Admittedly, 2018 in music to me was a lot weaker than previous years. I didn’t find this year’s Bear’s Den or The War On Drugs. I didn’t get a new release from a much-loved band that blew my mind, like A Moon Shaped Pool or Science Fiction. I discovered plenty of new artists, and my attention was drawn towards artists in the formative years of their careers which I absolutely loved – but nothing that just demanded listen upon listen upon listen.
First, let’s recap a some of the low points. It’s such a shame that some much-anticipated releases from a few artists I love, fell flat of being great. Here’s a couple of the disappointments of the year for me:
- Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino – I genuinely tried to like this album, but I just didn’t get it. On repeated listens, it didn’t improve. A shame.
- Death Cab For Cutie, Thank You For Today – One of my favourite bands and top Spotify artists, I enjoyed this album but consider it a disappointment after the absolutely fantastic Kintsugi.
- Muse, Simulation Theory – Enough said, pure garbage from a band I considered to be forward thinking. Snore.
- Thrice, Palms – Tough to put this on the list, as it’s got some great tracks. Comparatively (even against TBEITBN), it just doesn’t hold up.
- John Butler Trio, Home – Much better than the previous album or two, but I think the ship has truly sailed on John getting back to his improvisational, jamming roots.
For every disappointment, there’s a new artist to discover – and I definitely found some new artists this year to keep an eye on. Here’s a few artists to watch out for in the coming years:
- Novo Amor – Dreamy, ambient style indie rock.
- Rini – A jazz/hip hop infusion with serious class.
- GoGo Penguin – Jazz/electronica, a great recommendation from a friend.
- Horse Feathers – Only a new band to me, but some good pop rock here.
- Terrible Sons – More acoustic/ambient listening.
Finally, my favourite albums this year. As mentioned, the quality of the albums are inferior to previous years, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. Many repeated listens of these and I’m sure many more to come:
- Alae, Henry St – A completely unknown NZ band takes my top spot this year. A gorgeous mix of acoustic/indie pop with some really great melodies. Opener ‘Back in Town’ in particular is as good a song I’ve heard in years.
- The Marcus King Band, Carolina Confessions – The new guitar hero on the block is Marcus King and he continues to showcase that perfect jazzy/blues fusion on the band’s 3rd album. A little more ‘Nashville’ country influence is heard here and each song is as enjoyable as the last.
- Gregory Alan Isakov, Evening Machines – A perfect blend of acoustic/ambient folk, this collections of songs shows a more progressive style than previous releases. A great album to sit back and relax to.
- Middle Kids, Lost Friends – I am so excited for Middle Kids to be one of the best indie bands in Australia, because it’s only a matter of time. I first came across them supporting The War on Drugs and was instantly hooked. Their debut album is an absolute treat.
- Nine Inch Nails, Bad Witch – Some classic NIN, with some new elements thrown in (brass!), Trent Reznor and co are honing in on the niche sound they’ve been creating for a few releases. Each track packs it’s own unique punch. Good signs for the veterans!
Other notable releases that I enjoyed include albums from Matt Corby, Jon Hopkins, Greta Van Fleet, Dustin Tebbutt, Jeff Goldblum, Paper Kites, Iron & Wine, Jason Mraz and Ziggy Alberts.
There you have it! What have I missed? Any recommendations? Leave a comment with your favourites or disappointments of the year!