Favorite Songs Outside of my Favorite Albums:
10. Kids See Ghosts “Reborn” – best Kid Cudi since 2009.
9. AWOLNATION “Jealous Buffoon” – cheesiest dance tune
8. Arctic Monkeys “Four out of Five” – best yelp review of a hotel/casino on the moon
7. Adam Sandler “Phone Wallet Keys” – best Adam Sandler project since the 1990s
6. CupcakKe “Cartoons” – best female rap song of the year (and actually released in 2017)
5. Lil Wayne featuring Swizz Beats “Uproar” – best use of Lil Wayne since 2009
4. Eminem “The Ringer” – best rap beef song of the year (and, boy, there were many)
3. Mumford & Sons “Rose of Sharon” – best music to use for a future Hulu commercial
2. Father John Misty “Mr. Tillman” – best melody of the year
1. Childish Gambino “This is America” – simply the best
My Top Favorite Albums of 2018
8. Ezra Furman Transangelic Exodus
Gaining insight on an artist’s background, inspirations, and intent on a project certainly bring a new level of engagement as a listener. After listening to Marc Maron’s interview with Furman on the popular WTF podcast, Transangelic Exodus became something to cross-reference, like a supplemental document for Furman’s life. The record is a concept album about falling in love with an angel, but the insecurities devulged in the podcast can be found in Furman’s odyssey, which makes this album a memorable work of art in 2018 for this listener.
7. Mac Miller Swimming
Mac Miller’s passing hit harder than expected. And while I detest how social media often shifts the sorrow from the family and friends of the diseased to anyone who wants pity and attention, Swimming became a deeply more important project for me. The words of a man deeply depressed, but fighting to remain on this earth, are all over this final album, and they become more eery with the knowledge of Mac Miller’s suicide. The same phenomena surrounded David Bowie’s final album Black Star, but Swimming has more bright spots, more hope, and can be used as a tale of woe for those hurting.
Standout Tracks: “Self Care” “What’s the Use?” “Ladders”
6. Curse League Laying By The Fire In Good Company
The math rock scene is odd to me. With a genre that puts the complicated guitar melodies front and center, the genre has sure become one-note. Most bands popping up on small DIY labels and DIY-focused music websites all drink from the same well: clear, compressed guitars, time signatures fit for an algebra class, and shrieking white-boy vocals that all cover the same five notes in the same goddam order. Curse League, thank heaven, is different. Pulling from the jangling strings of banjos…
5. Vince Staples FM!
As if ripped from the radio itself, Vince Staples’ new album features DJ interstitials and west coast bouncy beats for top 40 play. Within this world of summer fun, however, are Staples’ more somber, or matter-of-fact, bars of the cold world of north side Long Beach. Cops, guns, dead kids, neighborhoods in panic. The call to fun plays as a plea against these realities, and yet the music won’t let you sit and simmer on the woes of the world. Each bay area-styled banger will certainly keep the dance floor busy.
4. Jeff Rosenstock POST-
The patron saint of millennial punk rock dropped POST- on the first day of 2018, and it brought the fire of a man who used to have nothing to lose, but now has almost nothing to lose. A cartoon show theme song, extensive touring, and now a Polyvinyl release may have placed Jeff Rosenstock into an eschallon of musical industry comfortability that he may have decried in his Bomb the Music Industry days. All of this context aside, Rosenstock’s newest album is more ambitious in scope and sound, providing both ballads and anthems for rock music.
3. J.I.D DiCaprio 2
If 2018’s Freshmen List for XXL tells us anything, it’s that beats, personality, and trend-hopping are the sure-fire avenues for popularity. Soundcloud is inundated with Future clones, Migos minions, and Gucci Mane mimics. And while J.I.D has obvious similarities to Kendrick Lamar, this rapper has given the lyrically focused fans a glimmer of hope. There is room for sheer rap talent, and J.I.D is the best of them. As quick in the jaw as MGK or Logic, but with the vocal toolbox of Lamar, J.I.D’s album/mixtape is wall-to-wall lyrical acrobatics.
2. Superorganism S/T
The late Aughts came skipping back with Superorganism’s official debut album. It’s an album almost too cute for its own good, but the deadpan vocal delivery superimposed on sound-effects laden instrumental tracks creates a cartoonish sampler of music. The band itself is equally eclectic, hailing from various countries and initially collaborating over the internet before meeting face-to-face. Had Hollywood released another “Juno” into the world, Superorganism would most certainly stand in for The Moldy Peaches as the aural counterpart to the youthful indie scene of today, and for all of its best qualities.
- The Beths Future Me Hates Me
2018 turned out to be the year for the new guard in music. And this new band rips. What could have easily been a middle-of-the-road, bland-as-hell sunshine pop rock album is elevated by professional-level guitar work and the catchiest melodies of the year. This is not a single dud on this New Zealand band’s debut album, and each drives home this vigor of young love and heart break.