Top 50 Albums of 2018

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2018 has been an interesting year. Trump is unfortunately still the president of the United States, Kanye West returned and blessed us with some more bat shit antics, and memes are still a thing. Yup, the world was just as fucked this year as it was last year, but you know what always keeps us frantic and anxiety-ridden humans going? Well, to quote “HMLTD,” “Musiiiic, Musiiic, Music Music Music!” 2018 was an incredible year for music, and I am here to share with you my Top 50 Albums of 2018. Let’s do it!

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50. Artist: Jesus Piece

      Album: Only Self

      Genre: Metalcore/Hardcore 

 Metalcore for those looking for more than macho bravado. Philadelphia’s own “Jesus Piece” are a by the numbers Metalcore band, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s a reason why this beloved subgenre of Metal has such a large following of devoted fans, and “Jesus Piece” aren’t afraid to keep that tradition going. The band’s new album Only Self is a powerful display of heavy riffs and aggression, with lyrical content that deals heavily with subjects such as vulnerability, depression, the search for happiness and self-worth, and self-deprecation, and it’s written eloquently and poetically. This is Metal for poets. 

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49. Artist: Cardi B

      Album: Invasion of Privacy

      Genre: Hip Hop

 Never thought I’d be writing these words about Cardi B following the countless times I’ve eye rolled or felt utter disgust hearing many of her somehow famous insufferable radio singles, but here we are, I will write these words… Cardi B’s debut album Invasion of Privacy is a solid project. Sure it’s not rich in lyrical depth or introspection, but these are fun having bangers that are undeniably catchy and infectious. Cardi delivers much swagger and ferocity in her flows, and the Trap-heavy production compliments her raw style quite well. Well done Cardi, well done.

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48. Artist: Logic

      Album: YSIV

      Genre: Hip Hop

 We’ve all heard the jokes about Logic. We’ve all seen the dismissal and panning of Logic from critics, but his latest installment in his Young Sinatra series YSIV will shut the… well, it probably won’t shut his detractors up, but for those of us who enjoy a good Logic project every now and then will have a grand Ol’ time. Sure his “I’m bringing back Boom Bap” old head mentality is a bit of a gimmick and can get flat-out corny at times, but this album is an exercise in impeccable flow, nostalgia of the 90’s golden era, and consciousness that might make you shed a tear.

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47. Artist: Logic

     Album: Bobby Tarantino II

     Genre: Hip Hop

 YSIV was Logic’s answer to 90’s “Boom Bap,” and Bobby Tarantino II was Logic’s answer to modern “Trap.” Though the production on this album is generic and lacks any innovation, it’s still infectious and Logic sounds confident and boastful with rapid fire flows and clever wordplay.

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46. Artist: Here Lies Man

      Album: You Will Know Nothing

      Genre: Hard Rock/Afrobeat

  A year after their stunning self-titled debut, “Here Lies Man” released their follow-up You Will Know Nothing. Though it follows the same tune as it’s predecessor, the music on You Will Know Nothing still feels fresh and at this point it’s evident that the band have successfully developed their own signature sound with their combination of “Hard Rock” and “Afrobeat,” two genres that don’t normally intertwine. This album has “Stoner Rock” guitars with danceable “Afrobeat” percussion, and both work very well together. 

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45. Artist: Sleep

      Album: The Sciences

      Genre: Doom Metal/Stoner Metal

 “Doom Metal” trio “Sleep” made a comeback this year and released their first album in 15 years titled The Sciences and it was definitely worth the wait. Packed with heavy distorted downtempo riffs, slow burning rhythms that can be a trying listen if you’re not familiar with “Stoner Metal,” and of course lyrical content that deals heavily with marijuana, this album is a must listen for “Sleep” fans old and new.

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44. Artist: Harm’s Way

      Album: Posthuman

      Genre: Metalcore 

 While a recent batch of “Metalcore” bands aim to branch out and rid the genre of it’s predictability, Chicago band “Harm’s Way” manage to embrace the genre’s signature qualities while still sounding fresh on their fourth album Posthuman. Incorporating “Hardcore Punk” in the mix, the band never stray away from delivering raw aggression with a very dark heaviness. It’s a familiar approach, but the album unsparingly gives us everything that makes the genre so addicting.

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43. Artist: Flatbush Zombies

      Album: Vacation In Hell

      Genre: Hip Hop

 Hip Hop’s biggest rockstars “Flatbush Zombies” returned this year with an album that found the group branching out of their typical “Psychedelic Hip Hop” sound a bit. Vacation In Hell is most definitely the group’s most versatile work. Though the album is a bit excessive in length and would be a smoother listen had they trimmed the fat a bit, this album showcases the group’s desire to innovate, and it definitely will leave you anticipating what they will do on their next release.

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42. Artist: Melody’s Echo Chamber

      Album: Bon Voyage 

      Genre: Psychedelic Rock

 Melody Prochet has had a rough couple of years. Following a brain aneurysm and broken vertebrae from an unspecified accident, she returned this year with her second full-length album Bon Voyage under her “Melody’s Echo Chamber” project, and she’s 100% back and better than ever! Bon Voyage is an exploration in all things “Psychedelic.” Evoking the spirit of “Psychedelic Rock” and “Krautrock,” Melody Prochet has created an album that will take you on an LSD trip into the strange but comforting temple of her mind. It’s a trip.

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41. Artist: Horrendous

      Album: Idol

      Genre: Death Metal/Progressive Metal

  On their fourth full-length album Idol, “Death Metal” trio “Horrendous” got their Prog on, bringing a whole new light (or darkness) to the “Death Metal” Genre. This music is heavy as all Hell, but very often these tracks descend into “Progressive Metal” territory with drony and spacey instrumentation drenched in meditative reverb and even some “Funk Metal” elements that would make Les Claypool proud. This is the band’s most ambitious work yet.

