January 4, 2019

QuickCrit's Top 16 Albums of 2018


1. Blood Orange - Negro Swan  

I learned about both Janet Mock and A$AP Rocky via this album. It's simply incredible. – Larson

If Janet Mock's gorgeous take on family doesn't get you, then maybe a Puff Daddy spoken word track? How about a gospel song? This album crosses genres, talks about being different, and is cool as hell. – Serena

2. Lykke Li - So Sad So Sexy          
        
I made a slow-motion video of my kids frolicking outside to the song “Hard Rain”. Hit me up and I’ll send it to you. – Larson

3. Wye Oak - The Louder I call The Faster It Runs    
     
So stoked that every album that these guys (or singer Jenn Wassner) puts out ends up on a top ten of the year list for me.  There's so many bands in the last 20 years that have started out great and fizzled into caricatures of themselves that it's just refreshing to have a fave put out consistently great material. – Tex

When I wanted the feels I reached for this album. – Larson

4. Alice Ivy - I'm Dreaming
                        
Avalanches comparisons are fair, but damn if the album doesn't reveal new details to love with each listen. – Jesse

Like movies from the 50's mixed with some mellow sweet beats, relaxation, nostalgia. – Graham

5. The Bones of J.R. Jones - Ones of Keep Close 

A one stop shop for a some good shot poundin' and knee slappin' jams. – Nesto

Not quite a one-man band, but pretty close. He plays raw, bluesy, backwoods rock and roll mostly consisting of fuzzy, wavering vocals over distorted guitar… and it is awesome. This album is his best and perhaps most rounded, with more percussion, guest vocalists, and horns. – NightraiN

6. Flasher - Constant Image       

Is this post punk? New Wave? The best of both? It toys with jagged riffs, repetition, harmonies, and so many barbed hooks. Plus, they look 10. – Jesse

YES!! – sharon

7. Cardi B - Invasion Of Privacy 

When I needed something over the top this spring. This was the answer. – Larson

8. The Carters - Everything is Love          

Some days I don’t feel cool enough to listen to this album. Fuck that inner dialogue. – sharon

Someone described this as a Beyonce album featuring Jay Z, and I think that's both accurate and not a problem. – Serena

9. Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt         

I didn't realize that I needed Spiritualized back into my life. Such a fantastic sleepy time album that I usually don't make it past track 4 or 5! – sharon

10. Paul Cauthen - Have Mercy 

Minutes away from a full length album, so it counts! Have mercy! – Nesto

This dude is classic. Deep Cash-esque baritone, outlaw country style and themes, and an ability to sound like those that came before but still feel original. This is my road-trippin' album of the year because all the tracks have a ramblin’ man/woman aura about them, especially my favorites “Tumbleweed” and “My Cadillac”. This is deep throated, singalong country. – NightraiN

11. Black Panther Soundtrack   

Wakanda forever. – Serena

Feels weird to put a soundtrack to a Marvel movie on my top album list but maybe that’s a weird hangup that I need to get over. I built a set of dresser drawers for my wife and I this year. I clocked a lot of hours with sandpaper a nail gun and this album on rotation. – Larson

12. Kurt Vile - Bottle In It            

Let's road trip through America with Kurt Vile as our tour guide. – Nesto

Vile is a songsmith – writing poems over music and music around scenes from everyday life. It many ways his music feels throwback with hints of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, but between the slithering guitar on the up-tempo tracks, he mixes in his meandering train-of-thought tracks that in my mind are all his own. – NightraiN
13. Chemtrails - Calf Of The Sacred Cow

Discovered these gender-bending psych pop masters off a 2017 label sampler and fell in love with their previous two psych pop EPs. My Johnny-come-lately status payed off with an album released just weeks later and that I’ve rocked ever since. – Jesse

14. Lord Huron - Vide Noir

Makes me want to go on a road trip. – Graham

First introduced to this band off one of these lists back in 2011 and they’ve been a mainstay on the radio since then. Another family favorite. – Jesse

