Saturday, December 29, 2018

The List 2018



    If we were to consider only legacy artists in compiling the year’s best, the list would be competent, though nothing special. Add in bands with histories of 5 to 10 years’ running, and the list gains a lot of credence. But when rookies are added to 2018, the year is impressive indeed. In fact, we may look back to see the end of the decade represented a changing of the guard, to a new generation of pop musicians eventually sporting long pedigrees. Of course, the reality is that the guard is always changing, always in flux, but 2018 was a year when newcomers stood out.

DISQUALIFICATIONS: You simply won’t find any Kanye West here, for obvious reasons. Sun Kil Moon is left off the list because Mark Kozelek is getting boring with his endless personal-diary releases. Drake and The Carters (Beyonce and Jay-Z) are here, but pushed down in rank because alleged sincerity seems formulaic. More difficult is the case of the Frankenmuth family band Greta Van Fleet, who claim to be making original music, but sound too much like a note-for-note ripoff of Led Zeppelin to be worth their own ranking. Fans of GbV may notice no ranking for Cash Rivers – the joke wore thin on me pretty quickly.

    Among the departures from this sphere, Aretha Franklin’s was the highest profile, but the most heartbreaking departure of 2018 was Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, who gave us plenty of hints that he saw suicide in his future. Too bad no one could steer him from his goal. Dolores O’Riordan, Mac Miller, and Lil’ Peep also died way too young and tragically. Other particularly sad grace notes were for Tony Joe White, who died soon after releasing a remarkable studio album; Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks, who died suddenly of a heart attack in December at age 63; and Hardy Fox of The Residents, who succumbed to cancer after his band released yet another anonymous masterpiece.

    And 2019 looks set to begin with fervor – Maggie Rogers, The Dead C, Sharon Van Etten, Emily Strange, Deerhunter, The Twilight Sad, The Cowsills, maybe even The Wrens?

Regular Studio Albums, 2018

1.     TIE – Julia Holter, Aviary
2.     TIE – Mary Halvorson, Code Girl --  The world was graced with three double-length jazz/experimental compositions in 2018, and while Kamasi Washington’s is down the list slightly for its traditionalism, two women shot straight to the top. Chicago’s dream-vocalist Julia Holter takes linguistic poetry-play to new levels, backed by a double-bass recalling Joni Mitchell in Hejira days. Jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson, meanwhile, debuts a new ensemble led by the stunning vocalist Amirtha Kidambi. Both jazz-influenced albums put voice on the center stage, not in a traditional jazz-chanteuse way, but as studies in linguistics, information, emotion and nonsense. It is unprecedented to have two such amazing works in a single year.
3.     Mitski, Be the Cowboy – She may be called the Japanese-American chanteuse for the strange, but Mitski can aim an arrow at your emotions as well as she foils any and all conventions of music.
4.     Low, Double Negative – Another experimental leap comes from everyone’s Duluth favorites. Alan and Mimi elect to follow a route similar to the one pursued lately by Bon Iver, in making noise and sonic drone serve the interest of songwriting. The effort may unsettle some Low fans, but this seems their best work to date.
5.     Heather Leigh, Throne – Face it, the best works of the year eschewed normality. Heather Leigh (Murray) has given us plenty of improvisational pedal-steel solo albums, as well as duos with saxophonist Peter Brotzmann, but here she mixes vocals suggestive of Kate Bush with dream-induced noise. It’s amazing to see her continue to set new goals and then exceed them.
6.     John McCutcheon, Ghost Light – Wow, a hammered dulcimer player best known for covers and kids’ albums releases the best album of folk originals by anyone in many years. Loaded with unforgettable songs that hint at Wendell Berry.
7.      Belly, Dove – A lot of 1990s indie bands were reuniting in the late 2010s, so why should we have expected Tanya Donelly to score such a stunning surprise with the Belly reunion? Tanya walks off with the reunion award. A strong collection of taut, emotional songs.
8.     Fucked Up, Dose Your Dreams – Speaking of double-disc megaworks, Fucked Up supposedly gave us the ultimate punk-opera with David Comes to Life, but then the band returns to the concept form with a stellar album featuring dozens of guests, including the elusive Mary Margaret O’Hara.
9.     Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth – Occasionally, lovers of the Coltrane/Coleman school insist that saxophonist Washington is a little too traditionalist, but when epic orchestrated arrangements are mixed with direct political calls, who can complain? (BTW, Coltrane’s lost album is #1 in the Specials section.)
10.                       Bodega, Endless Scroll – Nice to see a Brooklyn band return to the art-rock styles of Pink Section. More fun than you ever bargained for in 2018.
11.                       Paul McCartney, Egypt Station – It’s not just that a Beatle can make such a solid record at age 76, it’s that this diverse and powerful recording bests most Wings output, and many of the better solo albums McCartney released in the 1990s.
12.                       Hop Along, Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Frances Quinlan already was wowing the world with her guitar arrangements, now her lyricism skyrockets forward. A serious toast to a band reaching peak.
13.                       Quell Chris and Jean Grae, Everything’s Fine – This isn’t so much a hip-hop observation of pop culture, as a hip-hop version of Firesign Theatre for the 21st century, which makes it an odd duck indeed. Probably deserves to be higher for sheer audacity.
14.                       Lucy Dacus, Historian – The biggest problem with Dacus forming boygenius with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers is that this exceptional album from early in the year might get overlooked. No.
15.                       They Might Be Giants, I Like Fun – Since this morose yet peppy album comes close to the standards of 1990’s Flood, one might consider a Top 10 ranking to be necessary. Hey, competition was very tight this year, what can I say?
16.                       Earl Sweatshirt, Some Rap Songs – One might think 15 songs clocking in at under 30 minutes were exercises in nonsense, but Sweatshirt has followed his muse into deep corners of jazz-influenced poetry.
17.                       Laurie Anderson, Landfall – An exceptional collaboration with Kronos Quartet on Hurricane Sandy. Its only limitation was the predictable minor-key viola runs, making this work a little less groundbreaking than Anderson’s most recent Heart of a Dog.
18.                       Tracy Grammer, Low Tide – This is Grammer’s first fully-realized album as a solo artist since the death of Dave Carter. And she covers Kate Bush. And that’s really all you need to know.
