AOTY: Elliott Spagat

Spinning Thoughts is proud of the music diversity found throughout the many contributors on the team. With each AOTY list shared, we hope to encourage a dialog that inspires the sharing of music with others. Let us know what your Top Ten Albums of 2018 are on Twitter: @SpinThoughts!

Elliott Spagat | Contributor

The upshot of having a really long year like 2018 is that so many new albums were released.  I had a difficult enough time narrowing my list to ten; there is no possible way I could rate them. Rather than ranking them from 1 to 10, I’m just going to write about them in no particular order, assigning each the color of a crayon pulled at random from a big box of Crayolas.

Tokyo Police ClubTPC
Dine Alone Records
Sunset Orange

With their first full length album in over four years, and two since their double EP, Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness Pts 1 & 2, Tokyo Police Club showed that they still have what it takes to put out a great album.  From the opening track “New Blues” until the closing refrain of “Daisy Chain” their latest album delivers.  Favorite tracks: “Hercules” and “Ready to Win”

Dizzy – Baby Teeth
Royal Mountain Records

The debut album from Dizzy, hailing from Oshawa, ON (just east of Toronto), is an amazing mellow album that goes well with dimmed lights and a glass of wine.  The songs tell stories with beautiful vocals and harmonies backed by ethereal instrumentation.  My son takes drum lessons at the Royal Mountain Records and for weeks before the album was released there were boxes of the record in the foyer. It took all my self-control to not figure out a way to fenagle a pre-release copy. Favorite tracks: “Stars and Moons” and “Joshua”

Neko Case – Hell-On 
Anti- Records
Vivid Violet

The first time I heard “Hell On” I was transported to a smoky club with Neko Case wearing a full-length black dress standing the middle of the room crooning into an old-fashioned microphone with a backing band all dressed in tuxedos with tails.    Each and every track has the strength to be released as a single and the album can be listened to over and over. Favorite tracks: “Last Lion of Albion” and “Bad Luck”

Monster TruckTrue Rockers
Dine Alone Records

This album lives up to its name.  The opening track, “True Rockers” features Dee Snider (of Twister Sister) and sets the pace for the 11- track journey of balls-to-the-wall rawk.  Word of warning, watch your speed as you listen to it with the windows down and the volume (way, way) up.  Favorite tracks: “Thundertruck” and “Denim Danger”

Born Ruffians – Uncle, Duke & The Chief
Paper Bag Records
Macaroni and Cheese

This was the first new release of 2018 that I bought.  It set the bar for all other records I bought quite high; some came close, some equalled and many didn’t come close.  The songs are catchy and I consistently catch myself humming some of them when there’s no music playing.  As an aside, I love seeing them live, the sight of their drummer, Steve Hamelin playing drums in his socks is a sight to behold.  Favorite tracks: “Miss You” and “Fade to Black”

The Dirty Nil – Master Volume
Dine Alone Records
Brick Red

I prefer to buy records, when I can, directly from bands at their merch tables at shows or the labels.  I knew that I was going to see The Dirty Nil a few weeks after their latest album dropped.  I held myself back from buying it at the local record store so I could give Luke, Ross or Kyle my $20 and get my copy of the “Master Volume” from the hands of the men that created it.  The day of the show came, I saw all three walking around the venue before their set but decided to wait until after the show to get the record.  When I finally got the table it was too late, they had left early and taken all their merch with them.   I can’t remember the last time I felt so disappointed.  I finally got it on Record Store Day when their label had a pop-up shop.  Since then the record has spent A LOT of time on my turntable.   Favorite tracks: “That’s What Heaven Feels Like” and “I Don’t Want That Phone Call”.

The Discarded – Manifesto
Rock Bottom Records
Tropical Rain Forest

For a band that was started as a way for a dad to teach his kids how to play music The Discarded has turned into garage punk band that has been making a name for themselves across southern Ontario.  Their second album, “Manifesto” is what punk is all about.  Fast, edgy songs that let everyone know what is wrong with the world today.  Favorite tracks “40-40-40” and “I Don’t Know What to Believe”

Bishop Briggs – Church of Scars
Teleport Records/Island Records
Jazzberry Jam

I had “River” on my playlist for two years before the album was released and as soon as it was available for pre-order I added it to my collection.  The wait and anticipation was definitely worth it, Church of Scars is the type of record that you will fall in love with at first listen.   Her voice is beautiful and the orchestration is unique which results in songs that are refreshingly different than what many newer artists are offering.  Favoritie tracks “Lyin’” and “Hi-Lo (Hollow)”

Dream Wife – Dream Wife
Lucky Number Music
Antique Brass

One Saturday morning I was scrolling through Twitter when a music critic that I follow mentioned that a band he loved, Dream Wife, was playing a show in Toronto that night.  I had no plans and my wife was okay with me going out so I figured I’d check it out.  I’m glad I did.  I’m positive that in 20 years people will be talking about the night that Dream Wife played the Hard Luck Bar in the same way they do about the Rolling Stones at the Horseshoe Tavern or the Ramones at CBGBs.  I’m kicking myself for not purchasing the record at the show and have to settle with streaming it to my phone.  The trio’s song are punk anthems that speak to today’s generation and will stand the test of time.  Favorite tracks “Let’s Make Out” and “F.U.U.”

Various Artists – Songs That Saved My Life
Hopeless Records

It’s always interesting to hear what happens when a band takes a song that you know and love and turns it into something new.  “Songs That Saved My Life” is an album of covers created in honor of suicide prevention, with the first song, “Torn” covered by Neck Deep released on Worldwide Prevention Day.  Unlike many other cover albums, the artists on “Songs That Saved My Life” have taken their chosen songs and truly made them their own, giving the songs their all.  Favorite tracks “People who died” – Against Me! and “Losing My Religion” – Movement

What are your thoughts on Elliott’s Top Ten Albums of 2018?
Let him know on Twitter: @Elliott33RPM

TAGS: Tokyo Police Club | Dine Alone Records | Dizzy | Royal Mountain Records | Neko Case | Anti- Records | Monster Truck | Born Ruffians | Paper Bag Records | The Dirty Nil | The Discarded | Bishop Briggs | Teleport Records/Island Records | Dream Wife | Lucky Number Music | Songs That Saved My Life | Hopeless Records

Elliott Spagat

Twitter: @Elliott33RPM

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