Ghettoblaster 2018 Vinyl Review

In no means does this list constitute or contain a breakdown of every vinyl project released in 2018. That would be silly, plus my wife might finally bug out on me for adding such a haul to my already robust vinyl library. No, this 2018 vinyl wrap-up contains a listing of ten vinyl albums that I found myself frequently spinning. Their vinyl playback was catapulted by the smooth transition from track to track, the sound quality found in the production and the overall good music that was spinning. The titles on this list were mostly releases that I was able to attain from various labels and in some cases, there are a few titles that I purchased myself. There were tons of other titles I wish I could include to the list. Now, in no specific order, as my fellow Bronx native, KRS-One, once said, “let us begin.”

REJOICER “Energy Dreams”

Heralded as cultivating Israel’s modern beat movement, REJOICER infuses funk, hip-hop, and jazz nodes into an 11-track release that play out like, well, a dream. The low-key feel that plays out soothes the listener and lends itself to the whole album as it progresses. A good spin whenever I found myself ready to create. (Stones Throw Records)

Jean Grae X Quelle Chris “Everything’s Fine”

For those that opt seek it out quality hip-hop is still out there. If you consider yourself part of that community, you know that Jean Grae and her main dude Quelle Chris released the most poignant hip-hop album of the year. Forget what you heard about everything because everything isn’t okay, and this album outlines the outliers; you, me, us. Combine that with good old-fashioned head-nodding beats and slick wordplay you have yourself a classic. Yes! I said it! (Mello Music Group)

Body/Head “The Switch”

Kim Gordon and Bill Nace bring back their reverberating tones with their latest release “The Switch.” Falling between meditative and sensory stimuli the new project is a ride into something noisy but clear. It’s further evidence that Gordon and Nace are almost shamanistic with their sound. Sit back, close your eyes and fasten your soul for a sonic ride. (Matador)

Homeboy Sandman & Edan “Humble Pi”

In a move to get down to brass tacks, recluse emcee/producer Edan and the rapper Homeboy Sandman teamed up this year to hopefully drop their first of many releases “Humble Pi.” Edan has made a few cameos as of late, so a new project was well accepted for fans wanting to hear more production from the funk doctor. Coupled with Homeboy’s cadence and punning the release was a banger that caught much love on the decks this year.
(Stones Throw Records)   

79.5 “Predictions”

One of the most surprising debuts this year came from NYC based band 79.5. Sweet tones accompanied with melodic, sweet vocals. The music is like a mix of ESG meets Roy Ayers meets Zhane. Not even sure if that does it justice, but it paints the picture of what this band is. With three lead harmonized vocalist and that downtown NYC old-school thump, it became one of my favorites this year. No reason why it wouldn’t be yours also. Check it out! (Big Crown Records)

Knife Knights “1 Time Mirage”

Ishmael Butler returned with a new moniker project. The Shabazz Palaces frontman teamed with longtime collaborator Erik Blood and dropped the first of a series of projects under their new group name Knife Knights. Futuristic b-boyisms play heavy on this release with pulsating beats and electronica fused hood rhythms that bring listeners into a new degree of hip-hop. Get down and level up with it. (Sub Pop Records)

Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band “The Serpent’s Mouth”

The steel drum mavericks Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band returned this year with their sophomore release, and it was literally, banging! Known for covering classics tracks from various genres the band continues to surprise and catch listeners off guard. Imagine hearing a steel drum version Mobb Deep’s “The Learning (Burn)” and like it. That and many other renditions made this one a constant spinner. (Big Crown Records)

UJI “Alborada”

Much more than electronic dance music, Argentine producer Uji is part of a wave or creators bridging the gap between dance music and the essence of South American typical and native music. “Alborada” is one of those records that engages listeners into a new realm of experience. Part spiritual and physical exciter the album takes listeners on a trip to something sublime. Don’t miss the ride. (ZZK Records)

Bauhaus “The Bela Session”

With its first official vinyl reissue of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in over 30 years, Bauhaus dropped a gem for fans of the goth pioneers. The Lugosi version on this release is the extended remastered version clocking in at nearly 10 minutes. The crisp output will have listeners dawning their best black attire. Accompanied with three previously unreleased tracks makes this one a definite spin for a stormy night. (Leaving Records)

Orquesta Akokán

With their self-titled debut, Orquesta Akokán revitalizes the sound of Cuba’s past with new music. The 12-man band composed of Cuba’s finest musicians recorded the album in three days at Havana’s state-run Estudios Areito. The feel of Cuba’s spirit is felt throughout this release and is an album that can spin on any given Sunday. (Daptone Records)