19.                       Darlingside, Extralife – If you haven’t gotten the vocal harmonic oddness that is Boston’s Darlingside, you have some catching up to do.
20.                       Guided by Voices, Space Gun – Robert Pollard’s relevance never ever falters, which is a miracle in its own right.
21.                       Richard Thompson, 13 Rivers – Wow! One of Thompson’s best. Hard to name a weak cut here.
22.                       Soccer Mommy, Clean – The rumors are true. Just listen.
23.                       David Byrne, American Utopia – Not a dystopia, but an effort at hope in a time of Trump. Byrne takes songwriting to the level of his collaboration with St. Vincent some years back.
24.                       Hayley Heyndrickx, I Need to Start a Garden – Acoustic and deeply rhythmic at the same time, and brilliant lyrics.
25.                       John Prine, The Tree of Forgiveness – Wow, not just a placeholder and cancer-survivor return to the fold, but a sharp album featuring some of Prine’s most droll poetry ever.
26.                       Zaimph, Rhizomatic Gaze – Marcia Bassett gives us a double-LP dose of her signature electronic drone sounds, but structured as a multi-suite symphony, including babbling voices.
27.                       Elvis Costello and the Impostors, Look Now – A sprawling and well-crafted album, though not intended to be a late-70s rocker style.
28.                       Johnny Marr, Call the Comet – Marr has released some impressive solo work between Smiths and Modest Mouse stints, but this one is a ringing, chiming success.
29.                       Arthur Buck, s/t –Wow, can Joe Arthur and Peter Buck crank out great pop tunes as a team!
30.                       The Dollhouse Thieves, s/t – Perhaps the most interesting folk-rockish rookies to come out of the Denver area in a decade or more.
31.                       Lucero, Among the Ghosts – Yes, connubial bliss can be a state for writing angst-driven blistering rock.
32.                       Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour – Skeptics might grumble she’s moving too swiftly (bad pun) into pure pop, but with songs this good, who cares?
33.                       Willie Nile, Children of Paradise – At a time when populists are telling us to hate the refugee and hate the homeless, punk-pub-rocker Willie Nile comes back to stand in defense of the voiceless. A powerful statement.
34.                       The Residents, Intruders – Eric Drew Feldman is making The Residents less anonymous and more melodic, but that doesn’t make them less weird. This album on the doppelgangers among us is startling, and The Residents’ live shows in 2017-18 leave audiences breathless.
35.                       Vase Vide, Sleep[Talk] – The vocal interplays and keyboard are every bit as interesting as last year’s Colors of Entropy  EP, but the addition of Kellie Palmblad turns VV into a finely-honed shiny pop wonder.
36.                       Superchunk, What a Time to Be Alive – Mac gives us a strong antidote to the Trump era, dancing every second.
37.                       Cat Power, Wanderer – Chan Marshall is back, more self-assured than ever, dragging Lana Del Rey along for the ride.
38.                       Marissa Nadler, For My Crimes – One of the nation’s best freak-folk practitioners just got a whole lot better, hinting at images of early 1960s murder ballads, updated for 2018 sensibilities.
39.                       Tony Joe White, Bad Mouthin’ – Fans had few ideas when this lo-fi blues masterpiece came out that this would be White’s last will and testament, but how appropriate, if we have to lose him.
40.                       Bird Streets, s/t – Want to know the future of Southern California riff-infused pop? You’re looking at it, listening to it.
41.                       Neko Case, Hell-On – Apologies to both Neko and Father John below at ending up in the 40s, but this was a great year. In Neko’s case, this stands among her finest efforts, solo or with New Pornographers.
42.                       Father John Misty, God’s Best Customer – The wry humor and self-deprecation here made this my favorite FJM album, at least since I Love You Honey Bear.
43.                       The Aces, When My Heart Felt Volcanic – We could call these four women derivative for trying to recapture the fire of the first Haim album, but really, Aces can write great pop tunes.
44.                       Wye Oak, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs – Jen has finally reconciled her two styles in a compelling and beautiful fashion.
45.                       The 1975, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships – It’s easy to dismiss lead singer Matthew Healy’s angst and histrionics, but this was undoubtedly the most interesting album the band has ever made. Sometimes the clashes between solo piano and autotune seem gimmicky, but hey….
46.                       Rosanne Cash, She Remembers Everything –A strong riff-filled angry album for women, one that could almost be a #MeToo anthemic moment.
47.                       Palm, Rock Island – Palm is melodic weirdness at its very best. Hard to call it “difficult music” when it’s so danceable.
48.                       Bardo Pond, Volume 8 – Previous volumes of jam sessions at the Lemur House came out in small batches, but Fire Records decided to make this one a full commercial release. Highly deserving for fans of Philly sludge psychedelia.
49.                       Rock*A*Teens, Sixth House – As impressive an indie reunion as one might find in a very busy year. Virtually every track is a keeper.
50.                       Snail Mail, Lush – An impressive debut for a teenager, and we can say with certainty that Lindsey Jordan has a lot more to show the world.
51.                       The Beths, Future Me Hates Me – A strong woman-led guitar-band debut from New Zealand. The Beths make me dance and cry at the same time, which should tell you something.
52.                       Graham Parker, Cloud Symbols – Surprising horn-infused dance music from the old master of pub boogie.
53.                       Sons of Kemet, Your Queen is a Reptile – Bonus points for trying something as audacious as tuba, kettle drum, and sax. Much more than a novelty, though limiting at times.
54.                       The Dodos, Certainty Waves – The former folkie duo from San Francisco takes a noisy turn similar to Low, and it works.
55.                       I’m With Her, See You Around – A country-rock supergroup trio succeeds not so much due to Sara Watkins as to Sarah Jarosz, and Jarosz fans are not a bit surprised.
56.                       Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer – Cool to see Monae back away ever so slightly from sci-fi storytelling to dive more deeply into straight-up immediate songs of desire.
57.                       Rainbow Kitten Surprise, How To: Friend, Love, Freefall – Think of a laid-back version of Darlingside, plenty of harmonies and plenty of in-joke smiles, and that gives you a picture of the appealing RKS style.
58.                       Shopping, The Official Body – The UK’s answer to Pink Section continues its madness, though it faces new competition from the likes of Bodega and Palm.
59.                       Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel – This kind of ranking suggests a sophomore slump for the Australian wunderkind, but really, no slump here. Great confessional songs, but the new kid on the block had to compete with scores of newer kids this year.
