Best Albums of 2018
picked by 4 German selectors

Column <BR> “Pets II”

“Pets II”

Not only does Jan Philipp Janzen guide Von Spar through electro-krauty territory from behind his drum set while producing albums from other Cologne or Kompakt-associated acts like The Field, PTTRNS or Urban Jams in his spare time. He also makes music under his solo moniker Column, not to be confused with infinite bisous’ former band of the same name. Two years after Column’s first offering “Pets I” comes its successor, “Pets II”. As with the dishevelled panda that adorns the cover, the six tracks have something strangely fascinating.

Opener “Der Engel mit dem Holzauge” (“The Angel with the Wooden Eye”) builds his way from scattered drums to an understated techno track. From “Craft Beer Punks Fuck Off” on, Column oscillates between two modi operandi: slick techno and weird house. More often than not though, the menacing and the funky are intertwined, as on highlight amongst highlights “Molly & Swerve” featuring Marvin Horsch.

Sonically impeccable and perfectly balanced – two collab tracks and one remix per side, a “cold” A side and a “warm” B side – “Pets II” is the insider dance music gem you will play at every friend’s party from now on. (Philipp Fischer)

♪♫ Listen: “Craft Beer Punks Fuck Off” + album stream

Column on Facebook.

Die Nerven <BR> “Fake”

Die Nerven

Simple slogans stick in mind. For German post-punk group Die Nerven it was the label of them being the “worst-humoured rock band of the country”. This characterization – given to them by German newspaper “Die Zeit” at the time of their breakthrough – still haunts them. Regularly mentioned in press announcements, album reviews and thrown at them in almost every interview, it seems to annoy the band and – for worse – does not measure up to their artistic vision. Time for a change.

For Fake, their fourth album, the change for Die Nerven was twofold: Their spatial separation, as the members no longer all live in the same city, changed their approach to songwriting. This pays off in calmer arrangements and more stylistic breadth. All the while, the lyrics on Fake remain opaque, leaving only little hints to manifestations of fakeness, dealing with consumer conformism (“Skandinavisches Design”), pointless apolitical nihilism (“Frei”) or a critique of the individualist search for the self (“Niemals”).

With this, Die Nerven are the consensus of this year, appearing in every major end-of-the-year-list for 2018, whether it was editorial picks or audience polls. In April, German indie music mag “Intro” was already proclaiming: “The best German album of the year comes from Die Nerven”. We’ll go along with this new label. (Paul Crone)

♪♫ Listen: “Frei” + album stream

Die Nerven on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, www.

Drangsal <BR> “Zores”


Drangsal’s first album was a reminiscence of a time when emotions came from drum machines, shoulder patches and big 80’s choruses. The German enfant terrible never tried to hide his love for Morrissey and The Smiths.

But time has changed and the young musician developed his own unique style on his latest album called “Zores”. The title is inspired by the dialect of his hometown and means something like pikes or pack. Drangsal takes us on a ride through his childhood and shows a less angry face on “Zores”. His new sound is a fresh reinvention of German pop music that shows the nature behind Germany’s favourite angry face. (Yannick Philippe)

♪♫ Listen: “Turmbau zu Babel” + album stream

Drangsal on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram, www.

FIBEL <BR> “Kommissar”


Do you want to be kept in the past without being kept in the past? Well, then you should listen to FIBEL. The four lads from Mannheim study at the Popakademie, a university for pop music, and are not afraid of naming NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle, Germany’s equivalent of New Wave) as one of their inspirations.

In fact, their sound is an energetic mix of Post-Wave, Post-Punk or NDW and wants to live and die at the same time. Jonas Pentzek loves to combine macabre metaphors with the sweetest feelings such as love, passion and joy. The four tracks on the debut EP “Kommissar” shows the different kind of styles and colours of FIBEL. They not only tear down borders between the listener and the band, but also manage to find their very own sound full of sparkle. (Yannick Philippe)

♪♫ Listen: “Ehrlichkeit” + album stream

FIBEL on Facebook, Instagram, www.

Get Well Soon <BR> “The Horror”

Get Well Soon
“The Horror”

Pompous orchestral arrangements, splendid crooning in the spirit of Frank Sinatra and a slight feeling of unease – multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Constantin Gropper a.k.a. Get Well Soon has never been shy of profound approaches.

His search for a stark contrast to his 2016 project Love, a softer indie pop record, lead him to create The Horror, a concept album about various facets of fear. On the record, fear, which Gropper calls “the great common denominator of society, of all the problems and decisions we are faced with today”, comes in many incarnations, presented in opulent orchestral arrangements.

Thematically ranging from his own nightmares (“Nightmare No. 1 (Collapse)”; “Nightmare No. 2 (Dinner at Carinhall)”; “Nightmare No. 3(Strangled)”), to the rise of right-wing populism (“The Only Thing We Have to Fear”) and the ongoing discussion the #metoo-movement has started (“Nightjogging”), a wide range of personal and political nuances of fear are touched on The Horror.

Get Well Soon present a bold, multilayered and surprising examination of fear itself and its various incarnations – luckily with a playful musical vision, instead of a horrific descent into despair one could expect on a fear-centered album. With its witty and somewhat contradictory moments, “The Horror”, which Gropper describes as his “most humorous album” to date, proves that he is at the top of his craft. (Paul Crone)

♪♫ Listen: “Martyrs” + album stream

Get Well Soon on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Gianni Brezzo <BR> “Limonata”

Gianni Brezzo

Gianni Brezzo takes his time and he obviously wants you to join him: Have a seat, lean back and take a trip to the little islands of jazz-infused electronic sound he created for you. Take a 20 minute-break from everyday rush and allow your thoughts to deviate, Gianni will take your hand.

