Fester’s Lucky 13: 2018 Year-End Summary

Top 100 Albums of 2018 |  Spotify Mix | 2018 Breakdown: Genre Lists | Shows, Videos | Movies, Television & Books

Another Krampusnacht has come and gone, and our demonic helper of Santa has had his claws full. For the most part, villains have been left unprosecuted as laws protecting our land, wildlife and rights are being systematically dismantled before our glazed eyes. Music certainly isn’t going to save us, but it’s still a hugely important part of life. At it’s best, it can be rejuvenating and inspiring, and at the least, help us make it to the next day. So let us dig into Dr. Fester’s sack and see what kind of nasties await us.

Genre

My tastes have not really shifted, as I still favor post-punk, jangle pop, psych, stoner doom, heavy metal, Afrobeat and kosmische. Jazz has also been a part of my life ever since I played trumpet as a kid and studied everyone from Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke to Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. Jazz has never gone away, but it seems to be enjoying a critical resurgence, and while it’s likely I was just missed out on boatloads of great jazz albums from the 80s through the 00s, for whatever reason, I’ve listened to a lot more jazz this year, including over 50 albums that at least dabble in jazz fusion.  I cover some of them in my recent piece, 2018 Afrobeat Kosmische Jazz Electro Dub Fusion Rundown.

Comeback

While it’s been over 20 years since his previous rock album (Walt MinkColossus, 1997), John Kimbrough has been active writing music for film and TV and producing. Teen Judge is his first full fledged album, which saw a limited vinyl release last year. While the digital release happened in September with little fanfare, it should be required listening to all power pop/garage rock/indie fans. Kimbrough still has the guitar chops, his songwriting has only gotten better, and he assembled a stellar group of musicians. We were also gifted with a surprise album on the stoner holiday 4/20 from the legendary Sleep. The Sciences might not have the same foggy impact as Sleep’s Holy Mountain (1992) or Dopesmoker (various dates, who can remember?) but it was a different era.

Debut

Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s Sub Pop full-length debut was my album of the year, though in my folder I have some singles tacked onto Talk Tight (2016) for a nearly perfect 46 minutes of music. Another band that started out with with some amazing singles and and EP is London’s Peluché (“Ohio”/”Cinnamon” and “Sin” especially), their debut album is funky, psychedelic art pop with a touch of Odyshape era Raincoats and Sade-level sophisticated lushness. The trio of women built a studio out of a garden she shed where they like to jam. If only life were grand enough to be able to hang out there and listen in every night.

In Memorium

I don’t usually do obituaries because they’re so well covered elsewhere, and I prefer to give kudos to musical legends when they’re still alive. But Pete Shelley’s passing did strike deep, as Buzzcocks were such a huge part of my life growing up. In fact, I wonder sometimes how my musical journey would have been altered if I discovered them the same time I did Gary Numan, Talking Heads and Elvis Costello in 1979. I was just 10, but I think I would have loved Buzzcocks instantly. Nevertheless by the time I was in high school, my discovery was concurrent with the likes of Hüsker Dü, a band they influenced in their gender neutral approach to lyrics. His solo single “Homosapien” (1981) was banned because he went from gender neutral to the cleverly suggestive, saucy “I’m the shy boy, you’re the coy boy / And you know we’re Homosapien too / I’m the cruiser, you’re the loser / Me and you sir, Homosapien too.” He continued making Buzzcocks albums, but even more exciting was his reunion with former bandmate Howard Devoto for the brilliant Buzzkunst (2002). I was lucky to have seen him live several times, but would never take for granted more chances. Alas. Who better to pay tribute to his significance than one of my favorite music writers Simon Reynolds — The First Sensitive Punk: Remembering Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley.

Overrated

If you look at my entire list, I’ve rated over 1,200 for 2018. I like a lotta shit. No one can like everything though, and as much as I have love and admired Janelle Monae’s previously ambitious sci fi soul/funk/prog pop epics, the new album is not consistently great. She definitely nails it on some tracks, and has written some good personal lyrics. But just prefer her spacey robot madness. More of that, please.

Underrated

For just over a week, my album of the year was actually #1 on the AOTY aggregate. RBCF are now down to #28 and might fall off the top 40 by the end of the year, but that’s still pretty good for the debut full length from a little jangle pop band from Melbourne. Graveyard’s acclaim is limited to fans of their genre, though I feel like people losing their shit over Greta Van Fleet (who I did enjoy as a guilty pleasure for about a week before getting tired of them) should appreciate them. Peluché gets very positive responses once people hear them, so they’re just underknown at this point. I like Idles okay, but it irks me that so many publications choose them as the one token post-punk band that gets their approval. Occasionally Iceage gets the nod. Along similar lines as Iceage, but better, with fabulously menacing garage noir vibes, is Bambara, who toured with Idles. Idles singer Reid Bateh himself picked them as his favorite band of the year.  He said, “the noir-ish depth of the music takes you away on Birthday Party-type vibes…they’re one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen. They’re violent and passionate, interested and interesting and good-looking, and they’re much cooler than we are.” Preach!

Disappointment

When a band that gave me so much joy at one point falls hard, I always get a bit sad. It happens plenty, but The Vaccines come to mind. I still listen to their debut, but they completely lost their magic in a way that reminds me of Razorlight (who released their fourth album that was supposed to be a comeback, but also is a dud). Their fourth album Combat Sports shows no glimmer of hope.

Countries

global-2017I have this in my database, but have not yet made it accessible in my lists, so here’s a breakdown of the albums per country. Australia overtook Sweden for the third spot, going from 44 albums to 61.  Germany and Italy edged out Norway this year, though Scandinavia is well represented as usual.

US – 473
UK – 217
Australia – 61
Sweden – 58
Canada – 42
Germany – 30
Italy – 30
Norway – 27
France – 25
Finland – 23
Denmark – 14
Netherlands – 14
Brazil – 13
Spain – 13
Japan – 12
Greece – 10
Poland – 8
New Zealand – 6
Russia – 6
Belgium – 4
Mexico – 4
Nigeria – 4
Portugal – 4
Ukraine – 4
China – 3
Chile – 3
Hungary – 3
Mali – 3
Switzerland – 3
Algeria – 2
Argentina – 2
Iceland – 2
Israel – 2
South Africa – 2

Fester’s Lucky 13 – The Best Albums of 2018

01. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs (Sub Pop)

Some folks lament that there are no longer iconic albums that dominate the cultural landscape in both critical esteem and sales. But really, was that such a good thing? Can one album really be all things to all people? Of course not. How boring would that be? Some might think a jangle pop band from Melbourne is not important enough, or political enough to top a year-end list. What matters to me is that they’re definitely good enough. | Full Review | Bandcamp

02. Graveyard – Peace (Nuclear Blast)

These Swedish hard rockers have come a long way from their shared roots with Witchcraft in Norrsken. When it was announced they were breaking up in 2017, I mourned, as they were one of my favorite live bands, and their songs played a key part of my life for the past decade. Fortunately the breakup was short-lived, and their fifth album felt like a surprise give. Nevermind Greta Van Fleet, Halestorm, The Struts, Ghost or Clutch, this is the classic rock of 2018.  | Full Review | Buy

03. Peluché – Unforgettable (One Little Indian)

Self-described as “trip-jam,” this London trio of women are self-taught. Yet in just a few short years, they’ve become an impressively accomplished and tight studio band, probably thanks to their frequent jams in their homemade garden shed studio, documented a couple years ago in a series of YouTube “shed session” videos which sadly disappeared except for this one. They don’t identify as post-punk, but I hear some mid-period Raincoats alongside the influences of funk, hip hop, psych, art pop and lush sophisti-pop. Like being enveloped in warm butter.  | Bandcamp

04. Mansion – First Death Of The Lutheran (I Hate)

This Finnish Kartanoist cult band had a stunning progression of four EPs from 2013-15. They shared The Devil’s Blood’s seriousness in their spiritual interests (though in this case not Satanic), and psych prog sonics with Jess and the Ancient Ones. Their long-awaited full length album feels like the culmination not only of an artistic arc, but a dramatic end world scenario. Someday aliens will find this album amidst the rubble and wonder what the hell those humans did to themselves. This quote in an interview with JJ of The Obelisk sums up their worldview  — “As soon as the song was starting to find its form we knew that it would be the finale. In ”First Death” we simply state that there is a difference between us and you. We will be saved and you will burn in the everlasting fires of hell while we bathe in glory in the Kingdom of Heaven by His side. Pretty much what we want to say with the whole album…We have live sermons and festivals booked for 2019…Merry Christmas!” | Bandcamp

05. Teen Judge – Teen Judge (Berthed Futurist)

I understand that this album was self-released with little marketing and publicity budget, but for all the critics to sleep on this is just dumb. Not just another power pop/garage album, Teen Judge has one of the very best guitarists around  and a Grammy-winning member of David Bowie’s Blackstar band, not to mention of the infectious joy of rocking in a new home built garage studio. | Full Review | Bandcamp

06. Bambara – Shadow On Everything (Wharf Cat)

Now this is my kind of post-punk. Menacing, angry, with garage noir roots of early Scientists and The Birthday Party. The fact that Idles picked them as their favorite after touring with them makes me appreciate Idles a bit more. Formed in 2007 in Atlanta, the band relocated to Brooklyn and started to become truly great on their third album, Swarm (2016).  | Bandcamp

07. Birth Of Joy – Hyper Focus (Glitterhouse)

Utrecht, Netherlands’ Birth Of Joy formed in 2005 as a heavy blues psych project, and were fairly ordinary, until their fifth album Hyper Focus, the title possibly paying tribute to Dutch prog/jazz fusion band Focus. This newly progged out approach to fuzzy organ-laced psychedelia is along the lines of what made people lose their shit over King Gizzard and Oh Sees. Check it out! | Review | Buy

08. Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows – Hymns (Suspect/Pirates Press)

Hailing from Bendigo, Australia, Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows aren’t the first band from Australia to explore Western noir and bluesy Americana (Birthday Party/Nick Cave, Scientists, The Moodists, Crime & The City Solution, The Dirty Three). However, their approach using heavy desert psych gives it a unique flavor, resulting in a slow but relentless creepy crawl that oozes menace and eerie atmosphere. Now this is a bandwagon I wouldn’t mind other bands hopping on, complete with guns, peyote and decomposing bodies. | Bandcamp

09. Sir Robin & The Longbowmen – Prozacco (Sir Robin)

With the sole exception of the #1 RBCF, none of the albums Fester’s Lucky 13 have shown up in a single year-end list. I am so not in sync with other peoples’ tastes, but dang, this stuff holds up. Over 600 albums have earned repeated plays from me throughout the year and these hold up.  Sir Robin & The Longbowmen diversified their arsenal of garage psych sounds and textures on their second album, which added vibrant color and fun to my playlist all year. | Full Review | Bandcamp

10. MaidaVale – Madness Is Too Pure (The Sign)

Sweden’s MaidaVale sounded promising on their heavy psych debut, Tales of the Wicked West (2016), but they sound absolutely supercharged on their second album, which adds post-punk urgency to the mix. It took me a while to appreciate how great it was, but every time a song came up on random, I would jolt up and think, “who the hell is that?” MaidaVale baby!  | Bandcamp

11. The Native Cats – John Sharp Toro (R.I.P. Society)

A sharp change from the maximalist post-punk that’s been popular these days, Hobart, Tasmania’s The Native Cats are extremely stripped down, just bass guitar and electronic sounds. But like, say, Young Marble Giants, there is something timeless and urgent with this duo. Chloe Alison Escott underwent gender transition between their fourth album Dallas (2013) and this latest. She also does stand-up comedy, but the wit here is serrated with eviscerating intensity. This feels like a classic. | Bandcamp

12. Messa – Feast For Water (Aural)

Like several other bands in the Lucky 13, Italian doom metal band Messa also made a giant step in artistic progression with their second album. While Belfry (2016) was a slow, stately, nearly funereal debut, they have now incorporated subtle jazz influences, along with some experimental avant drone tones. It took some time to warm up to, then rested on the backburner for a while, but is now outshining the considerable competition with its subtle arrangements. | Review | Bandcamp

13. Maggot Heart – Dusk To Dusk (Teratology)

Maggot Heart and Lucifer flipped places on my list throughout the year. Both are nearly equally great, but different albums from the former bandmates in The Oath. In the end, Linnéa Olsson Maggot Heart earned the edge with her unique witches brew of hard rock, garage punk, and noise rock, late 80s style. I predicted top 50, but Dusk To Dusk just kept slaying its competition, and here it is, polishing off Fester’s Lucky 13. To the death! | Full Review | Bandcamp

I got a late start this year, so most people are already experiencing list fatigue. I was compulsively checking out album after album that I hadn’t heart yet on Spotify and had to force myself to stop in order to finish this. Since my listening habits are dynamic and never standing still, this list would look different a few weeks from now. However, I invested hundreds and hundreds of hours of listening and thinking and comparing. It’s a damn good list, as long as you are remotely interested in the genres covered here. Speaking of genres, see the breakdown for more lists and blurbs. | Spotify Mix Playlist

