The 50 Best Albums of 2018.

So many good albums this year, so little time.  I’m not going to sit here and try to tie in the music that was made with the social climate and cultural happenings, enough people do that, but I will say that a lot of what I found to be the most interesting and enthralling this year was pissed off, aggressive, rough-edged music that was born out of clear anger and frustration.  There was plenty of beautiful and fun stuff as well.  Here are our 50 best albums of 2018.

 

 50.  Some Rap Songs by Earl Sweatshirt

I have no doubts that if this thing would’ve been released sooner than the very end of November that it would be much higher up on the list, but given the album’s immediacy I had to get it on here.  With the lo-fi sound, the vinyl sampling, the short and concise run-time with flashes of brilliance throughout, and the message, Earl somehow managed to surpass all the expectations and hype.

– MCG.

 

49.  Pre Strike Sweep by Gøggs 

Just Ty doing his thing with the dude from Ex-Cult going hard, scuzzy and fast. Like a Stooges for the new era!

 

 

48.  I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. by The Body

The Body are as prolific as it gets; they also released a great split with Uniform this year.  The guest vocals really separate this album for me.  It’s a dark and brutal journey.

– MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Nothing Stirs”, “The West Has Failed”, “An Urn”

 

47.  Fame and Fortune by Mick’s Jaguar

This album puts the Stones swagger right in play with a side of New York cool! This is pure rock n’ roll that will have you pissing in the streets in no time.

 

46.  Infant Island by Infant Island

A great debut by a band that grabs you by the throat and demands you pay attention.  Tamed aggression with a clear and precise path.  It’s a beautiful thing.

– MCG.

 

45.  Siesta by Hater

Last year, Hater’s You Tried was near the top of my list.  Siesta has yet to strike the same chord with me, but it gets better with every listen.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “It’s So Easy”, “The Mornings”, “Cut Me Loose”

– MCG.

 

44.  Big Red Machine by Big Red Machine

Look, you could compile a list of the most boring things in the world, have Justin Vernon sing it, and I would eat it up with tears in my eyes.  He can do no wrong in my book, and so his collaboration with Aaron Dessner from The National (another band that can do no wrong for me) is obviously I find this extremely pleasurable.

– MCG.

 

43.  Basic Behaviour by FRIGS

This is Savages if Savages was a little more filthy and unsettling.  What else need be said?

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Chest”, “Trashyard”

– MCG.

 

42.  Lithium Zion by Deaf Wish

Top notch post-punk with alternating male and female vocals.  This album sets a mood; it throws you in the soup and stirs it around with calculated recklessness.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “The Rat Is Back”, “Deep Blue Cheated” (great name and reference), “Birthday”, “Smoke”

 

41.  Little Acts of Destruction by Red Hare

Red Hare bring the D.C. Dischord punk right to your door. With street cred for days due to production duties of J. Robbins and a band comprised of Bluetip and Swizz members.

 

40.  Street Worms by Viagra Boys

Groovy and fun, sleazy and silly (“we had a little dog, such a little dog, but it reminded me of a large dog, just a-miniature sized”); it’s hard not to put on my sunglasses indoors and gyrate around my apartment whenever I throw this on.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Just Like You”, “Shrimp Shack”, “Down in the Basement”

 

39.  Czarface Meets Metal Face by CZARFACE/MF DOOM

Inspectah Deck has long been one of the best lyricists in the Wu-Tang Clan (and for my money, the most underrated), and MF DOOM has long been one of the underground’s most cherished and lauded emcees.  Deck has been putting in a crazy amount of work with Czarface, the group he formed with 7L and Esoteric, and now this collaboration album with DOOM is everything that you would expect it to be; hard beats and hard rhymes.

 – MCG.

 

38.  All This Will Be by Closer

Closer’s debut is a choke slam.  I love a female vocalist that sounds like she’s on the edge of losing it, spewing venom and frothing at the mouth.  I knew when I first heard this album back at the beginning of the year that it would be here on my list.  It’s an audible onslaught and it deserves to be heard.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “This Year”, “Hardly Art”, “An Athema”, “Birdhouse”

 

37.  Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Goddamn this album will always smell like summer to me. I cracked many grapefruit sculpin’s poolside just killing time before my daughter would be born in the fall.

 

36.  TRU by Ovlov

Beautiful fuzz-rock made for digging in and/or drifting away.  Whatever you do with this album, make sure you do it loudly.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “The Best of You”, “Grab It From The Garden”,

 

35.  Obey by Exploded View

Industrial/experimental/ambient post-rock?  Sign me the fuck up.  It’s so ominous and still so groovy.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Dark Stains”, “Sleepers”, “Raven Raven”, “Come On Honey”, “Rant”

 

34.  High Reeper by High Reeper

Like Black Sabbath and Motorhead splooged into your whiskey sour, these guys bring the no frills rockn’roll hard and heavy. Plus I’ve already heard the follow up is on it’s way next year. These guys are the future!

 

33.  Electric Messiah by High On Fire

We all know High On Fire will eat Lemmy’s splooge for breakfast. On Electric Messiah Pike takes a puff of that good stuff and drops the hammer on that ass!

 

32.  Warm Drag by Warm Drag

Scuzzy experimental post-punk that makes me want to party.  This is that double-fisting, burning the midnight hash oil album here for your debaucherous pleasure.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Crusin’ the Night”, “End Times”, “No Body”, “Lost Time”

 

31.  Survival of the Fiendish by Timmy’s Organism

One of the coolest garage rock bands going! I fell into Heartless Heathen this year big time just before Survival of the Fiendish dropped. Don’t fool yourselves, Guzzle Gasoline is the song of the year!