15. Murder By Death – The Other Shore

Probably their most poetic album to date. Less straight-up drinking anthems and darker and more complicated, cello-laced tales of western life that parallel Ben Nichols leveraging Blood Meridian characters and storylines from Blood Meridian. If you are craving some folksy, Americana from 2018, I think this is the album for you.   – NightraiN

Propelled by a baritone vocals and bold drum beats, these country gothic anthems ride the line between dark and celebratory. – Jesse

16. The Record Company – All Of This Life

These guys have filled the hole in my music life that was left behind by the absence of The Black Keys, as both are dedicated to churning out some catchy blues rockers. “Life To Fix” stands out with the sing-along refrain and hand-clapping, head-nodding rhythm. Of course, it also helps that their live performance rips. – NightraiN

They keep it simple – three guys, a couple chords, minimal lyrics – but when they find a rhythm, they work it, wringing out each sweaty riff. Hey! Whoa oh oh oh. – Jesse


January 3, 2019

Jesse's Top 15 Albums from 2018


1. Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive            

Delivering on the promise of last year's political daggers, this album captures where my head's at these days. Practically on daily rotation.

2. Horse Feathers - Appreciation             

Longtime fan, but this is easily my favorite Horse Feathers album. Playing it for everyone, and all kinds dig it.

3. Flasher - Constant Image       

Is this post punk? New Wave? The best of both? It toys with jagged riffs, repetition, harmonies, and so many barbed hooks. Plus, they look 10.

4. Native Sun - Always Different, Always The Same    
    
A late addition and only an EP, but nearly every song is a killer slab of swaggering rocknroll.

5. Alice Ivy - I’m Dreaming

Avalanches comparisons are fair, but damn if the album doesn't reveal new details to love with each listen.

6. Spiritual Cramp - Television   

Holy crap! Loved the EPs but these 6 new songs might even be better. Combines for an all around fiery punk LP.

7. Alien Boy - Sleeping Lessons 

Nailing that perfect mix of melody, noise, and emotional heft. Easily one of my top Portland albums this year.

8. Heaven - All Love Is Blue        

Love their expansive sound; this shoegaze struts. Side A is near perfection. On heavy rotation this year.

9. The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment   

Infusing their indie pop tons of clever surprises. Sounds both familiar and unique.

10. Chemtrails - Calf Of The Sacred Cow

Discovered these gender-bending psych pop masters off a 2017 label sampler and fell in love with their previous two psych pop EPs. My Johnny-come-lately status payed off with an album released just weeks later and that I’ve rocked ever since.

11. Beatchild & The Slakadeliqs - Heavy Rockin’ Steady

Subtle and buttery hooks from all over place. Throw it on for your own High Fidelity/Beta Band type moment.   

12. Jeff Rosenstock - POST-        

Oh man, "USA" is a sprawling, kitchen sink punk epic that just slays in its messy brilliance.

13. The Record Company - All Of This Life

They keep it simple -- three guys, a couple chords, minimal lyrics -- but when they find a rhythm, they work it, wringing out each sweaty riff. Hey! Whoa oh oh oh.

14. Lord Huron - Vide Noir

First introduced to this band off one of these lists back in 2011 and they’ve been a mainstay on the radio since then. Another family favorite.

15. Murder by Death - The Other Shore

Propelled by a baritone vocals and bold drum beats, these country gothic anthems ride the line between dark and celebratory.


Graham's Top 3 Albums from 2018


1. Beach House - 7     
    
2. Lord Huron - Vide Noir   
         
Makes me want to go on a road trip.

3. Alice Ivy - I'm Dreaming          

Like movies from the 50's mixed with some mellow sweet beats, relaxation, nostalgia.

Larson's Top 11 Albums from 2018


1. Blood Orange - Negro Swan  

I learned about both Janet Mock and A$AP Rocky via this album. It's simply incredible.

2. Hinds - I Don’t Walk I Run      

They’re from Spain and they’re awesome.