  1. Hollow Hand – Star Chamber (Talkshow) | Buy
  2. Vanishing Kids – Heavy Dreamer (Svart) | Bandcamp
  3. Lucifer – Lucifer II (Century Media) | Buy
  4. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death In Meatspace (Joyful Noise) | Bandcamp
  5. Sleep – The Sciences (Third Man) | Buy
  6. Bas Jan – Yes I Jan (Lost Map) | Bandcamp
  7. Ancestors – Suspended In Reflections (Pelagic) | Bandcamp
  8. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Wasteland (Rise Above) | Buy
  9. White Denim – Performance (City Slang) | Bandcamp
  10. All Them Witches – ATW (New West) | Bandcamp
  11. The Exploding Eyes Orchestra – II (Svart) | Bandcamp
  12. Mode Moderne – Mode IV (Light Organ) | Bandcamp
  13. Body Type – Body Type EP (Partisan) | Bandcamp
  14. The Ocean Party – The Oddfellows’ Hall (Spunk) | Bandcamp
  15. Crepes – In Cahoots (Spunk) | Bandcamp
  16. Khemmis – Desolation (20 Buck Spin) | Bandcamp
  17. Windhand – Eternal Return (Relapse) | Bandccamp
  18. Santa Librada – Santa Librada (Santa Librada) | Bandcamp
  19. Pale Divine – Pale Divine (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  20. Wytch Hazel – II: Sojourn (Bad Omen) | Bandcamp
  21. Witch Mountain – Witch Mountain (Svart) | Bandcamp
  22. Castle – Deal Thy Fate (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  23. Oh Sees – Smote Reverser (Castle Face) | Bandcamp
  24. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships (Pekula) | Bandcamp
  25. Dream Wife – Dream Wife (Lucky Number) | Bandcamp
  26. Goat Girl – Goat Girl (Rough Trade) | Buy
  27. Viagra Boys – Street Worms (Year) | Bandcamp
  28. Melbourne Cans – Heat Of The Night (Lost And Lonesome) | Bandcamp
  29. Ought – Room Inside The World (Merge) | Bandcamp
  30. ILL – We Are ILL (Box Records) | Bandcamp
  31. Neurotic Fiction – Pulp Music (Specialist Subject) | Bandcamp
  32. The Third Sound – All Tomorrow’s Shadows (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  33. Steeple Remove – Vonal-Axis (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  34. Parades Against Parades – Driving Me Stoned (Cardinal Fuzz) | Bandcamp
  35. Sitka Sun – Sitka Sun (The Long Road Society) | Bandcamp
  36. Wooden Shjips – V (Thrill Jockey) | Bandcamp
  37. Black Salvation – Uncertainty Is Bliss (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  38. Cave – Allways (Drag City) | Bandcamp
  39. Druid – The Seven Scrolls (Druid) | Bandcamp
  40. Weedpecker – III (Stickman) | Bandcamp
  41. Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain) | Bandcamp
  42. Needlepoint – The Diary Of Robert Reverie (BJK) | Buy
  43. Iceage – Beyondless (Matador) | Buy
  44. LITHICS – Mating Surfaces (Kill Rock Stars) | Bandcamp
  45. Glintshake – Benefit (Kometa) | Bandcamp
  46. The Breeders – All Nerve (4AD) | Buy
  47. Shopping – The Official Body (FatCat) | Bandcamp
  48. Moab – Trough (Falling Dome) | Bandcamp
  49. Alastor – Slave To The Grave (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  50. The Necromancers – Of Blood And Wine (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  51. Spiritual Cramp – Television (Deranged) | Bandcamp
  52. King Buffalo – Longing To Be The Mountain (King Buffalo) | Bandcamp
  53. Tony Allen & Jeff Mills – Tomorrow Comes The Harvest (Blue Note) | Buy
  54. Orb – The Space Between (Flightless) | Bandcamp
  55. Somali Yacht Club – The Sea (RobustFellow) | Bandcamp
  56. Greenleaf – Hear The Rivers (Napalm) | Bandcamp
  57. High Reeper – High Reeper (Heavy Psych) | Bandcamp
  58. Earthless – Black Heaven (Nuclear Blast) | Buy
  59. JIRM – Surge Ex Monumentis (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  60. E.L. Heath – Smiling Leaf EP (Wayside & Woodland) | Bandcamp
  61. Choral Hearse – Mire Exhumed (Choral Hearse) | Bandcamp
  62. Mythic Sunship – Upheaval (El Paraiso) | Buy
  63. The Wizards – Rise Of The Serpent (High Roller) | Bandcamp
  64. Melody Fields – Melody Fields (Kommun 2) | Bandcamp
  65. Les Big Byrd – Iran Iraq IKEA (PNKSLM) | Bandcamp
  66. Magmakammer – Mindtripper (Magmakammer) | Bandcamp
  67. Amyl And The Sniffers – Big Attraction & Giddy Up (Homeless) | Bandcamp
  68. Makaya McCraven – Universal Beings (International Anthem) | Bandcamp
  69. Ezra Collective – Juan Pablo: The Philospher EP (Brownswood) | Bandcamp
  70. Maisha – There Is A Place (Brownswood) | Bandcamp
  71. Al Doum & The Faryds – Spirit Rejoin (Bongo Joe) | Bandcamp
  72. Goatman – Rhythms (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  73. Trés Oui – Poised To Flourish (Shrimper) | Bandcamp
  74. Massage – Oh Boy (Tearjerk) | Bandcamp
  75. Salad Boys – This Is Glue (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  76. Electric Citizen – Helltown (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  77. Dunbarrow – Dunbarrow II (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  78. Nekromant – The Nekromant Lives (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  79. Crippled Black Phoenix – Great Escape (Season Of Mist) | Bandcamp
  80. Senyawa – Sujud (Sublime Frequencies) | Bandcamp
  81. Green Dragon – Green Dragon (Green Dragon) | Bandcamp
  82. Dos Santos – Logos (International Anthem) | Bandcamp
  83. Spiders – Killer Machine (Crusher) | Buy
  84. LIINES – Stop-Start (Reckless Yes) | Bandcamp
  85. Szun Waves – New Hymn To Freedom (Leaf) | Bandcamp
  86. Public Practice – Distance Is A Mirror EP (Wharf Cat) | Bandcamp
  87. Rough Spells – Modern Kicks For The Solitary Witch EP (Rough Spells) | Bandcamp

Below is my traditional snapshot of CDs I bought over the year. If the stack looks smaller, usually I wait until the end of the year to sell some of them, but I already gave some away to friends and sold some. But yeah, I’m buying less CDs, as my shelf space is finite. I sell off a bunch every year to keep it manageable, but I do continue to buy digitally, mainly through Bandcamp (you can follow my collection at https://bandcamp.com/fastnbulbous), but also 7Digital, Boomkat, Pledge Music, etc. I’m not sure exactly how many I bought this year, as I still get some promos, but I definitely couldn’t afford everything on this year-end summary. Spotify is great for sampling stuff, and I use it often. I curated 17 playlists this year. If you don’t use Spotify, I think they’re worth the minimal effort of trying out the free version.

2018 Breakdown

If you want to deep dive some of these genres, there’s often a lot more than the 13 listed. Over 600 albums in these genre lists, to be specific. You can look them up with the lists feature here to see all of them, just choose 2018 and genre from the drop-down.

Psych | Space Rock | Kosmische | Psych NoirPsych ProgProgGarage Rock/Punk/NoirPunk, Post-Punk & HardcoreDesert/Fuzz/Stoner RockHard RockBlues Rock, Southern Rock, Jam, AORHeavy MetalDoomBlack/Death/Sludge/Technical/Speed/Prog/Avant MetalAvant, Experimental, Post-Rock, Modern Classical, Ambient, Industrial, Noise & DroneDream Pop & ShoegazeArt PopJangle PopIndie Rock & PopJazz & FusionGlobalAfrobeatElectronic, Techno & DanceR&B, Soul & FunkHip Hop & RapFolk, Americana & Country | Non-Metal For Metalheads | Reissues | New Old Discoveries | Singles | Videos

Psych

Psych, or psychedelia, psychedelic rock and pop, kind of fell between the cracks in 2018. But despite the lack of big names like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard or Tame Impala, psych was stealthily embedded in hundreds of albums, but might not be considered the primary genre identifier. Sir Robin & The Longbowmen deserve that kind of attention, and made the overall Lucky 13 list. An extremely late entry, Hollow Hand might  have broke into the Lucky 13 if I had more time with it. After a promising self-released debut of psych pop and progressive folk, Ancestral Lands (2015), the new one shows the London group lead by Max Kinghorn-Mills in full songwriting bloom. Folks are dropping names like Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt, Syd Barrett, Ray Davies. Perhaps, but it definitely mitigates my disappointment of recent singer/songwriter fave Jacco Gardner releasing an album without singing, and Doug Tuttle not releasing anything this year. It might be exhausting to keep up with the prolific Oh Sees catalog, but for those excited to hear elements of psych prog and kosmische, this is one of their best. Black Salvation, also from Germany, was also under the radar, perhaps because their sound is hard to pigeonhole, as I hear touches of kosmische, doom and garage noir. Like Hollow Hand, the Athens born but Shrewsbury, Shropshire (what a perfect name for a little bucolic folk psych setting) residing E.L. Heath is influenced by eccentric British songwriters like Kevin Ayers, but with a more ethereal approach. His previous full-length in 2013 was in Welsh.

Just missing the list, the second volume of Papernut Cambridge’s Mellotron Phase. I think it’s ridiculous that their more well-crafted psych pop songs have been overlooked by critics. This extremely prolific band has released seven albums in six years, and that’s not even counting the novelty instrumental mellotron experiments. Also the surprisingly popular Khruangbin, Wand, Dead Meadow, like Papernut Cambridge, Melbourne’s The Citradels had two great albums, God Bless and Fuck The Hits Vol. 1, and still more Aussie garage psych, Pseudo Mind Hive and The Jim Mitchells. Also Spiral Skies, Calliope, Post Animal, Magic Shoppe. I could probably go to 100 on this one, but I’ll need to save my energy to go nuts later. There are more solid psych pop singer-songwriters, like Boy Azooga, Michael Rault, Amen Dunes and Bootes Void, all of whom can be heard on the playlist. | Spotify

  1. Sir Robin & The Longbowmen – Prozacco (Sir Robin) | Bandcamp
  2. Hollow Hand – Star Chamber (Talkshow) | Buy
  3. Oh Sees – Smote Reverser (Castle Face) | Bandcamp
  4. Black Salvation – Uncertainty Is Bliss (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  5. JIRM – Surge Ex Monumentis (Small Stone) | Bandcamp
  6. E.L. Heath – Smiling Leaf EP (Wayside & Woodland) | Bandcamp
  7. Olden Yolk – Olden Yolk (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  8. Melody Fields – Melody Fields (Kommun 2) | Bandcamp
  9. Papernut Cambridge – Outstairs Instairs (Gare Du Nord) | Bandcamp
  10. David Nance Group – Peaced And Slightly Pulverized (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  11. Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage (Domino/Fat Possum) | Bandcamp
  12. Jacco Gardner – Somnium (Polyvinyl/Full Time Hobby) | Bandcamp
  13. Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin (Drag City) | Bandcamp

Space Rock

As Santa bends dimensional time and space to get his Xmas chores done, this might be what he has playing on his headphones. What’s the difference between kosmische and space rock? Aside from less overt influences from German bands, I consider space rock less electronic based and more noisy, guitars with battle scars from colliding with asteroids and space junk. Always a reliable source of cosmic jams is Denmark’s Mythic Sunship, who released two albums of so-called wobbly anaconda rock.  Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music turns up the free jazz quotient and sets the controls for the heart of the sun.  Melbourne’s Mildlife adds electronic-aided jazz-funk to the mix. They have saxophones in space? Well obvi, as documented in Star Wars’ cantina scene. Norway’s Action & Tension & Space would make for an excellent space lounge act, with extra psych prog space madness. Love those bass drum accents on “Lone Stranger”! Starships drifting under: Earthling Society, Deep Space Destructors, Mildred Maude, Lumerians, Sendelica, Anthroprophh, Spaceslug, Warp Transmission, Automatism, Alithia, Øresund Space Collective, The Oscillation. | Spotify

  1. Mythic Sunship – Upheaval (El Paraiso) | Buy
  2. Mildlife – Phase (Research) | Bandcamp
  3. Action & Tension & Space – Skåredalen Funhouse (Kapitan Platte) | Bandcamp
  4. Mythic Sunship – Another Shape Of Psychedelic Music (El Paraiso) | Buy
  5. Vespero – Hollow Moon (Tonzonen) | Bandcamp
  6. MIEN – MIEN (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  7. UFO Över Lappland – UFO Över Lappland (Sulatron) | Bandcamp
  8. The Myrrors – Borderlands (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond) | Bandcamp
  9. Psychic Lemon – Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay (Tonzonen) | Bandcamp
  10. Dead Otter – Bridge Of Weird (Riot Season) | Bandcamp
  11. Our Solar System – Origins (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond) | Bandcamp
  12. The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol – Droneverdose (Cardinal Fuzz) | Bandcamp
  13. Lay Llamas – Thuban (Rocket) | Bandcamp

Kosmische

It’s appropriate that while last year Moon Duo lead the kosmische pack with their two volume Occult Architecture, this year, Ripley Johnson’s other band, Wooden Shjips releases a strong album that edges closer to Moon Duo in sound and texture. And like Wooden Shjips, Chicago’s Cave makes a glorious return with their first album in five years. This one introduces more freewheeling jazz fusion percussion. Brilliant. Japan’s Kikagaku Moyo and Minami Deutsch are solid entries, sponsored by the Guruguru Brain label. Germany is represented with unsurprisingly authentic kosmische from Camera and Kosmischer Läufer (more about them on my recent piece, 2018 Afrobeat Kosmische Jazz Electro Dub Fusion Rundown. Finland’s Circle-related Pharaoh Overlord is also essential kosmische listening. Motoriking under: Nicklas Sørensen, Tentent, Klaus Johann Grobe and Hypnodrone Ensemble. | Spotify

  1. Wooden Shjips – V (Thrill Jockey) | Bandcamp
  2. Cave – Allways (Drag City) | Bandcamp
  3. Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples (Guruguru Brain) | Bandcamp
  4. Camera – Emotional Detox (Camera) | Bandcamp
  5. Minami Deutsch – With Dim Light (Guruguru Brain) | Bandcamp
  6. Pharaoh Overlord – Zero (Ektro/Hydra Head) | Bandcamp
  7. Vive La Void – Vive La Void (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  8. Beak> – >>> (Invada/Temporary Residence) | Bandcamp
  9. Kosmischer Läufer – The Secret Cosmic Music Of The East German Olympic Program 1972-83: Vol. 4 (Unknown Capability) | Bandcamp
  10. CB3 – From Nothing To Eternity (Eggs In Aspic) | Bandcamp
  11. L’Éclair – Polymood (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond) | Bandcamp
  12. Caudal – Fight Cry Fight (Drone Rock) | Bandcamp
  13. Cavern Of Anti-Matter – Hormone Lemonade (Duophonic) | Bandcamp

Psych Noir

Three years after my Kaleidoscopes & Grimoires: Psych Noir, this year’s batch confirms psych noir is not just a figment of my imagination, despite the world’s reluctance to make use of this most excellent genre tag. Mansion and Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows both made the overall Lucky 13 above, while Lucifer just missed. They swapped out Cathedral’s Gaz Jennings with Nicke Andersson (Entombed/Hellacopters), resulting in a harder rocking album. However, the noir remains strong. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats is one of my all-time faves, and Wasteland, while a strong album, would have ranked higher if it weren’t for the extremely shitty recording. They have always been low fi, but it sounds especially anemic, especially when heard in the context of a mix. So Uncle Acid does not play well with others. The Exploding Eyes Orchestra, the second part of a side project by members of Finland’s Jess & The Ancient Ones, recorded a few years back, sound amazing, and it’s mindblowing that they can casually let songs of this caliber languish for years like it’s no biggie. This indicates that perhaps there’s even bigger and better things brewing from JOTAO. That would take the sting out of the breakup of spiritual noirmates Purson though Rosalie Cunningham, who wrote and performed everything from their last album does have a Pledge campaign for her solo album. Fuzz Club is a strong supporter of psych noir, with three albums in the top 13, including Germany-based Italians The Third Sound with their third album, and Rouen, France’s Steeple Remove, who started out in 1996 with more noisy, experimental psych. Their sixth album is an expansive exploration of sounds ranging from post-punk, to shoegaze and space rock. Parades Against Parades is a dark, nasty roadtrip with a wobbly tape of Thee Hypnotics and Spacemen 3 on deck heading to Motor City. Norway’s Magmakammer are essentially Uncle Acid acolytes, which I’m totally down with. | Spotify

  1. Mansion – First Death Of The Lutheran (I Hate) | Bandcamp
  2. Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows – Hymns (Suspect/Pirates Press) | Bandcamp
  3. Lucifer – Lucifer II (Century Media) | Buy
  4. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Wasteland (Rise Above) | Buy
  5. The Exploding Eyes Orchestra – II (Svart) | Bandcamp
  6. The Third Sound – All Tomorrow’s Shadows (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  7. Steeple Remove – Vonal-Axis (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  8. Parades Against Parades – Driving Me Stoned (Cardinal Fuzz) | Bandcamp
  9. Magmakammer – Mindtripper (Magmakammer) | Bandcamp
  10. Sonic Jesus – Memories (Sonic Jesus) | Bandcamp
  11. The Osiris Club – The Wine-Dark Sea (Indie) | Bandcamp
  12. Crimen – Silent Animals (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  13. Ghost – Prequelle (Loma Vista) | Bandcamp

