2018: THE BEST ALBUMS OF THE YEAR

Eddie Vedder once said that music’s at its best when it has a purpose.  With all that surrounded 2018, that quote couldn’t have been more accurate.  Music allowed us to lean on it to heal when we as a nation faced tragedy after tragedy.  We lost some of the most influential individuals within the music business: Mac Miller, Tom Petty, Pete Shelley, Aretha Franklin, just to name a few. With that being said, the purpose of music allowed us to come together and celebrate all that is special about the art throughout the year.

We wanted to take a look back and share our favorite albums released in 2018.  As you scroll through, you will find that our staff has been witness to some of the most eclectic styles of music to date.  

Let’s raise our glass to another banner year and let’s hope 2019 brings us happiness and even better music to enjoy!

Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death In Meatspace

Listening to Tropical Fuck Storm leaves you with “WTF” thoughts dancing in your head as you’re left confounded by fuzzed bass lines, dueling guitars that can stop-start at the drop of a dime, and lazy vocal drawls that fit in perfectly over these oddly composed numbers. The band pushes the virtual envelope with A Laughing Death In Meatspace. (Joyful Noise Recordings) by Eddie Ugarte

Guided By Voices – Space Gun

Complete with shiny “Space Gun” jackets for the live shows, Guided By Voices are reveling in their current stride. Kevin, Doug, Bobby, and Mark, are the perfect foil for cranking out further mountains of Robert Pollard classics. Space Gun is another great mix of the weirdo stomps, arena rockers, and singalong anthems. The sweat and beer-drenched end to “Sport Component National” is worth the price of admission alone. (GBV Inc) by David C Obenour

boygenius, boygenius EP

The boygenius trio combines the colossal and unmistakable talents of songwriters Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Phoebe Bridgers. On their own, any one of these women is an unparalleled talent, but when they come together the results leverage their strengths exponentially. It’s harmonious and elevates the collaborators in magical ways. My only complaint is that the release is all too brief; fingers crossed for a proper LP. (Matador) by Tim Anderl

Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

The Archandroid is now a Dirty Computer. Visionary musician Janelle Monae returns with yet another elaborate vision. This album is pure Black Girl Magic, social statements, sexual declarations, and hopeful motivation to guide us through a turbulent time. Combining synthpop, funk, 80’s rock, and hip-hop, Monae creates a work brimming with light and optimism while wrestling with unsettling truths. (Bad Boy Records) by Luke LaBenne

Sloucher – Be True

My heart and soul shall forever live deep in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.  This is mostly in due to deeply rooted allegiance to the music scene and the bands that accompany it.  Case in point: Sloucher.  My fanboy tendencies have taken over with each spin of the band’s debut full-length.  “Perfect For You” is heavenly to us grunge kids with its layered guitars and slacker vocals.  “Be True”, “Complacent”, “Up and Down” are pure rock gems.  I firmly believe that Sloucher’s Be True is the best album of the year.  Hands down.  (Swoon Records) by Tommy Johnson

Anguish – S/T

The self-titled release by Anguish is a meeting of minds. Members of dälek, Faust, and Fire! combine their talents for an out of body experience. Recorded in the span of just three days, the musicians captured moments of improvisation which are blissfully cacophonic and completely obliterate genre classification. It is derivative unto itself! (RareNoise Records) by Eddie Ugarte

The RockATeens – Sixth House

The RockATeens have returned to grace us all with new tunes! Please join in the group and scream at the top of your lungs, “THANK YOU!!!” It’s been eighteen years since the merry men helming from Georgia. While the reverb has been dropped down to a healthy dosage in Sixth House, don’t expect the band to be completely forgetting what drove us all to them. Sixth House is the start of the renaissance. Newbs-take note of this day and thank me later. (Merge) by Tommy Johnson

