2018 Year-In-Review & Staff Picks

Hello Indy CD & Vinyl friends, family and shoppers! 2018 is over, and we are looking forward to what 2019 will bring us in the music world - and to reminisce on the year that was, we compiled a our lists of Top 10 albums from 2018 we loved. Also included are links to employee-curated playlists of songs from their favorite 2018 albums.

Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo

Always on back up all year for us at the store. It jams, but is so easy to listen to!

Dream Wife – Dream Wife

Started as an art project fake band before realizing they were a pretty good glam grunge pop outfit.

 

Mitski – Be the Cowboy

The 5th studio album by Japanese-American indie rock musician Mitski, can't wait to see her in Indy!

Oliver Coates - Shelly’s On Zenn-La

Coates plays synth grooves, minimal electronics & fast beats. The results are gorgeous & disjointed.

 

Makaya McCraven - Universal Beings

Eclectic, bold, inventive, masterfully played music w/ a refreshing sense of curiosity & wonder.

 

Kelly Moran - Ultraviolet

Dazzling inflections of jazz/dream pop, neoclassical/black metal, dark/light. Very interesting!

Brandi Carlile - By The Way, I Forgive You

The folk-tinged singer belts with gusto & is about deriving strength from forgiveness & gratitude.

Beach House - 7

Well-established masters of dream pop, each release gradually refining & evolving unmistakable sound.

Amen Dunes - Freedom

McMahon's richest album yet, as well as his most accessible. An enormous personal leap forward.

Dead Can Dance - Dionysus

Engaging, crafty, and atmospheric melodies that are combined with otherworldly rhythms and beats.

Favorite shows of 2018:

APTBS @ HI-FI

Björk @ Háskólabíó (Utopiba dress rehearsal in Iceland)

Amy Ray - Indy CD & Vinyl afternoon in-store

Chelsea Wolfe opening up for Ministry @ ONC

Pedro The Lion @ The Hi-FI

Ritual Howls @ Indy CD & Vinyl for RSD

The Black Angels @ The Vogue

Haunt - Burst Into Flame

Haunt followed up their 2017 debut EP with a near perfect album of 70's hard rock and early 80's influenced heavy metal. The songs are anthemic with tons of hooks, huge choruses, and riffs that are memorable and get stuck in your head.

 

Tragedy - Fury

Tragedy appeared this year after 6 years since their last LP and dropped a 6 song record that rages as hard as their earliest material. Dark hardcore with huge production, some serious guitar solo shredding in spots, and an intensity that was missing from the last album. Easily my favorite punk record of 2018.

 

Rendez Vous - Superior State

The best post-punk record of 2018, hands down. I loved this French band's previous 12" EP entitled "Distance," and this album is a huge step forward. They effortlessly blend post-punk with industrial and touches of neo-folk, creating tension-filled songs with hooks. Unfortunately, this record isn't available in the US currently (fingers crossed that changes ASAP), but I couldn't not include it on my list.

 

Innumerable Forms - Punishment In Flesh

90's Finnish-influenced death metal from some heavy hitters in the US hardcore and metal scene. I'm always a sucker for caveman-style death metal, and this record is perfect. Cavernous doom guitar riffs and vocals give way to double-bass and mid-tempo staccato riffing. Fans of early Demigod, Amorphis, etc. will be right at home when the needle drops on this platter.

 

Freddie Gibbs - Freddie

The hardest rap record of 2018. Gibbs's power lies in his vocal range/delivery and his insistence on short tracks these days. Sick production with plenty of wit, swagger, and even humor (check the R&B slow jam FLFM and the Vandross-inspired cover art). Heavy rotation.

 

At The Gates - To Drink From The Night Itself

This record was a huge surprise after the more midtempo-leaning "At War With Reality," and my intuition says new guitarist Jonas Stålhammar might have been the catalyst for an uptick in tempos and some of the stunning guitar interplay found here. Maybe it was that most of the band also are part of The Lurking Fear, who released one of my favorite records of 2017? Regardless, the melding of dark hardcore, thrash, and death metal has never sounded better.

 

Lucifer - II

Highly anticipated for me being a fan of all that Nicke Andersson does and a fan of Lucifer visionary Johanna Platow Andersson and her past band The Oath. 70’s style production with a heavy rock vibe over the previous “doom” sound, and plenty of nods to the earlier Scorpions – Lucifer’s second album is like the soundtrack to a road trip in a ragtop ’68 Camaro.