Psych Prog

While last year was lead by the album of the year from Norway’s mighty Motorpsycho, we have a great batch here, lead by Birth Of Joy, discussed above in the Lucky 13. A pleasant surprise was the November 30 release from Vanishing Kids, lead by Nikki Drohomyreky and guitarist Jason Hartman, who served with Jex Thoth. Originally from Madison, they are now based in Portland, and their fifth album is a real corker, an ethereal mix of doomy psych and prog with a shoegaze influence. Amgala Temple is an amazing Norwegian supergroup (members from Jaga Jazzist, Susanne Sundfør, Todd Terje, Morudes, Bushman’s Revenge, Needlepoint) who feature jaw-dropping jazz fusion prog virtuosity. Gorgeous. From Druid’s cover art and sound, you’d think they were a group who had gotten lost in the dark forests of Finland in the 70s, having just found civilization. But no, they’re from Ohio! Australia’s Orb and Ukraine’s Somali Yacht Club both improved their music by injecting more prog. From these results, a recommended approach! Circling beyond the 13: Aton Five, Estuary Blacks, Phogg, Vespero & Ángel Ontalva, Colonel Petrov’s Good Judgement, The Hare And The Hoofe, The Winstons, The Evil Usses, Stoned Jesus, Crayola Lectern, Kiki Pau. | Spotify

  1. Birth Of Joy – Hyper Focus (Glitterhouse) | Buy
  2. Vanishing Kids – Heavy Dreamer (Svart) | Bandcamp
  3. Amgala Temple – Invisible Airships (Pekula) | Bandcamp
  4. Druid – The Seven Scrolls (Druid) | Bandcamp
  5. Orb – The Space Between (Flightless) | Bandcamp
  6. Somali Yacht Club – The Sea (RobustFellow) | Bandcamp
  7. Les Big Byrd – Iran Iraq IKEA (PNKSLM) | Bandcamp
  8. Boss Keloid – Melted On The Inch (Holy Roar) | Bandcamp
  9. Church Of The Cosmic Skull – Science Fiction (Kozmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  10. Sundays & Cybele – On The Grass (Guruguru Brain) | Bandcamp
  11. Dungen & Woods – Myths 003 EP (Mexican Summer) | Bandcamp
  12. Merlin – The Wizard (The Company) | Bandcamp
  13. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan – Dirt (Paper Bag) | Bandcamp

Prog

Despite so much of the horrific sounding prog metal and overproduced prog spewing out of this genre, there’s always great finds on the fringes. Norway’s Needlepoint is pretty new to me, despite this being their fourth album since 2010. They specialize in the quirky, early 70s era Canterbury sound, no easy feat to take that influence and do something unique that measures up to the originals, but this band does a stellar job. Elder’s Nick DiSalvo always listens to interesting stuff, and when I pressed him for a recommendation, Needlepoint was the only name he’d cough up. This makes me keenly curious how the next Elder album will sound! Leave it to the Germans to come up with another great doom prog album this time from Berlin’s Choral Hearse.  UK’s Crippled Black Phoenix dip into a variety of styles as always, including avant and art rock and post-rock. Similarly, The Fierce & The Dead also mix in some post-rock and make a strong case for establishing a prog punk subgenre with their fierce instrumental attack. Prognatizing below: Haken, Phideaux, Gazpacho, Vennart, Koenji Hyakkei, Riverside, Soft Machine, PinioL, Star Period Star, The Pineapple Thief. | Spotify

  1. Needlepoint – The Diary Of Robert Reverie (BJK) | Buy
  2. Choral Hearse – Mire Exhumed (Choral Hearse) | Bandcamp
  3. Crippled Black Phoenix – Great Escape (Season Of Mist) | Bandcamp
  4. Sammal – Suuliekki (Svart) | Bandcamp
  5. The Fierce & The Dead – The Euphoric (Bad Elephant) | Bandcamp
  6. Elephant9 – Greatest Show On Earth (Rune Grammofon) | Buy
  7. Malady – Toinen Toista (Svart) | Bandcamp
  8. Night Verses – From The Gallery Of Sleep (Equal Vision) | Bandcamp
  9. Kevin Hufnagel – Messages To The Past (Nightfloat/Translation Loss) | Bandcamp
  10. Homunculus Res – Della stessa sostanza dei sogni (altrOck) | Bandcamp
  11. Voices – Frightened (Candlelight) | Buy
  12. Gungfly – Friendship (InsideOut) | Buy
  13. Madder Mortem – Marrow (Karisma/Dark Essence) | Bandcamp

Garage Rock/Punk/Noir

I was dismayed to hear The Drones broke up, but to my ears Tropical Fuck Storm sounds like the same band, just a bit more chaotically raw and unhinged. It’s taken a long time to grow on me, because it is more prickly and less immediately accessible, but appreciate that there’s a lot going on. It’s sounds are profoundly unfashionable, but it’s a real trailblazer. Gareth Liddiard’s vocal technique has evolved into a really original instrument, as has his wild slashing guitar playing that intersects as well with the squelchy synths as his voice tangles with bandmate Erica Dunn’s. What originally seems like a plodding crawl actually has a kind of post-funk swagger. A work of genius may be lurking beneath the garish carnivalesque colors.

London’s Goat Girl has actually gotten some love on other year-end lists. Their youthful swagger and sneer in a smoky, blues/garage noir setting is a great sound. Australia’s Amyl And The Sniffers manage to blast fresh energy into garage punk. This is a compilation of their first two EPs, with a new full length out early 2019. Can’t wait! Melbourne’s Mod Con is Erica Dunn’s band. This eclectic post-punk noir was produced by Gareth Lidiard, who she worked with on the Tropical Fuck Storm album. She’s a busy woman, as her other band Harmony also put out an album. Garage rock benefits from the quick in-and-out length of EPs, case in point with Pinch Points and Eat-Man (both from Australia), L.A. Witch, and together PANGEA, who kick off the EP with an absolutely killer cover of Devo’s “Gates Of Steel.” Festering beneath the garage: The Ar-Kaics, The Neighborhood Brats, Holly Golightly, Shannon & The Clams, RAYS, Green Seagull, Marked Men, Straight Arrows, Axis: Sova. | Spotify

  1. Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death In Meatspace (Joyful Noise) | Bandcamp
  2. Goat Girl – Goat Girl (Rough Trade) | Buy
  3. Amyl And The Sniffers – Big Attraction & Giddy Up (Homeless) | Bandcamp
  4. Mod Con – Modern Convenience (Poison City) | Bandcamp
  5. Pinch Points – Mechanical Injury EP (Roolette) | Bandcamp
  6. L.A. Witch – Octubre EP (Suicide Squeeze) | Bandcamp
  7. False Tracks – Down There EP (False Tracks) | Bandcamp
  8. together PANGEA – Non Stop Paranoia EP (together PANGEA) | Buy
  9. Eat-Man – Eat-Man EP (Eat-Man) | Bandcamp
  10. Slift – La Planète Inexplorée (Howlin Banana) | Bandcamp
  11. Stiff Love – Trouble EP (Stiff Love) | Bandcamp
  12. Canshaker Pi – Naughty Naughty Violence (Excelsior) | Buy
  13. The Primals – All Love Is True Love (Southern Lord) | Bandcamp
  14. Sunflowers – Castle Spell (Stolen Body/Only Lovers) | Bandcamp
  15. Savage Mansion – Document EP (Lost Map) | Bandcamp
  16. Holly Golightly – Do The Get Along (Damaged Goods) | Buy
  17. Shannon & The Clams – Onion (Easy Eye) | Buy
  18. Arcadian Child – Afterglow (Rogue Wave) | Bandcamp
  19. RAYS – You Can Get There From Here (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  20. Green Seagull – Scarlet Fever (Mega Dodo) | Bandcamp
  21. Marked Men – On The Other Side 2003-10 (Dirtnap) | Bandcamp
  22. Straight Arrows – On Top! (Rice Is Nice) | Bandcamp
  23. Axis: Sova – Shampoo You (Drag City) | Bandcamp
  24. Big Kizz – Music Is Magic (Tee Pee) | Buy
  25. Spiritual Cramp – Police State EP (Deranged) | Bandcamp
  26. GØGGS – Pre Strike Sweep (In The Red) | Buy
  27. Drunk Mums – Urban Cowboy (Drunk Mums) | Bandcamp
  28. Ty Segall – Fudge Sandwich (In The Red) | Buy
  29. Ethers – Ethers (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  30. Marshmallow Overcoat – Songs From All You Need Is Fuzz (Area Pirata) | Bandcamp
  31. Starcrawler – Starcrawler (Rough Trade) | Buy
  32. Curse Of Lono – As I Fell (Submarine Cat) | Buy
  33. The Tropes – Bottom Of The Ocean (Tropes) | Bandcamp
  34. The Death Wheelers – I Tread On Your Grave (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  35. Hank Wood And The Hammerheads – Hank Wood And The Hammerheads EP (Toxic State) | Bandcamp
  36. The Pacers – Forget Everything You Know (Psycharella) | Buy
  37. Hinds – I Don’t Run (Lucky Number) | Bandcamp
  38. Dan Rico – Dreamy (Dan Rico) | Bandcamp
  39. Blues Lawyer – Guess Work (Vacant Stare) | Bandcamp
  40. Nopes – Stapler (Magnetic Eye) | Bandcamp
  41. Rotten Mind – Fading Into Oblivion (Lovely) | Bandcamp
  42. Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens (Sub Pop) | Bandcamp
  43. The Lovely Eggs – This Is Eggland (Egg) | Buy
  44. Datenight – Comin Atcha’ 100MPH (Datenight) | Bandcamp
  45. Criminal Code – 2534 (Deranged) | Bandcamp
  46. The Limiñanas – Shadow People (Because) | Buy
  47. Black Lizard – Celebration Of A New Dawn (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  48. The Laissez Fairs – Empire Of Mars (Rum Bar) | Bandcamp
  49. Octopus – Supernatural Alliance (Rise Above) | Buy
  50. The Molochs – Flowers In The Spring (Innovative Leisure) | Bandcamp

Punk, Post-Punk & Hardcore

Two of my favorites from last year, Melbourne’s Wet Lips and Boston’s Dazey And The Scouts already broke up. So it goes with scruffy punk bands with kids in their 20s. Also last year, I wondered why Priests and Idles got more attention than the amazing Algiers. This year Idles is a clear critical favorite with their second album, which improves on their first one, but still isn’t close to my favorite. The mighty Bambara and The Native Cats both made the Lucky 13 at top, and Bas Jan also nearly made it. Bas Jan is lead by London-based Serafina Steer, who put out a few solo chamber folk albums. Like The Native Cats, they feature a stripped down, minimalist sound, but more along the lines of The Slits than Young Marble Giants. Mode Moderne had a sneak release, compiling the singles they issued on Bandcamp last year. The singles are no longer available on Bandcamp, but you can buy the CD, LP or downloads in the link below. Also, it’s the best jangly Smiths inspired music I’ve heard since The Sea Kings in 2014. Like RVG and The Native Cats, Santa Librada is trans-led with passionate lyrics that address feminism, gender politics, love and fury. Dream Wife approach similar topics with a more polished, less messy sound. Sweden’s Viagra Boys would be a nightmare to Google, but once they’re safely plugged into your playlist, enjoy their hilarious satire on masculinity, including the fabulous “Sports” that include non-sequiters about wiener dogs. Ought’s third album took a while to get used to their more twisty art rock direction, but it really grew on me. If you can’t catch them live, check out their videos to get a sense of Tim Darcy’s unique, nerdy charisma. Manchester’s ILL is a wonderfully weird mix of art punk, psych and noise. Denmark’s Iceage are always consistently great with their dark brand of blues punk noir. Russia’s Glintshake is challenging stuff that includes some avant prog in the mix. I do like the Idles album, but there’s just so mother other great stuff. Shopping grabbed me on their debut, and they’ve gotten even better on the new one. Spiritual Cramp’s album is technically a compilation of EPs and singles, but most of it was from this year so I count it. I caught them live early in the year and while they’re still rough, they show tons of creative potential, plus a fully committed tambourine player. China’s Lonely Leary was a late discovery, and I’ve already gone down the rabbit hole to explore Maybe Mars labelmates P.K. 14, Chui Wan and Dear Eloise. Yeah, there’s 100 albums, I got a little crazy with this. What can I say, I likealottapunk! Best Ramones tribute, the second album from Dark Thoughts. Can you believe there’s still stuff left off? Like Ultra, VoX LoW, C.H.E.W., War On Women, Dreamweapon, Mamuthones, The Love Coffin, Color TV, Sore Points, Poptone, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, Deszcz, The Exploding Boy, Mean Jeans, The Cops, Criminal Body, Pardans, Wind Atlas and more! | Spotify

