Lucifer – Lucifer II
Talk about being blindsided! This Swedish band came out of nowhere for me in the middle of December and vaulted ahead of the pack to land on this list. Lucifer is a doom rock band heavily steeped in the sound of hard rock bands of the 70’s. Unlike the overrated Greta Van Fleet, Lucifer nods to their influences while still delivering something original and fresh sounding.
A special note of thanks to Joey Haynie at the Rock Strikes Ten podcast for mentioning the band on a recent episode of Cobras & Fire: Rock Podcast. If you like new music both of those shows are worth putting on your podcast subscriptions for 2019.
“Reaper on Your Heels”
Frank Turner – Be More Kind
I had the opportunity to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls live twice this year and he put on a tremendous show each time. There are very few artists working today that deliver time after time after time the way Frank Turner does. That he is also one of the hardest working and touring musicians out there isn’t so much a consequence of his fame as the reason he has that fame to begin with. I’ve said it before, but this is another artist if you get the opportunity to see live you must go. Be More Kind is a darker album and fully steeped in the turmoil of the Trump/Brexit era. The album is both an imploring call to reject toxic populist politics and an exploration of what we have become and where we may be going. No song sums up the apocalyptic mood of 2018 more than “21st Century Survival Blues” and few artists can bring tears to my eyes with raw lyrical honesty the way Frank Turner can.
“21st Century Survival Blues” (Live Acoustic)
“Make America Great Again”
There were few things this year as cathartic as screaming the lyrics of this song with a couple thousand like minded fans.
“Let’s make America great again/
By making racists ashamed again/
Let’s make compassion in fashion again/
let’s make America great again”
The Vaccines – Combat Sports
I played Combat Sports a lot this year and when I finally got it on vinyl for Christmas it was the first record I put on after the holidays. This English band is filling the hole that Neon Trees have left with more than a splash of The Cars to measure. Every song is a well crafted slice of bright and airy pop-rock that will have you humming the choruses without even being aware you are doing so.
“Put it On a T-Shirt”
“Your Love is my Favorite Band”
The Dead Deads – Sketches & Animation
I saw Nashville’s The Dead Deads this year live and they put on a hell of a show. Sketches & Animation is a bit strange in that it’s five songs recorded twice, once electric and once acoustic. The songs take on a different sound depending on the format which makes this sort-of EP more like a full album. Every song is great and the more you listen the more you hear the various influences from Alice in Chains to The Breeders.
“Ghosts (Liar Liar)”
Hardcore Superstar – You Can’t Kill My Rock & Roll
Another Swedish band that has transcended their good previous releases with a new album that blows the doors off and shatters windows. You Can’t Kill My Rock & Roll is full of huge riffs, anthemic choruses, and a fun vibe that brings to mind defunct bands like Bad City and Heaven’s Basement. This is a great album and if there was any justice in the world these guys would be superstars.
“You Can’t Kill My Rock & Roll”
Ghost – Prequelle
I reviewed Prequelle here and time has only made the album stronger in my mind. While this list is not ranked, Prequelle is my favorite album of the year. There is not a note on this album I don’t like and the songs “Rats”, “Miasma”, “Witch Image”, and “Pro Memoria” are all among the best songs of 2018. “Dance Macabre” IS my favorite song of 2018. So raise a blood filled chalice to Cardinal Copia and the rest of the Satanic Nameless Ghouls and toast the crowning gothic rock masterpiece that is Prequelle!
“Its a Sin” (Pet Shop Boys cover)
That wraps up 2018! It was a hell of a year for music and I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings! Happy new year, everyone! Let me know in the comments who your top acts of 2018 were.