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40. Artist: Vein

      Album: Errorzone

      Genre: Metalcore/Nu-Metal

  If you’re searching for “Nu-Metal” without the “Jump the fuck up” breakdowns and corny Fred Durst raps then look no further, Boston band “Vein” have got you covered. There’s been a recent emergence of bands in the “Metalcore” scene that have been incorporating elements of “Nu-Metal” without all the cheese and High School poetry the 2000’s “Nu-Metal” scene was known for, giving a perfect example of how it can be a respectable genre. Vein’s new album Errorzone is heavy, but it’s also got the drop guitar tunings and incorporation of some Electronic music that reflects what bands like “Slipknot” or “Korn” were doing in their heydays. Though this album doesn’t necessarily break new ground, it’s still a great addition to the genre.

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39. Artist: Wax Idols

      Album: Happy Ending

      Genre: Post-Punk/Gothic Rock

 The new “Wax Idols” album Happy Ending is a tearjerker despite it’s title. It’s melodic “Post-Punk” that wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve and lyrically deals with subject matter such as nihilism, misanthropy, and mortality, but these dark subjects are expressed with soothing ease and the band holds your hand while it drives you down the road of melancholia. 

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38. Artist: Car Seat Headrest

      Album: Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)

      Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative Rock

 “Car Seat Headrest’s” fan favorite album Twin Fantasy got a reworking this year, and the risk of overproducing or ruining the lo-fi classic was very high, but Will Toledo and Co. went for it anyway. The result is a fully fleshed out, polished, and finished version that definitely reaches the full potential the original album had.

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37. Artist: Jorge Elbrecht

      Album: Here Lies

      Genre: Synth-Pop/Industrial

 Jorge Elbrecht’s new album Here Lies is an enticing journey into the mind of an oddball who is bold enough to combine “Synth-Pop” and “Psychedelic Rock.” The first half and the second half of this album sound like two completely different albums. The first half is synth heavy madness rich in darkness and melancholia, whereas the second half is an acid filled Psychedelic trip, but surprisingly both styles work well together. Elbrecht is an artist you should be listening to right now.

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36. Artist: Father John Misty

      Album: God’s Favorite Customer

      Genre: Indie Folk/Indie Rock

 Those who find Joshua Tillman A.K.A. Father John Misty incredibly pretentious and self-serving definitely won’t be won over by his new album God’s Favorite Customer. I mean, just look at the album cover, but those who find his personality and music ventures intriguing will definitely find solace in this album. It’s got everything we love about Mr. Tillman, the “Indie Folk” twang, the sharp lyricism, the wit, and the buckets and buckets of melancholia. This album isn’t as conceptual and grandiose as his last album Pure Comedy, but there are recurring themes such as solitude, depression, and a pessimistic outlook on relationships. This album was written entirely in a hotel room Mr. Tillman stayed in alone for a month, and his descent into madness bleeds it’s way through this album. Just don’t listen to this album on a happy day, unless you wanna kill your mood.

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35. Artist: Daughters

      Album: You Won’t Get What You Want

      Genre: Noise Rock/No Wave

 The new “Daughters” album You Won’t Get What You Want is a painful, PAINFUL, and emotionally exhausting listen. This is pure raw emotion that shouts out frustration, pain, depression, anger, insanity, and nihilism that will get under your skin. The instrumentation beautifully utilizes repetition while building and building until it erupts into utter chaos. It’s a nightmare folks, and it’s incredible.

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34. Artist: Jack White

      Album: Boarding House Reach

      Genre: Garage Rock/Experimental Rock

 Boarding House Reach is by far Jack White’s most divisive release yet. Many dismiss it as pretentious and self-indulgent, which it is, but this album most definitely has some very intriguing moments. The album finds Jack White on the cutting edge, experimenting with synthesizers, bizarre production techniques, and even spoken word interludes that hold no cohesion with the rest of the album, but are interesting nonetheless. White has shedded the safe Dad Rock he has been known for to truly explore eclecticism, and it’s about time his music reflects his eccentric image.

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33. Artist: Johanna Warren

      Album: Gemini II

      Genre: Folk/Indie Folk

 This isn’t your typical sitting around the campfire singing “Jimmy Crack Corn” kind of “Folk.” Johanna Warren creates “Folk” music with a bite, and her raw delivery with angelic guitar plucking, atmospheric soundscapes, and beautiful but tough vocals is something more “Folk” musicians should strive for. Don’t expect “Mumford and Sons” when going into this album.

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32. Artist: The Presets

      Album: Hi Viz

      Genre: Electronic/House/IDM

 “The Presets” continue to deliver sexed up upbeat “Electronic” music that adds color and character to the four to the floor style of the “House” genre on their new album Hi Viz, The duo know how to make you dance, but at the same time they know how to expand the listener’s horizons with their zany production. It’s a fun time that separates itself from the stagnant nature of most “House” music.

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31. Artist: Pusha-T

      Album: DAYTONA

      Genre: Hip Hop

 Pusha-T is a rapper that stays in his lane lyrically, but still sounds fresh, confident, braggadocios, and tough as all Hell to the point where his flow is irresistible. His typical drug kingpin style consumes his new album DAYTONA, and his style is beautifully enhanced by Kanye West’s impeccable production. The two are a powerful team.

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30. Artist: Against All Logic

      Album: 2012-2017

      Genre: Electronic/House/IDM

 Producer Nicolas Jaar under the moniker “Against All Logic” surprise released an album consisting of tracks he recorded from 2012-2017 this year, and these tracks are his most accessible, but at the same time his most ambitious and experimental. The back bone of this album is without a doubt “House” music. The danceable percussion is groovy and upbeat, and it’s combined with soulful and at times “Disco” flavored melodies along with various samples that even include something Kanye West fans will recognize. This album is a good time and it’s also “House” music for thinkers.

