I know I'm a little late on this, but I wanted 2018 to actually end before I put this out. Most music blogs have this kind of post out in early December, but who knows maybe something great comes out in December as well. Aside from that I've been slightly busy. Anyways here we are. Contrary to what my focus has been on for the past blogs, the albums I'm going to be laying out here aren't regional. I believe that these albums deserve some recognition. They will definitely blow any avid music lover away!
(p.s. - There is no particular order to the albums listed)
(p.p.s. - Click on the album cover to check out a tune)
D'ANGELO - David August
Electronica doesn't get much recognition these days. Yeah, there are Radiohead fans here and there, but most prefer their older albums, the alternative ones. On D'ANGELO, David August carries the listener through 40 minutes of pure etherealism, if thats a word. You could compare his sound to Nicolas Jaar but with a classical twist. In fact he is classically trained, and that expertise is highly evident in the way his music progresses. Each song masterfully moulds itself into the next track, that it's almost inappropriate to enter the album on a random track. It has been created as a journey. The bass throughout carries you along this journey, with hints of trebles and highs tugging you left and right. The lyrics aren't complex, they are just another instrument in the mass medley of sounds to be heard. His voice in fact acts as a guide, informing you of the(/his) introspective thoughts to carry at that moment.
All Melody - Nils Frahm
An electro-classical masterpiece. Nils Frahm has always been known as a pioneer in the modern classical music scene, especially with his serene sound on the piano. On All Melody, he takes that expertise and starts to experiment heavily with analogue and modular sounds. Again, for any first timers, this is an album that has to be listened to start to finish. You guys are probably starting to notice a pattern here, I highly rate albums that can be listened to on a whole. Nils Frahm loves the idea of carrying the listener away from their current stand point and allowing them to float. He has that type of sound that acts better than a painkiller. It is melancholic and explorative, slow and contemplative. I can see how the album can be seen as more of a background track to many of you, but sit down and listen to acoustical progressions, the beauty of what natural electrical analogue signals can make as oppose to digital/electronic samples. To be honest, I only listen to the album on vinyl, it just doesn't sound as good from a digital format. Anyways it is definitely worth a listen through whatever medium.
Fetti - Curren$y, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist
To make rap sound minimal and still be absolutely imposing. This is what this 24 minute masterpiece did to me. In an age so focused on heavy drops, doubly heavy bass, and treble here and there just to give tracks some form of uniqueness, Fetti completely defies these trends. With The Alchemist on the beats, Curren$y and Freddie Gibbs show their versatility for anything that is laid in front of them, but at the same time being able to maintain their vocal identity. You know you're listening to Freddie and Curren$y the moment they spit. That is a skill in rap I give high credits to, versatility, adaptability. The beats are just spices to the gumbo, their voices being the real flavour. EP length projects are starting to make a comeback in the rap scene. They have more of an impact than albums that could run for 40 minutes to 1.5 hours. In and out, no wasted breaths, no interludes, no astray beats, just straight bliss.
Your Queen Is A Reptile - Sons Of Kemet
Jazz has been playing a side role for the past few years. I firmly believe the genre has always been at the forefront of all music. Genres at any age credit its sound to what Jazz put into place long before the genre claimed itself. Sort of like a snowball effect; Jazz experiments, emerging genres follow and nitpick the parts of that experimentation that appeals to itself, Jazz experiments again and so follows the next genre. Your Queen Is A Reptile fuses Afro sounds with Avant-Garde Jazz, bringing forward a very unique form of Jazz, not found often today. Personally, I can recall big band Jazz covers of Pop songs that sound somewhat similar to this album, but not as original and definitely not as complex for the amount of instruments. Comprising of only Saxophone, Tuba, and Drums; it is impressive the band can convey such a strong and intimidating sound throughout the album. Yes, that is the word that truly describes this masterpiece, intimidating.
Con Todo El Mundo - Khruangbin
Khruangbin interestingly translates to "airplane". I have no idea how to pronounce it. "Kroongbin" maybe? Nevertheless, the band claims the name refers to their quest of taking influences from all over the globe. A quest they are definitely achieving, and very well for that matter. Con Todo El Mundo has a laidback funk sound that takes influences from Thai, Middle Eastern, Carribean and Indian music. Every now and then I like to listen to Khruangbin's show on NTS radio, and it is extremely clear how addicted they are to discovering sounds from all over the globe. I'm quite envious of that to be honest, but also extremely thankful for their desire. In the end, their drive helps me discover unique sounds and pushes me to delve into discovery mode. This 42 minute album will just pass you by, not in a bad way. It's as if the music was always there and will remain there for as long as you like. Extended vamping can often get very boring if pulled on for too long, a trap that a lot of bands fall into. If you weren't a fan of the technique, you're bound to get bored easily. Con Todo El Mundo stays away from this trap, each song pulled just long enough to place forth its own message, but kept short enough that you won't even think of skipping.
I can still name a lot more albums that were notable for 2018; Against All Logic, Kamasi Washington, Earl Sweatshirt, Showbiz, Iceage, Jamie Isaac... etc etc. But obviously that would make this post way too long. I picked these few for their originality and personal impact, as well as the sound of the album as a whole. So, lets just leave it at that.