KAMP’s Picks of the Year!

Each week, KAMP’s music directors and E-Board members write their picks of the week on a whiteboard in the station. It is an interesting insight into the minds of our staff, and a (likely inaccurate) reflection of what they are jamming to that week. In a similar fashion, every year KAMPers compile their favorite songs/albums/things of the year, a retrospective look at what music we liked this year. Any KAMPers could provide their opinions on this, so you will get to see a vast array of different musical tastes. I’m not going to say everyone in KAMP has good music taste, but you really can’t go wrong with these picks. This will be a long compilation, so prepare yourself. The lists are organized with E-Board and MDs at the top.

Max Serventi – Hip Hop Director


1. Sylvan LaCue – Apologies in Advance (1/12/18)

Released back in January of this year, Sylvan LaCue’s freshman album release combines poetic lyricism with soul and grace, incorporating emotions that people from all different paths of life internalize on a day-to-day-basis in the format of an “AA” meeting fleshing out what it all means. Apologies in Advance has been a blessing for my daily routine, and honestly I couldn’t agree more, now at nearly 2 million views, “All I wanna do is the best me, best me possibly…”. Also, wtf @ all HIPHOP websites not recognizing this man’s grind; y’all f***ed up, it’s just a matter of time until you see that.

2. Black Panther – The Album Music From and Inspired by the Movie (2/9/18)

I’m pretty happy I ended up listening to the entirety of this album before seeing the movie in theaters. TDE is proving to be one of the ruling titans of the west-coast, and this is just another addition to that collection. With Kendrick Lamar essentially orchestrating the whole 14-track ensemble, the movie only makes this already classic curation of music that much better.

3. J. Cole – KOD (4/20/18)

Kill our Demons, Kids on Drugs, King OverDose, King of Drops? Seriously, with a drop that came out of the blue that coincided with the new God of War, J.Cole touches on topics that plague the human mentality: drugs, alcohol, addiction, love, anxiety, depression, and essentially the human experience wrapped into 12 seamless tracks. Dreamville records is running at tip-top shape, and this release started the successful year that was had in 2018. We’ll touch on this later…

4. Pusha T – Daytona (5/25/18)

I don’t know why, maybe because it is a prime number and the number of members in my family, but seven is such a beautiful thing. So, Ye’s new thing is to keep it simple: at seven glorious tracks, I only wish it was longer. But actually not, because if you know you know, you know? Anyways, this s**t fire, thank you Def Jam and Ye for making some fire music this past year: this just so happened to be the best of the bunch.

5. Mac Miller – Swimming (8/3/18)

Life comes at you pretty fast: one day you’re listening to your favorites, the next thing your friend is texting you asking if you heard the news. I grew up on a healthy supply of Mac Miller throughout middle school and high school, and he among many other great rappers from the internet inspired me to be the fool I am today. Swimming will undoubtedly be with me until the end, as well as the soul that resides in each one of his album releases. A painstaking reminder of Mac Miller’s trials and tribulations that he struggled with throughout his years of rapping up to the bitter end.

6. Eminem – Kamikaze (8/31/18)

Bearing resemblance to the Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill, Kamikaze is surely licensed to kill. Whether it be a suicide mission or not, the only certified genius to go out on a rapping-killing spree like this and do it without seemingly breaking a sweat or skipping a beat is Eminem. Whether it is art imitating life or vise versa, Eminem has been beaten down in the past, but this proves that no matter how badly one falls, it is how you get back up that defines it all.

7. Logic – YSIV (9/28/18)

A culmination of Logic’s trials and tribulations, stemming all the way back to the persona that started it all: the Young Sinatra mindstate reminds us why we fell in love with Logic in the first place. Never missing a beat, and paying homage to the greats that inspired him, Logic dedicates this one to the fans that have been there from the start. With more to come as he does not stray from teasing his fans, YSIV teases the palette as well, with Thalia playing one of “millions” of albums that The Incredible True Story sparked back in 2015.