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29. Artist: Turnstile

      Album: Time & Space

      Genre: Hardcore Punk

 Baltimore “Hardcore Punk” band “Turnstile” released their second full-length album Time & Space this year, and it is the band’s heaviest work to date. This music is aggressive, there are heavy as Hell riffs for days, and the band even incorporates a sprinkle of “Electronic” and “Hip Hop” elements that pop up at the most random times. The band may be on the path to evolving their sound even further, but as of right now these punks aren’t done completely raging just yet.

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28. Artist: Portrayal of Guilt

      Album: Let Pain Be Your Guide

      Genre: Doom Metal/Hardcore Punk

Metal album of the year. That’s right I said it. The debut album Let Pain Be Your Guide from “Portrayal of Guilt” is heavy, dark, sinister, and melancholy. It’s rainy and immensely gloomy style evokes emotion and sentiment while pummeling you with the deepest and darkest instrumentation. It’s heavy but atmospheric, combining some of the best subgenres of “Metal.”

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27. Artist: Ganser

      Album: Odd Talk

      Genre: Post-Punk/Noise Rock

“Ganser” are a band that feel wise beyond their years. Their debut album Odd Talk is a crash course in “Post-Punk” and “Noise Rock” that echoes a band like “Sonic Youth” at times, but their experience in crafting their own hybrid of their various influences is proof of their maturity and knack for flirting with catchiness amidst the chaotic noise.

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26. Artist: Blood Orange

      Album: Negro Swan

      Genre: R&B/Alternative R&B

Dev Hynes’ new album under the “Blood Orange” moniker Negro Swan is a place free of judgement. Everyone is welcome, no matter what your race, gender, religion, or sexuality is, even if you’re doing too much, and like transgender rights activist Janet Mock powerfully asks on the track “Jewelry,” why would you want to do the least? This album is light-hearted on the surface yes, and it sends a positive message over all, but there are moments when it explores vulnerability and the hardships those who don’t fit in with the “norm” face everyday. It’s an album that encourages you to overcome the hardships to accept yourself, and it’s done in a smooth “R&B” fashion.

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25. Artist: Shopping

      Album: The Official Body

      Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

An album that gets better and better with each listen. “Shopping’s” new album The Official Body is a colorful “Post-Punk” ride that explores more of the “Gang of Four” side of the genre with it’s Funk-laden grooves. Along with surf-like guitar and simplistic but meaningful lyricism, this is a unique release within the realm of “Post-Punk.”

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24. Artist: Iceage

      Album: Beyondless

      Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

Many view “Iceage” as the torch carriers for “Post-Punk,” or even just flat-out “Rock” Music in general. I don’t find them to be just that, however they are an essential band in modern “Rock.” A band whose versatility is quite enthralling. Their new album Beyondless is a departure from their previous by the numbers “Post-Punk” work, which wasn’t bad, but the Nick Cave worship was kinda overbearing, but now the band have branched out on this new album with ambitious ideas and a more broad approach to instrumentation, incorporating string and horn arrangements. Lead singer Elias’ rough vocals might be difficult to get through, but his raw delivery grows on you with each listen.

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23. Artist: Death Grips

      Album: Year of the Snitch

      Genre: Industrial Hip Hop/Experimental Hip Hop

Oh yeah, the band they call “Death Grips” is still pushing the envelope. Many have questioned the band’s lasting power, seeing as how all of their work is anger-fueled absurdity with abrasive vocals and cryptic lyrical content that may have a deep underlying meaning or may just be nonsensical shock value. The band are one of the most important and deliciously innovative acts of the decade though, but there’s also the chance of falling into predictability and a gimmick with their sound. Their new album Year of the Snitch proves that they can age well. The band surprisingly have gotten even more bizarre on this album. That’s right, MORE bizarre than their previous work. The instrumentation is the soundtrack to falling down a rabbit hole of insanity. Cartoonish insanity that comes straight out of nightmares. Is the band being possessed by “The Residents?”

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22. Artist: BROCKHAMPTON

      Album: Iridescence 

      Genre: Hip Hop/Alternative Hip Hop

Following the departure of member Ameer Vann, the future of America’s favorite boy band “BROCKHAMPTON” was uncertain. Many of us thought the group were going to disappear for awhile, but the boys impressively bounced right back and released their fourth full-length album Iridescence. Production wise this is the group at their most abrasive with hard hitting bass manipulations and massive U.K. influences of “Drum and Bass” and “House” music. Lyrically this is the group at their most vulnerable and melancholy. The members are taking themselves through therapy with surprisingly confident swagger. It’s an album they needed to make, and it’s among some of their finest work.

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21. Artist: Skating Polly

      Album: The Make It All Show

      Genre: Alternative Rock/Grunge

 The Make It All Show is “Skating Polly’s best work by far. It’s their most polished, but it in no way takes away their grungy and riotous style. The rage-fueled angst is still all over this record, but this time around the band flirts heavily with Pop-leaning sensibilities, but without succumbing to mindless mainstream cheese. The band are definitely on their way to becoming an essential addition to the “Rock” world, and it’s exciting.

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20. Artist: Goat Girl

      Album: Goat Girl

      Genre: Post-Punk/Experimental Rock

“Goat Girl” are one of those bands that can experiment with just about any style and sound believable. On their debut self-titled album they explore with a myriad of different styles, making it nearly impossible to sum up their sound with one genre tag, but the whole thing is a cohesive listen that at times feels, gloomy, or colorful, or like you’re walking through the desert. It’s Psychedelic at times, and at times it’s grounded and deals with relatable sentiments. This is an ambitious starting point for the band.