  1. Bambara – Shadow On Everything (Wharf Cat) | Bandcamp
  2. The Native Cats – John Sharp Toro (R.I.P. Society) | Bandcamp
  3. Bas Jan – Yes I Jan (Lost Map) | Bandcamp
  4. Mode Moderne – Mode IV (Light Organ) | Bandcamp
  5. Santa Librada – Santa Librada (Santa Librada) | Bandcamp
  6. Dream Wife – Dream Wife (Lucky Number) | Bandcamp
  7. Viagra Boys – Street Worms (Year) | Bandcamp
  8. Ought – Room Inside The World (Merge) | Bandcamp
  9. ILL – We Are ILL (Box Records) | Bandcamp
  10. Iceage – Beyondless (Matador) | Buy
  11. LITHICS – Mating Surfaces (Kill Rock Stars) | Bandcamp
  12. Glintshake – Benefit (Kometa) | Bandcamp
  13. Shopping – The Official Body (FatCat) | Bandcamp
  14. Spiritual Cramp – Television (Deranged) | Bandcamp
  15. LIINES – Stop-Start (Reckless Yes) | Bandcamp
  16. Public Practice – Distance Is A Mirror EP (Wharf Cat) | Bandcamp
  17. Idles – Joy As An Act Of Resistance (Partisan) | Bandcamp
  18. Lonely Leary – Through the Park, Almost There (Maybe Mars) | Bandcamp
  19. Rosegarden Funeral Party – The Chopping Block EP (Moon Sounds) | Bandcamp
  20. Temple Of Angels – Foiled EP (Temple Of Angels) | Bandcamp
  21. Drug Church – Cheer (Pure Noise) | Bandcamp
  22. The Common Cold – Shut Up! Yo Liberals! (Action) | Bandcamp
  23. P.K. 14 – What We Talk About When We Talk About His Name (Maybe Mars) | Bandcamp
  24. Hotlips Messiah – Disco Miscarriage (New Mutanta) | Buy
  25. Constant Mongrel – Living In Excellence (La Vida Es un Mus) | Bandcamp
  26. Full Bush – Full Bush (Full Bush) | Bandcamp
  27. The Native Cats – Spiro Scratch EP (R.I.P. Society) | Bandcamp
  28. Bas Jan – Instant Nostalgia EP (Lost Map) | Bandcamp
  29. Child’s Pose – Child’s Pose EP (Nervous Energy) | Bandcamp
  30. Bodega – Endless Scroll (What’s Your Rupture?) | Bandcamp
  31. Flasher – Constant Image (Domino) | Bandcamp
  32. C.C.T.V. – Season Finale EP (Lumpy) | YouTube
  33. Preoccupations – New Material (Jagjaguwar) | Bandcamp
  34. Ganser – Odd Talk (No Trend) | Bandcamp
  35. Second Still – Equals EP (Manic Depression) | Bandcamp
  36. Esben And The Witch – Nowhere (Season Of Mist) | Bandcamp
  37. Girls Names – Stains On Silence (Tough Love) | Bandcamp
  38. Mock Identity – Paradise (Mock Identity) | Bandcamp
  39. Dumb – Seeing Green (Mint Records) | Bandcamp
  40. Mourn – Sorpresa Familia (Captured Tracks) | Bandcamp
  41. safespace – Keep Quiet (safespace) | Bandcamp
  42. Muncie Girls – Fixed Ideals (Specialist Subject) | Bandcamp
  43. Dark Thoughts – At Work (Drunken Sailor) | Bandcamp
  44. Destroy Boys – Make Room (Uncool) | Buy
  45. Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams (Matador) | Bandcamp
  46. The Aints – The Church Of Simultaneous Existence (ABC Music) | Buy
  47. Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Riddles (Carpark) | Bandcamp
  48. The Ex – 27 Passports (Ex) | Bandcamp
  49. Hashteroid – Hashteroid (Cursed Tongue) | Bandcamp
  50. Teksti-TV 666 – Aidattu Tulevaisuus (Svart) | Buy
  51. High Priests – Spinning (Triple Eye Industries) | Bandcamp
  52. Little Ugly Girls – Little Ugly Girls (Chapter Music) | Bandcamp
  53. Heads. – Collider (Corpse Flower) | Bandcamp
  54. EXEK – Ahead Of Two Thoughts (Superior Viaduct) | Bandcamp
  55. Liars – TWTWF (Titles With The Word Fountain) (Mute) | Buy
  56. Frigs – Basic Behaviour (Arts & Crafts) | Bandcamp
  57. The Pier – Dead Reckoning (Kallax) | Bandcamp
  58. Fotocrime – Principle Of Pain (Auxiliary) | Bandcamp
  59. The Damned – Evil Spirits (Spinefarm) | Buy
  60. Patois Counselors – Proper Release (Ever Never) | Bandcamp
  61. Motorama – Many Nights (Talitres) | Bandcamp
  62. The Interrupters – Fight The Good Fight (Hellcat) | Buy
  63. Snape – Always (Snape) | Bandcamp
  64. Exploded View – Obey (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  65. Alice Bag – Blueprint (Don Giovanni) | Bandcamp
  66. Self Defense Family – Have You Considered Punk Music (Run For Cover) | Bandcamp
  67. Vertigo – V2 (Anti-Fade) | Bandcamp
  68. The Number Ones – Another Side Of The Number Ones EP (Static Shock) | Bandcamp
  69. Shiny Darkly – Bronze (Third Coming) | Bandcamp
  70. VOWWS – Under The World (Anti Language) | Bandcamp
  71. NONN – XVII (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  72. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake! (Rough Trade) | Buy
  73. Sierpien – Renovation (Sierpien) | Bandcamp
  74. Interpol – Marauder (Matador) | Buy
  75. Weathered Statues – Borderlands (Svart) | Bandcamp
  76. Damagers – Victory EP (Deranged) | Bandcamp
  77. The Soft Moon – Criminal (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  78. Whispering Sons – Image (PIAS) | Bandcamp
  79. Bush Tetras – Take The Fall EP (Wharf Cat) | Bandcamp
  80. Shame – Songs Of Praise (Dead Oceans) | Bandcamp
  81. Neon Lights – A Slice Of Life (ACNL) | Bandcamp
  82. mewithoutYou – [Untitled] (Run For Cover) | Bandcamp
  83. Blue Orchids – Righteous Harmony Fist (Tiny Global) | Bandcamp
  84. FACS – Negative Houses (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  85. Primo! – Amici (Upset The Rhythm) | Bandcamp
  86. Single Mothers – Through A Wall (Dine Alone) | Bandcamp
  87. Deaf Wish – Lithium Zion (Sub Pop) | Bandcamp
  88. The Nightingales – Perish The Thought (Tiny Global) | Bandcamp
  89. Bellini – Before The Day Has Gone (Temporary Residence) | Bandcamp
  90. Damager – Damagers EP (Deranged) | Bandcamp
  91. Crack Cloud – Crack Cloud (Deranged) | Bandcamp
  92. Wax Idols – Happy Ending (Etruscan Gold) | Bandcamp
  93. The Hirs Collective – Friends. Lovers. Favorites (SRA) | Bandcamp
  94. Septic Tank – Rotting Civilisation (Rise Above)
  95. Iron Lamb – Blue Haze (The Sign) | Bandcamp
  96. Moaning – Moaning (Sub Pop) | Bandcamp
  97. Bitch Hawk – Joy (Adrian) | Bandcamp
  98. Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar (Deathwish) | Bandcamp
  99. The Armed – Only Love (No Rest Until Ruin) | Bandcamp
  100. Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It (Holy Roar) | Bandcamp

Desert/Fuzz/Stoner Rock

It’s hard to believe it was 26 years ago when I first heard Sleep’s Holy Mountain and Kyuss’ Blues For The Red Sun. 1992 was a weird year, with music journalists trying to make grunge responsible for metal becoming unfashionable. I didn’t know at the time that those two bands were kickstarting a new subgenre, but they did make nearly everything else that came out that year aside from The Jesus Lizard, The Gits, Melvins, Tom Waits and PJ Harvey, sound kind of inconsequential. Stoner rock is still nearly entirely underground, but it’s at least something to see Sleep chosen as the token stoner doom album on this year’s year-end lists. Eight months after it’s surprise release on 4/20, it feels more of a summary of Sleep’s past strengths rather than a progression, but it still rules. All Them Witches has established a reputation as a stellar live band over the past six years, but some folks were disappointed by their fifth album’s more languid, textured arrangements. Not me, I love it. It sounds to me like prime Free stretched wide and suspended in time. Not something to listen to when you’re in a hurry. Poland’s Weedpecker got a little more progressive on their third album (complete with mellotron!), similar to their labelmates Elder. Greenleaf no longer has as strong sonic ties to Dozer and Truckfighters, but they have become a top tier stoner psych band in their own right. Earthless has been worshipped in the stoner psych community for their jammy musicianship, but seems to have lost some of their fans’ glowing reverence for introducing vocals. I like it, though I like Isaiah Mitchell’s more song-oriented band Golden Void even more. I participate in the monthly Doom Charts poll, which covers this stuff pretty thoroughly. 13 albums not enough? Over 1,500 albums received votes in the polls for 2018. Riffriding below: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Kingnomad, La Chinga, Wizard Must Die, Rogue Result, Black Mirrors, Aboleth, Birnam Wood, Sergeant Thunderhoof, Plainride, Demonauta, Spacelord, Vodun, 1968, Wedge, Craneium.

  1. Sleep – The Sciences (Third Man) | Buy
  2. All Them Witches – ATW (New West) | Bandcamp
  3. Weedpecker – III (Stickman) | Bandcamp
  4. King Buffalo – Longing To Be The Mountain (King Buffalo) | Bandcamp
  5. Greenleaf – Hear The Rivers (Napalm) | Bandcamp
  6. Earthless – Black Heaven (Nuclear Blast) | Buy
  7. Blackwater Holylight – Blackwater Holylight (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  8. The Heavy Crown – Reign On (Heavy Crown) | Bandcamp
  9. Rifflord – 7 Cremation Ground / Mediation (STB) | Bandcamp
  10. Forming The Void – Rift (Kozmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  11. Hypnos – Set Fire To The Sky (The Sign) | Bandcamp
  12. Naxatras – III (Naxatras) | Bandcamp
  13. Seedy Jeezus – Polaris Oblique (Lay Bare) | Bandcamp

Hard Rock

With zero hard rock albums in the AOTY aggregate top fifty, it’s safe to say that hard rock’s popularity is at a nadir. It’s cyclical, and I’m not worried that guitars are going to be confiscated and live shows aren’t going to continue. But still, it’s weird that entire genres have to become unfashionable. It’s all relative, as I still need to buy my ticket five months in advance for the Graveyard and Uncle Acid show, because it’s for sure going to sell out. Heck, even Nirvana had trouble filling small bars with more than a couple dozen people on their first tour. Graveyard, MaidaVale and Maggot Heart all made the Lucky 13, while France’s The Necromancers put out a captivating album mixing proto-metal, prog and doom psych. They’re on the Ripple label, as are Nekromant and The Hazytones. The label was on fire this year with 20 releases that made my list, making my $5 monthly Bandcamp subscription a stellar deal. Rocking under: Atlas: Empire, Grand Reunion, Professor Black, Witchskull, Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre, Foghound, Red Sun Atacama, Captain Caravan. | Spotify

  1. Graveyard – Peace (Nuclear Blast) | Buy
  2. MaidaVale – Madness Is Too Pure (The Sign) | Bandcamp
  3. Maggot Heart – Dusk To Dusk (Teratology) | Bandcamp
  4. The Necromancers – Of Blood And Wine (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  5. Electric Citizen – Helltown (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  6. Nekromant – The Nekromant Lives (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  7. Green Dragon – Green Dragon (Green Dragon) | Bandcamp
  8. Spiders – Killer Machine (Crusher) | Buy
  9. Gygax – Second Edition (Creator-Destructor) | Bandcamp
  10. VOJD – The Outer Ocean (HR) | Buy
  11. The Hazytones – The Hazytones II: Monarchs Of Oblivion (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  12. Grusom – II (Kozmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  13. The Vintage Caravan – Gateways (Nuclear Blast) | Buy

Blues Rock, Southern Rock, Jam, AOR

Last year’s goofy temporary fun category was Sewer Rock, padded out with AOR. I wouldn’t call this year’s entries goofy (well, except for maybe Magic Dance and W.E.T.). Norway’s Orango could just as well fit in the hard rock category, but they do southern rock and blues rock really well. Over the course of seven albums, they’ve been extremely consistent, and while there’s nothing flashy about them, their music has settled into my brain like a comfortable wool blanket — something you’d take for granted, but miss it if it were lost. Garcia Peoples got a bit of media attention on the release of their debut. Despite their dumb Grateful Dead tribute name, their jammy blues rock is well done, and even has some Television happening in some guitar interplay. I can’t believe it’s been 12 years since Ethan Miller started Howlin Rain as what seemed a side project to his psych band Comets On Fire. Now it’s definitely his main concern, and The Alligator Bride may be the best so far. The new Andrew W.K. did not make this list because despite his somewhat amusing tributes to Meatloaf, it mostly sucks. When it comes to AOR, The Night Flight Orchestra is actually a legitimately good band. I’ve actually enjoyed their latest for several repeat plays. Chooglin’ under: Ozone Mama, The Temperence Movement, Billy F. Gibbons, Greta Van Fleet, W.E.T., Airrace, Midnite City.

  1. Orango – Evergreens (Stickman) | Bandcamp
  2. Garcia Peoples – Cosmic Cash (Beyond Beyond Beyond) | Bandcamp
  3. Howlin Rain – The Alligator Bride (Silver Current) | Bandcamp
  4. The Sheepdogs – Changing colors (Warner) | Buy
  5. Robert Jon & The Wreck – Robert Jon & The Wreck (RJTW) | Bandcamp
  6. Ape Machine – Darker Seas (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  7. Svvamp – Svvamp 2 (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  8. Glorietta – Glorietta (Nine Mile) | Bandcamp
  9. Cedric Burnside – Benton County Relic (Single Lock) | Bandcamp
  10. Child – I EP (Kozmik Artifactz) | Bandcamp
  11. The Night Flight Orchestra – Sometimes The World Ain’t Enough (Nuclear Blast) | Buy
  12. Magic Dance – New Eyes (Frontiers) | Buy
  13. The Golden Grass – Absolutely (Listenable) | Bandcamp

Heavy Metal

Last year I mentioned being disappointed that Slough Feg‘s The New Organon hadn’t come out since it was announced that summer, and year later, still nothing. Nevertheless, metal marches on, and Wytch Hazel had a great second album full of engaging ren faire twin guitars. Husband-wife road warriors Castle remains consistently great, while Rough Spells put out the most immediately captivating, raw, energetic metal EP I’ve heard since Christian Mistress debuted in 2009. And look at the geezers in Judas Priest, winning hearts and minds across genres and generations! It doesn’t hurt that there’s a rash of charming reaction videos to “Painkiller” and “Victim Of Changes.” Canada’s Striker are a joy to see live because they’re just so freakin’ stoked to play metal, to BE metal. Their third album in three years, few current bands are as hard working. There are elements of 80s hair metal complete with a power ballad mixed with harder, but sleekly produced speed metal, but it’s all done so well that I was tempted to rate it over the Judas Priest album. Brimstone Coven’s Andrew D’Cagna put out another Ironflame album just a year after the last one, with some songs addressing Greco-Roman mythology, and closer “Our Great Defender” an allegorical tribute to DIO! It’s already been five years since unsung NWOBHM era Satan’s remarkable comeback, and they’re still going strong, with their sixth album. In the Doom section you’ll learn that Beastmaker released no less than ten (10) EPs this year for a total of over two hours of music. And that’s just to clear out the archives for a new album release next year. What’s really mind blowing is that Trevor William Church also leads another band, Haunt, who I got to see at Psycho Las Vegas. And he’s already announced another Haunt release for next year, If Icarus Could Fly. How does the dude sleep? Simmering under: High Priestess, Blade Killer, Lizzies, Orange Goblin, Monument, Battleroar, MuN, Sacral Rage, Valkyria, Visigoth. Chocks away! | Spotify

  1. Wytch Hazel – II: Sojourn (Bad Omen) | Bandcamp
  2. Castle – Deal Thy Fate (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  3. Rough Spells – Modern Kicks For The Solitary Witch EP (Rough Spells) | Bandcamp
  4. Haunt – Burst Into Flame (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  5. Judas Priest – Firepower (Columbia) | Buy
  6. Striker – Play To Win (Record Breaking) | Bandcamp
  7. Ironflame – Tales Of Splendor And Sorrow (Divebomb) | Bandcamp
  8. Satan – Cruel Magic (Metal Blade) | Bandcamp
  9. Gatekeeper – East Of Sun (Cruz Del Sur) | Bandcamp
  10. Cauldron – New Gods (The End) | Buy
  11. Professor Black – Sunrise (High Roller) | Bandcamp
  12. Road Warrior – Power (Cruz Del Sur) | Bandcamp
  13. Hammer King – Poseidon Will Carry Us Home (Cruz Del Sur) | Bandcamp

Doom

The doom is strong this year, hence the extended list. Messa was featured in the Lucky 13 above, and Ancestors make a triumphant return six years after their last album. The band’s sound has evolved on every album, and the new one more emotional and dramatic than they’ve ever been, along the lines of 40 Watt Sun and Pallbearer. Khemmis remain consistently strong on their third album, while Windhand has incorporated some grunge hooks that reminds me of Snail. Approved! Pale Divine also return from a six year absence with their best album. Witch Mountain’s self titled is their first with new singer Kayla Dixon, though she’s been with the band since 2015. The result are heavily road tested songs that show how much better suited for the band she is than previous singer Uta was (don’t get me wrong, Uta is an amazing singer and I’d love to see her do a solo album). Special props goes to Beastmaker, who put out ten (10) EPs (the first 8 available for just $8!) to clear the cobwebs for yet new material for their next official album with a new label. That’s some prolific songwriting, and shockingly consistently good material. | Spotify

