2018 Top Tens

2018 Top Tens

As is tradition, each year we ask Programming Committee members, staff, bands, Visual Artists, and Community Members what their favorite albums, shows, books, poems, zines, receptions or moments were in the past year. Naturally the format and stylings of each list widely vary, follow no particular format, and each capture a different and unique snapshot of this past year. Some folks felt the need to explain their picks, others urge you to seek them out on your own (if you choose). To assist in this, we made a little (very large) Spotify playlist embedded at the very bottom of this list.

 

Brigdon Markward (Music Director)

  • Yves Tumor – Safe in the Hands of Love: Without paying close enough attention, the experimental nature of this album sort of feigns an otherworldly and detached feeling, but the more you listen the closer to home it takes you. You start to realize that these songs couldn’t be more human, and the pained lyricism, deconstructed Pop and Hip-Hop sounds, and thoughtfully constructed chaos wok together to create an album that stands entirely on it’s own.
  • Laurel Halo – Raw Silk Uncut Wood: This was the last album from this list I discovered this year, selected at random by Alana Bergund from Haruomi Hosono’s related artists on Spotify. It was a sound I 100% needed, but didn’t know it. The 6 tracks take you through ambient textures alongside dense measures of jazz and noise, creating something really really cool.
  • Mitski – Be the Cowboy: I fell in love with this album backwards. I didn’t really understand Geyser and Nobody as singles, but the first time I heard Two Slow Dancers I put it on repeat and listened to it alone in my car, and it all started to make sense. As an album, Be the Cowboy captures feelings of loneliness, love, and an assortment of other emotions in a way few other songwriters could. Mitski and an artist is untouchable, and this album is very good.
  • Current Joys – A Different Age: I almost forgot this album came out this year, which is solely a testament to how long this year has felt. A Different Age sits as an intensely personal and unique pillar in the noise of 2018. Personal in the sense that it immediately struck a chord with me, as most of Nick’s music does, and unique in the sense that no other release sounded like this. Listen to it if you haven’t yet.
  • Grouper – Grid of Points: This album, while short, took on a wide range of emotion into play. I felt isolated listening to these songs, but I felt equally triumphant and uplifted throughout the loneliness.
  • Blood Orange – Negro Swan: I’m a sucker for Dev’s songwriting and this such an ambitious project. This album had a huge list of guests, producers, and collaborators, but Dev’s vision for this album remained pretty clear. The albums eloquent descriptors of queer black american anxiety in an unabashedly racist and openly homophobic country are heartwrenching. Even as the album delves into lighter moments and themes, the vision is consistent as you move through the albums 16 tracks and spoken word interludes.
  • Teyana Taylor – KTSE: I had a lot of fun listening to this, the writing is effortlessly clever and Teyana’s style shines. I really liked this album.
  • Noname – Room 25: This album is incredible, and combine’s hip-hop, soul, jazz and spoken word prowess into a release thats peerless. There is never a corny moment, and it’s absolutely worth your time.
  • Soccer Mommy – Clean: These songs are so catchy, and so so well written. Sophie created an impeccably relatable world, impossible to ignore and ambitious.
  • Spirit of the Beehive – Hypnic Jerks: This album sounds really cool, and you can just sit and try to pick apart all the sounds through countless listens. The songs are really well written, and incredibly dense. “nail i couldn’t bite” is easily one of my favorite songs released this year

 

Erin Miller (Surly)

“So many people i love and respect put out music this year that is so worthwhile, so many shows that i went to this year really shook me and made me reimagine what creative potential and capacity even MEANS (mostly looking at you, machine girl, krimewatch, and uniform)”

  • Light Scraps – Blackstallion: nate has consistently been one of my favorite musicians in reno, and he just keeps getting better. the sonic depth of this album is fantastic, and lyrically, whew. the amount of longing and wanting that this album makes me feel is insane. truly one of my favorites from this year, beautiful job nate!! keep it up!
  • Lover Boy/Dog Days – Miserable: kristina has always possessed such great power and presence, traits that shine through on this new record. to say this album is empowering feels simplistic, but there’s no better word i can think to define it. the lyrics tell a story of reclamation–taking back what is deserved and what is yours, not asking to be treated well but telling others to treat you well. it just hits all the right nerves.
  • The Ugly Art – Machine Girl: OH MY GOD. i’ve had the great fortune of seeing machine girl twice this year (the second time resulting in a mild concussion), and they put on one of the best performances i’ve ever seen. the stage as a performance space becomes completely irrelevant, the whole venue is machine girl’s stage. their newest album is a confrontational combination of electronic rave music and hardcore, something i’ve never seen come together so beautifully. i dunno man, i still can’t fully wrap my head around this band, i just know that they go harder than pretty much everyone else.
  • Krimewatch – Krimewatch: i saw krimewatch this year accidentally and it was amazing! they have an incredible energy, and except for one member, everyone in this band is a woman. seeing this in a hardcore band was really inspiring, and something i had never seen before. this album is just a good ass hardcore album, this band is incredible, they are kind and make good music and i hope 2019 is great for them!
  • The Long Walk – Uniform: speaking of great people making great music, uniform is the exact definition of this!! i got to see uniform perform a collaborative set with the body this year, and it was jaw dropping! i kept trying to (very pretentiously, sorry) describe it to people as like, if the guy from plato’s allegory of the cave who got out of the cave and realized everything they were seeing in the cave was just shadows came back into the cave and was now giving this intense sermon about the truth of the outside world, like, “GUYS, IT’S ALL SHADOWS LOOK!!!!” it was nuts. this album really just echoes that feeling.
  • Be The Cowboy – Mitski: like, duh.
  • Render Another Ugly Method – Mothers: this album is such a beautiful progression of sound and style from their last release, and yet equally as remarkable. lyrically, it is so devastating. this album is high energy and plucky, the engineering is so so good.
  • Lancelot Drive – Yucky Bangs: every time i listen to this release, it just takes my breath away. it’s one of the releases that you can listen to over and over again and still, on the millionth listen, find something new and clever about it. the harmonies, lyrics, and instrumentation work together as a single force to fuck your day up in the best way. i really recommend spending some time with this piece.
  • Feeding Frenzy – C.H.E.W.: i lost my mind in a coffee shop to the last track on this album just because it is so SMART and yet so simple. they’re really on to something here.
  • Digital Tape – Bug Bath: i really can’t believe this release, and i’m just so excited to hear what else comes from this sweet trio. there are some unexpected breakdowns that you wouldn’t to fit so fluidly, and yet they really just. they really work. nick is such a talented drummer, watson continues to be one of my favorite bass players, and can u BELIEVE brigdon is actually singing loud enough for us to hear him!? and yes, he sounds great. if this release is any indication of what’s to come, 2019 will be great for bug bath.
  • BONUS Stirr Lightly – EP: IM SORRY but stirr lightly absolutely deserves to be on this list i listened to their EP nearly everyday last summer and have definitely cried to it many times. they are such heartbreakers and have nothing but limitless potential.