60.                       Heather Leigh/Peter Brotzmann, Sparrow Nights – More focused than the duo’s three live albums, though a bit overshadowed by Heather Leigh’s solo work.
61.                       Ought, Room Inside the World –  I’m a huge fan of Canada’s premier art-rockers, though this one didn’t grab me as much as the first two.
62.                       Culture Club, Life – Who would have guessed Boy George had such a burst of energy in him?
63.                       Parquet Courts, Wide Awake! – This slight move to mainstream garnered the band a slot on Ellen DeGeneris, and it’s a fine album, but not as high up as previous works.
64.                       Pusha-T, Daytona – Consistent innovation in this album, though not as groundbreaking as some fans claim.
65.                       Dream Wife, s/t – Damn, how did this UK trio get below 50? There’s just too many damned great new bands out there, and this is one of them.
66.                       Speedy Ortiz, Twerp Verse – Hey, it’s another helping of Sadie Dupuis, it has to be good for you.
67.                       Rubble Bucket, Sun Machine – What do you do when you’re a Broadway-oriented, Deaf School-style band with horns and percussion, and you face a painful breakup, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide? If you’re Kalmia Traver, you dance to it! I heartily endorse the Rubble Bucket strategy over the Frightened Rabbit alternative.
68.                       The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl – Say what you will about Colin Meloy, this is a strong, poppy effort that turns down the pompousness and overthinking, with good results.
69.                       IDLES, Joy As An Act of Resistance – This isn’t as interesting to me in the punk-revival category as, say, Fucked Up or Bodega or Shopping (always preferred the likes of Mars and DNA over Jam or Clash), but kudos to the crew for reviving British punk anyway.
70.                       Swearin’, Fall Into the Sun – In which Alison Crutchfield reunites with an old lover, takes a bunch of risks, and offers up a collection as good as anything from her sister Katie.
71.                       Camp Cope, How to Socialise and Make Friends – Australia’s heroines of indie rock sometimes get demerit points from the over-emoting of guitarist-lyricist Georgia McDonald, but when she talks about the death of her musician father, you have to fall under Camp Cope’s spell.
72.                       Mothers, Render Another Ugly Method – Unlike some critics, I thought Kristine Leschper made a bid for a wider audience in Mothers’ second album, but their music admittedly is angular, odd, and an acquired taste.
73.                       Caroline Rose, Loner – In which the former folk-pop singer/songwriter Caroline Rose makes a bid for audacious pop, and it works! These songs will drive you crazy, but in a good way.
74.                       Florence and The Machine, High as Hope – Nice to hear Florence Welch go for understatement for a change, and her nod to Patti Smith is great.
75.                       Mt. Eerie, Now Only – In some senses, this is as good as last year’s groundbreaking album on acceptance of the death of a loved one, but one can only go back to that well so often. It’s nice to know Phil Elverum is finding connubial bliss with Michelle Williams, or at least one would hope.
76.                       August Greene, s/t – Common may be overexposed in some circles, but his heart and political sensibilities are in the right place in this hip-hop supergroup album.
77.                       Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt, Brace Up! – The drum and guitar maniacal noise pair offer up their first studio work after a few live outings. Orcutt’s focus on electric guitar calls to mind his old band Harry Pussy, with hints of Zappa and Hendrix on the side. Fry your brain.
78.                       US Girls, In a Poem Unlimited – I don’t always get what Meg Remy is about, but sign me up for caring about it. Fascinating.
79.                       The Good, The Bad, and The Queen, Merrie Land – Notice that Damon Albarn’s GBQ project ranks slightly higher than his Gorillaz album for this year. GBQ gets specific and political at a time that the UK needs a good swift kick in the ass, and Gorillaz looks unfocused by comparison.
80.                       Hymn 4 Her, Pop’n’Downers – America’s ultimate road couple makes a quirky and delightful album owing as much to Broadway or Gilbert & Sullivan as to Americana roots.
81.                       The Joy Formidable, EARRRTH – Some might not like Ritzy’s new minor-key dive into mysticism, but I think it’s fine.
82.                      The Wooldridge Brothers, Starts at Dusk – The finest and grittiest suite of pop tunes yet from Milwaukee’s finest songwriting siblings.
83.              J. Cole, KOD – Many critics really loved Cole’s honesty here about substance abuse, but it didn’t seem as direct as his last two albums.
84.                       Alison Statton and Spike, Bimini Twist – It may not reach the level of Young Marble Giants, but there’s a lot of cool shit going on here.
85.                       Typhoon, Offerings – Despite the band’s tendency to get a little over-majestic in a Muse fashion, this concept album was brilliant in arrangement and delivery.
86.                       Jeff Tweedy, WARM – A subtle, quiet accompaniment to his new autobiography, featuring some of his best solo work.
87.                       Death Cab for Cutie, Thank You for Today – Ben Gibbard may have to reach a bit more for relevance, but this is not a bad album for this stage in the band’s career.
88.                       Sarah Davachi, Gave In Rest
    .                       Sarah Davachi, Let Night Come On Bells End the Day – Canada’s keyboard experimentalist graces us with two impressive works in one year.
89.                       Ariana Grande, Sweetener – This album really impressed me on first listen, but the meltdown with Pete sort of soured the sweetener.
90.                       Gorillaz, The Now Now – This seemed to me to be an afterthought to Albarn’s main Humanz statement in 2017, though many people loved it. Still not as good as his Good/Bad/Queen album, though.
91.                       Blood Orange, Negro Swan – One of the most impressive and understated R&B albums of the year, addressing depression in its many forms.
92.                       Alannah McCready, Ricochet Heart – One might think at an 90 level I’m meh about new-country, but note that this one still is higher than Pistol Annies or Ashley Monroe. A talent worth paying attention to.
93.                       Roy Montgomery, Suffuse – Some interesting vocal experiments alongside Roy’s always-intriguing guitar, with guest appearances by the likes of Circuit des Yeux.
94.                       Laura Grace and the Devouring Mothers, Bought to Rot – The transgender lead singer of Against Me! tries some solo work that is not supposed to be punk, but retains a lot of punk energy.
95.                       Kyle Craft, Full Circle Nightmare – In some ways, Craft really is a 21st-century Dylan, but he carries a little too much of that angst Ian Hunter always favored in certain Mott the Hoople albums.
