We're halfway through the year. When did that happen? Luckily for you, SPB's expert staff are on hand to guide you through the records you may have missed so far in 2018, and the albums you need to go back and listen to so you can pretend you were on top of things this year. Get your shit together.
Andy's top 5 albums of 2018 so far
Yamantaka / Sonic Titan
Dirt (Paper Bag Records)
After a few year hiatus, this Canadian group returns in a big way with an album that runs the gamut between moments of sheer beauty to aggressive hard rock - sometimes in the same song. Perhaps this album is less genuinely enigmatic than the band's previous efforts, but it turns out that Dirt is anything but.
Say Sue Me
Where We Were Together (Damnably Records)
While much of the music world focuses on South Korea's pop music scene (among other things going on on the Korean Peninsula), this prolific, bright, and peppy quartet is quietly making a name for themselves in the indie world. Though I usually like my indie/dream pop to be a bit more noisy and edgy, I have a really hard time disliking what they're doing.
Full Moon (Relative Pitch Records)
A litmus test of an album: is this minimalistic, unlistenable bunk or a somewhat nightmarish experimental work full of fascinating sonic textures? Mostly made up of wailing trumpet tones placed over ominous electronic backdrops, I'd call it anything but a dull listen.
Sooner / Undone (Test Pattern Records)
Technically, I'm cheating here, because this is actually a pair of two-song single releases, but the gorgeously hazy female vocals and harmonies combined with just the right amount of noise made this dreampop group's efforts a winner for me.
Tossing the folk punk of previous release ¡Piratas! in favor of a sound more rooted in garage and good ol' classic rock, Dark Oz's latest EP features a new band lineup, but retains the compelling and imaginative lyrics and songwriting of the previous effort.
Cheryl's top 5 albums of 2018 so far
The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness I and II (BIndrune Recordings)
A double record that sees sole member Austin Lunn take one folksy Americana on one side and raging, heartfelt black metal on the other.
Our Raw Heart (Relapse Records)
A near death experience allows Yob to explore the outer limits on a doom record shaded with psychedelia and humanity.
I Have Fought Against It But I Can't Any Longer (Thrill Jockey Records)
Pain is the main event here and the knowledge that sometimes the fight just isn't enough.
Desolation (20 Buck Spin)
Trad doom gets a modern makeover on the third full length from Colorado's Khemmis. Desolation never sounded so good.
Hekatomb (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
Nobody expected a new Funeral Mist record in 2018 but the Swedish black metal project surprised all with a ferocious record that spits bile at every opportunity.
Dennis's top 5 albums of 2018 so far
It’s Hard To Have Hope (Translation Loss)
Svalbard was an easy choice for this list. Everything they've released so far is top quality. It's Hard To Have Hope is no different. Read full review.
Cinereous Incarnate (I Voidhanger Records)
I like my music dark and that's just what Abstracter delivers. This album to me is not four songs put together, but one cohesive whole. I think it's described accurate enough in the review: "Put this record on and the light seems to be a bit dimmer, everything is bleaker than it was a moment ago." Read full review.
Misery Rites (Translation Loss)
This band just keeps on developing. I love where they are heading with this new record. There are only a few grindcore bands that steer the genre into new territory. Wake is one of those few. Read full review.
The Crimson Ghosts
Yet Not Human (Ring Of Fire Records)
Horrorpunk is one of my favorite musical genres. I've discovered the genre when The Misfits just released Famous Monsters. A whole new world full of monsters, zombies and other horrors opened up for me. The Crimson Ghosts are one of the best, if not the best band in this genre. I am so happy with this release. It has everything you could ask for in a modern horrorpunk album.
Unsung Prophets, Dead Messiahs (Century Media)
This album was kind of a surprise for me. I've never listened to Orphaned Land prior. I always thought, based on reviews, this would not be my cup of tea. And then I heard the track "Like Orpheus". I was blown away. This is the best track of 2018 so far. For that track alone this album deserves a spot in my list ("Like Orpheus" is not the only great track, there's plenty more to discover). Read full review.
