Monday, January 7, 2019

Henry's 2018 Recap

2018: A Few Of My Favorite Things

By Henry Lipput

When I started to write this 2018 thing, I went through the computer files with my reviews for CoolDad.It was then that I realized that this would be my fifth year-end roundup for Cool Dad. I've been reviewing music here since 2014. I knew it was a while, but it didn't sink in until now. So thanks CoolDad for letting me write about the music I love for this long.

And here's what I've loved in 2018. There are 11 albums, a single, an EP, and a reissue as well as some other releases I also liked and you might want to check out.

I've been very fortunate to get downloads and Soundcloud links to review new releases. This year, when I have really liked an album or single or EP I have bought vinyl and CDs where I had downloads and downloads where I had Soundcloud links.

If you like what I've written about here and listened to the tracks on the included Spotify list, I encourage you to buy some music from these artists. None of these people are superstars (I was going to call this list "A Grammy-Free Zone," but you get the ide.) and don't make much, if any, money from streaming.


HI LO, Super 8

Super 8, aka Paul Ryan, pulled off a musical hat trick this year by releasing three albums. Any of them (T-T-T-Technicolour Melodies from January, TURN AROUND OR… from June, and HI LO in October) could have topped my list, but I'm choosing HI LO as my favorite. HI LO is a splendid mix of music, moods, and sounds. It also has some of the best lyrics and arrangements (Listen to "Angels & Neil Diamond" and "Drive You Home" for starters) of his three albums. He also wrote and recorded "If Cats Had Hands" (with its wonderful video) and a Christmas song after HI LO was released. As far as I'm concerned Super 8's HI LO is the album of the year. (Futureman Records)

Peaks and Valleys, Chris Richards and the Subtractions

Richards, along with Andy Reed and Keith Klingensmith, make up the power pop trio, The Legal Matters. Richards has been recording with the powerhouse rhythm section of The Subtractions (Todd Holmes on bass and Larry Grodsky on drums and percussion) well before TLM came around. On Peaks And Valleys, Richards brought on Reed for additional guitar and harmonies to create another power pop treasure that includes a brilliant full-band cover of Big Star's "Thirteen." (Futureman Records)

Sincerely, S. Love x, Simon Love

This album is a wonderful pop-fest with a liberal dose of swear words. One of my favorites songs from 2018 is "I Fucking Love You" which begins like a Boo Radleys pop tune from their Wake Up! album, and then slowly morphs into something from Spiritualized. On the flip side of this sentiment is the musical kiss-off and full-throttle rocker that is "Not If I See You First," and the lost love song "Tennis Fan" uses sports analogies to describe a relationship. (Tapete Records)

Kill The Lights, Tony Molina

Kill The Lights has ten songs that all together clock in at a little less than 15 minutes. It's like a meal made up of appetizers, but it's still filling. It may just be my impression that it's a post-breakup album with some glimmers of hope along the way. But it is a guitar-centric album with some very cool riffs that will remind you of The Byrds ("Give He Take You" and "Nothing I Can Say"), Teenage Fanclub ("Jasper's Theme"), and what sounds like a John Lennon song performed by Elliott Smith ("Now That She's Gone"). (Slumberland Records)

Didn't Mean To Care, Susie Blue

The debut album from Northern Irish singer / songwriter, Susie Blue, is a collection of songs that tell the story of her teenage years after coming out. Susie has put together a terrific band of musicians for this album; but, for me, it's really the two, stark, solo acoustic ballads, "Trust Me" and "Till You Started," that really stand out. There's something that Susie does with a lyric that shows her debt to the late, great Dolores O'Riordan and the sound of these songs recalls PJ Harvey's demos.
(Didn't Mean To Care is available as a digital download).

Proto Retro, Dot Dash

Dot Dash is another guitar, bass, and drums trio with a stellar rhythm section comprised in Dot Dash of Hunter Bennett and Danny Ingram. Terry Banks provides lead vocals, terrific lead and rhythm guitars, and also wrote the songs. The album starts with "Unfair Weather," a dig at folks who adopt British lingo ("don't call it a jumper / you know it's a sweater"). It's also a power pop number that rocks as is "Fast Parade." "Gray Blue Green" is another jangle fest, and "Triple Rainbow" is a gorgeous song of love and support. (The Beautiful Music)

