JJ’s 40 Best Albums (& EPs) of 2018

Every few years people ring the death knell, bemoaning that “rock is dead.” 2018 was no exception, but this year there seemed to be more credence to this sentiment. At least in terms of record sales (is that even a thing anymore?) and streams, it’s evident that the kids these days are listening to more hip-hop, country, and pop. Cranked up guitars, bass, and drums seem to cater to more of a niche/older audience these days. When compiling my yearly Best Of list, I’m pretty surprised at how few “rock” bands made my list. This year I found myself listening to more roots, singer/songwriter stuff. Plus, I’ve always been a sucker for electro-pop music, and this year was a great year for that genre.

Unlike in recent years, there wasn’t that one album that instantly stood heads and shoulders above the rest for me. However, thanks to the magic of Spotify’s algorithms I have to pick Metric’s Art of Doubt as my fave album of 2018. Emily Haines and company have been one of the most consistently great bands of the last 15-20 years, and this album is no exception. Their last couple of albums have been fairly polished, but this one has a more raw, live, urgent, and off-the-cuff feel. Synths will always be a huge part of Metric’s sound but it’s nice to see Jimmy Shaw’s guitars getting some more love this time around. I still get chills every time I hear “Now or Never Now.”

Grunge pioneers Mudhoney never achieved the commercial success of their Seattle peers Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, or Alice in Chains, but they’ve been plugging away left of the dial, cranking out their fuzzed out, sardonic brand of rock. This year they released the perfect album for our time. In the age of Trump, Digital Garbage is a scathing, yet darkly funny look at everything wrong with the world today. Corporate greed, climate change deniers, flat earthers, evangelical wingnuts, NRA gun nuts, selfie culture, you name it. To quote an early Mudhoney classic, the world truly is flat out fucked. This is one album that George Carlin would enjoy and that’s a good thing.

Locally, Saskatchewan artists proved once again that they can more than hold their own against major artists around the rest of the world. Colter Wall proved that he is the real deal with the exceptional Songs of the Plains. When Steve Earle calls you the best songwriter out there today then you know you’re doing something right. After being such a talented and compelling live act for the last few years, Belle Plaine released a studio alum that properly showcased her stunning voice and songwriting. Malice, Mercy, Grief & Wrath is pretty darn close to roots/country/jazz perfection. Not to be outdone, Nick Faye & The Deputies, Dagan Harding, Blue Youth, Deaf Idols, League of One, Port Noise, Braindead Rodeo, and so many more put out stellar albums and EPs to make Saskatchewan proud.

Without further ado, here are the 40 albums and EPs that made my ears happy. Enjoy!

 

  1. Metric – Art of Doubt
  2. Mudhoney – Digital Garbage
  3. Colter Wall – Songs of the Plains
  4. First Aid Kit – Ruins
  5. Belle Plaine – Malice, Mercy, Grief & Wrath
  6. Brandi Carlile – By The Way, I Forgive You
  7. Dear Rouge – PHASES
  8. Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers
  9. CHVRCHES – Love Is Dead
  10. Kasey Musgraves – Golden Hour
  11. Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You for Today
  12. Lindi Ortega – Liberty
  13. Snail Mail – Lush
  14. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
  15. Robyn – Honey
  16. Dagan Harding Band – I Learned How
  17. Sloan – 12
  18. Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It
  19. Nick Faye & The Deputies – Stumbling Distance
  20. Mother Mother – Dance and Cry
  21. Blue Youth – Dead Forever
  22. Lykke Li – so sad so sexy
  23. The Decemberists – Traveling On
  24. Juliana Hatfield – Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John
  25. Lone Wolf Dreamer – Tonight (EP)
  26. Arthur Buck – Arthur Buck
  27. Sean Burns and Lost Country – Music For Taverns, Bars, And Honky Tonks
  28. Ghost – Prequelle
  29. Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army
  30. The Deaf Idols – Blasphemy (EP)
  31. Beach House – 7
  32. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Tearing at the Seams
  33. 54-40 – Keep On Walking
  34. Port Noise – (a Disco Moose)
  35. A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant
  36. The Smashing Pumpkins – SHINY AND OH SO BRIGHT, VOL 1.
  37. The League of One – Dispatch
  38. Anderson East – Encore
  39. Braindead Romeo – War Is What We’re Good For
  40. The Breeders – All Nerve

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