Best Albums of 2018
selected by 32 Polish critics

Ugory <BR>“Matko Ciszy”

“Matko Ciszy”

This music was created far from the hustle and bustle of the city, in the difficult and unfavorable conditions of Polish countryside. The weight of the guitars, overwhelming atmosphere and vocals of Robert Śliwka simply crush the listener. We get a mix of sludge metal, drone and even black metal.

It’s only 25 minutes, but at the same time it’s the perfect length to fall in love with Ugory. Music videos were created for each song from more or less disturbing scenes of the Polish landscape. It is worth consuming “Matko Ciszy” in such an audio-visual way. (Agata Hudomięt)

♪♫ Listen: “Glina i Korzenie” + album stream

Ugory on Facebook.

Borixon <BR>“Mołotow”


Borixon comes from the firstest hip-hop generation, but the shoes of young rappers fit him nicely. Maybe that’s because he ties them more loosely and imaginatively sticks the tongue out? Or maybe he’s broken them in since his previous, much worse album?

Anyway, he’ll dance in them easily, and he will not do it to someone else’s tune. And when nostalgia kicks in, there’s nothing left to pick but one’s jaw off the floor.

The album “Mołotow” (“Molotov”) amazes with neat composition, good selection of beats, and a hundred per cent natural, jaunty / moving style. (Marcin Flint)

♪♫ Listen: “Nic” + album stream

Borixon on Facebook, Instagram.

Drekoty <BR>“lub maszyna dzika trawa”

“lub maszyna dzika trawa”

Experimental but catchy, plain but extravagant, pop but alternative. The second LP of girl trio Drekoty is deceitful, filled with language experiments, wordplays, ridiculous metaphors, and surreal stories illustrated by frugal and noir accompaniment led by singer Natalia Pikuła, retro synths of Olga Czech and crude percussion rhythms of the band leader Ola Rzepka – an educated pianist by the way.

They draw from rock, jazz and blues tradition, and this direction is enhanced by guests like Mikołaj Trzaska (sax), Raphael Rogiński (guitar), Ziut Gralak (trumpet), Kasia Kolbowska (harp), Hubert Woźniakowski (bass) and Paweł Szpura (percussion). The strength of this album are expressive opposites. It’s intimate and dark. Tempting and predatory. Sophisticated and primitive. (Bartosz Nowicki)

♪♫ Listen: “Troskliwy” + album stream

Drekoty on Facebook, Instagram.

Ćpaj Stajl <BR>“Lato w Ghettcie”

Ćpaj Stajl
“Lato w Ghettcie”

“Lato w Ghettcie” (“Summer in the Ghetto”), the debut mixtape by Cracow-based hip-hop squad Ćpaj Stajl, is the great example of how you can deconstruct street rap tradition and still sounds fresh, original and characteristic.

On this first album, Ćpaj Stajl offer us a real-style crossover – from horrorcore to g-funk. But the whole thing remains consistent thanks to memorable lines (“Tak jak kiedyś”) and contagious choruses (“Gangi”).

“Lato w Ghettcie” seems to be not only pure joy, but it is also one of the best Polish rap productions in 2018. (Jacek Marczuk)

♪♫ Listen: “Gangi” + album stream

Ćpaj Stajl on Facebook.

Muka <BR>“Pampuch”


Adjectives like “weird” or “uncategorizable” came up when discussing “Pampuch” with my colleagues. It’s hard not to agree, but you have to add: Muka makes revolutionary music when talking about Poland.

The experimental-electronic duo of Kacha Kowalczyk (from Coals) and teenage producer Paszka (enjoy life) released their debut tape in a cassette label Pointless Geometry. It’s a glitchy, coming out of meta-post-internet-bubblegum-emoji-weird-meme-stuff kind of music.

You could say it’s deconstructed IDM, power ambient, wonky glitch but you still won’t be 100 percent right. Alienish and unpleasant sound-collages clash with warm samples and smooth noisy stuff. Yes, please, we want more. (Lech Podhalicz)

♪♫ Listen: “(っ˘ڡ˘ς)” + album stream

Muka on Facebook.

In Twilight Embrace <BR>“Lawa”

In Twilight Embrace

“Lawa“ has a really short running time, but the band gets its point across sufficiently. Oppressive atmosphere, amazing lyrics, and pounding, often surreal riffs are coming together to bring Slavic spirits to the fold.

Vocal work on “Lawa” (which means “Lava”) is creative and impressive, production helps composition and arrangements shine and the whole album sounds really idiosyncratic – from haunting opener “Zaklęcie” to groovy but unsettling closer “Żywi Nieumarli”, “Lawa” keeps you on your toes.

One of the finest pieces of metal that came from Poland in 2018! (Paweł Klimczak)

♪♫ Listen: “Pełen czerni” + album stream

In Twilight Embrace on Facebook.

We Will Fail <BR>“Dancing”

We Will Fail

Don’t let the title fool you. While a couple of tracks on Aleksandra Grünholz’s third album as We Will Fail are actually built on repetitive rhythms and underlying grooves, the music is as uncompromising as ever. Dance at your peril.

Grünholz is adept at designing intricate sonic structures out of shimmers, clanks, scratches and all sorts of noises. On “Dancing” she meticulously crafts each piece, brick by brick and layer by layer. Although, overall, it’s one of her most concise works, the album can still overwhelm with its rough, dense and complex sound.

Like a large building looming over you. However, it’s hard not to be amazed by its architecture and ambience. (Artur Szarecki)

♪♫ Listen: “Night (v. 2)” + album stream

We Will Fail on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud.

Siksa <BR>“Stabat Mater Dolorosa”

“Stabat Mater Dolorosa”

The duo Siksa (vocals and bass) defy simple classifications. They are most convincing at their concerts, and “Stabat Mater Dolorosa” is something between a documentary of their performance, bass sound and spoken word, a contemporary monologue on the edge of the stream of consciousness and diary.

In the previous years, Siksa talked about her body, then about nationalists, now she is dedicated to the situation of women in Poland.

On “Stabat Mater Dolorosa”, she screams on behalf of those who are increasingly bolder in the streets, proclaiming their demands, appropriating public discourse in punk and impetuous way. (Jakub Knera)

♪♫ Listen: “Marina Abramović” + album stream

Siksa on Facebook, Instagram.

schafter <BR>“Hors D’oeuvre”

“Hors D’oeuvre”

Let’s put aside considerations about the young age of the producer and rapper from Silesia. schafter is not about a birth certificate, but a surprisingly mature pieces created with an impeccable sense, regardless of the circumstances.

“Hors d’oeuvre” is neither EP, nor album – just a loose collection of the most interesting songs that were bred during his short career. These eight tracks translate into a magnetic journey through culturally-infused 80s/90s nostalgia, built on fairly simple, sometimes infantile lyrics. All this is wrapped in a refreshing polglish, full of cultural follow-ups and up-to-date aesthetics of the Internet generation.

The key to the success of this material, however, is not the lyrical layer but the excellent instrumentals, glued with extraordinary ease by schafter himself. Jazzy, spatial bits drip with a specific atmosphere and flow in a way that evokes the desire for a stereotypical night-time ride around the city. (Mateusz Drohobycki)

♪♫ Listen: “tom & jerry” + album stream

schafter on Facebook, YouTube.

Nosowska <BR>“Basta”


Last year, the most popular Polish rock band Hey celebrated its 25th anniversary, but after another successful tour it went on hiatus. The lead singer Katarzyna Nosowska admitted it was mostly her decision – as she felt too safe. On her 8th solo album, she wanted to leave her comfort zone. So she teamed with a popular producer Michal “Fox” Król to record modern, dynamic and catchy album titled “Basta” (old Polish word, borrowed from Italian, for “enough”).

Dance, electro and hip-hop beats are paired with bold, direct, and personal lyrics. Even Nosowska’s characteristic timid and introvert expression became straightforward and fearless through her attempt to rap. It came as a great surprise that such an established artist still had enough courage to reinvent herself.