 

30.  Bay Dream by Culture Abuse

Another banger album that mixes well with those summer waves and a good bag of weed. Reminds me of those good nineties albums that you could jam on repeat front to back just scooping up old friends for a nice day outside!

 

29.  Bloody Lovely by DZ Deathrays

This one will be slept on by most but trust me when I tell you it holds up to repeat listens especially when it’s time to get the blood pumping. Bringing straight Aussie fire right here.

 

28.  Jericho Sirens by Hot Snakes

Ahh yes,  the prodigal son returned to me this year in the form of Hot Snakes! As I would put Suicide Invoice as one of my favorite albums of all time. Jericho Sirens spared no expense and picked up right where they left off with Audit In Progress which is throat rippin’ punk n’ roll! Froberg is God!!

 

27.  Soft Hell by Pill

More post-punk, but with a pinch of jazz instruments and Spanish vocals separating them from other albums in the same class released this year.  A very fun listen, and album cover of the year, no doubt.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Sin Compromiso”, “Double Think”, “Softer Side”

 

26.  Pandemonium by Black Rainbows

Italian stoner boogie with a nostril caked full of space dust! Nuff Said!!

 

25.  The Modern Act of Setting Ablaze by Mantar

Do you dig Doomriders?  If so this little behemoth mixes crust, doom, and black metal with the best of them. What gets me with this album and is the true testament is that the songs stick with you like a nail in the head!

 

24.  Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys

I have great admiration for Arctic Monkeys after this.  They could have easily made AM II and became the biggest rock band in the world, yet they decided to take a hard left turn and go full lounge lizard.  There are some real hits here, and some misses as well, but the general overall feel is very refreshing and interesting.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”, “Four Out Of Five”, “The World’s First Ever Monster Truck Front Flip”, “The Ultracheese”

 

23.  Time & Space by Turnstile

Turnstile are a fuck ton of fun to watch live!  This is what punk is made of, kids burning it off on stage honing their craft. Can’t wait to see what they bring us next!

 

22.  7 by Beach House

Beach House doing more Beach House things, just slightly spiced up and more urgently.  That’s a good thing; they are one of a kind and we need them.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Lemon Glow”, “Drunk In LA”, “Black Car”

 

21.  Television by Spiritual Cramp

Watch out for these guys!  They are clearly going for the jugular and are putting out great songs at an easy clip. Their influences mix the Clash and the Talking Heads but with the garage punk vigor of the New York Dolls!

 

20.  We Already Lost the World by Birds In Row

Hailing from France and pulling no punches, Birds In Row constructed this album in a way that keeps your toes.  You can never be sure when a lull or onslaught is going to end or begin.  It’s an unrelenting, well-crafted roller coaster.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “15-38”, “We Count So We Don’t Have To Listen”, “Fossils”

 

19.  Let God Sort Em Out by No Problem

My choice for punk album of the year goes to No Problem.  It was evident upon first listen of No Justice No Peace, one of the rowdiest fucking ditties put to tape this year!

 

18.  All At Once by Screaming Females

Slowly becoming one of my favorite bands due to the fact that Marissa Paternoster has really started to hone in on what it takes to make a great album.  The songs on All at Once shred, slink, strut and pounce just when it counts.

 

17.  Dave’s Dungeon by Avon

You probably won’t find this hidden gem on many peoples list this year but believe me when I tell you Avon don’t fuck around.  They seamlessly meld psych, stoner boogie and brit pop like the true professionals they are.

 

16.  Drift by The Men

The Men have been consistently inconsistent with their sound, perhaps to prevent anyone from pigeonholing them, which makes every album a pleasant surprise.  They pulled a little of everything from their bag of tricks and included the kitchen sink for this one, a versatile and intriguing piece that keeps you guessing throughout.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Maybe I’m Crazy”, “Rose on Top of the World”, “So High”, “Come to Me”

 

15.  Mindfucker by Monster Magnet

When I look back on the history of Monster Magnet I’m certainly in awe of what they have created.  I remember walking into a Peaches record store at the age of 16 and taking a chance on Dopes to Infinity. Let’s just say it’s been space spliff bliss ever since and Mindfucker is a great testament to their legend.

 

14.  DAYTONA by Pusha T

To me it has always seemed that Pusha was trying to challenge himself and the listener with his beat selection, so with this being entirely produced by Kanye West, and West taking it back to his beginnings with how he constructed these beats, it really gave Pusha a platform to shine on that he hadn’t had since the early Clipse albums.  The album is full of shining little moments, and the conciseness really lends to replay value.  By far and away my most played hip-hop album of the year.  If you know, you really do know.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Santeria”, “Come Back Baby”, “What Would Meek Do?”

 

13.  Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts

Parquet’s just keep getting better with age crafting tighter and hookier songs that lodge themselves in your head.  Freebird II is best enjoyed with a little smoke and a margarita!

 

12.  Joy as an Act of Resistance. by IDLES

Dubbed the next best thing in brit punk by many astute music critics.  They bring the thunder like a hookier, heftier Future of the Left, and who doesn’t need a band like that?

 

11.  Freedom’s Goblin by Ty Segall

If you ain’t on Ty time I don’t know what to tell you!  The guy plays in like 6 different bands at a time and drops 5 albums per year. Alta will melt your heart and She will rip it straight outta your chest.

