Best Of 2018: Albums Through March 31st

Written by | April 1, 2018 4:44 am | No Comments

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Ephorize – cupcakKe – The easy answer is cupcakke is a modern day Millie Jackson except a song like “Wisdom Teeth” is straight up flow rappin’ and rhymin’… on the other hand “Tap the head of the dick, duck duck duck goose, head of the dick, duck duck duck goose, get that dick up and runnin’ when he fuck this cooch covered in all my cum the dick be lookin’ like a goose”. Over fifteen tracks only four are explicit, which means the Chicago rapper is developing, but man, they are filthy dirty. “Crayons” is as great a song as the LGBTQ deserves

Soccer Mommy – Clean – Sophie Allison can write a song and these ten songs in a fast clipped 34 minutes are understated but angry, they seem like whispered threats at a romance like, as Allison puts it, a dog on a leash: it has been a week full of mediocre singer songwriter tropes, but this is one that works through a single minded blueness. “Still clean” is the best song of the week, “Your Dog” and “Last Girl” are pretty great as well

The Old Guys – Amy Rigby – An old school rock sound, less so country but country is still there,  as good at slow songs as up-tempo, with one immensely skillful tune after another, this is Amy’s best since Diary Of A Mod Housewife,… but then so are the rest. This woman can simply write great songs, it’s a gift and she has it. Here Amy deals with aging head on, and also a question that must plague her: “Is persistence just the opposite of luck?”

Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar – This is a week where I wish I had two best albums of the week. Young Fathers sophomore effort is a strange neo-r&b soul, electronic pan-everything beauty of an album quasi rap but rap and more, “See How” is so great it’s ridiculous

Kendrick Lamar – Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By – Kendrick curates and performs on four tracks and it all has that Kendrick touch, hard yet serious. Jay Rock and Future are on one of the best songs of the year so far, the SZA duet made a complete believer of me, and Schoolboy Q needs no introduction

.2 Chainz – The Play Don’t Care Who Makes It EP – Four songs, all great and I’m not even  a big 2 Chainz fan, plus “Proud” -with YG and Offset, is not only one of Offset’s best moments of the year (and remember, he is a third of the new Migos brick), but also: how often do you hear a song about trying to make momma proud?

Joan As Police Woman – Damned Devotion – Did you know that the Joan in question, Joan Wasser, used to date Jeff Buckley? I didn’t mostly because she has never been quite good enough to maintain my interest, maybe I didn’t give her the time. The lead single here, “Tell Me” changed that, and this is a terrific, soulful, white soul rebels of an album. It kept my attention and while I think there is something missing from the mix, I am not sure if it makes any difference because just about everything is quite good enough. A luminous, lovely, thriller of an album where Joan gets her disco on but only just

Caroline Rose – LONER – At its best when at its lightest, “Bikini” is my jam, at its worse it is pure pop electronic with attitude and smarts

Ghostface Killah – The Brown Tape – According XXL: “,Ghost dropped the concept album, 2 Reasons to Die, with Adrian Younge in 2013. Frequent collaborator Brown then put together an alternate version of the LP titled The Brown Tape, which featured an almost identical tracklist and all new beats. The new version was released on streaming sites but would later be removed. Last month, Mello Music Group revealed they would be re-releasing the project January 25th. ” According to Ken Shane: “As far from Kendrick as you can get but nearly as cool”

Camila Cabello – Camila – The former Fifth Harmony has played her hand as well as Zayn Malik, and while some of this is a bore, its best moments, the potential song of the winter “Never be The Same” for one and the Cuban- American theme song “Havana” among them, is sky high

U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited – Of all those gender fluid, lilith-y performers, all the Courtneys and Angel Olsem , U.S> Girls don’t much fit because their sound is so gorgeous, dynamic, and strong. This is their second killer album in a row amd if you hang out for ten songs you’ll get personal best “Poem”

Joan Baez – Whistle Down The Wind – If this is to be Joan’s final release, it is a fine one. Some of the top songwriters of today, including  Tom Waits, beautifully interpreted and sent off  by the heardtrending nothing changes “I Wish The Wars Were All Over” traditional

Sango – In The Comfort Of – Neo R&B and the kitchen sink on this first rate collection of  electronic soul music. “Life Without God Is Nothing” may well be the song of the week, the rap is nicely integrated, the hooks hook, the mood maintains, this isn’t Gospel but it is faith oriented music and the producer works magic on one quiet beat after another. In conversation he drops Frank Ocean’s name and you can hear why, you can also hear why it took him over three years to complete

Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive – Not as good as the standard bearer, Majestic Shedding, but better than the last couple. Apparently a reaction to the Trump Presidency (they don’t like it) and it rings like a punk pop bell (and Mac McCaughan still sounds like a whiny teenager)

Camp Cope – How  to Socialise & Make Friends – From Australia, where indie escapes from its Western jail and flourishes, this sophomore effort isn’t as good as people claim, mostly because Georgia Maq’s vocals grate after awhile, but it includes, “The Opener” and “Anna” -t… and maybe you’d whinge if you were a teen in Australia

Mount Eerie – Now Only – Last year’s A Crow Looked At Me made art where there is no art from the devastated loss as his 35 year old wife died from cancer, Now Only continues his life as he raises his daughter and raises his head. More of the same, though “Now Only” is actually catchy and pretty (the chorus goes: “people get cancer and die”)

The Lovely Eggs – This Is Eggland – Wiggy giggy psychedelic fun and games by knockout duo of wide eyed jokesters who mean it, always great all the way to “Would You fuck

