My favorite romantic comedy is High Fidelity. I'm old. I get it. In the spirit of Cusack, I'm going to make a list of music that helped me through 2018. You will find various rock and metal acts, some electronica, and even a smidgen of hip-hop. Google Music, YouTube, and Spotify playlists for your listening pleasure, including honorable mentions that I did not write a blurb about. Most of these songs are on incredible albums, so album names are included. Ready? Let's do it.
10. Fiona Apple - Tidal - Slow Like Honey "You remember me like a melody. Yeah, I'll haunt the world inside you." Fiona is a master of sultry, silky jazz that bites like a kitten wrapped in razor wire. Feeling wistful? Fiona has been there, and she will show you the way through it.
9. King Buffalo - Longing to Be the Mountain - Eye of the Storm This chorus-heavy meditation builds from a sleepy Sunday morning to an evening star gazing session, to a peyote fueled bonfire, to a crescendo of snowboarding too fast down a run that's just a little too advanced for you then suddenly you're back at the bonfire, flirting with that girl and it's going really well. I'm a big fan of movement in songs, and Eye of the Storm goes places.
8. Muse - Simulation Theory - Pressure This was the year where I finally got past Matt Bellamy's voice and started to appreciate Muse. It didn't hurt that Pressure smacks of my favorite Queens of the Stone Age attitudes. The guitar pushing a sweet little melody through the ands makes every measure a joy. The music videos for this album are charming, and you should check them out.
7. Helms Alee - Sleepwalking Sailors - Tumescence This song, this band, isn't concerned with polish. They are the ocean mid-storm, they are the sirens perched atop bloodied crags, they are the captain raging against his failure. They are perfect.
6. Flying Lotus - You're Dead! - Never Catch Me (Featuring Kendrick Lamar) Flying Lotus has been a constant trip-hop mainstay for over a decade. His smooth, tranquil melodies paired with Kendrick Lamar's frantic rhymes are a sight to behold. Then Flying Lotus lays a groove that puts drum and bass and glitch artists to shame. Never doubt Flying Lotus.
5. Ghost of Paraguay - On The Run EP - The Swan This track is beautiful, low key ambiance. When I needed to find myself. When I needed to get firm footing while I was off balance. When I needed to see the beauty in melancholy, Ghost of Paraguay had my back.
4. The Glitch Mob - See Without Eyes - Enter Formless I would go to clubs more if I could expect to hear Glitch Mob. Enter Formless invokes the spirit of dance music without being dancable. The beat is subtly complicated, and flirts with dubstep while staying clear of the genre's more obnoxious aspects.
3. The Sword - Apocryphon - Cloak of Feathers The Sword captures what I think the standard of Rock and Roll should be. A detractor might say that description makes them sound generic, but they are incorrect. Their song writing belies danger, sexiness, adventure, triumph, and strength. The Sword knows exactly what they're doing, and they do it better than most of what I hear.
2. Carpenter Brut - TRILOGY - Le perv Dark, squarewave, retro futuristic, driving, determined. TRILOGY is there for any journey through flickering streetlights and neon hypnosis. Carpenter Brut delivers on Daft Punk's promises.
1. Red Fang - Murder The Mountains - Wires My 2018 was dominated by Red Fang. If I had to pick one song out of their beautiful discography, Wires would be the one. "It's hard to believe but I can see how there could be so little left to lose. Momma's not okay, she lights a candle every day that you're away. Today could be the one that burns the mother fucker down, the final act of grace." Everyone knows that feeling of rock bottom. Everyone knows that feeling of concern to the point of anger. The longing lead guitar backed by the determined rhythm guitar and the bombs-away bass paint a picture of a hellish trench battlefield reluctantly braved by a confused boy who wants nothing more than the safety of his loved ones. Red Fang consistently sets out with intent, delivers on it, and do so with a smile and jabbing elbow that lets you know that the darkness is ephemeral.
Most Disappointing: If you had told me I'd make a list like this in a year a new Perfect Circle album came out, and that I wouldn't include anything from that album I'd have called you crazy. Yet here we are. The Eat The Elephant fell flat for me. In a world where social media shares and elevates seemingly considered opinions, Maynard's take on the world doesn't seem all that special. Maynard's appeal to me has always been his ability to speak to the human condition, and to do so with humor, metaphor, and artifice. This album did none of that, and it leaves me concerned for the next Tool record.