Features Music Year End 2018 Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2018)

Year End 2018

Music: Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2018)

It's been a great year for music and we're here to tell you what you should have heard in 2018. Fear not – we've diced and sliced the numbers and lists to assemble this, our writers' guide to the best music released during the past twelve months. Read on to discover what we're naming our favorite album of 2018, plus our individual staff writer lists so you can find out just what you can still catch up on before 2019 gets too well-established. On with the lists!

Overall list



Ordinary Corrupt Human Love


With a band that has already explored the ins and outs of metal, I questioned how Deafheaven could push themselves further than they already have. I wish more bands would surprise my skepticism and tell me to shove it, but not everyone releases a record like Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. They don’t care if their music isn’t black metal enough for you. They aren’t going to appease fans out there who base their opinions on music by genres alone. Deafheaven has managed to beautifully combine elements of music that shouldn’t exist together—heavy rock guitars, soft piano chords, shrieking vocals—and then with the crash of a wave, it's all over. Few records leave me in awe, but Ordinary Corrupt Human Love can now be added to that very short list. (Kristen)


Janelle Monáe

Dirty Computer


Is this really only Janelle Monáe's third album? She already feels like such an essential, classic performer that it's quite staggering to reflect she's still at the early stages of her discography. This album, her most pointedly political yet, drops the veiled references to androids and noir in favour of outright, explicit challenges to the status quo, patriarchy, and the homophobic and racist power structures governing society. Dirty Computer manages to blend the best in current pop songwriting, moody hip-hop, deep soul and funk with this urgent message, plus queer politics, algorithms, origin stories and guest spots, making Monáe's voice one to continue to listen to as she defies labels and challenges conventions. (Matt)


Beach House


Sub Pop

A seventh record, but with a new producer, Maryland's Beach House continue to find new ways to keep "dream pop" rich and rewarding. Recorded over almost a year in various studios, 7 has been hailed as a "reinvention" but equally retains their well-defined sound. 7 is adventurous, pleasurable and immersive: the sound of a band unafraid to break down boundaries. (Matt)


Thom Yorke

Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino film)

XL Recordings

Taking a page from bandmate Jonny Greenwood’s songbook, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has thrown himself into the breach of film scoring and it really takes only 1 minute and 47 seconds - or roughly the length of opening track “A Storm That Took Everything” to wonder why it ever took this long to begin with? Like much of Yorke’s solo work, there’s a prevalent melancholia that suits the subject matter beautifully. He utilizes just about every trick up his sleeve to flesh out his vision - and as this is a double album, it’s just as well that we’re talking about such a multi-faceted musician. Thom Yorke’s Suspiria stands tall completely on its own merits and should feel no pressure in become synonymous with the Argento film. Yorke’s solo work and work with Radiohead continues to surpass any paltry expectations set upon it by others. (Kevin)



You Won't Get What You Want

Ipecac Recordings

Reunion albums are always met with some skepticism. Daughters spent years making "You Won't Get What You Want" and delivered their best album to date. The band is still toying with noise rock, but it's morphed into more Industrial/Gothic-Rock, sometimes with strong Bauhaus influence. It's this year's soundtrack to our nightmares. Right down to the frightening album cover. (Aaron)



It's Hard To Have Hope

Translation Loss

Some bands need a couple of albums to find their sound, their niche if you like. Other bands seem to have stumbled upon their sound from their very first rehearsal. Svalbard's second album makes it appear they belong to that second category. What sets them apart from the crowd is the mixture of ingredients used. There's a base of post-hardcore with a strong metallic edge. That's always a good start of course. There's melody and fast riffs and gruff vocals. Then there's the crusty edge that is added. But on top of that there's something that you would not expect in this mix: post-rock like melodic guitar lines. If you don't know 'm yet, I suggest you check Svalbard out as soon as possible. They have something unique to offer and get better each release. (Dennis)


Cloud Nothings

Last Building Burning

Carpark Records

Cloud Nothings traded in the Indie-Rock sound of their last album, Life Without Sound, for a more emo-core influenced record. Last Building Burning is an album that doesn't let up. It's constantly pushing you forward with boisterous guitar riffs, catchy choruses, and impassioned vocals. The album goes for quality over quantity with just 8 tracks, and there's not a single bad one. (Aaron)


