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Dani Bookheimer | Contributor
Personally, I didn’t realize how much music came out this year and how much of it I consume. This list was hard to narrow down for a dozen different reasons, but let’s start with my honorable mentions: The 1975’s newest work, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships was fantastic, Little Mix’s LM5 is the soundtrack of the dancing I’ll be doing in the mirror while getting ready for every holiday party I’m going to this season. Though I’m super late to the game, Capstan’s In the Wake of Our Discord I’ll be jamming to for a very long time, on top of that HOT new single they dropped early November. And of course, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’ newest album, Upside Down Flowers I enjoy as well.
Without further delay, let’s get into this Top 10 list. Narrowing this down was hard, but I settled for what I kept going back to. The albums that, regardless of how I was feeling or what music I was exploring, I always went back to and blasted on the way home from a long day (or stared moodily out the window on the train ride home where applicable.)
10. Panic! At the Disco – Pray for the Wicked
After a rather violent start to this album run with the music video drop for “Say Amen (Saturday Night)” I could honestly say I was going to adore the album, and I was 100% correct. Though I may have had to cringe my way through some of the fight for the devil’s key, “Say Amen (Saturday Night),” partnered with “King of the Clouds,” and “(F*** A) Silver lining” were all great singles to start this theatrical addition to P!ATD’s discography
Personally, “One of the Drunks” always reminds me of Summer and the times I spent with my friends. Karaoke night or stumbling out of Emo Nite and trying to find everyone before we order the Uber, it’s the song playing in the background of those memories in my head. “Dancing’s Not a Crime” just makes me happy. It’s genuinely just a feel-good song. But the star of the album is for sure “Dying in LA.” It’s a beautiful, melodic close to a rather rambunctious album, and I think that’s what gives it power. “Dying In LA” is the only track of its kind, in comparison to the rest of the upbeat album.
9. Imagine Dragons – Origins
After having done the research on LoveLoud Fest, and having the pleasure of seeing the guys of Imagine Dragons during a radio sponsored event over the Summer, I was beyond stoked when the band announced Origins not too long after I had seen them. And man, this album didn’t disappoint. I like that, while somehow maintaining the cohesiveness of an album, each song is completely different from the next. “Bullet In A Gun” makes sense on the album, and carries the same ferocity of “Bad Liar.” If you listen to the radio, you’ve heard songs from this album like “Natural,” but personally I’d recommend “Zero,” from the Disney film Ralph Breaks the Internet or “Boomerang.” Both are lyrically powerful, and I look forward to the live arrangements that hopefully include these songs and more from the album!
Check out Dani’s review of ‘Origins’ here.
8. Real Friends – Composure
I know, I know; everyone’s tired of hearing ‘WOW REAL FRIENDS IS REALLY GOOD, THEIR LATEST ALBUM GOT ME HOOKED’, but honestly, Composure was what won me over. Real Friends had always been that band I could get into one or two songs of, (“Mess” was always a personal favorite) but this whole album got me hooked. The album gives a voice to thoughts and relationship complications that people struggle with, sincerely putting it into words for many reasons. Personally, the first track, “Me First,” and the title track, “Composure,” are my favorites.
7. DON BROCO – Technology
DON BROCO doesn’t disappoint. Ever. Music videos? Rad and weird. Live shows? Talent and a crazy amount of energy. From aliens, to cowboys, to cyborgs and pretty much everything in-between, DON BROCO keeps you on your toes. This album keeps pace with that. Technology is just straight fun, and each song keeps you waiting for the hook. The bass work throughout the album is one of the highlights. Tom Doyle does a fantastic job on the bass, looks like he’s having a BLAST every time I’ve seen the band play live, and combined with the skills of Simon Delaney on guitar, Matt Donnelly on Drums and Vocals and then of course Rob Damiani’s indescribable voice and energy, things always get rowdy and fun. I mean, this band was my first wall of death, after all.
If you’re going to check Technology out, I’d recommend “Everybody,” “Stay Ignorant” and “Greatness” to get a good vibe on the band. I highly recommend watching music videos from this album era too. They’re oddly strange, but fun!
6. With Confidence – Love and Loathing
I’m convinced With Confidence could sing the phone book and I’d be happily running in a circle pit and screaming along to the names. Love and Loathing is full of so much energy and is nothing but a sister to their previous work. “That Something,” the opening track, sets the stage for a good time and is a triumphant return from the band. “Moving Boxes” (and the awesome new sign language music video) is an upbeat break up song. “Icarus” is a lot of fun to sing along to. By far though, my favorite track on the album is “Pâquerette (Without Me),” the soft ballad of wishing well on someone who left. It’s painful and beautiful.
5. Twenty One Pilots – Trench
Listen: All I know is DEMA don’t control us, whomever makes yellow duct tape is rich because of this era and that Tyler Joseph wants us AWAKE. This album was the highly-anticipated follow up to Blurryface. Fans have been waiting for a WHILE since Tour De Columbus and the appearance of the eye, and then it happened. All of a sudden there were websites being talked about, and mentions of Tyler being stuck in Trench? Trench is a place? Yellow??? Everywhere???? WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?
Yes, hello, maybe I spent a night or two up on Reddit and reading LONG Twitter threads. I’m still a little confused too, and that’s okay. This stuff was wild. The Clique can figure out anything at this point, it amazes me. This era and album are undeniably incredible. In true Twenty One Pilots fashion, the band talks mental health, all while telling the narrative of Tyler and DEMA and trench, and his fight to get out. Though the Twitter world of the Twenty One Pilots fan base likes to play the song dust, “The Hype” is personally one of my favorites off the album. It’s fun and light and even now getting radio air-time. Who wouldn’t like to sing about someone being on their side?