 

10.  Dance on the Blacktop by Nothing

Nothing’s sound is something to behold and to treasure.  They do what they do so well.  This album hit me like a ton of beautiful bricks and it continues to hurt so good.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Zero Day”, “You Wind Me Up”, “I Hate the Flowers”, “(Hope) Is Just Another Word with a Hole in It”

 

9.  Rootstock by Crypt Trip
Another hidden gem brought to you by Heavy Psych Sounds. An absolute stunner that brings me right back to my teenage years of Led Zep and Sabbath. Such a warm listen, slip on the headphones and rip a little to get the full effect of Aquarena Daydream.

 

8.  Smote Reverser by Thee Oh Sees
What would I do without Thee Oh Sees or Ty Segall?  The whole album rides but for me Last Peace into Moon Bog puts them at the top of their game. It also goes without saying that these guys will rip your throat out live!

 

7.  And Nothing Hurt by Spiritualized

This album is so happy that it makes me sad.  Or maybe it’s so sad that it makes me happy.  Probably the first one, but in any event, it’s a real emotion-evoking stunner and it was released at the perfect time for me.  Add to that the Vonnegut-inspired title and this is something that just resonates deep inside of me and will continue to do so.

 – MCG.

 

6.  Room Inside the World by Ought

Just growing and stretching into a new machine Ought crafted very thoughtful and liquid sounds on Room Inside the World.  This is the album that will allow them to move in any direction they please and that they got the chops to do it.

 

5.  God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty

I could go on and on about Josh Tillman’s incredible voice, impeccable melody craftsmanship, sense of humor, intelligence, wit, beard, and a handful of other things.  I really could.  The narrative behind this album as been well stated, but what really matters is how damn good he is at making music.  The music itself speaks for itself, and if you “just don’t get it” when it comes to Father John Misty, then I truly feel sorry for you because he is one of the very best artists of this decade.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Just Dumb Enough to Try”, “Please Don’t Die”, “God’s Favorite Customer”, “We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)”

 

4.  Virtue by The Voidz

Let me start by saying Julian Casablancas can do no wrong in my book.  Now, that said, I honestly think volume 2 in The Voidz saga is packed full of truly great melodies, and not at the sake of experimenting, which they did here just as much, if not more, than their first album.  There is madness going on here, and it is PERFECT.  Such a fun album and it has held up very well throughout the year.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Leave It In My Dreams” (my song of the year), “QYURRYUS”, “Pyramid of Bones”, “ALieNNAtioN”, “Wink”

 

3.  Burnt Sugar by Gouge Away  

Gouge Away reeled it in a bit with this one, turning from the pure aggression of the past to a more focused aggression full of ear worms and sprinkled with perfectly placed melodies and grooves.  The result is a focused effort that is cohesive, energizing, and fun which makes it as easily re-playable as any other album released this year.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  “Only Friend”, “Stray/Burnt Sugar”, “Dis s o c i a t i o n”

 

2.  Beyondless by Iceage

It has been a thrilling ride watching Iceage get to this point.  From the pure, blistering energy on their first album to the concise and restrained absolute perfection here on Beyondless, they have taken huge leaps with every effort.  This album is sequenced better than any other album released this year, flowing perfectly and giving the songs even more power than they already have standing alone.  The A-side is a call to arms and the B-side is an awe-inspiring bestowal that gains steam until the culmination in the title track.  Always a band with clear potential, it seems as though they have realized it, and now it is hard to imagine how they can keep this pace up.  I am looking forward to seeing where they go next.

 – MCG.

STANDOUT SONGS:  Every single fucking one of them.

 

1.  Ordinary Corrupt Human Love by Deafheaven    

Such a cool band drops pretty much a spot the influence type album.  The best part is how they meld their influences within the course of a song.  To me Honeycomb hits like a modern day November Rain and doesn’t let up until Worthless Animal. Many layers here people!

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The 10 Best Albums of Quarter 3, 2018.

Quarter 3 was ridiculous.  An embarrassment of riches was bestowed upon us, particularly in the shape of hard, rough, dark, filthy, fast, out of control music.  This short list is chock full of it.  There are many more left off that we could’ve substituted in order to have more variety, but when it comes down to it, these were the sounds of the summer, and this summer rocked hard.

 

Smote Reverser by Thee Oh Sees 

What more can I say about this band who continues to slowly morph into this fluid prog-psych rock n’ roll machine. In my head I see John Dwyer and Ty Segall constantly trying to one up each other and if I’m being honest, if I had to survive on their catalogs alone I could easily do so. Smote Reverser ended up really hitting the spot for me and is something I can enjoy on plush headphones in the gym or getting high and going for a scenic car ride taking in all that mother nature has to offer. – Apache Slomo

 

 

Ordinary Corrupt Human Love by Deafheaven

The fourth album from one of the best and most important bands currently doing it surely did not disappoint.  They found ways to push the envelope even further with this effort, continuing the separation from their contemporaries and what is expected of a “metal” band.  This is a one of a kind album from a one of a kind band and it feels timeless already.

– MCG

 

Burnt Sugar by Gouge Away 

Coming on like a perfect mix of Jesus Lizard and Fugazi this Florida band knows what they want. On Burnt Sugar they soak up the rays and cook off the fat of the aforementioned bands and cherry pick the parts that get them off. The first time I heard them I said ok, a female fronted Metz, we need this! The rhythm section is fucking air tight and it doesn’t hurt that they tapped the right people to record this one. For me, Gouge Away have just creeped into a list of female fronted bands that take absolutely no prisoners such as White Lung, Screaming Females and the Coathangers! – Apache Slomo

 

 

Dance on the Blacktop by Nothing

Nothing has a sound that they have been honing in on with every album they release, and with Dance on the Blacktop, it feels like they are getting very close to perfecting it.  Shiny guitars slowly swirling and building a wall of sound out of the darkness with lyrics about dying, and about living, and about being on the edge of both make this an interesting listen over and over again.

