Everyone has one of these “Best Of” lists and it’s been diverse this year. Here’s my list, in no real order, of notable releases with a brief blurb for each and (most importantly) links for you to listen and buy direct from the artists! We’ll start with my absolute favorites and follow the consciousness stream the rest of the way. Bands from the NYC area will have a * next to their name ’cause that’s where I live and it’s a great place to hear music.
If you prefer to listen freeform here’s part 1 of my 2018-in-review episodes:
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IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance
Easily one of the strongest punk albums I’ve heard in a long time and the single “Danny Nedelko” is THE fight song for 2018.
CAROLINE ROSE* – Loner
The cover caught my eye and when I listened for the first time I was happily surprised by how strange and emotionally striking this pop record is. Can’t wait to hear what she comes up with next.
THE MALPRACTICE – Slur
These rockers from Denmark satisfy that heavy/angry urge with an album that sounds like it would only get played after midnight back in the pre-Clear Channel days and stands out among the modern hard rock pack.
KADHJA BONET – Childqueen
Her first full length has a lot of music writers throwing labels around but I’d say it’s like an alternate universe Minnie Ripperton jam and it’s the smooth album of the year.
SUN VOYAGER* – Seismic Vibes
Heavy space rock is having a moment in this decade and Sun Voyager is an excellent addition to a bumper crop. Heavy, melodic, cathartic and local to NYC.
L’ECLAIR – Polymood
A lot of African-influenced music is out there but these guys have made a fabulous and moody dance record. A must-have for any club DJ in my opinion.
BODEGA* – Endless Scroll
A pure rework of ’70s NYC hip custom-made for the digital age.
HALEY HEYNDERICKX – I Need To Start A Garden
Folk’s also hitting a high water mark lately and while there are plenty of superstars in that scene I think this album deserves way more attention. Lose yourself and let your heart break.
SLIFT – Le Planete Inexploree
I love the amount of good rock coming out of France lately. Energetic and uplifting psych-rock that alternates between heavy and airy.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA – Sex & Food
I’ve already written a whole review of this one, but for now let’s call it if Steely Dan were robots and so very lonely. It really got a hold on me.
BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW – Panic Blooms
Also wrote a review for this as well. I got to open for this band a decade ago when they were much bubblier. This album has our modern age all over it. Also fits with the robot Steely Dan vibe.
NETHERLANDS* – Hope Porn / Black Gaia
This heavy heavy group put out an EP and an LP this year and both are prime examples of their strange, incisive sci-fi brand of hard rock. Get weird and loud.
BOY TOY* – Night Leaf
Solid songwriting expertly executed, this garage-pop gem belongs in every rock record collection.
MOTHER FEATHER* – Constellation Baby
Mother Feather is a bastion of positivity in any era. Their sophomore album pushes their brand of cock-pop-rock further. A must-see live show. Got to interview their badass leader back in 2013 and 2015.
STRANGE MAJIK* – Channel T
Reviewed this already this year, big one for fans of guitar rock and vintage ’70s sounds.
HERE LIES MAN – You Will Know Nothing
This follow up to their excellent 2017 debut doesn’t tread new ground from the first album but once again delivers those heavy Fela-style grooves and it rules.
MICHAEL RAULT – It’s A New Day Tonight
Fantastic vintage-style pop from Daptone subsidiary Wick Records. If you liked any pop from the ’60s this will move you.
RILEY PINKERTON* – Nothing Ever Is
Strong singer-songwriter with a mesmerizing voice. New sounds coming in 2019, I’m told.
THE BOBBY LEES – Beauty Pageant
Stumbled onto this band at a live show and they were INTENSE. This album of punk/rockabilly stands up pretty well to the live show.
STEPHEN ARTEMIS* – Inter Vivos
Timely folk offerings from this former Falling Birds frontman.
TOMMY AND THE COMMIES – Here Come…
Fun powerpop-punk that flies by in a flash. You’ll have strong ’70s flashbacks.
DENTIST* – Night Swimming
Great indie-pop with a surf feel. Lots of rightfully-earned buzz.
NOLAN POTTER – A Spirit Lasts Forever / Strange And Secret Peoples
Hailing from Austin, this guy puts out a lot every year. These last two EPs have that Hot Rats-era Zappa vibe and are a fantastic choice for moving through your day-to-day life.
ORGONE – Undercover Mixtape
For my money Orgone is the best funk band around today. This is their take on the frankly overdone “covers album” but they bring their A-game everytime.
THE ROYAL THEY* – Foreign Being
Fantastic alternative that’s unapologetic and unique. Must listen rock and roll.
HEATERS – Suspended Youth
These guys are great and have put out an album a year for a while now. This one has the same great guitar work but branches out in a more let’s say “new wave” direction than previous records.
KIKAGAKU MOYO – Masana Temples
I think they’re the best psych band in the world. A fantastic addition to their discography and the album jacket artwork is unbelievably strange and gorgeous.
THE DEATH WHEELERS – I Tread On Your Grave
The soundtrack to an imaginary grindhouse movie (really!) and it’s pedal to the metal rock for highway-speed devil worship.
THE GLUCKS – Run Amok
Belgian punk rock that’ll strip the chrome off your trailer hitch.
PRANA CRAFTER – Enter The Stream
Real chill folk, ideal for anything peaceful that needs doing.
BROWN ACID Vol. 6 & 7
Riding Easy records’ bi-annual collection of lost vintage riffage. Must have for any classic rock fan.