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  1. The best album of the Duluth band’s career sounds familiarly glacial and hymn-like – but recorded all wrong. It’s the sound of the world collapsing

    This year was filled with music that attempted to reflect the times. So much so that it felt faintly exhausting: it was hard to avoid the sense that artists felt impelled to comment on The Age We Live In whether or not they had anything interesting or original to say about it. But no other woke pop or explicit evisceration of Trump’s America sums up how 2018 frequently felt quite as well as Low’s Double Negative, an album that says very little directly about the state of things.

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  2. This collection of woozy retro-futurist miniatures flew the flag for all album-kind in its cogent unity of time, place and ideas

    A perplexing Alex Turner solo turn, or one of the best records in Arctic Monkeys’ glittering catalogue? The debate about Tranquility Base Hotel& Casino raged on through most of 2018. When the Monkeys came to tour their sixth record, they did not recreate their entire setlist in the spirit of their new album’s dystopian lounge act, but instead dropped these woozy retro-futurist miniatures in carefully.

    Perhaps that is as it should be. Tranquility Base is not for those Monkeys fans who joined on the strength of the foursome’s latter-day guitar density, picked up from hanging out with Queens of the Stone Age a couple of albums ago. It is not for those fans who thrilled to the sound of contemporary US R&B played by clever, horny Yorkshiremen on guitars: the vibe of Arctic Monkeys’ last, triumphant album, AM. And it was a leap for those who recall an impossibly distant time when the four sounded like a Sheffield take on the Libertines.

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  3. Glen Matlock, Peter Hook, Jon Savage and other punk luminaries pay tribute to the former Buzzcocks frontman

    I knew them right from the get go. They came all the way from Manchester, Pete and Howard, and turned up at Malcolm [McLaren]’s to track us down so that they could book us for a show up there, so they had someone to support. They really stuck their heads out when nobody had heard of us. They didn’t support us the first time we played Manchester because they hadn’t got a band together, but they did the second time. I remember Pete had this really cheap guitar with half the body missing. He said he had got it from Woolworths, and the top bit had just fallen off, but that’s all they had and they were going to do it anyway.

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  4. Packed with hooks and waspishly funny lines, the Buzzcocks frontman effortlessly created singles which became part of the musical landscape

    If Peter McNeish had done nothing more than organise the Sex Pistols’ June 1976 gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall with his college friend Howard Trafford, then he could still reasonably have claimed to have made a vast impact on the face of rock music. Hastily arranged by two students who had no idea what they were doing, and sparsely attended (“I think there were about 42, 43 people there,” McNeish later recalled, “and I’m not sure whether that’s counting me and Howard or even the Sex Pistols”), it is nevertheless among the most influential gigs in British pop history. The question of who precisely was there is so vexed that an entire book has been devoted to tracking audience members down, but among those who did turn up were future members of Joy Division, the Fall and the Smiths, as well as Factory Records founder Tony Wilson, all of whom seem to have been immediately galvanised by the performance. “A friend who was with me said, ‘Jesus, you could play guitar as good as that,’” recalled Bernard Sumner. “We formed a band that night,” said Peter Hook.

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  5. Newcastle-based singer says he is ‘humbled’ to scoop industry bellwether award previously won by Adele and Sam Smith

    Sam Fender has been announced as the winner of the Brits critics’ choice award, the industry-voted prize previously won by Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding.

    The prize is presented ahead of the Brit awards on 20 February. Figures in the media and music industry are asked to nominate artists they believe will enjoy future success but who haven’t yet scored a UK Top 40 album. Fender was nominated on a shortlist alongside R&B singer Mahalia and singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi.

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