Tierra Whack – Whack World

The debut of art rapper Tierra Whack displays her incredible artistic range. She presents her work in a groundbreaking format: 15 songs, 1 minute each = 15 minute album. Over such a short time she covers so much ground, slipping in and out of different sounds and styles. Walking the line between silly and poignant (sometimes both at the same time) each track is more unforgettable than the last. (Self-Released) by Luke LaBenne

Madeline Kenney – Perfect Shapes

Madeline Kenney’s 2017 release Night Night at the First Landing was a welcomed introduction to those who weren’t aware of the singer/songwriter. The album was cascaded with fuzzed out guitar dreamers. With the world still admiring her work, Kenney went straight into the production of her latest album Perfect Shapes. It’s a vastly different feel from Night Night, but it also demonstrates Kenney’s growth within herself to dig deeper sonically. (Carpark) by Tommy Johnson

Glass Traps – Glass Traps

Awareness of Cleveland’s Glass Traps came via an assist from Fred Gunn of Hiram-Maxim, which is a credible endorsement considering the work his art-damaged, noise punk collective have produced in recent years. With an emphasis on droning atmospheres, harmony, and post-punk propulsion, the record is lush with sonic grit and aptly grounded in a rust belt city with a musically rich history. Vocalist Sarah Paul is seemingly inhabited with bits of Siouxisie and Ian Curtis’ conflicted spirits. Also of note, Lamont “Bim” Thomas of Obnox provides a noteable guest appearance on “Freight Elevator.” (Self-released) by Tim Anderl

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Lonnie Holley – MITH

The stark single, “I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America,” is just a glimpse into what the 68-year-old folk artist and musician was able to do on MITH. It’s going to take awhile to unpack all of what Lonnie Holley presents on MITH. Six of the ten songs take his sprawling works past seven minutes. It’s going to take a long, long while. Somewhere between Nick Cave and a foreboding dirt road way past the city limits down in Alabama is where you’ll find Lonnie. (Jagjaguwar) by David C Obenour

Rob Sonic – Defriender

The man, the myth, the legend. Rob Sonic returns from a four year hiatus with a new album, attitude and bangers of songs. Always in abundance is his lyrical dexterity atop conceptualized beats that never truly fit within norms, which I’m sure is fine by him. Defriender is filled with moments of brilliance that masquerade as cataclysmic unbalance. (Skypimps Music) by Eddie Ugarte

Jay Som and Justin Proffit – Nothing’s Changed

The past couple of years have been a whirlwind for Jay Som (aka Melina Duterte) with the critical success of Turn Into and Everybody Works.  Now comes a slight departure from the singer/songwriter’s playbook and the results are magnificent.  The back and forth between Duterte and Proffit in the 5 song EP is breezy and calm.  Duterte incorporates her signature fuzzed our guitar riffs that entranced fans on some spots while Proffit paints his twangy song structures on the rest.  Something tells me that this isn’t going to be a one-off project with the two.  (Polyvinyl) by Tommy Johnson

Shame – Songs of Praise

This year the UK rock group stormed into barrooms with their cocky and comedic, self-effacing post-punk anthems. To borrow from the band’s lyrics, they seem to give a fuck…but only about not giving a fuck.  While their sound leans on latter day forefathers like Gang of Four and The Fall, that’s not to say their post-adolescent rage isn’t white hot, because it is unflinchingly face-melting. Looking forward to seeing their lecherous debauchery get uglier with age. (Dead Oceans) by Tim Anderl

Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

Art-Punk kings Parquet Courts return with a politically charged record, expanding their sound with more elaborate instrumentations and beat-poet-esque songwriting. They infuse their driving post-punk sound with elements of funk and pop. Every single song on this album is at risk of getting stuck in your head. A. Savage rambles and croons covering every subject from Tom Brady to dysfunctional families to the need for human connection. This album is angry and cathartic while remaining fun and energetic: the perfect remedy for a frustrated punk in 2018. (Rought Trade) by Luke LaBenne

