The Best Music of 2018
As always this year was busy, but I enjoyed the ride. I have been working my butt off between jobs and my band, which is why this list is so late in arriving, and I apologize to my loyal readers! Listening to albums was the ultimate escape for me, as per usual. I personally listened in detail to over 150 albums in the genres of rock, alternative, hip hop, electronic, folk, singer songwriter etc. and have list of what I personally found to be the best ones. I can personally say, this has been the best year for albums in quite some time, as my top 3 albums this year might just be my top 3 albums of the decade PERIOD.
A very odd year politically and in just about every way for sure, I am so glad I had my escape in music. A lot of that time was spent on Bandcamp and I have to say Band camp is changing the landscape of independent/underground music. Besides my own personal band (The Minor Second, shameless plug go down load or buy our album Half Step RIGHT NOW 😊) THERE ARE SO MANY UNKNOWN AND UNHEARD ARTISTS ON THE Bandcamp community. It is the closest thing we have to a “musical version of Facebook” and I have learned a lot this year on how to find new music and navigate it. Soundcloud is great as well, but Bandcamp is so much more of a community, and perhaps next year I will have a list of favorite Artists/albums mainly from Bandcamp! As it stands, I highly recommend exploring it if you have not yet.
My favorite albums of the year may not have been your personal faves, the most successful in terms of sales, or at the tops of the critics’ lists. However, I am making this list because I do think that this music is THAT GOOD and definitely worth talking about. As we are towards the end of the 2010’s, many of these names will be new, but it is good to look at this concept as an exciting thing as opposed to a detrimental thing. If you don’t see and album or artist you liked a lot and are wondering where I would personally rank it, you can check about my full list of over 100 albums from last year ranked here:
Honorable Mention (so many great albums this year!):
Facs – Negative Houses
Vessel – Queen of Golden Dogs
Jon Hopkins – Singularity
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – Dirt
Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
Thee Oh Sees – Smote Reverser
Brockhapton – Iridescense
Algiers – 1st November 1954
The Breeders – All Nerve
Beach House – Seven
now unto the list! 🙂
- Holy Motors – Slow Sundown
Genre: Psychedelic rock, Slowcore, Dream Pop
Holy Motors debut record put a new spin on the dream-pop of old, making it around fresh and alive once a again. Hailing from Estonia, Lead singer Ellian Tulve voice is sultry and evocative like Hope Sandoval’s was nearly 30 years prior, while the band is great at creating a calm, moody atmosphere to back her up. Songs such as “Signs” and the epic length “Sleeprydr” keep the genre alive and kicking without soulful yearning to spare, while tunes like “Honeymon” and “Valley” recall the desert sounds of the American Southwest, making this a moving album to drift away to. “Silently for Me” is a heart-felt ballad for the ages. The band has made a debut that proves they can go in about any direction and succeed.
- Machine Girl – The Ugly Art
Genre: Industrial Rock, Glitch, Digital Hardcore
Machine Girl’s form of industrial music is old fashioned and goes right for the jugular, which is sort of refreshing in an age of harmless indie rock. It recalls the busy mess of 80’s Foetus but also the driving sensations behind the digital hardcore rock created by German group Atari Teenage Riot. Songs such as “Necro Culture Vulture” and “A Song for Clive Barker” are clever and catchy, sometimes so full of different ideas that they may burst right out of the speakers. Whoever this ‘Beverly’ girl sing Matt Stephenson keeps screaming about in “A Decent Man” might wanna go and run for the hills! It’s a jam-packed record but not overlong, and it is an album that requires multiple listens to absorb its many facets. Rambles such as “Psycho Signal Jammer” and “Full Metal Dipshit” are as intimidating as they are exciting, a rare combination that combines Vampire Rodents with the smoothness of Caribou.
- US Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Psychedelic Pop
Remy achieves her biggest success yet with her 3rd album of the decade, and I couldn’t be happier about the results. She has managed to maintain her sense of humor while also making social commentary about being a woman in this modern age (the hilarious “Incidental Boogie”), and made it all seem very easy. Whether is she insisting on too much saxophone on “Rage of Politics”, creeping everyone out with the sleek and spooky “Rosebud”, or relaxing and having fun on the 1990’s throwbacks “Pearly Gates” (with DJ turntable scratches) and “M.A.H.”, the album is a hoot and a half. The gorgeous opening track “Velvet for Sale” is a great example of ‘delicacy’ in rock music, if the song was a psychical object it would be a pineapple upside down cake. This is an album that is perfect for the era of 2018, and many people should take from her example of keeping albums shorter at about 37 minutes. Fans of this record I cannot recommend her earlier work enough, especially 2015’s Half Free which is an even more compact and profound artistic statement.