 

Morgan Travis (Sound Engineer, Inhibitor)

“Favorite Songs”

  • Forth Wanderers – Not For Me
  • Mutual – Sunday Driver
  • Soccer Mommy – Wildflowers
  • Boygenius – Souvenir
  • Culture Abuse – Bay Dream
  • Natalie Prass – Short Court Style
  • Courtney Barnett – Help Your Self
  • Hop Along – Somewhere a Judge
  • Porches – Now the Water
  • Mitski – Two Slow Dancers

Ana Mckay (Visual Artist)

  • Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Riddles + Ed Schrader’s Music Beat @ Holland Project w/ Dale, Neck Romancer (Essential track from Riddles: Seagull)
  • Alice Bag – Blueprint (Essential Track: Turn It Up)
  • They Might Be Giants – I Like Fun + They Might Be Giants @ The Fillmore (Essential track: When The Lights Come On)
  • Machine Girl – The Ugly Art + Machine Girl @ The Holland Project w/ 99 Jakes, Dale, Redfield Clipper (Essential track: Status)
  • Surly – If My Heart Was A Town (Essential track: Julien and Em)
  • The Garden – Mirror Might Steal Your Charm (Essential track: Stylish Spit)
  • Rachika S – Themes For A Film (Essential track: The Apple Tree)
  • Current Joys w/ GRÜN WASSER @ The ‘Sco
  • In A Broken World @ Serva Pool Gallery – Ashley Westwood and Omar Pierce
  • Living Room Exhibit @ Holland Project Gallery – Tara Tran, Adam Benedict, Em Jiang, Marjorie Williams, Maya Claiborne

 

Jack Rice (Illicit Trade, Toeknife, ADHDOD):

“Favorite Shows”

  • Awakebutstillinbed @ Holland: Initially I thought I wouldn’t be able to make this one, which had me bummed out, but then I got fired from my job the day of this show, which also bummed me out, but the upside was getting to see ABSIB, who also proceeded to bum me out, but in the best way possible.
  • Active Shooter//Papercut//Blast Radius @ Clark Lane Maul: Some real good powerviolence and grind at the sickest house venue Reno ever had. Hard to put the vibe of most of the shows there into writing, if you were there you understand what I mean.
  • Erin Miller’s Going Away Show @ Holland: One of the shows I was most excited to play this year. The lineup was super diverse, the crowd was really active, and I definitely went home that night having more friends than when I left. I feel like a lot of other people there could say the same.
  • Bob Plant//Papercut//HugoxSanchez @ The Warehouse(that never got a real name): I threw this show super last minute as a little party for a good friend of mine that was graduating from UNR. Said friend came through with 22 pizzas which he gave out to everyone, which everyone can agree was dope in every possible way.
  • Toner//Justus Proffit @ The HOL: Two bands from one of my favorite labels(Smoking Room) under the same roof. Both bands were on my radar previously, but seeing them live made them both favorites of mine.  Another one of those shows that I didn’t think I’d be able to go to, but ended up finding a way at the last minute, and felt really good about doing so.
  • Bob Plant//Ragana//Choke//xHostagex//Grainer//Gnarl @ Black Butte Center For Railroad Culture: I wish there were more spots like the one that hosted this show. Middle of nowhere, campfires galore, and a train car from the 1920s, fitted with a stage, lights and a PA where the bands played. All of the bands were killer, there was a ton of people there, and it was sick playing at a spot that was both naturally beautiful and culturally significant.
  • Family Vacation @ Clark Lane Maul: This was an interesting day, being that there were two shows booked at Clark Lane, one featuring two grindcore bands, and the other featuring 6 not-grind bands, AND it was on the 4th of July. After the two band rager, a bunch of friends and I went out to Pyramid Lake and had what was maybe the most fun I have ever had.
  • Machine Girl//99Jakes @ Holland: I’m positive that this show is going to make a lot of peoples’ lists. Honestly, the top 3 of my list are all tied. If you aren’t aware of the extremely chaotic rave-grind of Machine Girl, you need to wake up. The raw energy, technicality, and mayhem of their performance is going to be hard for anyone to beat next year.
  • Deterioration//Hummis//Posthumous Regurgitation @ Clark Lane Maul: My favorite Clark Lane show ever, hands down. Deterioration is a band I recommend everyone sees, regardless if they are a fan of grindcore or not. I definitely put them up there with Machine Girl when it comes to their level of insanity. The post-show Lil B and Soulja Boy karaoke ruled almost as hard as the bands too.
  • Bubblegum Octopus @ The Warehouse: This was the first show at the previously mentioned unnamed warehouse spot. Bubblegum Octopus played a super fucked up blend of grind, gabber, eurobeat, and chiptune which seemed to catch everyone super off guard. I don’t think the crowd was still for a single second of this show. While it was incredibly difficult to pick the 9 shows before this one, I knew from the jump that this was the best show of the year.