96.                       Lake Street Dive, Free Yourself Up – Another heaping helping of retro-soul bebop from the Boston masters, though the companion EP ranks higher in the EP section due to its spoof nature.
97.                       Lily Allen, No Shame – The British press may rail at Allen as dissolute and a bad mommy, but screw that. These are heartfelt and fine pop tunes.
98.                       Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, Love’s Middle Name – I’m hearing a warm evolution on this one, taking Sarah more toward a Susan Cowsill style. Hooray!
99.                       Interpol, Marauder – It seems to be cool to dismiss Interpol these days, but I actually found a lot to like in this new studio session.
100.                  The Foolish, Pleasantly Depressing – Bunk Nesbit reminds us that any time one of his alter egos enters the studio, magic happens.
101.                  Nap Eyes, I’m Bad Now – This is the most intriguing work yet from this Nova Scotia band.
102.                  Laura Gibson, Goners – One of the more intriguing and subtle singer-songwriters out there. Heartwarming, wistful, and incredibly sad, all at once. An interesting step forward from Empire Builder.
103.                  Jeffrey Gaines, Alright – Who would have thought that a return by 1990s favorite Gaines would have hints of a 1978 Costello? Some great pop tunes here.
104.                  Sophie, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides – She’s the toast of every dance floor, but is Sophie truly the next big thing?
105.                  The Breeders, All Nerve – Fans of the Deal sisters will be shocked I put Belly in my top ten and Breeders down here, but I rank based on interest. A good album nonetheless.
106.                  First Aid Kit, Ruins – A bit more morose for our FAK friends, but they wear sorrow well.
107.                  Body/Head, The Switch – A lot of people have this album way up, and I give Kim Gordon credit for sticking with unadulterated experimental noise, but I found that limiting.
108.                  Chvrches, Love Is Dead – Lauren Mayberry had an honest intention here, of distilling the band’s themes and making them a little more pop-accessible. Too much repetition of lyrics and riff lines made the album a bit less interesting than previous ones – but check out the Hansa Sessions EP, reviewed below.
109.                  Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy – Yes, she can rhyme it up, and yes, it’s fun, but sort of limiting – still, a much better shelf life than Nicki Minaj.
110.                  The Young Fables, Old Songs – A country-music couple from a rural area outside Knoxville give us hope for the future of country, with stunning tracks like “Sawmill Wages.”
111.                  Cloud Nothings, Last Building Burning – Dylan Baldi returns to punkier roots to mostly good results, though at times I like the more pensive Cloud Nothings.
112.                  Kaia Kater, Grenades – Caribbean-influenced folk beats, and the only political analysis of islander revolt I’ve ever heard.
113.                  Animal Collective, Tangerine Reef – Another chapter in the band’s newfound fascination with environmental devastation, this one dealing with the death of the ocean. It may not be as alluring as some of the band’s earlier work, but fascinating nonetheless.
114.                  Hot Snakes, Jericho Waves – Nice to have Hot Snakes back in a strident album that sounds a lot like Drive Like Jehu.
115.                  Calexico, The Thread That Keeps Us – A rich and emotional collection from our favorite bilingual border band.
116.                  Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino – Hey, if nothing else, the band should be credited with not making the same album over and over, instead opting for a strange tale about a cheesy jazz club at a space station. Maybe the idea doesn’t always work, but I’m impressed they tried it.
117.                  The Struts, Young and Dangerous – If it wasn’t for lead singer Luke Spiller’s hilarious self-deprecation, this band’s mashup of NY Dolls, Queen, and early Aerosmith could be annoying – instead, it’s just fun.
118.                  Frankie Cosmos, Vessel – Greta Kline writes some great lyrics and puts on a fascinating live show, though I can’t say it always translates in the studio.
119.                  Dirty Projectors, Lamp Lit Prose – It’s good to see David Longstreth has gone back to being happy, though these songs work better in a live venue, as the ranking of the Brooklyn show in the Specials section indicates.
120.                  Pistol Annies, Interstate Gospel – Despite immense popularity, the trio of Lambert, Monroe, and Presley don’t always click as often as say, I’m With Her, but they’re more mainstream country. This one carries the tradition well.
121.                  Hinds, I Don’t Run – The crazy women from Spain try for a deliberate lo-fi Velvet Underground approach, but it doesn’t click as often as with their first album.
122.                  Joan of Arc, 1984 – An eclectic experiment to let vocalist and visual artist Melina Ausikaitis release her inner hillbilly while Tim Kinsella weaves tales of rural innocence. Odd but wonderful.
123.                  tUnEyArDs, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life – I live for Merrill Garbus’s forays into the studio, though this one was a little meandering.
124.                  Ashley Paul, Lost in Shadows – A stunning ambient noise work from the always-interesting Paul.
125.                  Bridget Hayden, Pure Touch Only From Now On, They Said So – An oft-overlooked member of Vibracathedral Orchestra reminds us why any Hayden release is a cause for celebration.
126.                  Kimbra, Primal Heart – Even if Kimbra’s attempt to release her inner Maori is only partially successful, she remains the Kiwi pop-dance queen of choice.
127.                  Peter Holsapple, Game Day – Continental Drifters and dB’s founder Holsapple gives us a fond look back at his life in rock, though I’d like a few more forward glances. Holsapple retains his deft touch, however.
128.                  The Claudettes, Dance Scandal at the Gymnasium – Chicago’s boisterous bar band offers up a sort-of concept album on high school life. Tremendous fun.
129.                  Jackie-O Motherfucker, Bloom – This might have belonged in special albums, since it’s a compilation from several recording sessions, though the music is unreleased, and more conventional in song structure than much of Jackie-O’s catalog.
130.                  Lykke Li, So Sad So Sexy – The title says it all – sensuous songs about dominating the dance floor with tears in your eyes.
131.                  Preoccupations, New Material – Honestly, I don’t begrudge these guys for the name change from Viet Cong, and their style is a situationist spin of Interpol, but all too often the tracks fade from the mind.
132.                  Eric Bachmann, No Recover – Eric’s solo acoustic tours recently have been great, and he promises a 2019 Archers of Loaf reunion tour. This studio outing with his wife is more of a dream-pop effort, however, with few of the hard-hitting lyrics he’s known for.
133.                  Hunt Sales Memorial, Get Your Shit Together – Fun and howling deliveries from the former session musician with Tin Machine and Iggy Pop.