  1. Messa – Feast For Water (Aural) | Bandcamp
  2. Ancestors – Suspended In Reflections (Pelagic) | Bandcamp
  3. Khemmis – Desolation (20 Buck Spin) | Bandcamp
  4. Windhand – Eternal Return (Relapse) | Bandccamp
  5. Pale Divine – Pale Divine (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  6. Witch Mountain – Witch Mountain (Svart) | Bandcamp
  7. Moab – Trough (Falling Dome) | Bandcamp
  8. Alastor – Slave To The Grave (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  9. High Reeper – High Reeper (Heavy Psych) | Bandcamp
  10. The Wizards – Rise Of The Serpent (High Roller) | Bandcamp
  11. Dunbarrow – Dunbarrow II (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  12. Black Moth – Anatomical Venus (Candlelight/Spinefarm) | Buy
  13. DMBQ – Keeenly (Drag City) | Bandcamp
  14. Holy Grove – Holy Grove II (Ripple) | Bandcamp
  15. Alms – Act One (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  16. The Skull – The Endless Road Turns Dark (Tee Pee) | Buy
  17. Iron Void – Excalibur (Shadow Kingdom) | Bandcamp
  18. Hua†a – Lux initiatrix terrae (Music Fear Satan) | Bandcamp
  19. Age Of Taurus – The Colony Slain (Rise Above) | Buy
  20. Beastmaker – EPs (Church Records) | Bandcamp
  21. Solstice – White Horse Hill (White Horse) | Bandcamp
  22. Domkraft – Flood (Blues Funeral) | Bandcamp
  23. Alunah – Amber & Gold EP (Svart) | Bandcamp
  24. Tempelheks – Midnight Mirror (Cursed Tongue) | Bandcamp
  25. Brimstone Coven – What Was And What Shall Be (Brimstone Coven) | Bandcamp
  26. Conan – Existential Void Guardian (Napalm) | Bandcamp
  27. Dautha – Brethren Of The Black Soil (Van) | Bandcamp
  28. Son Of The Morning – Son Of The Morning (DHU) | Bandcamp
  29. Apostle Of Solitude – From Gold To Ash (Cruz Del Sur) | Bandcamp
  30. Satan’s Satyrs – The Lucky Ones (RidingEasy/Bad Omen) | Bandcamp
  31. Saint Karloff – All Heed The Black God (Twin Earth) | Bandcamp
  32. URSA – Abyss Between The Stars (Blood Music) | Bandcamp
  33. Dawn Of Winter – Pray For Doom (I Hate) | Bandcamp
  34. King Goat – Debt Of Aeons (Aural) | Bandcamp
  35. Megaton Leviathon – Mage (Blood Music) | Bandcamp
  36. Morag Tong – Last Knell Of Om (Morag Tong) | Bandcamp
  37. Witchsorrow – Hexenhammer (Candlelight) | Bandcamp
  38. Rezn – Calm Black Water (Off The Record) | Bandcamp
  39. Burn Ritual – Blood Of The Raven (Cursed Monk) | Bandcamp
  40. Haunted – Dayburner (Twin Earth) | Bandcamp

Black/Death/Sludge/Technical/Speed/Prog/Avant Metal

Have you ever had an 18-wheeler truck blow it’s horn in your ear as you’re legally crossing with a walk signal because it wants to turn? The horrendously loud sound is such an assault to the body and even soul, it triggers instant homicidal thoughts. This is my current theory why extreme metal does not make up a large amount of my listening time. However, given the proper context and warmup, it can indeed be cathartic. Hermi and I randomly saw a show with Kataklysm (Canadian death metal) and it was great fun. So, with the caveat that I’m not a huge expert of these subgenres, I give you this. Yeah sludge metal is one of the fuzziest, cuddly subgenres of this category (though be warned, try to tickle Matt Pike’s bare belly and a demon baby might just pop out). As if a Sleep album wasn’t enough, turns out that rascal saved some of his best riffs for the High On Fire album. Arkansas’ Deadbird makes a welcome return after a decade away with their third album, which presses the right buttons for me, topping the doom sludge with psych prog. Could this have been on the doom list? Sure, but to my ears, it leans slightly heavier on the sludge side. Zeal & Ardor have made their most impressive fusion of avant black metal and spiritual blues on their third album. Despite that, it hasn’t gotten quite the amount of acclaim as Devil Is Fine (2016) since the shock of the new has worn off. Such is the nature of jaded, fickle critics addicted to novelty. Did people roll their eyes when Beethoven rolled out his 9th symphony because they were sick of him? On the other hand sometimes you need to repeat yourself until you’re noticed, like UK’s Slugdge, who has churned out the same kind of progressive death metal for four albums, but for some reason is just being talked about now.

  1. High On Fire – Electric Messiah (eOne) | Bandcamp
  2. Deadbird – III: The Forest Within The Tree (20 Buck Spin) | Bandcamp
  3. Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit (Radicalis) | Bandcamp
  4. Slugdge – Esoteric Malacology (Willowtip) | Bandcamp
  5. Tomb Mold – Manor Of Infinite Forms (20 Buck Spin) | Bandcamp
  6. Sumac – Love In Shadow (Thrill Jockey) | Bandcamp
  7. YOB – Our Raw Heart (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  8. Drug Cult – Drug Cult (Ritual Productions) | Bandcamp
  9. Voivod – The Wake (Century Media) | Buy
  10. Chapel Of Darkness – …And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye (Van) | Bandcamp
  11. Dopethrone – Transcanadian Anger (Totem Cat) | Bandcamp
  12. CHRCH – Light Will Consume Us All (Neurot) | Bandcamp
  13. Mantar – The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze (Nuclear Blast) | Bandcamp

Avant, Experimental, Modern Classical, Ambient & Drone

I would be surprised if Fugazi didn’t reunite someday (did they even officially say they broke up?), but until then, we have this great piece of instrumental punk jazz from  Brendan Canty (drums) and Joe Lally (bass) in MesstheticsSecret Chiefs 3 is the kind of sprawling, maximalist avant experimental rock project that’s hard enough to sink your teeth into, here you apparently have to purchase John Zorn’s John eleven volume Masada Book III: Beri’ah to be able to hear this. Well, there’s other ways. Creeping under: Heather Leigh, who also collaborated with Peter Brötzmann, the quite popular industrial/noise project from Daughters, Witch Prophet, Primitive Motion, Anne Garner and Mike Shiflet, who released a 24 hour long album.

  1. The Messthetics – The Messthetics (Dischord) | Bandcamp
  2. Secret Chiefs 3 – Malkhut (Tzadik) | Bandcamp
  3. Anna von Hausswolff – Dead Magic (City Slang) | Bandcamp
  4. Toundra – Vortex (InsideOut) | Bandcamp
  5. Black Dresses – WASTEISOLATION (Black Dresses) | Bandcamp
  6. The Skull Defekts – The Skull Defekts (Thrill Jockey) | Bandcamp
  7. Oneida – Romance (Joyful Noise) | Bandcamp
  8. Nils Frahm – All Melody (Erased Tapes) | Bandcamp
  9. Årabrot – Who Do You Love (Pelagic) | Bandcamp
  10. Gnod – Chapel Perilous (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  11. The Garden – Mirror Might Steal Your Charm (Epitaph) | Bandcamp
  12. Author & Punisher – Beastland (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  13. Jo Quail – Exsolve (Jo Quail) | Bandcamp

Dream Pop, Shoegaze

My shoegaze list was a little short this year, so I smooshed it with dream pop, since many of the albums mix the two genres. I know Beach House was the go-to album for many this year, and they are great, but there’s just so much out there. Melbourne’s Crepes got my attention with their debut full length last year, Cahoots, but their new one really blew me away. It’s been lighting up my playlist all month like a sparkly butterfly. It’s not really primarily dream pop, more of a mix of psych pop and synthpop, but it deserves to top a list. Check out that bass on opener “As You Go” and “Dark Demons.” *Insert unicorn emoji with hearts* So why do metalheads love Emma Ruth Rundle? It’s her raw intensity, which shines through even on her folky numbers. My favorite project of hers was Marriages (2015), and this ups the intensity toward that level in contrast to her previous stripped down solo album, with the assistance of Louisville Americana noir labelmates Jaye Jayle, who she also toured with and did the split EP The Time Between Us (2017). Launder is legit shoegaze the way I like it. Why isn’t there more like this? I got obsessed with The Black Watch a couple years back and tracked down all the albums in their vast catalog. It’s pretty much all worth having, a remarkable achievement. John Andrew Fredrick keeps threatening to retire from music and I guess write books. He can’t seem to help but churn out album after album. I’ve read his books, and despite the fact that he teaches, he’s a far better songwriter. Don’t give up your sidegig John, keep ’em coming! I saw A Place To Bury Strangers live early on and they were great, like early Jesus And Mary Chain with ten times the menace and intensity. They’ve had some less than great albums, but this one is impressive. | Spotify

  1. Crepes – In Cahoots (Spunk) | Bandcamp
  2. Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses (Sargent House) | Bandcamp
  3. Launder – Pink Cloud EP (Horse Arrest) | Bandcamp
  4. The Black Watch – Witches! (Atom) | Buy
  5. Hilary Woods – Colt (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  6. A Place To Bury Strangers – Pinned (Dead Oceans) | Bandcamp
  7. Changelings – From My Raygun With Love (Changelings) | Bandcamp
  8. Holy Motors – Slow Sundown (Wharf Cat) | Bandcamp
  9. Bootchy Temple – Glimpses (Howlin Banana) | Bandcamp
  10. Lowtide – Southern Mind (Rice Is Nice) | Bandcamp
  11. La Luz – Floating Features (Hardly Art) | Bandcamp
  12. Our Girl – Stranger Today (Cannibal Hymns) | Bandcamp
  13. Film School – Bright To Death (Hauskat) | Bandcamp
  14. Starcontrol – Fragments (SwissDarkNights) | Bandcamp
  15. Tajak – Ciclos (Buh) | Bandcamp
  16. Lightfoils – Chambers (Saint Marie) | Bandcamp
  17. Beach House – 7 (Sub Pop) | Bandcamp
  18. Psychic Markers – Hardly Strangers (Psychic Markers) | Bandcamp
  19. Happy Rhodes – Ectotrophia (Numero) | Bandcamp
  20. Red Red Eyes – Horology (wiawya) | Bandcamp
  21. Death And The Maiden – Wisteria (Fishrider/Occultation) | Bandcamp
  22. Echo Ladies – Pink Noise (Sonic Cathedral) | Bandcamp
  23. Mint Field – Pasar De Las Luces (Innovative Leisure) | Bandcamp
  24. Nothing – Dance On The Blacktop (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  25. Pinkshinyultrablast – Miserable Miracles (Shelflife) | Buy
  26. Hatchie – Sugar & Spice EP (Ivy League) | Bandcamp
  27. Waveless – As One More Folded Paper Crane EP (Moniker) | Bandcamp
  28. Amaya Laucirica – Rituals (Opposite Number) | Bandcamp
  29. Black Belt Eagle Scout – Mother Of My Children (Saddle Creek) | Bandcamp
  30. Totally Mild – Her (Bedroom Suck) | Bandcamp
  31. Dead Vibrations – Dead Vibrations (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  32. Wild Nothing – Indigo (Captured Tracks) | Bandcamp
  33. Papercuts – Parallel Universe Blues (Slumberland) | Bandcamp
  34. Tess Roby – Beacon (Italians Do It Better) | Buy
  35. Sun June – Years (Keeled Scales) | Bandcamp
  36. In Her Eye – Change (Cigarettes And Kale) | Bandcamp
  37. Single Lash – Providence (Holodeck) | Bandcamp
  38. Gentle Leader XIV – Channels (Moniker) | Bandcamp
  39. The Daysleepers – Creation (My Daydream) | Bandcamp
  40. Soft Science – Maps (Test Pattern) | Bandcamp
  41. Some Ember – Submerging The Sun (Third Coming) | Bandcamp

Art Pop

Now here’s a genre that’s actually somewhat trendy. Ever since Lady GaGa yammered on about art a decade ago (just as she abandoned art pop for old-timey vocal jazz and showtunes), nearly all the pop stars seem to dabble in this a little bit. I don’t know if Peluché will be accepted into that exclusive club, but I hope so. Vital Idles stand out from this sleek bunch with their fairly scruffy art punk. Japan’s Eiko Ishibashi (石橋英子), is incredibly prolific, with 18 albums in the past 12 years. This one, produced by Jim O’Rourke, is an excellent, lovely introduction to her work. Resting in artful respite under is Korean art/psych prog pop artist Mid-Air Thief. | Spotify

  1. Peluché – Unforgettable (One Little Indian) | Bandcamp
  2. Vital Idles – Left Hand (Upset The Rhythm) | Bandcamp
  3. Eiko Ishibashi – The Dreams My Bones Dream (Drag City) | Bandcamp
  4. Julia Holter – Aviary (Domino) | Bandcamp
  5. Arc Iris – Icon Of Ego (Ba Da Bing!) | Bandcamp
  6. Halo Maud – Je Suis Une Île (Heavenly) | Buy
  7. Mr Twin Sister – Salt (Mr Twin Sister) | Bandcamp
  8. Jenny Hval – The Long Sleep EP (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  9. U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited (4AD) | Buy
  10. SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES (Transgressive) | Buy
  11. The Black Queen – Infinite Games (TBQ) | Bandcamp
  12. Yves Tumor – Safe In The Hands Of Love (Warp) | Buy
  13. Gazelle Twin – Pastoral (Anti-Ghost Moon Ray) | Bandcamp

Jangle Pop

The jangle has been strong these past couple years, partly sparked by Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. It even got to the point where this little indie band experienced backlash when they were leading the AOTY aggregate the first couple weeks. I found myself having to defend them. I just presented an excerpt from my review – “So what makes them so great? Let’s start with the fact that they have three members sharing guitar, songwriting and vocal duties. This could create a chaotic, shambolic sound, and while early tracks do have a giddy, fragmented quality, the writers sound completely locked in tune with each other, so I can’t easily tell who’s songs are who’s they all sound like RBCF. The band has been described as “motorik jangle” thanks to Joe Russo’s bass locked in with Marcel Tussie’s precise propulsion which is actually rooted in his background with Afrobeat. And then there’s the guitars, guitars, guitars! Fran Keaney’s acoustic guitar is aggressively percussive, while Joe White paints wide swaths of sound. With his 1959 hollowbody Gretsch, Tom Russo produces a distinctively sharp chime, a post-Shadows and Hank Marvin surf twang. Together they create a rich array of textures and intertwined leads. While so many bands feel obligated to rely on synths (a technology that’s already a half century old) to sound contemporary, it’s refreshing to just roll around in guitar heaven with a pop band.

While their Sub Pop recordings are relatively clean and pristine, the band manages to retain some of their original garage punk feel amidst the sweet melodies and hooks. “An Air Conditioned Man” is a jittery masterpiece of tension and drive, with vocals that remind me of prime Felt, a couple solos tossed back and forth like challenges. If you think this would make for great live music you’d be right. A month and a half before the album’s release, I saw them near the end of their tour. Despite coming all the way from Australia and driving across North America, the band were nearly bursting with joyous enthusiasm, clearly having a blast playing.”