3. Wye Oak - The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs      
     
When I wanted the feels I reached for this album.

4. Dream Wife - Dream Wife     

When I needed aggressive guitar based music this was my go to album this year.

5. Lyyke Li - So Sad So Sexy        

I made a slow motion video of my kids frolicking outside to the song “Hard Rain”. Hit me up and I’ll send it to you.

6. Cardi B - Invasion Of Privacy 

When I needed something over the top this spring. This was the answer.

7. Leon Bridges - Good Thing     

Describing music as “timeless” can be a slippery slope. Sometimes I feel like people just mean it sounds like a certain era but that era is not right now so it’s now deemed “timeless”... Or maybe that’s what I’m afraid I’m saying when I say music is “timeless” and I don’t like that about myself. It’s not like I’m saying it’s a bad thing it’s just that perhaps I worry that an artist can become pigeonholed by being “timeless”. Pretty cool how many times I’ve put quotations around “timeless” in this ramble. The song “Good Thing” is one of the most beautiful songs ever.

8. Laura Gibson - Goners             

Like an old friend coming to visit.

9. Black Panther Soundtrack     

Feels weird to put a soundtrack to a Marvel movie on my top album list but maybe that’s a weird hangup that I need to get over. I built a set of dresser drawers for my wife and I this year. I clocked a lot of hours with sandpaper a nail gun and this album on rotation.

10. Raye - Side Tape      

This is on here mainly because I listened to the song Cigarette like a million times. I’d been doing some research on what songs Stefflon Don was on and found this banger. There is also a song that is essentially a revamp of Always On Time by Ja Rule and Ashanti which never hurts to listen to.

11. Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt       

Nesto's Top 14 Albums from 2018


1. Peter, Bjorn, and John - Darker Days 

If you're feeling contemplative but want some pop, its PBJ's Darker days.

2. Sure Sure - Sure Sure

Stumbled on this album while searching for Talking Heads covers. That's one way to get your name out there!

3. Paul Cauthen - Have Mercy   

Minutes away from a full length album, so it counts! Have mercy!

4. The Bones of J.R. Jones - Ones of Keep Close 

A one stop shop for a some good shot poundin' and knee slappin' jams.

5. The Vaccines - Combat Rock 

I'm glad somewhere out there in the wide world, Brits are still making music like this.

6. Kurt Vile - Bottle In It

Let's road trip through America with Kurt Vile as our tour guide.

7. Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats - Tearing At The Seams       
  
Advice: If you visit Denver and say anything negative about NR, be prepared to get a beer thrown at you or have a dog piss on your leg.

8. Django Django - Marble Skies              

When someone figures it out, let me know what's going on with these guys please.

9. Andrés Calamaro - Cargar La Suerte  

Argentine rock is not dead... just aging!

10. The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Something Else      

Somehow these guys slipped into the rotation, again. I guess I'm too predictable.

11. Chemtrails - Calf of the Sacred Cow

12. Belle & Sebastian - How to Solve our Human Problems       
  
13. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Wrong Creatures        

14. Dawes - Passwords 

Tex's Top 7 Albums from 2018


1. Maribou State - Kingdoms in Color    

Smooth melodic grooves, good for chilling out or maintaining focus.

2. Idles - Joy as an Act of Resistance       

Smart, thoughtful and woke AF modern punk music

3. Parquet Courts - Wide Awake              

New classic from these perennial favorites.  I initially thought they'd be a flash in the pan, now, 10 years later, they just keep getting better and better.

4. Wye Oak - The Louder I call The Faster It Runs 
            
So stoked that every album that these guys (or singer Jenn Wassner) puts out ends up on a top ten of the year list for me.  There's so many bands in the last 20 years that have started out great and fizzled into caricatures of themselves that it's just refreshing to have a fave put out consistently great material.

5. Wild Pink - Yolk in the Fur      

As I age I get less nostalgic and sentimental.  This album precludes that trend and puts me in the mindset of someone less cynical, and I like that.