134.                  Jack White, Boarding House Ranch – Every time someone starts ranting against Jack, I find something good to say about his latest solo efforts, but this one made it hard to do, as it fell flat for the most part.
135.                  Galen Ayers, Monument – The daughter of prog-rock legend Kevin Ayers describes the tough years of being primary caregiver for her late dad, with a voice similar to Aimee Mann’s. We’re bound to be hearing more from her soon.
136.                  Stephen Malkmus, Sparkle Hard – I know, the Pavement founder deserves better ranking, particularly since this is better than most Jicks work. Not to be overlooked.
137.                  Travis Scott, Astroworld – It’s too bad this album is defined primarily for the collaboration with Drake, because Scott’s voice and vision is far more interesting than Drake’s own.
138.                  Art Brut, Biff! Bam! Pow! – Eddie Argos may be more reticent about taking over the world than when Art Brut was founded, but the Dadaist-comedian vocalist remains as wry and snarky as ever.
139.                  Charalambides, Tom and Christina Carter – So glad to see Charalambides back in the studio, though this double album is some of their most minimal work. Still, Christina’s blues harp is important to hear.
140.                  Pig Destroyer, Head Cage – Decently inventive grindcore.
141.                  Loma, s/t – The side project of Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater is worth hearing.
142.                  Mandy Barnett, Strange Conversation – A really diverse collection of country and pop tunes from a woman who knows Broadway as well as she knows Nashville.
143.                  Gang Gang Dance, Kazuashita – The weirdo Brooklyn dance ensemble returns after a hiatus to have a more gauzy demeanor, though in live performances, Lizzy is as amazing as ever.
144.                  Amanda Shires, To the Sunset – To her credit, Shires has a great cozy singer-songwriter style somewhat reminiscent of Victoria Williams, though nothing stands out too tremendously.
145.                  Stuart Staples, Arrhythmia – A cool album but an acquired taste, as the lead singer of Tindersticks experiments with long pieces combining orchestral backing with improvisation.
146.                  Houndmouth, Golden Age – When a Midwestern folkie-Americana group wants to hit the dance floor, it could be a disaster, but in this case, it works!
147.                  Kinky Friedman, Circus of Life – Kinky returns to the road with songs of reminiscing and Willie Nelson worship. OK, it can be maudlin at times, but it still beats Willie’s latest.
148.                  Iceage, Beyondless – Some people think of Iceage as the saviors of indie-post-punk, but I only see them as mildly interesting. But still worth a listen.
149.                  Lucy Kaplansky, Everyday Street – Another fine collection from Lucy, but her desire to make a statement against streaming makes this album too unavailable, and needlessly so.
150.                  Franz Ferdinand, Always Ascending – When FF recorded a collaboration album with Sparks in 2016, I thought a revival was in order, but this new studio album mostly treads water.
151.                  Laura Veirs, The Lookout – I’m glad Veirs is getting a wider audience with what many think is her best work yet, but I don’t think husband/producer Tucker Martine is encouraging her to go far enough out of her comfort zone. Her work in the case/lang/veirs trio shows what she can accomplish.
152.                  Dwarfs of East Agouza, Rats Don’t Eat Synthesizers – Normally, I’m all about any Sun City Girls spinoff project out there, but this was only mildly interesting.
153.                  Bad Bunny, X 100pre – Bad Bunny may have originally ridden on Drake and Cardi B coattails, but the bilingual Puerto Rican rapper has a depth to his songs that indicate he will advance well beyond this debut album.
154.                  Ensemble Economique, Radiate – Fun in a droney way, but I still miss Starving Weirdos.
155.                  Kal Marks, Universal Care – Some raucous Boston punk, though maybe not as groundbreaking as some fans believe.
156.                  Robyn, Honey – Yes, she’s dominated the dance floor for 20 years, but my interest wanes quickly.
157.                  Chris Smither, Call Me Lucky – Cool session of new material from Smither, his first in nearly a decade.
158.                  Let’s Eat Grandma, I’m All Ears – This British women’s duo explores the same type of gauzy psychedelia as Trailer Trash Tracys – interesting for a while, but not life-changing.
159.                  Ashley Monroe, Sparrow – This album is probably her best solo work to date (distancing from the Jack White enterprise probably helped), but it’s overshadowed by her work with Pistol Annies.
160.                  Albert Hammond Jr., Francis Trouble – Still like Albert as a singer-songwriter, but this album didn’t stick in my memory long.
161.                  Sarah Sample, Redwing –- Now here’s a good example of how alt-country singer-songwriting should be done.
162.                  Yo La Tengo, There’s a Riot Going On – There is? YLT passionate defenders will hate this, but the band to me just gets sleepier all the time.
163.                  Frank Turner, Be More Kind – The UK’s best purveyor of blue-eyed soul has intentions in all the right places, and is certainly a hell of a lot more interesting than Sam Smith.
164.                  Brandi Carlile, By the Way, I Forgive You – People whose opinions I trust insist this is Brandi’s best album. Not hearing it. Good tunes to be sure, but occasionally lackluster.
165.                  Janiva Magness, Love is an Army – Some impressive blues-jazz chanteuse arrangements going on here.
166.                  Hudson (deJohnette, etc.), s/t – I think it’s cool to put Jack DeJohnette and friends in the service of pop reinventions, but I still like his hard-core jazz better.
167.                  Okkervil River, In the Rainbow Rain – Will Sheff’s turn to happy psychedelia makes for more pleasant party music, though not as essential as his last two Okkervil River albums.
168.                  Walter Salas-Humara, Walterio – A very decent solo album form the lead singer of The Silos.
169.                  Emily Kinney, Oh Jonathan – Sometimes actresses shouldn’t be vocalists and songwriters, but Kinney makes a good case, and the Betty Boop voice works to her advantage.
170.                  Matthew Sweet, Tomorrow’s Daughter – Some of Sweet’s recent duo work with Susanna Hoffs has been cool, though his solo efforts have been a bit forgettable. This is an exception, tight and energetic throughout.
171.                  Paul Kelly, Nature – Cool adaptations of works by the likes of Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas by this Australian folk singer.
172.                  We Were Promised Jetpacks, The More I Sleep, The Less I Dream – As good as this band can be, I wish they’d be a little less anthemic, as sounding like U2 does not suit them.
