As we receive countless musical releases on a daily basis you probably understand that it’s simply impossible to cover the majority of it. We are picky in order to provide you a good weekly overview in our Friday record recommendations. But of course that somehow also excludes a few releases we happen to only discover a few weeks or months later, only to still fall in love with them. Next to our official best of songs and albums lists it also became a beloved tradition on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION to take a closer look on the albums that we somehow overlooked and didn’t cover in the first place. Still, you can be sure that each of these overlooked records deserve your full attention. So, be happily invited to scroll throw the hidden treasures of our staff.

Hilary Woods – ‘Colt’ (Sacred Bones Records)

I fell in love with Irish songwriter Hilary Woods at this year’s Primavera Club festival in Barcelona where she quickly turned the venue into a gloomy place that partly felt like the infamous Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. Her bleak and reduced ballads were a real show stopper in a positive way; at least if you enjoy dark and depressing alternative folk á la Grouper and Marissa Nadler as much as I do. On her debut album Colt the former bassist of iconic alternative band JJ72 (remember them?) delivers eight gentle ballads with goth appeal in which the artist unravels gentle mystery and leaves the music all the space it needs to captivate the listener. If you are not afraid of the dark, please give it a spin. (Norman Fleischer)

Loma – ‘Loma’ (Sub Pop)

It is pretty insightful to take a closer look at this fabulous record in order to understand how torn and deeply rattled the United States of America are right now. Released in February, the debut of Loma birthed an unexpected but rewarding collaborative effort of Shearwater‘s Jonathan Meiburg and the duo Cross Record. Whereas the former never shied away from the big gestures of indie rock, the latter always acted more subtle, influenced by the means of psychedelic folk or slowcore. Together, they created an album that from start to finish revive the darker, yet no less beautiful folk music that the American songbook influenced the world of music so greatly with. It is a retreat as much as it is a testament of the old magic strength this country inherits. In Black Willow, one of the best tracks released this year, Emily Cross highlights a sinister gospel with these lines: And I’m living on/I carry a diamond blade, I’m living on/To pull the fences down, and when I walk/I carry a diamond blade, I will not serve you. Let that sink in and don’t doubt, nor judge the American society too soon. This record is an antidote. Take it. (Henning Grabow)

Normal Life – ‘Normal Life’ (Left Bank Recordings)

Sometimes it’s a thin line between trash and art and in a world where irony became omnipresent it sometimes feels as if you have to be picky regarding the side you want to chose. But sometimes it’s easy. In the case of Finnish friends Artturi Taira (aka Shivan Dragn) and Miikka Koivisto (of Disco Ensemble) their shared love for cheesy 90s trance and rave sounds and their desire to record a social-critical pop record really found common ground in Normal Life. The album combines the these different worlds without dignity and authentic enthusiasm and by picking this quite odd and underrated musical microcosm the duo managed to achieve something that has gotten rare these days: a truly unique and refreshing sound. If you are a true 90s kid like me, you better give this a spin. (Norman Fleischer)

Chrome Sparks – ‘Chrome Sparks’ (Counter Records)

After years of singles and EPs (and five years after his breakthrough track Marijuana), Brooklyn Producer Jeremy Malvin has embarked on an endeavour that focuses on his songcraft as much as on his skills as a soundsmith. Its result, his debut full-length album as Chrome Sparks excels because it manages to present his trademark sound in a variety of different styles throughout the record – synth pop (with assistance by Angelica Bess of Body Language and Graham Ulicny), downtempo and house-infused tracks effortlessly blend into each other. Many songs are carried by Malvin’s virtuosic handling of his Minimoog synthesizer, such as closer To Eternity, which features a lengthy, almost-guitar-like solo. But much of Chrome Sparks’s charm comes from Malvin’s tasteful use of little sounds and textures that render a track like I Just Wanna, a collaboration with Australian duo Kllo, such an accomplishment. (Igor Fanjic)

Chinah – ‘ANYONE’ (No3)