6. El Ten Eleven - Bankers Hill    

Nice soundscapes that weave between math-rock and ambient.

7. Jenn Champion - Single Rider

A very well-orchestrated tribute to smoother rock/r&b sounds from the nineties - not an original concept at this point, but a great example of how it can sound really good. 

Sharon's Top 6 Albums from 2018


1. Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurts   
    
I didn't realize that I needed Spiritualized back into my life. Such a fantastic sleepy time album that I usually don't make it past track 4 or 5!

2. Essex Green - Hardly Electric 

You know they are Belle and Sebastian's second cousin, right?

3. Middle Kids - Lost Friends      

My husband thinks they sound boring. They speak to me.

4. The Carters - Everything is Love          

Some days I don’t feel cool enough to listen to this album. Fuck that inner dialogue.

5. Robyn - Honey            

One of those albums I liked after one listen. Just pure fun!

6. Flasher - Constant Image       

YES!!

Serena's Top 9 Albums from 2018


1. Rhye-Blood   

This is the chillest, sexiest album. Sometimes I watch their Tiny Desk concert because my brain can't wrap itself around the fact that the whole band is just two white dudes.

2. Lykke Li - So Sad So Sexy        

3. Blood Orange - Negro Swan  

If Janet Mock's gorgeous take on family doesn't get you, then maybe a Puff Daddy spoken word track? How about a gospel song? This album crosses genres, talks about being different, and is cool as hell.

4. Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy  

5. Twin Shadow-Caer    

6. The Carters - EVERYTHING IS LOVE   
 
Someone described this as a Beyonce album featuring Jay Z, and I think that's both accurate and not a problem.

7. Black Panther Soundtrack    
 
Wakanda forever.

8. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter V  
       
9. Drake-Scorpion          

I bet you thought I'd pick "Nice For What," didn't you? Just kidding, "Nice For What" is my favorite song, it's my song of the year!

January 2, 2019

Rain's Top 10 Albums from 2018


1. Shannon & the Clams - Onion               

Yearning. The way the light plays off their hair. The taste of their cherry Chapstick still lingering about your lips on the long walk home. The exciting smell of their sweat. Feeling guilty/not guilty about stealing a their shirt and sleeping with it beneath your pillow. Yearning. Secret middle of the night phonecalls made at a prearranged time that takes forever to arrive so you never can get to sleep or back to sleep and it just doesn't matter. What would their dad do to you if he found out? The fear. The excitement. Yearning.

2. Hawthonn - Red Goddess (Of This Men Shall Know Nothing) 

Springtime roots stretch out to strangle. Summertime river plots your murder. Autumn reminds you of decline. Winter simply buries you.

3. Jonny Greenwood - Phantom Thread (OST)   

Amble without purpose or direction. Spend a day watching yesterday's cold rain transform into today's sunlit steam. Say "fuck it" and believe it since it's a goddamn miracle you're even alive to experience feelings of frustration, worry, and fear. Listen to this album. It was a mantra for a lighter disposition for me this year.

4. Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo       

Profile : strong hints of copal, palo santo, petrichor, musk, jasmine, leather, smoky mescal, and glitter.

5. Dylan Carlson - Conquistador

Burn the house down. Drive to the desert. Burn the car. Walk. Find a cave. Start another fire. Drink your bottle down. Shoot your bottle. Take a shard and kill a snake. Eat the snake. Be the snake. Crawl into the fire. Abyss.

6. A Hawk and a Hacksaw - Forest Bathing    
      
If I were a LARPer, I'd listen to nothing but these guys while my squire tended to my styrofoam sword and shield.

7. Otto Lindholm - Alter               

Every night I dream of a approaching wave, thousands of feet high. Sometimes I make the futile effort to get to higher ground. Sometimes, I turn my back to it and sit on the ground. Sometimes, I face it as it slowly approaches, rising above me. I always wake at the deafening moment of impact.

8. Jóhann Jóhannsson - Mandy (OST)    

His completed project before his death at an early age this year. Strong to the end.