Of course her fans followed her as the album was a commercial success. (Jacek Skolimowski)

♪♫ Listen: “Nagasaki” + album stream

Nosowska on Facebook, Instagram, www.

kIRk <BR>“Ich dzikie serca”

“Ich dzikie serca”

Another proposal from this unique quartet is the instrumental concept album of an imaginary space travel. There is a lot of noise, undefined provenance of effects, waves, reverbs and samples put by Filip Kalinowski on Paweł Bartnik’s electronic background.

What is extremely intriguing in this retrocosmic costume is the dialogue between the economical, squaring trumpet by instrumentalist Olgierd Dokalski, and new vocal forms from singer Antonina Nowacka.

“Ich dzikie serca” (“Their wild hearts”), a musical novel prepared by kiRk, is addictive and rich, it is difficult to get rid of it, but it is necessary to hear it as a whole. (Bartek Woynicz)

♪♫ Listen: “Rekonesans” + album stream

kIRk on Facebook, www.

Dawid Podsiadło <BR>“Małomiasteczkowy”

Dawid Podsiadło

As I’m writing these words, “Małomiasteczkowy” went platinum for the third time. A few days earlier Podsiadło sold out a two-month tour in just four minutes, and his singles reached tens of millions of streams (and counting). Sure thing, music shouldn’t be a popularity contest, but the phenomenon of Podsiadło’s quality pop-rock broke some boundaries and may positively impact Polish music scene – AR guys, labels, potential business partners, event agencies.

And that’s fine. All good. Really. But to be honest I wouldn’t care that much, if not for the first single “Małomiasteczkowy” (“Small-townish”). The song that touched upon a subject which I find both overlooked and relevant. As a result, for the first time in years I felt not only moved, but kind of grateful listening to a Polish pop song. I guess I wasn’t alone. (Jan Błaszczak)

♪♫ Listen: “Małomiasteczkowy” + album stream

Dawid Podsiadło on Facebook, Instagram.

Rycerzyki <BR>“Kalarnali”


The sophomore album of this Cracow-based sextet brings 11 perfect indie pop songs. Since their 2015 debut, they have expanded their sound and approach to songwriting. “Kalarnali” is filled with 11 extraordinary indie pop songs. You can hear in their music echoes of baroque pop, Belle & Sebastian, Stereolab, Brazilian approach to melody, Polish pop from the 70s, psychedelia.

Out of those elements they craft their own, immediately recognisable style, being a sonic equivalent of magical realism in literature. The lyrics – all but one written in Polish – correspond to the music. Gosia Zielińska sings about long-forgotten kingdoms from fables, frost giants, creatures from the deepest oceans and finds magic in a lazy summer afternoon or an early spring morning. (Michał Wieczorek)

♪♫ Listen: “Czerwiec” + album stream

Rycerzyki on Facebook, Instagram.

Alameda 4 <BR>“Czarna Woda”

Alameda 4
“Czarna Woda”

Alameda, the leading alternative band from Bydgoszcz, is playing and recording in different line-up incarnactions. Alameda 4 – a quartet – is still psychedelic, as any version of the band, but more straightforward with its pure rock energy based on the work of the rhythm section (Tomasz Popowski, Mikołaj Zieliński).

They retain the same atmosphere as always, but with even more interesting forms, tempo changes and large dynamic scale. Some of the tracks contain field recordings (Mirt and Rafał Kołacki guest) in the background. But the most interesting is that “Czarna woda” is just as good sounding as it is challenging. Production of this material seems to be the best in their discography. (Bartek Chaciński)

♪♫ Listen: “Czarna Woda” + album stream

Alameda on Facebook, Bandcamp.

New People <BR>“New People”

New People
“New People”

This seven-piece outfit from Warsaw is truly a collective – it consists of team players only.

Members of New People have played in numerous bands, and their sound draws from pop to funk to rock, from The Beach Boys to Steely Dan and back to The Beatles. They do what has to be done: write precious melodies, explore danceable rhythms, master vocal harmonies (five of them sing!).

When you listen to their record, it seems effortless, but don’t be mistaken – New People weave so many layers into their songs that each time you get to discover new details. They don’t overproduce stuff but keep the sound bright and sparkling.

