My Favorite Albums of 2018

Hello there, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. The time when I share with you some of my favorite albums of the year that recently ended. Took a little longer than usually this time, as I slacked a bit throughout 2018 in listening to a lot of new albums. But now we’re here. And I’m excited to start writing, this is one of my favorite things to do each year. Just a few stipulations between us.

Rule number 1: Please be nice. If you don’t agree with my picks, that is fine, I encourage discussion. Just don’t be a dick about it.

Rule number 2: I am not including any film scores/soundtracks, as that would make this list go on for way too long. Also, this is just to celebrate the music in its own right, and not have it clouded by any positive cinematic experiences.

Rule number 3: I don’t do EPs or singles. This is for those fully referred to as ALBUMS. So if there’s an EP that you liked that isn’t here, now you know why.

That should be it. Though I will also give an honorable mention to “Campfire” by Kasey Chambers and The Fireside Disciples. The few tracks I’ve heard from that album are incredible, but due to some licensing bullshit, I can’t listen to the full album since I’m not in Australia… and importing is too pricey, so I’m not gonna hear it anytime soon. But I guess an honorable mention is fine.

Anyway, with all that out of the way, now is the time for me to share my favorite albums of 2018!

Number 13: Luke Westaway – Short Songs With Long Titles (Sample: I Took a Week Off Work and My Brain Didn’t Know What to Do With That, Clearly).

Kicking off this list is an album with a very self-explanatory title. From Luke Westaway, most known for his hosting gig on the OutsideXtra youtube channel, comes “Short Songs With Long Titles” an album all about short songs with long titles. It’s a charming little thing that just puts a smile on my face. It’s not musically complex, it’s not emotionally charged… it’s just a guy having a bit of fun, and that is quite infectious, for me at least.

Number 12: Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son (Sample: The Prodigal Son).

Next up is “The Prodigal Son”, the latest album from musician Ry Cooder. It has an interesting sound in how it blends a bit of rock and folk and blues and a tiny bit of country. And it blends together to make something really cool that I enjoy listening to.

Number 11: Kacey Musgraves – Golder Hour (Sample: Slow Burn).

At number 11 we have the latest release from pop/country artist Kacey Musgraves. When I first heard of Musgraves I dismissed her as another pop artist (like an asshole). But then later I started hearing murmurs of her actually being a country artist, which had me intrigued. And I decided to give her newest release a chance. And I’m glad I did, because it’s pretty damn good (evidenced by its inclusion here).

Number 10: Buddy Guy – The Blues is Alive and Well (Sample: A Few Good Years).

I think I’ve made it clear on this blog a few times that I’m a fan of blues. So the fact that such an old school blues album can be released in 2018 just makes me happy. Hell, that album title just summarizes my thoughts perfectly. The blues is indeed alive and well.

Number 9: Florence + The Machine – High as Hope (Sample: 100 Years)

First single digit entry is the latest from alt-rock/pop outfit Florence and The Machine (that “and” often stylized as a +). And with this, Florence Welch (who fronts the band) lays herself bare, talking about pain, suffering, sadness, and other such fun subjects. I already enjoyed the band to a certain extent, and this album is another reason for me to do so.

Number 8: Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army (Sample: Lover, Leaver).

At number 8 we have the latest release from legendary rock band Led Zeppelin. *Smack* Ouch, okay, fine, I’ll be serious… dick. So yeah, it’s impossible to talk about Greta Van Fleet without mentioning their similarity to Led Zep. I mean, Josh Kiszka’s voice is a dead ringer for a young Robert Plant. Anyway, similarities to Markus’ favorite bands aside, how does it stack up on its own as a rock album? It’s great (the inclusion on the list should’ve been a dead giveaway). It’s great to hear this kind of old school rock still being played in our current days. And who can complain about hearing a bit of new Led Zep material in 2018/2019? *Smack*.

Number 7: Shemekia Copeland – American’s Child (Sample: Ain’t Got Time For Hate).

Buddy Guy said it. Blues is alive and well. Copeland comments on a lot of current issues within the United States, and her message comes through beautifully through her strong vocals, and use of the blues genre. Blues is great for telling genres, so using it to send a message about some of the fucked up stuff going on in the world is a brilliant idea. Plus, it’s just a damn solid listen overall.

Number 6: Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Black Coffee (Sample: Give it Everything You Got).

Man, 2018 was one hell of a year for blues. Even better is that this is a collab by one of the best duo’s in the genre. Hart and Bonamassa have done a couple albums before that I really liked, so I was already excited to hear another one from them… and man, it did not disappoint. Hard-hitting instruments, Hart’s fierce voice, and an overall sense of the various crew members’ skill makes this one hell of a good time.

Number 5: Steve Perry – Traces (Sample: No Erasin’).

