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.

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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.

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.

“Julie’s Place” by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

This has been an incredible year for music and the year-end lists are coming.  Here’s a great song and band that might’ve flown under your radar.

 

And here is the entirety of my best songs of 2017 (thus far) Spotify playlist which continually has changed throughout the year as new ones are released:

 

Let me know if there are any glaring omissions in the comments section!

– MCG.

 

Stream Hiss Spun by Chelsea Wolfe

NPR is coming with the heat this morning; first GY!BE and now you can also stream Chelsea Wolfe’s new album Hiss Spun.  Time to get heavy.

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/14/550443281/first-listen-chelsea-wolfe-hiss-spun

– MCG.