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 2, 2018

Two more handfuls of great music from Quarter 2 (April, May, June) for dat ass!

Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts 

Clearly puffing out their collective chests on this fine return to form they close out the opening track Total Football by firing off a resounding “And Fuck Tom Brady!” Then they have the balls to title one song Freebird II before they strut through the second half of the album. Don’t get in their way cause Parquet Courts are no longer dining on Swedish Fish, they have expanded their palate and are clearly out for blood! – Apache Slomo.

Beyondless by Iceage

Iceage have done something different while managing to improve drastically with every album they have released, and Beyondless catches them at their most impactful.  This album is a brooding, powerful, and concise declaration of eliteness that foams at the mouth and flows like like a river.

 – MCG.

Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Everything about RBCF says take it slow man! Coming on like a modern day Aussie Grateful Dead, Hope Downs is the perfect soundtrack for Summer. On an album jam packed with good vibrations my favorite run has got to be Bellarine through Exclusive Grave but that could change as Summer has just started to roll. – Apache Slomo.

God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty

I won’t go deep into the narrative behind the album like most reviews do, I just want to say that Father John Misty has conjured up some of the most intellectual stimulating indie rock since his arrival.  Rarely has it been as important to not only pay attention to every word, but to also pay attention to how they are sung.  He has an incredible gift for crafting vocal melodies, and despite all the praise he gets, I still feel as though he’s underrated.

– MCG.

Bay Dream by Culture Abuse

Scratching that ’90’s itch for me Culture Abuse have crafted that album you can get things done to. Run your errands in the blistering heat or sipping a nice cold brew out by the pool, Bay Dream encourages repeat listens and repeat parties. Highlights include; Rats In the Walls, California Speedball, Calm E and Dozy. Surf’s up palz! – Apache Slomo. 

DAYTONA by Pusha T

The lyrics are fantastic, the beats are incredible, and the brevity of the album makes for such an easy listen.  Clicking play again often feels like the only option upon its completion.

 – MCG.

Little Acts of Destruction by Red Hare 

With former members of Swiz and Bluetip recorded by J.Robbins it’s safe to say Little Acts of Destruction brims with pedigree. Dropped on Dischord Records, it’s hard to express how important these albums are to those that grew up with this sound because they just don’t get made that much anymore. So let’s raise a glass to more of that righteous D.C. Sound Attack! – Apache Slomo.

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

One part explosive potential energy and one part undeniable haunting fury make this album pure catharsis.  Sometimes you just need to scream.

 – MCG.

Fame and Fortune by Mick’s Jaguar 

Speaking of parties, what if I told you Mick’s Jaguar were the love child of the New York Dolls and Cobra Verde. Just look at the album cover for fucks sake, it’s pure adrenaline and disrespect. It says life is bloody, life is messy now let’s get in there and make some noise!! – Apache Slomo.

7 by Beach House

More of the same?  Sure, but when you’re as good and heavenly as Beach House is, more of the same is exactly what we should be asking for, and with a few refreshing curveballs thrown in, this might be their best all around effort ever.

– MCG.

My Top 20 Albums of 2016.

2016 was a son of a bitch.  Rest in peace Leonard Cohen, Prince, David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Sharon Jones, Merle Haggard, Muhammad Ali,  Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, etc., not to mention all the social injustice and unrest, but I digress.  One good thing is there was an abundance of great music released this year, and so there’s no way I could limit it to ten and feel okay about it.  Here are my top 20 albums of the year.

 

20.  A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

What a comeback, and for great reason; Phife was the catalyst for this album ever happening.  What a way to go out and what a tribute.

19.  Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp

Not typically my type of thing, it wasn’t until I heard the live Audiotree versions of these songs that they really caught on.  Great, light, feel-good music.

18.  Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam – I Had A Dream That You Were Mine

Two great indie musicians came together and it didn’t disappoint.  Great vocals and great production, as if anything else was possible with these two.

17.  Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow

A great follow up to a debut album that I listened to like crazy back in 2014.  No sophomore slump for Nothing, just more towering, enveloping shoegaze.

16.  Woods – City Sun Eater in the River of Light

I knew I would like this one but I didn’t realize I’d like nearly as much as I did.  Great, funky, bluesy riffs and along with all the other things that have made Woods one of the most consistently good indie bands of the millennium.

15.  Conor Oberst – Ruminations

Stripped down music is what this man was made for, so those poignant vocals and clever, satiric lyrics can shine through.

