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2018 Year End Best Of

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2018 was a pretty good year for music. I heard a lot of enjoyable albums across a wide spectrum of genres.

  1. Bells In New Towns by Landing. Hands down one of my favorite records in the past several years, and a surprisingly rocking outing from the long standing ambient psychedelic act. Highly recommended. They just keep getting better.

  2. 7 by Beach House. Victoria LeGrand’s voice is recorded differently on this album. It is less husky, with none of the rich earthy tones that she had before. It is recorded much more slickly, which has the effect of making her voice more sopranic. That took some getting used to, but otherwise the band is in amazing form here. They keep getting better.

  3. Modern Cults by Holygram. This is an amazing record – 5 young Germans who channel perfectly the late 1980s and the music of my misspent youth.

  4. New Ruins by Candace. This is a really beautiful record, full of layers of melodies and nice mid-tempo rockers.

  5. Clean by Soccer Mommy. This is a wonderful pop music debut. i cannot wait to see what Sophie Allison does next.

  6. Pinned by A Place To Bury Strangers. This is a quieter, less frantic record from APTBS, which means that it is still slightly noisier than everything else out there. It’s another fun record from this band.

  7. Through Broken Summer by Epic45. Several bands that i listened to at the end of the last decade released new albums this year. Epic45 was the only one to live up the hype, mostly by continuing to wander their own path, making odd, lush, beautiful music with a hint of melancholy.

  8. The Sciences by Sleep. Barely, just barely, the best new metal record i heard this year. Sleep make fun tunes in the spirit of Black Sabbath.

  9. Stranger to the Pain by Pllush. This is a great, fun pop record.

  10. Our Raw Heart by Yob. This is a complicated album of long, gorgeous songs of Buddhist tinged doom metal.

Special mention

Mirror Reaper by Bell Witch. This band blew my mind in concert, and listening to this 85 minute doom rock opus, spread out over 4 sides of vinyl, is a deep and amazing experience. This came out in October of 2017 and i did not find out about it until June of the next year. That is 9 months of potential enjoyment lost forever. Such a senseless waste.

Man Woman Life Death Infinity by The Church. This is the second Church album since Marty Wilson-Piper left the group, and new guitarist Ian Haug is really fitting in. This is a great pop record by masters of the craft. This also came out in October of 2017, which was really a good month for music.

Failed State by Ayo River. This came out in August of last year, and i had the promo then and liked it, but the album didn’t click until much later. And then i learned it was by an Atlanta artist, and that local connection makes it seem more important to me. I need to go out and see this guy in concert, but his debut record is a lot of fun.

  1. Melaniña by Maff. Masterful release from Chilean shoegazers.

  2. Lacuna by Nadav Cohen. Australian makes great electro debut. More music in 2019 please, Mr. Cohen.

  3. Thinking Sweet by Jübl. This is the return of A.R. Kane, at least in one form. Two great, dreamy tracks.

  4. Do You Know Enough? by Moaning Lisa. Really great debut EP from Aussie girl rockers. I look forward to more from them.

  5. Waitout by A Shoreline Dream. Denver shoegazers keep on plugging along.

  6. Turning by Turning. Aaron Snow of Landing records ambient guitar solo record. You bet i’m there!

  7. EXO by Parlor Walls. Nice electro debut EP.

  8. Lows by Oceanator. Wonderful bluesy rock EP from Elise Okusami
  1. Nihilism by Shilpa Ray. Miss Ray wails about loneliness on the title track, and then covers Alice Cooper on the b-side. This will have to tide us over until she releases a new record, hopefully next year.

  2. Girly b/w Scorpio by Plot. Crazy industrial punk from this mysterious Philly band. I love this – both songs just thrusting forward with crazy unstoppable rhythms as fast as they can go. Cannot wait to hear more from these people.

  3. Break the Glass (Acoustic) / The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs (Acoustic) by Superchunk / Wye Oak. Acoustic versions from two of Merge’s best acts, on one 7”. Thanks!

  4. Old Gold b/w Loved by You by Kinski. The band sent me this 7” several months back, and it got misfiled among the records. I just found it, and the band continues to rock out. Very nice.
  1. Yob w/ Bell Witch on Wed 20 Jun. Bell Witch blew my mind in concert. Yob were great fun, but Bell Witch opened my mind to a whole new word of ambient doom metal.

  2. Landing on Wed 8 Aug. Landing’s 20th anniversary tour brought them to Atlanta to play to about 10 people at 529 early on a rainy evening. They were great, and it was great to see Dick Baldwin back on tour with the band.

  3. Paul Simon farewell tour on Wed 12 Sep. I have been listening to Paul Simon’s music my entire life. Since he is retiring from playing live, i had to go see him one last time. Another great performance by a musician that has formed a part of the background to my entire life.

  4. Sleep w/ Weather Warlock on Wed 5 Dec. I have been listening to a lot of Sleep these past few years. I love the heaviness of their music, the dark slow tones. Live they were really great, and i liked the odd ambient of the opener.

  5. A Place to Bury Strangers w/ Nest Egg on Mon 28 May. Any year that i get to see A Place to Bury Strangers perform live counts as a good year. I really liked the opener Nest Egg, as well. This was a night of loud noisy rock.

  6. OhGr w/ Lead Into Gold and Omniflux on Fri 7 Sep. I wanted to see OhGr on tour last year, but i was broke from long-term unemployment and couldn’t afford it. I was glad when they came back this year. As a bonus, the opener was really cool, and then in the intermission i got to chat with Paul Barker, formerly of Ministry. He’s really nice, which was surprising for a former member of a band known for excess and decadence. But this was a really fun show and i enjoyed it.

  7. Superchunk w/ The Rock*a*teens on Thu 26 Apr. I like what RATS are doing now, how they have changed their sound making it somewhat poppier by burying the intense reverb a little. They were also quieter than i expected at this show. And then Chunk played, and it was a lot of fun.

  8. Nine Inch Nails w/ The Jesus And Mary Chain on Wed 26 Sep. NIN are an incredible band, and they played a lot off of their latest ambient record on this night. I enjoyed the show, but then I saw the setlist for the next night, when they played heavily off of The Slip and Year Zero, my favorite NIN records, and to be honest I felt a little cheated. It was a good show, but maybe it could have been better. This is probably just a bit of FOMO acting up. Oh, and JAMC were great fun, as they always are.

  9. Public Image Ltd. On Wed 10 Oct. i have enjoyed this band since the mid 1980s, and i think that this was my 5th time seeing them. Always fun.

  10. Marker on Wed 31 Jan. Ken Vandermark (in a Ned Flanders mustache!) put together a great jazz ensemble that improvised together quite nicely. This was a neat evening.

  11. Wye Oak w/ Thor and Friends on Wed 14 Nov. Wye Oak sounded too reedy at the EARL. I saw them at Terminal West on their last tour, and they sounded better there. Maybe the low ceiling at the earl trapped Jenn Wasner’s high-pitched voice. Oh well. Thor and Friends were amazing – an intricate performance that sounded great and was interesting to watch.
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