Making music clearly makes them happy. To hell with irony! (Jacek Świąder)

♪♫ Listen: “Rain Talk” + album stream

New People on Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp.

Adonis “Wiosenna ofensywa nie trwa dłużej niż do letnich wakacji”

Adonis “Wiosenna ofensywa nie trwa dłużej niż do letnich wakacji”

Because of a pretty late release Panowie’s debut LP wasn’t taken into consideration for our list. Fortunately, one of the band’s members – Adonis – also released an impressive piece of music last year.

Five dreamy, inventive and catchy tracks feel like a hazy trip sponsored by some kind of euphoric drug making the whole world slow down. If we were to consider last year’s contestants only – such artists as Westerman, Amen Dunes or Boygenius could be easily compared to Adonis’ perfect songwriting.

Adonis glorifies joyful fleeting youth on his release – a bit hedonistic but at the same time melancholic. He makes perfect use of warm chillwave, nostalgic hypnagogic pop and a bit of delicate shoegaze.

Pity “Wiosenna ofensywa” lasts only 17 minutes. (Lech Podhalicz)

♪♫ Listen: “Czas zamknąć oczy gwiazdom” + album stream

Adonis on Facebook.

Kriegsmaschine <BR>“Apocalypticists”


Say whaaat?!

Well, yes, at first you might be a bit surprised as “Apocalypticists” is probably neither the most catchy nor most avant-garde metal album of the year. And the band itself is certainly not the most popular one in Poland, especially when you compare it to internationally acclaimed Behemoth, who also released LP lately. But! Its high position on the list is not by chance.

It seems that on “Apocalypticists”, Kriegsmaschine has found the perfect balance between aggression and accessibility of the compositions, between dirtiness of sound and clarity of it or – most importantly – between dark atmosphere of black metal and a simple joy of a great, catchy guitar riff. In other words, everything fits here like a glove. (Łukasz Wawro)

♪♫ Listen: “Residual Blight” + album stream

Kriegsmaschine on Facebook, www.

Wojciech Bąkowski <BR>“Jazz Duo”

Wojciech Bąkowski
“Jazz Duo”

The title of Wojciech Bąkowski’s third solo album refers to a model of tram produced in Bydgoszcz and runs on tracks in Warsaw. On “Jazz Duo”, the critically acclaimed visual artist, poet and performer still explores his peculiar language, and some lines sound as if they were spilling straight from his brain – pure, extracted from conventions.

It’s a kind of dreamy spoken-word, sometimes turning into nightmare – especially when Bąkowski draws tensions between social classes. These words are scattered across sad, jerky compositions, which are replete with scraps of jingles in James Ferraro style – all components form a distressing ode to everyday spleen.

“Jazz Duo” is a common dusky vehicle. But thanks to Bąkowski, we can see the hypnotizing rhythm and thrilling poetry which it secretly conceals. (Rafał Krause)

♪♫ Listen: “Słoneczko kółko” + album stream

Wojciech Bąkowski on Facebook, Instagram.

Naphta <BR>“Naphta and The Shamans”

“Naphta and The Shamans”

If we wanted to point out the one and only reason behind the success of the second LP by this Wrocław-native musician, DJ, and producer, it would no doubt be its eclecticism.

“Naphta and the Shamans” sounds like a club music record created by a psychedelic rock band from the 60s or 70s of the past century. Spiced up with some jazz and ethnic music played on live instruments this album is completely void of samples that we were accustomed to while listening to Naphta’s past releases.

This is how Naphta made the “acid” that will take the listeners into one of the richest musical trips of the past year. (Rafał Samborski)

♪♫ Listen: “Explorer’s Judgement” + album stream

Naphta on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud.

Nanook of the North <BR>“Nanook of the North”

Nanook of the North
“Nanook of the North”

At the beginning, this project has been created to illustrate live show of the silent film from 1922 (the group has borrowed its name directly from the movie title). After many years, the duo of Stefan Wesołowski and Piotr “Hatti Vatti” Kaliński recorded this material as a regular longplay.