14.  The Amazing – Ambulance

Along the lines of the Nothing album I mentioned above, just a bit more dialed in, and industrial which is something I’ve always had an ear for.  This album sets a mood and forces you into it.

13.  Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial

This is probably the one album on here that I recognize as really good that I didn’t listen to as much as the others.  It’s great, there’s no doubt about that, but it didn’t click with me completely, or it hasn’t yet.  Sometimes these things take time, you should definitely listen to it.

12.  The Body – No One Deserves Happiness

Loud, aggressive, in-your-face, punishing, world-destroying walls of sound.  Delicious.

11.  Operators – Blue Wave

Time to fuckin’ dance.  “Cold Light” is my runner up for song of the year.

10.  David Bowie – Blackstar

Only Bowie would release and album this good and die two days later.  Unreal, just like everything he ever did.

09.  Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

Only Cohen would release and album this good and die three weeks later.  Unreal, just like everything he ever did.  Legends like these last two will live forever, and as well they should.

08.  Bon Iver – 22, A Million

I seem to like each Bon Iver album ever so slightly less than the previous one, which is still leaps and bounds above most bands’ output.  His voice is the golden ticket, and even here when he chops it up and distorts it, it’s something to behold.

07.  DMA’S – Hills End

This was my album of the late spring/early summer.  Great times were had at the pool with beers in hand while this thing was playing.  Love the vocal melodies.  The live Spotify sessions are great stripped down versions; “Step Up the Morphine”, “Blown Away”, “Delete”, “Lay Down”; this thing is packed.

06.  Deftones – Gore

One of my favorite bands ever, this was a shoe in due to my bias.  I think the experiments with different song structures and ideas paid off for them.  It wasn’t as easily accessible as they’ve always been, but once I cracked the code I could’ve get enough.  The title track is a blood curdling scream-fest, and how Chino still belts those things out after all this time is something that should not go unnoticed.

05.  Russian Circles – Guidance

This is another of my favorites, but because of this band’s style and niche I think they’ll always succeed, and since they got ahold of me early on in their careers and my adulthood, I will always cherish them.  “Afrika” is among their best songs ever.

04.  Pinegrove – Cardinal

Of anything on this list, this is the album that grew on me the most.  I nearly outright dismissed it, but over time it really started to resonate with me to the point that I think it’s probably the album I’ve listened to the most.  It’s great front to back, something that will stay with me for a long time to come.

03.  Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Another of my favorite bands of all time (I’ve had a good year, at least music wise).  I’d put this near the middle of Radiohead’s catalog; nothing generation defining like before but very accessible and immediately enjoyable.  The excitement that came with finally hearing studio versions of “True Love Waits” and “Identikit”  most assuredly gave my opinion of this one a boost.

02.  Frank Ocean – Blonde

There is so much going on in this one; so many textures, shifts, changes, experiments.  Mr. Ocean very well could’ve made another album full of pop songs with the catchiest of hooks and blow the fuck up, but he chose to be an artist instead.  This left turn has been compared to what Radiohead did with Kid A after their massive success (and one of the best albums ever) with OK Computer, and I think that comparison is a good one.  I like when artists don’t do what the mass public wants them to, because fuck what you think you want, it’s about the art.  “Nights” is my song of the year.

01.  Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

I knew this was going to be my album of whatever year it came out in as soon as I heard about the passing of Cave’s son in July of 2015.  All the beautiful and torturous stories he has told so elegantly throughout his career have shaped my life.  Everything this man says, the simplest conversations, have the chance to be thought-provoking poetry.  Words and conveying emotions are his gift, and so I knew this was going to be one of the heaviest pieces of music I’ve ever heard.  It didn’t disappoint, and I wrote about it length here.  The first two thirds will crush you, and the last third will give you a slight glimmer of hope.  The title track closing it out the way it does gives me chills every time.  2016 was deathly year, and who else  could possible take the throne and fill it like a king other than Nick Cave?

 

Honorable mentions:

Marching Church – Telling It Like It Is
Emma Ruth Rundle – Marked For Death
Mind Spiders – Prosthesis
Wussy – Forever Sounds
Young Thug – No, My Name is JEFFERY
Kendrick Lamar – untitled.unmastered
Holy Esque – At Hope’s Ravine
Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered
Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow
Vince Staples – Primma Donna EP
The Strokes – Future Present Past EP

– MCG.