|2018: Year of the what is happening|
2018 Synopsis: An over-complicated plot with nonsensical characters stifled what should have been a monumental year in human history. Despite these shortcomings and the promise of some dark turns in the future, the sequel “2019” should see genuine progress and a closer examination of our innermost values.
2018 Music Synopsis: Dope.
First 3 albums are my personal favorites of the year. The rest are in no particular order. All albums have been listened to front to back at least once unless otherwise noted.
DEP is dead. Long live Zapruder.
This album caught me completely by surprise, which is fitting considering the music contained within. Zapruder play a peculiar brand of sludge/math/jazz metal/hardcore mathcore-core. Right from the opener “I Left My Appendix in NYC’, Zapruder keep your undivided attention. One minute, the groove makes you wanna strut your stuff on a public street, the next minute you realize you put your fist through the wall 27 seconds ago. Also, the album art is Japanese-inspired, but that character in the middle is Chinese for “piss”. So that’s fun.
Mandatory if: a DEP, Daughters, Tom Waits fan. This is weird, wild stuff.
|2||Pusha T |
Ye is dead. Long live King Push.
Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It
Alma Mater may be the most effective, eviscerating climax I’ve ever heard. You need to be a certain level of despondent to give this album the full listen its due.
Joy as an Act of Resistance
I’ve never been much for punk, but IDLES are different. This album is blunt in every regard to the benefit of the listener. This is modern punk written at a time where the concept of self-identity, morality, and masculinity are under scrutiny. And while there are powerful voices that cling to the traditional views of how humans, particularly men, are supposed to be; Joy As An Act of Resistance is the sledgehammer smashing through the old.
Chaos is exhilarating until it gets boring. In this case, that’s 3-4 songs in.
Listen if: Male aged 17-21 with a chip on your shoulder. Please ensure what ensues is confined to a local gym. Remember to wipe the sweat off the bench when you finish and rerack your weights.
Compiler Optimization Techniques
Glitch, techno, and metal come together in the most frantic possible way.
Man of the Woods
This isn’t ‘The 20/20 Experience’. Let’s be okay with that. I’ll be the first to admit it’s strange to see JT release something that isn’t pure gold, but there’s some genuinely great material on Man Of The Woods. Some tunes are just as danceable as anything off his back catalogue from the bouncy ‘Sauce’ to the effortless flow of ‘Breeze Off the Pond’. However, when JT steps out from his comfort zone into folk territory, things get awkward. Don’t even get me started on ‘Flannel’. I’ve heard better performances from Chinese businessmen singing Aerosmith in a karaoke bar. And Aerosmith sucks, so…
Listen if: You know which tracks to avoid.
If There Is Light, It Will Find You
First time listening to Senses Fail, and it’s a heartfelt, heartbreaking good time.
Sexy pop. Let’s be honest, this gets an automatic pass for the album cover. The music within is just as sultry and seductive.
|12||Coheed and Cambria|
The Unheavenly Creatures
Book of Bad Decisions
The best hard rock band you haven’t listened to yet has released another slab of straight up badass jams. Seriously, what else can I say about Clutch? Distorted guitars playing blues scale hooks all day every day over the course of 15 tracks while Neil Fallon spits out sing-a-long lyrics from the bottom of his gravely vocal cords. Why are you still reading this? Grab a bottle of Jack and get to headbangin!
Mandatory if: you’re a human being and you enjoy being alive.
You Won't Get What You Want
I remember reading Roger Ebert’s movie reviews (see: essays) during my preteen years. A line in his review of Aliens aroused my curiosity, stating, “The movie is so intense that it creates a problem for me as a reviewer: Do I praise its craftsmanship, or do I tell you it left me feeling wrung out and unhappy?” Could not think of a better way to explain my feelings towards Daughters’ latest outing. Heavy and uneasy, it’s rare that music can move rub a listener the wrong way, yet still feel right.
Cheese done right.
Listen if: you wanna be bewitched in the moonlight.
Fire by the Silos
The American Dream
|19||God Is an Astronaut|
::: Not Sure/5
Written after the untimely death of a close relative, God's latest work is a sullen affair. And that's exactly what makes it so difficult to assess, There are some powerful moments here; colossal walls of sound engulf the quiet build up in songs like Mortal Coil. However the fact remains: this isn't a particularly enjoyable listen in any sense. Perhaps more time is needed, but for now it's difficult to judge the quality of what's being presented here.
|20||Greta Van Fleet|
Anthem of the Peaceful Army
(oh boy…) ::: 3/5
Best Led Zeppelin cover band on the radio.
(or, How To Lose Your Fanbase 101) ::: 2/5
|23||Kids See Ghosts|
Kids See Ghosts
Two massively influential hip-hop artists, both a couple cans short of a six-pack, come together to release their best material in years. KIDS SEE GHOSTS is the side project of Kid Cudi and Kanye West. An unusual combo to be sure, but the results are at times captivating. It’s especially nice to hear West, free of his need to be Ye, busting out some aggressively rapped verses.
|24||Minus the Bear|
::: Fine + 3.5pts
The last few songs audiences will hear from this legendary math/alt rock act. As a longtime fan, it’s hard for me to listen to this subjectively. Particularly the tear-jerking melody of the EP’s title track.
Listen if: you need closure.
