Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The (Almost) Best Of 2018

Is it December again, already?
And we all thought last year was a kick in the nuts...fucking 'A, 2018 was a nonstop shitshow. Everyday seemed more ridiculous and disappointing than the last, but the days they kept on coming. Humanity continues our accelerating slide into oblivion (homo sapiens in 2100 is looking pretty far fetched, huh?) according to climate scientists (try reading a Bible every once in awhile, egghead), and I for one and am ready for the ride. Bring it on Nature!
Despite the mind numbing political landscape, the degrading environment, culture being dictated by memes, and the continuing celebration of idiocracy, 2018 wasn't ALL bad. I mean, I had a pretty good year personally. Work has been mostly successful. My beloved Atlanta United won their first MLS Cup (can't say my beloved Manchester United is doing jack shit though). Everyone in my family is healthy and happy. Just got all new furniture for the living room (cozy AND stylish). And, we (royal 'we') were treated to another year of fantastic new music coming from all angles. Turns out, against all odds, there are still people willing to sacrifice, hustle, and labor over creating songs for the royal 'we' to enjoy. Isn't that nice? It's really nice, I think.
So to reward those efforts, I take it upon myself to be "that asshole" who pretends like he (it's always a he) knows which ones are more valuable than the others. Cause I know something that nobody else can figure out on their own, or something. Isn't that nice of me? It's really nice of me, I think.
The following entries are records that I listened to a bunch of times this year, and got immense pleasure from, but if I was to make a list ranking my absolute favorite musical experiences of this most recent calendar year (oh, hey wait...I am), these would be juuuuuust outside the margins. For today. Ask again tomorrow and I'm sure my mind will have changed. But for today, these are the 35 NEXT best records of my own personal 2018.
(notice that every year the list keeps expanding?)

35. Tomb Mold - Manor Of

A whole album of Booger from Revenge Of The Nerds belching over Dismember death metal.


34. Graveyard - Peace

Dusty tube amps and even dustier Blue Cheer and Grand Funk riffs.


33. Voidhanger - Dark Days Of The Soul

Unpleasant Polish men making misanthropic D-beat crusty death-adjacent kinda metal. Crossing my fingers they aren't saying anything they sorta look..."bad".


32. Precious - Sick Rooms

New hardcore from old hardcore dudes (Threadbare, Adamantium, Mean Season, Stickfigurecarousel, etc.) that weaves in some shimmering shoegaze relief between Burn/Snapcase-ish head bobbers.


31. Unholy Two - The Pleasure To End All Pleasure

How are your ears doing? Cause if you ever want to dull them down, you could crank this album of maxed out overdriven noise rock (emphasis on noise), and that should do the trick.


30. Leech Beech - Bled It Bleed

Paul Erickson of Hammerhead/Vaz acclaim brings his golden pipes (and golden bass) back into action, with Jem Ponussamy from Inappropriate Tough Guy Behavior / Dead, and Adam Marx of Seawhores / Power Takeoff in tow. Fucking legit shit.


29. Throat - Bareback

Widescope noise rock that pulls no punches, and refuses to be confined to any one catalog of sounds. Throat has harnessed up a feral dire wolf, and they ride that motherfucker hard.


28. Goggs - Pre Strike Sweep

To call Ty Segall prolific would be a gross understatement. To call me a fan of Ty Segall’s discography would also be an understatement. But this band…this one, I dig. Spiky post punk with some raw garage squall, some proto metal thud, and some general all around “pep”. Can’t be mad at “pep”.


27. Nothing - Dance On The Blacktop

High quality shoegaze-cum-90's-emo that’s less visceral than the previous album, but it’s growing on me with every listen (much like my unchecked back hair).

26. Gnod - Chapel Perilous

Ten years and counting of collective weirdness from this nebulous assemblage of musicians. Immersive and ambitious soundscapes that skew towards “heavy”, but are much more about creating a mood than palm muting an E string. It’s like a sheer walled concrete spillway carrying human sewage cutting through a lush, misty, forest floor.

25. Not Of - Hypocritic Oath

Two man champagne jam dealing in punk-y, abrasive, noise rock that covers a lot of ground considering the personnel limitations. And oddly enough, one of those two men is from the band Broken Social Scene…which is weird. Or, at least, out of character. 


24. Sewingneedle - User Error

Midwestern quality burl in a Tar kind of way, that occasionally brings in a thundering power chord lurch a la Chavez, and weaves (and bobs) in some Girls Vs. Boys self-aware swagger. Hefty, but kept honed. 

23.Warp And Weft - Patience

Math-y noise rock that banks on a frenetic intensity fore fronting a manic ride of raucous, jagged, sharp agitation. I respect that they can maintain a discernable structure whilst (I am smart) delivering such a whirlwind of energy. The guards are up, and that’s a good thing. Keep ‘er between the lines, boys.

22. Life In A Vacuum - All You Can Quit

Shouty, punchy, post punk influenced indie noise. Has some of the catchy elements of, like, a Meat Wave, but has an overall darker, more hectic sense (and sensibility) with songs swelling and pushing and pulling as if they want to hurtle off into 50 pieces. But they don’t. You don’t need to shield your eyes. It’s cool.