9. Tom Yorke - Suspiria (OST)    

10. Alison Cotton - All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre  

Paul R's Top 12 Albums from 2018


 1. Clutch - Book of Bad Decisions             

Erstwhile Baltimore hard rockers add a little more swagger and soul to their proven formula.

2. TesseracT - Sonder    

TesseracT are clearly raised on Tool and progressive metal, turning out a smooth and groovy combination that is complex under the surface, like Steely Dan if they were millennial metal heads.

3. Ghost - Prequelle       

Ghost are the Def Leppard of satanic metal, and Prequelle has big choruses that aren't about sugar, photographs or untag glieben glauten globen.

4. John Escreet - Learn to Live   

Jazz pianist updates the best of 70s fusion, while still sounding 21st century.

5. Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit

Is there such a thing as Gospel Metal? Now there is.

6. Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want  

This is what industrial noise rock should be right now.

7. Laibach - The Sound of Music

It's Laibach, doing the Sound of Music. Only their cover of "Let It Be" is better.

8. Tõnu Naissoo Trio  
    
Re-release of a long-forgotten Estonian free jazz trio from the early 70s. Who knew the Estonians could swing like that?

9. Neneh Cherry - Broken Politics  
          
Decades after "Buffalo Stance" Neneh Cherry remains at the edge of new sounds.

10. Yob - Our Raw Heart            

Can stoner metal be heartbreaking?

11. Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love          

12. Devin Townsend Project - Ocean Machine Live at the Ancient Roman Theatre Plovdiv              

Jeremy H's Top 7 Albums from 2018


1. Camp Cope - How to Socialise & Make Friends             

Honestly shocked that this isn’t on more Best-of Lists this year. It’s riveting. It’s defiant. It’s melancholic. It howls. For several weeks in a row I was consistently compelled to put this on first thing every morning and I never once regretted it.

2. Katie Ellen - Still Life 

Anika Pyle continues her incredible run on this second offering from Katie Ellen (check out her previous band Chumped’s Teenage Retirement, it’s truly amazing). Solid indie rock with some interesting pop flourishes – by far my favorite live show of the year. “Adaptation of Para Todos” is an epic builder both on record and in person. I’m so excited to see what they do next.

3. Muncie Girls - Fixed Ideals     

British pop-punk inspired by Sylvia Plath? Sign.Me.Up. A little poppier than their last album but this one still slaps. I emailed the band to try to get them to add a San Francisco show, and the guitarist responded with a very pleasant exchange. #approachable (they didn’t add the show though)

4. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel          

Somehow I passed over Barnett’s second full-length when it hit the shelves back in May. But I gave it a spin again last week and was blown away. This is a rock album.

5. Boygenius - Boygenius            

I didn’t give Lucy Dacus’ Historian enough listens to put it on here but I have a feeling by this time next year it will be my favorite album of 2018. Instead I’ll salute the Dacus/Baker/Bridgers trio: genius move to combine these three voices and musical sensibilities. Huge sound. Heard their live show was amazing and I am seriously bummed to have missed it. Second EP on my list – Jesse I hope you are happy.

6. Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Weird, energetic, elusive folk rock. Eat an edible and put this on and you will swear Frances Quinlan is crawling out of your speakers to deliver you the vocals.

7. Swearin' - Fall Into the Sun    

Have to include a Crutchfield on this list every year and this time I'm going with Allison and her reunited (for the moment) band. Kind of a Rilo Kiley situation where I frequently skip the male vocal's songs but still, on balance, amazing.

January 1, 2019

Connor's Top 10 Albums from 2018


1. Slugdge - Esoteric Malacology   
Cosmic death metal about a race of warlike space slugs, with off-the-charts musicianship and songwriting. This album fully commits to an absurdly campy concept, and crafts into an epic master class in metal, with hilariously brilliant lyrics. Limo Vincit Omnia is one of this decade's best closing tracks.

