Getz’s Top 30 Records of 2018
30. Beach House – 7: While Beach House will probably never be able to replicate the moment where I heard “Myth” for the first time (can any artist replicate a paradigm altering moment, though?), 7 is a nice mix of quiet tunes that sometimes veer from dreamy to foreboding, as the album’s aethestic might suggest. “Black Car” is eerie, with a prominent piano melody on repeat, and “Dive” has a change in amplitude that is at once gentle and disquieting.
29. Harrison Lipton – Loveliness: I became aware of Harrison Lipton, an eccentric artist from Brooklyn, at a SXSW showcase earlier this year. ForceField PR have always made an impression on me for their promotion of artists that all seem to have an airy, hipster aesthetic. Lipton is no exception, but in a world where artists in the Bon Iver umbrella seem to be thriving, there’s no reason he can’t also do so. Lipton makes music that equally suits evening or morning drives. He would fit on a playlist with Bon Iver, Sleeping At Last, Tycho, and Sufjan.
28. tune-yards – I Can Feel You Creeping Into My Private Life: Tune Yards is one of today’s quintessential looping artists. She has a distinct pop bent, but is too offbeat for radio. I was intrigued immediately by her set when I caught her opening Arcade Fire’s Reflektor tour a few years ago. Highlights include crowd-participation worthy “ABC 123” and “Hammer.”
27. Until the Ribbon Breaks – Until the Ribbon Breaks: Unfortunately, this album didn’t hit me as hard as their previous outing. Fortunately, where they ended up is still pretty dang awesome. UTRB’s self titled has a great deal of longevity potential. They have this ability to consistently write pensive tunes on a bed of innovative and compelling soundscapes—deceptively simple in their composition.
26. Author – IIFOIIC: Author, I have maintained for awhile, are one of the most underrated bands touring the indie circuit these days. Actually, post Of Brighter Days, Author have laid fairly low – early on this year quietly releasing their follow up, IIFOIIC, an acronym for Is It Far Or Is It Close? The title, which sounds like it could be that of a Mutemath track, is a pensive phrase for a pensive album. The songs here tend to be midtempo and steady, with even the crunchy guitars of “Calm and Clear” serving more of a therapeutic role than an aggressive one.
25. Emery – Eve: Controversy aside (sorry, not gonna talk about the cover), in spite of being perhaps the most mellow Emery record in their canon, it is also a classic Emery record in every sense of their sound. While it doesn’t possess an anthem on the level of some of the singles on their earlier material, overall Eve is a very pleasant listen that pokes fun and seriousness alike at some of the controversies the guys have found themselves in as of late. Even new fans looking for a pensive emo-influenced alt-rock sound will find things to like here.
24. Muse – Simulation Theory: The future is bathed in neon, and Muse is here for it. So am I. I can’t call this a return to form, but I can say this is Muse’s most enjoyable record since Black Holes and Revelations.
23. Mitski – Be the Cowboy: Pitchfork’s rating this album #1 and some urging from my brother-in-law were the pushes I needed to give this album a fair shot. While Mitski doesn’t rustle my jimmies in a good way the way she does most critics, I still found appreciation for her album of indie rock anecdotes. They are unconventional earworms, written with purpose and depth. Her stint as the opening act for Lorde was very appropriate.
22. The Midnight – Kids: The biggest flaw with this record is that I wish it were longer. I need a new M83 record out stat, but for now this will do. In all seriousness, though tunes like “Explorers” tug at my heartstrings, but do so while lighting up everything in blacklights and neon. As the album art might suggest, I want to travel back in time to the Stranger Things era and blast this on an 8-track at the hometown mall. No Demagorgons allowed.
21. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel: The word “deadpan” in the world of music journalism is pretty much synonymous with Courtney Barnett at this point. On paper, I should be bored by these songs, but I’m not. They’re full of attitude and satisfyingly crunchy guitars. This album was the one that made me “get” the hype behind her, more so than Sometimes I Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.
