Throwback - KAMP Picks of the Year 2018
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
**ORDERED BY WAY OF RELEASES**
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)
Clean by Soccer Mommy
Milky Way by Bas
Lost & Found by Jorja Smith
Leonardo di Caprio 2 by JID
Swimming by Mac Miller
Call Me by Your Name Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Various Artists (lol sorry guys)
Black Panther Music from and Inspired By by Various Artists
Testing by A$AP Rocky
Room 25 by Noname
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.
SHAED- MELT EP
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.
Hippo Campus- Bambi
Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus- boygenius
Christine and the Queens- Chris
Janelle Monáe- Dirty Computer
Alice Merton- No Roots EP
Glades- To Love You
Playlist of my favorite songs of 2018 (a whole other conversation) that you can listen to on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/1271607663/playlist/7jTK4dB08nR3GnnDEURZ5S?si=D2ExfkQ2Q5uU9H9Ikw9Ryw
Mike Chase – Entertainment Director
MUSIC (Top 10):
1. Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Hop Along
#2- Somewhere a Judge
#3-How You Got Your Limp
#9- Prior Things
2. Snail Mail- Lush
#4- Heat Wave
3. Earl Sweatshirt- Some Rap Songs
#7- The Mint
4. Kids See Ghosts- Kids See Ghosts
#3- 4th Dimension
#4- Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)
#7- Cudi Montage
5. TA13OO- Denzel Curry
#2- BLACK BALLOONS (Best rap song of the year)
#5- SUPER SAIYAN SUPERMAN
6. JPEGMAFIA- Veteran
#1- 1539 N. Calvert
#5- Baby I’m Bleeding
7. Kali Uchis- Isolation
#3- Just A Stranger
#13- After The Storm
8. Daytona- Pusha T
#1- If You Know You Know
#4- Come Back Baby
#6- What Would Meek Do?
9. 2012-2017- Against All Logic
#5- Know You
#8- Now U Got Me Hooked
10. JID- DiCaprio 2
#2- Slick Talk
#6- Off Da Zoinkys
#7- Workin Out
Best Rap Song 2018:
BLACK BALLOONS- Denzel Curry (TA13OO)
Best Rock Song 2018:
Pristine- Snail Mail (Lush)
Best Lyric 2018:
“I had my issues, ain’t that much I could do
Peace is somethin’ that starts with me (with me)
At times, wonder my purpose
Easy then to feel worthless
But, peace is somethin’ that starts with me”
-Reborn (Kid Cudi)
Movies (Top 5):
“We are alone. No matter what they tell you, we women are always alone.”
-Sra. Sofía (Marina de Tavira)
2. A Quiet Place
– Lee Abbott (John Krasinski)
3. Isle of Dogs
“Don’t ask me to fetch that stick.”
–Chief (Bryan Cranston)
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
“Anyone can wear the mask. You can wear the mask. If you didn’t know that before, I hope you do now.”
–Miles Morales (Shameik Moore)
“Fuck, shit, that was dope.”
–Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt)
Games (Top 5):
1. God of War
–Kratos (Christopher Judge)
2. Red Dead Redemption II
“Yer okay boah”
–Arthur Morgan (Roger Clark)
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man
“Love seeing you two together again. You always were my favourites.”
–Cook (Stan Lee)
“You can do this.”
5. Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Roy SantaCruz – DJ
Kali Uchis – Isolation
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Ariana Grande – Sweetener
Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
The Carters – Everything is Love
Beach House – 7
Travis Scott – Astroworld
Pusha T – Daytona
Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships
Saba – Care for Me
Rosalía – El Mal Querer
Blood Orange – Negro Swan
H.E.R – I Used to Know Her (Prelude and Part 2)
Anderson .Paak – Oxnard
Playboi Carti – Die Lit
The Internet – Hive Mind
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Various Artists – Black Panther: the Album
Javi Perez – DJ + Resident Photo Genius
Hi, my name is Javi Perez and I am addicted to looking at shiba inu pictures. I have a bit of a problem and I follow way too many shiba inu accounts to keep track of them all but I hope they are all doing well. Here’s a list of my top 10 shiba inu pictures of 2018.
10. Here is Ryuji, he is the dog that started it all. Why does it look like he has a million teeth ?? But also blue is definitely his color!
9. Don’t talk to me or my son ever again! I think it is a trend to make a miniature version of the dog you own, like a mini voodoo doll but cute??
8. This is the embodiment of “hehehehehe” and I love that.
7. There is so much to this photo. Okay 1. What is he looking at? 2. Why does he have a tub of margarine? 3. When I first saw this photo I thought the margarine tub said “Beeef” which makes it funnier than it intended to be.
6. Those 2 question marks above his head just add so much to this photo, design is important everybody! Also this is a top tier meme, thank you Kuma610.