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19. Artist: SOPHIE

      Album: The Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides

      Genre: Electronic/IDM/Ambient

SOPHIE is a gift to the world of “Electronic” music. Her lack of interest in making generic “Dance” music is refreshing. Her debut album The Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides is a thunderous effort that utilizes the chaotic elements of “Electronic” music, the elements that are usually underlying, and she makes them front and center. The clitter and clatter of what sounds like people banging on pieces of metal, to the bass heavy kicks, and the ambient atmospheres that to teleport you to an otherworldly place, all topped off with sassy and sexy vocals, this is most definitely the “Electronic” album of the year.

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18. Artist: Cabbage

      Album: Nihilistic Glamour Shots

      Genre: Post-Punk/Psych Rock

The album cover for “Cabbage’s” debut Nihilistic Glamour Shots is the “Black Metal” covet to end all “Black Metal” covers, but the music is far from “Black Metal.” However, it’s just as sinister, if not more sinister than your average “Black Metal” band. It’s some dark and frequently zany “Post-Punk” and “Psych Rock” with a massive personality. The album title is appropriate, because lyrically we’re dealing with an outlook on life devoid of optimism. This album points out our unfortunate flaws as humans, and it laughs at us while doing so.

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17. Artist: The Internet

      Album: Hive Mind

      Genre: R&B/Soul

“The Internet” just gets better and better with each release. The band have crafted their most smooth, sexy, soulful, sentimental, fun, and flat-out addictive music yet with their new album Hive Mind, and it displays the immense star power the band has. They’ve become one of the most exciting acts to come out of the “Odd Future” collective.

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16. Artist: The Voidz

      Album: Virtue

      Genre: Experimental Rock/Synth-Pop/Psychedelic Rock

It’s evident that Julian Casablancas’ heart truly lies with “The Voidz” right now, and you know what? That’s fine with me. This is an oddball project that incorporates everything including the kitchen sink. Their new album Virtue is an extensive jam packed album with countless genres being blended and fearlessly served to us. It’s a mess and very incohesive, but it’s a happy mess that makes you feel like you’re living in an alternate universe where the “Pop” world is dominated by Ariel Pink.

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15. Artist: Ty Segall

      Album: Freedom’s Goblin

      Genre: Garage Rock/Psychedelic Rock

It’s a year, which means Ty Segall released a new album, along with a collab album with “White Fence” and a covers album. I don’t know if I should be excited to hear more Ty Segall music, or if I should be concerned about whether or not the guy is getting enough sleep. Either way, i’m thankful for his prolificity. His new solo album of original material Freedom’s Goblin is a bit of a crash course in what makes his music so damn enticing. It’s an eclectic release that celebrates the diversity of his sound. One song can be distortion soaked “Garage Rock,” one can be a funky groove, one can have a “Folk” twang, and one can have “Glam Rock” flavor. This album is an incohesive mess that actually works, because the instrumentation, songwriting, and raw delivery is near perfection.

 

 

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14. Artist: Shame

      Album: Songs of Praise

      Genre: Post-Punk/Punk Rock

“Shame” are a band whose popularity is rising at a rapid pace, and it’s much deserved. The South Londoners’ debut album Songs of Praise is a powerful reflection of our modern society. It tackles subjects that are taboo in our internet age, and it’s expressed with raw “Post-Punk” flavored fervor. They’re among the best artists in the fantastic new “Post-Punk” scene.

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13. Artist: Preoccupations

      Album: New Material

      Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock/Gothic Rock

Speaking of “Post-Punk,” we were all blessed with a new “Preoccupations” album hilariously titled New Material, but that’s about all that’s hilarious about this album, because it is a dark and moody album that flirts heavily with the more “Gothic” side of the genre. Though it’s criminally short, this album is some of the band’s most forward-thinking work. This album isn’t as instrumentally adventurous as it’s predecessor, but it’s blatant and lyrically genuine delivery is the stuff us moody people live for.

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12. Artist: Machine Girl

      Album: The Ugly Art

      Genre: Industrial/Breakbeat/Electronic

Think “Death Grips,” but somehow even more aggressive and violent. “Machine Girl’s” new album The Ugly Art is exactly what the title describes, it’s ugly. This album is high-energy Hell music that explores nihilism and aggression in a reckless and chaotic manner. It can be labeled “Industrial,” but it’s travels into “Electronic” music with it’s frequent 90’s “House” music detours and gut-punching “Breakbeat” elements deem this album incredibly innovative.

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11. Artist: Mitski

      Album: Be The Cowboy

      Genre: Indie Rock/Alternative Rock/Indie Pop

Mitski is an artist who genuinely wears her heart on her sleeve. Her tell-all lyrical style unsparingly throws at us the most vulnerable emotions of loneliness and uneasiness. Dealing with relatable subjects that often fall within the realm of our flawed relationships, this album will resonate with you heavily, and her soothing but vulnerable vocal style along with the beautiful instrumentation is intensely addictive.

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10. Artist: Parquet Courts

      Album: Wide Awake!

      Genre: Indie Rock/Post-Punk

Back when “Parquet Courts” released their album Human Performance I thought to myself “This is the band’s best work and there is no way they’re going to top this,” and it really did feel like their best work despite the album’s incohesion, but the band had the audacity to top that album with Wide Awake! This is their best work hands down. This album is a lot more instrumentally tight, but though it contains a consistent “Indie Rock” backbone, the wide range of elements from various genres, even ones you wouldn’t normally hear on a “Parquet Courts” record (seriously, the band even incorporates G-Funk) is wildly impressive. The album’s lyrical themes are even more important, dealing with the horrible reality that violence and stuff like mass shootings have become normalized, but instead of going down the path of pessimism, this album has massive amounts of hope. It’s looking forward to a brighter future.