20. Fleurie – Portals: Fleurie is basically the epitome of down-to-earth electropop right now. The songs are expansive, and any moment that could be called “cute” definitely comes across in a genuine, heartwarming way and not a trite, surface-level way. As the genre of the record might indicate, thematically it seems focused on the joy of the journey of life, love in general, and outer space. I found appreciation for this record in a somewhat introspective period.
19. Whale Bones – Island Fire: While undoubtedly many great heavy releases have come out this year, I simply haven’t spent a lot of time with heavy music this year. One exception (kind of) is Whale Bones out of Indianapolis. I asked them—and yes, they do get their name from the Secret and Whisper song of the same name. They build a massive wall of sound as just a trio, and have compelling live show. And like many artists, their sunny disposition live seems to counteract the sad nature of the songs for a rather enjoyable result. This definitely translates to the record itself as well. Plus, their upcoming appearance at Steadfast has me hyped.
18. Caroline Rose – Loner: This is a pop record with attitude. But it isn’t as accessible as another pop artist with attitude on this list. The whimsicality of this album forms the bulk of its appeal. This album keeps me coming back again and again. I also attended a show that was sparsely attended earlier in the year; Caroline headlined and The Nude Party opened. I left after The Nude Party, being woefully unaware of Caroline’s sound. Big. Time. Regret. Go ahead, yell at me. I know she would.
17. Young the Giant – Mirror Master: There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about Young the Giant. You’ll be hard pressed to find a rock band that is as versatile as these dudes. Sameer’s vocals are on point as usual. We get some anthemic rock tunes. We get some heartfelt love songs. The whole thing is so dang groovy. “Superposition” is becoming an unwitting frontrunner of my holiday season soundtrack.
16. Superorganism – Superorganism: This was the quirkiest album I listened to this year. I don’t even care that this band was “put together” by the industry. Actually, I might be wrong on that, but that’s okay—it doesn’t affect the sense of joy that permeates the album. Deadpan vocals carry an electronic indie rock concoction that gives me the feeling this band would be equally at home on stage with twenty one pilots as they would be with St Vincent.
15. My Brightest Diamond – A Million and One: I could be lazy and just link the review I wrote of this album a couple of weeks ago. Instead, I’ll just say that Shara North is badass, and this is one of the most interesting albums I heard all year. She deserves to be as big as St Vincent is.
14. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears: Ethereal. Whimsical. Drving. All of these words are apt descriptors of I’m All Ears, an album that seems to just exude coolness. I have listened to this album while driving across Columbus at night, and while peering out an airplane window staring at the Rockies. Taking in the scenery while hearing the 11-minute epic that was “Donnie Darko” was something.
13. Bishop Briggs – Church of Scars: I may be in the minority, but this might be the pop album I enjoyed the most this year. Bishop Briggs has become known for her badass persona mixed with huge hooks, and perhaps none are more pronounced than “White Flag.” I find myself internally going “yeah!” each time Briggs asks “don’t you know I’m not afraid to shed a little blood?” That feeling extends itself throughout the entirety of the record.
12. Hidden Hospitals – Liars: I described this album as the record Jared Leto wishes he had written earlier this year. Hidden Hospitals have never received the notoriety they deserve. The songs they write are catchy and adventurous, and carry cross appeal to different niches of music fans. Liars is the most accessible release of the Chicago trio so far and has several feel-good moments. So consider this our effort to keep them in your musical consciousness.
11. Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today: Some artists decide to get more fantastic as they mature. Death Cab didn’t. Thank You For Today doesn’t tread any new territory. It is simply a collection of fresh takes on what everyone has come to know as classic Death Cab. And that’s okay. The singles are definite highlights here: “Gold Rush” and “Northern Lights” in particular. The only thing missing is a song with a long intro or outro.
10. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour: This album was an unlikely source of enjoyment for me this year. I’ve spent a lot of time in Nashville over the past few years, and the country side of Music City is starting to rub off on me. The two artists I listened to most frequently this year in this vein were Courtney Marie Andrews and Kacey Musgraves. Every other blog seems to be pinging this as one of the best of the year. They’re right. This album is easy listening at it’s finest—in the sense that it is very smooth. I feel like I’m describing a glass of wine—must be a residual effect of my day in Sonoma Valley yesterday!