 

John Coltrane - Both Directions At Once

It’s hard to even comprehend that this album existed unreleased for 55 years. A true gem of classic-era jazz from one of the genres pillars, “Both Directions At Once” was recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in 1963 and shelved by Coltrane’s label Impulse (who later destroyed the master tapes). Luckily, a mixdown reel survived. An incredible window into the mind of a genius on the verge of his prime.

 

Windhand - Eternal Return

I love this band for many reasons, least of which is that they get better with every album. Their second outing with legendary Jack Endino handling production shows the band flexing muscular, syrupy heavy rock riffs with vocalist Dorthia’s soulful vocals firmly planted on top instead of mixed into the background like previous records. Windhand takes an AC/DC approach – you know what you’re gonna get from them (and it rules), but there's some welcomed experimentation like the clean guitar, bare arrangement of “Pilgrim’s Rest.”

 

High On Fire - Electric Messiah

A friend once described HoF as the perfect amalgamation of Motörhead and Celtic Frost without sounding like a clone of either band. To me that’s dead on, and while their style continues to change a little with each album, they’re one of the most consistently great bands making metal music today. It’s no surprise that ‘Electric Messiah’ is on my list, but what is surprising is how fast and aggressive most of this record ended up being. They’ve never sounded better.

 

These lists are always hard to do for me since most of the time I get stuck on maybe one or two newer records and mainly listen to things from before the current year, but these selections are a good mix of current records that kept my attention during the year. A few honorable mentions that aren't all necessarily available at the shop, but kept my turntable warm:

 

Uncle Acid - Wasteland

Jaye Jayle - No Trail and Other Unholy Paths

King Dude - Music To Make War To

Rat Cage - Blood On Your Boots 7”

Warthog - S/T 7”

Chain Cult - Isolated 7”

Public Memory - Demolition

Butcher - Return To Nothingness

IDLES - Joy as an Act of Resistance.

Post punk/hardcore with important social commentary. Unity!

Shannon and the Clams - Onion

John Waters' esque, perfect, garage music with an emotional reply to what happened at Ghost Ship.

Krimewatch - Krimewatch

Hardcore that breaks stereotypes and gets rid of the exclusivity of the punk/hardcore scene.

Goggs - Pre Strike Sweep

A marriage between Ty Segall, Charles Moothart, and Chris Shaw. 2nd album.

Iceage - Beyondless

A mess of noise and vocals. Punk meets indie meets post punk.

Natalia Lafourcade - Musas

A beautiful album by Natalia backed by Los Macorinos.

La Luz - Floating Features

Dreamy garage with surf guitar that'll make you melt.

Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

Noisy, dark math rock album that almost feels reminiscent of early Swans.

Lebanon Hanover - Let Them Be Alien

German dark wave duo delivers with another drone, dark magic gem.

Parquet Courts - Wide Awake!

Post punk with intellectual lyrics and groovy musicianship. If you like The Fall you may like this.

I would like to add that I appreciated Jack White's album Boarding House Reach. The experimentation and production was probably my favorite of his solo career. Even though Billy Corgan is a complete maniac, I def cried at the Smashing Pumpkins show in Indy for 2018. It was completely beautiful and delivered my teenage fantasies on a silver platter. Shout out to A24 for continuing to produce amazing movies. It was a great year of cinema!

The Voidz - Virtue

An interesting album for Julian Casablancas’ sophomore album with The Voidz. The songwriting is still fairly straightforward as you would expect from a Casablancas project but that’s part of how the music is served. This time the Voidz have a very eclectic arrangement and mood.

 

Walter Smith III, Matt Stevens - In Common

An amazing album featuring virtuosity, musicality, soul, everything you can imagine from such a stellar lineup. A very visceral album with beautiful compositions. A must need for of listens for people interested in improvisational music.

 

Freddie Gibbs, Curren$y - Fetti

Just another amazing album by G.I.s. best and Louisiana’s best.

 

Aphex Twin - Collapse

Everything you’d expect from Aphex twin, beautiful yet jarring. Sonically amazing.

 

Oliver Coates - Shelley’s on Zenn La Charlev

IDM influences with amazing ambient and classical twists.

 

Roman Filiu - Quarteria

Forward thinking music, harmonically and texturally.

 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex and Food

Modern psych pop with dense song writing and unique production.

 

John Coltrane - Both Directions at Once

Tapes rediscovered from when Trane was really creating another statement in music, a powerful battle jazz quartet that will blast you into another dimension.

