YEAR END LISTSthese year end lists are largely unedited, last touched at the end of the year each of them was written, starting in 2015. as a note, i have added some things to my 2018 list, which feels fair since it only just turned 2019.
Hello! The records I listened to, shows I saw, and people I met in 2018 made me feel way more hopeful for music (and the possibility of an anti-capitalist, underground creative community) than I have in half a decade. And honestly? leafing through “official” best-of-2018 lists made me forget that. But reading my friends’ lists made me remember! So I figured I’d better write what I’m feeling down before we all succumb to whatever we are told to feel and I forget how lucky we all are.
I think it’s really funny to make a sincere Facebook note about yr feelings in 2018. This shit is goofy as hell. But did I still write some emo shit? I have a cancer zodiac tattoo on my arm, what do you think.
Here are some albums that struck me this year (no particular order):
Alien Boy - Sleeping Lessons - HANDS down my favorite album this year. A fucking perfect mix of emo, pop punk, and like, shoegazey post-punk. The production on this album is incredible, AND they still BRING IT live. I guess that’s what happens when yr a group of dedicated musicians playing really, really well written songs!? Also it’s gay and everyone in this band is a fucking air/water/fire angel. If you are reading, please check this out.
Notches - Almost Ruined Everything - The Notches homies told me that someone in like, Germany or something wrote a review of this record and called it good but way more cheesy than the older stuff. I totally disagree. Cheesy? No way. Catchier than the older stuff? Yeah, probably. This record is strong as hell from start to finish, introducing Lemonheads inspired melodies to riffy, energetic pop punk. My only complaint is that they never play Cymbals live.
Black Thought - Streams of Thought vol. 1 & 2 - No one wants to hear what I have to say about these records, but I will tell you that they are fucking incredible. Any “official” music publication’s year-end list that did not include either of these records is run by people who have no clue what they’re talking about.
Long Neck - Will This Do? - This was a good chunk of what I listened to for the first few months of the year. Lily strikes the perfect lyrical balance of feeling and imagery, and the band is tight as hell.
Mitski - Be The Cowboy - Best Mitski album yet. I am willing to bet money that anyone who is shitting on this record being included on like, everyone’s year end list (a surprising amount of people) hasn’t actually given it a listen or has some wacky personal beef with the concept of Mitski getting big that I don’t understand.
Bacchae - Bacchae - Bacchae is a band I instantly liked when Razi played them for me, and this is a record I knew I was going to like as soon as I knew it existed. I wasn’t disappointed! This is 4 songs of tight, thoughtful post-punk from folks I don’t know personally but who seem to really fucking get it.
Butch Baby - Stoned Butch Blues - With a name like Stoned Butch Blues, and hectic punk songs about queerness and trauma, of course I’m going to love this record (and if you’ve made it this far, you will too). I’m really excited to exist in Massachusetts DIY at the same time as this band.
Great Weights - Great Weights - This record straight up got me back into emo. Or maybe I decided to finally listen to this at the beginning of my adult emo phase (but to be clear: it has never been a phase), but I’m crediting Great Weights with the whole thing. This is a record that recalls the exact type of 90s-inspired emo that I love, but that I never before was able to find my place comfortably within. I was struck by how musically strong this record is, but absolutely captivated by how great the vocals are, and how clearly they lyrically marked that Great Weights is emo that I can find comfort in, not alienation.
didi - Like Memory Foam - I have been waiting for another didi album since the moment that I finished the first one. I don’t mean to say that the first one got old, because it didn’t. Listening to didi for the first time made me feel like I needed to know what would happen next. I needed to know what else they had to say! I needed to know: where would they go from such a strong debut!? They went even further with this, somehow. An already incredible band got even better. The Melody! The Lyrics! The way the guitars and drums and bass meet each other sonically! This record takes me somewhere, and I am so happy we now have it. Still, I can’t wait for season 3 of didi.