Poptone – S/T

Well, these are revised tracks by Bauhaus, Tones On Tale and Love & Rockets performed by Daniel Ash and Kevin Haskins of said outfits along with Kevin’s daughter on bass, Diva Dompé.  I’ve grown up on listening to those bands and this new project revitalizes the musicians allowing them to perform reworked versions of their songs and all you can do is love it! (Cleopatra Records) by Eddie Ugarte

didi – Like Memory Foam

Earnest and a little ramshackle, didi separate themselves from the current class of lo-fi rock bands with a perfect mix of driving rhythm, guitar squalls, and solid, solid melodies. Like Memory Foam is full of moments made to be shouted along with, air guitared to and ideally experienced live with friends and your cheap beer of choice in hand. They make this look easy… and like a lot fun. (Damnably) by David C Obenour

Eugenius – Of Age

Cincinnati’s Phillip Eugene Smith, aka Eugenius is a musician and rapper whose output to date has been criminally unsung. He’s spent a decade playing in a multitude of punk, metal and hardcore bands, and debuted his first live rap performance in mid-2013. He makes the beats, writes the rhymes and delivers aggressive, progressive rap music with roots in DIY ethos. Think Childish Gambino, Death Grips and Danny Brown and you’re in the right wheelhouse. Check out his hardcore band Husk & Skull and his indie rock band Silent Tongues too. (Self-released) by Tim Anderl

HPRIZM – Magnetic Memory

While coming as no surprise, it seems the enigmatic emcee/producer HPRIZM, HP, High Priest – or whatever name you’d want to give to the Antipop Consortium member – has once again reinvented himself with a new album that is unrelenting. He writes sharp conscious lyricism running through a kaleidoscope sound, to piecing together heavy beats alongside experimental sounds. He does it all. (Don Giovanni) by Eddie Ugarte

Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears

British teenage weirdo-rockers and childhood friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth made their debut in 2016 and immediately established themselves as indie-rock innovators. On their sophomore album they turn their sights to pop: polishing up their sound, saturating it with synths, while keeping their experimental spirit. With the help of super-producer SOPHIE and The Horrors’ Faris Badwan, they deliver some catchy, quirky, expertly crafted jams (Transgressive Records/PIAS) by Luke LaBenne

Adam Remnant – Sourwood

All music is informed by where the people are who make it, but Adam Remnant particularly sounds like the soundtrack to a drive through the towns and country of Southeast Ohio. The slight accent in his voice, the warmth of a faithful old acoustic guitar, the unembellished way the album was recorded in his century old house, it all lends to the grit and romanticism, for better and worse, of the Midwest. (Anyway) by David C Obenour

Ganser – Odd Talk

Ganser and I share a love of music by the Cows. We’re the same. Not really but, the band’s post-punk aesthetic is one everyone should be a fan of. The quartet isn’t flashy but the repetitive nature of their songs are sometimes hypnotic, all the while remaining abrasively appealing. With Odd Talk, the band knows what it’s doing, and doing well. (No Trend Records) by Eddie Ugarte

K. Carter – Rhythm and Poetry (R.A.P.)
R.A.P. is the latest chapter of what sure will be an amazing journey for hip-hop artist K. Carter. In his debut full-length, Carter introduced himself to the world by playfully offering a small glimpse into his life story. Bridging the gap of old-school modern hip- hop, Carter’s message and his maturity as an artist blossoms in his latest effort. One of the most songs in R.A.P. comes in the way of “Massa”, a track that unfortunately has a undertone that impacted the artist in his real life. It’s emotionally driven and will undoubtedly move you. (self-titled) by Tommy Johnson

Extra Arms, Headacher

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel inclined to admit that I was involved in the publicity push for this effort. I’m also inclined to mention that I did it pro-bono and that the reason was that the Detroiters, led by former Thunderbirds Are Now! frontman Ryan Allen write passionate and ponderous songs that are thunderous and wondrously catchy. Fans of Ted Leo, Superchunk and Cheap Trick will find lots to love here. (Get Party Records) by Tim Anderl