“Limonata” bewitches the listener by its playful non-chalance. Carefully picked sounds, unpretentious musicianship and an impeccable feel for musical idioms make this EP a health resort urgently needed by modern man. Trust Gianni, he’s there for you. (Jakob Lebsanft)

♪♫ Listen: “Numbers” + album stream

Gianni Brezzo on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram.

International Music <BR> “Die besten Jahre”

International Music
“Die besten Jahre”

Call yourself International Music and make an album of seemingly middle-of-the-road German-language rock titled “Die besten Jahre” (“The Best Years”), you will have people’s faces turn into question marks. The new band of Düsseldorf Düsterboys members Peter Rubel and Pedro Crescenti, with painter Joel Roters on drums, comes crashing into a world where according to most media everything – or at least everything “relevant” – evolves into more or less the same direction. Well, International Music doesn’t take any directions.

Stylistically, they take cues from country, proto-punk, 90s indie rock, psychedelic folk and slowcore in a way that made mainstream music mag “Musikexpress” rightfully dub them “first-class pop archivists”. Over the course of one hour and 16 songs, they make you cry with their vocal harmonies and laugh with their unlikely mix of guitar band relics.

The melancholy and absurd storytelling rivals that of nostalgia godfathers Element of Crime, with lyrics such as “Mom, why am I always getting it the way I ordered it?” and “knees broken, hairstyle is shit, the best years are over”. German sobriety at its best. (Philipp Fischer)

♪♫ Listen: “Mama, warum?” + album stream

International Music on Soundcloud, Facebook, Instagram.

Jan Jelinek <BR> “Zwischen”

Jan Jelinek

“Between” is the title and concept of Berlin experimentalist Jan Jelinek’s new album. It’s an abridged version of his radio play of the same name, comprising twelve “sound poems” of no more than three minutes. For these compositions, Jelinek took excerpts of interviews of various celebrities, keeping only the noises made in between words. He then transformed them and made them trigger and control a modular synthesizer. Thus, hesitations and breathing become otherworldly music.

The voices featured on “Zwischen” range from German feminist Alice Schwarzer and Austrian poets Friederike Mayröcker and Ernst Jandl to international celebrities like Marcel Duchamp, Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga. The resulting tracks are as diverse as the cast, ranging from the wall of noise that is “Slavoj Žižek, what signs were there of the imminent dissolution of Yugoslavia?” to the blips of “Yoko Ono, you were born into a rich, aristocratic family in Tokyo. Do you see that in yourself?” and the synth bed of the Lady Gaga track.

The track titles, opening questions from the interviews Jelinek manipulated, suggest a reflection of the artist’s self and his own questioning of the world surrounding him. At the half point, we are confronted with the following interrogations: “Ernst Jandl, what are your plans for language: revolution, reform, revolt?” / “Karlheinz Stockhausen, which difficulties are involved in conserving electronic music on magnetic tape?” Often hesitant, but as cavernous as a human personality, “Zwischen” finds art in the spots no one cares to consider. (Philipp Fischer)

♪♫ Listen: “Lady Gaga…” + album stream

Jan Jelinek on Bandcamp, www.

Lucrecia Dalt <BR> “Anticlines”

Lucrecia Dalt

There is a constant you and me that can be felt throughout Berlin-based musician Lucrecia Dalt’s lyrics. Personal chemistry isn’t just put on display though, it’s meticulously scrutinized: “Anticlines” is about sounding the depth of the human condition. How are we set in space and what state are our relationships in?

The 14 sound miniatures offer a seemingly scientific approach to this often mystified theme and Dalt‘s pointillist music supports her method with otherworldly elegance and precision Every sound on this album has been subject to a process of alienation from its source. The magnifying glass is able to reveal patterns that may distract from the examined object’s nature, but isn’t the misleading urge for insight part of what makes the scientist human? (Jakob Lebsanft)

♪♫ Listen: “Edge” + album stream

Lucrecia Dalt on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Sea Moya <BR> “Falmenta”

Sea Moya

Sea Moya have found their spot on the musical map. If on the two EP‘s released since the inception of the band in 2015, they showcased their wide range of influences and equally wide scope of styles they could produce, their debut full-length affirms the blend they have chosen to call their own. “Falmenta” is a lot of funk, in the rhythmic section of course but also in the melodies, with the trio still keeping their heads above the stratosphere.

The chirps and bloops coming from the samples and synths recall tropical forests, while guitarist and singer David Schnitzler often sounds like he just woke up. Iven Jansen on drums and Elias Agogo on bass and synths keep the machine running smoothly and without any involuntary hiccups – there are a lot of voluntary ones, like the “breath-taking” sample on “LITE.”. In our Best Of two years ago, talking about Sea Moya’s “Baltic States” EP, Jakob Lebsanft noted “something deeply liberating” in the way everything “easily sticks together”.

For this album, the same is true, and on top of this, the band prove that their unique sound is no one-shot. With “Falmenta”, the funkiest Germans since Can prove that they’re here to stay. Philipp Fischer)

♪♫ Listen: “Blown (feat. Thanya Iyer)” + album stream

Sea Moya on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.