– MCG

 

Joy as an Act of Resistance. by IDLES 

It is a great pleasure to introduce you to IDLES as they are indeed the future of post punk. A modern day amalgam of the best the genre has to offer. When they first popped on the scene reading through their list of influences was quite inspiring as it was a lot of state of the art hip-hop, jazz and speed metal. Usually when I see things that I say ok this band is going to fuck with the formula and on Joy as an Act of Resistance they go straight for the jugular. Basically a post punk Faith No More if you will, I can’t wait to see what they do next! – Apache Slomo

 

 

We Already Lost The World by Birds In Row

Sometimes it’s truly great to be able to shout along to the music and feel like you’re losing control of yourself for a moment.  There are a wide variety of hooks tucked away in this album that pop up without warning, keeping you guessing throughout its entirety.

– MCG

 

The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze by Mantar 

Mantar put the women and children to bed and go looking for dinner. When the lights go out the Modern Art of Setting Ablaze lights the way with a heavy dynamic that is way to expressive for the band consisting of two members. They blend crust, doom, speed and death metal in a tight explosive package that pummels those in it’s wake. Another great album for the gym, by the time Dynasty of Nails hits you will feel no pain. For fans of High On Fire, Cobalt or the Doomriders! – Apache Slomo

 

 

Rhea Sylvia by Thou

This album snarls and crawls toward you, leaving claw marks in the floor and complete darkness behind it, and it does so at a slow but steady pace so you can see it coming, but you know there’s nothing you can do about it.  This is the third different themed EP released by Thou in as many months this year in the build up to their new full length album Magus, and of all they’ve done this summer, to me this feels like the most meticulous and diabolical.

 – MCG

 

Let God Sort Em Out by No Problem   

Deranged Records have been killing the game this year! They know punk thrives in the shadows and fucked up clubs and No Problem’s Let God Sort ‘Em Out is no different. This has by far been my favorite punk album of the year but when you flank it with the new Tarantula and Spiritual Cramp ep’s also out on Deranged it makes the future look even brighter or bleaker depending on how you look at it. Standouts No Justice No Peace and Eyes of a Killer zip by in a flash but leave a heavy imprint like only good punk rock can do! – Apache Slomo

 

 

 

And Nothing Hurt by Spiritualized

I don’t know how else to describe this album other than “pretty” and “beautiful”.  It’s such a calming, entrancing, and tender piece of music that induces many deep breaths and sighs throughout.  The nod to the classic Vonnegut line “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt” only ratchets up my appreciation for this work of art.  If this is Jason Pierce’s swan song, it’s the perfect goodbye.

Ordinary Corrupt Human Love by Deafheaven

With their new album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, Deafheaven have leaned as far into their post-rock influences as we have yet to hear from them previously, complete with spoken word pieces, piano, and long sections of tremolo guitar slathered in delay that builds and crashes.  This is a good thing.  They are at their best when they are blurring the lines between black metal, post-rock, and shoegaze instead of trying to please and be accepted by the metal culture which many would feel the pressure to do.  They never have, and with the new album, it is hard to think of anything that is so aggressive and so beautiful at the exact same time.  This music is some of the most cathartic and peaceful that there is.  There is something so euphoric about floating along to Deafheaven’s slow parts, knowing full well that, at any moment, they are about to hit you in the soul with a wall of sound capable of challenging the very matter you are made of.  This is waves of euphoria.  This is an out of body experience.  This is first class transdimensional travelling.  This is the singularity.  Close your eyes, sit back, and lose yourself.

 

 – MCG.

Beyondless by Iceage

The Danish band Iceage recently released their fourth album since 2011, establishing them as one of the best working bands today.  With each release they’ve grown so much from the previous, and in the process have added to and enriched their unique sound.  They’ve come a long way from the harshly beautiful punk rock of New Brigade, and Beyondless continues this thrilling progression into a full, rich sound complete with lush horns and violins still shrouded in the darkness of the brooding lyrics and vocal delivery.  This album is concise and efficient, and even though it often sounds like it’s coming off the hinges, I have no doubts every step was methodically calculated.  Beyondless is undoubtedly one of the best albums of 2018, and with such a huge leap in overall quality with every album they release, the magic this album conjures makes me incredibly excited to see where the band can go next.

 

– MCG.

The 10 Best Albums of Quarter 1, 2018

Quarter one is done!  Here are two handfuls of albums that have our full attention.

Jericho Sirens by Hot Snakes

Like dropping in on a Tsunami, Hot Snakes return like they never left! These guys pummel with such groove it could never be duplicated though many have tried. People always ask me, if you were in a band what would it sound like? It would sound like this shit below, Ride the Snakes! – Apache Slomo

 

 

Drift by The Men

The Men keep churning them out and they’re all slightly different, this one possibly being the biggest departure from the sound that they’re most known for, which is perhaps why I’m so enthralled by it.

 – MCG.

 

All at Once by Screaming Females  

I don’t know about you but just having an absolute fucking shred head dressed in a beautiful little package like Marissa Paternoster helps me sleep at night. I can start this album at any point, Agnes Martin or my favorite Soft Domination and end up in the same place which is in awe of this band.  – Apache Slomo

 

 

Virtue by The Voidz

Read our short review on this gem!