 

Noah Linker (Slate)

  • Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino – Arctic Monkeys: I only started listening to the Arctic Monkeys in depth in the past couple months, but their diverse catalogue has put them at the top of my list of favorite bands. This album gives me an especially groovy feeling every time I listen to it and I can’t help but sing and dance along.
  • Stirr Lightly – EP: I had heard of Stirr Lightly a long time ago but had never gotten around to listening to them and I was completely missing out! I was immediately stunned by the creative guitar riffs, extremely precise and detailed drumming, and beautiful vocals. My band Slate got the chance to play with Stirr Lightly and it was a huge honor. I’m super excited for what these ladies have coming up.
  • Digital Tape – Bug Bath: I saw Bug Bath’s somewhat first show at OffBeat 2017 and I just remember being extremely blown away. It was something that was surprisingly really fresh in a scene where i had heard a lot of music that I failed to get behind. I awaited over a year for a recording and immediate fell in love like I knew I always would. I loved the songs so much that I ran out of free listens within the first hour, I’d say.
  • Shadow Of An Uncle – Pry: Ever since I heard their debut EP, Pry became one of my favorite, if not my favorite, local bands. But their new material has a density and quality that I feel is something I’d like to reach one day. I hate to choose favorites in a community of completely amazing people, but Watson has gained the title of being my favorite local songwriter and Pry’s live shows are like a dream for me every time. It was another ridiculously huge honor to be able to play with them and I’m excited to see them and hear them as long as they’re around.
  • Self-titled EP – Slate: I’m not putting my own band’s EP because I think it’s one of the greatest things, but because it’s been such an amazing journey since we started. Oliver and I started writing the EP in spring time and by the end of the year we’ve recorded an EP, played four shows with amazing bands, and were starting to work on a full length album. I think I can say that Slate is one of the only things in my entire life that I am really truly proud of and excited for. We’ve gotten so much support and I’m just so glad that people like the music. Plus I’m also just so glad to have finally released an official recording with my best friend Oliver who I introduced the bass to about a year and a half ago and have constantly been jamming with since. It’s been an amazing time seeing him grow and come up with such creative bass lines and I’m very excited for what we have coming up.

Since this is already ridiculously long, I’ll just list off my last 5 picks and leave it up to you to decide why they’re my favorite:

  • Blackout Control – Spendtime Palace
  • Simulation Theory – Muse
  • Mutual – Mutual
  • A Different Age – Current Joys
  • Soccer Mommy – Cool

 

Clark Demerrit

“10 things I wanted to listen to this year (some I have!)”

  • Courtney Barnett- Tell Me How Your Really Feel: It’s my new favorite thing! I think this album is perfect!
  • Mitski- Be the Cowboy: I’m not there with understanding this, but I want to be!
  • Earl Sweatshirt- Some Rap Songs: I haven’t heard it yet, but really want to!
  • Travis Scott- Astro World: I love this! Travis Scott has caught up to modern music and modern music has caught up to Travis Scott!
  • Blood Orange- Negro Swan: I listened to it and loved it!
  • Brutus VIII- A Hackney Pursuit: This album rules! I’m glad I listened to it! Very inspiring!
  • Roshomon- Pathogen X: I didn’t even know I wanted to listen to this! But is do!
  • Playboi Carti- Die Lit: I haven’t listened to this yet, but I want to. Playboi Carti is very cool!
  • MGMT- Little Dark Magic: It’s Ariel Pink through MGMT’s year! I forgot about this, but I like it!
  • Janelle Monae- Dirty Computer: I was really excited for this, but it didn’t really do it for me.

 

Justin Gallego (Visual Artist, Dreamdecay)

  • S.H.I.T. – What do you stand for? LP
  • Beak – >>> / live in Seattle
  • Evan Jewett – Don’t Feel To Work
  • Physique – Punk Life is S**t
  • Deaf Wish live in Seattle
  • Yves Tumor – Safe In The Hands of Love
  • The Lavender Flu – Mow the Glass / Live
  • Soft Shoulder live in Phoenix
  • Gen Pop – II
  • The Green Child – S/T

 

Clint Neurberg (Elephant Rifle, Humaniterrorist Record Collective)

