2018 was one of the strongest years in recent memory for new music. Bands that I liked previously delivered huge and bands I’d never heard of prior to this year blew away the veterans. If you told me a year ago my top albums of the year would include three Swedish bands I would never have believed you.
These are the albums I listened to the most and kept in constant rotation. I’ve gotten in to collecting vinyl this year so wherever possible I’ve bought many of these releases on vinyl. Given the steep cost I don’t have all of them yet but if they are on this list I plan to purchase them at some point. I tried to rank them but given how different so many of these albums are from each other trying to list them in some sort of order didn’t work. Dig in and give the samples a listen and be sure to check out the full album if you like what you hear and keep a watch for part 2 and 3!
The Blue Stones – Black Holes
I saw this Canadian duo at Northern Invasion this year in Wisconsin and they were one of the highlights of the weekend. The Blue Stones brand of blues based hard rock is reminiscent of Royal Blood with their fuzzy guitar and riff heavy songs. After releasing an EP earlier this year the full length was well worth the wait.
“Be My Fire” (Live)
Meg Myers – Take Me To the Disco
I loved Meg Myers 2015 album, Sorry, and have been looking forward to this one for a while. If anything, Take Me to the Disco is darker in tone than Sorry was. Myers is a bassist and her songs are performed bass forward which gives them a lot of punch, more reminiscent of a Garbage ballad. The moody music coupled with her voice which can go from breathy and ethereal one moment to a deeper “do-not-fuck-with-me” tone the next sets Myers apart from her contemporaries. Take Me to the Disco is dark and powerful record. Many of the songs seem to occur just before frustration and anger curdles to rage. More than most of the albums on my list it feels very rooted in NOW.
Mike Shinoda – Post Traumatic
I wrote about this album previously and I don’t have much more to add I haven’t already written. You can click the link above for several videos. Post Traumatic is raw and exposed in a way that a lot of records are not. In trying to process his own myriad of emotions and come to grips with the death of Chester Bennington, Mike Shinoda has written an album that speaks to anyone that has lost a friend or loved one in the prime of their life.
Red City Radio – Sky Tigers
This Oklahoma band has been one of my favorites since I heard their 2015 self titled a year ago. As much as I wanted a full length release the five songs on this EP are so great I couldn’t exclude them from the list. Red City Radio play what I can best describe as traditional guitar driven rock & roll and they do it better than just about anyone in the game today. Sky Tigers is criminally short but that just makes it easier to listen to the songs that are here over and over again. Lead singer Garret Dale has hinted on social media recently that another EP may be coming in 2019. If it’s as good as this one expect to see it on next year’s best of list as well.
“In The Shadows”
Lissie – Castles
Lissie has been one of my favorite musicians since her 2010 debut Catching a Tiger. I reviewed her previous album, My Wild West, here and it remains a favorite. Her music has always had a melancholy edge underneath her wistfulness but with Castles the melancholy is more forward. The songs on Castles revolve around a relationship as it is on the verge of a break up. These songs are sadder and not as energetic but her lyrics are just as powerful as ever and her musicianship is top notch. More than her other albums, Castles takes some time to sink the hooks in but once it does you’ll find yourself going to it over and over again.
“Best Days” (Live Acoustic)
“Blood & Muscle”
Post in the comments your own choices for the Best Music of 2018 and check back soon for parts 2 and 3!