Favourite Albums of 2018

We’re not going to pretend this is anything like a comprehensive list of what 2018 had to offer—we are but two people in a world of much music. These are the records that grabbed us most forceably and held most fastly this year.

Thanks for being with us.

Advance Base – Animal Companionship

Run For Cover Records

Advance Base animal companionship artwork

““The songs are intended to be a comfort for folks going through their own tough times,” Ashworth explained in an essay for Talkhouse. “Commiseration has always been a guiding principle of my songwriting.” Love need not be hugs and hearts and kisses, and loyalty does not necessarily mean hanging in a relationship beyond all reason. But love is loyalty, and Owen Ashworth has been, and seemingly always will be, loyal to those who need it most.”


Basement Revolver – Heavy Eyes

Sonic Unyon / Fear of Missing Out Records

basement revolver heavy eyes artwork

“An expansive and spacious sound that’s lit up with a slow-burning emotional resonance, centring around Hurn’s impassioned vocal delivery. Their music combines the magnitude and granular glitter of shoegaze, the personal songwriting of bedroom pop and the cathartic noise of 90s indie rock. [Basement Revolver] play a double game of big and small, switching from quiet personal sentiment to big bombastic broadcast, often within the same song.”


Benjamin Shaw – Megadead

Audio Antihero

Benjamin Shaw Megadead artwork

“For all the frustration and (self-)loathing in show, there’s also something else. Perhaps the defining characteristics of Shaw’s music is its ability to transcend its own themes. He may be singing about hating his job, about going nowhere fast, but in doing so colours these things with meaning. To create art is to communicate, and as such the songs represent the antithesis to their own concerns, the simulated happiness and artificial connection punctured through their ironic presence.”


Campdogzz – In Rounds

15 Passenger

campdogzz in rounds album art

“[Closer ‘Sorceress’] at first might seem a slightly strange segue for a final track soon straightens out into an intuitive sense of logic and belonging, as though the album-long teeter on the edge of some epiphanic transformation has finally fallen headlong at the last moment.”


Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed

Secretly Canadian

Damien Jurado the horizon just laughed

“While it might be tempting to view [Jurado’s] songwriting career as a fruitless quest for his true identity, perhaps the complete opposite is true. His career is his identity, splinters of truth arriving through dreams or divined from another realm entirely, fractals that can be arranged into a whole that far surpasses the meaning of any one component. A manifesto of sorts, one full of prophecy and history, though rather than country-western stars of [Joseph Billie] Gwin’s vision, the Ten Prophets of Damien Jurado are merely alternate versions of himself—past, present, future, dream—each record its own style or consciousness, born of him, yes, but equal to him too.”


Dear Nora – Skulls Example

Orindal Records

dear nora skulls example album artwork

“You can be anyone, we are told, do anything, though only superficially, a multitude of simulations all working toward to same goal, the means to the end of shifting units and making money. Dear Nora’s music attempts to undermine this by playing the same game, crafting an unreal reality of their own to overlay the other. And, by neutering the money-making end, they in effect invert capitalism’s technique, reestablishing the means (ie. living) as the purpose. Yes, Skulls Example might be a simulation, but it is one of the most meaningful and rewarding you could hope to find.”


Field Report – Summertime Songs

Verve Forecast

Field Report Summertime Songs album art

“The summertime theme might conjure ideas of cloudless, uptempo good times, but to limit Field Report’s use of the season to a more poppy sound is to miss the deeper point […] We cannot rely on grand promises or paradigm shifts. Rather, we must commit to the slow, considered process of letting go and working through, of deciding who we were and who we want to be. In these times, we’d be foolish to trust that will be enough, but belief in small moments of agency and human connection is more productive than misplaced prayers for epiphany.”


Free Cake For Every Creature – The Bluest Star

Double Double Whammy

free cake for every creature bluest star album cover

“free cake for every creature don’t make sad songs exactly, usually tending toward a kind and hopeful feel. Yet there is something intangible about them, a strange sensation that weaves its way into quiet moments, like a kind of everyday poetry or nostalgia that we all recognise but don’t have a name for. The case in point is the penultimate song, ‘be home soon’, which somehow portrays a subway ride home as something beautiful and magical.”


