Best of 2018

Whew! This took a lot longer to compile than I thought. As I’d said previously, it was a banner year for great music and it was tough to narrow it all down to my favorite top fifteen albums and songs! This time I went with the albums and songs that (I believe) I not only listened to the most, but the ones I kept coming back to time and again because they were just that enjoyable. Many of them were also part of my writing session heavy rotation.

I’ve also added my silly side lists of releases that may not have hit the top spots but certain got notice in other ways.

TOP 15 ALBUMS
15. The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl
14. Eric Bachmann, No Recover
13. The Beatles, The Beatles (Super Deluxe Edition)
12. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wrong Creatures
11. Wye Oak, The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs
10. Metric, Art of Doubt
9. Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
8. Shame, Songs of Praise
7. Failure, In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind
6. The Neighbourhood, The Neighbourhood / Hard to Imagine the Neighbourhood Ever Changing
5. Lucy Dacus, Historian
4. Snow Patrol, Wildness
3. Johnny Marr, Call the Comet
2. GoGo Penguin, A Humdrum Star
1. Bob Moses, Battle Lines

TOP 15 SONGS
15. The Damned, “Standing On the Edge of Tomorrow”
14. Arctic Monkeys, “Four Out of Five”
13. Parquet Courts, “Wide Awake”
12. The Decemberists, “Severed”
11. Sylvan Esso, “Parad (W/M)E”
10. Johnny Marr, “Hi Hello”
9. Death Cab for Cutie, “Gold Rush”
8. Local H, “Innocents (Edited for Television)”
7. GoGo Penguin, “Raven”
6. Lucy Dacus, “Addictions”
5. K/DA & Madison Beer & (G)I-DLE, “Pop/Stars”
4. tUnE-yArDs, “Heart Attack”
3. Lucius, “Woman”
2. Bob Moses, “Heaven Only Knows”
1. Snow Patrol, “Life On Earth”

BEST NON-ALBUM SINGLES AND EPS
Sylvan Esso, “Parad(W/M)E”
Failure, In the Future EP
Failure, Your Body Will Be EP
Failure, The Furthest Thing EP
Local H, “Innocents (Edited for Television)”
Various Artists, Universal Love – Wedding Songs Reimagined EP
Prince, “Nothing Compares 2 U”
Childish Gambino, “This Is America”
Weezer, “Africa” / “Rosanna”
Matt Nathanson, Pyromattia EP
Dave Grohl, Play EP
Live, Local 717 EP
Nothing But Thieves, What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way? EP
boygenius, boygenius EP
K/DA & Madison Beer & (G)I-DLE, “Pop/Stars”
Mutemath, Voice in the Silence EP

BEST ALBUMS TO BLAST WITH HEADPHONES
Shame, Songs of Praise
Preoccupations, New Material
Pinkshinyultrablast, Miserable Miracles
Soft Science, Maps
Cloud Nothings, Last Building Standing

BEST RETURN AFTER A LONG HIATUS
The Breeders, All Nerve
Tracey Thorn, Record
Andrew WK, You’re Not Alone
Jesus Jones, Passages
Belly, Dove
Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
The Get Up Kids, Kicker EP
The English Beat, Here We Go Love
Dubstar, One
Robyn, Honey
Dead Can Dance, Dionysus
The Good, the Bad & the Queen, Merrie Land
Art Brut, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!

BEST ACOUSTIC/REWORKINGS ALBUM
Lucius, Nudes
The Naked and Famous, A Still Heart
Beach Slang, Everything Matters But No One Is Listening (Quiet Slang)
Alt-J, Reduxer
St Vincent, MassEducation

BEST BOX SETS AND REISSUES
Wire, Nine Sevens
Bow Wow Wow, Your Box Set Pet: The Complete Recordings 1980-1984
Black Box Recorder, Life Is Unfair
The Cure, Mixed Up (Deluxe Edition)
Guns n’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction (Super Deluxe Edition)
Public Image Ltd, The Public Image Is Rotten (Songs from the Heart)
Various Artists, C89
Prince, Anthology: 1995-2010
Various Artists, Live Aid
Phil Collins, Plays Well with Others
John Lennon, Imagine (The Ultimate Collection)
Semisonic, Feeling Strangely Fine (20th Anniversary Edition)
The Beatles, The Beatles (Super Deluxe Edition)

…and that’s it! Hope everyone has a wonderful, fun-filled and rockin’ 2019!

