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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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.

Dissection: “Skeleton Tree” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Has anyone guessed that I like Nick Cave yet?

This song is one of the most emotionally heavy songs for me.  I’m not going to detail the whole story behind the song and album again, you can google that, but I feel the need to try and share these emotions.  It’s so overwhelming for me that I can’t really put it into words, so, with that in mind, I’m going to try and dissect it a bit, and maybe it will help you and I both understand it a bit.

Sunday morning, skeleton tree
Oh, nothing is for free
In the window, a candle
Well, maybe you can see

One of the things that makes Nick Cave special to me is his ability to speak simple phrases and have them hold so much more weight because of the inflections in his voice.  These first four lines are not complex, but I can feel their weight every time.  Their crushing weight.  The empty “Nothing is for free” said as though you’ve been handed the keys to a mansion by a dark stranger, knowing full you can’t afford it and will end up paying for it somehow.  A deal with the devil.  And the last two bars where you go through the motion of lighting a candle for someone that you know will never see it, but just hoping that somehow this whole thing isn’t real, and the candle will guide them back.

Fallen leaves thrown across the sky
A jittery TV
Glowing white like fire
Nothing is for free

Chaos.  Disorder.  Confusion.  Knowing that the toll for all of the pure, unaltered happiness you have experienced has been charged.

[Chorus 1]
I called out, I called out
Right across the sea
But the echo comes back empty
Yeah, nothing is for free

Being overwhelmed in a state of surreal emotion, not being able to control yourself and calling out, and hearing nothing but the sharpest silence.  The realization that what you held dearest is gone forever.

[Verse 2]
Sunday morning, skeleton tree
Pressed against the sky
The jittery TV
Glowing white like fire

[Chorus 2]
And I called out, I called out
Right across the sea
I called out, I called out
That nothing is for free

At first you called out for the one you’re missing, the one that has been taken from you far too soon.  And now, you call out, right across the sea, that nothing is for free, as a warning to those that still have the ones they love, and as a reminder to cherish the things that you hold dear in every, single waking moment.

[Outro]
And it’s alright now
And it’s alright now
And it’s alright now…

Trying to convince yourself.  Trying to go on living, knowing that the rest of your life will be tied to this event.  This is some kind of empty hope; it’s a defense mechanism to trick yourself into being able to face every single day from here on out.  After all of this, what other option do you have?  What else could someone do in this situation?  It’s too much for anyone, but it’s alright now.

I have two very specific memories tied to this song.  The first is the night this album was released.  It was streamed live from a radio station in London I believe, and I was listening through a link online for the first time.  I sat in my apartment after my long day and week, and after months of anticipating this, I could just feel it’s weight bearing down upon me the entire time.  I know Nick Cave’s music and art so well; it’s been such a huge part of my life that I knew when I heard the news of his son passing, that if he ever made music again, it was going to be the heaviest thing I’d ever heard.  That’s exactly what it was, but this song on the end of the album, the title track, was something I wasn’t expecting.  The hope that it breathed into me after the preceding seven songs absolutely beat me down was incredible.  It was perfect; him finding this hope in the dimmest of situations.  Him seeing that his wife needed him and finding a new meaning for life through her.  For me personally, this was also the opening of the flood gates, because I cried like I hadn’t in years.

The second memory I have of this was when I saw Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds live on June 26, 2017 in San Diego, California.  I had seen them twice before, and seen Nick once with Grinderman, so I had some sort of expectation.  They played the large majority of this new album, but the whole time I was thinking to myself, “there’s no way they’ll play ‘Skeleton Tree'” because I didn’t think it was really a live, in-concert type of song.  They sure did though, right in order after the gut-punch that is “Distant Sky”, and one more time (with feeling), I was a mess.  The person I was with had no idea what was going through my mind, that all of this I just typed was hitting me all at once, multiplied by a million.  She had no idea that this song makes me cry almost every time I hear it, she had no idea what seeing it live while being in the same room as Nick Cave while he sang it would do.  Neither did I.  My god, those few moments, the duration of this song, were everything to me.  But I know it’s alright now, even though nothing is for free.

Studio version:

Live version:

 – MCG.