Ten tracks that “Nanook of the North” brings are – as might be expected considering the current work of both musicians – a hybrid of synths and field recordings with processed parts of violin and piano.

It would be a mistake to say the effect is a simple sum of expressive styles of those two experienced artists, because the mutual inspiration has created a completely new quality here. (Bartek Woynicz)

♪♫ Listen: “Arfineq Pingajuat” + album stream

Nanook of the North on Facebook.

Jakub Lemiszewski <BR>“Bubblegum New Age”

Jakub Lemiszewski
“Bubblegum New Age”

This artist is not afraid of new challenges and never stops in his strive for new ideas. He shows it by the variety of aesthetics he uses and by the impressive number of projects he is involved in. Hence, while Złota Jesień and Gołębie are creative variations on the guitar music that like noise, turmoil and shoegaze sounds, his solo projects are essentially experimental, although very catchy, electronic music.

Lemiszewski boldly transforms footwork and juke, giving them even more craze than they have. And when it comes to “Bubblegum New Age”, he provides us a bit more hazy, calm, and relaxed digital mosaic. Without a doubt, the latter release is utterly unique – very mature, suggestive, and, at the same time, skillfully crafted – a decent release, that whets the appetite for more. (Emilia Stachowska)

♪♫ Listen: “Frivorously” + album stream

Jakub Lemiszewski on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud.

Julek Płoski <BR>“Tesco”

Julek Płoski

Every time I visit a foreign country, I want to have an insider’s view. So I start with the supermarkets. Honestly, what can be a better reflection of the 21st century than the mall?

Julek Płoski, an amateur producer, recorded an album inspired by his local Tesco’s soundscape. He changes documented field recordings into complex compositions – sometimes an ambient landscape, another time rhythmic noise, or a naive melody.

They are uniquely fresh, far away from the typical forms of modern experimental music. Some of them you might consider unoriginal, but it does not interfere with the free flow of thoughts it gives. (Filip Lech)

♪♫ Listen: “Laur Konsumenta 2016” + album stream

Julek Płoski on Facebook, Soundcloud.

Barbara Kinga Majewska & Marcin Masecki “Taratil ‘id al-milad”

Barbara Kinga Majewska & Marcin Masecki “Taratil ‘id al-milad”

On the one hand, “Taratil ‘id al-milad” is a political concept, a clear manifesto of the duo’s world-view. Even without listening to this album, you can understand why they’ve transposed Christmas carols from major to minor, and translated them into Arabic.

Yet still – you should listen. Because this album is not just about the concept or the manifesto. It brings exceptional arrangements, fantastic performance, and because of its asperity – something all that glossy Christmas music rarely offers – it reminds us how beautiful Polish carols actually are. (Jarek Szubrycht)

♪♫ Listen: “Ya sghayrun” + album stream

Marcin Masecki on Facebook. Barbara Kinga Majewska on www.

Tęskno <BR>“Mi”


Looking at this list or actually any of our local best-ofs from the previous years, you might think that Polish critics appreciate sound more than songwriting. And you would be right. But Tęskno’s songs are just too good to ignore, and their sound is okay as well.

This new female duo of singer Joanna Longić and composer/pianist Hania Rani fairly named themselves after “nostalgia”, as even without understanding their lyrics they’ll quickly make you sentimental. But for those who believe that the saddest songs are the most beautiful, „Mi” will be a strong argument for it. (Mariusz Herma)

♪♫ Listen: “Razem” + album stream

Tęskno on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud.

Resina <BR>“Traces”


The sophomore album by Karolina Rec a.k.a. Resina can intrigue, hypnotize – or scare you. Resina’s minimalism seems like a mutated, fragmentary language. But it also breaks schematic thought structures from the inside out, creating impressionism out of this world.

Karolina’s way of composing can be overhelming, but even the most abstract solutions receive a satisfactory punch line in the form of katharsis. And on “Traces”, she elaborately builds dynamic melodies. Avant-garde elements are balanced with a great sense of composition.