END NOTE! I’ll be taking a bit of time off from blogging, starting in January, for personal reasons. I’m not sure how long this hiatus will last, but I’m not going to be making any scheduled posts for a while. I will try to post here every now and again, though I most likely won’t have them on any strict schedule. As always, thank you for following, and I hope 2019 treats you well!

See ya on the flip side!

2018 In Review, Part I: January – March

Originally I was going to go with a favorites-of-2018 post and follow it up with my end of year mixtape list, but while I was going over the releases this past year I found I just could not do it justice with only one post.  Yes there were that many excellent albums out this year!

So instead, I’m doing a four-part post for the last four posts of the year with an overview of all the albums, singles, and EPs (and there were surprisingly many of the latter two!), focusing on each quarter.  I’ll then follow up with my mixtape post on the 31st.  Each post is going to be pretty long, so these should keep you entertained!

Starting with Q1, January to March…

BØRNS, Blue Madonna, released 12 January.  Quirky alternapop that’s fun to listen to without being precious or cloying.

Sylvan Esso, “PARAD(w/m)E” single, released 12 January.  A single-only follow up to 2017’s fantastic What Now, it’s light and fluffy fun.

Shame, Songs of Praise, released 12 January.  Amazing and melodic punk similar to the really cool stuff you’d hear on 120 Minutes back in the late 80s   I absolutely love this album.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wrong Creatures, released 12 January.  Their best record yet — full of power and emotion and finely tuned into great songs.

tUnE-YaRdS, I can feel you creep into my private life, released 19 January.  “Heart Attack” is up there as one of my favorite tracks of the year.  Merrill Garbus is so much fun to listen to.

Django Django, Marble Skies, released 26 January.  A strange band with an irresistibly catchy sound.

GoGo Penguin, A Humdrum Star, released 9 February.  Rarely does an album blow me away this completely.  Inventive jazz that infuses all different kinds of genres.  One of my favorite albums of the year.

Lucy Dacus, Historian, released 2 March.  A fantastic songwriter, I keep coming back to this album again and again.  One of my favorites of the year.

Lucius, Nudes, released 2 March.  “Woman” has to be my favorite song of the year; it’s so delicate and sparse, yet it wields so much power and emotion and the dual vocal melody is so perfect that it continues to give me shivers.

The Naked and Famous, A Still Heart, released 9 March.  A stripped-down collection of their singles and album cuts, it’s a lovely and relaxing record.  This one got some major play during my writing sessions.

The Neighbourhood, The Neighbourhood, released 9 March.  They’ve gotten bolder and more experimental with each album, and this one nails it.  

Editors, Violence, released 9 March.  One of my “I will buy anything they release” bands, they didn’t let me down.  

The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl, released 16 March.  One of their most heartfelt albums and one of their best.  So many great tracks on this one.

Meshell Ndegeocello, Ventriloquism, released 16 March.  She takes her favorite 80s soul and pop songs and brilliantly makes them her own.

Jack White, Boarding House Reach, released 23 March.  I was surprised at how great this album was!  I’m a passive fan, but this one is one of his best.

Preoccupations, New Material, released 23 March. This band gets better and better with each release.  They can switch from Slowdive-y shoegaze to Wire-y punk seamlessly.

Failure, In the Future EP, released 30 March. An unconventional release, in which four parts of a full album drop each quarter, and they pulled it off perfectly.

**

Coming Thursday: 2018, Q2!

Jonc’s Best of 2017 List!

cosima to build a house

from Cosima’s “To Build a House” video

As always, it was tricky to figure out which albums to put on these lists, because I listened to a hell of a lot of music.  I decided this time out it wasn’t just about repeated listenings, but albums that made me stop and notice.  The list is quite varied this time out, featuring electronic sounds, punk, a heartbreaking soul ballad, a greatest hits album and a live album, quirky alternative pop, and more.  And yes, I do suggest you check them out if you haven’t already.

