We love listening to music as much as we love making it so a few of us threw together year-end lists if you’re looking for some new tunes to spin while you patiently await the release of Wild Heart (out January 25th!)
Matt’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2018
Each year I make a Spotify playlist of my 20 (or 25 or 30) favorite songs of the year, limit it to one song per artist and sequence it like a double LP. Give it a listen!
Joe’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (In No Particular Order)
Architects ‘Holy Hell’
Holy hell is this record heavy and weird and melodic in all the best ways. Both huge riffs and catchy vocal hooks are on full display throughout this album. It’s not as chaotic as some of their early records, but it definitely steers away from the Metalcore dip they took with the full lengths they released 2012-2014. This record feels like a band that is getting comfortable and confident in the sound they want to make.
Standout Tracks: Doomsday, Hereafter, Modern Misery
Shawn Mendes ‘Self-Titled’
Every song on this record sounds like a hit single. It’s the most Pop album I glommed onto this year, but it feels like it has the thoughtful crafting of some of my all-time favorite records like Cursive’s ‘The Ugly Organ’. There’s a sonic through-line in the record that ties it all together. Mendes’ vocals have an intimate, breathy quality on most tracks (check out ‘Like to be You’) that ingratiates him to listeners and makes it feel like he’s singing directly to you on the other side of the room. Not gonna lie, I swooned a little.
Standout Tracks: In My Blood, Particular Taste, Because I Had You
State Champs ‘Living Proof’
Here’s my requisite pop-punk record. This album is pure fun! The riffs and arrangements are thoughtfully put together and creative (see the bridge in ‘Lightning’) and it has a ton of bangers on it. I ended up listening to this record a lot while I was running this year. It kept my pace high and my energy way up. There are a few points where the album slumps for a slower diddy, but if you can stand them (or hit the next button) you’ll get a lot of enjoyment out of the huge choruses, breakneck drums and guitar chugs on the rest of songs.
Standout Tracks: Criminal, Lightning, Safe Haven
The Midnight ‘Kids’
Full Disclosure: I love this band and will rave about anything they do to as many people as will allow. That said, I was surprised to see this album clocks in at just a hair under 33 minutes. There are some solid songs on here, but a lot of the album’s tracks are only instrumentals, so temper your expectations going in. Still, ‘America 2’ and ‘Lost Boy’ are well worth wading through the 80’s-infused interludes and skits. Throw this (or any of their other albums) on when you’re driving home at night if you want to feel like you’re Michael Knight riding around in Kitt from Knight Rider!
Standout Tracks: America 2, Lost Boy, Wave
Now, Now ‘Saved’
This album is the new gold standard for combining real instrumentation with synths and drum machines. From the first minute of the album you hear acoustic guitar, drum machines, real bass and synths all playing essentials parts in their (often catchy) songs. Apparently, they’ve been a band since the mid-2000’s originally going by the name Now, Now Every Children and I remember listening to them back then. They definitely upgraded with this album!
Standout Tracks: MJ, AZ, Saved
Post Malone ‘Beerbongs and Bentleys’
Worst tattoos, best songs.
Standout Tracks: Better Now, Paranoid, Rich & Sad
Jamie and the Guarded Heart ‘Self-Titled’
These guys (and gal) are from my hometown in Conshohocken. They released this album earlier this year and it sounded like a love letter to Springsteen, Mellencamp and The Clash. Honestly, it was a huge surprise to hear such a focused and inspired album come from so close to home. They juxtapose big anthemic choruses with familiar topics and that hits me just right.
Standout Tracks: Johnny is the Jukebox On, Things We Do Without, The Kids Are Singing
Mutemath ‘Voice in the Silence’
Anytime this band puts out and album it’s going to be in my top ten list for that year. Easily some of the best musicians of this generation and some of the most thoughtful song-writing you’ll see.
Standout Tracks: All
Brent Walsh ‘Are You Even There At All?’
This is the second EP on my top ten albums of 2018, but it really wins that spot for the musicianship and ear-wormy songs on it. Walsh’s vocal range and control are front-and-center throughout the album, but are especially apparent in the opener moon creep. He not only sings the primary melody, but provides most of the instrumentation and layers lush harmonies throughout. Every song on this too short romp is a masterclass in emotional expression.