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9. Artist: Tropical Fuck Storm

    Album: A Laughing Death In Meatspace

    Genre: Experimental Rock/Post-Punk

This is the weirdest, most bizarre, and most zany album of 2018. It truly is a fuck storm. A fuck storm of oddball antics and cartoonish absurdity, and it works perfectly. “Tropical Fuck Storm’s” debut A Laughing Death In Meatspace is a bad acid trip musically. It doesn’t just stop at raw “Post-Punk” flavor, it incorporates buzzing synths, noisy atmospherics, and just about anything else that shouldn’t go together but somehow does and works. The lyrical content is cleverly absurd on the surface, but the underlying meanings that tackle politics and the state of our social society is even more rewarding to decode. This is insanity with substance.

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8. Artist: KIDS SEE GHOSTS

    Album: KIDS SEE GHOSTS

    Genre: Hip Hop/Alternative Hip Hop

Not all Kanye projects this year were devoid of ambition and substance. Two out of the five Kanye West produced albums this year actually delivered, along with Pusha-T’s DAYTONA, the debut album from the powerful duo of legends Kanye West and Kid Cudi under the name “KIDS SEE GHOSTS” is proof that there is much life left in Kanye’s creativity. The production on this album is detailed with layers of odd samples, dusty and even Rock-tinged percussion, and the two sound more rejuvenated than ever with their overcoming of depression and anxiety. It’s clear this album was therapeutic for the two, and they truly sound FREEEEEEEE!

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7. Artist: Denzel Curry

    Album: TA13OO

    Genre: Hip Hop

It has always been clear that Denzel Curry has ambitions to innovate and to separate himself from the predictability of “Soundcloud Rap,” a genre that he had a hand in creating. TA13OO places him among the greats of this new generation of rappers. This album showcases the rapper’s versatility with it’s blend of hype tracks, funk synth-laden jams, and mellow soulfulness that even finds the rapper flexing his ability to deliver soothing vocals along with his rapid fire flows of clever wordplay and endless pop culture references. With the album split into three different acts, each act getting progressively darker, this is his most ambitious and conceptual work that makes it clear that he has the potential to progress even further.

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6. Artist: Noname

    Album: Room 25

    Genre: Hip Hop/R&B

Chicago’s own “Noname” has reached a point of massive creativity with her new album Room 25. This album is a lot more adult themed than it’s predecessor with lyrical content that deals with sex, lust, love, relationships, and also speaks on themes of race, and the unfair reality of society’s ignorance. Her spoken word rapping style is unique, and this is the most clever wordplay i’ve heard all year. With detailed live instrumentation that heavily explores “Soul,” “R&B,” and “Jazz” in a more experimental manner, this album is a masterpiece all around.

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5. Artist: JPEGMAFIA

    Album: Veteran

    Genre: Hip Hop/Industrial Hip Hop/Experimental Hip Hop

“Hip Hop” album of the year. There’s a reason why “Hip Hop” remains the most dominant genre in music. We have a new batch of ambitious artists who reject the traditions of the old, and realize that we’re no longer living in a time where rapping ability alone doesn’t suffice when it comes to crafting all around good music. JPEGMAFIA impressively has immense rapping and lyrical ability and production ability. Producing the whole thing, his new album Veteran features some of the most bizarre samples, field recordings, and abrasive noise that still manages to be catchy. His shocking in your face rapping style that frequently trolls and offends just about everyone is undeniably infectious, and his radical fight against ignorance and societal norms is massively important.

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4. Artist: MGMT

    Album: Little Dark Age

    Genre: Synth-Pop/Psychedelic Rock

“MGMT’s” new album Little Dark Age is a bit of a reinvention for the band. Before this album the future of the band was uncertain following the disappointment the mass public felt when they believed the band failed to meet their ridiculous expectations of wanting to hear “Kids” and “Electric Feel” over and over again. Little Dark Age finds the band going back to “Pop” territory, but they do it their way, diving into anachronistic Ariel Pink-esque “Synth-Pop.” However, they do this without sacrificing their love for druggy psychedelia.

 

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3. Artist: U.S. Girls

    Album: In A Poem Unlimited

    Genre: Experimental Pop/Avant-Pop

Under the name “U.S. Girls” Meg Remy has been crafting incredible storytelling that deals with the haunting things women have to go through on a daily basis in a world where toxic masculinity and misogyny runs rampant for 10 years now, and she impressively managed to craft her best album to date with In A Poem Unlimited. This time working with a live band that goes by the name “The Cosmic Range,” Remy separates herself from the noisy and a times “Industrial” nature of her earlier work in favor of polished and jam-filled “Pop” that still explores “Avant-Garde” territory. This album is a powerful statement of equality, but it first exposes society’s ignorance to light that fire under our asses to make us progress.

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2. Artist: IDLES

    Album: Joy As An Act of Resistance 

    Genre: Post-Punk/Punk Rock

We haven’t had an album this revolutionary and important in the realm of “Post-Punk” or “Punk Rock” in years. This it it folks, this is the future of not only “Punk Rock,” but “Rock” music in general. On their second album Joy as an Act of Resistance, Bristol band “IDLES” take the socially and politically aware content of their previous album to the next level. With hard hitting Punky instrumentation and rough as all Hell vocals, this album fearlessly tackles important themes such as loving yourself, toxic masculinity, racism, classism, patriotism, and immigration in a very left-leaning way yes, but the intensely hopeful, genuine, and positive delivery can win over just about anyone from any background. This music is aggressively progressive, and it is a must-listen in this frightening world where all hope feels gone. This album is a positive message that can make someone want to become a better person.