Snail Mail – Lush

Yes, yes…more accolades for what is to many the best indie rock album to come out this year. It’s not hard to see why so many of us have fallen in love with Lush. It’s mostly in part due to Lindsey Jordan’s all too relatable lyrics. Who hasn’t felt the emotional turmoil while trying to decode what are feelings truly mean? One of the better songs on the album “Let’s Find An Out” is as vulnerable as anything you will hear this year and beyond. Instrumentally, Jordan and company are paving new ground for those who will follow. Snail Mail are just scratching the surface on their potential.
(Matador) by Tommy Johnson

The 1984 Draft  – Makes Good Choices

This one came as one explosive surprise and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head with its crunchy guitars, pummeling rhythms and catchy lyricism. Just listening to the opening “Jan Kowalski” and I was hooked like my old neighbor freebasing. Terrible comparison? Maybe but you’ll understand if you’re a fan of classic indie rock updated for a new generation. Indie rock is alive and well. (Poptek Records) by Eddie Ugarte

Richard Swift – The Hex

Singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Richard Swift was a legend in the world of indie-rock. He had a prolific solo career, he was a member of The Shins, and he produce some of the greatest indie albums of the 21st Century, working with the likes of Foxygen, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Damien Jurado. This year Richard passed away at the age of 41 and he completed this record just a month before his death. Saying this album is a masterpiece is an understatement, it is a timeless talent at peak performance leaving a precious parting gift. (Secretly Canadian) by Luke LaBenne

Danny Golden – Old Love

We are so fortunate to still have some of the best storytellers in the music world today. Austin native Danny Golden has forged himself into that category with his latest offering Old Love. The singer/songwriter won’t give you all the fluff that mainstream bullshit pushes. Honest lyrics, rocking instrumentals, and a hollowing vocal presence are all that you need when you find your way to Golden. Old Love touches on the exploration of love; the situations that we find ourselves in, the force that drives us towards others, etc. The track “Hangover” really hit home for me for many reasons. “Why did I call you up again?/Can’t I bother someone else?/Why did I call you up again?/Why I do this to myself?” Ohhh Golden. You just get me. (DRUNKLUCK Records) by Tommy johnson

Knife Knights – 1 Time Mirage

The side project between Ishmael Butler (Shabazz Palaces, Digable Planets, Cherrywine) and engineer Erik Blood, 1 Time Mirage is a hodgepodge of bombastic creativity found in the crevices of experimentation, mapped together one fragment at a time. They make sense of the nonsensical and journey through a kaleidoscope of so much vast imagery it’s almost insane.(Sub Pop) by Eddie Ugarte 

The Sea and Cake – Any Day

The Sea and Cake are one of a very few bands that are difficult to compare to anyone but themselves. Over two decades and 11 albums they’ve refined their chiming and jangley guitar-driven pop sound, bedded with John McEntire’s percussion and topped with Sam Prekop’s hushed vocals. Down to a three-piece with the departure of bassist Eric Claridge, Any Day is simultaneously lean and intricate. A further step toward pop perfection. (Thrill Jockey) by David C Obenour

Soft Kill – Savior

The road to hell is paved with blazing, shooting star post-punk anthems apparently. In the midst of his wife nearly bleeding out, and weeks in a hospital while his child clung to life, Tobias Grave channeled the darkest moments into hook-heavy personal confessions. Desperation, hope, and temptation have never sounded so good. (Profound Lore) by Tim Anderl

Blueprint – Two Headed Monster

The emcee/producer has captivated minds and ears throughout the years, and his new Two Headed Monster shows a maturity on a few different levels. Musically, Blueprint is always on point layering his beats as only he can, and lyrically here, there’s much to contemplate. He’s not rapping about women or the nonsensical but instead about everything he’s learned. (Weightless) by Eddie Ugarte