It’s kind of pathetic that I have to explain to people why guitars are so great. Sigh. Anyway, Sydney’s Body Type is fabulous, all six songs slay me (plus the single “264”). A few more songs and it would have busted into the overall Fester’s Lucky 13. I really hope they come out with a full-length in 2019 and don’t break up. I just discovered Crepes labelmates The Ocean Party (also from Melbourne) this year, even though they’ve had eight albums. One of the sadder stories this year, member Zac Denton died suddenly of a brain cyst just a week before this release. Available for pay what you want. I’m obsessively tracking down their entire catalog, a treasure trove of sophisticated jangly pop. There’s no rule that you have to be from Melbourne to jangle, but it works for Melbourne Cans, who have a touch of garage noir. I’ve been obsessed with Bristol’s Neurotic Fiction since they released their debut on November 16, when half the year-end lists were already in the can. Jangle and power pop and post-punk with a dab of noir? This is my crack. Note that Ultimate Painting’s final album is a bootleg. They broke up and even though review copies had been sent out, they didn’t want it released. That’s too bad, but it’s too good to pretend it doesn’t exist. It’ll probably get an official release at some point. Janglin’ under: Flowertruck, Clearance, The Roves, The Chills and The Heaters, who mix in post-punk and psych. | Spotify

  1. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs (Sub Pop) | Bandcamp
  2. Body Type – Body Type EP (Partisan) | Bandcamp
  3. The Ocean Party – The Oddfellows’ Hall (Spunk) | Bandcamp
  4. Melbourne Cans – Heat Of The Night (Lost And Lonesome) | Bandcamp
  5. Neurotic Fiction – Pulp Music (Specialist Subject) | Bandcamp
  6. Trés Oui – Poised To Flourish (Shrimper) | Bandcamp
  7. Massage – Oh Boy (Tearjerk) | Bandcamp
  8. Salad Boys – This Is Glue (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  9. Ultimate Painting – Up! (Bella Union)
  10. Young Scum – Young Scum (Young Scum) | Bandcamp
  11. Woolen Men – Post (Dog’s Table) | Bandcamp
  12. Okama Flannel Boy – Carolina St. EP (Cloudberry) | Bandcamp
  13. EggS – EggS EP (Hellzapoppin) | Bandcamp

Indie Rock & Pop

I’ve talked up Teen Judge in the Lucky 13. Don’t sleep on ’em! White Denim could had just as easily made my southern rock/jam list. I saw them this year, and was somewhat dismayed to see them settle into a smoove chooglin’ groove that had more in common with The Grateful Dead than their wild, brilliant garage psych sets of earlier years. Nevertheless, the album is great, as they master every style they tackle with virtuosic nuance. Perhaps people are just used to The Breeders putting out excellent albums, but I kind of thought it would have been the most celebrated indie rock album this year. Shrugs. I’m not worried about them, they have a dedicated fanbase. London’s Teleman were formed from the ashes of the more jangly Pete & The Pirates, and it’s good to see them getting a bit of critical love. Independently rockin’ ‘n’ poppin’ under: Muncie Girls, The Beths, Cyanide Thornton.

  1. Teen Judge – Teen Judge (Berthed Futurist) | Bandcamp
  2. White Denim – Performance (City Slang) | Bandcamp
  3. The Breeders – All Nerve (4AD) | Buy
  4. Teleman – Family Of Aliens (Moshi Moshi) | Bandcamp
  5. Clay Hips – Happily Ever After (Annika) | Bandcamp
  6. Lewsberg – Lewsberg (Lewsberg) | Bandcamp
  7. Field Music – Open Here (Memphis Industries) | Buy
  8. School Damage – A To X (Chapter Music) | Bandcamp
  9. Sci-Fi Romance – Dreamers & Runaways (Broken Image) | Bandcamp
  10. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino (Domino) | Bandcamp
  11. Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog (Saddle Creek) | Bandcamp
  12. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel (Mom+Pop) | Bandcamp
  13. Mourn – Sorpresa Familia (Captured Tracks) | Bandcamp

Jazz & Fusion

When Kamasi Washington’s double album The Epic became the token jazz album to like thanks to his participation on Kendrick Lamar’s albums, I was annoyed. However, reading interviews with Washington over the years, he’s a joyous advocate for the scene, and has done a lot of good. The positive effects are now blossoming, at least in terms of attention paid to other artists. While Chicago’s Bottle Tree project was unfairly ignored last year, labelmate Makaya McCraven is getting some ink ‘n’ pixels this year. Read more in 2018 Afrobeat Kosmische Jazz Electro Dub Fusion Rundown.  | Spotify

  1. Makaya McCraven – Universal Beings (International Anthem) | Bandcamp
  2. Ezra Collective – Juan Pablo: The Philospher EP (Brownswood) | Bandcamp
  3. Maisha – There Is A Place (Brownswood) | Bandcamp
  4. Al Doum & The Faryds – Spirit Rejoin (Bongo Joe) | Bandcamp
  5. Dos Santos – Logos (International Anthem) | Bandcamp
  6. Szun Waves – New Hymn To Freedom (Leaf) | Bandcamp
  7. Tangents – New Bodies (Temporary Residence) | Bandcamp
  8. Kamasi Washington – Heaven And Earth (Young Turks) | Buy
  9. Sunwatchers – Sunwatchers II (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  10. Tenderlonious – The Shakedown Featuring The 22archestra (22a) | Bandcamp
  11. Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids – An Angel Fell (Strut) | Bandcamp
  12. Kamaal Williams – The Return (Black Focus) | Bandcamp
  13. Ben Lamar Gay – 500 Chains (International Anthem) | Bandcamp
  14. Ryan Porter – The Optimist (World Galaxy) | Bandcamp
  15. Ben Lamar Gay – Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun (International Anthem) | Bandcamp
  16. Joe Armon-Jones – Starting Today (Brownswood) | Bandcamp
  17. Amaro Freitas – Rasif (Far Out) | Bandcamp
  18. Ben Lamar Gay – Grapes (International Anthem) | Bandcamp
  19. Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile (Impulse!) | Bandcamp
  20. Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams – Vanished Gardens (Blue Note) | Buy
  21. Binker And Moses – Alive In The East? (Binker And Moses) | Bandcamp
  22. GoGo Penguin – A Humdrum Star (Blue Note) | Bandcamp
  23. The Bad Plus – Never Stop II (Bad Plus) | Buy
  24. Nicole Mitchell – Maroon Cloud (FPE) | Bandcamp
  25. Peter Brötzmann & Heather Leigh – Sparrow Nights (Trost) | Bandcamp
  26. Fire! – The Hands (Rune Grammofon) | Buy
  27. Ambrose Akinmusire – Origami Harvest (Blue Note) | Bandcamp
  28. Joshua Redman – Still Dreaming (Nonesuch) | Buy
  29. Ingrid Laubrock – Contemporary Chaos Practices (Intakt) | Bandcamp
  30. Brad Mehidau Trio – Seymour Reads The Constitution! (Nonesuch) | Buy
  31. Wing Vilma – Safe By Night (Young Heavy Souls) | Bandcamp
  32. Onyx Collective – Lower East Suite Part Three (Big Dada) | Bandcamp

Global

Like “world music,” “global” is a fairly insultingly generic, umbrella category. Ever since I discovered Fela Kuti and King Sunny Ade on a college radio station as a kid, I’ve done my best to explore music from around the world. Aside from reggae and Afrobeat, however, I’m just a tourist dabbler, so my sampling here is fairly random. The best way to truly connect with a culture of course is immersion. Go to the place and see what people are listening to now, while it’s hot. For those who can’t, maybe this can inspire some deep dives. Goatman is a solo project from one of the anonymous masked members of Sweden’s Afrobeat/kosmische/psych band Goat. This might as well be a Goat album, as it’s completely in line with their gradual drift away from fuzz psych guitars and toward a variety of global musics, including a variety of African sources, Eastern and reggae. Petite Noir’s full-length debut, La vie est belle / Life Is Beautiful (2015) was promising, but their EP is even more exciting. I look forward to see what kind of percolating art pop they come up with next. | Spotify

  1. Goatman – Rhythms (Rocket) | Sweden | Bandcamp
  2. Petite Noir – La Maison Noir: The Gift And The Curse EP (Roya) | South Africa | Bandcamp
  3. Senyawa – Sujud (Sublime Frequencies) | Indonesia | Bandcamp
  4. Hartyga – Amyrsanaa (Hevhetia) | Tyva Republic, Russia | Buy
  5. Sly & Robbie Meet Nils Petter Molvær – Nordub (Okeh) | Jamaica & Norway | Buy
  6. Strategy – Dub Mind Paradigm (Khaliphonic) | US | Buy
  7. Scientist & Hempress Sativa – Scientist Meets Hempress Sativa In Dub (Hempress Sativa) | Jamaica | Bandcamp
  8. Andy Rantzen – Blue Hour Vol. II (Ken Oath) | Australia | Bandcamp
  9. Sarathy Korwar & UPAJ Collective – My East Is Your West (Gearbox) |UK | Bandcamp
  10. Insólito UniVerso – La Candela del Río (Olindo) | Venzuela | Bandcamp
  11. Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness – Emakhosini (Buda) | South Africa | Bandcamp
  12. Rosalía – El mal querer (Sony) | Spain | Buy
  13. Altin Gün – On (Bongo Joe) | Netherlands | Bandcamp
  14. Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo (Wagram) | Ivory Coast | Buy
  15. Xylouris White – Mother (Bella Union) | Greece | Bandcamp
  16. Kassin – Relax (Luaka Bop) | Brazil | Bandcamp
  17. Duppy Gun – Miro Tape (Bokeh) | UK | Bandcamp
  18. Dwarfs Of East Agouza – Rats Don’t Eat Synthesizers (Akuphone) | Egypt | Bandcamp
  19. Elza Soares – Deus É Mulher (Deckdisc) | Brazil | Buy
  20. Domenico Lancellotti – The Good Is A Big Gods (Luaka Bop) | Brazil | Bandcamp
  21. Ahmoudou Madassane – Zerzura (Original Soundtrack) (Sahel Sounds) | Mali | Bandcamp
  22. Dengue Dengue Dengue! – Semillero EP (On The Corner) | Peru | Bandcamp
  23. Dead Can Dance – Dionysus (PIAS) | UK | Buy
  24. Hollie Cook – Vessel Of Love (Merge) |UK | Bandcamp
  25. Imarhan – Temet (City Slang) | Algeria | Bandcamp
  26. Gaye Su Akyol – Istikrarl? Hayal Hakikattir (Glitterbeat) |Turkey | Bandcamp
  27. Hailu Mergia – Lala Belu (ATFA) | Ethiopia | Bandcamp
  28. Boubacar Traoré – Dounia Tabolo (Lusafrica) | Mali | Buy
  29. Orquestra Akokán – Orquestra Akokán (Daptone) |Cuba | Bandcamp
  30. Caetano Moreno Zeca Tom Veloso – Ofertório (Universal Brasil) | Brazil | Buy
  31. Alpheus – Light Of Day (Liquidator) | UK | Bandcamp
  32. Anelis Assumpcao – Taurina (Scubidu) | Brazil | Bandcamp
  33. AMMAR 808 – Maghreb United (Glitterbeat) | Algeria | Bandcamp
  34. Bégayer – Terrain á mire . Une maison rétive . Contrainte par le toit (Bongo Joe) | France | Bandcamp
  35. Tallawit Timbouctou – Hali Diallo (Sahel Sounds) |Mali | Bandcamp
  36. Gurrumul – Djarimirri: Child of the Rainbow (Skinnyfish) | Australia | Buy
  37. Bokanté + Metropole Orkest – What Heat (Real World) | US/Netherlands | Bandcamp
  38. Chancha Via Circuito – Bienaventuranza (Wonderwheel) | Argentina | Bandcamp
  39. Ed Motta – Criterian Of The Senses (Membran) | Brazil | Bandcamp
  40. Ouzo Bazooka – Songs From 1001 Nights (Stolen Body) | Israel | Bandcamp
  41. Seckou Keita & Catrin Finch – SOAR (bendigedig) | Senegal & UK |Bandcamp
  42. Erudite Stoner – Artistic Ghost (Erudite Stoner) | Brazil } Bandcamp
  43. Feliu Ventura & Xerramequ i els Aborígens – Sessions Ferotges (Propaganda pel Fet!) | Spain
  44. Damily – Valimbilo (Bongo Joe) | Madagascar | Bandcamp
  45. Sun-El Musician – Africa To The World (El World) | Nigeria | Buy

Afrobeat

As always, the heart, soul and architect of Afrobeat, Tony Allen, finds himself in the thick of it. Last year he was part of my top album by Chicago Afrobeat Project, and this year he’s collaborated with Detroit techno pioneer Jeff Mills, who might be a bit too respectful of Allen, but that’s fine by me, letting his drums dominate the album. Sitka Sun is Oakland based bassist/arranger Patrick Murphy, who’s debut is a deft fusion of jazz, Afrobeat and psych. Angélique Kidjo’s cover of Talking Heads’ Remain In Light isn’t technically Afrobeat, but it was partly inspired by Fela, with Kidjo digging into the riddims amidst the glorious clutter of post-punk and p-funk. Me And My Friends is somewhat of a departure on this list too. It just showed up in my email as a random Bandcamp release, with its adorably cutesy cartoon animals cover art. It’s the third album from the Leeds based group who mix Afrobeat with South African music, art pop, reggae and soukous into a joyous, celebratory sound that you’d think would be cheesy but really is theraputic. The album gets a bit more contemplative and downtempo as it goes on, and is well worth checking out. Afrobeat is also an important element of Ezra Collective in the Jazz list and , L’Éclair in Kosmische. | Spotify

  1. Sitka Sun – Sitka Sun (The Long Road Society) | Bandcamp
  2. Tony Allen & Jeff Mills – Tomorrow Comes The Harvest (Blue Note) | Buy
  3. Angélique Kidjo – Remain In Light (Kravenworks) | Buy
  4. Vaudou Game – Otodi (Hot Casa) | Bandcamp
  5. Bixiga 70 – Quebra cabeça (Deckdisc) | Bandcamp
  6. Me And My Friends – Look Up (Ear Trumpet) | Bandcamp
  7. Calibro 35 – Decade (Record Kicks) | Bandcamp
  8. Here Lies Man – You Will Know Nothing (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  9. Jungle By Night – Livingstone (ND) | Bandcamp
  10. Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – Black Times (Strut) | Bandcamp
  11. Ebo Taylor – Yen Ara (Mr Bongo) | Ghana | Bandcamp
  12. Orions Belte – Mint (Jansen) | Bandcamp
  13. Femi Kuti – One People One World (Knitting Factory) | Buy

Electronic, Techno & Dance

While last year’s top electronic entry, Metro Riders, was ranked way down at #541, this year we’ve got The Mon at #144, which is Urlo from Italy’s Ufomammut. Think of an ambient electronic version of his band’s cosmic doom, along the lines of horrorwave that has been popular lately, inspired by Goblin and John Carpenter. TVAM is a compelling mix of electronic, darkwave post-punk and psych. Sweden’s Robyn is back with a more downtempo, contemplative album that doesn’t measure up to her last one, but is still worth checking out. A special shout to Autechre, who’s NTS Sessions 1-4 span a mindnumbing eight hours. I couldn’t get through it, but respect. Buzzing under: Marie Davidson, Jim O’Rourke, Axel Rigaud, Offermose, Immersion, Aïsha Devi, Maribou State, Phil France, Golden Syrup.