8. Mick Jenkins – Pieces of Man (10/26/18)

Borrowing the same name, and acting as a spiritual successor to the Gil-Scott Heron classic, Pieces of a Man implements some of the same ideas but for modern day rap consumption. With features from BBNG and Ghostface Killah, Mick Jenkins proves once again that his lyricism is his and his alone, hoping one day to be understood as he preaches. Don’t worry man, I got you, and that’s a 10-4.

9. Anderson .Paak – OXNARD (11/16/18)

Paying homage to the hometown that raised him, Anderson .Paak teams up with Dr. Dre to curate something that is the best of both worlds. .Paak Daddy himself brings his soulful flair we all know and love, only to be heightened by Dre’s production quality and great features from the likes of Kung-Fu Kenny, J. Cole, Pusha T, and Q-Tip just to name a few. At 14 tracks and just a little less than an hour, “this s**t gon’ bang for at least 6 summers.”

10. J.I.D – DiCaprio 2 (11/26/18)

“G DAMN M8, have y’all heard that DiCaprio 2, this is — “ fill in the blanks with what you may, but let me just start by saying G DAMN M8 THIS IS SOME OF THE BEST MUSIC I’VE HEARD ALL YEAR. There was a reason I mentioned we would touch on this later, because Dreamville Records dropped three of the hottest albums this year. The internet ran ablaze with memes and jokes alike in the chosen album name, but do what you may with it, J.I.D. made me fall in love with Dreamville all over again.

Grace Penry – Hip Hop Director

My Top Ten Albums of 2018 (order is unimportant)

  1. Clean by Soccer Mommy

  2. Milky Way by Bas

  3. Lost & Found by Jorja Smith

  4. Leonardo di Caprio 2 by JID

  5. Swimming by Mac Miller

  6. Call Me by Your Name Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Various Artists (lol sorry guys)

  7. Black Panther Music from and Inspired By by Various Artists

  8. Testing by A$AP Rocky

  9. Room 25 by Noname

  10. Astroworld by Travis Scott

Nate Smith – Engineering Director + Metal Director

This will likely be very verbose; read at your own risk.

This semester was my first as heavy metal director of KAMP Radio and it really made me look deeper into the music I listen to. This year has been a good one in terms of music and the radio; many artists have released good stuff and I have seen plenty of great albums come in to the stacks at the station. However, this year has also been one where I have delved deeper into bands I already enjoy; mostly shutting out the new releases. As a music director I listen to tons of music and get (am required) to listen to bands who I would never actively seek out on my own. After a few dozen shitty metal albums came in for adds, I got pretty jaded and I definitely retreated into my comfort zone of progressive metal by bands I am familiar with. I have been listening to Opeth, Dimmu Borgir, and Ne Obliviscaris religiously; becoming more knowledgeable on their catalogues while sadly leaving the newly released metal by the wayside in regards to my personal listening.

It is kind of a tradition for KAMPers to make their lists of albums of the year, and I will try my take on that. Despite the volume of talented bands releasing music this year, no albums really stood out to me or had me completely shocked. There were certainly some great songs though, so I am going to make this a list of my favorite tracks of the year. These are tracks that stood out to me as exemplary music that I personally love; music that will stay in the playlists for a while.

Nightbound – Tribulation

This song redefined what black metal could be in my eyes. This song fits solidly into the black n roll genre, with heavy growled vocals over gothic, melodic instrumentals. The overall feel is dark, black metal is a genre that excels at capturing an atmosphere, a mood, and this song displays that as well. The guitar is really excellent, well written and played with great tone. Many modern metals bands can get convoluted with their music, but this song is refreshingly simple. If you don’t like black metal but you like rock, this could be a potent stepping stone; check it out.

The Cave – Orphaned Land

My first introduction to the Israeli band Orphaned Land was their record that came out earlier this year. Generally classified as oriental metal, this band combines folk and middle eastern melodies into a metal band and I am so down for it. This song has it all, choir, orchestra, soft female vocals, heavy growled vocals, riffs, heavy drums, guitar solo. The band manage to fit all of this together into a seamless package and top it with lyrics about Plato’s allegory of the cave. A little over 8 minutes; truly a banger.