Thin Lips - Chosen Family - This is so genius and sincere!! The songwriting is tight, the lyrics are honest and relatable, the melodies sit just right. This record flows in an extremely mature and gripping way. It’s gay. And on top of it all, Chrissy’s got fucking RIFFS (duh). I fucking love Thin Lips and I fucking love Chosen Family.
Coherence - of alternate spaces - This record came out at the exact right time for me to hear it. STRONG post-hardcore.
Noname - Room 25 - It took me a while to appreciate this one like I should. Beats + rhymes tight as hell.
Julia Holter - Aviary - I hadn’t vibed with the last few Julia Holter albums as much as I was expecting to. With Aviary, I felt that instant click I had felt in the past with Julia Holter again. This record has created a totally different world.
Pac Div - 1st Baptist - They’re back in FULL force. I listened to only this record for a week straight and I don’t regret it.
Yuzo Iwata - Daylight Moon - I knew nothing about Yuzo Iwata when I first heard this record (I think someone posted it on facebook?) and was completely blown away. One of those records that captures yr full attention no matter what else is going around you.
Royce Da 5'9" - Book of Ryan - Autobiographical album. Fucking amazing, rhymes are amazing, beats are amazing, features are amazing, honest + real. Fucking love this record.
Human People - Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears - UM I FORGOT THIS CAME OUT IN 2018 not 2017!!!!! i just realized this like, a week ago and thought “fuck my life my list is ruined”!!!!!!!! i have been waiting for a human people full-length for literal years now and i would like to thank them for bringing it into this world. best band best people. Radiator Water is the fucking jam. So is Black Flowers. So is California. So is Bottle. So is the whole album.
Jean Grae & Quelle Chris - Everything’s Fine - Listened to this a ton this summer and didn’t even register in my memory that it came out in 2018 not 2017!!! Another embarrassment for me. Dream team.
Corey Flood - Wish You Hadn’t - ANOTHER thing I thought came out in 2017!!! This is fucking amazing gothy/post-punky but also poppy stuff from some angels out of Philly. I can’t listen to this album on bandcamp anymore cuz I did too much. Gonna buy it rn. I want Corey Flood to record more!!! Thanks.
Speedy Ortiz - Twerp Verse - Probably my favorite Speedy release since Major Arcana? Which is saying a lot because I love every Speedy Ortiz record a whole fucking lot.
Here is other stuff I liked a whole whole lot:
+Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog
+Kali Uchis - Isolation
+In Trouble - Demos
+Infant Island - s/t LP
+Roseate - Wiltaway
+Lucy Dacus - Historian
+Jabber - Forever
+Closer - All This Will Be
+Lydia Deetz - Coping
+Landowner - Blatant
+Tact - Interim
SOME ALBUMS / EPS / DEMOS / SONGS THAT CAME OUT IN 2017 THAT I THOUGHT WERE FUCKING SICK AND WHY[this is in no particular order (or, more accurately, in some sort of vague order that i’m not really sure how to explain). i’m going to say nice things about each one after because fuck taste-making music press i can talk about shit i like in detail in a facebook note and so can you and it’s not weird at all. i probably wrote about yr band and yr probably not even going to read this whole thing. that’s cool. love y’all.]
1. GUTLESS BY SUSIE DERKINS* - song of the year. lyrically what i have been looking for in diy/punk pop for a MINUTE now. every time i read the lyrics to another song that sam writes i’m absolutely blown away that my friend is such a fucking genius. susie derkins full band is about to blow everyone’s mind in 2018 (including mine).
2. Aye Nako - Silver Haze - honestly the best album that came out in 2017. if you didn’t listen to silver haze, listen to it before you make yr own lil facebook status list or whatever. if you did listen to it and it’s not one of your favorite records of the year, sit the fuck down and listen to it again. emotionally resonant songs with genius guitar/bass/drum work. there is literally nothing bad about this album. it is a masterpiece.