 – MCG.

 

Dave’s Dungeon by Avon 

This one fell in my lap like a gift from above and also because I do my homework. I knew the drum work sounded familiar and when I looked into it wasn’t surprised to hear Alfredo Hernandez ( Kyuss, QOTSA) is providing the sticksmanship. This is the desert boogie by way of London psych rock that I dream of.  – Apache Slomo

 

All This Will Be by Closer

Such an easy listen considering how in your face it is.  Beautiful chaos.

 – MCG.

 

Freedom’s Goblin by Ty Segall

My wife didn’t quite grasp the sheer raw talent of the all mighty Ty until I queued up Alta and You Say All the Nice Things, then she melted understanding that Ty takes the Beatles to a garage punk wonderland. I could spend all day with his catalogue and today I just might cause it makes me feel good and is now on Spotty! – Apache Slomo 

 

Room Inside the World by Ought

I love post-punk and I’m not afraid to obsessively listen to it, talk about it, and write about it.  Ought rides a slinky through the darkness on this one, twisting reality into dreams.

 – MCG.

 

Mindfucker by Monster Magnet

This one is for me, probably not your cup of tea and I’m not sure why! But as a kid who once walked into a Peaches (old record store chain, they were nice) in Fort Lauderdale, I took a chance of Dopes To Infinity and never looked back in anger. An absolute cosmic power house Dave Wyndorf opened my third eye and for that respects get paid and I devour new Magnet! – Apache Slomo

 

 

Basic Behaviour by FRIGS

More darkness, more angst, more brooding aggression; just the way it should be!

 – MCG.

 

The honorablest of mentions:

Cocoa Sugar by Young Fathers, August Greene by August Greene, Stone Woman by Charlotte Day Wilson

 

Virtue by The Voidz: Nostalgia From the Future

As a brief preface, I’d just like to say that I’m just about as big of a fan of The Strokes as can be, and I am of the opinion that Julian Casablancas is one of the best songwriters since the millennium turned.  Is This It was one of the first non-rap albums I bought as a kid and now he can basically do no wrong in my book.  That said, my over exuberance for his latest creative effort could possibly be taken with a grain of salt.

Now that that is out of the way, I was a fan of The Voidz’ first album, 2014’s Tyranny, but still acknowledge the fact that it might not be the easiest listen for anyone other than someone who shares my opinion of him.  It’s a little messy (on purpose, of course), certainly rough around the edges, experimental, and a bit of a challenge to listen to.  The Voidz’ new album Virtue, which was released this past Friday (03.30.18) is more of a middle ground between his work with The Strokes and that first Voidz album.  In fact, I think it is a perfect medium between the two, taking the unforgettable hooks that made the former a worldwide sensation and the abrasive experimentation that made the latter such a challenge.  The same nostalgic feeling is still there, but this time it’s from the future.  I’m not ready to say this is better than the first two Strokes albums, that’d be crazy at this point and it is hard to imagine anything having the same enormous ripple effect on music as a whole that those two albums did, but I really fucking like how Casablancas and his friends are pushing themselves to create new things instead of recycling the formula he already knows will work.  Great artists evolve and try new things, and I’m glad one of my favorites keeps pushing himself in new directions.  I think this is one of the most interesting and fun albums of 2018 thus far.

 

 

– MCG

 

Material Control by Glassjaw

Glassjaw’s first full length album in 15 years feels different.  It’s the same bludgeoning, relentless, powerful music but it feels more calculated.  More like it has a methodical plan with unknown intentions as opposed to their previous efforts which felt like a speeding train that could go off the rails at any moment.  The hooks and melodies aren’t as apparent, but there is no doubt they exist.  In any event, it’s good.  In fact, it’s fucking good.  Where their contemporaries At The Drive-In failed to captivate with their 2017 comeback which had it’s moments but overall felt hollow, Glassjaw delivered a nonstop stream of twisted consciousness that punches you in the mouth, and after all these years, that familiar pain is very welcomed.

 

 – MCG.

The 50 Best Albums of 2017.

2017 has been extremely shitty for a lot of reasons, thankfully we had a ton of great new music releases to ease the pain a bit.  For the most part, this is my personal favorite list with the exception of a few numerical placements where I yielded to greatness, which is noted.  I hope you find some music that slipped by you here, and I hope you end up enjoying it just as much or more so than I did.  Cheers to the embarrassment of musical riches that were bestowed upon us in 2017.

 

50. Blue Lips (Lady Wood Phase II) by Tove Lo

This is a recent release so only time will tell, but I like the lead single “Disco Tits” so much that I had to include this album.


49. Musas by Nathalia Lafourcade


48. Painted Ruins by Grizzly Bear

Standout Track:  “Mourning Sound”


47. Siberia by Vanbot


46. After The Party by The Menzingers

Standout track:  “Black Mass”


45. Dear by Boris

The mighty Boris returned in a very mightily fashion.  More of the same, and that’s just fine with me.


44. 4:44 by Jay-Z

Clearly I had no choice but to put Jay-Z’s thirteenth studio album 4:44 at number 44.  Jay isn’t the reason it made the list though, that would be the veteran No I.D. and his stellar production over the entirety of the album.  I can’t embed it here because Jay-Z doesn’t want you to hear it a.k.a. it’s only on Tidal.

