Keith's Baker’s Dozen: 12(+1) Songs of 2018
It's the end of the year, when all the fan-kids post their "best of" lists. As I get older, I find much of my "discovery" focusing on new-to-me records from years past rather than current releases. Given that I've yet to dive deeply into much of what came out this year, rather than a list of bests I give you these songs that caught my attention in 2018. Journola is calling it “Keith’s Baker’s Dozen.”
Though I do have favorites, instead of a good-better-best countdown, these are organized in what I think makes sense as a playlist. Happy new listening!
1. "At It Again" by Demdike Stare
When I first heard My Bloody Valentine, I was struck by how much it sounded like a cassette being played in a Walkman with dying batteries. Demdike Stare have finally brought that effect to IDM. I guess this also proves that I'm still a sucker for a good breakbeat.
2. "Lemon Glow" by Beach House
I haven't really paid much attention to Beach House up to this point, since they always struck me as the poster children for my hated Chillwave. Now that I've caught the bug, I suppose I'll need to backtrack.
3. "Pain Killer" by Iceage
Conversely, I have been a fan of Iceage since, oh, roundabout their first album. They've been creeping out of the punk ghetto for a while now, and this is their most "polished" production yet. I hear a bit of Brian Jonestown Massacre in here and a whole lot of Sonic Youth circa Goo and Dirty.
4. "Modern Rain" by The Essex Green
Twelve years after their last album, The Essex Green regroup, successfully. The album has a lot of decent recordings, but for me this is the one that most scales the same heights of pop perfection reached on previous outings. I just wish my mondegreen ("there's an offer that's made") was the actual chorus. I guess I'll need to keep that one for my own usage.
5. "Beach Life-in-Death" by Car Seat Headrest
Yes, this is a full band rerecording of what was already a good song from a few years back. It's an excellent example of how a group of sympathetic musicians and improved production can take a song to the next level of greatness.
6. "Nevermine" by Forth Wanderers
This is a new-to-me band. I dig this tune. It brings to mind both Veruca Salt and The Smiths.
7. "Bells (Song for Geoff Walden)" by Air-Sea Dolphin
Maybe I'm just really missing the Apples in Stereo, but this song hit a sweet spot for me: wistful, lo-fi pop so catchy it will make your mind explode. Why yes, that opening bass riff is from "Just Like Heaven."
8. "Bonfire" by DJ Koze
This year brought another great album from DJ Koze, and this is my favorite track on it. I find it strongly reminiscent of Manitoba/Caribou, but with a playful disruption that ultimately becomes part of the slow groove. (Photo on article header.)
9. "Licking an Orchid" by Yves Tumor
Sing-along singsong with a fuzzy guitar solo thrashing around in the background. Delightful. This musical theme actually repeats several times on the album, but this is the variation that first pulled me in.
10. "You Win Again" by Protomartyr
Man, oh, man, how I love this song, And it gets crazy cool when beat goes to triplets and the clarinet solo comes in. Oh, yeah, there's a viola part in there.
11. "The Bug Collector" by Haley Heynderickx
With fingerpicking influenced by the guitar stylings of Fahey/Lang/Kottke, and delicate songs influenced by introspective folk-pop, what's not to love?
12. "Heat 4" Shinichi Atobe
Paranoid metronomes. I was a fan of Atobe's minimal dub, and this pivot to techno is just as engaging. Stick with it.
(+1) And a bonus track: "Work It" by Marie Davidson
Are you a winner? Strident beats & seemingly naughty chants. Though I expect in the long run I'll probably view this as a novelty track, I'm enjoying it now.