3. SOAR - dark/gold - one of my favorite bands going right now. wilt was probably my favorite record of 2016, and dark/gold did it for me again in 2017. i felt more inspired than i had at a show since probably like 2013 when i saw SOAR play in connecticut a few months ago.
4. Beautiful Woman - Skeet Music* & Hot Mess* & Evil Beach Music Video - duh beautiful woman is on my list. i love them a lot. they know whats up. FFO john waters, being gay and lonely, no parents. not for pretentious music fans. the evil beach music video is so special 2 me personally as one of the STARS but mostly just because liz made it and she is a fucking genius. i got to see her work on this and it just filled me and my lil heart with love for her. go ask her to make yr music video in 2018, she’s a professional.
5. Worriers - Survival Pop - lyrically relatable as hell. i love pop punk, i love this band.
6. Rexmanningday. - Demo* - i love emo music. listened to this then listened to four minute mile on repeat. very, very great band and i can’t wait for the LP.
7. Palehound - A Place I’ll Always Go - this record blew me the fuck away. i expected it to be good but i didn’t expect it to be THIS good, you know? ellen is someone i have known to be really talented and thoughtful, but this record added another layer to everything i knew about all that. the album flows incredibly, the guitar work is AMAZING, the drum work is amazing and the whole thing is delivered as carefully, lovingly, and meditatively as a record can be. i always feel a whole lot when i listen to this. also tbh unrelated to this list, palehound put on my favorite live shows this year. not once was i disappointed watching any of their sets. go to a fucking palehound show and pick up this record.
8. Pandemix - Scale Models Of Atrocities † - can’t say enough good things about this record. a punk joint made by a group of people who know what the fuck they are talking about.
9. Petite - II* - i know literally nothing about this band. Gen sent me a link to this EP a few weeks ago and i haven’t stopped listening to it. Petite sound like what i wish a ton of other bands that i want to be stoked on but just feel lukewarm about sounded like. this hits the spot, though.
10. Waxahatchee - Out In The Storm - easily the best waxahatchee record since American Weekend. lyrically consistent and mature with really smart/gripping melodies, lead guitar, drums, dynamics, and harmonies. this is a record that knows what it is doing.
11. Lilith - Apology Plant † - one of my favorite bands in boston right now. i listened to this NONstop when it came out, and still put it on pretty frequently. i can’t wait for this band to put out more material, wow.
12. That new Fleabite song that was on the Get Better Records Comp† - ALL of the new fleabite shit is so good, jesus christ, and this is probably my favorite song of all the new ones. for a band that has ALWAYS been extremely catchy, fleabite has matured in a really, really incredible way. i mean, they’re somehow always taking the perfect shape; each new release is just what i want to be listening to at the moment. jade and joe crush it. go see this band whenever you have a chance. so excited for a new record.
13. Heavy Pockets - Split w/ Charles* - why don’t more people talk about heavy pockets? as always, they deliver intelligent as fuck lyrics and catchy as fuck pop punk tuneage layed down behind ‘em. HP is one of the most exciting bands to come out of new england in a minute. listen to this, then listen to Mopeless if you havent. i don’t know everyone in this band well at all, but i feel 100% confident saying this is a band that GETS it.
14. Perfume-V - Bless Bless Bless Bless† - perfume-v is a band that i knew next to nothing about when i booked a gig for them this year. they ended up being one of the best bands i have booked a gig for or played with, period. i’d also put their tour mates, Alien Boy’s record on this list but that came out in 2016. still incredibly true of both bands, and still incredibly stoked on both bands.
15. Cloudgayzer - Upboot Reboot* - I forget how I first found this band but i remember being so fucking stoked upon listening to this EP (?) for the first time cataloging books at my library job. very chill folks very queer freaks VERY good music. riley if yr reading this hello come play massachusetts.
16. Thee Arcadians - II (The Sonelab Sessions)† - this record is incredible and it didn’t get even an eighth of the listens it rightly should have. the first half is a rock and roll / power poppy hit parade, and the second half is a heavy metal inspired freak out. it sounds confusing, but it makes sense i promise (probably because every song is just SO GOOD). it’s structured in this weird way so that like, once you’ve had yr fill of power pop type jams, it hits you with heavy metal. i don’t know how they did it. ian, elliot, and niko are genius freaks.
17. Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean - Decay and Other Hopes Against Progress* - maybe the most stoked i’ve been on a new local heavy band in a minute. which is saying a lot because there are a LOT of very very good heavy bands from western massachusetts. really great sludge/doom metal. this band likes thou.
18. Taurean - Demo* - another band i know next to nothing about. some jams that just ended up on my computer and do not disappoint. really good power poppy (or maybe pop punk should i say? punk pop?) stuff that i ended up listening to a good amount this year.
19. Strawberry Runners - In The Garden, In The Night† - emi is an INCREDIBLE songwriter. strawberry runners is a band that i remember seeing live for the first time, being blown away by the songwriting, and wishing there was some sort of recorded version of the tunes so i wouldn’t have to wait to see them live again to hear the songs again. you know those songs that just get caught in your head? and you feel the lyrics in your gut and you just NEED to go back and listen to them more and untangle it all? well, here they are recorded!
20. Allison Crutchfield - Tourist In This Town - i don’t like synthy stuff like this usually, and i didn’t listen to this record until about two months ago when i was going through an emotional freakout. like, you know those obligatory rilo kiley binges for when you’re feeling alone and like absolute shit? but then you overplay every rilo kiley record? then you listen to the voyager to death and have no clue where to turn because yr out of rilo kiley AND jenny lewis solo material? one of those. i kind of happenstancely put this on when i had no clue what to listen to, and it REALLY did the trick. this is a record that gripped me lyrically more than anything else, and honestly a record i wasn’t expecting to like as much as I do. but listening to this front to back and sitting down with the lyrics, really really digesting it all hit like a ton of bricks, and a lot of these tracks still get me.
21. Q - Relaxed Mike* - Q is a band that Jacob showed me a really crazy live video of like, last year. there are a lot of really crazy live videos of this band, so let me be more clear: you know the one where they smash the table? that one. i didn’t know if i liked it at first because i’m a big baby and i was like “why are they breaking that thing someone is going to get hurt”. i’m here to report that upon growing as a freaqy individual this year, i’ve grown to fucking love it, and this lil two song joint they put out in 2017 bangs.
22. SAP - demo* - some of the most exciting punk shit coming out of massachusetts right now. idk much about this band but i am very excited to see them play gens punk show 2k18. hell yeah.
23. Radiator Hospital - Play The Songs You Like - a really solid album by a very good band. these freaks know how to write incredible, unpretentious pop songs. i like radiator hospital for a lot of reasons, but feel the need to note that i am consistently blown away by how appropriate, driving, and catchy their bass lines are. this record is no exception to that, and no exception to their usual repertoire of great punk pop jams that get stuck in yr head for days. case in point: i have long distance dedication stuck in my head as i’m writing this and i haven’t even listened to that song in like weeks.
24. Xylitol - IS TOXIC TO PIGS??* - HELL YES. that’s all i’m going to say because its clear why this record rips, right?* = free download, go get it
† = less than $5 to download, go get it
personal favorite releases of 2015:
