I actually got my 2018 roundup finished before the year is over! Here’s hoping I can keep that planning and productivity intact for all things to come in 2019.
Before we jump into the top 10 albums, here are some concert highlights from 2018:
I went to Cincinnati, Ohio for The National’s first ever Homecoming Festival. (Looking back to last year’s album roundup I had my fingers crossed the lineup would be good, and it was great!)
Saw Jack White at the Mayan and there was a “no phone rule”. Watching a show with my own eyes and not through the video screen of some strangers phone felt refreshing.
Smash Mouth played a free concert at Pershing Square in DTLA. No shame: it was amazing!
Other staple shows of the year were: LCD Soundsystem & the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Hollywood Bowl, Arctic Monkeys at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Courtney Barnett at Pico Union and Leon Bridges at The Greek.
Went to The Foo Fighter’s festival, Cal Jam, and was there for the Nirvana reunion.
Listen along with the 2018 playlist as you make your way through my top 10 albums of the year!
TOP 10 COUNTDOWN
10. SOLACE / RÜFUS DÜ SOL
It’s an odd thing for me to stray from the indie/alternative path… Solace is the exception being the one EDM album on my list. Synth-y, deep, but not too “unce-unce-unce” rave-like. The album is influenced by stark Californian desert landscapes and has a dark, moody vibe that comes along with it.
The cover for Solace was taken by Le Fawnhawk who also photographed artwork for each single release. It’s definitely worth checking her out for her contrasting desert style, especially in the photos where people and shapes are the main focus.
9. FOR EVER / JUNGLE
I had been patiently awaiting Jungle’s sophomore album since 2014. For Ever was worth the 4 year wait which, at times felt like forever. It comes in strong with a heavy, funky percussion on “Smile” that you can’t help but move to. Mid-way you’re met by a keyboard-strong “Casio” that sort of gets you to sway. And it ends on a mix of a bit of everything with “Pray” that’ll send you into a dreamy state of mind.
They have a show at The Hollywood Palladium March 1, 2019!
8. THE OTHER / KING TUFF
The Other dives into the issues of technological addiction, the environment and how it’s suffering by our neglect, and ultimately, death.
Kyle Thomas, (aka King Tuff), touches on questioning what’s out there in the universe; but urges that if we focus too much on what’s out there we may forget what we have here on Earth, and we might realize that too late.
The song “Thru the Cracks”, is a touching tribute where Thomas reminisces about an old friend who is now at peace. Featuring an assist from Jenny Lewis on vocals, it’s a warm reminder that we are all loved, even our darkest hours.
7. SPARKLE HARD / STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS
Good ‘ol American Rock pretty much sums up Sparkle Hard. A bit twangy, almost country at times, with classic storytelling at the center of it all. Listen close for the modern day stories about the “Me Too” movement and Black Lives Matter.
“Kite”, weighing in at a nearly seven minutes, departs from the rest of the album by journeying back to the 2013 style of Wig Out at Jagbags and beyond. It’s like a walkabout for guitar riffs and “doo doo doo” backing vocals. A refreshing jam in the center of the album.
Malkmus has been in the game for a long time and seems to be finally kicking back, doing whatever he wants. Luckily it’s what I want too.
6. GEOGRAPHY / TOM MISCH
Tom Misch has a calculated take on jazz in that his songs are crafted to his version of perfection. They range from the slow, building storyline of “Movie” to the dancy, steady repetitive bass of “Cos I Love You”.
There’s also a cover of “Isn’t She Lovely” randomly wedged in the tracklist that’s a nice little instrumental surprise, and a fun exploration from his usual style.
Even though Geography was one of my most played albums of the year, I somehow can’t sum it up into words as to why. It’s just an easy listen that makes me happy.
5. VIDE NOIR / LORD HURON
Vide Noir is an atmospheric folk-pop triumph.
If you’re searching for the perfect road tripping/driving album, this is it. Picture fuzzy 8mm film playing where the sun hits your windows just right while you drive off into the sunset. Yeah, this could be you.
Lord Huron played The National’s Homecoming festival earlier this year in Cincinnati, OH at Smale Riverfront Park. Hearing them play "Wait by the River" while being between a river and at the edge of a city was a pretty surreal experience. Ben Schneider took it all in when he motioned to the river and skyline as he sang. Goosebumps all around.