Standout track:  “Caught Their Eyes (ft. Frank Ocean”

43. Slowdive by Slowdive

42. Life After Youth by Land of Talk

Standout tracks:  “Inner Lover” and “This Time”


41. I See You by The xx

Standout Tracks:  “I Dare You” and “Lips”

40. The Hanged Man by Ted Leo

39. Aromanticism by Moses Sumney

38. Orc by Oh Sees

37. Chalice Hymnal by Grails

Grails have been consistently good and criminally underrated since they began, and 2017 is no exception.

36. V by The Horrors


35. Utopia by Bjork


34. Okovi by Zola Jesus


33. 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time by Big K.R.I.T.

Standout tracks:  “Subenstein (My Sub IV)”, “Big Bank”, “Ride Wit Me”, “Get Away”

32. Strange Peace by METZ


31. Thrice Woven by Wolves In The Throne Room


30. Spear In The City by Bodies of Water


29. The World’s Best American Band by White Reaper

Standout tracks:  “The Stack”, “Judy French”, “Party Next Door”


28. Luciferian Towers by Godspeed You! Black Emperor


27. Good Nature by Turnover

 

26. Sincerely, Future Pollution by Timber Timbre

An often underrated band delivered once more this year with this solid effort which includes my favorite song of the year, “Velvet Gloves & Spit”.


25.  A Crow Looked At Me by Mount Eerie

Anyone listening to this without hearing the back story might be a bit lost, although a lot of it is self-explanatory.  Phil Elverum lost his wife to cancer not long after they had their first child, and these are the songs he wrote in the time he was grieving.  This is one of the most crushing stories I’ve heard recently, and the songs do his terrible circumstances great justice.  The songs are powerful, emotional, heavy as all fuck, and they are beautiful.  I saw him perform them live this past spring and you would’ve been hard pressed to find a dry eye in the crowd.  This is not an album I can visit with often because it is too much for me, in fact I’m getting choked up just typing this short excerpt about it, but I am thankful he was strong enough to share his thoughts and emotions with the world in the hardest of times.

24.  The Navigator by Hurray For The Riff Raff

Folk-blues?  Americana?  Country?  Indie?  I don’t know which genre Alynda Segarra identifies her music with; she might draw from all of those things.  What I do know is that she does it with conviction and feeling, and she has something to say.

Standout Tracks:  “Rican Drums”, “Hungry Ghost”, “Pa’lante”

 

23.  Need To Feel Your Love by Sheer Mag

This thing is dripping with all kinds of moxy and swagger.  It struts.  It saunters.  It sashays.

22.  Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe

This may or may not be on here because of my extreme bias and penchant for loving everything that Chelsea Wolfe has ever done.  Hiss Spun continues her incredible run of high-quality albums.

Standout Tracks:  “The Culling”, “16 Psyche”

21.  Apocalipstick by Cherry Glazerr

This album feels like it is held together by a thread at times, and that is why I think it is so fun.

Standout tracks:  “Had Ten Dollaz”, “Sip O’Poison”


20.  Soft Sounds From Another Planet by Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast is back for the second year in a row in nearly the same spot on my list, although this album was a big leap forward for her in every aspect as far as I am concerned.

Standout tracks:  “Machinist”, “Road Head”, “Till Death”


19.  A Short History of Decay by John Murry

This is satisfied my everlasting appetite for brooding music with beautiful melodies for 2017.

Standout tracks:  “Come Five & Twenty”, “One Day (You’ll Die)”

18.  The Ooz by King Krule

Alright here is the deal – I love Tom Waits.  I think he is one of the best songwriters in the history of music, certainly from America.  The thing is, Tom Waits is not actively making music anymore, and although I am not positive that King Krule COMPLETELY hijacked Waits’ style, I’m saying that when I listen to this album (which is great), I get some heavy Waits vibes, and clearly that is a compliment coming from me.  It is a long, expansive, bluesy and jazzy journey that is going to take time to completely unravel, but it is certainly interesting and entertaining.

 

17.  Forced Witness by Alex Cameron

This is so ridiculous that I love it, I think it’s some kind of 80’s flavored dance indie-pop/comedy album, but who knows?  I’m pretty sure he’s making fun of me, and probably you too, but it is a fun and catchy listen.

Standout tracks:  “Runnin’ Outta Luck”, “The Hacienda”, “Marlon Brando”


16.  City Music by Kevin Morby

A great summer album full of summer moments that make you feel of summer and think how summery it all is outside and around you.  It also makes you realize you have a love/hate relationship with summer and everything involved.

Standout tracks:  “1234”, “Aboard My Train”, “City Music”

 

15.  Hot Thoughts by Spoon

It is hard to rate new Spoon albums, both within their catalog and in comparison to their contemporaries, because every Spoon album is so goddamn good.  I would venture to say they are the most consistent band of the new millennium with a catalog that is jaw dropping when you stop and think about it.  So, with that said, I get a new Spoon album that is right up there with all the others and think, “oh, yeah, it’s Spoon doing Spoon things” and kind of moved on.  I came back to this one in the last couple months and thought, “OH YEAH!  IT’S SPOON DOING SPOON THINGS”.  I have no idea how they do it.

Standout tracks: “Hot Thoughts”, “WhisperI’lllistentohearit”, “Can I Sit Next To You”

 

14.  Nothing Feels Natural by Priests

Punk rock and female vocals?  I didn’t need anything else to press play and love this album.  It feels very well thought out, which isn’t traditionally how punk music is played right?  But it works very well.  The methodical approach and the beautiful vocals make this a delight.