Lightning Strike – Judas Priest

With their album Firepower, Judas Priest quelled any doubts I had about their ability to stay relevant. They didn’t radically change their sound; they kept their formula and proved they could still rock with the best of them. Still badass after decades, I really have to give credit where it is due. Halford’s vocals may not be as piercing in 2018, but the riffs and the attitude are still there. One of the best metal albums of the year; if you like Priest already, you will like this.

Behold the Bearer of Light – Inferi

Inferi is a band that I want to get big. They are a technical death metal band that has so much talent but largely go unnoticed. The guitar writing of their music is the best I have ever seen in the death metal genre, melodic and heavy. Their most recent album Revenant is awesome; each of its nine tracks depicting a circle of hell a la Dante’s Inferno. Each member of the band displays his musical prowess in this track. The vocals remind me of the Black Dahlia Murder, which is interesting because Trevor Strnad also makes an appearance in this track as a guest vocalist playing the role of Satan. Crazy drums, insane guitar, all around epic song.

William – Moontower

Moontower played in Tucson and came in to the station a few months ago and we got an interview with them. They were awesome people and we had a great time talking to the band and their management team. Current college students, the band makes catchy pop from their apartment. In a heavily saturated pop genre, I think they bring something fresh and fun. Not generic, but not wildly experimental, I think that Moontower will go far and I’m looking forward to seeing what they put out in the future.

Aetheric – Dimmu Borgir

Dimmu Borgir caught a lot of flak for their most recent album Eonian. It featured heavy use of choir and orchestra. I normally like those elements, but the album didn’t live up to expectations and it was overall pretty forgettable. This track however, is not. It doesn’t overuse the choir too much, and it features great riffs and vocals. The drums are top notch; I really enjoy this tune.

Arcana Imperii – Ihsahn

Black metal legend Ihsahn impressed me with this song back in May. I am not a huge fan of traditional black metal, so his more progressive and melodic style surprised me. This song combines what I enjoy about black metal such as edgy vocals and heavy guitar with synths and clean vocals. The clean vocals are very good for black metal and the melodies are well written. All together this track is a sick display of what black metal can be. Also, the drum production is really cool.

Miasma – Ghost

Sax. Solo. Need I say more? Ghost once again showed me their ability to create great melodies in this instrumental track. It is not a typical Ghost song, but I think I like it even more due to that. All of the band’s elements craft a groovy and heavy song that I loved from the first time I heard it. Excellent guitar soloing, sick keyboard and of course the aforementioned saxophone solo was icing on the cake for this hectic but infectious tune.

Disco – Sextile

Sextile took the station by storm when our alt director Jessica discovered them in a promotion email. Almost everyone in the station listens to them now. They are weird industrial indie dance pop? It’s hard to categorize them, but this song is really great. Even though this genre wouldn’t normally be my thing, this song has so much to like. The production is first rate; I especially like the bass tone and the vocal tone. Really cool song, listen to it.

Only Acting – Kero Kero Bonito

Kero Kero Bonito is a dope band that I got to see live a few months ago at 191 Toole. They are fresh indie pop that adds experimental elements. This song features live drums and guitar; it is such a fucking bop. Lit melodies, great vocals and writing, it’s hard to dislike this song. At the concert this song got the crowd to go crazy and the mosh pit was insane.

Bad – Polyphia

Another band that wasn’t on my radar until their 2018 album, Polyphia crafts intricate and melodic guitar led songs that bridge on math rock. Incredible writing. There is not much to say; listen to this song and you will hear how awesome this shit is. Not quite metal, but sick as fuck. Side note: if I had to pick an album of the year, it would be Polyphia’s New Levels New Devils, it’s superb and I have it on vinyl.

The Good Doctor – Haken

With Nolly on production, Haken’s new album Vector oozes the tone and feel of Periphery. The drums and guitar are crazy tight, the bass is super groovy; good shit. The guitar riffs are relatively heavy but more melodic than brutal. Vocals are nothing to write home about, but they work well and I liked them. The riff in the bridge is fucking sick, 10/10 would recommend. I would also recommend the song Veil from the same album.

Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence – The Ocean

The Ocean is a band that I had never heard of until I saw their album Phanerozoic in the adds, and they blew me away with this song. It is a slower progressive metal tune with synth and clean vocals. The guitar riffs are super well written and the drums are tasteful. Some people don’t like the vocals in this album but I have to disagree, I really like the heavy and clean vocals in this track. I also like how it is slower than most progressive metal, almost doom. Cool side note, each of the album’s tracks are named after the geological time periods in the Phanerozoic Eon.

Other miscellaneous songs that have seen heavy airplay by me and are bangers as well, even if they weren’t released in 2018:

Epilogue – Opeth

You Were But a Ghost in my Arms – Agalloch

Burden – Opeth

Forget Not – Ne Obliviscaris

Climbing up the Walls – Radiohead

Sentenced to Eternal Life – Inferi

Hope Leaves – Opeth

Sunday Morning – No Doubt

Tornado of Souls – Megadeth

Into the Void – Fairy Bones

A Succubus in Rapture – Dimmu Borgir

Through Struggle – As I Lay Dying

p.s. Opeth is quite literally the shit, listen to them asap

Amanda Chesin’s Best of 2018 – Production Director

***Top 3 albums in order (it felt right) and the rest in alphabetical order***

The Aces- When My Heart Felt Volcanic

I could talk about this album forever. The Aces took over my music life quickly back in February and stayed at the forefront, becoming my most listened to artist of 2018 according to Spotify. This debut album is one of the most solid debut albums I’ve heard in years, and lead singer Cristal Ramirez’s smooth vocals guide you through young love and emotions. Every single song on the album is a standout, from high energy songs like “Stuck” and “Fake Nice” to ballad “Hurricane” and sexy slow-jam “Waiting For You”. I saw this band live three times this year (more than I’ve ever seen one artist in a calendar year), and was so impressed by their stage presence and artistry with their young average age of 22. Guitarist Katie Henderson solos into my heart on songs like “Lovin’ Is Bible” and “Holiday”, bassist McKenna Petty slinks in and out of songs and shines on “Strong Enough” and “Bad Love”, and drummer Alisa Ramirez constantly surprises me in live performances of “Volcanic Love” and “Last One” with her smooth drum solos. Look out for this band in 2019, because When My Heart Felt Volcanic was only the beginning.

The 1975- A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

I really love the 1975. I feel like they constantly one up themselves, and ABIIOR was no exception. As the singles came out I was consistently impressed. I can’t wait to scream the lyrics of “Love It If We Made It” at a concert with an entire crowd. The first time I heard “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” I gasped, as I had never heard a song sound so quintessentially the 1975. The Talking Heads inspired music video only makes me love the song even more. Lead singer Matty Healy’s analysis of the state of our world is fascinating as he matches sad lyrics with upbeat tunes. The song “Sincerity Is Scary” touches on emotions that we all experience when communicating with those around us. The beautiful ballad “Be My Mistake” makes me feel secure and loved in an odd way. Album closer “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” feels like a 2003 indie-rock song in the best way possible (think Yellowcard or Hoobastank), and sums up the album like a film with a triumphant ending.

Kacey Musgraves- Golden Hour

I don’t like country music, but gosh-darnit, do I like Kacey Musgraves. Slowly but surely, over the course of 2018, I feel in love with the country-pop stylings Kacey showed us on Golden Hour. I dipped my toe in first listening to “High Horse”, the country-pop power song of the album. As a pop music fan, this was the perfect way to ease into the country mindset. This song has a great beat, groovy guitar part, and amazing metaphors that are just the beginning of the beauty of Kacey’s songwriting. Next I listened to my favorite podcast, “Switched on Pop”, where they analyzed her song “Butterflies”. After understanding the intricacies of the song, I fell in love, and this song has stayed my favorite on the album. “Lonely Weekend” sums up my feelings quite well, in a way that made me think country music might understand me better than I thought. Slower songs “Slow Burn” and “Space Cowboy” are beautiful and make me appreciate the power of the singer-songwriter. Overall, I never expected myself to like this album, but Kacey has convinced me. Yeehaw!