As I said, Twenty One Pilots is no stranger to the ever-important conversation of mental health and suicide. By far the bravest track, and most potent of the year, “Neon Gravestones” gently discusses suicide in the media with an important message. There’s a fine line between promoting awareness and glorifying and monetizing something as serious as this, and it seems to be something society is finally starting to pay attention to. Without going into it in too much detail, the song is about winning the fight. Stay Alive. Celebrate Life.
4. WSTR – Identity Crisis
Being 100% honest, this album put these guys on the map for me. I never heard of the band until a day or two after Identity Crisis dropped, but it was all I listened to for a solid two weeks. I remember the exact way I felt when I first heard “See You In Hell” and I’ll never tire of it. The start of “Promiscuous” carries excitement and energy I look for in music, “Hide Everything Sharp” has me singing along while doing the dishes at work and “Bad to the Bone” is beyond fun. Overall, it’s a fun and upbeat pop-punk vibe, from a band I recommend watching closely. I only expect to see more good things from these guys!
3. State Champs – Living Proof
I’m willing to bet you all thought this would be my number one.
Do you know how many trips I made this past Summer because of this damn band and album? By the end of the year, I would’ve made a point to see these guys seven times? Maybe more? I’ve made a countless number of friends and memories with this album playing in the background. The trip to Scranton for the album release and in-store show was definitely worth the trip! This album exceeds expectations and is a dance-y, pop-punk good time. Derek Discanio’s unmatched vocals paired with the energy and talent of band members Ryan Scott Graham, Evan Ambrosio, Tony Diaz, and Tyler Szalkowski provide a good time for all!
Without getting sappy, everyone knows I adore this band with my whole heart; this record is truly something else. This album cycle has been so fun for my friends and I, and I’ve gotten close to some important people in my life. “Criminal” is a fantastic start to the album showcasing the band’s energy and combined vocal ability. When I show these guys to my friends, almost all of them make a comment on the band’s vocal ability (or as my coworker refers to it, Derek’s “growly-voice thing”). Or, in videos, how much they appreciate the energy State Champs has and that they still look like they’re having a great time. Though I recommend the band’s entire discography, if you’re new to them when checking out Living Proof I highly recommend tracks like “Mine is Gold,” “Safe Haven,” and Crystal Ball.” My absolute favorites are “Our Time To Go,” a slower, more ballad-esque track and then “Lightning.” “Lightning” is a powerhouse, and having heard it live in Pittsburgh, I can’t WAIT to hear it again.
2. AM0RA – Martyr: A Recital of Self-Destruction
FIRST OF ALL, I’m beyond proud of the guys in this band. Proud doesn’t even begin to describe it. Proud is like the basic starter Pokémon to the evolution level of proud I am. It’s ridiculous. Watching and knowing how much Tristan, Billy, Nick, Bryan and Chris put into this through the recording process, and the wild long nights I know they had working through the process, this album reflects it. I’m grateful to have just gotten a glimpse of it, and I know the rest of the Am0Rons are proud of the guys too.
Genuine sad boi tunes by some great guys? Seems unrealistic; but, this is exactly what this album and band is. The collection showcases each band member’s talents and also translates to a killer show live. All five contribute to the vocal capabilities of the band, with a few tracks featuring some very talented artists (Aaron Vasco kills it in “11:19”). With Bryan Rodriguez on drums, Nick Magidson on bass, Chris Swanson and Tristan Wikler on guitar and Billy Zee as lead vocalist the band is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. My favorite track on the album is “Noca” but I highly recommend checking out other tracks like “Like Father, Like Son” and “How Blue the Ocean Is” to get a good vibe on the band!
1. Speak Low If You Speak Love – Nearsighted
“WHAT? BUT DANI YOU LOVE STATE CHAMPS, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” You are 100% correct. I do love the guys of Champs, and Living Proof owned my summer, but this is the album I continuously came back to all year. Bad day? Nearsighted. Cold rainy Monday morning train ride to class? Nearsighted. Good day, you just want a mellow vibe? Nearsighted. Studying for an exam and need something nice to distract you from the people talking in the library but nothing too overwhelming? SPEAK LOW IS THE BAND. Ryan Scott Graham wears on his heart on his sleeve for the album poses as a cathartic, reflective experience for listeners. Each song tells a story of its own, and paired with Graham’s vocal capabilities it digs up emotions you may have otherwise brushed off, or even buried. Released in the chill that comes with mid-January on the East Coast, this album manages to warm your heart while simultaneously breaking it with tracks like “Have I Changed” and “Ever Yours.” The album pulls on heartstrings in similar ways that your typical sad pop punk songs do, but the mellow vibe and thought-evoking lyricism allow room for thought and reflection.
Nearsighted flows together beautifully, some tracks leading right into the next without pause. It’s beautiful and meaningful. My views and reflections change as people come and go in my life and I experience things on my own, and that’s the beauty of it. This is an album I think you should experience and interpret on your own; however, my favorite tracks are “Safety Net” and “Cannot Have It All.” I’ve had this itch to see Speak Low live again since the Neck Deep tour in January/February and I’m hoping to see Ryan, Drew, Wasim, and Cody soon! (Please?)
What are your thoughts on Dani’s Top Ten Albums of 2018? Let her know on Twitter: @BookOfDani!