Bambi, from Hippo Campus, was my favorite record of 2018. It's the album I listened to most, all the way through. It's the type of album that breezes by, and you find yourself starting it over just as soon as the last note ends.
The band tried enough new things to keep their sound fresh, while not alienating core fans. Some of the songs didn't transfer as well to the live setting, but I love that they took a risk. That risk paid off in the way of endless listens, at least for me, in 2018.
The Rolling Blackouts CE grew on me steadily, thanks to the single "Talking Straight," that owned a chunk of my mind. I wouldn't say Hope Downs is perfect, but I'll be damned if this debut doesn't show promise!? There are at least three other songs on here that you must hear, including "Sister's Jeans," "How Long?," and "Cappuccino City."
I listened to Drake's Scorpion at least half a dozen times this year. He continues to put out solid music, whether you call it rap or pop. To be honest, he doesn't have much competition anymore. Much of the rap being recorded these days is auto-tuned, bullshit. Rappers are singing, or talking, about clubs or drugs, and it all just sounds garbled. Drake actually has a voice and some real thoughts in his head. A friend of mine actually asked why he's so popular, and I told him that exact thing. He raps and he sings, and he's intelligent. Don't get me started on the "Nice For What" craze that had Will Smith climbing bridges, and people putting their cars in drive while they danced next to them!
Josh Rouse has been writing great pop music for almost 20 years. He's morphed into several different characters along the way, blending everything from funk to flamenco. With each album, he enters new territory, but always with the same quality and Josh Rouse stamp. Never overstepping his boundaries, and Love In The Modern Age is no different. It's definitely modern, eclectic, and poppy. It's a great listen.
What's the term for rap-singing, "Hip-Pop?" This little band, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, was a Spotify generated recommendation. At first, they seemed too much like the Kings of Leon for my liking, but soon, I came to realize that dis mutha-phucka can rap, and this band can jam. They play to his strengths most times, waiting for his hooks to jump off.
The last two weeks have seen me running, outside in the cold albeit, to the masterpiece that Houndmouth recorded in 2018. This band took some risks, as well, combining some classic rock riffs of yore, with futuristic, bombastic production. Songwriting is still their strong suit, and they stick to their guns on tracks like "Waiting For The Night." When I can't stop singing the hook, "Waiting, waiting for the night to come," I know it's great. Unless of course, it's "Baby Shark, " then it's just a case of songwriting for kids. Nevertheless, you want to check out this record if you haven't yet. It's one from 2018 that's not to be missed.
The song that rocked my world in 2018 was "Spirit Guide," by Bear Hands. Since they didn't release an LP or an EP, I'd call it "Song of The Year."
They just released an EP, Blue Lips, and it looks like a follow up should come sometime in 2019.
Grapetooth, I can't forget this super fun release, late into 2018. Everytime I hear the first verse of "Imagine On" I think, if the Happy Monday and the Stone Roses had a baby, this is what it would sound like. Then you get to the chorus and you hear New Order, or Howard Jones.
"Imagine on, imagine on, Imagine on, my love/You never smile, no style/Original, my love."
The influences here are endless, and worn quite prominent on their sleeves. Right away, I knew the sound they were trying to portay and the direction they were headed. I like that sometimes.
"Though the reckless, raucous sound of Chicago duo Grapetooth might suggest otherwise, the band was born out of a mutual love for ‘80s Japanese new wave, the weirdo sentimental pop of Arthur Russell, and a good bottle of cheap wine."-Polyvinyl Records
"Violent" reminds me of a Billy Idol and Oasis mash-up, and "Trouble" is the care-free jam of the year.
These are just a few things I listened to a lot last year. There are plenty more great albums that I missed, and I welcome any recommendations.
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