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1. Artist: Janelle Monáe

    Album: Dirty Computer

    Genre: Pop/Art Pop/R&B

This is it! We made it! Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer is without a doubt my album of the year. No album this year encapsulated the time we’re living in, the revolution that’s brewing, and the inspirational nature of those who want progression in this world quite like Dirty Computer. This album is a powerful display of “Pop” done right. This is “Pop” with meaning. “Pop” with a message of self-love, feminism, and equality. Monáe admirably explores the myriad of issues of our society with catchy tunes that also delve into artistic territory with an unorthodox approach to accessibility. Each song seamlessly flows into the next, and the nostalgic Prince-esque synths, danceable production, and large blend of modern “Hip Hop” sensibilities, soulful fervor, and moments of gut-wrenching vulnerability places Monae at the top of the “Pop” world. It’s also proof that you don’t have to jam pack metaphors and double-entendres to be viewed as a talented writer, because the lyrical content is simplistic, but Monáe does not waste a word. Each line is impactful, some even hide under the guise of a banger, but the fact that there is an underlying message is clear, as opposed to the many artists out there whose lyrics require decoding. It’s a straight to the point album that screams for evolution, and it’s the most conceptual and thematic “Pop” record in years.

Written By: Steven Sandoval

Top 15 EPs of 2018

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In this streaming age of music we’re leaving in now, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate an EP from an LP. Nowadays anyone can make a 25 minute album and call it a full-length LP, or even make a five track album and call it a full-length. Just look at the latest criminally short six track “LP” from “Nine Inch Nails,” or the string of Kanye produced seven track albums Mr. West dubbed “full-lengths” this year. Album length has become irrelevant, but to those of us who still hold the idea of the EP near and dear, those short bursts of creativity are still very much important in the music world. They still give us that hope that a full-length album from the artist might be on the horizon, or sometimes, those short but sweet releases are all we need. There were a great deal of EPs released this year, and many of them can’t go by unnoticed. Here are my top 15 EPs of 2018.

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15. Artist: Tyler, The Creator

      EP: Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 

     Genre: Hip Hop/R&B

 Tyler, The Creator’s creativity has moved into film now with his recent musical contributions to The Grinch movie. To coincide with the release of the film, Tyler dropped an E.P. inspired by the film. It is a fun Christmas filled listen packed with 80’s sounding synths and the tracks never stray away into cheesiness, which is no easy feat considering they’re inspired by a Dr. Seuss story. 

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14. Artist: Femme

       EP: 2.0

      Genre: Electronic/House/Pop

 Laura Bettinson under the “Femme” name has been creating delightful “Indie Pop” for awhile now, and on her new E.P. 2.0 She delves into the world of “House” music while keeping her Pop sensibilities. The result is a solid set of dance ready tracks that emphasize fun and optimism.

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13. Artist: Little Dragon

       EP: Lover Chanting

      Genre: Electronic/Synth Pop

 Little Dragon’s latest LP Season High was a bit of a step back for the band. Much of it seemed phoned in, and lacked the ambition their previous work had filled with colorful synth heavy Pop and just the right amount of odd experimental elements. The band have definitely redeemed themselves though with their new E.P. Lover Chanting. Being three tracks in length, the E.P. gets back to the band’s sense of fun, and is probably their most danceable release to date.

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12. Artist: Wallows

      EP: Spring

      Genre: Indie Rock/Indie Pop

 It’s a bit ironic that the latest E.P. from L.A. based Indie Rock band “Wallows” is titled Spring considering the fact that all the tracks have a nice summery vibe to them. To some this E.P. might be a by the numbers “Indie Rock” release, but to others it’s undeniably addicting. I just can’t resist it.

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11. Artist: Protomartyr and Spray Paint

       EP: Irony Prompts A Party Rat

      Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

 Post-Punk band “Protomartyr” had a busy year. They released a stellar EP, began a tour with “Preoccupations,” and even released a split single with “Preoccupations” where both bands covered each, but a more interesting split single to come out of the band’s work this year is most definitely their split single with the band “Spray Paint.” On this single, “Protomartyr’s” lead singer Joe Casey provided lead vocals for a new “Spray Paint” track, and the lead singer of “Spray Paint” provided lead vocals for a new “Protomartyr” track. It’s a match made in “Post-Punk” heaven, because the chemistry between the two bands is undeniable. 

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10. Artist: Screaming City

       EP: The Vanish

      Genre: Post-Punk/Darkwave/Electronic 

 Visalia, California’s own “Screaming City” released a string of Electronic tinged “Industrial Rock” that spanned three EPs this year, but the biggest gem of the three is without a doubt The Vanish. This release found sole member and multi-instrumentalist Trip Logic going in a heavier guitar-driven direction without sacrificing his Electronic roots. Everything from the lyrical content to the myriad of Experimental elements in the instrumentation that impressively manages to maintain catchiness, this whole E.P. showcases the immense versatility Trip Logic has, and there’s nowhere to go from here but up. 

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9. Artist: Code Orange

    EP: The Hurt Will Go On

    Genre: Metalcore/Industrial Metal

 “Code Orange” are one of those forward thinking bands that make stubborn “Metalcore” traditionalists shout about how “lame” they are for Incorporating outsider genres that aren’t typically explored in “Metalcore,” but guys, put down your Monster energy drink for a minute and admit that the genre has become a bit predictable. “Code Orange” are here to break the stale nature of the genre, and it’s much needed. Following their breakout album Forever, the band dropped a nice E.P. titled The Hurt Will Go On this year, and it’s an impactful reminder that the band are ahead of the game at the moment. Packed with heavy aggression, the “Industrial” and “Nu-Metal” elements the band are known for, and even a Corey Taylor feature, this release has many of us eager to hear another full-length album from the band. Hopefully next year we’ll get what we’re wishing for.

