Indiecation Top 30 Albums of 2018

It’s that time of year again when everyone is busy compiling lists of the best albums and songs they’ve heard all year. It was another great year of music, and the indie category certainly provided plenty of greats to pick from.

This year, we saw local artists like the Hawthorne-based Cuco really take off as he went from playing back yards to Coachella in just 1 year. This indie-fusion dominated the sounds as bands like Triathalon, Boy Pablo, The Marias, Clairo and more jumped to the forefront with sultry, R&B inspired, jazzy indie rock.

At the same time, the post-punk scene flourished with groups like Nothing and Idles, and Beak> releasing strong albums. And while when releasing top lists there’s always that feeling of “I’m sure there’s something I didn’t discover this year that would absolutely be in here had I … discovered it,” I got through a decent amount of indie releases, and here’s what really stood out:

30. Porches – The House

This album has one of my favorite songs of the year, the short and sweet “Country” which is soulful, sad and deliberate.

29. A Place to Bury Strangers – Pinned

Another great post-punk, noise rock album, Pinned is dark and industrial. “Never Coming Back” is a strong opener that transfers me back to their sense-shocking performance at Desert Daze.

28. Cuco – Chiquito

While not quite as well rounded as previous albums, Chiquito still deserves recognition for shimmering love songs like “Sunnyside” and the fun, hip-hop influenced “CR-V.”

27. Ian Sweet – Crush Crusher

This album is heavy and dreamy. “Holographic Jesus” is definitely one that’ll get your attention.

26. Boy Pablo – Soy Pablo

This Norwegian-Chicano artist is putting out songs reminiscent of Cuco, with a more guitar centered focus.

25. Hovvdy – Cranberry

One of my favorite softer, simpler albums this year, songs like “Late” a perfect for a road trip.

24. Holy Wave – Adult Fear

These psych rockers produced some strong songs on this album including the self-titles, “Adult Fear” and the dreamy “Habibi.”

23. Shame – Songs of Praise

Another stunning post punk album coming from the UK, Songs of Praise is filled with punk attitude on songs like “One Rizla” and “Tasteless.”

22. GUM – The Underdog

With members of Pond and Tame Impala coming up with songs like “Serotonin,” this album is begging to be noticed.

21. Wild Nothing – Indigo

Wild Nothing continues to grow and put out solid albums. While each release since Gemini has needed time to grow on me, Indigo has some lovely songs like “Canyon on Fire.”

20. Vive La Void – S/T

This atmospheric album by Sanae Yamada of Moon Duo is a nice piece of work from front to back. “Devil” is a beautiful, driving krautrock song.

19. Suuns – Felt

I didn’t get to spend as much time with this album as I would have liked, but the opening song “Look No Further” is one of those with a line that just gets stuck in my head all too often for this album to not make the list.

18. Still Corners – Slow Air

Still Corners slipped in a delightful album this year with the soft, sultry Slow Air.  The lush “The Photograph” is one of my favorite songs this year.

17. Kali Uchis – Isolation

This album is a wonderful blend of fun pop, soul and jazz fronted by the diva that is Kali Uchis. Songs like “Flight 22” and “Your Teeth In My Neck” are catchy and thoughtful.

16. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

This soulful album was a personal, powerful statement from Dev Hynes. Songs like “Charcoal Baby” and “Nappy Wonder” really stood out to me.

15. Part Time – Spell #6

A strong album all together from local outfit Part Time, Spell #6 is absolutely enchanting. “I Didn’t Know” is easily one of my favorite songs this year.

14. Heaters – Suspended Youth

I liked this album from the very first listen. It’s filled with strong, spacey, jangly psych rock that’s sure to please your ears.

13. MGMT – Little Dark Age

Probably the best “comeback album” of the year, Little Dark Age is filled to the brim with catchy, ’80s inspired beats and melodies including “Little Dark Age” and the lighthearted “Me and Michael.”

12. Kevin Krauter – Toss Up

Kevin Krauter’s 2019 album came on the scene strongly. Dreamy, jazzy numbers like “Lonely Boogie” and “Toss Up” have charming lo-fi qualities with strong melodies that’ll make you want to sing along.

11. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

This punk album is strong from beginning to end, with plenty of surprises thrown in with songs like “Back to Earth” and “Wide Awake” which goes into a funk style.

10. The Holydrug Couple – Hyper Super Mega

This album was another on my heavy rotation when it came out. Shimmering psych rock takes center stage again on spacey songs like “Forever End.”

9. Beach House – 7

7 was produced by Sonic Boom, thus creating a heavier sound than most Beach House albums. I absolutely adore the lush melody of “Drunk in L.A.” and the marimba in “Black Car.”

8. Nothing – Dance on the Blacktop

This album took a few listens to get into, but songs like “Plastic Migrane” and “I Hate The Flowers” really got through to me. The album is rooted in shoegaze, with equally heavy and dreamy elements.

7. Boogarins – Lá Vem a Morte

This album from Brazilian act Boogarins is not only all in Portugese, but is one of the more impressive dreamy, psych rock albums released this year. “Corredor Polones” is a stunning song on its own, and the whole album will have you in a dreamy haze.

6. Idles – Joy as An Act of Resistance

When I first heard the lyric “I kissed a boy and I liked it” in the middle of “Samaritans” I was like “whoah.” This album is filled with raw punk energy but really centers its message around self-love and acceptance.