2015 Albums
15. Lydia Ainsworth, Darling of the Afterglow
14. The Jesus and Mary Chain, Damage and Joy
13. Minus the Bear, VOIDS
12. UNKLE, The Road: Part 1
11. Liam Gallagher, As You Were
10. Rainer Maria, S/T
9. Spoon, Hot Thoughts
8. Elbow, Little Fictions
7. Sylvan Esso, What Now
6. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Wembley Or Bust
5. LCD Soundsystem, American Dream
4. Elbow, The Best of
3. U2, Sounds of Experience
2. The Sound of Arrows, Stay Free
1. The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions

2015 Singles
15. Rainer Maria, “Lower Worlds”
14. Alice Merton, “No Roots”
13. UNKLE, “The Road”
12. Lydia Ainsworth, “Ricochet”
11. Sylvan Esso, “Die Young”
10. Elbow, “Magnificent (She Says)”
9. Spoon, “Hot Thoughts”
8. U2, “You’re the Best Thing About Me”
7. Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”
6. Gang of Youths, “What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?”
5. The Sound of Arrows, “Stay Free”
4. The New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions”
3. LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”
2. Japandroids, “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”
1. Cosima, “To Build a House”

Many Welcome Returns: New Releases from Classic Bands
Chuck Berry, Chuck
Paul Draper, Spooky Action
Dishwalla, Juniper Road
Living Colour, Shade
Rainer Maria, S/T
Ride, Weather Diaries
Slowdive, Slowdive
The Darling Buds, Evergreen EP
Roger Waters, Is This the Life We Really Want?

Best Reissues and Box Sets
The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Deluxe Edition
Lloyd Cole, In New York (Collected Recordings 1988-1996)
Curve, Doppelganger and Cuckoo
Golden Earring, Complete Studio Recordings
George Michael, Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged
Yoko Ono, Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling the Space
Prince & the Revolution, Purple Rain Deluxe Expanded Edition
Radiohead, OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017
The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead [Deluxe Edition]
The The, Radio Cinéola Trilogy
U2, The Joshua Tree Super Deluxe Edition
The Who, Maximum A’s & B’s

The Singles 2017

Entry #1…the 2017 best-of compilation! Same mix rules apply as per the last few years.

Tape 1, Side 1
1. Spoon, “Hot Thoughts”
2. The New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions”
3. Japandroids, “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”
4. Elbow, “Magnificent (She Says)”
5. Cosima, “To Build a House”
6. Arcade Fire, “Everything Now”
7. Grizzly Bear, “Mourning Sound”
8. Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”
9. St Vincent, “Los Ageless”
10. LCD Soundsystem, “Tonite”

Tape 1, Side 2
1. Minus the Bear, “Last Kiss”
2. Radwimps, “Zenzenzense [Movie Version]”
3. Beck, “Up All Night”
4. U2, “You’re the Best Thing About Me”
5. Nothing But Thieves, “Sorry”
6. Sylvan Esso, “Just Dancing”
7. UNKLE, “The Road”
8. Rainer Maria, “Lower Worlds”
9. Alvvays, “Plimsoll Punks”
10. The Sound of Arrows, “Stay Free”
11. Decomposure, “Cordillera: Let’s Go Back to the TV Screen”

Tape 2, Side 1
1. The Districts, “If Before I Wake”
2. Cold War Kids, “Love Is Mystical”
3. The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Amputation”
4. Spoon, “Can I Sit Next to You”
5. Dishwalla, “Give Me a Sign”
6. The Charlatans UK, “The Same House”
7. Depeche Mode, “Where’s the Revolution”
8. Slowdive, “Star Roving”
9. Gorillaz, “Saturnz Barz”
10. Future Islands, “Ran”
11. Weezer, “Feels Like Summer”
12. Arcade Fire feat. Mavis Staples, “I Give You Power”

Tape 2, Side 2
1. Lydia Ainsworth, “Ricochet”
2. Radiohead, “Lift”
3. Wire, “Short Elevated Period”
4. Sylvan Esso, “Die Young”
5. Broken Social Scene, “Halfway Home”
6. Alt-J, “In Cold Blood”
7. The War on Drugs, “Pain”
8. Grandaddy, “Way We Won’t”
9. Maxïmo Park, “Get High (No, I Don’t)”
10. The The, “We Can’t Stop What’s Coming”
11. The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions”

Tape 3, Side 1
1. Gord Downie, “Introduce Yerself”
2. Colony House, “You & I”
3. Alice Merton, “No Roots”
4. Hollerado, “Born Yesterday”
5. The Beatles, “Penny Lane [Stereo Mix 2017]”
6. Minus the Bear, “Robotic Heart”
7. The National, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”
8. Temples, “Certainty”
9. The Sound of Arrows, “Beautiful Life”
10. The New Pornographers, “Avalanche Alley”
11. LCD Soundsystem, “American Dream”