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8. Artist: S. Reidy

    EP: And Here With You, I Am

    Genre: Hip Hop/Alternative Hip Hop

 The fact that an artist like S. Reidy isn’t mentioned when conversations about “Emo Rap” are sparked is ridiculous. The rapper/producer sounds like what “Emo Rap” should sound like. His latest E.P. And Here With You, I Am is far from being one-dimensional. The production consists of simplistic but effective beats, moody acoustic guitars, atmospheric soundscapes, poetic lyrical content, and vocals that evoke the “Emo Rock” spirit. To simply label him “Emo Rap” would not do his music justice, but he’s delivering the moody introspection that other rappers in the game should strive for, and he doesn’t need tattoos on his face to do it.

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7. Artist: Converge

    EP: Beautiful Ruin

   Genre: Metalcore/Hardcore Punk

 Leave it to “Metalcore” legends “Converge” to drop a four track E.P. out of the blue to show the youngsters how it’s done. The band’s recent E.P. Beautiful Ruin is unsparingly monstrous and is among some of the band’s most aggressive work. 

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6. Artist: Childish Gambino

    EP: Summer Pack

   Genre: Soul/R&B/Pop

 We unfortunately didn’t get a new Childish Gambino album this year, but mastermind Donald Glover was definitely not quiet. Following the impactful music video for his single “This Is America” that lead to countless think pieces and theories, Glover dropped a two track E.P. titled Summer Pack. Though the tracks were a lot more laid back and summery on the surface this time around, this didn’t stop fans from formulating theories about how there is an underlying message about climate change and the state of our distractions of social media and celebrity culture. Whatever the message may be, these are fun soulful songs. 

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5. Artist: Chelsey and The Noise

     EP: Blank Frames

   Genre: Industrial/Electronic/EBM

 Who says “Industrial” music and “Pop” music can’t coexist? Hayward, CA based duo “Chelsey and The Noise” proved that “Industrial” can be catchy with their E.P. Blank Frames this year. With hard hitting synth heavy production and Metal infused guitars, the duo incorporate pop sensibilities without giving into the typical predictability “Pop” music is known for. This music is catchy, sexy, dark, and at times sentimental, displaying the immense versatility the two have to offer. 

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4. Artist: Protomartyr

     EP: Consolation

     Genre: Post-Punk/Indie Rock

 “Post-Punk” band “Protomartyr” released quite possibly their best album last year, which most definitely earned them the right to take a break for awhile because one would assume that you would need to take a break after you give your all on an album, but the band aren’t ready to take a break just yet. The band released an impressive E.P. this year titled Consolation and this four track E.P. progressed the band’s sound even further. Incorporating string arrangements and even collaborating with Kelley Deal of “The Breeders,” this release proves that the band work well with other musicians while not completely abandoning their signature sound. Is this the direction they’re heading in? Time will tell, but one thing is for sure, they’re still the leading force in modern “Post-Punk.” 

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3. Artist: HMLTD

    EP: Hate Music Last Time Delete

    Genre: Synth Pop/Post-Punk/New Wave

 “HMLTD” are quite possibly the most exciting band at the moment. You never know what to expect when going into a new track of theirs, and they haven’t even released a full-length album! Following a diverse string of singles that found the band exploring Post-Punk, Synth Pop, Electronic Music, Gothic Rock, Glam Rock, and whatever else the band feels like dabbling in, the band released a new E.P. this year titled Hate Music Last Time Delete, and it is a cohesive effort that sticks to a Synth Pop/New Wave formula. The band have proven that they can perfect just about any genre they pursue, but it’s clear they wanted to give us their own warped version of “Synth Pop” on this E.P. This music is fun and danceable, but the lyrical content deals with important themes such as social network addiction, learning to love yourself, oh, and falling in love with a mannequin. It’s a good time that leaves you begging for more.

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2. Artist: Ravyn Lenae

    EP: Crush

    Genre: R&B/Soul/Alternative R&B

 Among the recent emergence of talented young artists from Chicago such as Noname, Saba, and Mick Jenkins, Ravyn Lenae has been garnering much attention for her beautiful artistry that finds the young singer delivering smooth “R&B” that isn’t afraid to branch out of traditional “R&B” sensibilities. Her latest E.P. Crush is a fitting title, because it’s impossible not to swoon and fall for her gorgeous vocals and attention to Soulful and at times off-kilter production provided by the one and only Steve Lacy. Lenae is one of the youngest artists in the realm of “R&B” at the moment, but her sound exudes immense maturation, and it’s clear she’s on a forward thinking path. Here’s to hoping she blesses us with a full length debut album next year. 

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1. Artist: CMON

    EP: Confusing Mix Of Nations

    Genre: Post-Punk/Synth Pop/New Wave

 There’s no doubt in my mind that L.A. based duo “CMON” (or Confusing Mix Of Nation’s) debut E.P. is the best of 2018, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best E.P. you haven’t heard. Absent from every major streaming service other than their own personal SoundCloud, the band most likely slipped under your radar this year, and that’s unfortunate because their debut five track E.P. is the stuff 80’s Post-Punk/New Wave revivalist dreams are made of. The lush and dreamy guitars, the “House” driven percussion that reflects “New Order’s” heyday, and the subtle but infectious vocals are all promising elements that should put the band on your radar. With very little information about the band online, it’s hard to dig deep into their background, but let’s all hope and pray they continue to release stellar material.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: Mid90s