173.                  Beach House, 7 – I put Beach House in the Yo La Tengo category of dreamy-sleepy, and this one is no exception.
174.                  Willie Nelson, Last Man Standing – For longevity and rebellion alone, I ought to give Willie a higher ranking. He’s still sounding good for the mid-80s, but I didn’t have a lot of clear takeaways from this album.
175.                  Six String Drag, Top of the World – Just an enjoyable and light-hearted jam session, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
176.                  Christina Aguilera, Liberation – The trills and angst still may be set to stun, but this feels like the most legit and heartfelt work she’s ever done. Seems like Drake, Nicki Minaj, and The Carters all could get lessons on street cred from Aguilera.
177.                  Dave Holland and Evan Parker, Uncharted Territories – Nice to see Holland back in the fray, though some of the jazz newcomers are doing more interesting things.
178.                  Dawes, Passwords – I’ve often defended Dawes when others say the band is too southern California/Jackson Browne. Yet many people liked this album best of all, and it somehow didn’t move me.
179.                  Gwenno, Le Kov – I’ll follow Gwenno everywhere, but an album sung entirely in Cornish (?) was a bit much.
180.                  Coheed and Cambria, Unheavenly Creatures – The band may sound a bit Rush-pompous when they’re involved in all this sci-fi storytelling, but I’m ready for this five-part Vax tale to start.
181.                  Elle King, Shake the Spirit – King has much more in blues rock to offer the world than X’s and O’s, but she allows her cheesier moments to define the tone of the album here.
182.                  Natalie Prass, Future and Past – I am a strong believer in Prass, but her shift from Muscle Shoals horns to electronica-pop robbed her lyrics and arrangements of some of their soul.
183.                  Bat Fangs, s/t – Many people swear by this newcomer hard-rock women-led band, but the songs don’t translate all that well in the studio. I’m keeping my mind and ears open.
184.                  Glorious Sons, Young Beauties and Fools – A British band that opts for some nostalgia blues-rock of 1970s vintage, an easy listen with plenty of emotional delivery.
185.                  Mumford & Sons, Delta – They might be rich, but we can still feel a little bit of sympathy for the Mumford gang, who insisted they poured out their soul in the new album, only to be told by many fans (as well as most critics) that they sounded like “Coldplay on Xanax.” It may be tedious at times, but at least Marcus Mumford didn’t try to make the same album over and over.
186.                  Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, No Mercy In This Land – Ad hoc collaborations can have the same problem as regular bands – they can suffer from sophomore slump. There’s some great musicianship here, but it doesn’t stand as well as their 2013 album.
187.                  Tracey Thorn, Record – Nice to see the lead singer of Everything But the Girl return to offer synth-driven observations on middle age, though this does reinforce why I was only mildly interested in EBTG.
188.                  I See Hawks in L.A., Live and Never Learn – Some fine moments in Southern California jam-band/folk-rock mashups, though that style was never totally my thing.
189.                  Lord Huron, Vide Noir – Still evolving, but also still vague in delivery at times.
190.                  Muse, Simulation Theory – Let’s give Muse credit for always being politically astute and giving us political warnings when necessary. But the turn to electronica to talk about the hazards of online culture had sort of predictable results.
191.                  Jim White, Waffles, Triangles and Jesus – White has always struck me as a more countrified version of Stan Ridgway, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
192.                  Bart Davenport & The Bedazzled, Blue Motel – Is this the modern equivalent of yacht rock? There’s a certain amount of pop fun here, but I was never a yacht-rock kinda guy.
193.                  Great Lake Swimmers, The Waves, The Wake – This Canadian folk-rock band is becoming more and more the personal project of Tony Dekker, which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but the dream pop that results is less interesting than their original work.
194.                  JD Wilkes, Fire Dream – The concept of this is fascinating enough, relying on elements of Tom Waits and Crazy World of Arthur Brown, but the delivery is a little over the top.
195.                  Devotchka, The Night Falls Forever – Fans of the Denver gypsy band may not like it when I say Devotchka mostly makes the same album again and again, but that’s what I hear.
196.                  Gucci Mane, Evil Genius – Much more finely crafted than many of his releases, but also a bit formulaic.
197.                  Lucius, Nudes – The debut album didn’t convince me, and this is a bit of a sophomore slump, but I’m still willing to grant Lucius a listen.
198.                  Eleanor Friedberger, Rebound – Ever since she left as lead singer of Fiery Furnaces, Friedberger’s been exploring some 1960s and 1970s landscapes, often with some great results, but other times, like now, just meandering.
199.                  Drake, Scorpion – OK, this was supposed to prove Drake’s vulnerability and sad self, but a lot of the arrangements seem calculated.
200.                  Snow Patrol, Wildness – I’ll give Gary Lightbody credit for trying to age gracefully, but the band isn’t going to relive that late 1990s angst, but then again, I wouldn’t want them to.
201.                  Tami Nielsen, Sassafras! – The former singer for Canada’s Nielsen Family gets swamp-funky, with good results.
202.                  XXL, Puff O’Gigio – Usually the collaboration albums of Xiu Xiu and the EDM band Larsen are fairly interesting just for something different, but only a few tracks rise above the noise here.
203.                  Mount Joy, s/t – Mildly intriguing folk rock good for morning meditation.
204.                  Justin Timberlake, Man of the Woods – We can give Timberlake credit for at least trying a “back to nature” vehicle as he approaches middle age, but it doesn’t gain him much.
205.                  Matt & Kim, Almost Every Day – Matt & Kim could have gone more for a certain TMBG-style humor, or strict dance electronica. The fact that they are choosing the latter path is a disappointment.
206.                  Glen Hansard, Between Two Shores – Dude, forget Marketa. Go back to The Frames. I’m not getting much out of this morose path.
207.                  Imagine Dragons, Origins – The Utah/Vegas superstars actually can sound decent when they let rhythm come first. But this album opts for pure pop formula.
208.                  Titus Andronicus, A Productive Cough – I’ve usually followed Titus Andronicus through all the punky and operatic twists they’ve made, but this album just sort of falls flat.
209.                  The Carters (Jay-Z and Beyonce), Everything is Love – I am going to keep this on the list because our favorite mega-celebrity pair are trying for fidelity and legitimacy, but, as Jay-Z has shown in recent solo efforts, when you’re this rich your efforts to define street cred look sort of lame.