  • Beak> – >>>: Great weird lo-fi Krautrock type stuff from Geoff Barrow (from Portishead) and a couple of other guys. This one, their 3rd full length, is a little more spacey and instrumental than the previous records, but that’s cool. Mike Modene, David Torch and I have had a text thread going for about 3 years where all we talk about is Beak> records.
  • The Breeders – All Nerve: Probably my favorite record of the year. I think this is the best record The Breeders have ever made. It is pure ramshackle pop perfection. The loose edges add to the life and closeness of this record and every emotion come across, from desperation to anticipation, boredom to rapture. I think it’s no coincidence that this is the same lineup that made “Last Splash,” there is something about the chemistry of the four people in this band that produces excellence.
  • Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want: While this record seems like a slam dunk for me, it actually took a long time for me to wrap my head around it.It’s way more industrial than I was expecting, and for a band who made their name on short bursts of violence, these songs are all really long and take a long time to get where they’re going. Ultimately I think this record is a great and terrifying mirror to how a lot of people feel right now, confused and lost.
  • Ed Schrader’s Music Beat – Riddles: By now you all should know and love this band, so I’ll just leave it at that.
  • FACS – Negative Houses: Amazing dark post-punk in the vein of Haunted Horses or the Australian band Snowman, so yeah, it rules. Super moody and anxious with really interesting rhythms and plenty of effects-laden guitar from former members of the band Disappears.
  • Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens: The boys are back. This was one of the most anticipated records of the year and it did not disappoint. It basically picks up right where “Audit in Progress” left off. Plenty of obnoxious guitars and shredded vocals from Rick, but what I like the most is the sensitive, softer side of Hot Snakes that they teased with Audit’s “Plenty For All” turning up in a couple of places on this record (“Six Wave Hold-Down” “Death Camp Fantasy”.) There’s also plenty of rippers, though, so everyone is happy.
  • Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers – Bought to Rot: I was actually a little surprised on the first couple of listens that this wasn’t an Against Me! record. It definitely could have been, but maybe Laura wanted to step away from the weight of AM! I don’t know. Anyway these songs rule. They have a little more roots-ier feel than the typical AM! fare, but not in a jammy way, more in a Bruce Springsteen kind of way. Her voice, lyrics, and conviction are just as strong as ever.
  • Oh Sees – Smote Reverser: Another year, another perfect Oh Sees record. These guys are super heroes. I’m really digging the prog-vibes they’ve been embracing on the last couple of records, and this one is the most prog of them all. Progged-out garage rock executed flawlessly, what’s not to love about that?
  • Parquet Courts – Wide Awaaaaake!: This one really surprised me. Sure, I loved “Light Up Gold” as much as anyone, but I hadn’t really followed these guys for a while, when I happened to catch them on “Ellen” one afternoon when my mother-in-law was watching my son. Parquet Courts on fucking Ellen Degeneres’ show. 2018 was a weird year, man. What’s more, that song (“Wide Awake”) is awesome. This whole record is awesome. It’s so infectious and sing-alongy, just you try to deny it.
  • Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meatspace: Unhinged Australian noise rock with a maniac preacher for a frontman. Songs about bad drug deals and self-loathing and cascading mistakes, you know, real uplifting shit. Plus, tons of profanity. This record jerks and twists around in such interesting ways I’m still finding new things to love about it. None of the instruments are played in the way “they’re supposed to be” and the song structures are pretty damn refreshing. “Two Afternoons” might be my favorite song of the year.

“On a side note, I also put out 4 records this year that I think are fantastic and that I’m really proud of. “Most People are Dead” by Hate Recorder, “The Sisters Doom” by The Sisters Doom, “Hunk” by Elephant Rifle, and the various artist compilation “Destroy All That Tradition.” If you know Humaniterrorist, then you can guess it’s all pretty heavy, rocking stuff. I think the bands in Reno are second to none, and these four records are just more examples of that”

 

Matt Grimm 

  • Iceage – beyondless: iceage has literally never released a bad album, and this is no exception. They have a horn section (!!), blistering guitar freakouts and some of singer Elias Ronnenfelt’s most showstopping vocal displays to date. Best album of the year no question. (essential track: literally the whole album, but if I had to pick one: plead the fifth)
  • uniform – the long walk: this album is a kind of insanity thats kind of hard to describe, but its just utter chaos. they added drummer greg fox of liturgy, which gives a new sense of unhinged noise to their already chaotic sound. also a punishing live band that left my ears ringing for a few days longer than normal. (essential track: found)
  • hank wood and the hammerheads – S/T: these guys have been NYC hardcore staples for years, but this album is something that sounds so unique compared to a lot of other NY hardcore bands in the game right now. Great synths, some unforgettable riffs, and more “baby!”s than a James Brown record. this could be the future of hardcore and i am here for it. (essential track: love is a cold white tile)
  • lala lala – the lamb: the only record to make me legitimately cry while listening this year. so many understated elements that come together into a whole work that just WORKS. Lillie West is a great lyricist and layers her guitar and vocals together perfectly, and makes you feel some kinda way. (essential track: when you die)
  • sleep – the sciences: this album killed stoner metal as a genre. nothing that will ever come out ever again will be better than this. the whole album is a giant weed, sabbath, and riff worshiping masterpiece (also giza butler is the best song title of the year). listen to this loudly on some good speakers and just let the weedians take you on a journey. (essential track: giza butler)
  • puce mary – the drought: this album is what nightmares sound like. its not outwardly violent or aggressive, but subtly haunting with creepy organ synths and power electronics under Frederikke Hoffmeier’s quiet spoken word. It gives you a similar feeling that movies like The VVitch provide, if you are into that this album is for you. (essential track: red desert)
  • the body & uniform – mental wounds not healing: two of the best bands in heavy music made an album together, and it rips. enough said. (essential track: come and see)
  • cities aviv- raised for a better view: cities aviv is the solo rap project of Gavin Mays, who incorporates noise, shoegaze, punk, and soul into his music. Raised is less an album and more 15 disparate songs that all sound dissimilar. Opening track Title Piece is one of the prettiest instrumental tracks I’ve heard in awhile, and Dont Feed Off the Energy is as empowering as it is subtle. (essential track: Title Piece (Dedicated to Many))
  • current joys – a different age: Current joys gives me a nice sad dose of Nevada when im gone, and i love him for it. this album is emotional, emphatic, and cinematic, and i can’t stop listening. (essential track: way out here)
  • forth wanderers – S/T: anyone who says indie rock is dead hasnt listened to forth wanderers yet. Ben Guterl is one of the best young guitarists around, and every riff on this album is unique from the rest. Ava Trilling’s vocals are monotone, but still emotional and striking that balance makes this album as good as it is. (essential track: temporary)