Fucked Up

Dose Your Dreams


Fucked Up's Dose Your Dreams is one of those "love it or hate It" albums. The band delivered something out of the norm. Sometimes it's your typical hardcore-punk they're most noted for. Sometimes it's incredibly poppy while other times it's psychedelic. And that's just the first half of the album. Going into the second half, you'll be met with a lot of "what the fuck?" moments. Like the track that sounds like something Animal Collective wrote. The assortment of styles falls in line with the theme and concept of the album though and makes it work. (Aaron)


The Body

I Have Fought Against It, But I Can't Any Longer

Thrill Jockey

The Body have moved from weirdo sludge sounds to even weirder electronic sounds over their last few releases and the prolific duo cut up and dissect their own music to create an ever increasing palette of terror on I Have Fought Against It, But I Can't Any Longer. The result is a record of abject horror and one that leaves more than a trace of sadness in its wake. (Cheryl)


The Breeders

All Nerve


When the Deal sisters re-assembled the lineup from their seminal Last Splash album for a 20th anniversary tour in 2014, they didn’t know how it was going to go. But, the tour went off without a hitch and any ill-will that seemed to exist appeared to dissipate into the ether. Thankfully, those good vibrations continued and have now culminated into a brand new Breeders album, All Nerve. Music like The Breeders doesn’t much come around any more and maybe that’s what makes All Nerve such a joyous listen. That kind of raw honesty is a rare commodity in these days of streaming single sales. See them on tour now. Show them how much they’re needed. (Kevin)



The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness

Bindrune Records

Panopticon’s sole member, Austin Lunn, has long delved into the acoustic side of music and on The Scars of Man... he truly takes that interest to the next level with one disc full of folk-led songs. Initially, though, we are led into the depths of winter and rage with Part 1 of the album - a furious work that takes you on its creator’s journey. (Cheryl)


Kitten Forever



Kitten Forever are staples of the Twin Cities DIY scene. They also tour nationally and have received a good share of recognition for their unique merger of party punk and vitriol. Overall, the three-piece plays fuzzy, stripped down ragers that alternate between screaming frustration and bopping good times. Semi-Permanent is their fourth full-length and the general tone over the 11-song release is exactly that: there’s a time to party and a time to shout out at what’s wrong with the world. That time is now. Over the rumbling bass that defines each song, the melodies are super catchy and stick in your head well after the record stops. It’s angry music, it’s fun music, it’s catchy music, and it leaves you thinking about it after the fact. What more can you ask for from a record? (Loren)



Be the Cowboy

Dead Oceans

Pop comes in many forms. Sometimes you find it on the radio as the nation’s favorite dance hit. Occasionally you’ll hear it pulsating from the walls of your favorite nightclubs. Then, sometimes, it pours out of the anxious head of an artist just looking to create something. Mitski’s fifth studio album, Be the Cowboy, explores different avenues of the genre. One moment, she’s playing an acoustically driven folk-pop track and the next she’s throwing out a silky-smooth disco number. Mitski manages to blend these different sounds into the album so intricately. Be the Cowboy is incredibly cohesive for something that’s filled with so many different styles of music. It’s hard to think of anything these songs may have needed for improvement. They’re damn near perfect. Mitski has delivered her best work yet and easily one of the top albums of the year. (Aaron)


Future Virgins

Doomsday Raga

Let's Pretend/Recess

I was excited about this record 3 seconds in. To put it directly, I’m a big fan of everything Future Virgins has done so I was expecting it. Doomsday Raga fits their catalog well, but it also fits in with the gradual progression from coarse DIY to well-rounded, crisp melodies. Life is often contradictory, confusing, and complex. The tone throughout Doomsday Raga is exactly that: Life sucks; today was rough; there’s beauty out there somewhere. In the words of “Bill’s Jam,” “[Now] go home and get some sleep.” The lyrics may be jaded, but it’s music that always makes me smile. (Loren)


