O.k it's already June so we are half way into 2018, so here's a progress report to take a look at what the best albums of the year are so far.I sorted them by score and then let Last FM tell me what I've listened to the most. After all I can think an album is great on first listen, but if it doesn't keep me returning to it then how great can it be ? This seems less pre-mature than past years, as I think I am caught up on everything coming out before August with all the promos in my in-box. So Rock and pop is a broad term for any album that is not metal though a few come close, it ranges from stoner rock to goth electro. Rather than include audio samples, I put links to the original reviews where those can be found. Six months will tell how these pan out come December.
10-Psychedelic Witchcraft : " Sound of the Wind"
Female fronted "occult rock" or "vest metal" bands almost became a thing back in 2012. Here is a band from Italy we have covered before that still carries that torch. After an acoustic intro the band is back their brand of occult tinged stoner rock. The crunch of the guitar's organic warmth is what contributes most to the retro core of their sounds. Virgina Monti proves right from the opening track that she is not to be relegated to sultry and is a capable rock singer of her own merit, with vocal melodies that are more biting. The Sabbath influence lingers at some of the songs edges more vividly in some places than others.
Wesley is back with the second ep since 2011's "Cherish the Light Years " was released. Things have change since then and the dark wave dance anthems we found seven years ago on that full length have given way to something with a more stark outlook. The vocals feel darker and have more of a traditional goth croon. Musically it's also not as upbeat and dancey. This is fine with me. Lyrically the romance gone wrong theme is far from new, I think the dry bleak delivery is the strength of the song mood wise.
8-Sleep : " the Sciences"
If you are new to stoner metal and just crawling out from under a mushroom, then you might know guitarist Matt Pike from this other band called High On Fire. Al Cisneros who handles the vocals has also played in OM and this time they have the drummer from Neurosis sitting behind the drums. I'll go ahead and warn you that the first song is just feed back and distortion and not really a song at all, though it might scare you. However they have been kind enough buds to let you known when it's safe to listen by including the sound of a water bong being fired up. The vocals come across a little different than I remember. They are lower and not as soaked in effects. They keep proving themselves capable of sitting along side the like of Kyuss in the smoky halls of stoner rock royalty.<
7-Messa : "Feast For Water"
My first thought when I heard the beginning moments of "Snakeskin Drape" was this is like a metal version of Lana Del Ray. The tempo picks up and finds them falling closer in line to other "occult" rock of their ilk like Christian Mistress. There is more raw rumble going when they gain speed that what their peers typically muster. The over driven roar is more of a production choice as cleaner mixed guitar play around it. There are plenty of guitar solos that give it a more jammy feel.
6-Hilary Woods : "Colt"
Hilary Woods would not be out of place on the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Less fey sounding than the Cocteau Twins, yet it occupies a similar sonic space as an album like "Treasure". These ballads are haunting, yet invoke spirits of inner space rather than from beyond the grave. Hazy not dark would be the best way to describe the sound. There is a jazz like minimalism, though unlike 90s acid jazz, it serves the melody rather than the beat. The percussion on these songs is incidental.
5-Chvrches : " Love Is Dead"
So this band was my methadone to ween me off a violent addiction to Taylor Swift's "1989" album. For the most part it worked only to get me hooked on their sugary electro pop. Things are only getting worse in the best possible way from there. Lauren Mayberry has lost the goth trappings of her look, and this album might not be the same shade of gray we have heard from them previous. The chorus to "Get Our" busts out and grabs your ear. The synths have a shinier sheen of plastic to them. The vocals are well layered and produced. Less dripping with effects than Taylor Swift's last album.
4-The Weeknd : "My Dear Melancholy"
I was afraid that he might have become too preoccupied with being a TMZ personality and consumed with the celebrity of being a celebrity or trying to make comic books to focus on music. He has had enough in the way of personal drama to fuel a song or two , but would this happen. If he pushed the pop envelope further I felt he was going to lose what set him apart from the other mainstream r&b singers, though artist could apply to him the same can't be said of his peers who are closer to being entertainers than musicians. My fears were laid to rest as picks up where he left off before "the Beauty Behind the Madness" .
3-Black Salvation : "Uncertainty is Bliss"
Former In Solitude and Grave Pleasures drummer Uno Bruniusson. But each member of this trio is highly talented. The guitarist Paul Schlesier handles the vocals. He gives the band a darker sound with a croon not unlike that employed on In Solitude's "Sister" album though more Jim Morrison than King Diamond. I am glad the fact the In Solitude connection caught my eye. While these guys are not metal, fans of In Solitude will find enough common ground to enjoy this one.
I was worried the boys from Denmark would stray to far from punk after their last album and the funky Rolling Stones like side project of their singer . The first song holds roots in the early days of punk, but is just good fucking music.I am glad the gray clouds close in over the second half of the album, though none of it is sunshine and puppies. This preserves the growing legacy of this band
1-Strvngers - "Amor Noir"
Dripping with a sex fueled rock edge to the vocals this is a departure from the tired dark wave of the 90's though still pays enough homage to that era so at times find grooves that remind me a little of Orgy. Plenty of samples that sound like they could have been lifted from a porn help give the album's narrative. More layered and nuanced than their earlier work that owed more to bands like Aesthetic Perfection.t went straight to my iPod ,which is as big of a compliment as I can give any band. The real estate of gbs in my iPod is pretty competitive considering the amount of music I consume on any given day. When I had to restore my lap top to factory setting and all my music was erased, this was the main album I freaked out about. Though I grew up a poor goth child so that factors into my love affair with album too.