Top 14 Albums of 2018
Vessel is the kind of album that you’ll wait your entire life for. Crammed with songs that barely ever breach the two minute mark and yet still somehow all manage to smack you around emotionally, leaving permanent scars and a twisted story that you’re all too eager to share. This is songwriting in its most pure and unfiltered form and Greta Kline should be swiftly inducted into a pantheon of the world’s greatest living song crafters.
Listening to Occasional Din is an exercise in constantly attempting to suss out exactly what eras and what genres, Mr. Fernandez is pulling ideas from to formulate the overall feeling that defines this record. Ultimately, the songs that make up Occasional Din are unique unto themselves and owe to nobody except the mind of their brilliant creator as they are bathed in relaxing light and a much-needed introspection that is so often misplaced in these arenas of sound.
I spent so much time with this record over the past year, that it often felt like it was a record that had been released twenty years ago and I was just communing with an old, dear friend each time it was queued up. Inexplicably, Ought manage to tame the frenetic nature of their music in a way that only adds to the total vibrancy of their sound, rather than tamping it down and smothering it lifeless in an effort to appeal to the masses. Room Inside The World is a primal scream opera dedicated to the state of the world that’s hidden in the best post-punk record of 2018.
A ridiculous amount of the ink spilled about the debut record from Lindsey Jordan is that she recorded it while still a student in high school. In a modern age that’s fascinated with the accomplishments of people based on their tremendously young or horribly old age, what usually gets lost is the fact that age is a frustratingly pointless marker when it comes to artistic achievement. Lush is a stunning and sweeping document of Jordan’s life up to the point that she’s lived it so far and showcases her absolute monster ability to sing and create caterwauling melodies with six strings.
In the “old” days, Earl Sweatshirt’s first (involuntary) disappearance launched a nearly two year FREE EARL campaign that ultimately brought the rapper back home. His latest disappearance was self-inflicted and seems to have only sharpened his already phenomenal lyrical ability and expanded his idea of what hip hop can achieve stylistically. Some Rap Songs is a far more adventurous and a far more necessary collection of songs than its humble title implies.
I’m a more recent, but hopelessly devoted convert to the church of Parquet Courts, so I was absolutely floored the first time that I heard Andrew Savage stutter out the sentence, “If it stops, I’m…if it stops, I’m…if it stops, I’m having an unshakeable nightmare,” in the unflinchingly aggressive “Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience”. In fact, it might be my most cherished moment that occurred on any record in 2018. With Wide Awake!, Parquet Courts have taken the anger, frustration and inescapable feeling of dread that has drowned the past two years and channeled it into a rare combination of eloquent, intelligent wordplay over ecstatic and, at times, bombastic musicianship.
Even the laziest, dreamiest moments on the Forth Wanderer’s first proper full-length feel laced with heat and panic, almost as if they are in a rush to finish before they’ve even started. This self-titled masterpiece spends a way too fast half hour making you feel like you are reading the password protected notes of someone you’ve known your entire existence as you come to realize that maybe you don’t actually know a single thing about them.
If every generation has a voice, then I vote to pass that mantle faster than fuck to the brilliant mind behind gobbinjr, the ineffable Emma Wittmer. Her last EP, Vom Night did more than just get me through the worst moments of 2016, it was the soundtrack to my year. It’s follow-up, ocala wick is holy writ for anyone living, breathing and surviving in the often literal hellscape that is 2018. Wittmer’s determination to have her voice heard loudly amongst a patriarchal society that shuts her down at every possible moment should serve as a call to arms for those who have been pushed down to keep pushing forward and for those who have been orchestrating the destruction of society to watch their backs.
For a year that has been mostly shrouded in a dank and disturbing haze, kiss your frenemies arrived in the early part of May as a striking point of light amongst the darkness. Massive riffs, bop-bop harmonies, languid and liquid interludes, the shrinking space between anger and happiness and the disappointing reality of a life lived around social media all barrel full-force at anyone that dares put this brilliant record on.
In a perfect world, we would all strive to create something as complex as Liz Harris has put together with Grid Of Points. It’s a record that, at first, has the potential to feel as if it was built effortlessly and somewhat casually until you stop simply listening and start hearing the entirety of the world that she’s crafted and managed to contain within these reverb-soaked masterpieces. Grid Of Points is more than a collection of songs, it’s a reckoning on the state of art.
Is extreme introspection just low-level narcissism? Are panic attacks just self-induced stabs at attention? Is fame worth your soul? With The House, Aaron Maine has created an all at once furious and shockingly deep collection of songs that you can either dance your ass off to or completely break down along to; the choice is yours. “Country” is one of the most beautiful looks into escaping the pace of life ever written and “Find Me” might be the most joyful song about losing your shit in front of everyone.
Adrianne Lenker’s most recent record with Big Thief last year left me in a puddle of tears on a embarrassingly frequent number of occasions. Lenker’s return to her solo work, abysskiss, is no stranger to inspiring those same kinds of emotional expressions. The songs that make up abysskiss are dark and gorgeous beyond words and each tell a story about a life that almost seems too impossible for anyone to have struggled through, which only makes them more achingly haunting to listen to and appreciate for their beauty.
I connected immediately upon impact with Hovvdy’s Cranberry as it scratched a certain nostalgic itch that I wasn’t even aware existed inside of me. Without ever condescending to that sense of wistfulness they create, the duo behind Hovvdy have created a record that invites you in and smothers you with hugs as it leans in to gently whisper it’s stories in your ear.
I will be brutally honest: I’m not sure how I ended up here or how this record found its way into my life or amongst my favorite records of the year. I’ve generally ignored the massive body of work that mewithoutYou has created over their impressive time together for no reason other than a lack of time and an improper understanding of who they really are. This all changed with a casual suggestion to give [untitled] a listen. The songs that make up [untitled] function less as individual documents and thrive as one giant piece of art glued together by lyrical and musical strands. It’s an inspiring work of art and an undertaking to wholly breathe in.