IT'S 'Kill your darlings' season. That beginning of the year time when we look at the best that our creatives have come up with in the year just gone. It's been an intense year of highs and new horizons for our creatives, and we have a serious roster of some of the most essential playlist additions for you right here.

Best Singles

5. Problem Patterns – Letter Of Registration

CorpoRATe life getting you down? Boss denied your request for a holiday three months in the planning? Problem Patterns have provided the perfect antidote. A ferocious bell-ringer that doubles as your way out of your shitty 9-5, this track is all energy, energy, ENERGY.

4. Chubby Cat - Kissin' in the Valley-O

Straddling the lines between the alternative, the electronic and the pop worlds, this feels like the track we have been waiting on from Chubby Cat all this time. A tongue-in-cheek (or possibly not) take on the dystopian rent-to-live landscape that aims its crosshairs squarely at slum lords. 

3. Gilmore - Electric Tears

Meeting at the intersection of jazz and acid house, with more than a generous sprinkle of techno and dance music, Gilmore is a talent we can entrust the future of our dancefloors to. A track for those who live on the edges and love the danger it brings.

2. Conchur White - Atonia

White's gorgeous blend of retro psychedelia, fantasy folk and indie rock continues to delight and impress. The lead single from his upcoming debut LP, it's repped by the legendary label Bella Union and has been on constant rotation for me ever since its release.

1. Arborist - Unkind

It's hard to make a call on Mark McCambridge's best to date. But ultimately it's the sultry dogmatic drone of Unkind that takes the cake. Born in Spacebomb Studios in Richmond, Virginia, it's an encapsulation of everything that makes the album great. Tinged with soul and psychedelia, draped in hypnotic folk and lined with dark, tense imagery and lyricism, this track is Arborist at his very best.

Best Albums

5. Gilmore - Electric Tears

Analogue electronica meets the experimental dancefloor-filling tunes that Gilmore has become known for. His background as a percussionist gives him all the knowledge he needs to craft this track, where every beat hits like a southpaw.

4. Kessler - Lunar

Another electronic release that thrives in the underground. Glitchy breakbeats and thrumming, dark electronica meld with a ferocious backbone of techno. His penchant for shocking listeners with widescreen, cinematic synth-work in his harder tracks is almost unparalleled amongst his peers, as demonstrated on this release.

3. Brand New Friend - Grandstand

Abandoning the bubblegum pop of their early releases, the Castlerock indieheads go full-blown national with their newest LP. Crafted with the live crowds that have filled their shows across the UK in mind, this LP is both huge and intimate.

2. David Holmes - Blind on a Galloping Horse

A triumphant return for one of NI's legendary musicians. Taking in the economics of revolution, rebellion, humanity and existence, Holmes is on near-perfect form. Tapping into his background as a scorer for film, there's an omnipresent sense of grandeur, of something greater, throughout the whole album. An LP of the moment that is as much a horror film as it is a declaration of intent.

1. Arborist - An Endless Sequence of Dead Zeros

Our album of the year choice runs in parallel with that of the NI Music Prize. McCambridge went to the American heartland and tapped into the heritage found at home and abroad in his best effort yet. Alternative and folk rhythms blend with soul, psychedelia and Americana melodies and traditions. An album that sounds like a classic, and feels like it's been with you your entire life.