 

Tucker Rash (Dale)

  • The Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer (essential track: The West Has Failed)
  • Blackstallion – Paradise (essential track: Pain Dealer)
  • foodman – Aru Otoko No Densetsu (essential track: 337)
  • IDLES – Joy As An Act of Resistance (essential track: Never Fight a Man With a Perm)
  • Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of/Love in the Time of Lexapro (essential tracks: Warning, Babylon)
  • Thou – The House Primordial/Inconsolable/Rhea Sylvia/Magus (essential tracks: Diaphonous Shift, Come Home You Are Missed, Non-Entity, In the Kingdom of Meaning)
  • Sleep – The Sciences (essential track: Giza Butler)
  • Machine Girl – The Ugly Art (essential tracks: Status, Psycho Signal Jammer, Fuck Your Guns)
  • Palm – Rock Island (essential tracks: Composite, Dog Milk, Bread, Color Code)
  • Death Grips – Year of The Snitch (essential tracks: Flies, Linda’s In Custody, Hahaha, The Fear, Disappointed)

Shows:

  • Descendents at Ace of Spades, Sacramento, May 5th
  • Judas Priest at The Warfield, April 19th, San Francisco
  • Miserable, Death Bells, Skew Ring at Holland Project, August 10th
  • Ed Schrader’s Music Beat at Holland Project, March 25th
  • Palm w/ Spirit of the Beehive, Rob Ford Explorer at Holland Project, March 5th
  • People with Bodies at El Salvador, April 20th
  • Casino Hearts, Blackstallion, Boys at Holland Project, February 12th
  • Harry and The Potters at Geeksboro Battlepub, Greensboro, NC, September 1st
  • Sleep at The Warfield, June 7th, San Francisco
  • Machine Girl at Holland Project, November 5th

 

Iain Watson (Spoken Views Collective)

“Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a giant hip-hop nerd and I can talk for hours about hip-hop culture with right kind of company. The music and culture have been a big part of my life for the last 20 years and has really helped me grow and develop into the artist that I am today. There was a period, however, where I fell out of the loop and wasn’t looking out for the artists that I would always get excited about; I became bored with a lot of the hip-hop music that I was attempting to check out, so you can say I fell deep into the “I used to love her” mind state. In retrospect, one factor could have been that I was in a dark, stressful period of my life and not in the healthiest of relationships. All that aside, perhaps much of the music WAS at a decline and stagnant (speaking of 2013 to 2016). In the last couple years there has been an emergence of a new wave of “rap” artists, and the so called “mumble rap” fad. Some of my friends have made a good point in saying that if it wasn’t for these new rappers, there wouldn’t be so many seasoned emcees stepping back into the scene with these amazingly crafted projects; I couldn’t agree more. The following list really shows that I am approaching 40 (haha). Some of these artists were just emerging into the scene when I was a teenager, and a few were already established. Maybe it has to do with where I am in my life currently (a lot more happy), but damn, these projects really have reignited my love for hip-hop and shows that these older cats still got it! I will note that I do like and appreciate some new artists and I’m not totally stuck in the 90’s/early 2000’s. This list is to really highlight the older artists that came out swinging in 2018 with some great albums (in no particular order).”

  • Evidence – Weather or Not
  • Phonte – No News is Good News
  • O.C. & PF Cuttin’ – Opium
  • Masta Ace & Marco Polo – A Breukelen Story
  • Eligh – Last House on The Block
  • Black Thought – Streams of Thought vol. 1
  • Black Thought – Streams of Thought vol. 2
  • Pusha T – Daytona
  • BEP – Masters of the Sun Vol. 1
  • Atmosphere – Mi Vida Local

 

Amber Scala (Basha)

  • Bay Dream – Culture Abuse
  • Time & Space – Turnstile
  • Feels Like End Times – Modern Life is War
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (Film)
  • In the No (sponsored by Radiolab) Podcast
  • A Brilliant Friend (based on book series by Elena Ferrante)
  • The Regrettes – Holland Project 
  • Bay Dream release Show in Oakland
  • Burnt Sugar – Gouge Away
  • CHRCH at Holland Project

 

Gavin (Cult Member)

  • 666 – YG ft YoungBoy Never Broke Again: I love YG and this beat is catchier than a baseball.
  • 2009 – Mac Miller: Hard pick but this song is the one that makes me emotional every time.
  • Brackets – J Cole: On my life please everybody don’t sleep on this man like I did.
  • Phantom Menace – $uicideboy$: Honestly I would put this whole album on the list but Clay would never let me.
  • Automatic – Night Rooms: Nic drops a crazy verse! Landon shreds for 3:05 straight! Ryan comps his own solo! best summer tune.

