Can you believe were already 6 months into 2018! The past months have given us some great music from newcomers and veterans alike. Here are some of our staffers favorites so far this year.
- Sidney Gish – No Dogs Allowed
No Dogs Allowed always feels like a gift that keeps on giving: initially I loved No Dogs Allowed for its catchiness and for the way that each song has its own unique personality, while all still feeling seamlessly and cohesively Sidney Gish; but as I dove more into the lyrics, it feels like looking into the whole millennial world, alternately through a magnifying glass and a mirror. I’ve been listening to this album frequently and consistently since I discovered it in early January, and it simply never gets old. No Dogs Allowed has enough depth and variety that there’s always something new, and so far I’ve enjoyed every bit.
- Hot Mulligan – Pilot
An early 2018 release, Hot Mulligan’s first studio album Pilot is a definite future-classic pop-punk record, with clear influences from bands like Taking Back Sunday and early Fall Out Boy. The band has exploded onto the scene this year with Pilot’s refreshing and heartfelt take on the subjects of family, love, and loss. Each one of the songs brings guitar-driven and energetically aggressive melodies with masterfully peppered-in clean vocals. A bit more polished than their previous EP’s, Pilot successfully morphs emo with modern pop-punk through poetic lyrics and a very distinct use of percussion, guitars, and synth. Overall, for a debut album, Pilot displays equal parts humor and refinement, all while giving the listener simultaneous feelings of nostalgia and resolution.
- Wye Oak – The Louder I Call The Faster It Runs
Occasionally, you hear a song that makes you wonder: “have my music tastes changed recently, or is this music really that good”? Wye Oak has changed their sound drastically over the last five albums but, their new “Wall of Sound” approach plays to the duo’s strengths more than any before. The layers of Synth make way at the perfect times to mix with the gorgeous lead vocals. Guitars and solos are sprinkled throughout adding just the right amount of texture to keep the songs fresh listen after listen. Every song sounds different and unique but, they all have a similar dense atmosphere of longing, hope and adventure.
- Cities Aviv – Raised for a Better View
Drawing equally from sample-based, experimental hip-hop and texture-based, ambient works, Raised for a Better View is a stunning display of Cities Aviv’s skills as both a producer and an MC. His melancholic, at-times poetically apathetic delivery drives each track in a Laissez-faire approach to syncopation: drifting slowly over abstractly-constructed, jazzy beats, Aviv enunciates each bar to let us feel the emotion pent up behind every lyric, and the space between each. This is no doubt an AOTY contender, and one of the most unique and rewarding hip-hop releases of the past few years, if not the decade.
- Lucy Dacus – Historian
The first time I heard Lucy Dacus’ second album Historian, it was the Friday before spring break while I was on the bus heading back to my hometown that I am not from, basically just a place where my parents live. A huge windstorm was hitting the east coast and I was worried I was going to have to sleep in Grand Central Station, because the bus wouldn’t make it there on time for me to take a train. This is the perfect album if you’re looking for something to distract you. It’s beautiful and enjoyable throughout and it’s overall just a very strong album. I don’t know if it’s going to be my absolute album of the year, but I still think it’s a masterpiece that deserves recognition.
- Caroline Rose – Loner
Thus far in 2018, there have been hundreds (well maybe like 104ish) albums that I have had the pleasure of listening through. So, with that I can say full heartedly the album Loner by Caroline Rose is my favorite album of 2018 thus far. This music is full of synth and organ that lets the listener just sink into their feelings, and there are many showcased throughout the album. She has a manic side and a depressive side but both work well in tandem. The lyrics can be thought provoking and very progressive. The zany covers of the album and singles perfectly represent the sound and feeling envoked by this album. I would say the top three songs for me are Soul No 5, Jeannie Becomes a Mom, and More of the Same. After becoming a fan, I went back and listened to her freshman album, I Will Not be Afraid. It is very different from Loner and what one would expect from New West. Although not a bad album, I must say that she has found her vibe and her stride and hit them hard with Loner.
- Pusha-T – DAYTONA
Pusha-T comes through on DAYTONA sounding like he has ice in his veins with some of his best verses yet. His flows are hard and punctuated, and his lyrics are deep, you will continuously find new bars you hadn’t caught on your first few listens. Pusha hops on amazing beats with fantastic samples, produced mainly by Kanye West, and the best best switch of the year on Santeria.
Oh, and it started the best rap beef of the decade.
- Parquet Courts – WIDE AWAKE!
On Wide Awake! Parquet Courts transcend their status as just another drop in the ocean of Brooklyn punk acts with unbelievable musical range and a knack for getting songs stuck in your head. At times on this album Parquet Courts do a better-than-passable imitation of Wire, Talking Heads, and Neil Young. Crucially, however, they still save time to just be Parquet Courts, and their usual brand of effortlessly danceable art-punk shines all the brighter when cast against their more eclectic offerings. Wide Awake! has already stitched itself into the fabric of my Summer 2018, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it stays near the top of my listening rotation well into the fall and winter.
You can read Johns full review here
- Beach House – Seven (7)
In the second half of this decade, I have been disappointed by artists who have consistently dazzled me in the past quite a few times. Beach House is one of the artists that has not yet let me down, even as they veered in a darker, sleeker direction on 7. The dream pop duo ventures into this new realm without compromising their signature sound; 7’s shoegaze-esque guitars, saccharine melodies, and mesmerizing vocal performances from Victoria Legrand allow the band to come off darker than ever, while remaining unabashedly Beach House.
- Lithics – Mating Surfaces
Lithics’ new album Mating Surfaces is a fun and strange Post-Punk album that feels at once classic sounding and thoroughly original. Lithics captures the energy of the first wave of Post-Punk bands, such as Au Pairs and Delta 5, making danceable high energy Punk songs. They convey a lot of personality through their strange lyrics and unique vocals that is accented and supported by strange dueling guitar riffs. Memorable choruses and catchy music makes this an excellent summer punk album and cements Lithics’ position as a leading Post-Punk group in the underground.
-Calder Buisch WPTS MD
- Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Bark Your Head Off, Dog is Hop Along’s third LP and quite possibly their best. Frances Quinlan gives it her all with songs that are lyrically dense, while also featuring some of the catchiest hooks on any record I’ve listened to this year. Tracks like “Look of Love” and “How Simple” are just dripping with emotion in a way that keeps me engaged on each listen. Every time I put this record on I find myself noticing new things that make me appreciate the time that must have been spent on some of the songs’ arrangements. Hop Along has continually amazed me with their albums and this one has surpassed what were already high expectations.
You can read Thomas’ review of a recent Hop Along Show at Spirit here
- Merce Lemon – Girls Who Jump In
Pittsburgh native Merce Lemon’s latest EP “Girls Who Jump In” did not come here to play games. Ok, maybe a couple, but Merce is kicking your butt in all of them. “Girls” picks up where their debut full length release “Ideal for a Light Flow With Your Body” left off in terms of tasteful genre blending and expectation shattering quality. Merce weaves a light country twang into their measured yet cutting songwriting style, featuring candid, fearless lyrics that discuss everything from diva cups to their own writing process. This queer alt-country departure is a breathtaking step for Merce, and is quite arguably the best 13 minutes of music released this year
You can stay tuned into WPTS Pittsburgh and WPTSRadio.org to see what the next six months in music have in store for us. Hopefully the next six are as good as the first six!