Black Panther The Album Music From And Inspired By

With a soundtrack primarily featuring Kendrick Lamar, it was no wonder this album was going to be a hit. Best songs are “All The Stars” with SZA, “X” with 2 Chainz, Saudi & Schoolboy Q, and “King’s Dead” with Future, Jay Rock, & James Blake. These songs were the perfect companion to one of the best Marvel movies in years.

Troye Sivan- Bloom

When I first heard “My My My!” at the beginning of 2018, I knew Troye Sivan wasn’t coming to play. Follow up single “Bloom” and the Ariana Grande collaboration “Dance To This” are truly pop masterpieces. The rest of the album is pretty solid, with standouts like “Plum” and “Lucky Strike”.

Hayley Kiyoko- Expectations

Hayley Kiyoko has provided a much needed perspective in pop music, and Expectations is such a triumph for the LGBTQ+ community. Lead singles “Feelings”, “Sleepover”, and “Curious”, show the power of her blend of pop and R&B. The collaboration with Kehlani, “What I Need”, is a powerful song of two women singing about their love for each other, not about another man. The album is best listened to in track order, and tells a stunning story for the up and coming pop superstar.


Indie-pop trio SHAED released their EP MELT and every single song is a bop. “You Got Me Like” is a solid hip hop/R&B/pop masterpiece and the band’s first collaboration. “Melt” is a stunning commentary on lead singer Chelsea Lee’s journey through the music industry. “Silver Knife” is the most out of the box song I’ve heard this year, but that’s a good thing. My favorite song on the EP is “Keep Calling”, and the use of dial tones in the song is one of the most creative things I’ve heard in a song in a long time. The big breakout moment for SHAED this year was their song “Trampoline” being featured in the Apple Macbook commercial.

Naked Giants- SLUFF

My buddies of Naked Giants released their debut album SLUFF on my birthday earlier this year, and their garage rock stylings made me jump around head bang at the same time. Favorites are “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows)”, “TV”, and “SLUFF”, but if you want to experience Naked Giants at their prime, go see them live.

Ariana Grande- sweetener

2018 was the year of Ariana Grande. She absolutely killed it this year, and sweetener is such a stunning album for this pop princess. From pop hits “God is a woman”, “no tears left to cry”, and “breathin”, and my other favorites “R.E.M.”, “sweetener” and “successful”, this was a pure pop masterpiece from start to finish.

The Greeting Committee- This Is It

I first saw The Greeting Committee a year and a half ago, and while they looked baby-faced, their music provided to be fresh and exciting. The debut full length album they put out at the end of the year was incredibly solid, my favorite tracks being “You’ve Got Me”, “Run For Your Money” (the guitar part is brilliant!!), and “Don’t Go”. Lead singer Addie Sartino has an amazing tone to her voice that draws you in and she really shines on the song “17”.

HUNNY- Windows II EP

My friends asked me if I wanted to see HUNNY with them this summer, and when I said I hadn’t heard of them, they said “Listen to them, and if you like what you hear, come join us!”. I liked what I heard and got to see them at their Windows II EP release show at the Moroccan Lounge in LA. Standouts are “Rebel Red” and “Your Love Song, Pt. 2”, and this rock/alternative band shows promising signs for the future.

All of Maggie Rogers’ Singles

Maggie Rogers is one of my favorite discoveries of 2018. I got to see her perform at Red Rocks Amphitheatre when she opened for HAIM, and I have been hooked ever since. While no album was released this year, singles released in 2018 include “Fallingwater”, which she had the most stunning performance on SNL in November, “Give A Little”, which never fails to get me out of my seat and immediately dancing, and “Light On”, which has the most heartfelt lyrics I heard in all of 2018. Her debut album comes out in January, and I cannot wait for the artistry of Maggie to be heard by even more people as her start power continues to grow.

Honorable Mentions:

Hippo Campus- Bambi

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus- boygenius

Christine and the Queens- Chris