  1. The Mon – Doppeleben (Supernatural Cat) | Bandcamp
  2. TVAM – Psychic Data (TVAM) | Buy
  3. Robyn – Honey (Konichiwa) | Buy
  4. Big Lad – Pro Rock (Box Records) | Bandcamp
  5. D.A.L.I. – When Haro Met Sally (Burning Witches) | Bandcamp
  6. Alice Ivy – I’m Dreaming (Dew Process)
  7. The Oscillation – Wasted Space (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  8. Dance With The Dead – Loved To Death (DWTD) | Bandcamp
  9. Stieglitz – For The Love Of The Living Dead (Jet Set Trash) | Bandcamp
  10. Daniel Davies – Events Score (Lakeshore) | Bandcamp
  11. Isidor – Lord Of Synth (Isidor) | Bandcamp
  12. Jon Hassell – Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) (Ndeya) | Bandcamp
  13. Mind Over Mirrors – Bellowing Sun (Paradise of Bachelors) | Bandcamp

R&B, Soul & Funk

I’m a huge fan of soul from the 60s through the 70s, but the 80s was a hard time for a lot of people to be a fan. In a way, the genre is still healing from the production choices of that decade, and then new artists being crippled with the diminishing tag, “neo-soul.” Yuck. Who would ever agree to be on board with that? Nevertheless the term is still being used today. That needs to stop. Anyway, one of the more interesting new albums is the third album from Edinburgh’s Young Fathers, who mix in hip hop and art pop, including some TV On The Radio influences. And yes, RYM also calls them “neo-soul.” Nooo! Just soul! I’ll bet Georgia Anne Muldrow isn’t cool with that. Telling it to her face might deserve a slapping. It’s almost as bad as “nu-jazz” which has also been used to describe her prolific 13-plus album career. Birmingham, Alabama’s Lonnie Holley’s third album is a fascinating mix of soul jazz, gospel, experimental sounds and spoken word. As great as it is, I saw it on a lot of lists as a kind token entry, one just weird enough for critic’s allegedly sophisticated tastes. But let’s not forget that music is not primarily a political or educational tool. No one is getting college credit here, because it’s entertainment. And some of the most wildly entertaining albums were by two young soul lions. J.P. Bimeni was a refugee from Burundi and has been based in London. With black belt songwriter senseis Eduardo Martínez and Marc Ibarz, he joyfully explores classic soul and funk. Dwight James & The Royals are based in Lafayette, Louisiana, home of the amazing Festivale Internationale and add the lushness that comes from controlled musicianship and mastery of R&B, blues and psychedelic soul. Ural Thomas is another musical veteran whom eluded commerical success in the 60s and 70s (he performed with James Brown, Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder), who is making a triumphant return late in life. Groovin’ under: Fantastic Negrito, Blood Orange, Tirzah, Meshell Ndegeocello, Leon Bridges, Sudan Archives (who needs to stop messing with EPs and put out an album), and Witch Prophet.

  1. Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar (Ninja Tune) | Bandcamp
  2. J.P. Bimeni & The Black Belts – Free Me (Tucxone) | Bandcamp
  3. Dwight James & The Royals – Need Your Loving (Dwight James) | Bandcamp
  4. Georgia Anne Muldrow – Overload (Brainfeeder) | Bandcamp
  5. Lonnie Holley – MITH (Jagjaguwar) | Bandcamp
  6. Ural Thomas & The Pain – The Right Time (Tender Loving Empire) | Bandcamp
  7. Kadhja Bonet – Childqueen (Fat Possum) | Bandcamp
  8. Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics (Smalltown Supersound) | Bandcamp
  9. Serpentwithfeet – Soil (Secretly Canadian) | Bandcamp
  10. Charles Bradley – Black Velvet (Dunham) | Bandcamp
  11. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer (Bad Boy) | Buy
  12. The Midnight Hour – The Midnight Hour (Linear Labs) | Bandcamp
  13. The O’My’S – Tomorrow (O’My’S) | Bandcamp

Hip Hop & Rap

I’m really starting to get into Drake. Kidding! I’m really feeling Roy Kinsey, a Chicago librarian who has the courage to be an openly gay man in a culture that sadly remains quite homophobic. The fact that he spins some great rhymes and stories can only have a positive effect. Also from Chicago, Mick Jenkins who made a big progression on his second full length, and Noname got a lot of attention for her mixtape Telefone (2016), and the success of her first official album is well deserved. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris wallow in sarcastic hopeless despair, but the existence of music like this gives hope just the same. Rhymin’ under: Tierra Whack, Saba, Misha Mishajashvili, Dessa, Cypress Hill’s Elephants On Acid is quite good too, plus Lando Chill & Lasso’s collaboration, Ghetts, and Dr. Octagon.

  1. Roy Kinsey – Blackie: A Story By Roy Kinsey (Not Normal Tapes) | Bandcamp
  2. Mick Jenkins – Pieces Of A Man (Cinematic) | Bandcamp
  3. Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Everything’s Fine (Mello Music Group) | Bandcamp
  4. Noname – Room 25 (Noname) | Bandcamp
  5. Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs (Tan Cressida) | Buy
  6. Anguish – Anguish (RareNoise) | Buy
  7. Pink Siifu – Ensley (Pink Siifu) | Bandcamp
  8. Ray BLK – Empress (Universal) | Buy
  9. Summers Sons & C. Tappin – Uhuru (Melting Pot) | Bandcamp
  10. Children Of Zeus – Travel Light (First Word) | Bandcamp
  11. Lando Chill – Black Ego (Mello) | Bandcamp
  12. Moodie Black – Lucas Acid (Fake Four) | Bandcamp
  13. MIKE – renaissance man (MIKE) | Bandcamp

Folk, Americana & Country

Cosmic American music is a good descriptor for the music of both Ryley Walker and Scott Hirsch. I’ve been following Walker’s soulful update of Tim Buckley and Astral Weeks-era Van Morrison for a few years, but Hirsch is totally new to me, and I’m digging his sound, which has the standard elements of country, folk and Americana, but with a lovely ethereal sheen. I first heard about Jaye Jayle when they were supporting labelmate Emma Ruth Rundle on tour. According to RYM, gothic country is a thing. I would say Americana noir, but there’s not many other artists that could apply to right now. Spare and spooky, right up my alley. Elkhorn have another winner, the most engaging droney improv folk you’ll hear this year. I don’t think Neko Case’s latest is quite as strong as her peak work on Blacklisted (2002) and Fox Confessor Brings The Flood (2006), but she is an amazing songwriter. Listening again, her songs take so many surprising twists, and they all work. So the praise is not hyperbole. Having completed their Runaljod trilogy, folks seem to have quickly forgotten about Wardruna, but the’re still evolving and experimenting with gothy prog treatments to Nordic folk. Brigid Mae Power is from Galway, Ireland, and it sounds like she enjoys a little mind-expanding psychedelics along with her whiskey. One Eleven Heavy’s loose rockin’ vibe reminds me a bit of early Uncle Tupelo. Howlin Rain, Glorietta, and Curse Of Lono could have qualified too, but were used in other lists. Folkelating under: Lucero, Cool Sounds, American Aquarium, King Dude, Amanda Shires, Lucero, Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore. | Spotify

  1. Ryley Walker – Deafman Glance (Dead Oceans) | Bandcamp
  2. Jaye Jayle – No Trail And Other Unholy Paths (Sargent House) | Bandcamp
  3. Elkhorn – Lionfish (Eiderdown) | Bandcamp
  4. Neko Case – Hell-On (Anti/Epitaph) | Bandcamp
  5. Scott Hirsch – Lost Time Behind The Moon (Scissor Tail) | Bandcamp
  6. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers – Years (Bloodshot) | Bandcamp
  7. Shannon Shaw – Shannon In Nashville (Easy Eye) | Buy
  8. Wardruna – Skald (By Norse) | Bandcamp
  9. Trembling Bells – Dungeness (Tin Angel) | Bandcamp
  10. Brigid Mae Power – The Two Worlds (Tompkins Square) | Bandcamp
  11. One Eleven Heavy – Everything’s Better (One Eleven) | Bandcamp
  12. Anna St. Louis – If Only There Was A River (Woodsist) | Bandcamp
  13. The Hanging Stars – Songs For Somewhere Else (CRO) | Bandcamp

Non-Metal For Metalheads

By popular request, here is an expansion on what I did in 2016. At first I figured my Avant list pretty much covered it, but then I got more into the idea and pulled in albums from a variety of genres, like Emma Ruth Rundle from the dream pop list. Metalheads seem to appreciate her Americana noir for it’s intensity, much like Wovenhand has been a favorite in past years.  Rundle, Daughters, Anna von Hausswolff and others have shown up on a few year-end lists from metal publications. Hopefully mine has a few unique offerings. I excluded most obvious stuff like heavy psych/stoner, prog (especially the brutal prog of Koenji Hyakkei and Black Peaks), hardcore punk, industrial, noise, etc. (Årabrot, Drug Church, High Priests, Single Mothers, Deaf Wish, Septic Tank, Rolo Tomassi, To End It All). A few things might have those elements, but rules are fuzzy for a hybrid list like this. Senyawa’s Indonesian experimental psychedelic drone folk is intense, with Rully Shabara’s gutteral vocals bringing to mind  Tuvan throat singing. This is their fifth album. Check out this performance below. Speaking of Tuvan throat singing, it seems to have fallen out of fashion since the 90s when Huun-Huur-Tu and Yat-Kha toured the world, but Hartyga from Tyva Republic, Russia are doing great stuff, mixing in jazz fusion and prog on their third album. | Spotify

  1. Senyawa – Sujud (Sublime Frequencies) | Indonesia | Bandcamp
  2. Emma Ruth Rundle – On Dark Horses (Sargent House) | Bandcamp
  3. Hartyga – Amyrsanaa (Hevhetia) | Buy
  4. Jaye Jayle – No Trail And Other Unholy Paths (Sargent House) | Bandcamp
  5. The Messthetics – The Messthetics (Dischord) | Bandcamp
  6. Secret Chiefs 3 – Malkhut (Tzadik) | Bandcamp
  7. Pharaoh Overlord – Zero (Ektro/Hydra Head) | Bandcamp
  8. The Mon – Doppeleben (Supernatural Cat) | Bandcamp
  9. Elkhorn – Lionfish (Eiderdown) | Bandcamp
  10. Beak> – >>> (Invada/Temporary Residence) | Bandcamp
  11. Julia Holter – Aviary (Domino) | Bandcamp
  12. Here Lies Man – You Will Know Nothing (RidingEasy) | Bandcamp
  13. Sunwatchers – Sunwatchers II (Trouble In Mind) | Bandcamp
  14. Lonnie Holley – MITH (Jagjaguwar) | Bandcamp
  15. A Place To Bury Strangers – Pinned (Dead Oceans) | Bandcamp
  16. TVAM – Psychic Data (TVAM) | Buy
  17. Wardruna – Skald (By Norse) | Bandcamp
  18. Jungle By Night – Livingstone (ND) | Bandcamp
  19. Anna von Hausswolff – Dead Magic (City Slang) | Bandcamp
  20. Toundra – Vortex (InsideOut) | Bandcamp
  21. Black Dresses – WASTEISOLATION (Black Dresses) | Bandcamp
  22. Jenny Hval – The Long Sleep EP (Sacred Bones) | Bandcamp
  23. Caudal – Fight Cry Fight (Drone Rock) | Bandcamp
  24. The Skull Defekts – The Skull Defekts (Thrill Jockey) | Bandcamp
  25. Oneida – Romance (Joyful Noise) | Bandcamp
  26. Nils Frahm – All Melody (Erased Tapes) | Bandcamp
  27. Gnod – Chapel Perilous (Rocket) | Bandcamp
  28. The Garden – Mirror Might Steal Your Charm (Epitaph) | Bandcamp
  29. Author & Punisher – Beastland (Relapse) | Bandcamp
  30. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (Ipecac) | Bandcamp
  31. Anguish – Anguish (RareNoise) | Buy
  32. Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile (Impulse!) | Bandcamp
  33. The Oscillation – Wasted Space (Fuzz Club) | Bandcamp
  34. Dance With The Dead – Loved To Death (DWTD) | Bandcamp
  35. Stieglitz – For The Love Of The Living Dead (Jet Set Trash) | Bandcamp
  36. Daniel Davies – Events Score (Lakeshore) | Bandcamp
  37. Isidor – Lord Of Synth (Isidor) | Bandcamp
  38. Dead Can Dance – Dionysus (PIAS) | UK | Buy
  39. Mind Over Mirrors – Bellowing Sun (Paradise of Bachelors) | Bandcamp
  40. Offermose – Mørk Forår (Third Coming/Pomperipossa) | Bandcamp
  41. Immersion – Sleepless (Swim) | Buy
  42. Moodie Black – Lucas Acid (Fake Four) | Bandcamp
  43. Death And The Maiden – Wisteria (Fishrider/Occultation) | Bandcamp
  44. The Lucid Dream – Actualisation (Holy How Are You) | Buy
  45. Misha Mishajashvili – 2018 (Misha) | Bandcamp
  46. Fire! – The Hands (Rune Grammofon) | Buy
  47. Buzz Kull – New Kind Of Cross (Avant!) | Bandcamp
  48. Kemialliset Ystävät – Siipi Empii (Leaving) | Bandcamp
  49. Vessel – Queen Of Golden Dogs (Tri-Angle) | Bandcamp
  50. Tyshawn Sorey – Pillars (Firehouse 12) | Bandcamp

Reissues

It’s hard to measure up to Numero group’s amazing sets by Scientists and Hüsker Dü. Most reissues are not on their third or fourth generation. Which is why I hesitated at the Wire deluxe sets. But I finally gave in, cuz it’s Wire, and they assembled lovely 7×7″ books with extensive liner notes. It takes that kind of attention to detail to get my money these days.  A lot of reissues are vinyl only, which is pointless for me.  John Coltrane isn’t technically a reissue, as the tapes were never previously released, which makes it even more exciting, even if Coltrane himself didn’t consider them worthy of release.

My choice for Def Leppard probably raises eyebrows. However my opinion of the band has fluctuated over the years, this was by for the most fun to dig into. I’d been awaiting proper remasters of their first two albums for decades, and they sound great. Points docked for re-using the live album originally included with the deluxe Pyromania edition. Part of the blowback on that band started when they were lumped in with the NWOBHM crowd, but didn’t really fit in, as they saw themselves more in the lineage of not only glam (T. Rex, Sweet, Slade), but even The Move/Wizzard/ELO and Rush (see “Overture” on their 1979 EP, included in this set on a mini CD, which was re-recorded for On Through The Night). By their second album, you can also hear some Queen, and a touch of AC/DC’s hard rock but with harmonies, thanks to producer Mutt Lange. High ‘N’ Dry (1981) did not reach the heights of Rush and Iron Maiden did that year, but it deserves classic status alongside Billy Squier, Riot, Saxon and Black Sabbath, and surpasses the 1981 offerings of giants like AC/DC, Van Halen and even Judas Priest. The liner notes contain a lot of hyperbole about Hysteria being their masterpiece, even a Sgt. Pepper’s/Pet Sounds for the 80s. I think not, but I do appreciate some of the interesting production approaches more now than I did back then. For what it’s worth I’m more likely to put this on than the 1987 albums from U2, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Rush, INXS or Whitesnake. So I agree more with Phil Collen, who called it “Star Wars for the ears,” though there is a question as to whether it’s Episode VI – Return of the Jedi or, um, Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Extending the comparison, the debut On Through The Night (1980) would be like Lucas’ early attempt at sci-fi with THX 1138 (1971), 2nd and 3rd albums Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) and Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

The 1968 Beatles, Kinks, Love, The Pretty Things, Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Jimi Hendrix albums all got deluxe reissues. I’m not motivated to buy any of them because any bonus tracks seem to diminish the imperfect perfection of those legendary classics. Metallica’s …And Justice For All (1988) was a sadly wasted opportunity to right wrongs and provide a proper remix that did justice to the long suffering Jason Newsted’s bass. Unfortunately 30 years later the band’s egos still get in their own way and they refuse to admit that they fucked up. Perhaps a compromise would be to play the whole album live and record it — they sounded pretty great when I saw them at September’s outdoor San Francisco show. The bastards who put out Thee Hypnotics’ Righteously Recharged box set on vinyl only are asking for a slapping. A lot of us weren’t even using turntables when the original albums came out.