Dennis's top 5 EPs of 2018 so far
Night Shift (Taken By Surprise)
One of my favourite punk bands are back and they came out swinging. I couldn't be happier. Although… a new album would be great! Read full review.
Rotterdam Ska Jazz Foundation ft. Bosco
Big Horns EP (WTF records)
Where my top 5 album list is filled with a lot of darkness, my EP list is a lot happier. This nice piece of work is 18 minutes of total awesomeness. Great stuff!! Read full review.
Local Warming (Morning Wood Records)
Another punk album. This one stuck with me more than I expected. It's catchy, sounds sunny and doesn't take itself too seriously. Recommended if you dig that 90's skatepunk sound. Read full review.
Escape the Herd (WTF Records)
Another punk band on my EP list with a throwback sound. This time it's a throwback to the heyday of H2O. I dig it. A longer contemplation (or review, if you like) is on it's way, I promise!
The Number Ones
Another Side of The Number Ones (Static Shock Records)
The Number Ones deliver again. This time (only) an EP. Do you like powerpop? You definitely need to check this band out. Do it! I promise: you won't regret it.
Loren's top 5 albums of 2018 so far
s/t (Dirt Cult Records)
There are a few punk subgenres I’m a sucker for. Count super melodic, garage-filtered punk among them. Chiller is concise, punchy, a touch rough-around the edges and, more important, they’re fun but with real meaning behind the songs. Read full review.
Eyesore (Moniker Records)
There are so many things Royal Brat does right on Eyesore. It’s fast, short and angry punk that checks all the usual boxes – but in unexpected ways. The anger is self-directed, the politics are complex and reflective and, it both frowns at the modern world with a hard-to-pinpoint optimism at its heart. Read full review.
Sick of Space (Red Scare Industries)
The Brokedowns have picked a sound and mastered it. Each new record brings subtle growth and biting insight piled atop something that’s alternated melodic and pop and heavy as a brick. Sick of Space reminds me of the time when punk was a wide-reaching term without a thousand hyphens attached to each band description.
All Nerve (4AD)
I’m continually surprised how much The Breeders can touch me with their music, especially their output in the new millennium. It’s subtle, understated and I’m happy the band keeps releasing relevant new material instead of focusing on the reunion circuit. Read full review.
Semi-Permanent (Rat Queen Records)
Kitten Forever might gain attention for how they carry themselves and embrace DIY, but there’s far more to the band than their ethics. It’s rare to find a band that embraces anger and celebration to such a degree, and even more rare for it to be so fluid. Read full review.
Nathan's top 10 albums of 2018 so far
Kudu (International Anthem)
Jaimie Branch and Jason Nazary push their trumpet and drums through a wall of synthesizer, creating an ethereal passageway that will placate jazz aficionados and noise fans alike. Is there a more recognizable horn in contemporary jazz than Jaimie Branch? I don’t think so.
Awon & Phoniks
The Actual Proof (Don’t Sleep)
Laid back, boom-bap, summery vibes for the backyard barbecue sesh. Hip-hop for the conscious, or, you know, the woke.
Stiff Prescription (Static Shock)
Free-from, scrambled brain, psycho art-punk from Leeds. A kaleidoscope vomitorium of punk’s past, present, and future.
Demo 2018 (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Darkened, post-punk / skinhead musical convergence from Athens, Greece. Leatherboys lovemaking in the alleyways when the wife is away. Read full review.
Weather or Not (Rhymesayers)
“Here to save the day and steal the game. It ain’t a crime if you don’t get caught… This is not your thing, it’s ours. Gangsters got this thing about flowers. Rappers got this thing about power.” – Evidence (“Jim Dean”)
Perfect Texture (Iron Lung)
Their brilliance lies in the subtleties. Next level, art-infected D-beat from Melbourne, Australia. Think: less skulls and bullet belts, more vibrant color and splattered paint.
Nat Birchall meets Al Breadwinner
Sounds Almighty (Tradition Disc)
Instrumental roots dub reggae featuring legendary Jamaican musicians, recorded on vintage analogue equipment and mixed by dub master Al Breadwinner. The soundtrack to making breakfast, soaking in the morning rays, and getting lifted.
