I used to list what shows I was going to, what I thought was worth seeing coming up, etc. But that got creepy. Instead here’s a list of things that I think are worth listening to. Every year I hear people groan that there’s no good new music. That is such crap. People are just lazy. So here’s a list of the best albums from 2018. I’ll add a Spotify playlist for particular tracks. (And yes I was inclined to just link to Billy Joel’s greatest hits and cackle my way off the internet).
2018 Albums of the year
1) Bodega: “Endless Scroll.” Maybe the best art-punk album since Devo’s “Q: Are We Not Men. A: We are Devo”.
2) Confidence Man: “Confident Music for Confident People.” Favorite dance album, probably ever.
3) Attic Abasement: “Dancing is Depressing”. It's a rerelease but since I didn’t know about the original (and you probably didn’t either) I say it counts.
4) Wimps: “Garbage People.” They rule. Their last album was great too.
5) Parquet Courts: “Wide Awake!” Best album since their debut. Maybe even more fun.
6) Fred Thomas: “Aftering.” Everything he puts out is the best and I’m tired of putting his albums in the top 3 every year. Excellent winter album. Really depressing, obviously. It’s not as great as his masterpiece “All are Saved” which I mention just so you’ll check that out.
7) Courtney Barnett: “Tell Me How You Really Feel.” Definitely her best album.
8) Haley Hendrickx: “I Need to Start a Garden.” Really fantastic but oh so depressing. Also docked because of the spelling of her name.
9) Jeff the Brotherhood: “Magick Songs” weird spacey move from the stoner southern rock band. Extremely chill album, also docked for spelling.
10) Lucy Dacus: “Historian.” A real leap forward and the album that received the most breathless reviews of the year.
Just missed the cut:
Spiritualized: “And Nothing Hurt.” Musical Xanax
Vikingur Olafsson: “Johann Sebastian Bach.” What the hell do I know about classical (answer: nothing.) Nonetheless, it grabbed me.
The Glands: “Double Coda” maybe the best of the Athens college scene bands
Goon Sax: “We’re Not Talking”: God, the highs are great here.
Also worth note:
Tierra Whack: “Whack World” the GbV of pop R&B
Brandi Carlisle: “By the Way I Forgive You.” B/c I’m an idiot I thought the buzz was about Belinda Carlisle turned into a country singer. Nope. This album is totally heartbreaking and super well-constructed. It’s not quite to my taste as the production swings poppy but it’s undeniably good
Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour
Swearin’: “Fall into the Sun”. I’m super happy they got back together and, like previous Swearin albums, it’s got some great highs but as a whole my interest wanders a bit.
Anna Meredith: Anno 4 Seasons. Vivaldi isn’t my favorite but Meredith is so interesting. Go listen to her track “Nautilus”, which is like the sound of a hot air balloon that’s about to explode in your face. It’s not from 2018 but who cares, it’s great.
2018 Playlist: https://spoti.fi/2ADhACX
Concerts of the year:
1) SXSW (Siren Sounds official showcase, last night): Bodega, Champagne SuperChillin, Faux Ferocious, Sloppy Jane. Sloppy Jane was completely insane and worth seeing live. Faux Ferocious translated amazingly well live and was super fun mathy Southern rock (maybe tongue in cheek? I honestly couldn’t tell). Champagne Superchillin was the best Frenchie rock I’ve seen and Bodega put on my favorite show of the year hands down.
2) Yo La Tengo Hanukkah show (day 5, Bowery Ballroom): Matmos, (and Jim Gaffigan to boot). It was amazing. I was super jetlagged having just arrived back from a long trip so I missed the Lo Lo encore. Oh well.
3) The Wimps (Alphaville). What a ridiculously fun band.
4) Spiritualized (Kings Theatre): with Wordless Music Orchestra and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir. Their new album was good and WMO is always great but wow seeing BIC live was insane.
5) Faust (Murmurr Theatre): I didn’t expect too much from Faust. For one thing, they are very old, and generally seeing acts much later in their career is a huge letdown (this was my very painful experience seeing the Replacements, and X, and Wire, and…a lot of bands when I should know better. Even GbV this year was sorta like this). Also I was seeing them in my shul which turns from hilariously rundown synagogue during the day to appropriately dilapidated club at night. BK weirdness at its best. Faust was been downgraded from the main space to a very small room. Somehow this enhanced their awesomeness.
6) God Speed You Black Emperor. Super fun show, but docked points b/c it’s in Prospect Park and it’s always hard to focus on the music for one of those shows (I know this is my own fault and not theirs)
7) Yo La Tengo, Hanuakah show day 8: the final day and everyone was very tired. The set was less tight, w/ a lot of blah tracks (and I’m no big fan of guest Steve Wynn, or the Dream Syndicate). But the opener Shadowy Men from a Shadowy Planet was super fun (and did a great cover of The Modern Lovers “She’s Cracked” w/ YLT). There was a random guest appearance from the great Jeffrey Lewis, and Todd Barry did the funniest set I’ve ever seen. Just a really fun positive vibe throughout. Peter Stampfel came out and so did Ira’s mom, which was sweet.