2018 in music, my favorite 90 records

I tweak how I present my top 50 every year, sometimes picking a top disc and then offering the next dozen or so unranked. Other years I merely put the 50 selections in three tiers, and then separate out a definitive, standout top 5. Sometimes, I’m straightforward, and do a full 50-1 ranking in the best order I can manage. In attempt to always mirror what I feel is most appropriate given the years output, this year, I’ve found a clear top favorite, but also a number of terrific EPs. Thus I’ve included many EPs this year in an otherwise strictly albums list. The additional twist this year is I’ve gone all the way to 90, since I listened to so much new stuff this year, and attempted to include most of what I thought was truly exemplary. Then, I tried to thanklessly rank it all, knowing full well that after about 10 or 20 it’s all pretty arbitrary, and I hope that the small right ups will provide enough information for listeners to potentially hone into stuff they might find particularly agreeable.   

Happy listening. Protect your ear drums boys and girls, you only get one set.

My Favorite Album of the Year, 2018:

1. IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
Merely attacking toxic masculinity is low-hanging fruit, but discussing its systemic roots in song is altogether more illuminating. But why IDLES second is so tremendous is that they also offer ways out, or refuge for the victims of such an environment. That it is often heartbreakingly touching and always at the cusp of noisy, brilliantly performed rock n’ roll music, it was places it at the top of my list. The best songs—the pro-immigration ‘Danny Nedelko’, the depression lifeline ‘Samaritans’, the tense ‘Colossus’, and the body image drenched ‘Television’—are some of the best of the year, and after their triumphant display on their Jools Holland introduction, you’re in for the next of the great English rock bands. They’re here.  Continue reading

Wolf of the Steppes

 

This Halloween season, I’m happy to unveil a mix outlining a story about a man/wolf hybrid, otherwise loosely know in Horror as the Werewolf. I grafted in the idea that this man perhaps isn’t an actual Wolf, but merely symbolically one, not unlike the idea at the center of Herman Hesse’s great metaphysical novel Steppenwolf. The idea that inside a man is his darkest monster, and when this is the truth, it often renders that man an ultimate loner, not unlike the wolf of the Steppes, an arctic wolf that lives its entire life in virtual solitude, merely attempting to survive into the next day (the species can be seen in one of those recent Planet Earth videos on Netflix). From there, some of the ideas in Universal’s 1941 The Wolf Man added additional heft. While I love the foggy moors of Wales depicted in that film, I thought of a swamp here and the imagery conveyed offer a cool idea of a wolfen-man oarsman drifting into the marshes and swamps of ‘Southern Georgia’ and pushing bodies overboard, tied with rocks and engine manifolds to that they sink to the dark abyss. It adds to the delusion of his mental state too, sung so romantically you almost think he mourns the losing of loves, never realizing that they’re being lost by his own hands. For additional story flow help, an audiobook of Steppenwolf was employed. I hope you enjoy it this spooky season, and as always, with the stereo quality, I urge listeners to use headphones.  Continue reading

Songs I Love: Who Makes the Nazis?

I’d commented earlier to a friend upon being shocked at hearing the news of Mark E. Smith of the Fall’s passing that at least, living into 2018 and seeing the world’s truly fucked up global political events of 2017, that we could take solace knowing that he’d seen his query posited on 1982’s Hex Enduction Hour’s ‘Who Makes the Nazis?’ answered. Of course, you listen to the song, and you quickly get that he already knew this, and the question was rather rhetorical. Of course he did, he was maybe the greatest intellectual rock has ever seen. RIP.

Who makes the nazis?
Who makes the nazis?
I’ll tell ya who makes the nazis
All the Os
Wino
Spermo
29 year old
Arse-licking hate old
Who makes the Nazis?
Bad Tele-V
Who makes the Nazis?
etcetera.

Continue reading

THE BEST RECORDS OF 2017, PART 3 (15-1)

Part 1 (50-31) can be seen here, while Part 2 (30-16) can be seen here. If you’d like to hear a spotify playlist of my favorite songs off my top 50 in order that they appeared, go here in the spotify app.

Irreversible Entanglements – Irreversible Entanglements
If there was a record this year that really floored me, even if mostly out of being caught of guard, it was this one. It’s nearly a straight avant-garde jazz record, with a political beat poetry sensibility recalling the trailblazing works of Gil Scott-Heron/The Last Poets. The thing that seems different is the violence in the air, or the decades of music that have come between. Since The Last Poets we’ve had punk, hardcore, thrash, riot grrrl, and gangster rap and that all matters here, as even if we don’t touch them sonically, their anger simmers in the boil next to these arrangements. It produces a stew that even when it’s as cool and detached as jazz can be, there seems to also be a siren in the room, a fevered burst ready to spring. It makes the record taut and uneasy, even if we listen knowing their isn’t a false misstep anywhere. Here come the assassins, and they’re checking their lists.  Continue reading

THE BEST RECORDS OF 2017, PART 2 (30-16)

Part 1, covering selections 50-31 can be viewed here. Part 3, cover selections 15-1 can be viewed here.

Chuck Prophet – Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins
For years in the early 1980s Chuck Prophet half fronted one of the greatest American bands most people don’t know, Green on Red. Their delicious blending of rural American styles and punkish wit set them within avenues that many more famous contemporaries have now become millionaires within (REM, Wilco, etc). But as is said for many originators, it was lonely at the top of inspiration hill, and thus they remain largely unknown. Once Chuck Prophet went solo, his records slowed down, he’d be most easily characterized as an American Graham Parker or Nick Lowe, but while they’ve decidedly softened as they’ve aged, Prophet’s razor lines remain brimming with a bloodlust he had in his youth. Plus, some of the stuff still absolutely screams, I can’t think of a more signature riff this year than the one that forms ‘Your Skin’ here.   Continue reading

the best records of 2017, part 1 (31-50)

Every time I’ve attempted a top 50 records for a calendar year I’ve settled on an ordered 50-6 and then an unranked top 5, which each of those five nearly interchangeable. It’s a format I like, especially for music, where a selected favorite on any given day is usually at the behest of an emotional temperament or desired mood. This year, for a litany of reasons, I decided to set out to explore streaming services and artist friendly commerce sites more (like bandcamp and soundcloud) in an attempt to better track the artist expression of our many resistances and scattered undergrounds that the fallout from 2016 birthed like an army of determined ants set to ‘spur’n. With these avenues tackled weekly throughout 2017 alongside my usual, more mainstream, dives, I saw my number of favorites triple. So instead with this years list you’ll notice a three tiered system, each producing masterpieces by the bushel, but with an attempt by my oversaturated mind to attempt something akin to organization. The first post will be the third tier, roughly albums 50-31 unordered, then the second post will have tier two (30-16; also unordered) and the last post the unordered top 15 in place of the normal top 5. Scouring amounted in helping me hear three times the masterworks and personal favorites I usually do. That, or our artistic resistance is indeed healthy. Assuredly both I’d think. 

(With this being said, my list still overwhelming bares my main rock n’ roll predispositions and obsessions, the raison d’être for the entire form in my eyes: the interplay between a loud guitar [or 2], a loud bass [or 2], and a cracking drummer) Continue reading