Last week I put out a list of my 50 favorite running songs of the year. While those are great songs to move your feet, albums are my real love. There is nothing better than sitting with a full-length album that weaves together a story deeper than a single song. This year was difficult to narrow to 10 records. Groups like Arndales, Grouper, and Starcrawler once made up the core of this list and got bumped. Also, make sure and check out albums by J Cole, Pusha T, and the Black Panther soundtrack–sorry Kendrick. Take some time over the holidays, disconnect from all that distracts you, and listen to a good album.
10. Camp Cope, How to Socialise and Make Friends: Just came across this one at the last minute. Folk/punk/singer-song/Australian female angst coupled with penetrating lyrics: “I’m so proud that half of me grew from you, the broken parts too.”
9. Mary Gauthier, Rifles and Rosary Beads: The words from “Songwriters with Soldiers” set to simple country music. This lifts the curtain on veterans’ experiences and exposes the pain to light so healing may begin.
8. Bambara, Shadow on Everything: The opening act for IDLES carries more than their own weight in this clever, dark concept album the contrasts punk energy with Jim Morrison-esque vocals.
7. Sarah Mary Chadwick, Sugar Still Melts in the Rain: The former punk lead singer of Batrider bears her soul with only the accompaniment of an old church organ. Beautiful, sad, and hopeful.
6. mewithoutyou, untitled: history, poetry, and scripture wound together in the cry of an unravelling soul.5. Ministry, Amerikant: Uncle Al provides the most attune soundtrack of political commentary of the year. The absurdity of the moment does result in powerful art.
4. Remember Sports, Slow Buzz: There is nothing slow about this album; this is an all-out sprint. In contrast to so much heaviness of 2018, this is light-hearted exuberance.
3. Exit North, Book of Romance and Dust: An album of deep emotions, strings and brass, four years in the making. One of the most remarkable records ever made. It is difficult to find, but worth the effort.
2. Lil Peep, Come Over When You’re Sober, Part 2, In January 2016, David Bowie gave us a look at facing death in his last days, Peep looks back from across the grave at the beauty and tragedy of life.
1. IDLES: Joy as an Act of Resistance: The best punk album this side of 1977. The perfect album at the perfect time. IDLES are raw, fun, and socially aware. If you listen to this album, your foot doesn’t move, and your face doesn’t smile, you need to make some room for joy in your soul.