettes filtered through 80s DIY and riot grrrl with a sprinkling of dashikis” and I’m not sure I can really explain this accomplished, joyful, discordant debut album with anything better than those words, so I’ll just leave this one here.

Kara Marni – Love Just Ain’t Enough EP

Nah sorry, but this 7-track EP from London’s Kara Marni did not get enough love when it came out in May. Flitting between R&B, soul and 90s-style pop/dance tracks, listening to Love Just Ain’t Enough feels like a beautiful day spent laying on a sun lounger with your eyes closed. Also props to the video for “Golden,” which will get you in the mood for summer 2019.

Lava La Rue – Letra EP

IDK what you were doing at 17, but I was mainly getting stoned and trying to scrape my way through a Philosophy A-Level that I would never use. Lava La Rue, on the other hand, was kick-starting a collective of artists, musicians and creatives called NiNE8 (you can read more about them and her story here). Now 20, the London rapper continues to be prolific and collaborative – her latest EP Letra being a perfect example. Full of bleary-eyed rap jams, spidery electronics and easy, thoughtful bars, the 6-track project is exactly why Lava La Rue is one to watch.

Matt Maltese – Bad Contestant

Matt Maltese is an artists who might not fully make sense to those outside the UK. Hell, he might not fully make sense to those in the UK. Dude sounds like Morrissey, sings soul-jazz ballads at a piano and is rarely seen without a two-piece vintage suit. His debut album, Bad Contestant, is equal parts strange, exciting and very listenable. Also, it’s contains absurdly good lines like: “You’re the highest quality hardwood door / You’re the final wartime piece of bread.”

Pizzagirl – Season 2 EP

If you like colorful, 80s-sounding bedroom pop (literally, Pizzagirl makes it all in his bedroom in Manchester), then this 6-track EP, Season 2, is one pure vibe. Full to the brim with power drums, bright synth lines and lyrics about high school and kissing, this here is one of the more fun and catchy releases to have come out lately.

Sorry – Home Demons vol. 2

You’d be forgiven for allowing Sorry’s second visual mixtape, Home Demons Vol. 2, to pass you by because the London band don’t really shout about their shit. They just quietly release stuff—videos they’ve made, love songs they’ve written, cassette tapes they’ve recorded—and allow the material to speak for itself. But they’re easily one of the most interesting guitar bands to have come out the UK in recent years, and Home Demons Vol. 2 is proof of that. With a vibe that sits somewhere between Goosebumps and Twin Peaks, and with songs that sound like romance, boredom, darkness and all the feels in between, this here is worth revisiting and celebrating.

Denzel Himself – Baphomet James

Sure it's a complete cliche to say someone is in a league of their own, but with south London rapper Denzel Himself it's true. So why lie? We only believe in cold hard facts, not dishonesty. No one else is doing what he's doing right now, which is a strange and warped blend of experimental rap that uses his voice as much as an instrument. Think Tyler the Creator by way of Ol' DIrty Bastard and that kid from your art class. Oh, and if you watch the COLORS session above you'll see another star in KEYAH/BLU and be able to tell all your mates you knew her before she blows the fuck up.

Sega Bodega – Self Care

Some of this stuff is abrasive, some of it sounds like a pop music fever dream—and, quite frankly, a lot of it is the easiest way to transport yourself to a sleazy sex-club of the future (like in the film Blade Runner, or something, but colorful and poppy and fun instead of deathly and featuring Han Solo). The project is called Self Care, because, well—#selfcare. But each song takes on a range of themes and has been backed up with its own video, featuring work from Brooke Candy, Bea1991 and more.

Novelist – Novelist Guy

Novelist's debut album has been on its way for a minute but as someone wise once said, good things come to those who wait. And what a joy of a record it is, somewhere between political and evangelical. Have a read of our interview here where he gets deeper into the themes of the album.

Laura Marling, Mike Lindsay – LUMP

At seven songs long, LUMP is an ideal record. Not bloated, never too much, it'll hit the spot just right. Seeing as it's a Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay project there are some folk-ish vibes but more than anything this is a record for putting on your headphones as you soak into a train seat on the way home for Christmas or indeed any other time when your brain needs soothing. Slap it on.

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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.