5. Beak> – >>>

This album really made a strong impact on me. It’s dark and minimal and just gets more and more intriguing with each listen.

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food

Sex & Food really pulled on my heartstrings with some of the strongest songs of the year including the tender “Hunnybee” and lyrically and melodically stunning “We’re Not In Love We’re Just High.”

3. The Marias – Superclean Vol. II EP

Even though this one is sort of a continuation of last year’s release, Superclean Vol. I, Vol. II EP stood out on its’ own with stunning, jazzy songs like “Over The Moon.”

2. Trialthalon – Online

Triathalon really blend genres in Online, which is basically an R&B album for people who normally gravitate to all things indie. The sultry vocals, shimmering synths and inspiring melodic riffs made this one of my go-to albums this year.

1. Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage

This album is strong from beginning to end and had one of my favorite songs I’ve heard all year, the brilliantly strange “Desert Horse,” which starts in psych rock, then diverts into vocal outbursts and eventually falls into a faster, krautrock beat. Melody Prochet’s sophomore album takes great risks in several songs on Bon Voyage, each of which are incredibly catchy on their own.

And if you’re more into playlists, here are some of my top songs of 2018:

What were your favorite albums this year? Feel free to share below!

Beach House and Fleet Foxes at the Hollywood Bowl

It had been so long since I’d been to the Hollywood Bowl I’d forgotten just what a magical place it could be. I didn’t need to think twice, however, when I had the opportunity to snag a ticket to see two incredible bands: Beach House and Fleet Foxes.

Beach House I had seen a few times before, so I was already prepared to be blown away by them once again. I was excited to also catch my first live Fleet Foxes show because Robin Pecknold & Co. are musical geniuses.

I arrived early before the sun went down to have a picnic with friends overlooking the city. The show started promptly at 7:45 with Beach House as the opening act. They were backlit during the entire performance, their classic starlit backdrop sparkling on early in the set. They started with “Levitation,” allowing the music to start on a soft note. Singer Victoria Legrand hid behind her hair, singing softly at first, but exposing her full range later in the set. While they’re usual set ending song, “Elegy to the Void” wasn’t quite as dramatic in the open space, it’s still one of my favorites to see live. They also played “Chariot” from their latest B-Sides and Rarities release. This time they ended the set with “Myth,” the first track on Bloom, which was just as fitting to close the set. Legrand rarely spoke to the audience, but when she did it was about love, gratitude and appreciation for being able to perform again with Fleet Foxes.

After Beach House’s hour-long set, Fleet Foxes took the stage. Robin Pecknold’s voice was solid throughout the set, and the harmonies were simply magnificent as well. They really played up the dynamic contrasts, utilizing the Bowl’s full capacity, ranging from belting to whispering from dramatic effect. While they played many songs I recognized like “Ragged Wood” and “Mykonos,” I was blown away by several of their newer, more epic-scale tracks I had not yet heard. “On Another Ocean (January / June)” started off delicately and then went into an indie rock beat. While it was one of the more straightforward tracks in a set laden with tempo and time changes, it was stunning. Another breathtaking performance was of “The Shrine / An Argument,” an 8 minute track that featured an angsty Pecknold melody and built up into a cymbal-crashing, driving chorus.  It was one of those sets that was welcomingly long. And just like that the night was over, and we were forced to come to terms that each of our cars were blocked in as we ventured down the hill to our cars.

Beach House set list:

  1. Levitation
  2. Wild
  3. PPP
  4. Silver Soul
  5. Space Song
  6. 10 Mile Stereo
  7. Chariot
  8. Wishes
  9. Elegy to the Void
  10. Take Care
  11. Sparks
  12. Myth

Fleet Foxes set list:

  1. I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar
  2. Cassius, – Naiads, Cassadies
  3. Grown Ocean
  4. Ragged Wood
  5. Your Protector
  6. The Cascades
  7. On Another Ocean (January / June)
  8. Fool’s Errand
  9. He Doesn’t Know Why
  10. Battery Kinzie
  11. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
  12. Mykonos
  13. White Winter Hymnal
  14. Third of May / Ōdaigahara
  15. The Shrine / An Argument
  16. Blue Ridge Mountains
  17. Blues Run the Game
    (Jackson C. Frank cover)
  18. Helplessness Blues

Set lists from http://www.setlist.fm, Photo from Sub Pop

Primavera Sound

 

I was in Barcelona for just over one week—first and foremost to see Primavera Sound. I arrived on my own for my first 3-day solo trip, both excited and anxious for what was to come. I did what any self-respecting tourist would do and rode the double decker bus to see the sights, and after 3 days of solo exploration, I was joined by my boyfriend who would come to see this epic music festival with me. Continue reading

Beach House

I caught the last few songs of Beach House’s recent show in Los Angeles at the Fonda Theater. I came in just as they were playing Sparks. While I was sad to have missed them perform 10 mile stereo and Lazuli, the encore was what really stole the show for me. The performed Elegy to the Void as the final song of the night, but with an unexpected twist…the song starts out beautifully soft, and singer Victoria Legrand picked up the guitar to play the screeching guitar line between the verses. The song ends with a repetition of the pronounced guitar line over a rhythmic 4/4 pattern, that then fades out on the track. Live, they did the opposite, and the sound and beat grew and grew and built up for what felt like five whole minutes, and then stopped suddenly leaving the crowd cheering. It was a perfect ending—Beach House giving it their all.