Standout tracks:  “Nothing Feels Natural”, “Jj”, “No Big Bang”

13.  Every Country’s Sun by Mogwai

Mogwai didn’t invent post-rock, but in my mind they are the gods of it.  They are the reason I delved so deeply into the genre, listening to everything I could from every band I could find.  When this one was released I wasn’t sure how it was going to hit me being that their earlier releases were an important part of my life in what feels like forever ago.  I admit I haven’t kept up with their recent soundtracking releases like I did their earlier albums, and while I think Rave Tapes is a very solid album, it didn’t expose the same magic that previous Mogwai albums did.  This may have given Every Country’s Sun an advantage, because it fucking blew me away.  The first half has its moments, but by the time the last four songs started to build and build into some kind of unfathomable ball of energy, it was already too late and I was engulfed.  Talk about going out with a bang, for fucks sake, and the only thing more shocking was in fact that I was shocked, because Mogwai have been doing this for twenty years.

Standout tracks:  The second half.

12.  Near To The Wild Heart Of Life by Japandroids

I was neck deep in a Japandroids obsession for the better part of a year when this album was released.  Celebration Rock is my favorite album of the decade so far; I think it is 100% perfect.  There was no way Japandroids were going to top Celebration Rock, so when I listen to this album, I listen to it in a vacuum.  Yeah, we all know how great they can be, but that doesn’t mean they have to be perfect every time or that their other music pre- and post-Celebration Rock is diminished.  If Celebration Rock never existed, this album would be a lot higher on everyone else’s list.  They tried some new things but what it comes down to is that it is still Japandroids.  It’s indie punk rock music to drink and party to.  It’s full of feel-good nostalgic and longing feelings.  They are a band I’m perfectly fine with staying in their niche and I’ll take as much of this as they can give.

Standout Tracks:  “True Love And a Free Life of Free Will”, “No Known Drink Or Drug”

11.  You Tried by Hater

Two things I am one of the biggest suckers for are; 1) minimalist indie guitar rock 2) female vocals singing great melodies, and when you put those two things together, you have You Tried by Hater.  This is such an easy listen for those exact reasons, it breezes by and leaves you wanting more, giving you no choice but to play it again.

10.  The Underside of Power by Algiers

I guess I would call this soulful apocalyptic experimental post-punk, and if that’s not the best goddamn combination of things I don’t know what is.  I love the rawness of this album and the stage it is able to set.  It is easy to imagine a world with the sky crashing, the mountains crumbling, and the oceans upheaving all around when this is on.  Everything here simmers and soars at different points; it is full of beautiful contrast.


09. Big Fish Theory by Vince Staples

Big Fish Theory is a big left turn from Summertime 06 and Prima Donna.  The electronic music influenced beats on this make it a little less accessible than his previous releases in my opinion.  I loved it right away, but I think that is the reason that this probably isn’t the first album I would send someone to if I was trying to put them onto Vince’s genius.  That said, it still has some downright unbelievable moments in it.  He is one of the best doing it right now, and the fact that he keeps pushing his creative envelope leaves me very excited for his future.

Standout tracks:  “745”, “SAMO”, “Big Fish”, “Yeah Right”, “Rain Come Down”


08.  Relatives In Descent by Protomartyr

I first described this album like this: “It’s perfectly controlled chaos.  It builds and crashes out of nowhere.  It’s the feeling of rolling down a mountain with no brakes while laughing uncontrollably.  It’s thrashable and it’s danceable at the same time.  This is a master class in post-punk.”  And now, after having it for a few months, I can’t think of a better way to describe it.  It has done nothing but grow on me.

Standout tracks:  “My Children”, “Windsor Hum”, “Don’t Go To Anacita”

07.  Pure Comedy by Father John Misty

As far as ideals and concepts go, this is that album released this year that I resonate with the most.  In fact, Josh Tillman’s entire run as Father John Misty has done so.  The commentary on life, love, and especially society seems to be very close to in tune with my own, so hearing those ideas over some great musical arrangements through those majestic vocal chords of his really does it for me.  It’s satirical and tongue in cheek, and it really reminds me that it’s all pretty much hopeless.  I suppose we like to revel in the bleak at times.  This is my least favorite of his three albums, but to use a poor yet easily understandable analogy, it’s like picking whether to drive a Ferrari, a Porsche, or a Lamborghini.  He is, by far and away, the most interesting indie artist today, at least to my cynical ears.

Standout Tracks:  “In Twenty Years Or So”, “So I’m Growing Old On Magic Mountain”, “Smoochie”

 

06.  ken by Destroyer

By many accounts Dan Bejar is one of the best songwriters of his generation.  He never ceases to amaze me, that’s for sure.  Kaputt is one of my favorite albums of the decade, and he struck gold again this year with his latest reinvention of Destroyer, his take on 80’s new wave and post punk.  This is music for the inebriated intellectual to watch the sunset in a high-rise lounge.

Standout Tracks:  “Rome”, “Ivory Coast”, “Tinseltown Swimming In Blood”


05.  Cry Cry Cry by Wolf Parade

I am a huge fan of Dan Boeckner and his many musical projects.  I think he is one of the best songwriters of the past 15 years.  Admittedly, before this, I was more of a fan of his work with Handsome Furs, Divine Fits, and Operators than Wolf Parade, but I was still very much excited for this album.  I always gravitated towards him more so than the band’s other vocalist, Spencer Krug.  Not surprisingly, Boeckner delivered once again on his Cry Cry Cry songs (namely “Flies On The Sun” and “Weaponized”).  Very surprisingly, Krug blew me away for the first time with his songs on this album, “Lazarus Online”, “Baby Blue”, and “King of Piss and Paper”, specifically.  Add my prior love of Boeckner’s talent and a new found appreciation for Krug’s and here you have one of my absolute favorite albums of the year.