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Movie: Mid90s 

Director: Jonah Hill

Starring: Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston

Rating: 9/10

 More often than not, movies that flirt heavily with nostalgia spend more time on the accuracy of a setting’s decade and not enough time on believability and character development, this happens so much to the point where the whole thing becomes a bit of a gimmick. That is most definitely not the case with Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s. It is clear that this film takes place in the 90’s, but it’s never overbearingly 90’s, and though the 90’s is the film’s backdrop, the story that is told will forever remain timeless. The film’s protagonist is a 13 year old boy name Stevie who comes from a troubled home in Los Angeles, CA. Played with impressive realism by Sunny Suljic, this character represents the adolescence we all go through in our teen years. The struggle to find our own identities and the search for where we fit in. In a similar fashion as Elsie Fisher’s character in the film Eighth Grade, Suljic gives the character of Stevie much depth by saying very little. His reactions to the environment around him whether it be his home life consisting of an abusive older brother and a neglectful mother, or the solace he finds in befriending a group of skaters are executed perfectly. The skater kids he hangs out with do an impressive job considering the fact that none of them are actors, and their portrayals of these characters are frighteningly realistic, but there is one character that stands out and brings much depth to the film, and that character is music. The film is delightfully littered with 90’s Hip Hop, but it’s the film’s original film score composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross that truly captivates you. Jonah Hill’s love for music is very clear seeing as how he truly knows how to utilize music to tell a lot during a scene with little to no dialogue. Scenes that display Stevie’s first encounter with escapism through the utopia of music he finds in his brother’s room, and scenes where the atmosphere of a skate park is beautifully presented, they’re all enhanced by the film score. It’s an accurate representation of how even in our most confused or insecure moments, the power of music can get us through the biggest hardships. Yes many of the film’s themes and subject matter have been depicted countless times in film, but these are things we still go through everyday. We all try to understand the ranks of social interaction, and we all search for identity, and this film presents that to us in a realistic, humorous, and artistic way. This may lead to a fruitful directing career for Hill. 

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 10/27/18

 

Track Review: Hammare – God Is Doing Blow

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Artist: Hammare

Song: God Is Doing Blow

Genre: Industrial Rock/Electronic 

 The debut single “God Is Doing Blow” from Swedish duo “Hammare” is an exploration in dissonance, but rather then descending further down the rabbit hole of inaccessibility, the band have every intention to make you move with the song’s danceable quality with it’s groovy rhythm section. The dissonance comes from the synthesizers and unconventional arrangements. The discombobulating machine sounding noise provided by said synthesizers brings a chaotic nature to the track, echoing the genre of “Industrial” music, but this is controlled chaos. It’s never overbearing, and it’s dichotomized with catchiness and sexy swagger. The instrumentation is dirty yet polished, and it compliments the vocals and lyrical content quite well. With lyrical content that seems to be touching on the abandonment of self-sufficiency and the misguided influences of charlatan leaders, it’s clear that the band wanted to emphasize the lyrics, because they have something to say, and they say it eloquently. This song sounds like a promise that the duo have a lot to deliver. Be ready.

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 10/24/18

 

E.P. Review: S. Reidy – And Here With You, I Am

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Artist: S. Reidy

EP: And Here With You, I Am

Genre: Hip Hop/Alternative Hip Hop

Rating: 8/10

 The term “Alternative Hip Hop” has been thrown around to describe artists in Hip Hop who experiment and incorporate outside elements of different genres that aren’t primarily used in the genre of “Hip Hop,” and as much as this can be a necessary label to inform the listener that they’re in for something different from the mainstream Hip Hop they’re most likely accustomed to, it’s also a label that almost never does an artist justice when it comes to describing the myriad of sounds an influences in their music. Artists like Norman, Oklahoma’s own S. Reidy is further proof that some music is nearly impossible to sum up with one genre tag, and that’s a sign of someone truly ambitious and innovative. His new E.P. And Here With You, I Am is an emotional, introspective, and poetic ride that is as fun as it is sentimental. Being five tracks in length, the E.P. is a short but fulfilling journey through the world of Reidy, and the atmosphere and mood is created right off the bat with the opening track “Fall.” The production is dreamy and features lo-fi percussion, and Reidy’s versatile vocals range from melodic rawness that evokes the spirit of “Emo Rock” to impressive rapping free from boastfulness but rich in genuine mindfulness. Without a doubt this E.P. is moody and a tad bit melancholy. Perfect for those days when you wanna go for a walk in gloomy weather with headphones on ignoring the world, but it’s also fun enough and catchy enough to ride around with your best friends singing along to the undeniably catchy hooks. Seriously, I dare you to try and not sing along to the chorus on “Dustin’s Mustache,” by the end of the song you’ll be shouting the lyrics “I never wanted things to ever change! I never wanted things to stay the same! I’d make my mind up but I’m feeling too jaded!” With powerful emotions and introspective thought expressed through poetic lyrics, live instrumentation consisting of soothing acoustic guitar, bass, some piano combined with Hip Hop inspired drum machines, and the irresistible vocal melodies, it’s evident that S. Reidy is one of those artists that gets better and better with each release, and the future looks very bright for this talented visionary. 

Written By: Steven Sandoval 

Date: 10/23/18

https://sreidy.bandcamp.com

 

 

BROCKHAMPTON Share New Music Video for New Song “J’OUVERT”

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BROCKHAMPTON are set to release their new album Iridescence tonight, which was recorded at the legendary “Abbey Road Studios.” While we wait, the group has released a new song off the album titled “J’OUVERT,” and it is a hard hitting banger that is dark, unrelenting, and features a standout aggressive verse from member JOBA. You can watch the music video for “J’OUVERT” below:

Amyl and the Sniffers Share New Song “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)”

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Australian “Punk” outfit “Amyl and the Sniffers” are part of a new wave of Australian bands who aren’t afraid to have fun with their music that evokes the spirit of 70’s “Punk.” Today the band have shared a new single titled “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)” whether or not this will appear on an upcoming full-length album hasn’t been revealed yet, but the band are garnering much attention and a new album might be imminent. You can listen to “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)” below: