This is the only listicle I write all year.
It’s not that I despise the notion of the listicle, I enjoy reading them, but I hate writing them. Except for the one time every three-hundred sixty-five days that I get to rant off my favorite albums of the year. Honestly it’s the only list I feel qualified to write. Of course I can easily belt out like fifty or so titles for you all but quite frankly… it’s a waste of time.
Why? To put it to you simply, way too much to absorb. And besides, I believe no matter how many these “experts” you read on mainstream music driven websites, who seem to flaunt a form of subtextual intelligence, couldn’t honestly explain the difference between the 43rd and 37th best album of the 2018. When you go above a list of twenty five, it’s just showing off for no reason.
Since David Letterman is known for the nightly Top Ten List… here at Nerdbot we do a top eight format. I guess I’m trying to be different.
Let’s do this!!
8. Lord Huron – Vide Noir
Remember a couple years ago when bands were trying to be the new Fleet Foxes or Mumford & Sons? Acoustic guitars, vests, wondering if maybe you’d like country music? Lord Huron used to be one of those groups until they opened the door for reinventing themselves with their latest record Vide Noir. I actually thought Spotify made a mistake and put a different record under their name by mistake. It took seeing them live at The National’s Homecoming Festival to realize the Lord Huron I thought was okay in 2014, could really be something special. Vide Noir is the album Lord Huron always wanted to make that they didn’t know they could make.
7. Brockhampton – Iridescence
Paul Rudd’s new favorite rap act (he’s been spotted at their shows) Brockhampton I feel is really nailing the concept of modern collective hip-hop. With more group members than a combined Arcade Fire/Broken Social Scene record, they really deliver on showcasing the various personalities that make them ripe to carry the Wu-Tang torch. Iridescence offers a strong variety of musical styles ranging from straight up in your face hip hop to this song called San Marcos, which sounds more like a Limp Bizkit ballad with a sprinkle of flow. I know it’s not the description you’d expect to read but trust me, it’s goooooood.
6. Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt
During my first two months in the morning Los Angeles rush hour traffic I spent a ton of time slamming on my brakes and rocking out to the new album from Spiritualized. And Nothing Hurt is one of those recordings that in age of microwave tattoo faced internet sensations, real music still exists. I’ve never been able to appropriately explain Spiritualized to people, they just make amazing music. They somehow make you feel closer to a higher power while singing about having breakfast right off the mirror. A full comprehension of the rock-n-roll lifestyle with the frontman to back up everything they sell. As long as J. Spaceman is sitting on stage, not acknowledging the audience, rock still has a chance to survive.
5. Jack White – Boarding House Reach
Every time Jack White is about to release a new album I immediately think “why doesn’t he just get the White Stripes back together?” There are times, even for someone as talented as Jack White, where I think he’s gone as far as he can go. Then once I hear what he puts out, I immediately realize he continues to push the limits of his song writing and musical capabilities. He should just stay as a solo artist. Boarding House Reach is exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t know if White’s playing different instruments in his free time but he’s really broadened his sound to make what I feel is his most accomplished solo achievement to date. And I was just joking, please get the White Stripes back together. I’m always looking for excuses to go to Detroit.
4. The Beths – Future Me Hates Me
Every now and then a pop punk band puts out a record that has me crying my eyes out while singing along at the top my lungs. In 2018, The Beths were the group to do so. Based in New Zealand, Future Me Hates Me, their debut record no less, is exactly what this year in music needed. Simple, catchy pop punk bliss with the perfect blend of raw and polish. My favorite thing about the record is the fact the best song, Less Than Thou, is the last track on the album. It’s a rare occurrence in the music world when a band truly ends on a high note. Most think they do. But in this case, it’s as if the band matures throughout the recording, leaving us with a glimpse of the bright future ahead. Please play LA again, for me.
3. F#cked Up – Dose Your Dreams
Canada’s F#cked Up made a Top 3 record of the year and Dose Your Dreams deserves every bit of this ranking if not more. My friend Mike Russell coined the term “epic punk” back in 2011. A phrase meant for band who pushes the punk rock genre to incredible limits, working in all types of new sounds while staying true to what the Sex Pistols we’re doing forty years ago. They go electronic, then hardcore, to a rocked version of a Smiths’ song called The One I Want Will Come For Me, beautiful. There’s close to twenty tracks on the record and it takes you down so many roads you never hear the same song twice. F#cked Up never stop surprising me, in the best of possible ways. And yes, the album art reminds me of Watchmen…
2. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Sparkle Hard
When Malkmus releases an album, all is right with the world. The ex and probably soon again frontman of Pavement dropped his most eclecticly pleasant work since Pig Lib. Yeah… I said it. Sparkle Hard is that good. After all this time Malkmus has not lost his signature style or sense of humor. Mixing ten thousand dollar words with a quirky form of alternative rock I have yet to see anyone duplicate. The songs are still fun in an early 2000’s sort of way only this time there’s a substance to them we didn’t get in the previous two or three records. Malkmus was not lost by any means but, Sparkle Hard seems to capture a Malkmus we hadn’t seen since the days of Post Paint Boy. It’s nice to see him again.
Last but not least… the best record of the year…
1. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
Look, I know this album was originally released in 2011, I don’t care. It has since been wonderfully re-recorded into what I feel is Will Toledo’s crown jewel in the Car Seat catalogue. No joke, he’s got an early 90’s JC Penny catalog of material. If you like the ten minute songs, they’re there. You like Toledo’s voice? It’s like Julian Casablancas had a child with God. Like straight up rock-n-roll? Twin Fantasy blasts the hell out of your ear drum with songs like Beach Life-In-Death, then relaxes you to sleep in the form of Sober To Death. Teens Of Denial, was great. Twin Fantasy is even better. There’s an aura amongst the tracks that seems to resonate beyond the typical just press play relationship we have with most records. It’s kind of like the album is an audiographical story of one’s life. Sometimes Will Toledo, you’re so good it hurts.
Please download, stream, go see live, any of the bands or listened above. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Honorable Mentions: David Byrne – American Utopia; Vince Staples – FM; No Joy – Snares Like A Haircut; IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance (shit’s legit); Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Feel; Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch
People also won’t shut up about the new Kasey Musgraves album so maybe check out that one too.
And if you’re hoping I write another listicle in the future… I will, Nerdbot’s Top 8 Albums Of 2019.
Remember, music nerds are still nerds.
By Adam Chmielewski
What were some of your favorite albums to come out this year? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!!