I don’t want to dwell to long here on trying to sum up the year in music; 2018 was a kickass year if music is your thing. Like previous years, I’ll talk briefly about my very favorites that were the true standouts of the year for me, and then list the remainder of my personal top 25.
- Camp Cope, How to Socialise & Make Friends [ Poison City / Run for Cover / Bandcamp ]
Camp Cope made a splash, at least in America, in 2017. That year saw the Australian band visit the States on a summer tour with Cayetana and the US release of their 2016 self-titled debut LP. In 2018, that splash turned into a wave. “The Opener” was released as a teaser single, but it really set the tone for the band’s year. It’s a visceral rebuke of the system sexism women in the music industry face, and it also happens to be one hell of a bop. How to Socialise is partly political, partly deeply personal, and sometimes both at once, exploring Georgia Maq’s friendships, relationships, family, and experiences with abusive contemporaries. I get the same feelings listening to Camp Cope as I did when I was first exposed to Riot Grrrl bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile circa 1993. Camp Cope are three women who do not and will not take any shit, and they will be heard. Album closer “I’ve Got You” was also one of the defining songs of the year for me; it’s a beautiful song about Georgia’s father who died of cancer in 2016, just a little over a month after my own dad had done the same. It’s a song that was at times exactly the song I needed to hear to make sense of the world, and at others too much for me to bear to listen.
- Weakened Friends, Common Blah [ Don Giovanni / Bandcamp ]
The past few years have been difficult for a lot of people to navigate. There’s a lot going on in the world, the news gets worse and more insane by the day, and somehow we’re just supposed to deal with it and keep our own lives in order too? There’s no roadmap for this shit. Everyone has a different way of dealing with life in this bizarre, unravelling time, and Sonia Sturino’s way is writing songs – and thank god for that. After a wait of a little over two years since their last EP Crushed, Weakened Friends finally released their full-length debut, and it’s a big one. Instrumentally the band is as tight and honed as ever, but Sturino is really growing into her unique, inimitable voice. A number of these songs have been running through their live sets for a while, and bassist Annie Hoffman (pulling double duty as recording engineer) has done a fantastic job translating their power and energy. Common Blah is full of infectious fuzzed-out jams and was by far my most-listened-to album this year, which is fairly impressive since it only came out in October. Plus, a bunch of these songs (“Blue Again”, “Early”, “Aches”, “Not Doing Good”) give me that feeling, that ache you feel in your chest, when you listen and everything just resonates; how could I not spin this constantly?
Seriously, check those albums out if you haven’t. But, also, seriously, check out these other ones too. They’re all pretty great.
- Kimbra – Primal Heart
- CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead
- Autechre – NTS Sessions 1-4 [ Bleep ]
- Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog [ Saddle Creek / Bandcamp ]
- Soccer Mommy – Clean [ Fat Possum / Bandcamp ]
- Snail Mail – Lush [ Matador / Bandcamp ]
- Screaming Females – All at Once
- Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive
- Speedy Ortiz – Twerp Verse
- Petal – Magic Gone [ Run For Cover / Bandcamp ]
- Well Wisher – This Is Fine [ 6131 / Bandcamp ]
- Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs
- Ian Sweet – Crush Crusher
- boygenius – boygenius
- GAS – Rausch
- Beach House – 7
- Robyn – Honey
- Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
- Blood Orange – Negro Swan
- Kali Uchis – Isolation
- Pusha T – Daytona
- Mitski – Be the Cowboy
- Sophie – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides