Year end lists are a great way to prompt me to clean up and organize those random piles of records propped up and around my record player. Not only to encourage me to organize my record collection and vacuum in the corner, but to pull out those records I bought and filed away this year and make sure I actually listen to them. And so here is yet another: Top ten records of 2018 (sort of).
10. Spacemen 3 – Dreamweapon (1990, 2018 reissue), and almost all the other excellent Spacemen 3 reissues that came out this year on Space Age recordings and/or Superior Viaduct. Dreamweapon is perhaps the most simple but most difficult of all the Spacemen 3 recordings, (not counting the raver Madchester leanings on Reccuring (1990) which, like those 90’s Fall records, are just simply horrible). The best part this Spacemen reissue campaign is that since I had stupidly sold my taking drugs to make music to take drugs to LP to pay bills a few years ago, I am more than thrilled to have a copy to listen to again. Plus in 2018 I got to interview Byron Coley on the radio and reference/praise his rad liner notes.
9. Spectrum – Highs, lows and heavenly blows (1994, 2018 reissue), ditto to any of the praise from the above. After Spacemen 3 broke up Pete “Sonic Boom ” Kember really developed a unique sound as Spectrum , at times it is both perfect hypnotic pop and experimental noise, his albums are so underappreciated. I used to think they were boring, but my mind is changed forever. I can see why MGMT at their peak plucked him from obscurity and hired him to produce Congratulations. On that note : Spiritualized’s And Nothing Hurt (2018) was almost a great record, it was nice to hear J Spaceman essentially remake a bunch of his old self-loathing space rock stunes into new forms of gratitude, but sadly there a few duds on the record that killed its own momentum.
8. Silver Apples – Contact (1969, 2017 reissue). So being obsessive to my detriment, I started to hunt down more Spacemen 3/Spectrum records, which lead me to the sole Sonic Boom record called Spectrum (1989), a strange rockabilly ambient record. Strange in that somehow it works (and strangely not reissued). And then an interesting but mediocre “Spectrum meets the Silver Apples” LP from 1999. But fortunately this reminded me of how great the Silver Apples’ homemade synth, garage rock was, and so it made sense to finally pick up the 2017 reissue of Contact on Portland’s Jackpot records. It is a shame that the plane crash incident killed their promising career; I wonder perhaps if they would have rewritten electronic music history pre-Kraftwerk? Anyways, aside from this LP, if I was going to include something from my traditional “best record of 2017 that I didn’t hear until 2018” category: Six Organs of Admittance finally delivered one of his best records ever with Burning the Threshold (2017).
7. Lambchop – What another Man spills (1998, 2018 reissue). see # 6.
6. The Kinks – the Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968, 2018 reissue) see #5.
5. The Fall – I am Kurious Oranj (1988, 2018 reissue) : Three more reissues on a list for 2018? It begs the questions: What is even the point to any new music when there is so much superior stuff from the past is waiting to be re-discovered? Or am I really stupid enough to keep buying my favorite records from the past over and over again in new and different formats? Answer: Yes and yes. Couldn’t you have just settled down and enjoyed something new from 2018 like Low‘s glitchy double negative? Other honourable mentions in the categories of reissues: Joe Henderson featuring Alice Coltrane – The Elements, and the dark confusing mess that is Wire‘s 154.
4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – IC-01 Hanoi (2018), if it is less than half an hour and plays at 33rpm is it an LP or still an EP? Either way I was not expecting an instrumental record from this band, let alone a fun one, especially given how much I disliked their “real” 2018 release Sex and Food.
3. Prince – Piano and a Microphone (2018). Only Prince can sit in front of a piano in 1983, press record, and make a better record than almost anyone else in 2018. It’s like time travel. Unstoppable. Expect a ridiculous 2pac collaboration from the afterlife. Does this even count as a 2018 release? Yes and barely. And speaking of time travel : worst/most disappointing record of year award goes to Dr. Octagon for Moosebumps, who for some reason returned from the future to give us this stupid overcooked metal inspired hip hop record.
2. Freak Heat Waves – Beyond XXXL (2018) Canada’s fourth greatest band delivers the most unsettling Talking Heads meets cough syrup versus a “still depressed, fat, middle aged Joy Division” record than you could have ever possibly imagined. The sound is muddy and brown and the melodies are so forgettable – which is refreshing in a world where everyone is focussing on making crystal clear earworms. This sounds more like Bauhaus than anyone will be comfortable enough to admit. Speaking of unmemorable: Beck‘s Colors (2017)might be the best slice of bland I have never tasted, I am secretly enjoying it for it’s complete lack of any flavor, I mean plain, not even vanilla. Background music is the new interesting.