2. Chapel of Disease - ...And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye       

If there wasn't already a band called The Eagles of Death Metal, that would be an apt description for this album. It's like Mastodon time traveled to the 70s to record some kind of prog album. It's fucking fantastic.

3. Rolo Tomassi - Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It 

Hard to categorize experimental/progressive/post-hardcore metal with heavy pop influences, and incredible vocals from Eva Spence. The transition from Aftermath to Rituals is pretty wild, when you realize it's the same singer.

4. Panphage - Jord              

The third and final album in the Panphage trilogy, and another pitch perfect lo-fi black metal recording with a DIY vibe that's raw, galloping, folky, almost punk at times.

5. Untamed Land - Between The Winds     

This one man band from Ohio somehow blended Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western sound with atmospheric black metal. This album is a fucking blast, from start to finish.

6. Trna - Earthcult

Instrumental shoegaze/post-metal from Russia. It's a great way to check out some metal, if you have a hard time with the harsh vocals.

7. Altars of Grief - Iris        

Prairie doom from Saskatchewan, beautifully crafted and recorded concept album, with a tragic story at its core. This is not an uplifting album, but it's powerful music.

8. Gunship - Dark All Day  

Here's my token non-metal album, there's always one! Gunship is basically dark 80s synthwave, and they fucking rule.

9. Cân Bardd - Nature Stays Silent

Ambitious debut from a 19-year old Swiss one man band. Atmospheric folk-influenced metal with lots of traditional instruments, and some big moments. The only thing that pushed this one down the list, is the production gets a little muddy at times, but it's one hell of a first effort.

10. Thrawsunblat - Great Brunswick Forest 

This doesn't achieve the highs of their last album, but it's still great, and really unique. Where their last album was folk-influenced metal, this is more like metal-influenced folk. Nearly all acoustic, with a sound rooted in Canadian history and folklore.

Paul D's Top 5 Albums from 2018


1. The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships   
2018 was a societal shit show. In response, I spent all year searching for albums that picked me up and tried to convince me that everything would be okay. The downside was that fewer albums connected with me, but the few that did hit hard. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is the medicine that hits just before flu season. It’s the shot of whiskey that gets you through the uncomfortable family gathering. It wants you to remember that life is beautiful even when it’s full of pain, you’re not alone when you’re overwhelmed, and vulnerability can lead to revelation and connection. Musically, it’s a little more disjointed than their previous release and it’s a little more prone to moments of musical indulgence, but the lyrics keep hitting home. Life is worth living. Share your pain with others and let them carry some of the load. Just get out there. Yeesh, where was this album at the BEGINNING of the year??

2. Nine Inch Nails - Bad Witch   
How’s this for an album sales pitch? The world is terrible. Everything we worked for as a society has been torn away and replaced with selfishness, elitism, and oppression. We’ve made bad decisions and now we’re paying for them. The wicked have won. … Sound like the album for you? Pick up Bad Witch! Nine Inch Nails produced an album that starts like a sequel to Broken, pushes the disgust and anger to eleven, and then falls into a Bowie-influenced depression. Ugly and beautiful.

3. Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour          

The liner notes say it all… “This is a time to be present, to witness the beauty of this incredible world you are lucky to be alive in, despite it being more complicated than ever and being filled with so much darkness.”   Come for Kacey’s voice and clever lyrics, stay for the warmth and beauty that you can’t help but feel in every track.

4. Chvrches - Love is Dead          
You already know if Chvrches is a band for you. Chrvches fans want beautifully produced electronic pop with lyrics that, even at their most defeated, are tinged with hope. If that’s something you seek then rush out and pick up...“The Bones of What You Believe”, their first album! Then after you’ve exhausted it, pick up Love is Dead! Every secret optimist needs variety!

5. Lily Allen - No Shame

No Shame flips between being Lily Allen with her fists up fighting every nasty thing that’s been said about her and Lily Allen laying her vulnerability on the table for everyone to see. I don’t know if it all works but when the relaxed beat of Trigger Bang hits you can count me in until the end of the track.