It is that time again. While I have made the distinction before, for the sake of this list . These band are dark, but not goth and going more in the direction of punk or worker off a heavier tension.The score from my reviews to help determine the ranking , but also how many times Last FM told me I listened to each album.An album can have all the critical acclaim in the world but if it does not inspire multiple listens then how good can it actually be ? While the top ten lists for other genres were more balanced this list leans heavily on the side of new bloods. Rather than posting media of a track from each band I am leaving a link to the review, which will contain Bandcamp or Full Album Streams. Ok enough talking about it, the time has come to dig into the top 10 post-punk albums of 2018.
10-Way Out- "Arc of Descent"
This Rhode Island band makes me happy because they are not trying to impersonate Joy Division. I love Joy Division, but I own those albums. The vocals were what I keyed in on, as they are the only aspect of this band that might cross over into death rock. They can be frantically tense as well as shoot into something with a high energy punk feel to it.
9-Burning Gates - "New Moon"
They blend their punk side well with their dark side, The song structure is dynamic and I get the feeling the guitarist grew up listening to metal as some of the riffs have a slight Randy Rhodes feel. The more metallic punches are interesting and at times it sounds like they might be going into a guitar solo but use restraint in order not to.
8-Wrekmeister Harmonies-"the Alone Rush"
This album is dark and introspective ,not far removed from Leonard Cohen or the more recent work of Nick Cave. JR Robinson possesses a rich resonate baritone. It anchors this song that would almost float away if not for his voice grounding it. I am not sure I would call this goth, but it is heading in that direction. There is more of an organic almost Americana feel, that keeps it out of the bat cave.
7-Trashlight - "Wilted"
They are dreamy, yet dark. Their guitar has that bat cave reverb without them sounding like thinly veiled Cure covers. Their strength is the inter play of the male and female vocals which keep them from sounding like any one band.The production is interesting while the album leans in the Bat Cave direction, the layers of guitar come across clearly. Even when it gets lost in the shadows of the back alleys they are haunting it's atmosphere is still compelling .
6-Shitty Person- "Judgement"
Meeting somewhere between doom and slow core, they set themselves apart with touches like a sax comes in to make you imagine Morphine coming back from the dead. There is a western swagger at times leaving The narcotic drone of the pacing as the only thing heroin to what they do. The male and female vocals are layer, both sound equally detached. Often falling into a depressed country feel. The vocals remain in the low end of his slacker baritone and lack the twang of country, but the mood is there. These would be better drinking songs than anthems for a shooting gallery.
5-King Dude - "Music to Make War to"
This album comes from a place more like the shadowy paths the likes of Nick Cave or Micheal Gira normally walk down, but how far from there was he to begin with? There is a smoother touch to the croon of the vocals. Piano also plays a more dominate role. "Velvet Rope" feels like a more organic version of Sisters of Mercy.
4-Unmaker - "Firmament"
The opener takes many of the elements that made Beastmilk great and follows a parallel path. Some of this might be due to members of both bands having a background in metal. This gives them more punch than your average post-punk band.
3-Dead Register - "Captive"
There is a more soaring feel to this album. The croon of their lead singer sounds more nuanced and refined. It heads in more of an Interpol direction than a bellow. The metallic elements are more of a booming undertone and not the focus. They bring many layers together and weave them in a way that works well. While you can tell they are influenced by doom, they are not a doom band, at least not how we define doom around here. After additional listens the guitar melody really struck me and it became clear how much more polished of an effort this is.
2- Lowfaith - "On Loss"
The new face of what has become goth now shows up in hipster bars, in black but without the make up. That could also describe this band from Denver. At times more dream than pop, draped in more shadow than darkness. Then the bust into a more punk paced indie rock. This does have a Cure like darkness to it, that is more obvious when they slow back down a little for "Again, Again, Again". This moping take on shoe gaze is not with out dynamics and these guys have more balls than you might expect. They don't rely on being artfully melodramatic, and get actually heavy. This album continues to surprise me with each song.
In the wake of the short lived post-punk revival we are beginning to get bands who might have been inspired by bands like Joy Division, but go deeper and pull out thoughtfully bleak work of their own. This is one of those bands. I like the fact it reminds me of Swans, as its post-"Greed" Swans where most bands are stuck on that era. They do have their own personality and are not as pounding or sonic as Swans. There are some angular guitar moments, but it comes from more of a rock n roll place. The vocals go into a slightly higher shoe gaze coo.