I just cannot get over the fact that we are a week away from Christmas and two weeks away from a new year. This year has flown by, but as my dad has always said that life moves like a roll of toilet paper: slowly at first, then it goes by faster and faster as your reach the end. Knowing my dad, he probably stole that cliche from someone else, but I will attribute it to him, as I first heard him use that phrase on his 50th birthday. Although Dad was only a varsity basketball coach for two seasons, he is still full of what I call “coach speak,” which is the language coaches use to tell reporters all kinds of things colorfully without ever really saying anything. I was never as good at those types of quotes because my competitive side was difficult to keep under wraps. Dad, on the other hand, was a master at it.
Well, the end of the year means several things. First, it means my family will hold nearly enough different Christmas gatherings that we would have little problem adjusting to the Jewish holiday Hanukah. Second, like many other families, try to squeeze in as many medical procedures as possible during that like month before the deductible goes back to zero. Which means that I will be having yet another surgery for my back, as the battery life of my six-year-old pain pump is ending in the next six months. So, it is prudent for me to have the surgery. Third, before the surgery, we will have our granddaughter over each week to give her parents some down time. And, last but not least, we will probably do our bit of insanity and have four of our niece’s five kids spend the night with us. I cannot even begin to call this controlled chaos. Nope! That’ll be just straight up chaos.
So, this week is my last week of blogging for 2018. The daily readership has grown a bit this year, especially since the Fall. I’m not sure why, because the quality certainly has not improved. However, I must be reaching a group of bored or stoned readers out their who are simply dying to read what some old geezer from the middle of Indiana’s cornfields has to say about rock music, but why this is happening I am NOT going to question. I’m just going to thank all of you readers for stopping by and adding to the number of visitors to this blog!
So, let’s begin this years countdown of My 50 Favorite Albums of 2018. Today, we will begin at #50 and wrap it up at #41, continuing each day of this week with another ten albums that I have enjoyed this year. So, P!nk, let’s get this party started!
50. Barrence Whitfield & the Savages – Soul Flowers of Titan. How does this bluesman continue to toil in anonymity while a lesser talent like George Thorogood continues to maintain his following? Whitfield & the Savages are such a perfect mix of J. Geils and Thorogood that they should be plastered all over classic rock radio. And, this album is one of their best of their long career.
49. Bird Streets – Bird Streets. Power pop has quietly been undergoing something of a renaissance recently, and Bird Streets are one of the new practitioners of the art. They start where the Raspberries and Badfinger left off, rocking out with some great vocal harmonies and pop hooks.
48. Death by Unga Bunga – So Far So Good So Cool. I’m serious! The band’s name is Death by Unga Bunga but don’t get scared off by the name. These guys play meat-and-potatoes Midwestern rock and roll, just like I grew up listening to, such as Cheap Trick, Shoes, Fotomaker, etc. These guys are everything we loved about music in the early 80s. I prefer my “flashback” rock to sound this way and not the way Greta Van Fleet try to do it.
47. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears. Okay, so the name of this electronic band conjures up some Big Bad Wolf fairy tale memories, but this albums like as if an Eighties female teen idol singer is fronting LCD Soundsystem after Afrika Bambaataa did a little tweaking with the music. This is actually some 21st century electronic music with a human soul.
46. Pusha T – Daytona. Screw Kanye West! His protege has passed him by. Sure, Kanye produced this one, but Pusha T flexes his muscles enough to make us all recognize who really made the finest hip hop album this year.
45. The Go! Team – Semicircle. This band has one of the nuttiest sounds since the original UK ska bands of the late-Seventies landed. The Go! Team is equal parts electronic rock band, high school marching band and college cheerleading squad. But, there’s not denying the melodies in this music. Back in the Eighties, we called this New Wave. Today, I call it great music!
44. Whyte Horses – Empty Woods. If you prefer your power pop slanting toward the alt-country of the seesaw, then Whyte Horses are perfect for you. Their guitars don’t chime, but twang all the while their vocals are sweet, allowing the musical hooks to sink in your ears deeply so the album can pull you in further. Then, as you give into the melody and driving beats, the touches of Sixties-style psychedelia poured through an Eighties’ Paisley Underground filter, only enhances the band’s sound. Although the sound as if they could have been part of the Paisley Underground, they have enough new tricks to score beyond being some retro group. I think this band could grow into something big. I might have them underrated at this time.
43. Juliana Hatfield – Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John. You read the title right! This IS Juliana Hatfield, the Nineties’ Alternative Nation’s IT girl, who made a name for herself not only for her power pop-based alternative music, but for also being The Lemonheads’ Evan Dando’s girl of choice at the time. Just when I thought she had fallen off the face of the world, here she comes back up-dating her musical idol’s music with a loving heart and no sense of irony. Who knew these familiar pieces of pop fluff from the Seventies could sound so tough and smart in the 21st century. Only someone as talented as Hatfield could pull off this magical album.
42. Public Access T.V. – Street Safari. Is there anyone out there who has a Duran Duran-sized whole in their heart? I propose you put Public Access T.V. in there and let it grow over time. Sure, there was no one like D-squared to the Eighties crowd, but PA TV sure wants to. At least, they are doing it with the full knowledge of other funky new wave bands like Talking Heads and early Talk Talk. They are worth the search.
41. Peach Kelli Pop – Gentle Leader. Peach Kelli Pop is The Go-Go’s for the 2010s. It’s as if The Go-Go’s tried to play as fast as they could, almost to the point where they’ve become the English-speaking version of Shonen Knife. There’s just something about punk girls that still appeal to me, musically speaking.
So, folks, there you go! All relatively new artists, with nary an oldie but goodie on the list thus far. 2018 was NOT good to the relics of the past, but there are some newer artists trying to keep the rock flame burning. Ya just gotta dig for ’em. See you tomorrow as we continue this countdown.