  1. Wire – Pink Flag, Chairs Missing, 154 [7CD] (Pink Flag, 1977-79)
  2. John Coltrane – Both Directions At Once (Impulse!, 1963)
  3. Def Leppard – CD Collection Volume 1 (Phonogram, 1979-87)
  4. High Rise – High Rise II (Black Editions, 1986)
  5. Roxy Music – Roxy Music
  6. For Against – Aperture, Mason’s California Lunch Room, Shelf Life (Saint Marie, 1993-97)
  7. Rush – Hemispheres [2CD] (Mercury/UMe, 1978)
  8. The Drowning Craze – Singles ’81/’82 (Bella Union)
  9. Yung Wu – Shore Leave (Bar/None, 1987)
  10. Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991 (Music From Memory)
  11. Bob Seger – Heavy Music: The Cameo Recordings 1966–1967
  12. Charles Mingus – Jazz In Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Selden (BBE)
  13. Yachts – Suffice To Say: The Complete Yachts Collection [3CD] (Cherry Red, 1979-81)

New Old Discoveries

Top entries The Moodists and The Riptides resulted from my deep dive into Aussie Garage Punk earlier this year. Melbourne’s The Moodists formed in 1980, and despite releasing the groovy, melodic post-punk single “Where The Trees Walk Downhill” in 1981, they blossomed slightly later than contemporaries The Scientists and The Birthday Party, and were encumbered with comparisons that possibly stilted their potential success. “Gone Dead” is a unique, almost danceable number that brings to mind early The Jazz Butcher and the prickly guitar work similar to Scottish jangly post-punkers Orange Juice and Josef K.  Engine Shudder EP (1983) reflected a newfound influence from The Fall, especially in “Kept Spectre.” It’s a promising work, the highlight being the driving “The Disciple’s Know.” Their full-length debut, Thirsty’s Calling, however, shows their particular brand of garage noir punk blues fleshed out in its full, menacing glory.

The death of vocalist Kat Arthur prompted me to properly get into Legal Weapon, the punk noir bridge between X and Gun Club. I also caught up on the entire catalogs of High Rise, Elephant9, Utopia, Hanoi Rocks, Calibro 35, Circulus, P.K. 14, Dear Eloise, The Ocean Party, Bixiga 70, Steeple Remove and Vanishing Kids. Some albums I had heard but had forgotten them for a decade or three until I revisited them this year, like Thee Hypnotics, The Gits, Team Dresch, Scrawl, Slant 6, Lunachicks, Red Aunts, Magic Dirt, Quix*O*Tic, 7 Year Bitch, Oxbow, Crime & The City Solution, These Immortal Souls, Mekong Delta, Artillery, Deathrow, Hellwitch, Sadus, Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Roman Stewart, Keith Poppin, etc. | Spotify

  1. The Moodists – Thirsty’s Calling (Red Flame, 1984)
  2. The Riptides – Tombs Of Gold (Riptides, 1982)
  3. Legal Weapon – Death Of Innocence (Arsenal/Triple X, 1982)
  4. X (Australia) – X-Aspirations (Aztec, 1980)
  5. Crack The Sky – Animal Notes (Lifesong, 1976)
  6. The Sonic Dawn – Into The Long Night (Heavy Psych, 2017)
  7. Calibro 35 – S.P.A.C.E. (Record Kicks, 2015)
  8. Hollow Hand – Ancestral Lands (Ongakubaka, 2016)
  9. E.L. Heath – Tŷ (Wayside & Woodland, 2013)
  10. P.K. 14 – 1984 (Maybe Mars, 2013)
  11. The Ocean Party – Restless (Spunk, 2016)
  12. The Rainyard – A Thousand Days (Pretty Olivia, 1989)
  13. La Femme – La Femme (Aztec, 1980)

Singles

I’d love to curate a year-end singles list as impressive as, say The Finest Kiss (I added what’s available on Spotify to the bottom portion of the playlist below). It’s a fun playlist, but the order is pretty random as I don’t have the brainspace to rank singles throughout the year in addition to albums. You’re not going to find mainstream chart hits here, but instead mainly scruffy indie guitar pop, garage and punk, following the long tradition of indie singles that give a taste of either more greatness to come, or a fleeting wave to the world before the band’s vibrations are dissipated and forgotten. | Spotify

Videos

300+ videos, these are sorted by most recent. Surprisingly not a lot of overlap with the singles playlist above!

Shows

My top concert of the year was partially fuelled by nostalgia, as ELO was my favorite childhood band, and I would have sold my soul to have seen them back in 1981. I finally got to for just 80 bucks, a bargain!  Psycho Las Vegas was a great festival, and I had to lump all the bands together otherwise they would have hogged the list. It’s just too bad Witchcraft didn’t make it. They owe us all free tickets, but they’ve yet to set up a proper tour. In fact, my wishlist of European bands I’ve never seen has grown (Motorpsycho, Colour Haze, Wolf People, Troubled Horse, Spirits Of The Dead, Lola Colt, Amplifier, Causa Sui, Blues Pills, Avatarium, Spectral Haze, Mythic Sunship, Spidergawd, Birth Of Joy, MaidaVale). If only an American festival could lure at least a few of them over…

Just missing the top 13, Wooden Shjips, Shopping, Dead Meadow, Spiritual Cramp and Power Trip.

  1. ELO, Allstate Arena, 8/15
  2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Schubas, 5/2
  3. Ufomammut, Reggie’s, 5/27
  4. Elder, Spirit Adrift, Lucifer, Boris, Weedeater, Monolord, Zakk Sabbath, Red Fang, Helms Alee, Pallbearer, Psycho Las Vegas, 8/16-19
  5. Metallica, City Center, San Fransico, 9/25
  6. Mastodon, Primus, Northerly Island, 6/6
  7. Khemmis, Reggie’s, 7/1
  8. Alehorn Of Power – High Spirits, Owl, 7/28
  9. Telekinetic Yeti, Reggies MJ, 2/10
  10. Witch Mountain, Reggie’s, 8/8
  11. Ms. Lauryn Hill, Pitchfork, 7/22
  12. Poptone, Concord Music Hall, 6/21
  13. Wooden Shjips, Empty Bottle, 6/2


Movies

I gotta say the superhero movies are getting dark. They used to be vehicles for escapism, but now they rub our noses in our own doo doo. Black Panther was dark but was at least mostly triumphant. But wow, Avengers: Infinity War left me traumatized. It took a well produced movie about a little bear from darkest Peru who keeps a marmalade sandwich under his hat for emergencies, to actually heal our battered souls with Paddington 2. And of course the baby Jack Jack in Incredibles 2. And the beautiful documentary on Fred Rogers, who many of us grew up watching in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. The fluffiest bit of escapism was Crazy Rich Asians. I really dug the weird How To Talk To Girls At Parties, based on a Neil Gaiman short story. Most metal movie, Heavy Trip, a hilarious epic tale of Finland’s greatest symphonic post apocalyptic reindeer-grinding-Christ-abusing extreme war pagan Fennoscandian metal band, Impaled Rektum. Bottoms up to Jynkky in Valhalla! Runner-up is the completely bonkers horror flick Mandy, which uses King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black” as the theme song. Nick Cage is at his most unhinged since Vampire’s Kiss (1988), complete with a chainsaw battle. Lots of creepy, psychedelic horror. I’m traumatized.

  1. Paddington 2
  2. Black Panther
  3. Incredibles 2
  4. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  5. Crazy Rich Asians
  6. Ready Player One
  7. How To Talk To Girls At Parties
  8. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  9. Bohemian Rhapsody
  10. Isle Of Dogs
  11. I Feel Pretty
  12. Heavy Trip
  13. Peter Rabbit

Also decent: Avengers: Infinity War, Upgrade, Mandy, Deadpool 2, Summer Of ’84, Three Identical Strangers, Love, Simon, Call Me By Your Name, Sorry To Bother You, Tully, Hearts Beat Loud, Ant-Man And The Wasp, Game Night.

Haven’t seen: Bad Reputation, Here To Be Heard: The Story of The Slits, Eighth Grade, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, RBG, Mission: Impossible Fallout, BlacKkKlansman, Leave No Trace.

Television

marvelous-mrs-maiselSome of my favorite shows decided to skip 2018. If it weren’t for the music, I’d have liked to have done that too. Stranger Things and Master Of None were MIA, and will there ever be another season of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? Season 3 was shot back in 2015, and amidst talk of an Indiana Jones-like movie trilogy, it seems the show has been put on the back burner. I really hope it comes back. Or the movies happen. At least we got a second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which does not disappoint. It won a basket full of Emmys two years in a row based on the first season, so that’s doing alright. But why the fucking fuck is Grace And Frankie missing from ALL the best-of TV show lists? Are we experiencing ageism again, three decades after Golden Girls’ groundbreaking work? The Kominsky Method was nearly as great, also starring A-list actors Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. Big Mouth and Killing Eve were great newcomers. I especially love Maya Rudolph’s brilliant loose cannon voice acting as the hormone monster. Bonus points to Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina for its special Solstice episode, complete with Yuletime demons. One of the best holiday specials in years!

  1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  2. Grace And Frankie
  3. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  4. Big Mouth
  5. The Kominsky Method
  6. Broad City
  7. Killing Eve
  8. Preacher
  9. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  10. Endeavor
  11. GLOW
  12. Elementary
  13. HAPPY!

Also entertaining: American Gods, Travelers, The Durrells In Corfu, Death In Paradise, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, Forever, American Vandal, Silicon Valley, Love, Search Party, Crashing, Marvel’s Iron Fist/Daredevil/Luke Cage,  Dear White People, Father Brown, Flaked, Lovesick, Grantchester, Inside Amy Schumer, Maron, American Housewife, The Good Place, Indian Summers, SNL, Portlandia.

Haven’t seen cuz Premium channels: Barry, The Good Fight, The Leftovers, Twin Peaks: The Return, The Deuce, Girls, She’s Gotta Have It, DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow, Lodge 49, The Americans, Big Little Lies.

Books

As much as I love music, reading is what gets me through the boring parts of life. When I’m waiting in lines (or stuck anywhere), taking the train or bus, I always have my Kindle with me. Of course, in order to combat boredom, I kind of need to avoid boring books. And to me that involves anything that might be assigned in school. I’ve served my time and read a fair amount of literary classics. I’ve read over 60% of the Great American Reads list. But aside from non-fiction books about music, I prefer silly stories about monsters and aliens. Sometimes, you can get the best of both worlds with writers like Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, and Warren Ellis, writers who have fun with genre fiction, but with literary flair. This year a new author, Johannes Johns, checked those boxes for me with The Redwood Revenger, the first in a trilogy. Christopher Moore, author of my all-time favorite metaphysical comedy A Dirty Job (2006), tackled crime noir, but with a Bugs Bunny meets Men In Black slant.

I didn’t have as much luck with music books. Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A Memoir, by Carrie Brownstein (2015) and Trouble Boys: The True Adventures of the Replacements, by Bob Mehr (2015) were disappointing, even irritating. Ryan H. Walsh’s Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 was a total chore to get through, and I have a strong feeling Steven Hyden’s Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock would just piss me off even more. After those duds, I took a break from music non-fiction for the rest of the year. At least I started the year out right with one of the very best, Rob Young’s All Gates Open: The Story Of Can. It’s linked to my full review below. Special mention to 2017 books, Paolo Sedazzari’s Feltham Made Me, and Charles Snider’s The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock: Revised and Expanded Edition.

  1. Johannes Johns – The Redwood Revenger
  2. Christopher Moore – Noir
  3. Rob Young – All Gates Open: The Story Of Can
  4. Grady Hendrix – We Sold Our Souls
  5. Jerry Ewing – Wonderous Stories: A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock
  6. Vivian Shaw – Dreadful Company
  7. Theodora Goss – European Travel for the Monstress Gentlewoman
  8. Catherynne M. Valente – Space Opera
  9. Caimh McDonnall – Last Orders
  10. Melissa Albert – The Hazel Wood
  11. Eliot Peper – Bandwidth
  12. Christopher Rice – Bone Music
  13. Meghan Scott Molin – The Frame-Up (The Golden Arrow #1)

On my “shelf” to read:

Kramer, Wayne – The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities
Soulsby, Nick – Swans: Sacrifice And Transcendence: The Oral History
Lloyd, Richard – Everything Is Combustible: Television, CBGB’s and Five Decades of Rock and Roll: The Memoirs of an Alchemical Guitarist
Hook, Peter – Substance: Inside New Order (2017)
Doctorow, Cory – Walkaway
McDonald, Ian = Time Was
Willis, Connie – I Met A Traveller In An Antique Land
Rajaniemi, Hannu – Summerland
Moran, Caitlin – How To Be Famous
Eames, Nicholas – Bloody Rose (The Band #2)
Tidhar, Lavie – Unholy Land
Murakami, Haruki – Killing Commendatore
Peper, Eliot – Borderless (Analog Book 2)

Coming in 2019

I have a few promos that I kept in a 2019 folder that I promised myself not to touch until I finish this. Usually I take a break and listen to old favorites for a few weeks, but I do look forward to sneaking in some time with Steve Gunn, TAU, Rival Sons, The Writhing Squares, The Sonic Dawn, TAU, Demon Head, Rosalie Cunningham (Purson), Hexvessel, Sunwatchers and Snapped Ankles. I’m excited about the announcement that RVG was signed to Sub Pop and has a new one coming, as does Motorpsycho. Slough Feg and Spirits Of The Dead were meant to have albums out in 2017, and both are still MIA. I hope all is well with them. I also hope to hear new music from 180dB, Body Type, Cold Showers, Golden Void, Orchid, Serpent Venom, TV On The Radio, Vampire Weekend, The Verner Pantons, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jex Thoth, Las Cruces, Magic Circle, Om, The Sea Kings, The New Christs, Electric Wizard, Christian Mistress, Marriages, Wolf People, Syd Arthur, Lola Colt, Wovenhand, Vektor, Blood Ceremony, Asteroid, Blues Pills, Savages, Suns Of Thyme, The Urges, The Early Years and The Winstons.

Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2017
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2016
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2015
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2014
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2013
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2012
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2011
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Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2007
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Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2004
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 2003
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Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1998
Fester’s Lucky 13 — 1997

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