Music kind of makes my world go 'round. So I like to list the stuff that got me most excited and inspired. Generally, I tend to put all my favorite stuff in one lump, but this year I definitely had some favorites over others, so it's ranked. It was tough because this really has been an excellent year for stuff that I'm into. One thing remains consistent though- I like guitar-based music. So there's that. The section with my favorite shows I saw is just in chronological order. So yeah, feel free to compare thins with your own list, discuss, and if there's things on here you haven't heard this year I highly encourage you to give it a listen and see what you think.
FAVORITE RECORDS 2018
TILE, “Come On Home Stranger”
I started getting excited about this record in the fall of 2017. It didn’t come out until somewhere in August of this year. That’s a lot of waiting. But it sure paid off. Ever since they released their last full length a few years back I have been anxiously awaiting new stuff from Tile and they delivered in a big way. It’s everything I want in a heavy record- huge dumb riffs, the type of distortion and feedback that sounds like a garbage truck being sucked into a jet plane’s intake, vocals that are shouted with total disdain for any pleasantries the locals of their hometown of Allentown, PA may extend to their neighbors, and pushing that sound so that it teeters on the edge of catchy songs with great songwriting and the endless chasm of unlistenable noise. It’s a perfect balancing act. Honestly, they just kill it. So damned heavy and so damned good.
TURNSTILE, “Time and Space”They write incredibly catchy and fun hardcore without being corny that has just as much energy and excitement as early Bad Brains and wears its influence like a badge of honor. They’re also the wildest live band going. Listen to this record once and you will have energy for days.
HOT SNAKES, “Jericho Sirens”
When a band can take about 14 years off and then come back and kick the shit out of everyone else, like they spent that entire time honing their skills, it’s a beautiful thing. Even more, Hot Snakes may have made their best album. That’s completely subjective. I’m still considering if this is their overall best record. It’s definitely at least number two in their discography for me. It’s all things off-the-rails, aggressive, fun, and completely knowledgeable of the fact that each member of this band is a total master of their craft.
RED HARE, “Little Acts Of Destruction”
This was most definitely one of my most anticipated records for this year and it did not disappoint. There’s something about bands that make great music, but due to time and distance they’re pretty limited to playing out only every once in awhile, or making a record once every few years, that really keeps me excited about any sort of news they have. And it keeps me on my toes because I know Red Hare is one of those bands that are always going to deliver. Every single time. In fact, basically any member of this band could do something and I know it’s going to be quality. They blend that DC/Dischord punk/melodic post-hardcore with a jagged edge only seasoned pros (or architects of that style) can create. An excellent record from start to finish.
WRONG, “Feel Great”
The album where Wrong has totally come into their own. To be clear, I have had absolutely no issue with this band pulling a Helmet worship thing because they do it incredibly well. However, they have traded some of the riffy grooves for speedy technicality and it’s made this band a little more their own thing. It’s still a parade of riffs, crazy solos, stop-start rhythms, and barked vocals. They’re just getting better and better at it.
JAYE JAYLE, “No Trail”
I was a little hesitant on my man Evan’s new-ish band when he started fumbling around with solo type stuff a few years back under the name Jaye Jayle. But within those few years the project found some life and direction and now they’re a fully-staffed touring machine playing an amalgamation of really weird stuff. Well, it’s more like stuff I don’t typically find myself listening to, but I’m really feeling this newest record, which melds all these elements of neo-folk, Krautrock, dusty desert trance-sessions, and other stuff that might be more at home on Thrill Jockey or Drag City. Whatever it is, it got me hooked and I think this is an excellent surprise of a record.
Oh hi, we’re a new band from Texas and we’re about to fucking destroy you. Yeah this just really popped up out of nowhere and completely blew me away. I previously made a comparison that this band sounded like the offspring of Unwound and Unsane, and it’s really true. I mean, I don’t know why no one else went for that combo in the past, but this trio nails it- super dirty and heavy aggression, mixed with fuzzy production, vocals through a bashed-up microphone, and more strangely melodic sounds… like some filthy-ass early 90’s emo band with great songwriting chops. This is probably the most exciting new band to me right now.