210.                  Eels, Deconstruction – Because there are a couple songs of merit, this album will close out the list of “worth a listen.” But Mark E. keeps making the same morose statements over and over. He has hit the limit here. Mark Kozelek already exceeded my limit, which is why there are no Kozelek solo or Sun Kil Moon albums on the 2018 list.

Special Albums (Live, Compilations, Splits, CD-Rs, MP3, etc.) (some outstanding reissues from Posies, Soul Asylum, Malo, et al this year, but if it wasn’t dominated by new material, it isn’t eligible)

1.     John Coltrane, Both Directions at Once: The Lost Coltrane Album – For once, a legendary archival work fully lives up to its reputation. This is one of Coltrane’s most coherent, solid works, right up there with My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme.
2.     St. Vincent, MassEducation – A sparse re-imagining of 2017’s Masseduction, featuring Annie Clark’s voice and accompanying grand piano. A sad but beautiful work.
3.     Lera Lynn, Plays Well With Others – A fine selection of duos (John Paul White, Shovels & Rope) from one of country-rock’s most intriguing women.
4.     The Jayhawks, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels – This is not any kind of rarities compilation, but an album of Jayhawks recording songs that they originally wrote for other people.
5.     The Kills, Live at Electric Lady Studios – Alison is on fire in this set of live material from recent albums.
6.     Mt. Eerie, (after) – Live renditions in a Dutch church of songs from A Crow Looked at Me and Now Only.
7.     Bangles/Three O’Clock/Dream Syndicate/Rain Parade, 3x4 – Probably the first good chronicle of the Paisley Underground, these modern sessions from 2017-18 have the four bands going into the studio to record each others’ 1980s hits.
8.     Alt-J, Reduxer – Normally, remix albums don’t do a lot for me, but this mix of songs and artists make the album exceptional, maybe even better than Relaxer.
9.     Guided by Voices, Ogre’s Trumpet – The first good non-bootleg chronicle of the current GbV with Bobby Bare Jr. Wonderful choice of tracks.
10.           Parlor Walls, Live at St. Vitus NYC, October 2018 – A vibrant and exciting recording of a relative newcomer.
11.           Linda Thompson, My Mother Doesn’t Know I’m On the Stage – In which Linda pulls together friends like Martha Wainwright to perform some Edwardian-era Vaudeville numbers.
12.           Yoko Ono, Warzone – Isn’t it lucky we have 85-year-old Yoko to reinterpret some of her older protest songs for a Brexit and Trump era?
13.           Luther Russell, Selective Memories – More than just a best-of compilation, this features rare and unreleased work from Russell’s sessions over the last 30 years.
14.           Neil Young, Songs for Judy – A double live album from 1976, at the height of Young’s acoustic and Crazy Horse powers.
15.           Paul Simon, In Blue Light – An odd but intriguing collection of lesser-known Simon songs reinterpreted in very eclectic ways.
16.           A Star is Born OST – This list usually avoids soundtracks, though projects like Once are exceptions. The original songs here by Brad Cooper and Lady Gaga are too good not to mention.
17.           Ry Cooder, Prodigal Son – Cooder digs up old blues favorites and makes them scary.
18.           Joan Baez, Whistle Down the Wind – In what she says will be her last studio release, Baez picks out some unique and wonderful songs that proves she still has an amazing voice.
19.           Car Seat Headrest, Twin Fantasy – While we wait for the next album of Will Toledo originals, here’s a complete re-recording of one of his older Bandcamp classics.
20.           Dennis Quaid and The Sharks, Out of the Box – Sometimes movie stars shouldn’t attempt rockin’ covers. And sometimes it works pretty well. This is one of the latter instances.
21.           Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Live from the Ryman – Hey, it’s not as scripted as Springsteen on Broadway, and the energy level is high, though it does seem too picture-perfect.
22.           Dirty Projectors, Live at Elsewhere, Nov. 18, 2018 – Some exceptional songs, focusing on new material from Lamp Lit Prose, delivered in rousing fashion.
23.           The Residents, I Am a Resident! – What a concept, The Residents remix recordings of fans covering Residents songs. Snakes eat themselves, and so do eyeballs.
24.           Lords of the New Church (live disc) – On occasion of the re-release of the Lords album, a live set is also offered for the first time.
25.           Jeph Jerman, First Second
26.           Jeph Jerman, Bray Harp – Two ambient compositions from the leader in naturalist sounds and improvisational noise.
27.           Peter Holsapple and Alex Chilton, The Death of Rock – The vocal “moderator” on this album can be distracting, but the 1978 sessions bringing together a young Holsapple and battle-tested Chilton are fascinating.
28.           John Wesley Harding, Greatest Other People’s Hits – One of the more unexpected and fun releases from Record Store Day, this one has Harding dishing up odd covers.
29.           Terra Naomi, Secret Songs – This is not the full studio album of new material promised, but a suite of demos and unreleased goodies featuring material from the last couple years.
30.           Coldplay, Live in Buenos Aires – Make as much fun as you want, this one isn’t bad at all.
31.           Permanent Green Light, Hallucinations – Michael Quercio’s post-Three O’Clock project, brought together in one CD and released for the first time.
32.           Big Star, Live at Lafayette’s – A Big Star fanatic will say that this was an ideal set, and a good example for why they were the band of the century. A lukewarm Big Star fan will say that these guys were a very competent, yet very ordinary rock band.
33.           Maggie Roche, Where Do I Come From? Selected Songs – This two-disc set is more than just a best-of of Maggie’s work. There are unreleased solo songs, as well as rarities from The Roches and Maggie and Suzzy Roche.
34.           Bruce Springsteen, Springsteen On Broadway – Of course it’s essential, but it also feels as though Bruce has relied too much on the epic romanticism passages from his memoir. Yes,  this residency has been hard work, but  there is little here about the formation of E Street Band, and odd gaps in the stories chosen from his personal childhood. Both the album and the Netflix film drag in places as a result.
35.           Bill Orcutt, My Friends When I’m Not There – Orcutt released an LP re-release of a tape in 2018, as well as a compilation of singles, but this album is a completely new live set. When you consider he also released an EP and a duo album with Chris Corsano, it’s been quite a year for Bill.
