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Best of 2018: Music January 13, 2019

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Photo credit:  flickr user Ryan Atkins

I’m not the only one among my friends that thought 2018 was another lousy year for new music. I’m retreating ever deeper into roots-rock and Americana, as I lose interest in what they’re calling indie or alternative these days. Even as Guided by Voices and Superchunk put out listenable releases in the old-school style. I may have to cultivate the blues or classical/early music. There’s some good “young” (-ish) jazz artists I need to explore (Kamasi Washington, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Douglas, Esperanza Spalding).

Close as I could come to a Top 10 list, in no particular order, my favorite new releases of the year were:

  • Roebuck “Sweet Gnarly” – originally a one-man Amuhrican version of a busker, I saw the slightly expanded version live in Virginia Beach last spring. This swampy album has more guitar than banjo.
  • Arctic Monkeys “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino” – nutso sci-fi lounge music. No idea where this came from, except for the expected solid songwriting.
  • Parquet Courts “Wide Awake” – consistently catchy garage-rock, produced by Danger Mouse for some reason.
  • Thom Yorke “Suspiria” soundtrack – it’s not the Goblins from the original, but there are some thematic echoes. Appropriately creepy and haunting.
  • Larkin Poe “Venom & Faith” – sisters from Georgia are really good musicians and blues singers.
  • Idles “Joy as an Act of Resistance” – fairly ferocious punks.
  • The Beths “Future Me Hates Me” – solid indie-pop debut from NZ.
  • Courtney Barnett “Tell Me How You Really Feel” – no signs of sophomore slump.
  • Richard Thompson “13 Rivers” – pushing 70, the old geezer rarely disappoints. And he’s an under-appreciated songwriter.

I only bought a handful of albums this year, due equally to my tastes and my at long-last, late adoption of streaming services. I use Amazon, Spotify – and Pandora now and then – even though I profess to want to throw as much money artists’ way as possible. Anachronistically, I still download rather than stream to my phone and my, believe it or not, iPod.

Read Mark Mulligan for what modern digital music aficionados do. Back when we invented that concept at Jupiter Research, it described digital-savvy heavy spenders with fairly eclectic tastes. I have almost certainly aged out of that psychographic.

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