MARRIAGE AND CANCER, s/t
Once I moved out to Portland I had the chance to see a number of local bands do their thing and within a couple of months of living here Marriage and Cancer released their debut full length, and I have to say, I’ve never heard a band quite like them. Easily the loudest damn band in town and with a jangly, weird, heavy, and strange sound all their own they found a way to make the wild sounds of bands like Drive Like Jehu sound downright creepy, discomforting, and melancholy. It’s quite a feat and as odd as that may sound it still rocks my socks off.
COMING DOWN, s/t EPAnd then they altered the lineup a little bit and are still busy as fuck adults. But they manage to get a bit more done and have nailed their sound, which is a total DC/Rev Summer/Give/Swiz amalgamation of righteous hooks, rocking riffs, barked anthemic vocals, and spittin’ in yr coffee attitude. Achilles/How We Are/Like Wolves homies tearing it up with six perfect songs.
SHAME, “Songs Of Praise”
A bunch of this list is loaded towards early in the year and this young English group’s debut is among the crop released right after 2018 got started. Barely old enough to drink (on this side of the pond anyway) this non-stop touring machine blends incredibly catchy post-punk with snarly/smarmy aggression that has the lads in all the pubs smashing pints and doing other funny British adjectives that we don’t say over here. Far and away one of the wildest live bands I was lucky enough to see twice this year.
GOUGE AWAY, “Burnt Sugar”
I generally keep things to a top 10, but this one just had to sneak in there. The progression of this band’s sound is nothing short of mind-blowing and is becoming this fully-realized awesome thing. I totally love when a band can go from being a hardcore-punk band to sounding like something significantly different while still being aggressive and still being hardcore/punk as fuck. Gouge Away are one of those rare breeds of bands. They’ve definitely adopted some great Jesus Lizard/Superchunk vibes to their grungy, wild hardcore and I’m loving it.
FAVORITE SHOWS OF 2018:
2.19.18- Shame and Dreamdecay at Doug Fir Lounge. The young English punk band on their first US tour going completely apeshit and impressing the hell out of the 50 or so people who showed up on a weeknight.
4.10.18- Finally, after twenty-some-odd years, getting to see The Breeders. They may have played a huge place like the Crystal Ballroom, but they made it feel super cozy and intimate.
5.16.18- I hadn’t seen Hot Snakes since 2001 or 2002, so seeing them completely tear up the Wonder Ballroom was incredibly exciting. John Reis kept leaning into the audience, making them kiss his guitar on multiple occasions.
6.23.18- I’ve never seen Will Haven and I have thoroughly enjoyed their records for over 20 years. They played a perfect set at the Star Theater of all the songs I’d want to hear and they had tons of energy.
7.8.18- There’s a lot of ‘I haven’t seen this band in forever’ in this list and Neurosis is another one that I have not seen since the beginning of this century I think. But they were every bit as crushing and entrancing as ever when they leveled the Roseland over the summer.
8.11.18- I ventured up to Seattle for the Sub Pop 30th anniversary and saw the always entertaining Pissed Jeans (with Dreamdecay) do what they do so wonderfully at the Crocodile.
A timeless band that cannot be topped, and pulling out some deep cuts, along with all the stuff you’d expect from the Chicago legends.
10.27.18- Report Suspicious Activity set specifically at Fest in Gainesville, FL. Not only was it good to be back in a town I enjoy, but to see this gathering of old punk vets/pros work their magic in front of a small crowd was a rare and beautiful thing.
11.14.18- Drug Church and Gouge Away at Black Water. A perfect pairing of two of the hardcore scene’s more exciting bands who go together wonderfully playing a tiny punk bar. Excellent sets from each.