4. GOOD THING / LEON BRIDGES
From the first listen, Good Thing felt nostalgic, familiar, comforting and warm. It’s like you’re listening with your best friends, arms around one another even when it’s just you and the music.
I can't listen to "Beyond" without tearing up especially when he sings, "I know that Grandma would've loved her like she was her own." (I’ve got a soft spot for my grandmas in my heart).
On the flip side of that, some laid-back, up-tempo funk songs that were on my heavy rotation this year are “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be")” and “Bad Bad News”.
There’s authenticity that comes with the songs on Good Thing. They remind me of love and loss, better days, but more importantly the great days to come.
Really regretting not buying a "Good Thing" jacket when I saw Leon Bridges at The Greek in LA earlier this year.
3. CON TODO EL MUNDO / KHRUANGBIN
Con Todo El Mundo means "With all the world" which, coincidentally is how much I love this record.
I also recently learned that “Khruangbin” is Thai for airplane. Very fitting for their 70s psychedelic, global sound that will definitely take you on a trip.
I put this album on when I need to zone out to some smooth sounds, or, on the flip side, dance to the occasional funky tune. May I suggest, “Evan Finds the Third Room” or “Maria También” for your swaying dance floor needs.
2. WIDE AWAKE! / PARQUET COURTS
The lyrics off the title track, “I'm wide awake, Mind so woke 'cause my brain never pushed the brakes”, are actually a great way to describe my 2018. A constant ‘go-go-go’ mentality of over-working and planning and trying to make time to do everything all at once, at points resulting in a flurry of anxiety.
Wide Awake! is loud, a bit punk, full of noise/yelling and serves as a great companion for LA traffic.
Earlier this year while browsing a blog I frequent, It’s Nice That, I was surprised to stumble upon an article about Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts. Not only does he do vocals/guitar in the band, but he creates all of the album artwork, too. What an awesome relationship between two creative outlets: one completely fast-paced, and the other slow and relaxed. What a good balance to strive for.
1. TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL / COURTNEY BARNETT
Equipped with a bit of anger, a lot of hope, and a “take shit from no one attitude”, Courtney Barnett told us how she really felt on Tell Me How You Really Feel.
Back in May in a tiny chapel near DTLA, Barnett played the full album front to back and I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to it all the way through since then. (look it’s me front ‘n center in a pink hat!)
This album is chock-full of emotional, soul searching anthems and for me, “Charity” really rose to the top. It talks about this “everything’s amazing” veil we all have over our lives, the obstacles in our way and the truth that none of us really know what we’re doing. “You don’t have to pretend you’re not scared, everyone else is just as terrified as you.” Be kind to one another: we’re all searching: we’re all going through something: we all want to be heard and respected: Are you listening?
The June playlist is here! Ft. new tunes from Jungle, White Denim, Arctic Monkeys, Iceage and more. 🎶 Have a listen below.
Here's the highlights:
- Newly founded band Wajatta is a mashup between Reggie Watts (yes, the comedian) and John Tejada. It's groovy-lounge-happiness at its finest.
- I'm sure you're one of the 220 million plus people who have seen Childish Gambino's "This Is America" video. But on the off chance you're not, you should go watch it.
- White Denim is back with new music! They're from Austin, TX. Which I'm visiting for the first time in a couple of weeks!
- I've really been into bumping Amber Mark's new song "All the Work" off her latest EP. Especially, when I have a deadline creeping up on me.
The May playlist is here! Ft. new tunes from Tom Misch, Leon Bridges, Lord Huron, Melody's Echo Chamber and more. 🎶Have a listen below.
Here's the highlights:
- New music from Leon Bridges is the opposite of his latest single "Bad Bad News", it's Good Good News! Even better news: I'll be seeing him at The Greek in September!
- It's been a while since we've heard from Friendly Fires. They were one of my highschool jams, and they've still got it with their happy, poppy beats as heard on "Love Like Waves".
- Have you listened to King Tuff's new album yet? "Raindrop Blue" is my favorite track, but it was hard to choose with so many good ones!
