The year 2018 saw the release of a lot of music. The following is the second half of what this writer thought was the best of the year. Full disclosure: I don’t care about album sales. I don’t care about concert-ticket sales. If everything in the world was judged by the amount sold, you’d have a hell of a lot of chefs in high dollar kitchens bitching that a hamburger made beneath a set of arches was better than their own grass-fed creation.
I care about what met my ears, and this list – numbers 10 through 6 were detailed in last week’s DGO – is based on the time an album spent spinning on my turntable or coming out of my digital music device.
5. Ty Segall, “Freedom’s Goblin” A good Ty Segall record is an exercise in diversity, but it often comes with a not-so-subtle punch of garage rock and psychedelia. “Freedom’s Goblin” has nods to The Kinks and some of the more out-of-the-box stuff of The Beatles, and Segall doesn’t always need to hide behind a wall of noise. It’s a 19-song epic, from the opening cut “Fanny Dog” to the Hot Chocolate cover of “Every 1’s A Winner,” and this album will likely solidify Segall’s deserved place in indie rock, punk rock, and the classic rock canon, if he’s not there already. Prolific is an apt term, and Segall should be recognized as a songwriter who can lay down some memorable melody, just as much as he can turn things well past 11.
4. Ray Barbee, “Tiara for Computer” Ray Barbee is a skateboarder and musician whose hard to find records are laid-back experimental jazz. He’s kept some cool company, and his latest is a synthesizer heavy album, something ripe for a skate soundtrack and loaded with plenty of groove and funk beats, courtesy of Tortoise’s Johnny Herndon.
3. The Sons of Rainier, “Down in the Pancake Valley” A handful of locals devoured this record, and an obscure show in an even more obscure venue certainly aided in the growth of their small but dedicated local following. The Bellingham, Washington-quartet has a slacker-folk thing happening. This record is a super harmony-driven, lo-fi, and at times AM Gold dose of catchy jangle and minimalist twang. The band labels themselves “hobo-dream pop” and keeps a 45 rpm mindset, and the whole album comes rich in harmonies.
2. Dean Ween Group, “rock2” Dean Ween is a serious musician, yet his fans are thankful that as he’s aged, he hasn’t chosen to “get serious” in some absurd lyrical sense. Deaners’ second solo record, recorded under the name The Dean Ween Group, has all the grand weirdness you’ve expected from Ween. From the Parliament/Funkadelic-inspired opener of “Showstopper,” right into the absurdity of “Fingerbangin’,” it’s an album not only of stellar guitar work, but also great band work. Musically, it’s all over the map. “Don’t Let the Moon Catch You Cryin” is as catchy as Ween’s hook-laden tune “Even If You Don’t,” and the instrumentals in “The Ritz Carlton” and “Sunset Over Belmar” are both rocking and beautiful.
1. The Messthetics, “The Messthetics” While the world awaits the Fugazi hiatus to end, its members continue to make music together. D.C.’s latest on the Dischord Records roster is a trio comprised of the Fugazi rhythm section with drummer Brendan Canty and bass player Joe Lally, joined by guitar player Anthony Pirog. This is a power trio album, a free-jazz and art-rock album, and a DIY punk effort, all in a package that showcases the talent of Pirog. It also lets Lally and Canty shine as an amazing rhythm which lets Pirog do what he needs to do. The single, “Serpent Tongue,” was released well before the full-length, and had soon-to-be fans losing their minds. The full album that followed didn’t disappoint.