Man, was this the biggest surprise release of 2018. I was just chilling out and browsing twitter a bit, and suddenly I just see “Journey’s Steve Perry to release new album in a couple days”, which of course had me reacting like “Fucking what?”. Perry’s been relatively quiet on the musical front since leaving Journey in 1998. Then suddenly 20 years later he releases a new solo album… and it’s great? Talk about one of the most pleasant surprises in recent years. But yeah, if you like a lot of his old Journey stuff, you’ll most likely enjoy “Traces” too.

Number 4: Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer (Sample: Hangout at the Gallows). 

“If Radiohead had sex with The Beatles” a youtube comment described this song. It’s not entirely wrong. I can certainly hear a little bit of that in Misty’s sound, though I also think he’s still created something entirely his own within the sort of indie/folk/alt-rock sounds that he clearly resides within. His voice, the instrumentals, and the lyrics all make for one really great album.

Number 3: Joe Satriani – What Happens Next (Sample: Energy).

Rock and motherfucking roll. Coming in with a bronze medal, we have the latest release from acclaimed rock guitarist Joe Satriani. I’ve been a fan of his for years, so I was of course excited for his new album which was an early 2018 release, and I was listening on day 1. And man, it was so badass. Badass solos, slick licks, and and Satriani’s overall sense of how to keep purely instrumental songs fresh and unique makes it one of the best of the year. Plus, the background work by Chad Smith and Glenn Hughes gives it an extra edge too.

Number 2: Judas Priest – Firepower (Sample: Firepower).

Wow, was the inclusion of this quite surprising. Bands that have been working for as long as Judas Priest shouldn’t sound so good so far into their lifetime. And when I first heard the album, I kinda dismissed it as another half-decent, fairly catchy, pretty well done metal album. But since then it’s really grown on me, and I have realized just how good it is. “Firepower” is as old school as metal gets, and I’d say that it might be the band’s best since “Painkiller”, maybe even since “British Steel”. Like, what the fuck, this is way better than it has any right to be. Oh well, I’m not gonna complain about a bit of awesome music.

Number 1: Joe Bonamassa – Redemption (Sample: Redemption).

Anybody who knows me should not be surprised by this. I’ve said so many times on this blog, on twitter, and in real life how much I adore Bonamassa’s music. And with “Redemption” he has once again given us a musically impressive, catchy, and overall solid blues-rock album. His vocals are the best we’ve heard from him, and the guitar work is still absolutely stunning. Bonamassa is one of the most hard working musicians out there, constantly touring and putting out content and just overall kicking musical ass. “Redemption” is my favorite album of 2018.

So those were my favorite albums of 2018. But now I wanna hear from you guys, what have been some of your favorite albums of last year? Either leave a comment or make a blog post of your own as a response to this, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have a good one.

Summer-y Songs Part 2

Greetings, dudes and dudettes! You may be wondering what the hell this is. Well, back in 2016 I wrote a little piece on songs that give off a summer-y vibe (with the contributions of some cool people), and for a while I’ve wanted to do a part 2. So now we’re finally here. I got some of my own choices, and I’ve gathered some suggestions from some really cool people, so now we can get started. Wanna know what was on that original list? You can find out by clicking on the platypus.

PLATYPUS.

Now, for lists I usually set up some basic rules, but I feel like it isn’t needed. This is supposed to be a more relaxed post, talking about summer-y vibes. So let’s keep it cool, y’all. No bitching, please. Also, the only real rule I’ve put on myself for this is that I won’t include any of the songs from the first list. With that out of the way, let’s put on our sunglasses, pour ourselves some cold drinks, and listen to some summer-y songs!

#1: The Dickies – Waterslide.

The first song on the list is “Waterslide” by punk rock band The Dickies. This was suggested by Nick (@nuthousepunks on twitter), and as the title suggests… it’s about a waterslide. Not much else that can be said there, it’s a fun and fast-paced song about going on a waterslide, which is something a lot of people do during the summer to have fun/cool off a bit. Really, not much that can be said about it.

#2: Weezer – Feels Like Summer.

Next up we have Weezer’s “Feels Like Summer”, as suggested by Jonny (@JonnyHoppus on twitter). The title explains it perfectly… it feels like summer. To be honest, while I don’t think it’s a bad song, it’s not the Weezer I like. I prefer the more old school Weezer. Maybe it’s my rock-based bias that’s speaking here, but it feels less like Weezer and more like… I don’t know something. Still, thanks for the suggestion, Jonny!

#3: K’naan & David Bisbal – Wavin’ Flag.

Our third song was suggested by fellow blogger Elena (@ElenaM52 on twitter, Elenasquareeyes here on wordpress). Yeah, I feel it. It has that sort of vibe that you can kind of expect from radio hits in the summer. It also helps that it has a Spanish singer in the form of David Bisbal, because that language always sounds hot and steamy… I mean summer-y. I remember hearing this on radio a few years back and actually kind of enjoying it (though it had no Spanish in that version, I think). so it’s another good pick for this list.