Young Scum, Young Scum

Someone I follow on Twitter mentioned this band, and I initially thought they probably were some kind of Sex Pistols wannabes (not that there's anything wrong with that). Instead, Young Scum is a Smiths-loving group from Richmond, Virginia, with jangle to spare. Their lyrics, about hating your job ("Crying At Work") or not knowing what to say to someone you like ("Hard"), are relevant to almost anyone at any age. (Pretty Olivia Records)

Davey Woodward and the Winter Orphans, Davey Woodward and the Winter Orphans

Woodward is a musical mimic who can sing like Lou Reed and Bob Dylan and also write songs that they might have written. His album with the Winter Orphans, a group he put together to record this album in a weekend, has songs that recall VU-era Reed ("Girl In The Hoops") and mid-Sixties Dylan ("Tangerine Dream"). There's also a mashup of the two in "Dylan's Poster" as well as songs in Woodward's own, distinctive voice ("Horrors Cope" and "Trouble In My Times"). (Tapete Records)

Black Box Theory, Gretchen's Wheel

Lindsay Murray is Gretchen's Wheel. On past albums she's brought onboard musicians from The Posies, The Legal Matters, and Nada Surf to help with the recordings. But after her completely solo EP, awry, she felt confident enough to handle everything herself (except for Nick Bertling on drums). Like awry, Black Box Theory uses lower-case letters for song titles which adds to the poetic nature of Murray's lyrics. For example, the melancholy "tourist" could be about the end of a vacation or the end of a relationship or both. (Futureman Records)

LLC, Deal Casino

LLC is Deal Casino's second album in two years. As drummer Chris Donofrio told CoolDad in an interview, the band had stopped "belaboring the pre-recording process," and the result is a fresh and inventive collection of songs. "Color TV" originally showed up as an untitled, acoustic, 4-track demo on the band's Calidus EP from 2017, and it gets a makeover on LLC. The band's adventures in the studio are highlighted by "Chocolate Cake," which ends with an explosion of sound that's somewhere between "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "A Day In The Life." (LLC is available as a digital download).

Construction Time & Demolition, Wreckless Eric

This album is a master class on how rock songs should sound. Eric has been around since the mid-Seventies and was part of Stiff Records' Live Stiffs tour. Many of the songs on Construction Time & Demolition are about time as well as places that don't exist anymore. "Gateway To Europe" borrows sounds from The Kinks' Preservation albums, and "The World Revolved Around Me" recalls Big Star's Third. "Wow & Flutter," one of the album's highlights. has crunching guitars, crashing drums, and a Entwistle-like bass. (Southern Domestic Records)


"Nothing In Your Way," The Magic Es

The Magic Es have released five singles since 2017's It Goes On (my favorite album for that year), and three of them came out in 2018. Of those, my favorite is "Nothing In Your Way" which highlights the band's great sense of dynamics. There's also a terrific video you can check out on YouTube.("Nothing In Your Way" is available as a digital download).


Modern Man, Andy Cook

Modern Man is the Minnesota-based Cook's follow-up to 2017's In Space EP. The songs on Modern Man have been influenced by a genre like 60s surf, 80s pop, or contemporary indie rock. "Swirl," is an indie-pop gem with an earwig of a melody. "Red Lights" has more than a little jangle in the mix and some nice synth flourishes. One of my favorites is Places We'll Go," a lovely, countrified acoustic ballad. (Good Eye Records)


Girly Sound to Guyville, Liz Phair

This is the 25th anniversary release of Phair's landmark and still awesome Exile In Guyville. The original album is given a crisp re-mastering and sounds better than ever. But the best thing about this set is the two CDs that collect the three cassettes that Phair recorded and gave to friends in the early Nineties. It's great to hear early versions of songs like "Bomb" that showed up as "Stratford-On-Guy" on Guyville and "Money" which turned into "Shitloads of Money" on her fantastic whitechocolatespaceegg. (Matador Records)


I've also enjoyed albums by Lisa Mychols (Sugar) and Paul McCartney (Egypt Station); singles by Fallon Cush ("Dream House"), Stars ("One Day Left"), Callow Youth ("Rough"), and the cover of "You Can Hide Your Love Forever" by The Fortuna POP! All-Stars (which included Simon Love); EPs from The Nature Strip (Past Pacific) and The Hannah Barberas (there were three plus a Christmas release); Altered Sweet, the Futureman Records tribute to Matthew Sweet; and the Captured Tracks 25th anniversary vinyl-only reissue of Martin Newell's still amazing The Greatest Living Englishman produced by Andy Partridge.

1 comment :

  1. As always, an eclectic list from the purveyor of all things that go pop.
    I must check out Super8!