Nao – Saturn

On her sophomore album, Saturn the British singer tops her incredible debut, still combining dance-inducing 90’s r&b styles with tender poignant pop. She delivers different vignettes viewing people as planets, dancing in and out of orbit with each other trying to find their purpose. Her sound is bigger and brighter than ever, yet she shines in quite, vulnerable moments. with anthemic hooks, oozy grooves, and earth-shattering vocal performances. (Little Tokyo Recordings/Sony Music UK) by 
Luke LaBenne

Oneida – Romance

God bless the unrelenting musicianship and creativity of the members of Oneida. Twenty-one years going and they can still crank out an album like Romance that is every bit as forward-looking as exciting as when they first started. Recorded at various locations since the demolition of their fabled Ocropolis space, Oneida rises from the rubble with another amazing Krautrock-by-way-of-Brooklyn album that only they could make. (Joyful Noise) by David C Obenour

Miss World – Keeping Up With Miss World

Keeping Up With Miss World was completely unexpected. I’m hoping it doesn’t fall into the lost forgotten albums in this or any other year because she gives everyone a run for their money. The project by Natalie Chahal is remarkably dense and in your face with loads of distortion and beautifully written pop songs masquerading as punk. She is amazing. (PNKSLM) by Eddie Ugarte

Sam Jay – Donna’s Daughter

As comedy albums go, Sam Jay is a fucking master. Completely comfortable in her own skin, she shares tales of her life, fighting ex-lovers, and being “glad I’m this full formed boy/girl standing in front of you, but at one time I sucked a lot of dick.” Her delivery is raw AF, candid and completely clever. Be careful though, this isn’t the kind of album you share around your grandma. Unless she’s cool AF. (Comedy Central) by Eddie Ugarte

Dream Wife – self-titled

Here’s something fun that you should know about this London-based trio: the band was originally supposed to be a one-off art project. Well…that initial idea was quickly spit out and tossed towards the trash can. The members of Dream Wife couldn’t allow the thunderous vibe they felt when they all came together to be wasted. The self-titled blitzkrieg is packed with tracks that are intense and riotous. Old school punk influence topped with powerful pop structures make this band a can’t miss. Heavy supporters of
the DIY scene and empowering women all over the world, there’s no stopping this train. So hop on board and experience something special with Dream Wife. (self-release) by Tommy Johnson

Porches – The House

Over the course of three Porches albums, Aaron Maine has immensely evolved his musical abilities.  His first album was raw and guitar based, then on his second, Pool he introduced lush electronics and developed his signature sound. Now on The House, he incorporates elements of house music into those synth-scapes and bares his soul overtop. This album essentially focuses on a break-up, centered around a battle between isolation and longing for connection. On Pool, each Porches song became something you sink into, and when you wander The House each room tells another absorbing story. (Domino Recording Co.) by Luke LaBenne

Anna St. Louis – If Only There Was A River

It’s nearly impossible to believe that this folk singer/songwriter was at one time experimenting with her sound in DIY punk bands back in her hometown of Kansas City.  Quiet and tranquil, If Only There Was A River lyrically highlights uncertainty and loneliness.  The softness lingers all the way within St. Louis’ full-length; from the first note sung all the way to the last pluck of her acoustic guitar. (Woodsist / Mare) by Tommy Johnson

 Jesus Piece – Only Self

Philadelphia has long been a mecca for sophisticated hardcore. Jesus Piece ensures that flag continues to be planted in solid ground. Explosive and exacting, fans of Coalesce, Twelve Tribes and Converge will revel in the genuine, teeth-bared fury here. (Southern Lord) by Tim Anderl

Moonbeau – self-title

A synth pop band with a love of new wave, Moonbeau is too damn good at what they do to simply be another nostalgia act. With a mix of dream pop and retro electronica, the songs on their self-titled debut could score a modern John Hughes movie. Regardless of your feelings on this kind of music, it’s almost impossible to deny this trio’s swooning harmonies and dance floor ready beats. (Old Flame Records) by David C Obenour