03 Greedo – The Wolf Of Grape Street – Fresh out of jail, the prolific rapper has street cred to burn and is an LA legend with the tat on his forehead to prove it. Too much autotune for my tastes but this is as deeply musical as any rapper in the business this side of Ty even as he imagines the bars on the jail guitar doors spitting rhymes

Bahamas – Earthtones – Superb one man band, Canada’s Afie Jurvanen dubs himself folk but is more digital master planner pop singer songwriter on this flawless album of first rate songs, try “Opening Act (The Shooby Dooby Song)” to start and then move on to “Way With Words,” though it is one of those albums where everything is great. Jurvanen is joined by first rate (D’Angelo’s) rhythm section drummer James Gadson and bassist Pino Palladino The funk is not what I would call funky, more like a groove on a pop moment but the songs are so strong strong everything adds to a complete picture of the man

Jeremih – The Chocolate Box EP – I have never been a big fan of Jeremih… until now. Over an entire album who bores me to tears and a chorus on a rap song? He doesn’t make his presence felt strongly enough. But this is excellent stuff, three of the four songs are among his best

Jimi Hendrix – Both Sides Of The Sky – Tupac lived, died, had a second life with a mountain of unreleased material, and ran out of new material, and still Jimi is releasing albums. This collection of studio outtakes is a good, especially the two Steve Stills ones

Fall Out Boy – MANIA – The reason FOB feel slight is because they are slight, a mélange of emo meets EDM rock hitting the lowest common denominator 20 something world of pop, and hitting more often than not. They are Paramore for Playstation addicts. Fortunately, that doesn’t make for bad music, just not greet music. MANIA is a way competent chart heatseeker covering all bases, usually it works, sometimes it doesn’t

Bill Frisell – Music IS – The terrific jazz guitarist who you may know from his wonderful recording The Sweetest Punch is at the top of his game on this self-explanatory immersion in solo  acoustic guitar –

Boys Noize – Strictly Raw, Vol. 2 – The German wunderkind DJ and the absolute king of House is dealing with pure beats here and it is a primer in everything EDM has lost over the years: distinctively and crazy rhythms ping pong off each other till settling into a groove and then stopping… I read where his next release is with RL Grimes, stay tuned

AWOLNATION – Here Come the Runts – Electronic rock band have had a good run this decade and this is a s good as the best, nearly every song is memorable, and it moves from one instantly addictive melody to another

Matt Whipkey – Driver – Matt, a rock star if that word means anything anymore, has driven for both Lyft and Uber, and has taken the stories shared and switched idioms, for this deep green and red classic rock album, amazingly consistently, constantly entertaining and enlightening, sometimes destructive, always dazzling songs. “Marian Kowalski, Dec 1994,” “Fred, You’re Dead,” and “Coal Mine” followed by “Winter Tires,” are highlights, “Drive My Car” is just looking for trouble

Kodak Black – Heart Break Kodak (HBK) – vicious little Kodak on romance, no, really, make up, break up, beat up, move on… this is a strange pleasure vibe on really troubled romance as he sings as much as raps and doesn’t kill any one, and as late as the 16th song, the wittily called “When Vultures Cry” he is still invested in it

The Fratellis – In Your Own Sweet Time – Has it been over a decade since Costello Music? Well, this is a rock solid pop rock album and their most accomplished to date. The Fratellis might not have much ambition but they have good will and high spirits to burn here

Sunflower Bean –  Twentytwo in Blue – That rarest of sophomore efforts, the one that improves on the first with toghter, better written songs.

The Oak Ridge Boys – 17th Avenue Revival – Producer Dave Cobb has worked with every major country contemporary superhero from Jason Isbell to Chris Stapleton and here he Rick Rubins the Oak Ridge Boys spirituals

Yellow Claw – Amsterdam Trap Music, Vol. 3 – Some of the best trap beats I’ve heard all year, I wonder why they haven’t made a fortune selling em to Atlanta rappers

Night Owl EP – Jessi Mason – Terrific singer songwriter who nails all six songs, especially the one about understanding herself and the one about getting Joni Mitchell

Big Star – Live At Lafayette’s Music Room – Memphis, TN – The birth of Big Star as critics darlings (opening for Archie Bell And The Drells) in 1973, songs off #1 Record, songs not yet on Radio City, and some strong covers. Thus are legends born

Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac (Deluxe) – A coupla years past the Cali Mac revival spearheaded by Dawes, here comes the remastered first shot from the soft rock Mac, first album remastered, second album filled with early takes (proving how fully formed the songs were), and finally live tracks from their 1975 tour. Hang around for a late “Oh Well”

Frank Zappa and The Mothers – The Roxy Performances (Live) – From December 1973, this is a definitive exploration of prime Zappa live, if you want to know what all the fuss is about binge listen this, this is Miles Davis good. I’m not a huge Zappa fan, but wow he was on some wild musically plateau we ain’t caught up with yet. The best bit? That “Be-Bop Tango” is completely bonkers

Nina Simone – The Colpix Singles – 27 songs from the start of her career to just before she hit it big

Andrew Lloyd Webber – Unmasked: The Platinum Collection (Deluxe)- This is an odd greatest hit, from Boyzone to Barbra Streisand,it is linked to his memoir but doesn’t follow his career trajectory as written about in Unmasked (which ends with Phantom).Still, it’s nice to hear the best (more or less -three songs from “Aspects Of Love” at the end -just… don’t) in one place

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