I explored and bought more new music in 2018 than many years prior. So many established bands released the best work of their careers, while so many new bands popped up on my radar and haven't left my stereo since. Thought I'd share with all of you my top 12 records and about 8 more that I also thoroughly loved.
1. GRAYCEON - IV : there isn’t a metal band on Earth that sounds like Grayceon, and Grayceon has never sounded better than they do on IV. Which is saying a lot since each release is consistently incredible. Sure I’m biased, this is my wife’s band. But these guys came back after a short hiatus to remind the metal world how unfuckingtouchable they are. It’s a damn crime they’re not on every “best of” list this year. Few bands made albums this heart felt, this original, this gorgeous, this well executed, and this chocked full of mindbendingly good riffs.
2. ALTIN GüN - On : My new favorite band on the planet. A bunch of beautiful, young, insanely talented musicians from Holland playing absolutely authentic Anatolian rock/folk/funk, conjuring the spirits of Turkish rock royalty like Barış Manço, Erkin Koray, Alpay, Selda Bagclan, and Mogollar, but injecting their own soul and flavor into each perfect song. I can’t stop listening to this record. 70s/80s Turkish rock is pretty much my favorite type of music ever, but this is the first time I’ve heard it sound so fresh and new. There are moments that are as good as music gets for me.
3. GAYE SU AKYOL - Istikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir : Another incredible modern Turkish rock and synth pop album, but focused around the sultry and mysterious deep voiced vocals of Gaye Su Akyol. Think Siouxsie Sioux meets Barış Manço. Has an amazing soundtrack vibe to it, bouncing from trip hop to fuzzed out Anatolian rock. I adore this record.
4. CULTURE SHOCK - The Humanity Show : One of my favorite bands of all time since my teenage punk years recently got back together after total inactivity since their short lived but brilliant run from 86-89. They toured the states and made a couple great new records, the latest of which is The Humanity Show. Does it hold up to their iconic prior releases like Go Wild and Onwards and Upwards? Not really, but it retains the quirkyness of those prior albums which set it apart from the other bands that Culture Shock's legendary frontman, vocalist, and brilliant lyricist, Dick Lucas is known for, like the SUBHUMANS and Citizen Fish, while infusing more raw punk/dub/ska energy that is unlike anything else out there in the punk world. And Dick’s lyrics are painfully as relevant as ever.
5. YOB - Our Raw Heart : Damn, this could be the best record they’ve ever made. Probably the most sincere, relevant, and important heavy band on the planet right now, releasing their most emotional and powerful music of their storied career. Not much more I can add to describe this record that hasn’t been said far better by seemingly every metal writer this year. Few songs have fired me up, made me ball up my fists, and want to charge out into the world swinging like the second track, “Screen”. Also, it only makes the music on Our Raw Heart that much more impactful for me personally knowing what loving, kind, and amazing dudes they are
6. UADA - Cult of a Dying Sun : Certainly the most metal music I’ve listened to and sincerely loved in a looooong time. Black metal has never really spoken to me, but this is different. This caught me off guard how much I loved this. Crazy powerful, melodic, and pissed off music. Absofuckinglutely savage riffs and incredible showmanship. No wonder they’re blowing up. Also, under the spooky militant Mad Max image, they’re the nicest dudes I’ve met in a long while.
7. SHARK IN THE WATER - Death Certificate : These local Bay Area heroes of heavy handed surf rock made an album infested with as much humor as it has riffs. Catchy as shit, instantly addictive, hilarious every time (seriously) and still somehow kid friendly enough that both my daughters are obsessed with this album, bad words and all. Plus, the band dresses up like sharks. That’s called a big fat WIN in my book.
8. LOGGERHEAD - Depths : If there is a band that is carrying the esoteric oceanic doom rock torch that Giant Squid once held, that band would be Loggerhead. This debut record from the Tennessee prog/sludge/doom rock band captures the benthic vibe their name sake implies. Huge sprawling down tuned riffs brimming with unpredictable nuance and creativity crash through this record, framed by gorgeous, sparse sections of beauty, and all the oceanic lyrical lore any old salt could crave. If Giant Squid provided even a quantum of influence for this band, I’d be deeply honored. Love this record. Can’t wait to see what Loggerhead does next.
9. TURTLE SKULL - self titled debut : My daughter’s new favorite band and one I love just as much. I’m a BIG fan of Tame Impala. They have yet to do wrong in my book. Turtle Skull captures that same Australian psyche rock vibe but with more focus on amazing fuzz guitar tones and slightly spacier, simpler song structures. Turtle Skull seems to be pretty new with only this album under their belt, so I’m excited to jump on with them as a fan so early in their career. Pearl requests this record almost every morning in the car on the way to school.
10. REZN - Calm Black Water : I’ve become rather addicted to this record. Huge stoner doom set against an oceanic backdrop with psychedelic clean vocals. Lots of beautiful dynamic clean parts set up the crashing enormity of the fuzzed out riffs. It all works so well, sounds incredible production wise, and wow, what an album cover!
11. URSA - Abyss Between the Stars : Where’s my fucking sword because I need to slay some beasts after listening to this album of bear sized riffs, perfectly epic clean vocals, and doom laden folk tales of dragons and giant spiders and fuck knows what else. So damn good. But I wouldn’t expect any less from the dudes in Cormorant who make up this beastly new band. Furry fuzz riffs and magic spells for days.
12. SOM - The Fall : I find myself going back to this record over and over again. Super indie pop style vocals over thick, crazy downtuned guitars and keys. One of these dudes is in Junius, which has been one of my favorite heavy bands for years now. That same dreamy doom rock runs thick through this record. I absolutely love it. It’s like Jesu with actual song writing and hooks and crazy good signing.
I also listened to the shit out these following records
13. Zeal and Ardor - Stranger Fruit : original as hell
14. Un - Sentiment : doom as hell
15. Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo : smooth as hell
16. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Wasteland : Sabbath as hell
17. High On Fire - Electric Messiah : High on Fire as hell
18. CHRCH - Light Will Consume Us All : heavy as hell
19. Vola - Applause of a Distant Audience : poppy as hell
20. Unmaker - Firmament : Cure as hell