Frog – Whatever We Probably Already Had It

Audio Antihero

frog whatever artwork

“Contains lines of total sincerity that feel disarming in the face of what has come before, as though the truth of things slips out in quiet whispers to oneself, the party over and room emptied out. The truth being the soul-shearing reality of the American Dream, the tragicomedy of understanding your dreams and desires to be complete fictions while leaning on them with all of your weight.”


Gia Margaret – There’s Always Glimmer

Orindal Records

Gia Margaret there's always glimmer cover art

“The palette of Gia Margaret is built from shades of sadness—loss, regret, wistful longing, the arresting trap of nostalgia and plain old hurt—though again and again Margaret provides a counter-shade, as though the darkness’ true purpose is merely to highlight the warm, weak glow within. Because, while people up and leave, and time is certainly no kinder, Gia Margaret is here to prove that value is inherent in life itself, meaning and fulfilment not in spite of troubles, but within them. No matter how dark, there is always glimmer.”


Haley Heynderickx – I Need to Start a Garden

Mama Bird Recording Co.

Haley Heynderickx i need to start a garden artwork

I Need To Start a Garden is the perfect album for the onset of spring. It’s all about growth and the hope of new beginnings, but also doesn’t shy away from the necessary hard work that makes such growth possible. It’s a reminder that plants are not the only things that need to be tended and cared for, but also that they’re not the only things that can flourish and bloom either.”


Lisa/Liza – Momentary Glance

Orindal Records

“The context [of bereavement] is important not because we wish to suggest some ‘romantic’ mythology behind the record (indeed, the songs were written before the tragedy occurred), or that there is magical healing power in the making/consumption of art. Rather, Momentary Glance is a symbol of the power of community, generosity in the face of grief, and the album’s use of placidity over bombastic melodrama is indicative of such an authentic spirit.”


Long Neck – Will This Do?

Tiny Engines

long neck will this do album art chain link fence drawing

“Despite the difficult circumstances, there is also a sense that things will be okay, that our narrator has gained the sense of strength and self-reliance necessary to move on. Or rather, is working toward being strong enough and self-reliant enough, with this album being the furthest possible reach forward toward that place. Of course, it’s likely full strength and self-reliance will never be achieved, but it’s the strive toward those ideas that is the most important. Of course this will do.”


Lung Cycles – S/T

Lily Tapes & Discs

Lung Cycles artwork

“The placid natural flow continues whether we voice our concerns or not, and nothing in this external sphere is working to exacerbate our feelings. In this way, Lung Cycles reveals anxiety and melancholy to be no more than parasites of the human psyche, forces all too willing to consume us should we centre our existence within our own heads, but soon found dead in the vacuum of natural quiet.”


Monarch Mtn – days of sleepwater


Monarch Mtn. days of sleepwater artwork

“Darkness breeds darkness, and allowed to fester can become a self-perpetuating thing that metastazises unto ubiquity. Here, Monarch Mtn do not pretend that suffering is abating, or can be dispelled by a mere shift in perspective, but rather choose to fight the phenomenon. days of sleepwater exists to fight the creeping dark, and not embrace it.”


Naps Eyes – I’m Bad Now

Paradise of Bachelors

nap eyes I'm bad now album cover

“Behind the heavy-lidded blasé exterior lies a rich and tangled inner life, an invitation to fall into the folds of Chapman’s brain and watch his thoughts pass by […] Those with enough curiosity or desire can try to arrange the Nap Eyes lines into a magical formation, wrestling with the existential questions in the hope that they will be the first to figure it all out. The rest can take a back seat and let the Big Stuff drift around them, finding comfort in the fact that there are things bigger than us, and beauty in the understanding that they are beyond our grasp.”


Remember Sports – Slow Buzz

Father/Daughter Records

remember sports slow buzz album art

“Sincerity could be said to represent Slow Buzz as a whole, though sincerity not as some sentimental force rather a commitment to what feels true, no matter how messy and conflicting. There’s something in the Remember Sports story at the heart of this earnestness, the possibility of progressing without sacrificing an entire ideal, of reincarnation where one returns not as some different creature entirely, but a new version of oneself. A truer version, at least for now.”