 

Clay Harrison (Cult Member)

  • Tunnels in the Air – Louis Cole ft. Thundercat: Officially my biggest earworm of 2018. Thundercat and Louis Cole are always magic together (Bus In These Streets, Jameel’s Space Ride).
  • Air Stryp – Big Red Machine: Justin Vernon does glitch-pop like only he can, joined by Aaron Dessner on an overlooked gem of a song from an overlooked gem of an album.
  • Nowhere2Go – Earl Sweatshirt: Earl gets real about his latest struggles and successes over the what’s gotta be low-key the trippiest rap beat all year.
  • Emerald Rush – Jon Hopkins: It’s always great when ambient masters make music for the dance floor. The sound design on this thing is top-notch and it’s so bouncy omg
  • Mr. Tillman – Father John Misty: Between this and the Arctic Monkeys it was harder than usual this year to pick my annual favorite song-sung-from-the-perspective-of-a-hotel-concierge, but this time Mr. Tillman won out.

 

Daniel Morse (Fine Motor)

  • Zadie Smith, Feel Free
  • Ottessa Moshfegh, My Year of Rest and Relaxation
  • Emily Wilson (trans.), The Odyssey
  • Caryl Phillips, A View of the Empire at Sunset
  • Shane Bauer, American Prison
  • Tommy Orange, There There
  • Michelle Obama, Becoming
  • Tara Westover, Educated
  • Wayétu Moore, She Would Be King
  • Anna Burns, Milkman

 

Scott Bates (Sound Engineer, Slow Wow)

  • Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens: Most anticipated of the year.. Hell, it’s only been about 15 years since the last full length.. no big deal or anything..
  • Preoccupations – New Material: Very happy that this band didn’t lose steam through their name change drama. These guys are pretty damned dialed on their whole musical aesthetic. It all just works together perfectly.
  • Redd Kross  – Live at the Holy Diver: Holy shiiiiiit. Go see this classic band if you get the chance. Fans and non-fans alike are guarenteed to be won over by their infectious presence. So damn fun to watch a band that is 100% cutting loose and playing so damn good. Dale from the Melvins playing drums for them pushed the whole show to the next level. Face Melting.
  • Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!: Every time something from this album came on, it just cut through any other distraction in the room. The Pandora station at my work was always playing a few cuts from this album. This band definitely has something pretty special happening.
  • Destroy All That Tradition Compilation: Clint and THE CREW killed it on putting this whole thing together. What normally would have been a logistical nightmare to most, was subdued and mastered by a great fucking example of teamwork in the greater music community.
  • The Breeders – All Nerve: Their previous album was kind of a sleeper, but to their credit, they released some of the greatest rock tunes of the 90’s. That had to be some tough material to follow all of those years later. However, this new record conjures all the magic of their past and beyond. The Deal sisters are the real deal.
  • KWNK Community Radio: Still so nuts that this exists. I love hearing people play music that they’re really passionate about. Go support them and become a community member!
  • Idles – Joy As An Act of Resistance: Not saying anything new here, but perhaps the perfect band for this time in the world. Beautiful sounding angry man-band music, spreading a message of love and strength through a very vulnerable style of word play.
  • The Messthetics – S/T: The rhythm section from FVGAZI!? A psych virtuosic guitar player on top of that first cool thing!? New stuff out on Dischord??!! Swooned pretty hard on this record.
  • Ice Age – beyondless: A lot of people love this band, and I’ve never cared for them much until this album. Some serious dark vibed Gun Club esque tunes here. Was really surprised, and really diggin’ it.

 

Cameron Beck (Mutual)

  • Earl Sweatshirt- Some Rap Songs
  • Sweet Valley- Eternal Champ II
  • Good Morning- Prize/Reward
  • Death Grips- Year of the Snitch
  • Palm- Rock Island
  • Knelt Rote- Alterity
  • Jpegmafia- Veteran
  • George Clanton- Slide
  • Sissy Spacek- Ways of Confusion
  • Jay Rock- Redemption

 

Skew Ring

Cole

  • Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by The Arctic Monkeys
  • Ruen Brothers – All My Shades of Blue

Drew

  • Ailment (Single) by The Men
  • World of Inconvenience by Regional Justice Center

Jimmy

  • Cosmic Crypt – Mammoth Grinder
  • Visions of You – Warm

Aydin

  • Love What Survives – Mount Kimbie
  • Hallow Never – Shelf Life

Benny

  • Mo Bamba (Single) – Sheck Wes
  • In My Feelings (Single) – Drake

 

Ray Muller (Visual Artist)

  • Cold Cave – You & Me and Infinity
  • John Maus – Addendum
  • Cassus – Separation Anxiety
  • Krimewatch – Krimewatch
  • Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
  • Super Unison – Stella
  • The Soft Moon – Criminal
  • Ostraca – Enemy
  • The Soft Kill – Savior
  • Gillian Carter – This Earth Shaped Tomb

Honorable mentions:

  • Portrayal of Guilt – Let Pain be Your Guide
  • The KVB – Only Now Forever
  • SeeYouSpaceCowboy – Fashion Statements of the Socially Aware

 