Flip for It
|26||Ninja Sex Party|
NSP's best album. It's what they've done before, but better.
|27||Oceans of Slumber|
The Banished Heart
Think Opeth, but from Texas. Somber, atmospheric. Not recommended for amateurs.
|28||A Perfect Circle|
Eat the Elephant
This album seemed intent on dividing its listeners. The album art, the unsubtle political lyrics, the canyon-sized gap between releases… even the music itself. This is both a more experimental affair (see: Hourglass) and a refinement (Disillusion, Feathers). A grower to be sure, as the albums unevenness can make it difficult to sit through in a single listen. Found myself revisiting Mer de Noms and Thirteenth Step more than embracing the new material.
Listen if: Tool isn’t going to release new material soon and even if they do; they’re not young, frustrated, agro-math pioneers anymore. Just enjoy the fact that Maynard can still put on a beautiful vocal performance. The rest of the band more than pulls their weight, though one may still long for the excitement and emotion found in their debut and Thirteenth Step.
|29||Red Sun Rising|
Ok rock that’s ok to listen to. Great to play on the off chance your mom or new girlfriend asks what kind of music you like. As sterile as a morgue.
Happy However After
The Outer Ones
The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1
Want to like this, but it's just sort of bland. There are a couple of songs here that truly work (Like The Angel immediately comes to mind), but most fall flat. Rise Against can write effective ballads, but it seems their rockers are meant to rock and rock only.
As a reviewer eloquently put in their Beggars review: “Thrice settle into a sweet spot.” Here, Thrice struggle in their sweet spot.
Picture yourself riding atop a stallion, galloping through the deserted lands of some new country. The romantic vision of the new frontier. A sense of wonder and risk abounds as you discover what once was proclaimed not to exist. In the age of information, escape and discovery are harder to come by. Yet here is an album that seems to take you on a voiceless journey into something new.
List if: Rosetta without the vocals appeals.
Yolk in the Fur
Love in the Time of E-Mail
Mathish rock: Seeing Minus the Bear perform one of their last shows this year was a bit of a blow to me. They played in a sweet spot of distorted math/alt rock that is hard to find. Shortly after, I came across Delta Sleep’s Ghost City. Using a similar vocal performance and arguably more creative guitar work, Delta Sleep seem to be on track at filling the void left behind by the band (pun for those in the know). Easy album to get lost in when you’re paying attention, easy to skip if you’re not.
Listen if: you’re a fan of American Football (band) and Minus the Bear. Or if you’re interested in something different from the typical rock template.
|39||Between the Buried and Me|
Starting to become convinced BTBAM can do no wrong. They can stoop to slightly above average, but they cannot do less. Automata, the obvious “we-need-money” double album of the year, is an encouraging one step, two step, three step forward for a group of artists making music they obviously love.
|40||Between the Buried and Me|
First album released after the loss of guitarist Tom Searle. It doesn’t quite reach the heights attained by ‘All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us’, but this is still better than the metalcore you’re listening to.
I Loved You at Your Darkest
|44||Long Distance Calling|
|45||Tides of Man|
Black Chapel Sun
Heir to Despair
Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt
The Smoke of Atavistic Fires
I've sampled most of the tracks, but this needs your undivided attention. To review another day.
I just don’t get this kind of music. If someone has a suggestion, I’m all ears.
House of Wisdom | We Are the Devil
From the Gallery of Sleep
In a year saturated with quality instrumental rock and metal, Night Verses stand just a tad taller than their peers and alternatives. From the Gallery of Sleep is a thoroughly engaging listen. It’s not just a technical showcase; Night Verses have crafted a listening experience that flows effortlessly from one song to another made all the more astonishing in lieu of the tempo and tonal shifts. Where these changes can sometimes disrupt a composition’s flow, it is an essential asset here.
If you told me at the start of the year I’d find myself repeatedly listening to a country pop album, I’d laugh heartily, finish my beer, and change the subject to something pleasant like Brexit.
Yet here we are. Golden Hour is an album full of gold, fittingly. First caught my attention with High Horse and held it since. Acoustic melodies, keys, and some fun pop beats come together harmoniously with Musgraves’ serene delivery and relatable lyrics. In a year full of consternation and frustration; this is a tonic. A pleasant listen to supplement the sunniest day, an open invitation to be happy and sing along.
Nearer My God
Em’s Revival was dead on arrival. Choppy and with one too many guest spots (can we please stop with the Pink), it seemed time to write off the self-proclaimed rap god. Eminem seems to have taken to criticism to heart and turned it into rage rap. Kamikaze is top shelf late Eminem. Just listen to The Ringer, with its stripped down beat, allowing him to pull out every vocal trick in the book. Seriously, how in the hell does he remember these verses? Eminem is hungry to prove himself on this. Though the lyrics face quite a few humps and troughs in quality (“I’m gonna crumble you and I’ll take a number two and dump on you..”), the fact is that no one can spit it like Em. When he’s at the top of his game, his speed, variety, and energy are unmatched. Though Kamikaze loses steam a bit after the first half; the bouncier beats and Eminem’s renewed determination carry Kamikaze well over the finish line. Something that can’t be said for most of his output since 2004.
Still not sure I "get" this queen. Have not been able to give this a complete listen, though I've come within a few tracks. Album run time is criminally long.
|58||Dance Gavin Dance|