Standout Tracks: Moon Creep, Cloud’s Song, The Way You Seem
I know, I know. I already had a “pop punk” album in my list. Surprise, Punchline released a great rock record. Breaking, but not straying too far, from their mold, Lion opened this year with a bang and endured the onslaught of great songs and albums to make it into my top ten. From the fiery opening track ‘Friend From the Future’ to the 90’s drone of ‘In the Powder Blue’, Punchline created a solid and inspired set of songs. Not to mention ‘Darkest Dark’ has to be on the short list for music video of the year. I shed a tear.
Standout Tracks: Darkest Dark, Friend From the Future, Dead When It Hits the Shelves
Butch Walker ‘Stay Gold’
So...this came out in 2016, but hear me out. This record fucking rips. It’s like Butch Walker found a bunch of Springsteen songs he forgot to record and punched them up in his uber producer-y style. Unfortunately, I slept on this until earlier this year, but I’ve listened to it at least once a week since. He did put on the best show I saw in 2018, so there’s that. Also, I picked it up on vinyl in 2018…so maybe that could make it eligible for this list? Eh, whatever. I just think more people need to hear this.
Standout Tracks: Stay Gold, East Coast Girl, Wilder in the Heart, Descending, Irish Exit, Record Store
Sean’s Top 10 Albums of 2018 (in no particular order except AWK which is obviously #1)
Andrew W.K. – You’re Not Alone
I mean, if you know my even a little bit, you know how much I love Andrew W.K. Waiting so long for a new full length record was tough but well worth it. It has everything you want. A little bit of party, a little bit of ballad, a little bit of spoken word, and 1000% pure joy. This powerful positive party rock will cure all that ails you.
Judas Priest – Firepower
Who woulda thunk a Judas Priest record would make a top ten list in the year 2018 but holy hell, this record riiiiiiiiips. It’s easily their best since Painkiller and is guaranteed to shred your face off with classic Priest metal riffs galore.
Vein – Errorzone
What if someone took 1998 Ozzfest and added modern age hardcore…BOOM…Vein
This band is clearly heavily influenced by some nu-metal bands but do it with such grace it almost sounds like a new idea…especially when you drop some heavy af hardcore riffs. Catching them at This Is Hardcore was definitely a highlight.
St. Lucia – Hyperion
St Lucia drops another fun, dancey, indie pop banger of an album. I can’t say it’s as good as Matter or When The Night but damn, this is still so good.
Turnstile – Time And Space
I feel like you have to be living under a rock to have not heard this record this year. It’s another great hardcore band who are experimenting with new sounds and new vibes and just completely knocking it out the park. Unfortunately, I missed them live this year but the videos look like they are a blast to see in person.
Jesus Piece – Only Self
Heavy as all hell hardcore/metal out of Philadelphia. Again, pressing the envelope but still keeping it very real. Seeing these guys at This Is Hardcore last year was an eye-opening scene! Watching kids absolutely lose their minds and having a plethora of guest spots on vocals (including the singers 8 year old niece), these guys are going to be doing huge things.
Brother Hawk – The Clear Lake
A hugely underrated blues/rock band based out of ATL. I honestly don’t understand why more people aren’t into this band. The tastiest of riffs. The bluesiest of solos but still shred like Priest. The sweetest of organs. The smoothest of bass line. And I’ve never seen a drummer rock out so damn hard while also hitting a cymbal so gently…This band will be HUGE and I’ll remember seeing them at Ortliebs with 20 other people forever.
American Nightmare – American Nightmare
Ah shut up! It’s a damn good hardcore record and on par with Down Til Were Underground.
Sleep – Sciences
Stoner metal at its finest…I’ll sum this record up with this brief interaction I had over the weekend whilst purchasing their 2xLP gateford vinyl verison…
Clerk: Wow…this is a thick one…
Me: And that’s what I’m gonna have when I listen to this record…a nice thick one…
Snail Mail – Lush
Whilst shopping days prior to Xmas, I was in Repo Records with my girlfriend and Snail Mail’s song “Anytime” came on and we shared a beautiful moment together. I immediately put this album on once I got home and just feel in love with the dreamy poppy indie sound of Snail Mail.
Kaonashi – Why Did You Do It?
I had never listened to this Philly band until catching them live a week ago and holy shit, they stole the show for me. They were having an absolute blast on stage and that’s what truly won me over. They felt like 2004. They have this great combination of emo, mathcore, hardcore and it was just a pleasure witnessing it. Imagine Glassjaw meets Sikth meets Candiria.