- The Men – Drift
Genre: Classic Rock, Country Music, Noise Rock, Hardcore Punk
As always, the genre hopping rock band The Men surprise me again with their extreme diversity on their latest release. While album such as 2011’s Leave Home and 2014’s Tomorrow’s Hit’s were diverse but had an overall sonic texture they lived it, Drift literally drifts around to every single kind of song one could do on an album. It’s nice to hear a return to random form from The Men, as their last album 2016’s Devil Music did not thrill me too much. Whispered opening track “Maybe I’m Crazy” and the wolverine-like frenzy of “Killed Someone” are some of their best rock songs, “When I Held You in My Arms” and “Rose to the Top of the World” are primo ballads showing off a sort of jangle country rock. The bong-lit haze of “Sleep” and “Final Prayer” for some drifty hare-Krishna type shit, which is not really my favorite side of this band, but they rebound at the end with a Pearls Before Swine type mystical folk tune called “Come to Me”, another winner. Maintaining their impressive super prolific album streak (seven quality releases since 2010), they may just be my favorite band of the 2010’s.
- Earth Eater – IRISIRI
Genre: Glitch Music, Electronic Folk
Eartheater’s new album is one that reaches for the stars. It is rare to hear an album that sounds completely new, but this one achieves that rare thing. “Inclined” and “Inkling” are subtle masterworks, building off of her previous band Guardian Aliens’s approach to abstract music. The second half of the record especially contains some real winners: the Bjork like emoting and fake sneezing on “Clit”, the element of rap music present on “MMXXX”, the profound instrumental soundscape of “Trespasses”, and the hard to define rock out of “Slyly Child”. Not every single track is outstanding, but it is hard to make the argument that there is not one song on here that doesn’t sound futuristic in some way. Even the closing “OS in Vitro” is a 21st century feminist version of Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier”.
- Kanye West & Company – The Wyoming Albums
Genre: Hip Hop
Even if you are not a fan of his music, one has to admire Kanye West’s uniqueness in the modern world. On the 5 EP’s (yes they are not long enough to be proper albums at 7 songs each and around 23 minutes each) he oversaw and produced musically from Himself, Nas, Pusha T, Kid Cudi and Teyana Taylor this year, he has crafted a one of a kind musical universe that is a blight on what pop music is supposed to be. Taking the best from each of the records, Kanye West manages to exhume many of the companies personal demons (“Reborn”, “Freeee”, “Ghost Town”) while showcasing talent often over looked (“If You Know You Know”, “What Would Meek Do”, “Adam and Eve”, “Cop Shot The Kid”) while highlighting a new talent simultaneously (“Rose In Harlem”, “WTP”). Each EP is a passion display of what rap music should be like at all times” constantly experimenting and pushing the boundaries in every direction. You can look at it as one giant 35 song album or simply make a best of on your own personal playlist, but these works definitely made a huge mark on the hip hop of 2018 and I for one am glad Ye is letting his freak flag fly.
- Johnny Jewel – Digital Rain
Genre: Ambient, Electronic Music
The extremely prolific Johnny Jewel is great at producing electronic sounds, and Digital Rain is one of the most perfect titles I can think of for his musical creations. Sounding as if a computer itself came alive and formed consciousness, the music makes all of the synapses of the brain take off in mysterious diversions. “Digital Rain” and “What If” are great synth poems that reach into the void and somehow find the beauty within, while brief one minute takes such as “Mirror Image”, “Liquid Lucite”, and “Black Pyramid” add to the album’s charming mystique. Best of all, songs like “Seven Corners” and “Houston” can stand well on their own as some of the best electronic music ever made, recalling Klaus Schulze at his greatest.
- Rival Consoles – Persona
Genre: IDM, Techno
For those thinking they would never like electronic music, I give them this album which is plenty of proof that what people used to call “techno” is alive and well. With absolutely no vocals at all to be found, the record provides many rhythms and noises that evoke emotions and sensations all over. “Unfolding” is exactly that, an unfolding crescendo that takes the listener along for a ride, while “Persona” and “Sun’s Abandon” add a touch of groove and feeling to the mix. “Be Kind” and “Rest” are more abstract works, that serve as a breather in between the more intense electric beats, such as the epic length climax of “Hidden”. The album is obviously inspired and named after the Ingmar Bergman movie, and in playing as a soundtrack in the background while watching it (which I have done) it works to promote that same kind of musical connection as Dark Side of the Moon with Wizard of Oz does. There is a horror in the mix of the beauty that this electronic symphony presents.
- The Messthetics – self titled
Genre: Progressive Rock, Post Rock
So when I met Brendan Canty’s at the MC5 reunion show this last summer and he told me to make sure and check out his new band The Messthetics, I admit I expected something close to Fugazi. Featuring drummer Canty and bassist Joe Lally just like the band of old, I knew they are pretty much my favorite rhythm section of all time but somehow I was still surprised to hear opening track “Mythomania” which sounded straight out of Ozric Tentacles discography. Courtest of guitarist Anthony Pirog, the band impresses with jazzy and metallic riffs coming off the guitars in all shapes and styles. Yes, the mix of Phil Collins’ Brand X era rhythms and Primus level dexterity on all three instruments still amazes me, but even more surprising is how refreshing these entirely instrumental songs sound.
“Serpent Tounge” and “Quantum Path” not only engage us but change directions and styles multiple times in only four-minute tracks. Even better are the quieter more atmospheric tunes, “Once Upon a Time” has so many polyrhythms happening at the same time it is impossible not to be entertained, and ”The Inner Ocean” is a slow paced journey deep underwater recalling Dirty Three at their best. As hard as it is to rock out, it is even harder to play the nuanced atmosphere the band is successful at, and each track features a different tone by Pirog just to keep things interesting. Leave it to Canty, my personal favorite drummer of all time, to never be boring and never settle for normalcy. “Crowds and Power” is an intense thrill ride that is perfectly paced and subtle in its complexity and structure. The Messthetics is a wonder to behold and three of the best musicians I have ever heard at the top of their game.
- Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
Genre: Indie Rock, Abstract Hip Hop
Young Fathers are a band that keep getting better and better, taking a cue from the mesh of cultures of Tv on the Radio and Massive Attack but adding a sort of odd sophistication. Songs such as “Turn” and “Border Girl” reflect the conundrums of our time very well, addressing the hostile subjects that plague people of all races with catchy melodies. The album can get a bit repetitive as all twelve songs are simply variations on a theme, but maybe that repetitiveness is the point, drilling in the fact that we are all in this together as a human race. Young Fathers are a band that keep getting better and better, taking a cue from the mesh of cultures of Tv on the Radio and Massive Attack but adding a sort of odd sophistication. Songs such as “Turn” and “Border Girl” reflect the conundrums of our time very well, addressing the hostile subjects that plague people of all races with catchy melodies. The album can get a bit repetitive as all twelve songs are simply variations on a theme, but maybe that repetitiveness is the point, drilling in the fact that we are all in this together as a human race.
- Neko Case – Hell On
Genre: Alternative Country, Singer Songwriter
I am glad to say I am never disappointed in a Neko album. At best it’s a masterpiece, at worst it’s a fun challenge. This album serves as a break of sorts for sure, a sort of laid-back quieter affair attuned to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. On first listen I disliked this album, on subsequent listens I loved it; so in other words a typical Neko Case release.
She never adheres to a formula, and she always fills songs with surprise twists (the multiple vocal effects of “Gumball Blue”) or sustains suspense with guest’s vocals. Her longest song ever on an album is the almost eight minute duet with Mark Lanegan “Curse of the I-5 Corridor”, a nod to her obsession driving down I-5 she first started on the album with K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs. The Eric Bachmann (Archers of Loaf front man) collaboration “Sleep all Summer” is less successful, but it is still a haunting classic country ballad. In that same vain we have “Bad Luck”, an easy lead single form the record and one of her most fun tracks ever. “My Uncle’s Navy” is the hardest rocking track, and it is as menacing as it is haunting.
The best thing about Neko is as always her insanely structured songs. I literally don’t know how you write an a song like “Dirty Diamond”, it is so full of twists and turns but it SOUNDS very flowing and easy; it literally takes a surgeon’s focus to deconstruct its multiple flowing facets. “Oracle of the Maritimes” would be a metal song if the guitar had more distortion or if there were any percussion at all- just imagine a metal vocalist singing it. Oh and then it breaks into a prog-rock keyboard led instrumental bridge, wtf?? The mutated closing country rock of “Pitch or Honey”, perhaps the first half is pitch and the last half is honey? Perhaps I’m not as smart as her so I don’t understand. But I have heard enough music to know a truly dense masterwork when I hear it.
Lyric sample: “moonlight reflected is many times stronger”
- Death Grips – Year of the Snitch
Genre: Industrial, Noise Rock, Hip Hop
Death Grips are the perfect kind of prolific, only releasing an album when they feel they have enough good ideas for the album. Seriously, the fact that nothing comes off as half assed is pretty impressive, as a follow up to one of the greatest albums I have ever heard (2016’s Bottomless Pit) it still stunning in completely new ways. The production is cleaner, and the thoughts are far more well pronounced than any past Death Grips released, as songs such as “Little Richard” or the stunning “Dilemma” could be taken seriously for contemporary radio hits. However there is plenty of controlled chaos to be had, whether it’s the madhouse ramblings of “Linda is in Custody” and “Hahaha”, the scary power of “Black Paint”, or miniature tunes like “Outro” (which summons up the past madness of The Who’s “Boris the Spider”) and “The Horn Section” which still leave an impression despite their brevity. One of the best bands of the decade for sure, even though I never completely understand what they are yelling at me about.
- Julia Holter – Aviary
For anyone expecting a further adventure into pop music territory for Holter, this album will come as a shock. At 90 minutes and 15 songs, it is a statement of complete absurdity. Stranger and more abstract then even her debut Tragedy, the album is a challenge to say the least. For those up for it, Avairy is very rewarding listen, requiring some time investment to truly unravel. There is still an element of catchy tunes in the singles “Words I Heard”, the jovial “I Shall Love pt Two”, and the bouncing “Whether”, but they are more like invitations to lure you into the darkness. Most of the material on Aviary is dense, labyrinth and quite the sonic journey. It’s a bold career move, if nothing else.
The majority of the songs on the record extend the six minute mark, but among the more memorable is the pulsating “Underneath the Moon” with is keyboard churning rhythm, “Voce Simul” with its beautiful overlapping vocals, “Another Dream” with its use of mysterious atmosphere, and “In Gardens’ Muteness” incorporates expert piano playing as a minimal accompaniment, echoing Joanna Newsom and her most soulful, succeeding in being a classical music composition. Closing track “Why Sad Song” is oblique in the best sense of the word. It should be reiterated too, that Holter has mastered the craft of over-lapping vocals to create psychedelic atmospheres, as well as The Cocteau Twins before her, and tunes such as “Words I Heard” and “I Shall Love pt. 2” are a joy to behold. “I Would Rather See” defines epic songwriting, in whatever genre you want to contain it in, the song is truly a timeless creation, a tune that Enya or Sinead O’Conner would be proud to call their own.
There are challenges that extend less successfully into abstract songcraft- The eight minute “Everyday is an Emergency” is pure avant-garde drifting, hardly even a melody to be found and the ending is much more intriguing then the beginning, and perhaps “Colligere” and “Chaitus” use silence and nonsense too freely as there has to be some content to what makes a song entertaining. “Les Jaux to You” is a song that starts well, but the abrupt shit in tone half way through is to jarring to work fully. On a 90 minute album, it is more important to make the listeners time worth while, and not every song on here succeeds. But the successes outweigh the failures, and it is hard to criticize an album to harshly that is so inventive and risk taking, especially compared to bland pop music of the era. Taking the best two-thirds of Aviary is perhaps Holter’s grandest album though, and that is a point (like the majority of double albums on the market) that is hard to argue with.
- Amen Dunes – Freedom
Genre: Singer Songwriter, Neo-Folk, Indie Rock
On the other end of the spectrum we have Amen Dunes, who has only release 4 records total in this decade-plus career. Each album is a fine tuned work of beauty and craftmanship, and Freedom is another solid release. Two of the best songs Amen Dunes have ever released are present here: the outspoken and emotional climax present in “Miki Dora” is executed perfectly, a rare example of a prefect song that achieves what it is trying to do, worthy of the best of Van Morrison. It’s not too loud and not too showy. Secondly there is the underrated “Dracula”, a song I have not been able to stop listening to this year, a spooky sounding yearning for the meaning of life in a world that is constantly set to drain us. The album is full of folk-rock updated for the 2010’s, like the pulsating “Time”, and the patient opener “Blue Roses”, the contemplative “Call Paul the Suffering”, and the brief “Saturdah”. The music contained on Amen Dunes albums always has its own unique aura and this is one of his best listens.
- Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
Genre: R&B, Hip Hop, Singer Songwriter
On her 3rd album, Janelle Monae gets more personal than ever. Revealing herself as a talented actress in movies like Hidden Figures and Moonlight, while also declaring to the world she is a proud bisexual, Monae lets it all loose on this record. Obsessed with the concept of people as robots or machines, here she reveals herself as a “Dirty Computer” or a flawed figure and outcast among society. Make no mistake though, this is also her most pop oriented record, as songs such as “Pynk” and “Make Me Feel” dominate the charts in the spirit of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince before her. Many prestigious guest stars populate the album, such as Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Pharell, Zoe Kravitz, and Grimes.
Why it works so well is in my option….well, its personal. Take a song like “I Like That” which is a monologue about how she was often ridiculed in middle school for being a weirdo, but how even at a young age she embarrassed it and had enough self confidence to continue being herself; that is something I can personally relate to , and I suspect I am not alone. The chorus sings “oh me o me o me o my”, but again it is putting as all in her position. Great artists have this ability to bring people into their world, to make them feel as one of them, to include while also being entertained. Monae is good at that, and as much as I complain about the state of pop music (probably too much I know) If more pop music was this personal while also being universal, I would like it more. Music this good, that strikes as many chords to so many people, is not usually as catchy and danceable as songs like “Crazy Classic Life” and ”Django Jane”. She bring the spirit of the independent or indie musician into the mainstream. Monae also released a music video of every song on here creating a flowing story arch along with the music, so while the album may have its detractors, at least no one can fault her ambition.
- Lonker See – One Eye Sees Red
Genre: Experimental Rock, Instrumental, Post Rock, Psych Rock
There are many instrumental record’s that bear the influence of Hawkwind and Boredoms in the 21st century, but Polish artists Lonker See’s latest is special in what it achieves. For these types of records, i personally enjoy a maximum of melodic ideas in a minimal amount of time. At 3 songs in 40 minutes, i would not say the album overstays its welcome at all. Leading track “Lilian Gish” is the most impressive, named after the silent movie actress but projecting a harsh reality of cascading saxophone and guitar progressions. It ends with pounding percussion and a catchy theme that stays in your head for days. “Solaris pt. 3 and 4 is more loose rhythmically and abstract, with an improvised feeling that never gets old throughout it’s 17 minutes, continuing a theme from their 2015 EP of the same name. It’s twists and turns are very haunting. Closing track “One Eye Sees Red” caps the album with a deafening noise rock jam that actually uses some vocals to highlight everything the combo achieves. The band keeps it simple, and that is why it is the best instrumental record of the year, and one of my favorite psychedelic rock records ever.
- Anna Von Hausswolff – Dead Magic
Genre: Folk Rock, Singer / Songwriter, Poetry
At nearly 50 minutes and only five tracks, I don’t think it would be unfair to call Anna’s 3rd album a record an album of great moments. But what moments they are! Like Jenny Hval, Anna von Hausswulf hails from Scandinavia with a sort of gothic inspired sound, a sort of mix of classical or new age music and Dead Can Dance’s 1980’s dreamscapes. Opener “The Truth The Glow The Fall” is a three part murder mystery, a tune that conjures up all types of imagery and feeling during its epic length back by organs and other natural sounds. “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra” is a pounding, Swans style run through the tundra while being chased by a rabid wolf (check out the music video for proof to back this up) and it is a joy to hear Anna howl at the moon. “Ugly and Vengeful” is probably the album greatest triumph, at 16 minutes it portrays a woman who is an heir to all the great performs of vocal music that came before her but adds something new, much like Joanna Newsom’s “Only Skin” or Diamanada Galas’s ”Litanies of Satan” updated for a new decade. The tribal drums and earth shattering ending are a wonder to behold, just put the headphones on and behold at that marvel.
Von Hausswolff’s music requires patience though, and it can be impenetrable to some. Saying genres like “dark-wave” and comparing it to bands like Black Tape for a Blue Girl is only going to resonate with some of you reading, and I understand that. The reason music like this is not more popular unfortunately IS because of its purity, because of its unwillingness to compromise. For example, after the first three magnificent songs the final two tracks are mostly instrumental, and much more delicate and thoughtful then the horrorshow that came before. This will turn off many people, but looking at the album as the artist wants us too and not just how we as people would judge her, reveals a beauty in this kind of music that she obviously wants us to admire. The closing track “Kallans Ateruppstandelse” especially works in the spirit of great record endings, and the album is a watermark in 2018 for its unwillingness to adhere to anyone style or form. Dead Magic is a masterpiece, pure and simple.
- Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
Genre: Noise Rock, No Wave, Hardcore Punk
Speaking of uncompromising, the return of Daughters is a wake up call for our generation for sure. Music that shakes you to your soul and makes you question your sanity. In the spirit of Jesus Lizard and Pere Ubu, there semi-melodic blasts of noise like lovely screams of “don’t tell me how to do my job!” in “The Reason they Hate Me” and the quite literal “The Flammable Man”, are apocalyptic ballads such as the jovially off kilter “Satan in the Wait” or the gospel dreg of “Less Sex”, sounding as if the band Algiers had been possessed by the noisy demon of Sonic Youth.
But mostly this music as open-heart surgery with no anesthetic. “City Song” is the most challenging listen and it is the first track! “Long Road No Turns” is truly the highway to hell, AC/DC would be proud. “Ocean Song” recalls early 80’s Nick Cave at its most frightening murder ballad self, while “Daughter” is a further deconstruction of what a rock song is, like many of the songs on here there are stops and starts abounding in the music that while off putting at first sound better and better upon subsequent listens. This is only the band’s second album after an 8-year hiatus of sorts, but it is a marvelous leap forward. Who knows what the future of their music holds for the adventurous listeners out there. You Wont Get what You Want is an apt title for this record, but it is what the bolt of lightning that rock music needed in 2018.
- Lupe Fiasco – Drogas Wave
Genre: Conscious Hip Hop, Jazz Rap
I loved 2015’s Tetsuo and Youth, as it really changed my perspective on life in a lot of ways. After hearing last year’s Drogas Light I was kind of discouraged, I liked a couple of songs but I felt Lupe had lost his inspiration two and it was a cash grab. But holy crap – this is a 180 degree turn towards Tetsuo and Youth again: smart, lengthy, intricate and entertaining rap music. It’s about 100 minutes long and while that should be a daunting task for a hip hop release, he makes it a lot of fun to listen to.
The album is divided in two, as the lyrical “Water” concept is the first part, and in its ambition it is similar to using water as a metaphor for freedom, for equality with mother earth, and being one with the universe. People who were enslaved become powerful as Aquaman on “Down” as they live and speak with fish; “Gold vs. the Right Thing to Do” tackles the worthiness of money; and “Manila” gives a history lesson as fact in order to provide a way to live on to the future. Three of the greatest rap songs I have ever heard are on here: “Wav Files”, “Haile Selassie”, “Alan Forever”. Each song has multiple meanings and interpretations, each on fits into the them of the record but also becomes something more= spinning futuristic psychedelic fantasias around Lupe’s rap stylings.
The second part of the record is concept album about growing up, and though it begins on the hardship of being poor and surrounded by harsh realities on “Stronger” and “Sun God”, it soon progresses to life lessons learn and making I on your own on “Kingdom” and “Stack that Cheese” to being head of a family that relies on you with the jazzy “King Nas”. Though liberties are taken with the lyrical concepts, the rhyming and rapping Lupe is perfected on here, and the music is varied enough to fall under any musical umbrella (“Cripple” showcases a flute and “Quotations From Chairman Fred” incorporates spoken word). It is not simply hip hop anymore, and it’s long enough to dare to define the entirety of human existence. That’s art. Don’t get hung up on literal concepts for real, just enjoy it.
- Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meatspace
This is the best and most consistent album released in quite a while, a return to form of psych-blues that is a joy to behold. The husband and wife duo behind The Drones take a minor detour in a side project with a hilarious name, only harnessing their sound to be more unified and slightly less experimental in genre jumping. Still, the band lets loose the rock n roll in the demented “Two Afternoons” and “Antimatter Animals”, they work over your emotions with the languid “You Let My Tyres Down” and the militant “The Future of History”, they let atmosphere take control on the strange “Chameleon Paint” and abstract instrumental “Shellfish Toxin”. Music that is as fun to listen to as it is abrasive and in your face, every member of the band is female with the exception of lead singer Garreth Liddiard, a timely zeitgeist for the year 2018.
Title track “A Laughing Death in Meatspace” is their manifesto on the state of the world, and it may highlight our problems as members of humanity better than any song in recent memory. “Rubber Bullies” is the most potent blast of energy, searing everything that has come before and serving as a perfect finale while screaming “Take me on a holiday / put be on an aeroplane / I want a BMW /I want to be immortal in my lifetime too.” The emotional coda on “Rubber Bullies” is the climax to end all climaxes. This album changes the landscape or rock music by combining everything that came before into a magnificent witch’s cauldron of ideas, and the aftershocks will be felt well into the coming decades.