9. Metric – Art of Doubt: Metric have established themselves as synthpop royalty and prove it with this album. While Art of Doubt doesn’t have a song with that gives me chills the way “Speed the Collapse” off Synthetica does, Art of Doubt is their most cohesive release I’ve heard so far. Songs like “Anticipate” make expert use of that classic synth sound to build feeling, while “Underline the Black” is a triumphant single with a huge hook—one of many moments with big hooks.
8. Many Rooms – There Is A Presence Here: Want to feel reverent and at peace no matter where you are? Listen to this. Many Rooms released an album to her most widespread acclaim yet and still managed to come out of 2018 criminally underrated. In 2019 that may change with a tour coming this winter supporting Copeland and From Indian Lakes. Sit on your porch and stare into whatever lies outside your abode, and ponder life while you listen.
7. Half Waif – Lavender: You’ll notice that “late night drives” seem to be a theme on this countdown. Lavender fits that vibe. However, I’ll extrapolate further. This album is for cabins in the woods. It’s for sitting in your room with the shades drawn, incense burning. It’s for letting your worries melt away in a hot tub. It’s for reminiscing with friends and family. Fans of Purity Ring and Julia Holter ought to love this artist.
6. The Night Game – The Night Game: This whole album feels nostalgic and feels like it could performed during a Super Bowl halftime show. A good one. Not one of those lame pop shows with 80 cameos. These songs are catchy, poignant, and ought to appeal to multiple generations. It’s shiny enough for Generation Z but ought to appeal to my parents’ generation too. This is quite possibly the only time I’ll name drop Phil Collins and The 1975 in the same write up.
5. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships: This album has some of the softest moments of The 1975’s career and also some of the most anthemic. I feel like I’ve been using the word “anthem” a lot to describe this year’s music. Arguments could be made for and against this being a concept record. Matty Healy gets pretty deep here, but it has never been more fun to take that journey with him.
4. Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises: Who knew goth could feel so good? This is an album full of songs that shimmer and are generally upbeat with a melancholy undertone. I used to avoid sad songs. But listening to this album makes me happy. I’m hopeful that Pale Waves will emerge from the shadow and become their own genre leaders—they deserve it.
3. twenty one pilots – Trench: Following what was perhaps the most brilliant album marketing campaign I’ve ever seen, the Columbus heroes Tyler and Josh released their most adventurous outing to date, under the close supervision of Mutemath’s Paul Meany. In this music blogger’s mind, there’s almost nothing that can go wrong. I’m just annoyed that top 40 radio hasn’t taken more traction with a single from this album, instead favoring the latest EDM/pop/hip hop 4-artists-with-20-songwriters collaboration. Come on, jam “Morph” and tell me that isn’t cool. Take your thoughts on the Clique, good or bad, out of the picture.
2. Shame – Songs of Praise: This is post punk at its most thrilling. These lads are also really young. And appearing high on festival posters. They also put on the best set I have ever seen at Spacebar this past winter. “Dust On Trial” was my most streamed track of the year. I have to crank it every time. And “Concrete” is the perfect follow up. The only reason this isn’t number 1 is that the back half of the record didn’t get played nearly the amount the front half did for me this year.
1. Lo Moon – Lo Moon: A little over a year ago, Lo Moon won me over opening up a Phoenix show. In some ways, they’re an antithesis to Phoenix, making them sort of an antihero in that context. Their slow burner, sensual tunes form a marked contrast to Phoenix’s shimmering alt-pop anthems. This album is an unlikely album of the year, but it wins this year for me because of it’s replayability. There is simply no other record that came out this year where I can come to any song on the album on shuffle and I’ll gain a quiet enjoyment each time. In fact, I was able to test this just now; I’m currently sitting on a plane, post-sunset back to Ohio. “Camoflauge” came up on shuffle just now, and despite me not being able to recall how the song felt right away, my bet paid off. Songs like “Wonderful Life” fit on both a study and a dance playlist, which is hard to do.