#4: Greta Van Fleet – Highway Tune.

Hey, we’re finally at one of my picks! So here we have “Highway Tune” by American rock band Greta Van Fleet. This song has blown up since it was released last year, and for good reason. People have called these guys a younger version of Led Zeppelin, and I kind of agree. And don’t just take my word for it, Robert Plant himself have given these guys a thumbs up. Anyway, why did I pick this song for the list? Well, I felt like this list needed a bit more rock in it. Also, I imagine driving down a road on a hot summer day in this, just for fun, with your friends. Hell yeah.

#5: The Undertones – Here Comes The Summer.

This is the second song to be suggested by Nick, and again… kind of self-explanatory. It’s in the title. “Here Comes The Summer”. And it has a fun style that I could imagine being used in a summer activities montage in a movie, or at a party during the summer. Really, this just explains itself. Thanks, Nick!

#6: Toploader – Dancing in the Moonlight.

The second song from the lovely Elena, and I do kind of get where she’s coming from with this… I think, she didn’t give a full explanation for why this was a specific choice. But if I get to throw my own thoughts into it, I feel like this song has a very chill vibe that could work well for summer nights, or if you’re just chilling by the pool. Overall, it has a cool vibe that definitely could work for a summer-y playlist.

#7: Santana – Oye Como Va.

The second pick from yours truly. And if you checked out the old list, you would know that I already included some Santana in that one. And I guess sometimes you have to have some returning players. And I am happy to once again include Carlos and friends in a list of mine. Last time it was the sexy “Smooth”, and this time it’s about the cool “Oye Como Va”. Once again playing into the Spanish/Latino stylings that I previously mentioned, this song I imagine when I see people in a town, sitting outside, whether just gathering some sun, or having a drink at the local café. Just a cool song for the summer.

#8: Walk The Moon – Shut Up and Dance.

The third song suggested by Elena (she gave me a handful of tracks, which is why she pops up so much here). And this is another good one. Like with “Wavin’ Flag”, it’s one of those tracks one can imagine being released during the summer, it just has that fun, relatively carefree style that fits that season. It’s a fun party track that I do enjoy listening to.

#9: David Bisbal – Ave Maria.

Hey, look who makes his second appearance in this list. First it was in one of Elena’s choices, and now in one of mine. That’s right, I chose the bouncy, Spanish pop song, going against what people usually assume my music taste is. But I can’t help it, this song is just so much fun, there’s just a  joyous energy to it that makes it so god damn infectious. And again, sexy Spanish singing.

#10: Pitbull feat Ke$ha – Timber.

The final tracks suggested by Elena, here we have the biggest hit to come from the rapper known as Pitbull. And like previous tracks, I could definitely imagine this playing at a party during the summer. It just has a fun bounciness to it that I think will get people moving on the dancefloor. The harmonica is also a nice touch. Thank you for these suggestions, Elena!

#11: Joe Satriani – Summer Song.

From here on out, it’s all my choices. And to kick this final bunch off, we have another one that just has it’s explanation in the title. It’s called “Summer Song”… I don’t need to say more. You know, other than JOE SATRIANI IS AMAZING… Good guitar playing tends to win me over.

#12: Ricky Martin – Livin La Vida Loca.

That’s right, more Latino vibes comin’ at ya! Not my fault that songs with Latino stylings fit the summer so well. But what else can I say? You’ve heard this song, your dead great-great-grandmother has heard this song, everyone’s heard this song. It’s one of those that has stuck with me for almost my entire life, and I still love it. It’s slick, sexy, and just cool.

#13: Christian Kane – Fast Car.

Here we have “Fast Car”, originally recorded by Tracy Chapman, covered here by actor/musician Christian Kane. While Chapman’s relatively minimalist style works incredibly well for the song, I still kind of prefer Kane’s version. The added instruments, combined with Kane’s voice makes for a damn fine little country-ballad. This is also kind of the antithesis of “Highway Tune”. While that song could fit for fast and fun driving at higher speeds, “Fast Car” (despite the title) feels more like a song meant for slow cruising along a country road.

#14: Brad Paisley – River Bank.

The original list ended with a Brad Paisley tune, so why not let this one do the same? Last time we ended with “Water”, a song about how the titular element could be used for fun during summertime. Today we wrap things up with “River Bank” , a song about going to the river and just havin’ a grand ol’ time, y’all. I’ve made it clear on a couple of occasions here that I love Brad Paisley, so I’ll take any chance of including his music on a list.

So that was Summer-y Songs Part 2! Once again, big thanks to Nick, Jonny, and Elena (twitter profiles linked throughout the post if you wanna follow them) for providing some suggestions for the list, I really appreciate your participation! But I also wanna hear from you, the reader. What’s a song that gives you a summer-y vibe? Leave any suggestions like that in the comments!
Have a good one!