Monday, December 31, 2018

Shanies: Album of the Year

Here we go again. This year was a tremendous year of music, if only for the sheer quantity of noteworthy new albums that came out. That said, no fucks left to give for "noteworthy"... who made the top 10?

10. All Them Witches - ATW
Doubly impressive considering that ATW has been pumping out a new album almost every year, but their first self-title finds them continuing to explore bluesy, drawn-out, progified track after track. The perfect companion for Canada's new laws or just a great way to lose yourself in music, check out Harvest Feast.


9. Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood - With Animals
I've always adored Lanegan's voice from his early days with Screaming Trees or guesting on a QOTSA album, however, in Garwood, he seems to have found a muse for his older years. His body has finally caught up to his soul and the two now seem to be writing deeply introspective music that both haunts and delights.


8. Fantastic Negrito - Please Don't Be Dead
FN's breakthrough first album was a tough act to follow, however, Please Don't Be Dead was up to the challenge. Though not as ambitious, the album is still chalk-full of gospel-laden rock n roll, all centered around a man who seems to be an unstoppable ball of energy.

7. Everything is Recorded - Everything is Recorded
This album was a sleeper for me, however, when I caught news of the fact that Richard Russel, long-time founder and owner of XL records, would be putting his money where his mouth was and releasing his own album, excitement was the obvious choice. Russel seems to have taken inspiration from his favourite XL artists (as well as taken their guest spots) and the resulting album is an absolute diverse masterpiece. Check out Close But Not Quite below, as well as Bloodshot Red Eyes.


6. A Perfect Circle - Eat the Elephant
We should no longer be surprised by anything in the life of Maynard Keenan, especially as it pertains to long hauls between albums, however this last 10 year-plus APC break even puts Tool to shame. Still, the album was worth the wait and the global and political climate could not have been better for a "you're fucking everything up again, people" album from Howerdel and Keenan. The album ventures through a number of harder and softer tracks, but for my money, Delicious takes the cake for it's infectious chorus.


5. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex & Food
Though I loathe one of the early singles off this album, Honeybee, UMO still managed to produce an absolute gem, even in spite of a weak track or two. In addition to their usual, soulful sound and dark, piercing lyrics, this album also featured some of the most aggressive songwriting of UMO's career in tracks like American Guilt.


4. Temperance Movement - A Deeper Cut
Let's be honest; these guys could shit on a piece of vinyl and the ensuing bumps would likely still make my top 10. I adore this band and while this album is nothing overly ambitious (and does feature a song that I want to kill someone when I hear the opening 10 seconds), the album is still overall a polished, thoughtful, harmony-laden, guitar rich, motherfucking rock album. That's enough for a simple boy like me.


3. White Denim - Performance
I heard a rumor that the White Denim crew has been ghost writing for Leon Bridges. While that may explain their slight delay in releasing Performance, it doesn't explain the fact that this album was a return to young form for the band, likely coming off as one of their weirdest bodies of work since their first two albums. Performance is every bit the guitar masterpiece you expect, however, gets super weird in a super incredible way, that I can only urge you to listen to, start to finish. If you're in a rush, check out Double Death, but when you have the time, give the full LP a spin.


2. Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo
Khruangbin has been on my radar for years, however, I never totally fell for their sound as it always seemed to be lacking something and even unique projects like History of Flight just seemed to fall short of my expectations. Con Todo El Mundo, however, has well exceeded my expectations and found the band crafting one of the most melodically-laden, catchy albums you can imagine for a group that avoids vocals. I still find myself singing along to this album... I'm just singing guitar and bass riffs.


1. The Dirty Nil - Master Volume
Holy fuck. While this needs to stand the test of time, I'm going to be a bit hyperbolic for a second: this albums is as important to saving rock n roll as was QOTSA's Songs for the Deaf. Our Canadian heroes broke through in a HUGE way this year, touring all over the continent and releasing their first major (A&C) led album. And they did not skimp on the toppings. The Nil can unquestionably rock your face off, however, this album proved that they can write lyrics that capture the realities of modern living, and still somehow manage to tell an entire crowd to go fuck themselves and have the crowd not only be ok with it, but lap that shit up. I can't pick a favourite off this album betwen Bathed in Light, Auf Wiedersehen, Pain of Infinity, That's What Heaven Feels like, I don't want that phone call... seriously... it's one of those albums. Enjoy this, dig into their back-catalog, and all hail the Nil.