In a year when playlist culture meant that more and more artists were writing music made deliberately to sound like other music, Chinah succeeded in creating something that sounded like almost nothing else out there. While that might be a slight exaggeration, and they definitely share a little sliver of sound with their former Copenhagen school pals Smerz and Code Walk, ANYONE is an album that exists in its own world, on its own terms. It’s an album sculpted from futuristic electronic music that sounds strange, moody, mean, sexy, brutal alien, cold and mysterious all at once. It’s also notable for how, having created a new sound, they managed to fit different styles into it. All the songs on ANYONE sound like they’re part of the same family, but entirely different creatures within that family, from the slick RnB of Yeah Right, to the muscular thrash of Adrenaline to the stripped back, heart-torn Simple. Overall, ANYONE sits at the sharp, newest edge of music’s current evolutionary path, and manages to combine that pioneering freshness without needing to sacrifice any quality anywhere across the record. The future’s theirs if they want it, but 2018 is the first year they did something great. (Austin Maloney)

Insecure Men – ‘Insecure Men’ (Fat Possum)

Insecure Men are here to save us from toxic masculinity. The London supergroup of Fat White Family’s Saul Adamczewski and Childhood’s Ben Romans-Hopcraft formed after Adamczweksi had to leave FWF temporarily because of his drug addiction issues. The self titled debut was released in February this year via Fat Possum Records. What is striking about their album is, that it’s in every way different from what we know from the duo’s previous work. Lo-Fi pairs with pop, singer-songs with synth pop and even Asian influenced melodies. While the instrumentation is very simple, Insecure Men manage to come up with some of the most beautiful indie anthems you’ve heard in a long time with the stand-out singles I Don’t Wanna Dance (With My Baby) or Teenage Toy. While the duo pairs innocent sounding melodies with proactive lyrics (about Gary Glitter, blow jobs or Cliff Richards), they show off a far more vulnerable and emphatic side than on their main projects. On their latest record – a cover album called Karaoke for One – they even managed to cover Peter Andre. Adamczweksi’s ‚project for sobriety‘ delivered one of the best indie albums of the year, which was fairly overlooked by us. (Louisa Zimmer)

La Lusid – ‘La Lusid’ (Birds Records)

First it was just that track – Gran Canaria – which got stuck in my head for weeks. Then I gave the self-titled debut album by Swedish independent band La Lusid a proper spin and it turned out that this track wasn’t a lucky shot at all. What struck me first was the incredible quality in terms of production and songwriting that the five-piece delivers on this album. La Lusid sounds like a forgotten American west coast record from the mid 70s. It got that warm analogue vibe and singer Paulina Palmgren really knows how to carry these very well-written songs. There is no reason to not put the Swedes on the same level as Shout Out Louds, Japanese Breakfest and Big Thief and hopefully this record will make its way into the rest of the world in 2019. (Norman Fleischer)

Jenny Wilson – ‘Exorcism’ (Gold Medal Recordings)

Swedish singer-songwriter Jenny Wilson is known for processing personal experiences into music and this April’s Exorcism is another example because it’s about her experience of a sexual assault. And although it was made because of Wilson’s ‘egoistic’ wish ‘to get rid of it’, it turned out to be an important contribution to the musical and socio-political landscape as well. Expectedly, listening to Exorcism is distressing. While the first few tracks are explicit descriptions of the night in which Wilson was raped on her way home from a night out, the following songs deal with the consequences of the trauma in the form of destructive relationships and thoughts about our society. In stark contrast to the lyrics, the music is enjoyable electro pop, even euphoric at times, a stylistic device deliberately chosen. I was reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy at that time, a book from 1891 in which the protagonist is raped and consequently despised by society because she lost her virginity before marriage. Although Wilson’s aftermath seems to be different: The continuity of the ill-treatment of women made and makes me angry. Accordingly, the album wasn’t overlooked; it was simply overwhelming. (Jessi Schmitte)

Surma – ‘Antwerpen’ (Radicalis)

Following an outstanding performance at this year’s Eurosonic festival and a really joyful mixtape she compiled for us we somehow totally forgot to tell you that the actual debut album by Portugese artist Surma is also a great piece of music as well. On Antwerpen the passionate performer unfolds sonic synthpop landscapes that mix furious samples with gentle pads, puts her fragile voice in a sea of reverbs that invites the listener to literally drown in it. Surma‘s debut album is hard to grab and that makes it really fascinating. It requires more than one spin and therefore challenges the listener in a good and ultimately rewarding way. (Norman Fleischer)

Ross From Friends – ‘Family Portrait’ (Brainfeeder)

Too many words have been lost about the Lo-fi house genre and its mannerisms. With its aesthetic of distorted kick drums, vintage drum machine sounds and nostalgic samples, its proponents like DJ Seinfeld or DJ Boring diverted attention away from their productions and towards their ironic and careless image. But set aside the gossip, and you’ll discover gems like British producer Ross From Friends’ full-length debut album on Brainfeeder. Family Portrait displays the talent of a gifted and surprisingly versatile producer – Thank God I’m A Lizard evokes the scenery of a rainy autumn afternoon, with a hypnotic, almost mechanical rhythm clashing with moody synthesizer textures and choral samples. Many of Felix Clary Weatherall’s productions play with the nostalgic undertones of his often washy synthesizer tones, especially in the second half of the record, where Weatherall diverts from the dancefloor thump in favour of a more melody-oriented approach. It provides for an experience that rewards close listening just as much as slowly drifting away. (Igor Fanjic)

Dilly Dally – ‘Heaven’ (Partisan Records)

I didn’t know about Dilly Dally from Toronto until a few months ago and I’ve read about their second album Heaven many times before I finally fell in love. Their heavy metal-inspired appearance just made me think they weren’t for me. But as their melodies kept recurring in my head and I slowly realised that they do things differently on purpose, namely to ‘piss off’ the (Toronto) punk scene and other restrictions, I became more and more enthralled. Dilly Dally’s debut album Sore from 2015 and the following touring gathered international acclaim, but it also almost destroyed the friendships, mental health and future of the band. Katie Monks, singer, guitarist and main songwriter, then decided to retreat and spent six months writing songs in her bedroom. The result is Heaven, a self-reinvention as well as a self-help tool: Although it sounds darker, heavier and noisier than their debut and deals with addiction, gender stereotypes, anxiety and death, every song has a very strong hopeful undertone. Their sound (and especially Monks’ use of her voice) has no equal – despite the mostly unimaginative comparisons – and I’m glad that my initial hesitation didn’t win. (Jessi Schmitte)

Helena Deland – ‘Altogether Unaccompanied’ (Luminelle)

After an EP in 2016, Montréal’s Helena Deland returned this year with a more ambitious project, the Altogether Unaccompanied series, four EPs released over the course of the year. Taken all together, they make something resembling an album, so we’re going to slide them onto this list in that form. And if you take it as an album, it’s a spectacular one. For only a second release, the album is an impressive showcase of just how many types of songwriting she’s mastered, flittering easily between airy synth-pop (Claudion), spiky indie (Perfect Weather For A Crime) , gasping noir-pop (Take It All) and more. But what impresses most about Deland is how strong a story-teller she is. The best songwriters can overcome the brevity of the medium and paint a novel’s worth of a story into a song, and Deland’s songs do exactly that. Her characters introduce just enough of themselves, and hold enough back, that you want to follow them into the very depths of their lives to know more. Or they reveal a narrative skeleton that’s enough to trigger your own memories and imaginings and fill them into the gaps. Even just a title like Perfect Weather For A Crime is a magical example of her gift for evocative, thrilling phrasing. Pair that with the strength of her music, and her voice, and it makes Altogether Unaccompanied a record you could listen to for days, and it would still deserve more. (Austin Maloney)