30. SLEEP- THE SCIENCES
First album by Stoner-metal pioneers in almost twenty years is a sludgy blast for those of you who like this sort of thing. Sleep is the side project of High On Fire guitarist Matt Pike and Om’s lead singer Al Cicneros. I don’t know Om’s music, but Sleep is considerably slowed down and less political than High On Fire. They are close as can be to a modern day Black Sabbath, and it’s Sabbath and their most stretched out and jammiest. “The Sciences” has a grand total of six songs with half of them over ten minutes. All are worthwhile with key track being “Marijuanaut’s Theme”
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29. HIGH ON FIRE- ELECTRIC MESSIAH
Though I have heard of “High On Fire” for years, “Electric Messiah” is the first time I actually got around to listening to them and boy had I been missing out. Though I hear “Electric Messiah” is just another very good album in a long career marked by consistent output, to me this is new and therefore comes highly recommended. High On Fire combine early thrash with proggy doom metal, taking from early Metallica, Sabbath and especially Motorhead. “Electric Messiah” is a great listen all the way through with the Lemmy-saluting title track being my highlight. If any of the aforementioned bands is your bag, you need to check these guys out. Cool album cover, too!
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28. ARIANA GRANDE- SWEETENER
My favorite pop album of the year so far, “Sweetener” is Grand’s fourth and perhaps her best. On “Sweetener” she reconciles with the horrific and tragic 2017 bombing during her concert in London, while celebrating her new love and engagement to SNL’s Pete Davidson. They have sadly since broken up, but apparently remain friends. “No Tears Left To Cry” was one of the songs of the summer and best pop songs of 2018, while follow up singles “God Is A Woman” and “Breathin'” show that “Sweetener” shows no signs of slowing down and is one of the most successful big name releases of the year. Grande has the big voice and vocal chops to pull off a great ballad with the pizazz and taste to deliver a plethora of dance floor bangers. She is as close to a sure thing that we have in pop right now.
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27. YUNO- MOODIE EP
Debut EP by talented Jacksonville, Florida musician, which genre-hops across it’s six tracks encompassing R&B, rap, pop, reggae, chill wave & psychedelic indie-rock ala Animal Collective. “No Going Back”, “Why For” & “So Sl0w” are all gems, but the entire EP is a worthwhile listen and leaves me wanting more and dying to see what Yuno will do next.
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26. KALI UCHIS- ISOLATION
“Isolation” is the great genre-bending debut album from 23 year old, Colombia American singer-songwriter, Kali Uchis. Uchis moves effortlessly from funk to R&B & blues- neo-soul to dance pop to rock to throwback soul & doo wop. While showing a slew of influences like Amy Winehouse & M.I.A., as well as album collaborators like Bootsy Collins and Damon Albarn, Uchis maintains a sound all her own. “Isolation” is 15 tracks with very few misses and its 46 minute length feels perfect. Early favorites are “In My Dreams” as well as “Miami”. 2018, so far, seems to be a year filled with disappointed event albums but plenty of promising great new artists.
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25. LET’S EAT GRANDMA- I’M ALL EARS
Sophomore release by esoteric British female teenage synth-pop duo sounds way more sophisticated than their years. “I’m All Ears” is experimental and sounds futuristic with two tracks on the album, including the great “Donnie Darko”, spanning past the nine minute mark. They move from psych-pop to prog to beat driven dance music, sometimes within the same song. Two of the best and more accessible cuts on the album are “Falling Into Me” and “Hot Pink”. One of my favorite new sounds of the year.
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24. JEFF ROSENSTOCK- POST
With No Age, Superchunk and now, Jeff Rosenstock releasing great albums in the first quarter of 2018, punk is already enjoying a great and resurgent year. Rosenstock is a punk lifer in his mid thirties who has just come onto my radar. “Post-” is titled as such because the record deals almost entirely with the aftermath of the 2016 election clusterfuck and how to deal in Trump’s America. Though the subject matter is dark and upsetting, Rosenstock’s simple yet well-played and passionate music with power-pop riffs and shout-along choruses are inspirational. “9/10” and the nearly eight minute “USA” are two major highlights.
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23. LUCY DACUS- HISTORIAN
Sophomore album by promising, young Virginia-based singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus is in a similar vein as her friend and Matador label-mate Julien Baker. Dacus’s music is less spare and frankly rocks much harder than Baker’s though with busier production- horns, string instruments & added vocal effects. Dacus writes exceptionally well and while the subject matter can be heavy, the lyrics are clever, introspective and philosophical. Musically she is the master of the “slow build” and “Historian” gets better with every listen.
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22. FUCKED UP- DOSE YOUR DREAMS
Surprisingly great double album and while only the band’s fifth full-length release, they are almost fifteen years into their recording career and had been left for dead by many. “Dose Your Dreams” is the Canadian hardcore band’s most diverse and one of their best album’s yet. Though its 82 minute running time is a ton to swallow in one sitting, it doesn’t really drag much until the last twenty minutes or so and even there they deliver one of the best tracks on the album “Came Down Wrong”, with J. Mascis on vocals. Lead screamer Damian Abraham only appears as the vocalist on about 2/3’s of the tracks, deferring to guest singers on the remainder. That along with new musical elements alluding to dub, disco, prog, hair metal & alternative rock make “Dose Your Dreams” Fucked Up’s most varied album.
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21. SOCCER MOMMY- CLEAN
Soccer Mommy is twenty year old Nashville singer-songwriter, Sophie Allison & “Clean” is her excellent studio debut album- ten songs of witty, observational indie pop/rock. Allison comes off as Generation Z’s version of Liz Phair, just as blunt but more sad. Certain songs, especially “Cool” and “Your Dog” hit me immediately and are among my favorites of the year, but every track on the album seems to season upon repeat plays due to Allison’s sharp story-telling and attention to detail. She is another exciting new voice pointing toward an exciting future for indie music.
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