Sun June – Years

Keeled Scales

sun june years album cover

Years is a record shaped and propelled by the gentle forces of the world, currents in the substrates of the earth and life itself, invisible yet profound, capable of changes both minor and major […] a number of the tracks returning to a repeated phrase, cyclical patterns that rise in intensity like incantations, or else echo out into the fabric of the sound.”


Swearin’ – Fall Into the Sun

Merge Records

swearin' fall into the son artwork

“We live in a time obsessed with the past. Our dreams now look backwards instead of forward, our deepest wish not for some utopian future but rather a return to an unreal past, one sanded of all trials and troubles by nostalgia and the constant passing of time. With Fall Into the Sun, Swearin’ rebel against such a mindset, redirecting our hopes toward the future once more, and compelling us to pay attention to the present while we still can.”


Talons’ – After Talons


after talons

“Talons’ capture the futility and hopelessness of a content life in a creaking hyper-capitalist society, an existence often devoid of meaning and full of shame at the hypocrisy in caring about the world but doing little to change it. But it’s also kind-hearted too, its glowing core of humanity somehow comforting despite the heavy subject matter. In other words, there’s no optimism here, but there is hope.”


Valley Maker – Rhododendron

Frenchkiss Records

valley maker rhododendron album cover

“Built upon a thematic bedrock of faith and religion, but anyone who baulks at the R-word need not worry, [Valley Maker] is uninterested in creeds and doctrine, instead exploring metaphysical mysteries that we can all wonder about […] Crane is not foolish enough to offer answers, though his words and voice work as a reassuring balm, even while acknowledging the ambiguity and turmoil that surely awaits. ”


The Washboard Abs – Lowlight Visions

Antiquated Future

The Washboard Abs lowlight visions album art

“Clarke Sondermann’s music has always been intimate, but this album treads deeper into this ideal than any of his previous work. In the circumstances, it would be relatively easy to make an album of sad songs, but it’s a brave artist who takes the very personal worry and suffering and uses it to build something that’s this complex and multifaceted, vulnerable but not hopeless, forgoing nihilistic dejection in favour of a strange kind of love, an appreciation of what stands to be lost.”


The World Without Parking Lots – Seventh Song Counts the Engines

Self-releasedWorld Without Parking Lots artwork

“Seemingly simple but rendered dense and cryptic with the addition of Parcell’s poetry […] Seventh Song Counts the Engines is a beautiful collection of songs, one which somehow makes a bold statement in a circuitous whisper, deceptively complex instrumentation and ambiguous lyrics capturing decidedly unambiguous emotion.”


Young Jesus – The Whole Thing is Just There

Saddle Creek

The Whole Thing Is Just There young jesus art

“How do you adopt a more sincere, hopeful position without becoming a flat Sincere, Hopeful Person, and everything that image entails? Young Jesus have put their hope in a spontaneous, endlessly recursive form of questioning, where every hard fought answer only exists to be questioned further. The endeavour might well take a life time, but the prospect of circling closer to the truth is something of a solution in its own right. So, while it’s tempting to think that the true message or meaning of the songs on The Whole Thing Is Just There is always just out of frame, the reality is in fact the other way around. The message of the songs is that meaning is always just out of frame, and that there is no more valuable an enterprise than the constant search outside and beyond.”


Yowler – Black Dog in My Path

Double Double Whammy

yowler black dog in my path album art

“The writing is vague and affecting, words imbued with an esoteric power that fuses intimate internal thoughts from the corporeal world with something altogether more supernatural. “I bear the mark, I am sigil,” Jones sings, “to the spirits and the sprites, but I promised not to listen and stay in my life.” The natural and supernatural converge on Black Dog In My Path, and Jones has re-purposed Yowler as the conduit between these two dimensions.”


We’re be sharing our favourite songs, books and Bandcamp name-your-price releases in good time, so keep an eye on the ‘Lists‘ category for those.