Punk Life is Shit (Iron Lung)
Expressive, cacophonous raw punk / D-beat from Olympia, WA. Is the world going to end in a nuclear catastrophe? It certainly sounds like it.
Dirge of Escapism (Revelation)
Punishing thrash metal / punk / hardcore potpourri from the Bay Area. Musically and lyrically forceful. Lucy Xavier’s lyrics speak to the paradigms and categorizations regarding class, gender, and sexuality, and how to dismantle them.
Worship (Iron Lung)
Ugly, menacing, maniacal, unsettling… adequate descriptions of the clamor put forth by these Italian punks. A voice rises from the underbelly of society… We will be trampled upon no longer.
Robert's top 5 albums of 2018 so far
Split (Translation Loss Records)
Amid screams of epileptic fury, an unthinkable pleasure froths forth in rabid fulmination as Starkweather yanks the listener back and forth, stopping and running through a manic depressive landscape. After the waves of aching, Concealment explicates Starkweathers nightmare further, forcing down a more digestible pill to swallow, despite drowning us in their constant musical fluidity. Read full review.
The Road to Calvary (Shield Recordings/Assault Records)
This album is what I love about hardcore: a distillation of what is within reach, boiling everything down to its essentials. No Fat. Minimal philosophy, no overreaching, just raw nuanced opinion told through frustration and anger. In the most mature way, it is a youthful voice to folk wisdom in the modern age. Read full review.
The Sciences (Third Man Records)
A better album title would be The Alchemists. They've found the lapis philsophorum, enabling them to turn Black Sabbath's base "metal" into gold. In a haze of smoke they... wait... I forgot, what? Read full review.
Current (Unday Records)
Madensuyu’s bubbly swirling flow springs forth like a bottle of sparking water. A veritable wellspring of pep, and childlike attitude step lightly in their ambiguity, as they shake their tooshes in the mirror. Read full review.
The Strife of Love in a Dream (Relapse Records)
Although such weighty themes make Miracle a cryptic listen, The Strife of Love in a Dream is a cloudless sulfur feeding from a morning glory. Just as the prophet in the cave feeds from the earth’s gasses that grant supreme illusive visions, within this albums walls ‘a hundred doors, a hundred entries grace…the sound of Sibil’s words as many times rebound.’ Read full review.
Spyros's top 5 albums of 2018 so far
ION (Profound Lore Records)
The sound of Portal defined the far edges of underground extreme metal. From one record to the next it felt like the band was digging deeper into the most abhorrent areas of the human psyche. But with ION, they take a step back and instead unleash a record that retains the harsh characteristics, but it also introduces more solid structures and addictive hooks. Read full review.
Gang Gang Dance
Kazuashita (4AD Records)
It has been a while since we last heard from Gang Gang Dance. The release of Eye Contact in 2011 revealed a deeply experimental, psychedelic induced pop vision unlike any other. Seven years of silence is a long time, but Kazuashita brings back that same magic. More introspective, more abstract the record sees the band taking a free form approach, but one that is not less mesmerizing.
Mouvement (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
In 2015 Chaos Echoes spawned into the extreme metal scene with Transient, a very interesting release that however felt overly ambitious. Too many components, patched together held back the underlying concept of the band. Condensing that sound into fewer parts, Mouvement sees band brew the essence of black metal, death metal and doom with the transcendental elements of kosmische Musik to produce a game changing record in the extreme metal domain.
Rising: A Requiem for Father Murphy (Avant! Records)
Closing chapters are never easy, and especially if a band is as diverse and uncompromising as Father Murphy. Through the years they have morphed into various forms, never standing still. For their final chapter now, the band takes a minimalistic approach, creating an otherworldly experience as they perform this magnificent swan song. Read full review.
Chemistry Lessons Volume 1 (Mute Records)
Having participated in acts like Throbbing Gristle and Chris & Cosey, Chris Carter is nothing if not a historic figure in the experimental music scene. In his first solo release in 20 years, Carter returns back to the fundamentals and unleashes a record that encapsulates the fundamental attributes of electronic music.