By Staff Writer Sawyer Pollitt
2018 was one wild-ride. Thankfully, we all have music to keep us sane and balanced in these trying times. The following are the four albums that I enjoyed the most in 2018. They are listed in no particular order.
First, to get it out of the way, is Death Grips’ Year of the Snitch. Admittedly, my favorite musical group, Death Grips dropped their latest album Year of the Snitch after months of singles, cryptic teasers, and much anticipation. Upon first listening at exactly 12:00AM the night it released I was unimpressed and disappointed with what I was hearing.
Over time, their departure from the traditional sound that I have come to love, began to grow on me.
Jazz and rock influences pepper the usual industrial and glitchy sounds that accompany most of their albums and breathe new creative life into a group that continues to push the envelope with every release.
It is still quite abrasive and difficult to listen to for one who may be unfamiliar with their previous work.
If you’re in the mood for something new or out of your comfort zone, this wouldn’t be a bad album to pick up. Some tracks have a broader appeal for those who may not be normally inclined to listen to this style of music.
Next, Your Queen is a Reptile by Sons of Kemet. This album quickly became my favorite studio jazz album of the year. The unique mix of tuba, drums, saxophone, and clarinet provide an energetic and eclectic sound that can’t be found anywhere else.
Driving and primal beats are accented by a punchy and deliberate horn section.
The grooves put down by the tuba throughout the project butter every track with a fine layer of bouncy bass that blends perfectly with the other instrumentalists on the album.
Your Queen is a Reptile is also improved by the addition of several featured vocalists who rap in a spoken word style, delivering powerful political and social messages that mesh seamlessly with the rest of the Sons of Kemet.
Several times throughout this album, the band seems to go into an improvisational free-form period that lends to the wild fun and excitement that is offered with this project.
Moving on, Stranger Fruit by Zeal & Ardor is arguably the heaviest album on this list. It is a unique blend of gospel slave spirituals and black metal. While this may initially sound like an odd pairing, it works extremely well and found itself playing frequently in my house for most of 2018.
One of the strongest aspects of Stranger Fruit is its effectiveness at relaying its message.
While dealing with grim subject matter involving the African slave trade throughout America’s history, it does not fall into a trap of being a depressing slog.
It remains playful and pleasant to listen to. Heavy and harsh tracks that emphasize brutal guitars as well as ominous Latin chants are contrasted by relatively innocent blippy synthesizer-based instrumentals.
Last but certainly not least is Noname’s Room 25. An album that I have already reviewed in The Torch, Room 25 still sits quite high on my list of music for 2018.
My appreciation for this project has neither decreased nor increased since my last review. The soft-spoken style of rapping and beautiful production are as impactful as ever. The poignant lyrical content still hits hard with social messages that are near indistinguishable from poetry.
These have been my four favorite albums of 2018. While there are many more albums and singles that I have enjoyed immensely throughout this past year, these are the few that I can point to as a high-water mark of 2018.
This year is already shaping up to be an eventful one in the musical world and there are many exciting projects that are sure to come our way.
Photo Courtesy: Vox Media