 

Ambrose Akinmusire - Origami Harvest

An album with various musical aesthetics all naturally meshed into one. This album combines jazz, classical and hip hop in a very natural way. The album features rapper Kool A.D. and touches on state oppression in a today’s era.

 

Jakob Bro - Bay of Rainbows (Live at the Jazz Standard)

Meshing jazz, ambient textures and European folk melodies Jakob Bro has really created his voice in today’s jazz world. This album has very minimalist elements along with interesting “free” playing. Having distinct melody in moments songs then sort of transcend into a gradient blur.

A Place To Bury Strangers - Pinned

Failure - In The Future

 

Interpol - Marauder

 

Death Grips - Year Of The Snitch

 

Johnny Marr - Call The Comet

 

The Soft Moon - Criminal

 

Nothing - Dance On The Blacktop

 

The Black Queen - Infinite Games

 

David Bazan - Rare Coins (Side A)

 

HEALTH various singles 2018

 

Cat Power - Wanderer

Favorite shows of 2018:

APTBS @ HI-FI

Björk @ Háskólabíó (Utopiba dress rehearsal in Iceland)

Amy Ray - Indy CD & Vinyl afternoon in-store

Chelsea Wolfe opening up for Ministry @ ONC

Pedro The Lion @ The Hi-FI

Ritual Howls @ Indy CD & Vinyl for RSD

The Black Angels @ The Vogue

Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

As always, this album provides a fantastic wall of sound to drown in, blending shoegaze and black metal. Two genres so heavily guarded by their fanbase as to be considered taboo by some to blend them with anything. Perhaps that's where 'corrupt' comes from in the title. You can think on the other 3 words while you 

listen. Seeing them live this year was my second favorite live show this year.

 

Amen Dunes - Freedom

I may catch some flack for saying this, but this album doesn't have much depth to it. Everything is sort of 'what you hear is what you get'. But that's not a negative criticism. Sometimes, that's what I need from a record. Many songs seem to be a reflection of how the past differs from the present or the future. "Things were that way, now they're this way, soon they'll be that way, but here is how I feel about it." I can relate.

 

Jlin - Autobiography

Commissioned by Wayne McGregor for a ballet performance and recorded at the same time as Black Origami this album masterfully represents each of Jlin's past two albums as well as shows the new tricks she has up her sleeve.

 

The Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

I really don't know what to say about this album. When Canada Songs came out, I instantly became a fan. I had been listening to Melt-Banana, The Locust, and The Blood Brothers. It seemed like nothing in life was made to last. Songs we're short, explosive, and my friends and I all thought we we're going to die young. We all went to see the Daughters one night and I was even more convinced we'd all be dead before college. Nothing really seemed like it would ever grow and mature so much as just end. This album proves the opposite, this is the Daughters grown up. Still chaotic, still has hypnotizing guitar tones, still has raw emotion, just lacks the adolescence. I wasn't sure I'd even want another Daughters album, so the title seems fitting, but I'm glad that this is the album we got.

 

Lotic - Power

I still can't get enough of this album. Fantastic production work.

 

Aphex Twin - Collapse

This EP is one of the most solid releases from RDJ in a while. Each track is different enough to showcase all of his strengths without a single moment of filler on the release. I'd recommend this as a good introduction to Aphex Twin for anyone who hasn't explored his giant catalog of music.

 

Riko Dan - Hard Food

Grime is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I don't know if I should call this a comp or not, but it's got work from some of the biggest names in the biz. Enjoy.

 

Tirzah - Devotion

Devotion was my introduction to Tirzah's work and it's a perfect album. I grabbed a copy of the CD for my car (as well as the vinyl for my turntable) and it was the only thing I listened to while driving for nearly a month.

 

Mitski - Be The Cowboy

This album is a fuller, more produced sound from Mitski than I was familiar with from her previous records. I like the layered sounds, and short track durations. Each song has an immediacy to convey an emotion. Lyrics are like skimming through her diary.

 

Snail Mail - Lush

This has been the year of female fronted bedroom pop albums. So many great releases with a lo-fi sound and a diy attitude, singing about the most relate-able subjects. I wanted to pick more albums like this but it would likely take up my entire top 10 picks.

Caroline Rose - Loner

Our her sophomore LP Caroline Rose finds her true voice and sound by swapping out acoustic guitar driven folk music with synthesizers and mixing genres to find a unique sound that is truly hers. The songs are filled with Rose's sense of humor but also showcases her as a unique evolving songwriter. Even though the differences between this album and her debut are vast, it is in the best way possible. When I first heard this album when it released I instantly knew it was going to be one of my favorites and after seeing her live twice this year it is still my favorite record of the year.