Yamantaka // Sonic Titan


Paper Bag

New vocalist, no problem. Part performance art, part really interesting and eclectic rock music, this hard-hitting and memorable album is great to listen to on its own merits. When you realize it was envisioned as the soundtrack to an unreleased 1980's anime, it becomes even more crazy. I remember watching the anime block on the Sci-Fi channel. This as a soundtrack would have been, and still is, mind-blowing. (Andy)


Alice In Chains

Rainier Fog


It’s been 12 years since Alice In Chains reactivated with vocalist William DuVall - making his time in the band roughly twice that of Layne Staley, but the shadow left by Staley was cast dark and long across the band’s last two albums Black Gives Way To Blue and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. Both competent albums that for better or worse clung to the AIC sound of old. Where Alice In Chains go from here is anyone’s guess, but it would seem the stability of the lineup and the high quality of music being released this late into the band’s career has reinvigorated them for the long haul and we’re the ones lucky enough to be taken along for the ride. (Kevin)


American Nightmare

American Nightmare

Rise Records

Another reunion album. This time not just a band reuniting, but also a band reuniting with their original name. Gone is the Give Up The Ghost Monniker (so where do I put this album on the shelves, huh?). It is unmistakeably American Nightmare, but with a shitload of different influences added to the mix. That should not come as a surprise, considering the two previous full lengths are also quite different from each other. American Nightmare was the hyped band around the time I got into hardcore, so I guess I'm extra happy they are back without squandering their past fame. (Dennis)


Courtney Barnett

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Mom + Pop

Courtney Barnett’s output is usually a sure thing – which is why it’s strange Tell Me How You Really Feel is weirdly disappointing. It’s not bad, it just lacks the punch found on 2015’s Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. “Hopefulessness” is a strange, dissonant opener that casts a bit of a pall over the record, while first single “Nameless, Faceless” is a fine midtempo rocker that’s hook doesn’t really burrow in, say, like the classic “Pedestrian at Best”. There are some great moments like “Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self Confidence” buoyed by contributions by Kelley and Kim Deal and the relationship ballad “Need a Little Time”. It has been home run after home run until now. It’s just a bit of a bummer to hear Barnett sound tired and and actually a little bored. Sure, she’s sang about it, but it’s never really felt like it until now. (Brendan)




Sacred Bones

Thou preceded the release of their fifth full length with a collection of three EPs that gave us a taste of each facet of the Baton Rouge band's sound - grunge, acoustic, drone - and in doing so they prepared us for their most angry record yet. Magus takes us on a primal journey of rage and it's a stunning work that showcases just how doomed we all are. (Cheryl)



Cinereous Incarnate

I Voidhanger Records

Loads of bands that I follow start out pretty heavy and during their career start to get (a bit more) mellow. Sometimes this evolution is only marginal, sometimes a band is almost unrecognisable after a few albums. Abstracter evolved as well over the course of their albums. Instead of mellowing down their sound, they have evolved in another direction. Things have gotten harsher over time. Cinereous Incarnate finds Abstracter playing music that is taking cues from black metal. These blackened influences are mainly to be found in the atmosphere of the album. That atmosphere can only be described as bleak, harsh and suffocating. Put this record on and the light seems to be a bit dimmer, everything is bleaker than it was a moment ago. And yes, that is a very positive description in my book. (Dennis)


Sons Of Kemet

Your Queen Is A Reptile


A London-based jazz group with multiple drummers and a rotating cast of poets and spoken-word performers make Your Queen Is A Reptile a shifting, thrilling listen. Each track references an influential black woman from history, with opener "My Queen Is Ada Eastman" featuring a blistering lyrical assualt attacking the British government for its treatment of immigrants and black people. The groove that Sons of Kemet set up, and the relentless but can't-stop-listening feel of Queen makes this an absolute essential for the year. (Matt)



Misery Rites

Translation Loss

Wake is a Canadian grindcore act. One of those grindcore-acts that have taken care of me not growing tired of the genre. The unrelenting speed and anger are good fun, but can get a bit samey fast. This is where the great bands differentiate themselves from the mediocre ones: they know how to keep things interesting. Wake is one of those bands. Not only is this band making a point of writing actual songs, they also are branching out into different genres. That’s becoming more and more clear on Misery Rites – their absolute best album to date. (Dennis)