Jamie Peters

  • Covet- effloresce: This was definitely one of my favorite discoveries (as far as bands go) and one of my favorite math rock records and shows. Yvette Young’s airy and technical guitar playing has amazing range from playful finger tapping interludes to heavy prog-math-I don’t even know sometimes riffs along with Forrest Rice’s fast and intense drumming and David Adamiak’s heavy bass rips give you the feeling of being transported to another world. Definitely a favorite and will be looking for more from them in the future!
  • The Spirit of the Beehive – Hypnic Jerks: This one was a doozy, fronted by former Glocca Morra frontman Zach Schwartz the group blends contemporary indie with 60’s psychedelic rock and experimental music to create one hell of a sound. This record heavily incorporated the use of audio samples of the bands family members from old tapes and was seamless from front to back to create a dream like effect as if you were slipping in and out of consciousness.
  • Foxing- Nearer My God: Nearer My God was definitely a departure from style on the St. Louis quartets previous sound initially part of the “emo revival” departed from their post-rock laden sound of their two previous records and went for a more electronic sound. However, the lyrics are where they still pull their emotional punches!!!
  • Toe – Our Latest Number: Little diddy from Japanese Post-rock and math rock band toe was a pleasant surprise this year. This was a much quieter and less chaotic record form them and dug deeper into their more emotional side with more lyric driven songs heavy with repetition laden build ups this definitely made me excited for their next full length and see what new areas they’ll go to!
  • Deafheaven- Ordinary Corrupt Human Love: This was Deafheaven at its finest and truly pushing their experimental boundaries on this one, with clean vocals, more of the indie guitar work that they were known for on 2013’s Sunbather while still holding onto the blackened edges that intrigued so many in the first place.
  • Jeff Rosenstock – POST-: Starting 2018 with a bang! (literally) Jeff Rosenstock’s 4th solo album came out on his new home of Polyvinyl records on January 1st and shows a side of Jeff we’ve seen before but with more of an experimental and slower pace that contrasts with the other traditional punk tunes we know and love Jeff for! Also, Fun fact, this was the first show that my younger brother came along with me to and saw a proposal happen right in front of us!!
  • Daughters -You Won’t Get What You Want: Pure, insane, driving noise, and I listened to this gem way too late in the year. This is one chaotic baby that i need to let my brain meditate on.
  • Half Waif – Lavender: This was a strong record from Nandi Rose Plunkett’s solo project, Half Waif, the lyrics deal heavily with the loss of Plunkett’s grandmother and her move to Brooklyn from Montclair, NJ creating a strong and stirring narrative with warm yet sullen electronics and drum and bass work.
  • Gulfer – Dog Bless: On this second album by the French Canadian emo/math rock quartet, they call back to the old school Topshelf Records bands from around the time of the emo revival while still making their brand of fast paced screamy punk/ emo music with plenty of finger tapping and some new electronic interludes!! Definitely hoping they come to Reno soon as they allude to more tour plans but so far have only toured Canada and Japan so far this year.
  • Hovvdy – Cranberry: Quiet jams for the year right here. Initially a duo of drummers out of Austin, TX Hovvdy have certainly made a place for themselves in a short span of time in the lo-fi scene. On Cranberry there are many ruminations about the simplistic, yet heartache of modern life in places such as Texas and the US at large and just trying to find the things that bring love and joy to those that find it.

Top 10 Shows

  • Covet, Wander, Nubbins – Holland Project 7/27/18: Absolute ripper of a show, loved every second of it and Wander stayed at my house after the show! This was a night for the books for me.
  • Co-Founder, Special Explosion, Pink Awful, Werewolf Club – Holland Project 3/9/18: while a bit of a smaller gig, i originally came to see Special Explosion, who released an amazing record last December (To Infinity, Topshelf Records 2017) and put on an amazing show along with local loves Pink Awful and Werewolf Club, and i got to meet all of the members after the show cause they caught me singing along to all the songs! The Co-Founder was also a pleasant surprise bringing post grunge-y emo jams to holland with their newest record Gymnasium.
  • Palm, The Spirit of the Beehive, Rob Ford Explorer – Holland Project 3/5/18: Originally i went to this to catch Rob Ford Explorer and Palm, but was absolutely blown away by Spirit of the Beehive with their loud and sample heavy brand of indie rock, Palm absolutely made my night and blew me away and made me regret not seeing them last year when Girlpool came to town.
  • Half Waif, Hovvdy, Briana Marella, Blackstallion – Holland Project 5/9/18: CRIMINALLY UNDER ATTENDED GIG, i get it was during finals week but like come on! Briana Marella blew me away with their Xeno and Oaklander-esque minimalist use of electronics and Hovvdy brought along the slow quiet jams with unparalleled passion and vigor, and Half Waif who used their insane electronic set up to deliver some wonderful emotional synth heavy tunes, and of course Reno’s own Blackstallion with his brand of dark and crushing guitar songs.
  • Mom Jeans., Just Friends, Awakebutstillinbed, Common Mishap – Holland Project 10/19/18 This was the most fun i’ve at a gig in a while! The energy was insane with Awakebutstillinbed’s dissonant emo punk jams followed by Just Friend’s insane big band energy with a BRASS SECTION and then Mom Jean’s speedy and jammy emo songs with a loud vigor that certainly brought full energy to the house. Plus i got to see Joel Kirschenbaum (aka Yourholybuddy) again which is always a pleasure!
  • Bleachers, Diet Cig- Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades 5/27/18: Jack Antonoff of the now long gone pop band FUN. brought his solo act Bleachers and his anthemic pop songs to the Golden State capitol along with DIY heroes Diet Cig making an absolute great start to my summer!!
  • BIG UPS, Tommy and the Tongues, Spiteful Mourning – Holland Project 7/21/18: When i went to this show i was very late and only was able to see part of Tommy and the Tongues’ set as I raced down to Holland from work to catch this gig. But then BIG UPS took the stage bringing their heavy, Slint worshipping post-hardcore riffs to the stage, or rather the floor as most of the time their vocalist was circling around and weaving in between the crowd members. Little did i know this would be one of BIG UPS’ last shows on the west coast as they announced a breakup this past month, so it will now serve as one sick, but bittersweet memory and I’m glad i was able to be part of history in this way.
  • Father John Misty, Lucy Dacus- Boise, ID The Knitting Factory 8/12/18: I finally did it. I got to see the holy father himself in the flesh. After a gruelling 6 hour drive to my hometown of Boise, ID with my roommate, we got to see Father John Misty along with their favorite Lucy Dacus, who dedicated a song to them for their tattoo of her lyrics from “Map on a Wall” off of Historian (2018, Matador Records)!!! Father John Misty delivered a long but passionate set that spanned all of his career and definitely made the end of summer so special!
  • Japanese Breakfast, Jay Som, Hand Habits – Holland Project 2/19/18: I’m going to start off this summary by saying that I spent $90 at this show on merch and got all of it signed. With that out of the way now, this show was insanely fun and also a real special one, seeing these artists with their meteoric rise thought that there would be a very slim chance they would come here but they did (and in the middle of winter too!!). Seeing Jay Som and their brand of jammy indie rock with hits like “Bus Song” and others was surreal along with Japanese Breakfast’s spaced out shoegaze and dream pop songs about love and loss along with a cover of “Dreams” by the Cranberries (With her late passing occuring about a month before) definitely made this a warm, snuggly, bittersweet, yet fun show for all who were able to attend!!!
  • Jeff Rosenstock, Basha – Holland Project 8/17/18: Second time seeing Jeff Rosenstock, little brothers first Holland show he attended, Marriage proposal what more could make a great August night??? Absolutely nothing else