36.           Nellie McKay, Sister Orchid – I think it’s cool McKay wanted to record an album of jazz standards after recording an album of strange psychedelic throwbacks, but when will we get new songs from Nellie?
37.           Echo and the Bunnymen, Stars, Ocean, Moon – Kind of nice to hear orchestrated remixes of the Bunnymen’s favorite songs, but there’s also a sense of midlife crisis here.
38.           Rage Against the Machine, Live in LA 2000 – A necessary and exciting document, but the Los Angeles Democratic Convention of 2000 sure seems like a loooong time ago.
39.           Jorge Santana, Love the Way – More than just a reissue or compilation, this is a suite of unreleased and remixed material.
40.           VIbracathedral Orchestra, Club Oto, 2018 – Since the ensemble has stopped releasing new material in the last couple years, the annual Club Oto outings are our one chance each year to catch up with VCO.

Singles and EPs

1.     boygenius, s/t – Yes it’s overhyped, but the trio of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus have put out six songs that are startlingly great.
2.     Edith Makes a Paper Chain, Hummingbird – Sarah Hope proves herself not just a great lyricist, but a fine studio wizard in manipulating noises and found sound.
3.     Lake Street Dive, Freak Yourself Out – The 10” companion to Free Yourself Up, this little EP is a milestone in LSD fun.
4.     Lana Del Rey, Venice Bitch/Mariners Apartment Complex – Two songs from the promised 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell show Lana absolutely on top of her game.
5.     Grouper, Grid of Points – No, it’s not an album, it’s a 20-minute minimalist piano study, one of Liz Harris’s finer works.
6.     Esperanza Spalding, 12 Little Spells – Even though this work is longer than supposed “albums” from Grouper and Jenny Hval, Spalding explicitly calls this work an EP. A dozen short pieces on the body, and the mind’s reaction to the body, make this a far cry from the grandeur of Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution, and it also shows she’s always growing and changing.
7.     Azure Ray, Waves – Maria and Orenda are back! My only gripe is that the flexi 7” release had only two of the five songs available on the download. Physical first, streaming last!
8.     Heather Maloney, Just Enough Sun – This one has the feel of Lydia Loveless’s Boy Crazy: exceptional songs from Maloney’s 2017-18 tours that you just might want to pick up in case they don’t find their way onto an album.
9.     Jenny Hval, The Long Sleep – This extended single is one of the most normal, melodic things Hval has ever done, and absolutely delightful.
10.                       Nobody’s Girl, Waterline – Three Kerrville folk-country veterans unite for a women’s power trio to challenge the likes of I’m With Her, boygenius, and Pistol Annies.
11.                       Public Practice, Distance is a Mirror– A Brooklyn supergroup formed from members of Wall and Beverly. Fun stuff.
12.                       Chvrches, Hansa Session EP – Five acoustic versions of tracks from Love Is Dead, very appealing in their delivery – and interesting to hear an electronica-driven band go acoustic.
13.                        Alien She, Feeler – Dublin’s women’s punk collective makes its first assault on America. We surrender!
14.                       Belly, Feel – A fine companion to the reunion album Dove. You can never have too much Tanya Donelly.
15.                       Kevin Mitchell, Gray Crown – It takes amazing guts to write a hip-hop EP about aging and vulnerability, but then Mitchell has never been anything less than fearless.
16.                       David Byrne, “The Best Live Show of All Time” – A droll EP of the American Utopia tour, including two Talking Heads tunes. Fun!
17.                       Bill Orcutt, Neu Bros and Rural Beatles – Almost an album in length, and indisputably weird.
18.                       Courtney Barnett, City Looks Pretty – Maybe the coolest 12” single of Record Store Day. A fine teaser to the new album.
19.                       Iron and Wine, Weed Garden – A fine footnote to Sam Beam’s last album, actually some of the best songs of that session.
20.                       The Decemberists, Traveling On --  Meloy and company often work best in EP format, and this is a nice epilogue to this year’s album.
21.                       Belle & Sebastian, How to Solve Our Human Problems, Parts 2 and 3 – It was a challenge figuring out how to list these EPs, as the release of the trio split between 2017 and 2018. The concluding two discs were more Zen, bringing us to a deeper understanding.
22.                       Waxahatchee, Great Thunder – A simple minimalist re-recording of some of Katie Crutchfield’s oldest songs as Waxahatchee.
23.                       Brian Eno and Kevin Shields, The Weight of History – Eno collaborates with My Bloody Valentine members. Hope we get more releases from these sessions!
24.                       Protomartyr, Consolation – Sometimes the idea of a project sounds better than the project itself. An alliance between Protomartyr and The Breeders should have clicked, but mostly this EP was sorta OK, and the fault seemed to lie more with Joe than the Deal sisters.
25.                       First Aid Kit, You Are the Problem Here – Not just an adjunct to the Ruins album, but a powerful single in its own right.
26.                       The Mountain Goats, Hex of Infinite Binding – An eclectic set of observations, but this is the only new John Darnielle (not counting reissues) we got in 2018.
27.                       Kacey Musgraves, High Horse Remixes – This isn’t just cool for being a RSD Black Friday 10” record, but because one of the weaker cuts on her new album was turned into a dance floor anthem. It works.
28.                       John C. Spengler, Workin’ On It – Wry and fascinating songs of Colorado life.
29.                       Parlor Walls, EXO – A band we all should pay more attention to.
30.                       Guided by Voices, 100 Dougs
31.                       Guided by Voices, Wine Cork Stonehenge – The band has three solid 2019-2020 albums already in the hopper, but these singles get demerited a bit for being $11-$13 retail for a 7-inch record. Pollard says, “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it,” but I think more fans should just say no.
32.                       Rich Jones, The Shoulder You Lean On – Inventive Chicago R&B/hip-hop with elements of pop.
33.                       Ought, Four Desires – Four cool remixes from the new Ought album, available only on cassette!
34.                       Flaming Lips, The Story of Yum-Yum – Another crazy sci-fi fantasy from our Oklahoma crew, timed to coincide with the release of a dedicated Dogfish Head Flaming Lips brew.
35.                       Glands of External Secretion, Backlit Colander – Seymour Glass and Barbara Manning are usually inexplicable when they get together as Glands, and this is no exception. But the fact of their existence is enough.
36.                       Paul Sprawl, Signs of Life – Strange guitar rumblings from deep in the Big Bend area of West Texas.