Sure.... confusion exists at the cross roads of popular and independent music. The music festivals we've cherished now more closely reveal the Super Bowl. Tons of Octogenarians have reunited to pay for their 5th divorce (but, who's counting).
2018 took an interesting turn: Hip Hop has given way to trap music, the singer/songwriter genre seem to have taken a year off, guitars that were being replaced by keyboards are now being replaced by guitars.
With a million different avenues to making music, the entry point is easier but enhanced exposure all the more difficult.
In 2018 Damien Jurado gave us an unforgettable love letter to the Seattle that was. Lucero returned with ghost stories from the South. Nada Surf and The Mountain Goats got well-deserved tribute albums.
Bands like Mom Jeans, Middle Kids and Nap Eyes established their place in the indie lexicon.
Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists and Superchunk proved themselves as relevant as ever.
In the most important year for the establishment of the female voice bands like Hop Along, Steady Holiday, Camp Cope and Boy Genius gave us an unapologetic explosion of the glass ceiling.
We were afforded posthumous releases from Lil Peep, The Glands and Richard Swift.
Mr Tweedy took away the fuzz and gave us a down home retrospective of his life in print and musical format.
Here are the Top 5 Albums of 2018:
5. C'est La Vie by Phosphorescent
" You've got nothing to doubt or fear... not as long as I'm standing here "
A beautiful blend of swamp escape fan boat instrumentals coupled with Matthew Houck's most accessible tunes.... at moments poppy. The birth of a child creating a new muse. This album takes the listener through every emotion. A terrifying soundtrack back drop intervened by rollicking singer/songwriter fellowships. Houck keeps an eyebrow raised while softening some of the edges that flipped his former work from the turntable.
4. Big Red Machine (self-titled)
" and you know we'll need a minute to repair so when you teach em better teach em to share "
Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Aaron Dessner (The National) have established themselves as Indie Rock's collaborators to introduce new talent, so it's only logical that they would combine forces. This record has the vocal layering of a Bon Iver record with the sonic complexity we've come to know as The National's repartee. Teeming with emotion, lyrical complexity and dense in it's composition; this record can be on rotation all day. Remarkable!
3. Skylight by Pinegrove
" whoever you are.... I've been waiting for you "
2016 saw Pinegrove's meteoric rise. They were sidelined for a year in reflection of an alleged incident later revealed as a less-than-credible report of "inappropriate influence" by an unlicensed mental health resource who breached client confidentiality. On Skylight, Evan Stephens Hall respectfully extols the transition without animosity or conviction. Pinegrove emerge more thoughtful than ever. Better suited to continue the intimate, emotional wanderings that are their journey in song composition.
2. Be More Kind by Frank Turner
" You should spend more time with the do's than with the don't's"
We need Frank Turner in 2018. His reflections on politics, diplomatic relations and the right to exercise individual influence are raw without over-calculation. Frank's outrage with the current state of world politics are coupled with an unwavering call for kindness. The punk rocker turned folk singer touches every nerve in the human psyche without apology while willing to try harder to get better.
1. Animal Companionship by Advance Base
" Gary's beautiful at night by the lights of the refinery, it's like Christmas in Nightmare City... it's absolutely shocking "
Owen Ashworth began his career two decades ago speaking his asthmatic mono-tone over a multitude of toy Casio plug-ins. Before there were programmed samples, Owen created them live on stage through rotating devices while speaking remarkably profound stories.
Animal Companionship is Owen's crowned jewel; a journey through recovery, relocation and the humble recognition of the moments in-between. Our narrator celebrates mediocrity as a welcome means to survival... all while walking his dog.
A thousand listens reveal a thousand perspectives. Owen is among the greatest lyricist of our era.
In Humble Summation of the Year that Was:
Rock is not dead. The independent ideology has never been more prominent. There are amazing people writing amazing songs in a variety of genre across the world. If you can't find it, you're not looking hard enough.
In a hopeless world, the one thing we can rely upon is music!
"It's a town full of losers, I'm pulling out of here to win"
Thank You For Listening,