Resina’s second LP is a testimony of darkness, but also the triumph of beauty. And that is what the artist’s private victory is all about. (Jacek Marczuk)

♪♫ Listen: “Trigger” + album stream

Resina on Facebook, Instagram.

Lonker See <BR>“One Eye Sees Red”

Lonker See
“One Eye Sees Red”

Combining heavy psychedelic sound and long improvisational forms, Lonker See have been making waves in the Polish underground since their emergence in 2015. However, with “One Eye Sees Red” the band has surpassed all expectations, creating an utterly captivating work.

The music on the album is less about jamming and more about thoughtfully building tension. While Lonker See can still sound massive, with crushing riffs and wild saxophone shrieks, they put more effort into fashioning well-rounded compositions within which the music can smoothly shift in intensity.

“One Eye Sees Red” takes the listener on a hypnotic and breathtaking sonic journey; one that is best experienced in its entirety. (Artur Szarecki)

♪♫ Listen: “One Eye Sees Red” + album stream

Lonker See on Facebook, Instagram.

Wczasy <BR>“Zawody”


“Zawody” is a beautiful journey to the better times of futuristic keyboards and autotune. It could be the songs to which you danced with the prettiest girl in the class at the school disco.

Wczasy draws inspiration from bands such as The Cure and Ultravox, but they do not forget about their Polish roots, which is why they are often compared with such names as Super Girl and Romantic Boys or Kapitan Nemo.

In addition to the hit potential of each composition on the album, “Zawody” delights with brilliant lyrics about things that affect everyone: work that does not necessarily make us happy, unfulfilled dreams, love and fun. (Agata Hudomięt)

♪♫ Listen: “Smutne Disco” + album stream

Wczasy on Facebook, Instagram.

Syny <BR>“Sen”


Although they are not beginners, Syny (Sons) released their first album “Orient” in 2015 and “Sen” is just their second album. It’s kind of a story about (dreaming of) reality. Piernikowski’s mantra evokes “crackers”, whose everyday life has all the shades of gray.

They wander the city like modern flaneurs in their XXL blouses and caps – or go to the sea, where color palette is wider. Producer 88 has his distinctive charm – unpolished, ragged bits that sometimes get tangled under your feet.

Syny see reality in details, in the elevator, in a block of flats. Their poetry is emotial but keeps the necessary distance. (Jakub Knera)

♪♫ Listen: “Mój ruch” + album stream

Syny on Facebook.

Zaumne <BR>“Emo dub”

“Emo dub”

Zaumne’s compositions contain processed recordings taken from the depths of YouTube. They are extracted from ASMR videos, which are no longer only about pleasant rustling and scratching sounds, but are meant to comfort, cheer up, and pretend to be a caring friend for hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Those phrases, which wrap themselves around you like a warm blanket, but are kind of creepy at the same time, are mixed with music from the turn of night and day.

Both stimulating and intimate, with multiple layers but never overcomplicated, “Emo dub” seems to offer an reflection on our times, described in the Bandcamp profile as “emo-less”. The record is in equal parts soothing and disturbing. The dissonance created by Zaumne is truly hypnotizing. (Dominika Klimek)

♪♫ Listen: “Speak to me” + album stream

Zaumne on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud.

Pejzaż <BR>“Ostatni Dzień Lata”

“Ostatni Dzień Lata”

The best Polish album of 2018 could be an appendix to Simon Reynolds’ famous book “Retromania”, which was recently published in Poland for the first time. Maybe with a note like: “That’s how we do it, folks”.

It’s an example of how to draw from history of music, in this case by combining samples from old-fashioned Polish pop records with modern beats based on balearic house and disco. Sounds like you’ve heard this before, right? But Pejzaż, a new solo project from Bartosz Kruczyński (DJ and producer, also known as Earth Trax, The Phantom or a half of electronic duo Ptaki) is more than just another retro dance album.

It’s like a forgotten postcard from the summer of 1978 with declaration of love, found inside the book from second-hand shop. A dose of sweet nostalgia at its best. (Michał Klimko)

♪♫ Listen: “Tyle Znaczeń” + album stream

Pejzaż on Soundcloud, Facebook.