Tape 3, Side 2
1. Gang of Youths, “What Can I Do if the Fire Goes Out”
2. HAIM, “Want You Back”
3. Royal Blood, “Lights Out”
4. Wolf Alice, “Yuk Foo”
5. Tricky, “New Stole”
6. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, “Twilight [Live]”
7. Liam Gallagher, “Wall of Glass”
8. Death from Above, “Freeze Me”
9. Ride, “All I Want”
10. Slowdive, “Falling Ashes”
11. Gorillaz, “We Got the Power”

Coming up: Entry #2, the end-of-year favorites lists!

Coming Soon: The Best of 2017

radiohead lift

Thom Yorke is waiting anxiously for my end of year lists

Yep, it’s that time of the year again, where I’m juggling the Day Job, Christmas present purchasing (and wrapping, and mailing), whatever writing project I happen to be working on, posting my year-end review at the writing blog, creating my Best of Year compilation, and posting my Best of Year lists here.

As usual, I’ll hold up until the last week or so of this month before I post those last two, because I like giving December releases a chance at impressing me.  (Like the new U2 album, for instance.)  I will say 2017 has been quite an interesting year musically; it seemed like Nearly Every Single Band Jonc Loves put out an album this year!  And lots of solid career retrospectives.  There were also a lot of new finds that blew my mind as well.  I’m not sure if I can call it a banner year, but it certainly was quite enjoyable tunage-wise.

If anything, listening to music was definitely a highly-welcomed and much-needed escape from the ups and downs of Real Life.  And I’m pretty sure you know what my biggest headache was; the Day Job was the least of my stresses.  I won’t say I’m a pessimist in general, though I know all too often I let myself fall down that rabbit hole.  I kept a distant eye on what was going on, and I had my tunes to keep me sane and slightly distracted so I could stay positive.  And for that I’m eternally grateful.

More to come!

Year in Review, Part 4

And finally, here we are at the last quarter of the year!

Phish, Big Boat, released 7 October.  The band is positively perky on this album, full of bounciness and silliness that I haven’t heard since Billy Breathes twenty years ago.  It’s also more cohesive and catchier than Fuego, their previous outing.  And there’s some amazing harmony going on with this track right here.

Green Day, Revolution Radio, released 7 October.  Another excellent album from the boys from the East Bay.  While it may not be as radio friendly as American Idiot, it’s just as angry and in your face.

BT, _, released 14 October.  BT is a fascinating musician in that you’re never quite sure what his next sound is going to be like.  He’s a great remixer and his electronica stretches from glitchy to sublime.  And then there’s this album, which is essentially an electronic classical album of sorts.  It’s stunning and lovely and rates right up there with the work of my favorite new composer, Mason Bates.  And of course this got a ton of play during writing sessions.

Bowling for Soup, Drunk Dynasty, released 14 October.  BfS is up to their goofy, punky best as always with this Kickstarter-funded album (you should check out the KS page just to watch the video where they forget they’re trying to sell the album and talk about–you guessed it–drinking beer).  It’s a strong and solid album all the way through, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Jagwar Ma, Every Now and Then, released 14 October.  This album, interestingly enough, reminded me of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica, in that it’s a flawless mixture of melodic indie rock and blissed out dance grooves.  And “O B 1” is definitely my Track of the Year, with its ticking ambient/chunky riff mix and infectious beat.  The album itself is up there in my top ten as well.

American Football, American Football, released 21 October.  WOO!  New American Football!  Given that their previous album was 17 years ago, that’s a long wait, but it was quite worth it.  These guys were part of the original laid-back, wistful, math rock sound that included Low and early Modest Mouse back in the late 90s, so it’s great to have them back.

Jimmy Eat World, Integrity Blues, released 21 October.  Glad to see these guys are still going strong after all these years, and still writing songs that stick in my head for hours.  A solid album all the way through.

The Radio Dept, Running Out of Love, released 21 October.  Yet another Wait–they have a new album out?? release for 2016, and it’s excellent.  Dark and weird and groovy and twitchy all over the place — which is what makes me like them so much.  Really dug the production on this one a lot.