Murder by Death

The Other Shore


Not many bands can make it eight albums into their career without a single dud. Murder by Death's mainstays, Adam Turla and Sarah Balliet, have spent nearly 2 decades honing their skills as songwriters, and they’ve let their growth lead us out into space. The Other Shore deserves your full attention to fully appreciate it. While it’s not as direct with its story, there is a journey to follow. The tracks can stand on their own, but they work best is the context of the whole album. I urge you to really set the time aside to sit with the record and follow along with the lyrics. Murder by Death have written one of their best albums and introduced some new doorways to explore. Hopefully they’re willing to return to some of the new sounds they played with and expand on them. This band still has room to grow and that’s so exciting! (Aaron)




Dirt Cult

I’ll admit to coming into this one with a clean slate. I don’t know Feral Trash, who predate Chiller and share members Ilisha and Eric. The duo recruited Erin (Black Tower) and Tim (Mother’s Children) and, as the press release says, so began “what has rightly been deemed as a continuation of Feral Trash.” This is a really good record, and one that holds up well on repeat. While its genre foundation is known more for high energy and repetition, the band adds layers and texture to each song that make them stand out from one another and to provide meaning long-term instead of just a one-play-and-done energy burner. Listening to the record clears the mind. It makes you feel chiller. (Loren)


VNV Nation


Metropolis Records

VNV Nation have been producing electronic music for almost three decades, yet the time that has passed has done nothing to give founder Ronan Harris cause to take a break. His take on EBM has long lifted many to the heavens and Noire is no exception - euphoric futurepop doesn't seem like a good enough description but it's something you must experience for yourself. (Cheryl)



Head In Threathening Attitude

Boss Tuneage Records

Sometimes I like my punk straightforward. Give me some power chords, play them high speed, high energy for one to three minutes and I’m a happy man. Sometimes I like my punk a bit different. One thing I enjoy is a guitarist who dares to play something different. Now enter Natterers. Head In Threatening Attitude is a sweet and short album, even though it has 14 songs on it. They're short songs that don’t overstay their welcome. This album is just hit after hit, so I can only urge you to check it out from start to finish. (Dennis)


Royal Brat


Moniker Records

Royal Brat follow an intriguing trend I see in a lot of queer punk: taking direct and heavy subject matter and addressing it with vitriol, then flipping a switch from anger to singsong and back. It’s fascinating that the two emotions, so different, can jump back and forth without feeling more jarring. They lean more into the short-loud-and-fast school of songwriting while covering a ton of emotional ground over 13 songs and 24 minutes. (Loren)


Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots


Jeff Gutt has a thankless task before him. Some might say impossible, even. He's replacing Scott Weiland, one of the most loved and recognizable frontmen of the last 30 years, who tragically died far too young. But when you take away all the extraneous noise, all the judgements, all the assumptions, and what we have before us is a fucking great Stone Temple Pilots album. There's honestly not a lot of bands that can come back from the brink once, let alone as many times as Stone Temple Pilots has. With or without Scott. With or without the name. This is a band that has earned the right to continue their story however they see fit. (Kevin)



Revelations of the Red Sword

Ván Records

Icelandic black metal is a scene teeming with talent and in Svartidauði the small country has a huge voice. Revelations of the Red Sword is chaos at its best and the record is a stunningly crafted work. Their second record is devastatingly heavy and beauty resides in the darkness. (Cheryl)


Hop Along

Bark Off Your Head, Dog

Saddle Creek

Hop Along's 2012 debut was a low-key classic in its own right, so the release of Bark Off Your Head, Dog comes with some high expectations. Happily, it doesn’t disappoint. It's an album that pushes Hop Along forward, showing a band striving to find what’s possible in their sound, opposed to making something that sounds like them. It makes sense – that’s never quite been their DNA. Hop Along sound a bit restless here, but that’s why it works. It’s very clear that Bark Off Your Head, Dog is just the tip of the iceberg. (Brendan)

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Words by the SPB team on Jan. 2, 2019, 12:43 p.m.

Main photo by D.C Atty.

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Scene Point Blank's Favorites: Year End (2018)

Posted on Jan. 2, 2019, 12:43 p.m.

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  1. Individual staff lists
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Series: Year End 2018

Our summary of the best music (and more) of 2018.

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