Black Moth Super Rainbow - Panic Blooms

BMSR is back with their unique sound of blending analog synths, psychedelia, incredible beats and frontman Tobacco's vocoded vocals that make you feel like you're in a dream you don't want to wake up from. Getting a chance to see them this year gave me the opportunity to witness their incredible live show, which is an extremely unique experience visually and musically. Tobacco's solo work and everything he has done with Black Moth is like nothing you will ever hear so I was more than happy when Panic Blooms came out this year and it was definitely worth the wait.

Big Red Machine - Big Red Machine

Justin Vernon from Bon Iver and Aaron Dressner of the National collaborated on a song for a compilation almost 10 years ago and after a decade later they have released an official album. The aesthetics are closer to Bon Iver's last record but the mix of minimal electronic beats, folk and indie guitars plus Vernon's unique vocal style made Big Red Machine's debut album one to remember.

Jenn Champion - Single Rider

Formerly known as Jenn Ghetto from the Seattle band Carissa's Weird, Jenn Champion's album Single Rider has been a regular fixture in my car this past year. She experiments with driving synths, guitars and pop melodies that create a new but nostalgic album that from start to finish. This was an artist I was not familiar with until a coworker played it for me but it has become one of my favorite records of the year and one of the most pleasant surprises.

Voidz - Virtue

Julian Casablancas and the Voidz have returned with a very different sounding album than their first attempt. Instead of experimenting with noise and trying to develop their sound, the Voidz chose to explore different genres of music on Virtue from songs that are reminiscent of The Strokes to 90s pop to heavier rock to all sorts of different types of music. What keeps the album together is Julian's incredible melodies, catchy choruses and the band giving him a fresh palette to create something new.

Beach House - 7

Beach House has made a career of creating the distinct dream pop sound that they are known for but on their newest album "7" they break the mold and make a record that not only sounds incredible but shows the band progressing as musicians. Beach House has not made a bad record(even their b-sides and rarities record is incredible) but what is different about this record is how the it was written and recorded. The way this album was written was apparently a lot different than their normal writing style but it helped give them a new sound while still maintaining that Beach House feel we have all grown to love.

Dirty Projectors - Lit Lamp Prose

The Dirty Projectors have had to go through some changes after losing guitarist/singer Amber Coffman in 2013 but Lamp Lit Prose is a return to form that showcases David Longstreth's songwriting and musical arrangements. The guitar parts and vocals are catchy but the best part is that this album is just fun. Their self titled release last year was their first album without Coffman since "Swing Lo Magellan" and it just didn't have the playfulness that their other work has had but the Dirty Projectors are back and better than ever.

boygenius - boygenius

It is incredible this album started as an idea for the three singer/songwriters to just go on tour together but decided to collaborate on this incredible EP. Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers are boygenius which their debut that came out this year was recorded in only four days at the famous Sound City Studios. One thing that is incredible about this collaboration is that it feels like none of the artists are holding back their best material for their solo endeavors but instead brought the best songs they could to the table. It is a cathartic and melancholic blend of indie folk that should not be ignored and I hope a full length album is in the near future.

Farao - Pure-O

Another album by an artist I wasn't familiar with but fell in love with this year is Pure-O by Farao aka Kari Jahnsen, a synth pop treat that starts off with a bang and does not end with a whimper. This is the 2nd record by the Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and she’s a master of using cosmic and whimsical electronics to explore the dark sides of human relationships in unconventional prog-pop ballads.

Low Anthem - The Salt Doll Went to Measure The Depth of…

The fifth studio album by American Indie-Folk band The Low Anthem, this record is a return to form of their earlier work when I first became a fan in the late 2000s. "Salt Doll.." was created after the band wrecked their van and almost died, leaving members injured and equipment damaged. Songwriter Ben Knox Miller wrote a majority of the album in his bedroom while his band mates recovered which gave the album its simple but effective sound. Using mainly an acoustic guitar, a piano, a 90's era 8 track tape machine and actually cutting into the center loops of records and processing them to make a lot of the "percussion" on the record. This gives a circular motion to the album that sounds like it was almost recorded underwater and the concept of the Salt Doll in the lyrics is beautiful.

There were a lot of amazing albums that came out this year and it was very hard to pick 10 but I think these are some great records that would be a great addition to anyone's collection. Honorable mentions to Lord Huron's Vide Noir, Screaming Females' All at Once and LaLa LaLa's the Lamb.

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