21. War Brides - Complacent

Only four songs, but its four songs of rock solid Chicago bred noise rock (with a hardcore backbone…which I realize all noise rock has, but, this one is more pronounced), that sounds like it could have been released on Escape Artist Records circa 2001 right alongside Playing Enemy. I would make some sort of “deep dish pizza” analogy, but it turns out I’ve never actually had Chicago deep dish pizza. And as a Vegan American, I kinda don’t ever see it happening. So, I do apologize to War Brides, and to you, the reader, for that missed opportunity, but it’s a lifestyle choice that I am adamant about.

20. High On Fire - Electric Messiah

Matt Pike spoils us, and this year I took him for granted. The American Motorhead still churns out the highest quality biker metal pounding, but I didn’t listen to this one as much as I normally would have. Riff fatigue? I did try hard to like the new Sleep record, but it’s juuuuuust tooooooo booooooring.

19. Brant Bjork - Mankind Woman

Slow burn sneaky grooves. Brant Bjork is a national treasure as far as I’m concerned, and this time around he brings the high desert heat with Nick Oliveri, Sean Wheeler, and Bubba Dupree (fucking Void!), so it’s basically unfuckablewith.

18. Sumac - Love In Shadow + American Dollar Bill... (w/ Keiji Haino)

Lots of new material…emphasis on “lots”. Hard to wade through at times. The collaboration with Keiji Haino skews more to a really heavy free jazz, while their other release stays on course with more protracted, mountain-moving pummel. Long winded at times, but impeccably executed as expected.

17. Fond Han - Wronked

Expansive, shambolic, and jubilant in a way not unlike Animal Collective, but with a more aggressive intent. I mean, there’s a goddamn bassoon credited on the album…doesn’t that sort of tell you what you need to know?

16. Barren Womb - Old Money/New Lows

A far less tongue-in-cheek version of ’68. Remember that conversation we had about them last year? Two guys. Minimalist maximalists.

15. Coilguns - Millennials

Noise-core throwback to the turn of the last century, when riffs were trafficked in density, and there was a sort of suffocating vibe cause everything is just …”loud”. And “on”.

14. Secret Cutter -Quantum Eraser

Collapsing Star-core? You know, that big, warm, all consuming style of Rorschach meets Neurosis meets Entombed type of roar? I do. It’s this.

13. Haan - By The Grace Of Blood and Guts

NYC grungy sludge that draws from a long lineage of legendary dirtbags. If you really miss Fight Amp, then I would say, get down with this one.


12. Worse - Love Is In The Earth

And more NYC black tar scrapings. Presumably from the ashtray shared by Dave Curran and Chris Spencer. Plus, FTW
*the song above is from the last record...couldn't find a video to anything off the new one.


11. Culture Abuse - Bay Dream

After going nutter over the last album, this one left me less nutty (medical condition). But my nuts kept circling back to it out of some weird nut allegiance, and wouldn't you know it (nut it?), it's growing on me with every listen. I assume in the future I will "get it", and my nuts will be swollen in tribute.


10. Drug Church - Cheer

Hey, and on the same subject; Drug Church was also a surprisingly revelatory discovery to me on their last record, and then this one affected my nuts the same way as the Culture Abuse one did. But then one day it started to come around, and things were back to their normal, disgusting self (My balls...we're referencing my gonads here)


9. Bruxa Maria / Casual Nun - split

Coupla bands, handful of songs, and a shit ton of vitriol. Bruxa Maria is like a hornet's nest tuned to drop D, and Casual Nun are the strained arteries in your neck when you finally remember that you forgot your wife's birthday. Again.


8. Jeff Tweedy - Warm

Unapologetically ride or die for Jeff Tweedy. Dude does it right every time, and if you aren't seeing that...well, got some living to do.


7. Kal Marks - Universal Care

Sludgy, slacker, indie pop that doesn't hold back on the fuzzy oomph. The vocals are gonna be the thing that you may say, "hold up Playa, what?" on, but I think it adds to the whole unique delivery.


6. Big Ups - Two Parts Together

Post hardcore that gets into some Les Savy Fav territories, toys with some mid 90's Dischord type combinations, or some way abbreviated Slint-isms. But is a weird way.


5. Pressed - Anxiety Dreams

This is my one, "oops, this came out in 2017" fuck up. Sorry. The thing it though, it's a really good version of the type of blown out noise rock hammering that I like. So it gets a pass.


4. Big Bite - Big Bite

Matt Berry from Happy Diving, who I get into a bunch, with a band that sounds like they listened to a lot of late 80s college rock, and now want to give that template a bigger, rocking-er, fuzzier stomp.


3. Meatwound - Trash Apparatus

Really gnarly. Lord, these were churned up from some fetid Tampa detention pond behind a tire burning store. The opposite of "nice".


2. Idles - Joy As An Act Of Subversion

Twitchy, agitated, noisy, post punk rave ups that manage to channel the joy referenced in the albums' title despite an noted undercurrent of seething restlessness. Completely English in every way (except the "joy" part, I suppose). Reminds me of Ikara Colt, which is appreciated, if unintentional on their parts.


1. Breeders - All Nerve

Man, fuck you if you don't love this record. After some wilderness years, the Breeders deliver the distinctive left field, fractured, playful, pop damage that they perfected in the 90s on their first two albums. This band is so goddamn good at this shit. And after seeing them touring this record, it clicked even more. Essential.



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Anonymous said...

Great list (mostly)! Barren Womb are my favorite revelation so far. If this is the almost best of 2018, I can't wait to see the actual best of.
Merry Christmas 'n' all that noise.

MDG3D said...

Some great stuff on here and a few I somehow missed so thanks very much!

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