Sleigh Bells, Jessica Rabbit, released 11 November.  I really love their Wall of Crunchy Guitar sound (it’s great for headphones when you’re on a plane or at the gym), and I love the way they slip around their melodies, making them playful and in your face at the same time.

A Tribe Called Quest, We got it from here…thank you 4 your service, released 11 November.  YES!  Another ATCQ album finally arrives, and it’s a stunner.  It might be their last one they release, but it’s a hell of tight one.

Metallica, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, released 18 November.  Ending on a surprising note, considering I’m not much of a metalhead at all, but this is one hell of a great album, the best they’ve done in the past few years.  They still have a few songs here and there reminiscent of the more radio friendly Load/ReLoad era, but they’ve returned (finally) to some the best axe-wielding they’ve put on record in quite a while.

*

Coming up next week: The End of Year Lists!  Favorite songs, and my year-end mixtape!

 

Year in Review, Part 3

Back again for Q3!

Blink-182, California, released 1 July.  I’ll admit, I’m still a Blink fan partially because Travis is such an insanely great fast-speed drummer.  This new album feels like a return to their happier, punkier days of the late 90s-early 00s, and it’s a lot of fun to listen to.

The Avalanches, Wildflower, released 8 July.  When was that last album of theirs?  2000?  2001?  Far too long.  They’ve lightened up on the sampling (a bit) for obvious financial reasons, and their songs aren’t nearly as weird and goofy as the ones on Since I Left You, but on the other hand, they’ve excelled at creating groovy vibes and insanely catchy tracks like the above.

Lou Rhodes, theyesandeye, released 29 July.  Lamb’s lead singer released a lovely solo album featuring some of her best work outside that band.  Her style of singing works well in a non-electronic atmosphere here, and she also does a hell of a great job covering The XX as well.

Dog Party, ‘Til You’re Mine, released 5 August.  One of my favorite local bands releases their fifth album — the first after drummer Lucy’s high school graduation (!!) and as always, it’s all kinds of fun to listen to.  Short econo punk that would make the Ramones and Fuzzbox proud.

De La Soul, …and the Anonymous Nobody, released 25 August.  So happy to see these guys back at it…one of the best hip-hop groups around.  I’m also impressed by the DIY nature of this album as well: the samples used were recorded using live musicians (their jamming would be recorded and various bits used for the samples), and the entire project was funded via Kickstarter.  Even a lot of the non-music packaging and post-production was done either by them or by friends and acquaintances.

Banks & Steelz, Anything But Words, released 26 August.  Who knew that the dark, driving alt-rock of Interpol would fit so perfectly with the blistering delivery of RZA?  And that these guys met up frequently to play chess?  This match-up delivers one hell of a strong punch from both sides and it’s one of my favorites of the year.

The Wedding Present, Going, Going… released 2 September.  The Weddoes are back!  Another Kickstarter-funded album that was well worth the wait.  Full of their trademark dreamy and crunchy riffs on top of lovely melodies.

Wilco, Schmilco, released 9 September.  Wilco has always been just this side of weird, and their new album proves once again that they can pull it off and still be fun and enjoyable to listen to. Definitely a band off in their own universe, but they’ve become quite comfortable and agile within it.

Bastille, Wild World, released 9 September.  I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to top their fantastic debut album from a few years ago, but they’ve pulled it off by being bigger, stronger, and more experimental with their sounds.  They’ve also injected a bit of humor into the mix this time out, which makes a lot of the songs that much more fun to listen to.

Preoccupations, Preoccupations, released 16 September.  The band formerly known as Viet Cong returns with a new album that sounds straight out of 1985-era goth that you’d expect to hear on Homestead Records, and it’s a fascinating listen.  [Also, the above video perfectly fits with early era 120 Minutes, doesn’t it?]

Against Me!, Shape Shift with Me, released 16 September.  One of their most melodic releases that I can think of, and some of their best work as well.  The songs feel freer and livelier.  Another frequent player during the Day Job as well as writing sessions.

Beach Slang, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, released 23 September.  Another album that sold me on first listen, even before the album was done.  Equal parts Replacements and Dinosaur Jr, there’s a hell of a lot of great pop-punk going on here.  Definitely in my top ten of the year.

*

Next up, the final quarter of 2016….and of course, I’ll follow up with the lineup for the end-of-year compilation mix and my Top Albums and Songs of the year!