Jaguwar – Ringthing

The trio that is Jaguwar has released a timeless record with Ringthing. When their contemporaries attempt at revitalizing a subgenre, no one does it as effortlessly as they do. It’s done well, capturing a sonically diverse shoegaze feel, all the while keeping their own identity with pummeling effect. The band holds tightly to its punk aesthetic which makes Jaguwar unique. Currently one of my favorite bands. (Tapete Records) by Eddie Ugarte

Choir Boy – Passive With Desire (Re-issue)

Weeping with anthemic ’80s nostalgia, Passive with Desire is at once sweeping and cinematic and equally pensive and sorrowful. Originally released via Team Love a few years ago, the album has seen a proper rerelease coupled with their “Sunday Light” 7? and Part Time Punks cassette. Too good not to include in an ’18 best-of-list. (Dais) by Tim Anderl

CZARFACE X MF DOOM

Who are we all kidding? With a couple of albums in, Czarface (Esoteric & 7L, Inspectah Deck) has dropped amazing guttural tracks. This time around they team up with MF DOOM and the result are as spectacular as anything by either artist(s). Guests for the assist are Vinni Paz, Open Mike Eagle. They’ll push the envelope in 2019 with CZARFACE X GHOSTFACE. () by Eddie Ugarte

Ought – Room Inside The World

On their third album the Canadian post-punk band sand some edges off their sound while keeping their aggressive experimentation. Writhing guitars intertwine with Tim Darcy’s unmistakeable howl, almost like a mix between Ian Curtis and Mick Jagger. As the title, Room Inside The World illustrates, this album is outwardly looking and affected by the world at large, yet it’s very personal and vulnerable. This is a beautiful yet bracing album, with this band reaching new heights and finding some warmth in their desaturated sound. (Merge Records) by Luke LaBenne

Cursive – Vitriola (15 Passenger)

Don’t call it a comeback because Cursive has always been here. Sort of. But Vitriola showcases the band’s explosive creativity once again, and this time the album marks the band’s use of additional instrumentation with cellist Megan Seibe. It’s been 6 years since the band’s last offering but they haven’t lost a step. The emotional drive on the album runs at insane levels and Cursive’s songwriting has never been better. (15 Passenger) by Eddie Ugarte

Obnox – Bang Messiah

Loud, raw and angry, Lamont “Bim” Thomas has been on a tear with his releases as Obnox. Punk-funk-junk is the clever tag tossed on Bang Messiah and it works well. Instruments are played loud and aggressively and the production is rough but every bit of it feels intentional to the sound he creates. The opening track is titled “Steve Albini Thinks We Suck,” which gives you a good indication at what he’s going for. (Smog Veil) by David C Obenour

Pohgoh – Secret Club

21 years of mostly inactivity doesn’t seem like that long when your band writes a handful of addictive earworm pop songs and enlists J Robbins for an album years in the making. Not to be overlooked, the band toured in ’18, played Fest, and is heading out with ’90s emo emissaries Mineral in ’19. Pohgoh are the reason I feel like a 17-year-old trapped in a 42-year-old’s body. (New Granada) by Tim Anderl

Freedom Fry – Classic

Being influenced by the richness of weather and laid-back vibe that California offers their inhibitors, the duo of Freedom Fry were destined to create impeccable tunes. Add the fact the duo are married, there’s an element of vulnerability that captivates you. There’s so much to unpack with the different styles of influence. Heavily focused on folk, expect to have the toe tap with some of the poppy tracks. I wouldn’t be afraid to
call this debut a “Classic.” (Cavemen Arts Society) by Tommy Johnson

Marlowe – Marlowe

Producer L’Orange and rapper Solemn Brigham formed Marlowe to deliver a fresh and inventive album rooted in hip hop tradition. L’Orange produces some of his most potent concoctions as a canvas for Brigham to paint with thoughtfully crafted sentiments delivered with palpable energy . This veteran producer and hungry, young vocalist are a match made in hip hop heaven. (Mello Music Group) by Luke LaBenne

Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens

Geez, it’s the resurgence of good music! Jericho Sirens marks the return of Hot Snakes after 14 years! This is “post-hardcore” at its best. Rick Froberg & John Reis obliterate everything in their path with guitars, while the rhythm section annihilates all those circling around the group. There’s nothing to do but love what this record is. (Sub Pop) by Eddie Ugarte

Longshot/Lazerbeak – Parades

Parades is the Longshot/Lazerbeak collaboration. Longshot has been a favorite here for some time and having his emcee/vocal duties over beats by Doomtree’s Lazerbeak is fucking genius! The Chicago and Minneapolis connection has faired wondrously, once Longshot gets ahold of a beat with drive, he makes it his very own giving it the same amount of energy. The title track is epic. (Doomtree) by Eddie Ugarte

Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams

A double album from Fucked Up is double the reason to celebrate. It’s staggering the creativity that this band infuses into their mix of hardcore, punk, guitar rock, psych, you name it. This may be the weirdest but most effortlessly accessible album in… a really long time? Maybe if you can’t get over Damian Abraham’s screamed vocals you wouldn’t get it, but damn man. Get over it. This is a fucking masterpiece from a band showing no signs of even getting close to their peak. (Merge) by David C Obenour

Akula – self-titled

Bunch of dudes from other bands things can go one of two ways, and this one certainly doesn’t go the shitty option.  Long progressive metal tracks are a love-it-or-hate-it venture, but if you’re into them, this is great shit.  Some incredibly good drum-part listening in here.  (Hellmistress) by Andrew Lampela

Mestizo and The Heavy Twelves – Big Bad Death

Mestizo has already established him as half of Machina Muerte but here on Big Bad Death he teams up with the electronic, The Heavy Twelves. What follows is a serious piece of work. The theme is steady through the release and keeping with the title of the record and that’s one aspect that makes this great, aside from the dope beats and Mestizo’s powerful delivery. (Fake Four, Inc.) by Eddie Ugarte

Vile Gash – Nightmare In A Damaged Brain

A landscape leveling masterpiece of hatred that revels in blunt and utter contempt for everything. This is a hideous, harsh production that decimates happy thoughts and warm fuzzies by the riff. Get super bummed and compel yourself to the sickening, beautiful violence of these 12 tracks. (Youth Attack) by Tim Anderl

Yob – Our Raw Heart

Seriously, Yob is on some next level shit and it’s hardly fair to the rest of the metal world.  There are genre words that would describe the songs here, but they would hardly do justice to the musicianship and vision laid down on this slab of awesomeness.  (Relapse) by Andrew Lampela

Ben Katzman’s Degreaser – Quarter Life Crisis

Quarter Life Crisis is the point where Ben Katzman’s Degreaser gives the middle finger to 2018. I’ve said it before, this is his love of prog and punk…where he shows his love for simplicity with that of technicality and turns everything into explosive jams that’ll have your dad kicking out the jams. And again, this one by Ben Katzman’s Degreaser is loud, fun, obnoxious and nothing short of amazing. (BOFU Records) by Eddie Ugarte

Screaming Females – All at Once

All at Once is the most expansive Screaming Females album yet, but with Marissa Paternoster’s unmistakable vocals and guitar-playing the core of the band remains steadfast. Thirteen years into their fiercely DIY career, the band allows themselves some anthemic ventures and solo-laden detours, but every experiment plays right in to the members strength. They remain one of the most relevant guitar rock bands out there. (Don Giovanni Records) by David C Obenour

Traden – self-titled

Deep, immersive psych from Trad Gras och Stenar and Hills rippers.  Nothing super blazing here, just ridiculously solid enveloping psych rock that isn’t worried about blowing your mind with their chops as much as allowing musical dynamics to grow and slowly swallow you in their awesomeness.  Top shelf. (Subliminal Sounds) by Andrew Lampela

Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge – The Midnight Hour

When you have two amazing musicians on a collision course, the results are bound to be directed towards greatness. In The Midnight Hour, Muhammad (ATCQ, Lucy Pearl) and Adrian Younge (Luke Cage, Black Dynamite) have created a soundtrack for an urban film that has yet to be written. Guests Ladybug Mecca, Raphael Saadiq, Bilal, and others assist them in their journey to bliss here. (Linear Labs) by Eddie Ugarte

Speedy Ortiz – Twerp Verse

Never jumping on any bandwagons, we can do nothing more than support Twerp Verse, the third release by Speedy Ortiz. Can you say classic inventive indie pop? Well, that’s what Sadie Dupuis and her cohorts deliver here. One right after the other, tracks are punchy, endearing, and completely infectious, so you may want to go ahead with that shot of penicillin. (Carpark Records) by Eddie Ugarte

Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses

Emma Ruth Rundle is incapable of putting out a bad album.  (Sargent House) by Andrew Lampela

Daniel Bachman – The Morning Star

My dude put out one of the best albums of his career this year.  Certainly not his most accessible, due to the sprawling nature, but an incredible start to finish journey of sound.  It has been a pleasure watching Bachman grow as an artist, and if this is any indication, we’re all in for some real shit in the future.  (Three Lobed) by Andrew Lampela

Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge – The Midnight Hour

When you have two amazing musicians on a collision course, the results are bound to be directed towards greatness. In The Midnight Hour, Muhammad (ATCQ, Lucy Pearl) and Adrian Younge (Luke Cage, Black Dynamite) have created a soundtrack for an urban film that has yet to be written. Guests Ladybug Mecca, Raphael Saadiq, Bilal, and others assist them in their journey to bliss here. (Linear Labs) by Eddie Ugarte

Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore – Ghost Forests

Spectral folk from two artists that are always in top form.  This one wraps around your ears, blocking out the real world suck from start to finish.  (Three Lobed) by Andrew Lampela

Anna von Hauswolff – Dead Magic

This one made it for opening track “The Truth, The Glow, The Fall” alone.  The rest of the album is great as well, but damn, that opener stayed on playlist for a large chunk of the year.  Hard to nail down a sound, best to just hit play and go with it.  (City Slang) by Andrew Lampela

Mestizo and The Heavy Twelves – Big Bad Death

Mestizo has already established him as half of Machina Muerte but here on Big Bad Death he teams up with the electronic, The Heavy Twelves. What follows is a serious piece of work. The theme is steady through the release and keeping with the title of the record and that’s one aspect that makes this great, aside from the dope beats and Mestizo’s powerful delivery. (Fake Four, Inc.) by Eddie Ugarte

Poppy Ackroyd – Resolve

Somehow sneaking out early in the year, this is a late entry, but oh man is it good.  Modern classical with a dash of electronics and some looping goodness, this album finds Ackroyd getting deeper into the compositions and is definitely more of a grower than her previous.  Those extra listens will definitely reward you.  So good.  (One Little Indian) by Andrew Lampela

Pale Grey Lore – self-titled

Doom is a weird word in the metal word, usually leaning towards dumb riffs about weed, but Pale Grey Lore hit equal parts Nuggets box and actual songwriting for their take.  Heavy, catchy, and most importantly, memorable, these dudes deliver.  (Oak Island) by Andrew Lampela

Tunde Olaniran – Stranger

On his sophomore full length, Flint native Tunde Olaniran blends brooding hip-hop electronics with warm pop hooks, soaring gospel anthems, and cocky rap songs full with nerdy references and clever wordplay. He can have you laughing on one song and crying on the next. This album is all over the place in the best way and Tunde further demonstrates his innovative spirit and incomprehensible vocal range. (Magic Wheel) by Luke LaBenne

Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light

These dudes have always been good, but nobody could have predicted the leap on this album.   I’m-your-dude Adam Clemans has fully integrated, and the band lays down the most ambitious music of their career for a true banger of an album.  (Prosthetic) by Andrew Lampela

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