Variety is key in this art life of ours.’ Although I love hip hop more than any other medium of art (nay, culture), I do also enjoy many other genres of music as well. So, this instillation of #ListWeek will focus on the ten best non-hip hop releases from this past year. Open up your ears, open up your minds and let’s get into to it!
– Benny P
10) Jim James – Uniform Distortion
Thank you Mac Miller. A year or so ago he shared the song ‘The World is Smiling Now’ by Jim James on one of his social media pages, introducing me to the incredible solo work of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Ever since I’ve been entranced by this dude’s music and Uniform Distortion was no exception. It’s a killer composition of music with impressive songwriting front-to-back. 40 minutes of pure rock n roll.
9) Culture Abuse – Bay Dream
Bay Dream was my first taste of Culture Abuse and I have to be frank – it made me a pretty big fan. Music was so damn infectious. Got entranced into my mind from the first listen. One of those projects you can play through a few times a day. It flows so well and before you know it, the great ride is over. Press play, let the vibes commence, and repeat.
8) Nothing – Dancing on the Blacktop
This group keeps putting out dynamite albums. First I was leveled by Guilty of Everything, Tired of Tomorrow was filled with stunners, and now Dance on the Blacktop has knocked it out the park. If I hear one track on this project I need to hear them all – how prestigious of a compliment is that?
7) Beach House – 7
See what I did there? For real though, Beach House stands as one of my favorite acts across all genres of music, so any time they drop an album it’s in instant year-end contention. I thoroughly enjoyed how different this album sounded in comparison to prior Beach House works. It was just a tad more distorted – a pinch edgier. That small pinch did wonders. What a discography.
6) Snail Mail – Lush
Some of the most beautiful and ernest music from 2018 came from Maryland singer/songwriter ‘Snail Mail.’ At only 19 years old, Snail Mail has already showed to the world that she is capable of stringing together fantastic modern rock ballads. The music is so full, so relatable. Life soundtrack shit. Lush will be played for decades to come. Bet on that.
5) Weakened Friends – Common Blah
Shoutout Portland, Maine!!! Weakened Friends truly put on for the hometown this past year. Their debut album kicked more ass than nearly any album I spun in 2018. Great for taking out the angst. One of those albums you blare in the morning commute to pump you up for the day. Not a bad track on this one – props to J Mascis.
4) Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs
Everyone give it up to my boy David one time. He introduced me to Australian five-piece ‘Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’ our senior year of college, and the band and I have been inseparable ever since.
RBCF’s music is too damn infectious. I am mystified by every song; it’s almost like their albums are one long performance to me. Hope Downs might be their most grande album yet…impossible to be in a negative mood when this joint is spinning!
3) Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
Speaking of “best work yet,” Parquet Courts also went on a tear in 2018. Their fifth album Wide Awake! stands as possibly the most cohesive release from a band all year, each song masterfully flows into the next with absolute finesse. These dudes can hit the gas four minutes straight on one joint, but then slow things down and set a completely different mood on the next. And you don’t even bat an eye. It just happens. Take notes y’all. This is how you progress as a modern rock band.
2) Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
Although modern jazz music is filled with numerous shining jewels, no artist shines brighter than this man right here. He composes and plays some of the most bonkers and epic (no pun intended) jazz I have ever heard – these are soundtracks for your ears. Nah…soundtracks for your soul. Kamasi’s music hit me directly in my core and made me feel some downright special emotions this past year. I appreciate that more than words can convey. Infinite respect to Kamasi Washington. Shoutout that bonus album too!
1) Molly Burch – First Flower
Molly Burch takes the crown! Every note on this album is perfect. Burch’s guitar playing, singing, songwriting – everything excels to the highest degree. I don’t really know what it is about First Flower that sucks me in so much. I’m just so deeply obsessed with this record. It’s sheer bliss. A clear day in the park. Sunlight shimmering off the promenade with gulls calling out in the background. A warm, provocative look from a hopeful lover. It makes me think of everything I love about life and then some. These soliloquies may seem loose and ungrounded to some, so I apologize for that. But Molly Burch’s music keeps me in the clouds and I don’t plan on coming down. Hit play and float up to me my friends. There’s plenty of room up here in the heavens.
Love to Molly Burch. And love to all these musicians. Without art…we would be a lost world.
Honorable Mention (more possibly to come)
Hippo Campus – Bambi
Soccer Mommy – Clean
Mount Eeire – Now Only
Yo La Tango – There’s a Riot Goin On
Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Butcher Brown – Camden Session
The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gumboot Soup
Sunflower Beam – Twentytwo in Blue
Remo Drive – Pop Music
The Breeders – All Nerve
Shame – Songs of Praise
King Tuff – The Other
Dungeon & Woods – Myths 003
Frankie Cosmos – Vessel
The Wonder Years – Sister Cities
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage
Sigur Rós – Route One
Paul White – Rejuvenate
Dr. Dog – Critical Equation
Spanish Love Songs – Shmaltz
Iceage – Beyondless
Jacob Collier – Djesse (Vol. 1)
Mothers – When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired
Black Moth Super Rainbow – Panic Blooms
Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today
Low – Double Negative
Thee Oh Sees – Smote Reverser
Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams
Animal Collective – Tangerine Reef
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt
Aphex Twin – Collapse EP
Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
Smashing Pumpkins – Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1: No Past. No Future. No Sun.
Jack White – Boarding House Reach
Good Tiger – We Will All Be Gone
Robyn – Honey
The Longshot – Love is For Losers
images via Weakened Friends, Jim James, ATO Records LLC, Culture Abuse, Epitaph Records, Nothing, Relapse Records Inc., Beach House, Sub Pop, Snail Mail, Matador Records, Weakened Friends, Don Giovanni Records, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Parquet Courts, Rough Trade Records, Kamasi Washington, Young Turks, Molly Burch, Captured Tracks & All rightful photographers
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– Benny P