This year has been a great year for music discovery, possibly my best. The running playlist I keep with all the songs that I come across and like for the year reached over 640 songs, with a runtime exceeding 44 hours. Thanks to CBC Music, Spotify’s Discover Weekly, Apple Music’s New Music Mix, and The Needle Drop, I am constantly introduced to new artists and tracks. So much so, that I often find it difficult to spend proper time with new releases and old favourites.
Though I apparently suffer from a fear of missing out of new or great yet-to-be-discovered bands, I have been able to check out a decent selection of releases this year and some albums from years prior that I apparently missed. Below is a collection of ten of my favourites albums that I’ve listened to in 2018.
Typhoon — Offerings
This was probably the first album I listened to this year, start to finish. The track Rorschach was featured on one of my curated discovery playlists and I probably listened to it a half-dozen times on my drive to Saskatoon. The remainder of the album is essentially equally as listenable. Personally I think, Kyle Morton, the lead vocalist, has a bit of an Andy Shauf vibe to his singing, which pairs nicely with the electronic/indie vibe of the album. Be sure not to change the track after the final track Sleep closes, After Party, a hidden track may just be my favourite on the album.
Favourite tracks: “Rorschach”, “Sleep”, “Bergeron”
The Americans — I’ll Be Yours
Released in 2017, I’ll Be Yours is the gritty debut full-length by Los Angeles root rockers The Americans. This record proves that rock n’ roll is alive and well if you know where to look for it.
Favourite tracks: “The Right Stuff”, “I’ll Be Yours”, “Long Way from Home”, “Bronze Star”
Goodnight, Texas — Conductor
Oh I love me some Goodnight, Texas. I’ve been absolutely hooked on this band ever since I came across “The Railroad” back in 2014. Conductor was a demanding listen, primarily because I kept finding new favourite tracks that I had to put through several repeats. I’m sure it was two evenings or three before I had played it once through. Which goes to show the talent and songwriting that goes into a Goodnight, Texas album.
Favourite tracks: “Outrage for the Execution of Willie McGee”, “End of the Road”, “Laramie”, “Barstow”, “Homesick”
Sleep — The Sciences
Released on April 20, 2018, Sleep took nearly everybody by surprise with The Sciences, their first full-length release in nearly two decades. With six tracks clocking in about 53 minutes, and half of the tracks breaking ten plus minutes, The Sciences is as welcome a Dopesmoker followup as anyone could ask for.
Favourite tracks: “Marijuanaut’s Theme”, “Sonic Titan”, “Giza Butler”, “The Botanist”
IDLES — Brutalism
Brutalism is raw, rough and unrelenting. A blend of Gallow’s 2009 masterpiece Grey Britain and London Calling era The Clash, Brutalism is exactly what I want to hear from a British punk/rock group. Released in 2017, I am still working my ways towards their latest release Joy as an Act of Resistance, which was released at the end of this past August, but if it’s half as good as Brutalism, it will almost certainly make my top ten album list for 2019.
Favourite tracks: “1049 Gotho”, “Well Done”, “Mother”
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats — Wasteland
The UK based Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats have given us another gem in Wasteland, which was released in October. With heavy influences of 60’s and 70’s metal/rock, Uncle Acid once again proves exactly how to pay tribute to your predecessors while not sounding contrived or redundant.
Favourite tracks: “Shockwave City”, “No Return”, “Stranger Tonight”
Colter Wall — Songs of the Plains
Similar to Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Colter Wall knows exactly how to both sound like he belongs to a different time while still sounding refreshing and interesting. Songs of the Plains includes eleven songs and plays for brisk 34 minute runtime that begs to be repeated, and repeated, and repeated again.
Favourite tracks: “Plain to See Plainsman”, “Saskatchewan in 1881”, “Thinking’ on a Woman”, “Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail”
The Ocean Collective — Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic
Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic is the first part of a two part concept album by the kings of concept albums, The Ocean Collective. With their previous releases, Pelagial, Anthropocentric and Heliocentric being among three of my favourite metal albums of all time, I have been quite anxious for the follow-up to 2013’s Pelagial. Palaeozoic does not disappoint either, blending heavy and melodic, in typical The Ocean fashion, it rises to the challenge to sit among their impressive back catalogue. The only disappoint I can say is that Phanerozoic II is not expected to be released until 2020.
Favourite tracks: “Devonian: Nascent”, “Permian: The Great Dying”
Dan Mangan — More or Less
I had been eagerly waiting for this album, which was released in October, since the debut of its leading single, “Fool for Waiting” back in April. More or Less is a fantastic album about growing older, adjusting to changes and surviving in our modern landscape. It’s a great release for Mangan, and one that I’m having trouble deciding if it should be my favourite.
Favourite tracks: “Just Fear”, “Cold in the Summer”, “Troubled Mind”, “Fool for Waiting”
Foxwarren — Foxwarren
Foxwarren is the debut release by a band formed by Saskatchewan native Andy Shauf and a few longtime friends. It was released at the end of November, which was about a month before I learned of its existence. So it was a fantastic way to finish off the year listening to a new band I didn’t know existed fronted by one of my favourite songwriters, local or otherwise. I did not make this list to indicate my favourite album of the year, but if I was to pick one, this one would probably be it.
Favourite tracks: “To Be”, “Everything Apart”, “Sunset Canyon”, “Give It a Chance”
Several other albums that did not make this list but that could have easily done so include: Virgo Fool by Hiss Golden Messenger, Eat the Elephant by A Perfect Circle, Both Ways by Donovan Woods, Marlon Williams by Marlon Williams, Make Way for Love by Marlon Williams, Firepower by Judas Priest, Pillar of Na by Saintseneca, Thank You for Today by Death Cab for Cutie, You Won’t Get What You Want by Daughters and Prequelle by Ghost. I have to also mention that I have about forty-five albums on my list that I haven’t gotten around to yet, so this list may have been drastically different if circumstances were to have been different.