#60: Slaves – Acts Of Fear And Love
Slaves continue on a proud tradition of purely British punk rock that hits like a fist in the alley after you’ve been drinking all night.
#59: Amanda Shires – To The Sunsets
Flashy? No, but the songs build on themselves, and Shires brings a warm depth of experience to them that transforms them into something greater than mere Americana – the roots of the American experience itself.
#58: Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
I remember when Dimmu Borgir put out the radical concept of well-produced black metal and now in this brave year of our lord 2018 there are bands continuing to carry that flag. I love the modern evolution of black metal, although with the caveat that there’s more than a little death riffing in here, so maybe it’s blackened death metal. Or deathy black metal. I dunno, just bang your head already.
#57: The Necks – Body
One single 56 minute piece that demands you listen to it in it’s entirety, completely antithetical to the currents of the age. It takes the group’s typical avant-garde jazz sound and moves it in a fascinating way into the milieu of rock ‘n’ roll – congratulations, this is fusion in the 21st Century.
#56: Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
SOPHIE produces and two Norwich teenagers use that basis to create a new, cragged landscape for pop music that sounds at once utterly alien and completely familiar.
#55: Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Everything’s Fine
The title is satire. Nothing is really fine. We’re all that goddamn yellow dog in the burning restaurant, sipping our drink and saying that this is fine, everything is fine, we absolutely aren’t staring down the barrel of extinction and obsessing over whether the use of the word “motherfucker” by an elected official constitutes a major crisis. This is great. This is the best timeline. Jean Grae and Quelle Chris get it, and they can help you feel less alone.
#54: Sleep – The Sciences
Fifteen years after achieving the pinnacle of stoner metal on Dopesmoker, Sleep surprised everyone by coming back out of nowhere and doing it again. Snatch an ounce and strap in: marijuanauts are blasting off.
#53: Sunflower Bean – Twentytwo In Blue
Aching, but anthemic indie rock about growing up. Yes, I agree that sounds like there’s quite a bit of overlap with other bands there. Trust me, though, that Sunflower Bean does it better than those other bands – with more poise, more class, and better melodies.
#52: Mount Eerie – Now Only
If last year’s A Crow Looked At Me (my #1 for 2017) was the sound of staring at your bathroom floor, trying in vain to come to terms with the totality of very specific and eternal grief, then Now Only is wandering outside, trying to find peace in wintry emptiness and slowly taking stock of the life to come.
#51: Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
I’ve got $15 on Rob Gildemeester fuckin’ loving this album.
I’ve gone on before about the thin line between shoegaze and black metal, and how they’re both basically the same idea. This album is the ultimate bridge between the two, and now it’s a thing.
#50: The Breeders – All Nerve
With all the myriad of chaotic events that have occured over the past year, it’s difficult sometimes to remember that Kim Deal also reunited her 90s alt-rock powerhouse band and did it in such a way that renders the pseudo-Pixies efforts since their 00’s reunion tawdry and second-rate. This is The Breeders, then and now.
#49: Titus Andronicus – A Productive Cough
Like fellow New Jersey punk rock firebrands turned dad rockers The Men, Titus Andronicus have retreated again from a successful, sprawling, messy sound into a more streamlined, straightforward sound that is indebted to classic rock. It may be local business, to be sure, but when Patrick screams about war being a sure bet if the newspaper’s right, it hits home all the same, wherever you’re living.
#48: The Field – Infinite Moment
Axel Willner puts out the same goddamn album every time, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t brilliant in every single iteration. When that clicky kick comes in, it’ll all finally start to make sense to you.
#47: Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
I just realized that Kurt Vile is two years older than me and it’s a little hard to reconcile, since his sound is so young. Ageless is perhaps a better word. It captures the spirit of youth, it revels in it’s ambling, freewheeling style. Then it comes to me that it’s not a function of time, it’s just a function of the artist. The music seems ageless because the artist himself is.
#46: Denzel Curry – TA13OO
Underground mixtape king Denzel Curry started the decade off hanging around with SpaceGhostPurrp but the end of it has found him finally bringing out that coveted major label debut. The production is so clean you could snort a line off of it, which, given his brag that he acts like Black Sabbath on “Cash Maniac”, is probably the point. The Black Sabbath reference can also refer to his act, artistically; there’s a sinister vibe running under even the more upbeat tracks here, a twist in the cable that springs up in full force on “Black Metal Terrorist”, the closing number.
#45: Ovlov – TRU
It’s pure nostalgia butter, that’s all you’re responding to here. It’s an indie album circa 1995 released in 2018 and you know what? It’s better than most of the 90s retreads that populate radio playlists these days. It’s an album for people who fell in love with treble charger’s first couple albums but not their wannabe pop-punk latter days.
#44: Miss Red – K.O.
Dancehall so fierce it is known to cause buildings to shake apart if the right level of intensity is hit. It’s produced by Kevin Martin – the Bug – but you’ll know that the second it gets going.
#43: Thee Oh Sees – Smote Reverser
Ten plus years of Thee Oh Sees albums have found their original Crayola-smeared lo-fi psych sound being slowly, deliberately walled off with brick after heavy brick of tightening, hardening rock ‘n’ roll power riffing. It’s like the Cask of Amontillado, only it’s a band.
#42: J. Cole – KOD
If bars and blackouts truly are the rule of the day in hip hop 2018, then Jermaine Cole is the wise older brother hauling you off the floor in the morning and laying down a few home truths. “Brackets” is, to my knowledge, the only hip-hop track thus far to call for direct democracy through an app on your phone.
#41: Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
Everything old is new again, and this decade has been about the rebirth of jazz as a relevant, cutting-edge cultural form. Sons of Kemet are the brightest spot in the red-hot London jazz scene, combining clear-eyed political stances with earthy rhythms and focused bursts of hard bop. My Queen is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.