1. Worriers - Imaginary Life
2. All Dogs - Kicking Every Day
3. Aye Nako - The Blackest Eye
4. U.S. Girls - Half Free
5. Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer
6. Des Ark - Everything Dies
7. Fleabite - T.T.Y.L.
8. Lady Queen Paradise - Voice Memo Love Songs
9. Cyberbully Mom Club - Footwear
10. G.L.O.S.S. - Demo
11. Tomboy - Sweetie
12. Sheer Mag - II 7″
13. FKA Twigs - M3LL155X
14. DAME - Charm School
15. Sleater-Kinney - No Cities to Love
other 2015 stuff i’ve been stoked on:
1. Hop Along - Painted Shut
2. Didi - Didi
3. Joanna Gruesome - Peanut Butter
4. Big Moth - Big Moth EP
5. Protomatyr - The Agent Intellect
6. Gauche - Get Away With Gauche
7. Girlpool - Before The World Was Big
8. Shady Hawkins - The Last Dance
9. Tankini - Do U Suk
10. Space Fiend - Hidden Place
all of these are personal favorites//i don’t care whats hype rn and i mostly listen to music by women. i’ve linked 2 everything you can download for free so check them out! honestly only making a year end list at this point because everyone else i know who has made an extensive list is a white dude and i don’t care what they have to say ;)-----------------------------------------
personal favorite releases of 2014:
1. Priests- Bodies and Control and Money and Power
2. St. Vincent- St. Vincent
3. Grouper- Ruins
4. Mitski- Bury Me at Makeout Creek
5. Free Cake For Every Creature- "pretty good"
6. Frankie Cosmos- Zentrophy
7. Jawbreaker Reunion- Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club
8. Punch- They Don't Have To Believe
9. Mallory- To The Hollow Night
10. Cayetana- Nervous Like Me
other 2014 things i've been stoked on:
1. Thou & The Body- Released From Love
2. Peeple Watchin'- Split With +HIRS+
3. Anais Mitchell- Xoa
4. The Empty Gestures- The Hook
5. Nana Grizol- Nightlights I-III + Tacoma Center 1600
6. Squilll- Tethers (Demos)
7. Crabapple- Is It You?
8. Fleabite- Over It
9. Speedy Ortiz- Real Hair
10. Cyberbully Mom Club- Amy Locust Whatever
11. Adult Mom- Sometimes Bad Happens
12. Perfect Pussy- Say Yes To Love
13. Against Me!- Transgender Dysphoria Blues
14. Congratulations- Demo
15. Peeple Watchin'- Split w/ Babe Quest
older records i've rediscovered (and/or discovered) this year that have meant a lot/been on heavy rotation:
1. Worriers- Cruel Optimist
2. Chelsea Wolfe- Ἀποκάλυψις
3. Judee Sill- Heart Food
4. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down- We The Common
5. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin- Broom
6. Vashti Bunyan- Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind
7. The New Pornographers- Together
8. Joanna Gruesome- Weird Sister
9. The Measure [SA]- Notes
10. Cibo Matto- Viva! La Woman
11. Belle & Sebastian- Tigermilk
12. Guided By Voices- Alien Lanes
13. Telekinesis- Telekinesis!
14. Bjork- Debut
15. Joanna Gruesome- Weird Sister
stoked because for the second year in a row, every album that made my top 10 just so happens to be made by women and/or queer folk. fuck yeah. also, every album i linked to is up for free or $1 download. check them out!
personal favorite releases of 2013:
1. Aye Nako- Unleash Yourself
2. Speedy Ortiz- Major Arcana
3. Curmudgeon- Amygdala
4. RVIVR- The Beauty Between
5. Mal Blum- Tempest in a Teacup
6. Waxahatchee- Cerulean Salt
7. Maura- Outlier
8. Andrea Gibson- Truce (spoken word)
9. Potty Mouth- Hell Bent
10. Savages- Silence Yourself
2013 demos i’ve been stoked on:
records i’ve re-discovered (and/or discovered) this year that have been on heavy rotation:
1. Saint Vincent- Strange Mercy
2. Camera Obscura- Underachievers, Please Try Harder
3. Grouper- Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
4. Mindset- Leave No Doubt
5. Julie Ruin- Self-Titled
6. Plumtree- Mass Teen Fainting
7. Weekend Nachos- Worthless
8. Youth of Today- Break Down The Walls
9. Rilo Kiley- The Execution of All Things
10. Sigh- Imaginary Sonicscape
in reviewing this, i’m stoked because almost all of my favorite 2013 albums (and all of my favorite 2013 demos) feature women and/or queer folks. i’ve linked to everything that you can download for free. i’m probably forgetting a lot of things but eh.