Standout Tracks:  “Lazarus Online”, “Baby Blue”, “Weaponized”, “King of Piss and Paper”


04.  Sleep Well Beast by The National

It took a little bit of time and effort, but this album ended up right where all of The National’s other albums stand with me; amongst the very best of the new millennium.  They have been one of the most consistent bands, creating mood-setting music that is emotionally demanding of its listeners.  The lead-up to this album had the members speaking on their different approach to it, on them trying new things in the songwriting, on them being in a different state of mind, etc. and while all of those things may very well be true, what we ended up with is just another album by The National, and that is perfectly fine with me.

Standout Tracks:  “I’ll Still Destroy You”, “Guilty Party”, “Born to Beg”, “Carin At The Liquor Store”


03.  Contempt by Couch Slut

I had no idea who Couch Slut were before this release, and I also had no idea how much I needed Couch Slut in my life.  I have always leaned on heavy music in trying times, and much like Deafheaven’s New Bermuda two years ago, this ball of seething rage brought me such a great feeling of much needed catharsis right when I needed it.  It helped me through shit, and it was also this year’s go-to album when I couldn’t decide on what music to play.  “Ah, just throw on that Couch Slut.  Let’s Couch Slut it up in here.  Now it’s going to be one of those kind of days.”  I realize this isn’t for everyone, for most people I know in fact, but this was the calm of my storm this year.


02.  DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick got us buzzing last April with “The Heart Pt. 4”, and two weeks later he dropped “HUMBLE.”.  I don’t think I’ll forget that day anytime soon, and I think that song will be a classic played for decades to come.  It is going to be for kids this year what “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” or “California Love” was for me when I was younger.  I have already heard it a countless amount of times and it has yet to lose any of its luster, and the rest of the album is not far off from its highpoint.  I saw Kendrick on the DAMN. tour and it blew my fucking mind.  I knew it would be good, but I had no clue it would end up being one of my favorite shows in recent memory.  He is leaps and bounds above the rest.

01.  A Deeper Understanding by The War On Drugs

As is often true, there is a difference between “the best” and “my personal favorite”.  Obviously “the best” is subjective because of personal experiences with each piece of music, and so if this were a “50 personal favorites” list it would be similar, but in a slightly different order, especially here at the top.  Couch Slut’s Contempt is probably my favorite album of the year and the album I listened to most, but I think The War On Drugs really nailed his sound with A Deeper Understanding.  The songs are so incredibly perfect, both accurate and precise, and I think the craftsmanship shown in the songwriting, recording, and producing is going to stand the test of time better than anything else released this year.  Its bright moments are as bright as they get, and it is consistently stunning throughout.  Flawless victory.

Standout Tracks:  “Thinking Of A Place” is my runner up for song of the year.

 

– MCG.

Throwback Thursday: “Someday” by The Strokes

I got in a little online debate this week about which band that broke out around the turn of the century would have the best “greatest hits” list at this point.  The article was about Phoenix and how good they are, but I offered up The Strokes as a counterpoint (others were also mentioned, but that’s not the point here).  I think a lot about The Strokes’ debut album Is This It; how it’s perfect in so many ways, how it’s one of the best debut albums ever, how it would easily be one of my choices if I were to be stranded on a deserted island and could only take three albums with me, how it was recorded, etc., so with all that on mind almost constantly, and given the debate I had this week, I chose my favorite Strokes song off of their debut for this edition of throwback Thursday.

“See, alone we stand, together we fall apart,
Yeah, I think I’ll be alright…”

 

– MCG.

Album Review: The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

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The War On Drugs’ music sets a certain mood very well.  I liken it to the feeling I got when I first heard Radiohead; it’s a calming, peaceful feeling that induces bouts of melancholy.  I’m not comparing The War On Drugs to Radiohead in any way, all that I’m saying is that I feel the same sort of self-reflecting existential dread when either band is playing.  It’s a strange feeling, very unique to certain experiences.  It’s heavy, it’s sad, it’s happy, and most of all it’s beautiful.

The War On Drugs’ previous two releases, Slave Ambient and Lost In The Dream are  great, and I have spent a fair amount of time with both of them.  It seems as though Adam Granduciel is a very meticulous person, at least with his art, and with this latest release he has compounded, concentrated, and improved upon everything he’s previously done, amounting to something truly epic.  If he was an artificial intelligence program, before now he was an extremely efficient one that got the job done just about perfectly, as he was programmed to do.  On A Deeper Understanding, he became self-aware, which allowed him to make the necessary adjustments to not only produce something as great as he is capable of once more, but to improve upon it in a way that was previously thought to be unattainable.  It’s a culmination of his lifetime experience as a musician that has been arranged and sequenced into a sprawling and absolutely gorgeous journey.

Take, for example, the slightly off-center highlight of the album, “Thinking of a Place”.  It was the first single released back in April of this year, and has been an unavoidable entity in my life since.  It’s eleven minutes long, and so in the traditional sense of a “single” it makes the least sense out of any song on the album, but it exists as a microcosm of the calculated wandering and transcendent perfection achieved on the album as a whole.


By stepping outside of his own box he was able to view everything from a new vantage point, shore up the weaknesses, and improve on the already unique and enthralling strengths.  It’s a great leap forward, which makes me wonder about where he can go from here.  I’m looking forward to bearing witness.

  A Deeper Understanding is out everywhere 08.25.17.

 – MCG.