5. Okay we are down to the top five, god level Shiba Inu pictures. This one had me laughing for hours and I still do not understand it and that is why it is god level. Notice the caption says, “I’ve never had banana bread.” Why is the banana bread a heater? The GLOW that the heater is giving off Like what is going on here??
4. Remember when I said it was a trend to make miniature versions of dogs, well this BLEW MY MIND. I was so dumbfounded by this, was the this tiny dog real? Was it photoshopped? And most importantly WHY? Again thank you Kuma610.
3. This picture represents me so well that I used it as a profile picture in a presentation.
2. Since the holidays just happened, I thought I could still spread some Christmas cheer for those who celebrate. Why does he look so tall? Also hello ad placement, I guarantee this dog is making more than I am.
1. The final photo, we have made it. This picture truly shook my world upside down.
The happiness this dog is expressing, juxtaposing the silver, glittery tiara with the word “bitch” on it is just everything I need. Again I just can’t believe this exists and I am so thankful for it.
Bennett Tolar – DJ + KAMP Goblin
My Albums of 2018
10. Lush – Snail Mail
9. Be the Cowboy – Mitski
8. CARE FOR ME – Saba
7. Honey – Robyn
6. Twin Fantasy – Car Seat Headrest
5. Negro Swan – Blood Orange
4. Last Building Burning – Cloud Nothings
3. Wide Awake! – Parquet Courts
2. 2012-2017 – Against All Logic
1. Safe in the Hands of Love – Yves Tumor
Trumpets, heralding something big coming, something revelatory, the percussive blasts that command those trumpets, these are the opening sounds of Yves Tumor’s third album, Safe in the Hands of Love. I became aware of Tumor’s work (Real name: Sean Bowie) through the 2017 compilation Mono No Aware and the track “Limerence”, a beautiful piece that incorporates a simple ambient melody as the audience is treated to the most intimate of conversations: lovers playfighting in bed before the reality of the day sets in. “Limerence” was easily the best cut on Mono No Aware and was my favorite so upon the release of three singles announcing a new release, you can bet that I was ecstatic to spends hours digesting, entranced in the otherworldly atmosphere created by Tumor. And it really was that good.
Tumor creates the scariest environment I’ve heard in a long time, though not in the conventional sense. Fear on this album is not fear in the traditional sense. Rather than apprehension to any danger to a mortal life that we might generally associate with conventional fear, this is far more abstract. This is a fear of branding, a fear of a formed identity, a fear of others. It’s a fear of forming relationships that you’ll depend on, and a fear that as close as you might get to another, they’ll never understand you fully. Terror isn’t simple in the world Tumor creates and as such this album is not a thoroughly pleasant listening experience.
It’s difficult for me to express what I would call this style of music besides throwing it under the meaningless umbrella term of “experimental” as this album expresses itself through two opposite modes. About two-thirds of the tracks on this album move in a groovy, trip-hop fashion. Tumor’s vocals croon and purr, and the percussion and beats push songs toward an accessible listening point. The rest of the album is decidedly industrial and many of the textures utilized are evocative of Venezuelan producer and electronic musician Arca. Standouts for me are “Economy of Freedom”, a song that starts as the quiet experimental type and ends as the dance pop, spurred on by one of Tumor’s most intimate vocal performances, “Hope in Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness)” an absolutely horrifying and visceral work of spoken word helped along by the scariest samples I’ve ever heard, and “Lifetime” a riveting and breakneck pop song delivered in Tumor’s strongest vocal style yet.
Give this album a listen. It’s impossible to know how profoundly something might affect you unless you try it and while I never feel positive after listening to this work, I haven’t ever felt regret either.
Favorite Lyrics: Inside my own living hell/ It means so much to me/ When I can’t recognize myself – “Recognizing the Enemy”
2. 2012-2017 – A.A.L. (Against All Logic)
Nicolas Jaar is a Chilean electronic musician whose 2016 release, Sirens, was my favorite of that year. Sirens is a primarily experimental affair, with inspiration from the 1988 Chilean national plebiscite and Jaar’s own personal life. Jaar sings in both Spanish and English on the record and although parts of it are obtuse on a first listen, upon further inspection a few songs, such as “No” and “Three Sides of Nazareth”, reveal themselves to be dance influenced and share similarities with Latin American Music like reggaeton and merengue.
2012-2017 was released early this year on Jaar’s record label, Other People, by a unknown artist A.A.L. (Against All Logic). With similar graphic design and similar production on the album it came to the surprise of no one that Against All Logic was merely another name for Jaar. But that’s okay! Jaar has gone full deep house on this release, with soul and funk samples on almost every song. The production is unreal, pianos fly, drums hit in intricate, tribal rhythms, and synths scream and glitch in song after song.