 

Austin Pratt (Visual Artist, Spitting Image)

PEACEFUL TRANSITION

On Sunday, artist Robert Morrison died. Bob was a professor of art at UNR for almost fifty years after studying and working in Fresno, Stanford, and at UC Davis, alongside folks like grad student Bruce Nauman and professor Wayne Thiebaud. I always think of contemporaries as anyone wide enough to have lived at the same time. My mom, for example, who taught me to draw, was a contemporary of Matisse, who was born in 1869. We were all fortunate contemporaries of Robert Morrison, a great artist, and a significant figure in the history of art in Nevada and beyond.

In October, poet Tony Hoagland died in Santa Fe. I had the great experience of getting to spend eight days with him on a lake in Maine last year at a summer camp for poets, artists, mythologists, environmentalists, and mystics. Tony had already been battling pancreatic cancer, and was absent the previous year, but when I met him he was both piercing and spritely, speaking with the depth and truth of someone heading into the mystery with courage. Here’s a poem The New Yorker published last month after his death.

PEACEFUL TRANSITION

The wind comes down from the northwest, cold in September,
and flips over the neighbor’s trash receptacles.

The Halifax newspaper says that mansions are falling into the sea.
Storms are rising in the dark Pacific.

Pollution has infiltrated the food chain down to the jellyfish level.
The book I am reading is called “The End of the Ascent of Man.”

It says the time of human dominion is done,
but I am hoping it will be a peaceful transition.

It is one thing to think of buffalo on Divisadero Street,
of the Golden Gate Bridge overgrown in a tangle of vine.

It is another to open the door of your own house to the waves.
I am hoping the humans will be calm in their diminishing.

That the forests grow back with patience, not rage;
I am hoping the flocks of geese increase
their number only gradually.

Let it be like an amnesia that we don’t even notice;
the hills forgetting the name for our kind. Then the sky.

Let the fish rearrange their green governments
as the rain spatters slant on their roof.

It is important that we expire.
It is a kind of work we have begun in order to complete.

Today out of the north the cold wind comes down,
and I go out to see

the neighbor’s trash bins have toppled in the drive.
I see the unpicked grapes have turned
to small sweet raisins on their vine.

I see the wren has found a way to make its little nest
inside the cactus thorns.

—Tony Hoagland (1953-2018)

I peacefully transitioned from 30 to 31 on November 19th. Tony Hoagland was also born on November 19th, and taught at the University of Houston. Jason Pierce of Spiritualized was born on November 19th. This year I listened to Spiritualized’s And Nothing Hurt, Houston’s Maxo Kream’s record Punken, and Houston’s Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD. I listened to the philosophy and psychology podcast Very Bad Wizards by David Pizarro of Cornell University and Tamler Sommers from the University of Houston.

Elsewhere, this year I spent hours in Jasper Johns’ show Something Resembling Truth at The Broad. I listened to the Nicolas Jaar project Against All Logic. I teared up to the choir of The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda chanting the names of god, and was vivified by Arto Lindsay, Yuka Honda, and Godspeed, all at Big Ears Festival in Knoxville.

I’ve loved Alana’s Meshes Video Art Appreciation Night Series at the Holland Project, and trying new recipes with her from Bryant Terry’s amazing Afro-Vegan cookbook. I have closed my eyes under the water in Pyramid Lake and wondered on what colors I’d seen, and watched the cheatgrass through a lace curtain from our bathroom window in the lot next door shift from cream to rust to violet—at dawn, at dusk, in July and in December. Trying to find those color pencils of whir.

“Here’s to the Solstice and to a new year y’all. To all those recent departures and recent arrivals of two thousand eighteen; a peaceful transition for us all. xoxo”