- I just got back from The National's Homecoming Festival where I saw Lord Huron for the first time! It was SUCH a great show. And hearing "Wait by the River" right next to a river? Amazing. "Moonbeam" is another one of my favorites from their new album Vide Noir.
This past weekend, I won tickets through work to attend Free Press Summer Festival in Houston, TX!
The night before our flight out, I saw Digitalism at the El Rey. They were AWESOME, but whoa. Note to self you'll be exhausted when you have to wake up at 4:30am the next day.
Our flight was delayed by 2 hours, but luckily we didn't miss anyone we wanted to see. Denise and I rolled up to the Air BnB, dropped off our things and headed to FPSF.
During the weekend I think I tallied 26, "Oh my god I love your rain boots!" or "Where did you get those?!" on my Jeffery Campbell glitter ankle rain boots. Form AND function? Plus, who can say no to glitter? Cheers to that.
I'm really glad I brought them because Oh. My. God. The. Weather... Insanity. But we'll get into that later.
HOLY SHIT. If you ever have the chance to see White Denim live, do it!!! These guys seriously rock. One big massive jam sesh; they didn't even have a set list! (I know because I tried to snag one at the end).
During the set, I was next to this drunk girl who was in love with the drummer. She kept yelling, "Drum solo, drum solo!" The lead guitarist, James Petralli, heard her and announced to the crowd, "Sounds like we have a request for a drum solo." Screams and applause followed in anticipation. The drummer, Joshua Block, laughed nervously and shied away. James smiled and said, "Drum solo. Joshua, play a solo drum, once."
Josh hit a drum and the crowd went wild. The band continued on to each do a "solo", which was basically doing one twang of a guitar or a single push on a keyboard.
I love when a band has fun rocking out, and comes equipped with a sense of humor and interaction with the crowd.
We hung back at Jamie XX and people watched as the show went on. My favorite person was a guy intensely voguing yelling, "Twirl! And twirl! And twirl!"
Modest Mouse always delivers. And when I say always, I mean the two times that I've seen them were rad. I also realized they sort of have a similar sound to Interpol, but with way different vocals.
During the day it rained every now and then, and there was even a rainbow!
Sunday morning before the festival we brunched and walked around in the Montrose area, which was surprisingly artsy. We spotted like 4 thrift stores, 3 antique shops and (not even joking) 15 tattoo parlours.
OK now back to the good stuff: the music.
Wild Child was a good, folksy start to our Sunday. Nice mellow jams to listen to while basking in the sun.
Denise and I took a break for a while and hit up the Skyy Vodka tent (they were giving out free shots! [don't ask how many we had]), Malibu Beach House, got some beer and grabbed some grub.
Allen Stone was next. Um, great voice and even better hat! Man this guy has got some soul. I had never heard of him before, and I'm crazy happy I checked him out. They put on a REALLY good show.
Continuing that soulful music was Leon Bridges. I don't need to say much here. He's fucking amazing.
Denise and I then went our separate ways so I could catch Young the Giant and she could see Big Grams. Ten minutes until showtime, a guy came out on stage with a mic, but wasn't from the band. He announced that everyone had to evacuate the park due to severe weather conditions and possible thunderstorms in our area as reported by the National Weather Service. Mostly everyone at the fest was a local, and it seemed 100% normal to them.
Good thing it only lasted about an hour or so.
Young the Giant came out and said something like, "We've never had a gig where we're backstage literally two minutes before the show not knowing if we're actually playing or not."
I NEED Sameer's sequin jacket in my life BTW.
Watching The National play while it rained was great, because people couldn't tell the difference between raindrops and tears. Kidding. I didn't cry. However, I did have a moment when they sang "I Need my Girl". I imagined the lyrics with "man" instead; Jackson's in Spain right now and I haven't seen him for a week. Sappy stuff, ya know?
For our flight back on Monday, wake up time was 3:30. Tired is an understatement. I'm writing this on the plane at the moment actually. We're landing really soon, and when we do I'm heading home, dropping off my bags and driving to work. Because yes, I am insane. #workhardplayhard
What a fun weekend though. Despite the travel, tiredness and weather, I'd do it again in a heartbeat (but first I'd invest in a sturdier poncho).
Until next time, Texas. <3