Jaar’s attention to detail for sampling places him among the greatest in house music history. Layered vocals blend into warm honey on highlight “I Never Dream” as synths push their own melody, the sounds of traffic sirens and bongo drums fill “Cityfade”, a beautiful groove that deserves its place in the pantheon of driving-through-a-cyberpunk-city-at-night songs, and album closer “Rave on U” which is the coolest use of cowbells and glitchy synths I’ve ever heard in a song before.
This album must be heard to be believed. Jaar crafts some amazing moments on this record and “I Never Dream” is my favorite track of the year. I cannot wait to see where he goes next and I highly doubt I’ll be disappointed.
3. Wide Awake! – Parquet Courts
Parquet Courts’ sixth studio album is an energetic fusion of blazing punk vocals and funk basslines produced by none other than the prolific Danger Mouse! Which I’m sure was a worry for everybody listening when that was announced. It’s not that Danger Mouse is a bad producer necessarily, but his work producing with The Black Keys, RHCP, Portugal. The Man, and Gorillaz is, to put it kindly, generic and uninspired. But that’s not what happened here! Danger Mouse’s influence over this album is largely structural, urging Parquet Courts to combine two songs into one to create the brilliant “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience”, and pushing the bass lines to the front of the music to showcase this album’s beautiful funk inspirations.
Besides the addition of Danger Mouse’s production, there’s a lot to confront on this album. Fast grooves and thumping bass lines are almost able to hide the fierce left wing lyrics, sick and agitated of the right’s moblike tendencies. Parquet Court’s existence serves as a middle finger to proponents of the “conservatism is the new punk rock” idea that’s shown up on the internet recently. Lead vocalist Andrew Savage belts vocals strikingly similar to Jimi Hendrix while composing pop songs reminiscent of the Talking Heads. Special notice should be brought to the excellent pacing of this album, offsetting lightning quick punk songs, with fast dance numbers, and the occasional keyboard or piano led ballad.
This is fantastic example of guitar driven rock that in 2018 should be commended for moving on and seeking new places for music to go. My favorite tracks are opener “Total Football”, synth led “Before the Water Gets Too High”, and furious half punk/half dance hit “Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience”.
Favorite Lyrics: Swapping parts and roles is not acting but rather emancipation from expectation/ Collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive/ Those who find discomfort in your goals of liberation will be issued no apology/ And fuck Tom Brady – “Total Football”
4. Last Building Burning – Cloud Nothings
I’m not going to speak as at length on this release as I have others on this list but that’s merely because I already wrote a review on it for KAMP earlier in the year when it came out which you can read about here: https://kampaz.wordpress.com/2018/10/24/last-building-burning-review/. Yet still, this a fantastic album that I feel has been highly underrated and overlooked this year. Tight, controlled punk and hardcore songs dominate this album as front man Dylan Baldi’s vocals alternate between the harsh growl of a death metal singer and the snarling of an alternate reality Joe Strummer on “So Right, So Clean”. Favorites on this album are definitely opening hardcore track “On An Edge”, crescendo reaching, post-apocalyptic track “The Echo Of The World”, and the aforementioned The Clash cover band sounding “So Right, So Clean”
Favorite Lyrics: A sharp and empty climb to realize/ Advertised immaculate design/ The life you want to live/ Idealized/ Breaks apart the world around me – “The Echo Of The World”
5. Negro Swan – Blood Orange
Negro Swan is the fourth studio album by British multi-instrumentalist, Dev Hynes. Blackness is inherent to Negro Swan. Present in the premise of what living with depression as a black person is like. Present in the titles, from the title, a play on the antagonistic character of Odile from Swan Lake, to “Charcoal Baby”, an absolute banger if I’ve ever heard one. We’re treated to a virtual tour of Hynes’ headspace as we visit the blaring traffic and sirens of his city life in NYC, the experience of being spat on and treated as subhuman by schoolchildren on the bus in his home county of Essex and learning to depend on himself.
Janet Mock, a notable transgender rights activist shows up on 5 of the 16 tracks of this album. Each time, her lectures speak on trauma management, community, accepting spaces, and the feeling of being called upon. As the narrative of being a member of a society that doesn’t want you develops, Mock eases it with encouragement to be the best that you can be to spite the community that expects nothing of you. Mock’s words can apply to anybody that’s ever felt anything but unconditional love by their community and are a highlight of this album. To speak of musical highlights, my favorites are openers “Orlando”, the aforementioned dance floor “Charcoal Baby”, and the chilling, brilliant “Nappy Wonder”, a single that heralded the coming of this album and is one of my most listened tracks of the year.
Favorite Lyrics: Balance in my hair, I’m pretty as fuck, ay, ay/ Choosing what you wear and getting this far/ Tricking on my own time, what is it worth?/ Got throat on my neck, neck, shatter your first – “Smoke”