Nine Circles ov…2018 in NOT-Metal (so far…)


Around this time last week, our good buddy Chris shared his thoughts on 2018’s best metal to date. And now — surprise! — I’m here to do the same for the NOT-metal side of things.

In my book — with some notable exceptions like Judicator, Amorphis and Wallachia — the metal’s kind been lagging behind all the other stuff so far this year. That’s not to say I’ve heard anything bad from the heavier realm this year; just that I haven’t heard as much that’s really stuck with me as in years past. That, of course, will have cleared up by the end of the year; it always does.

But for now, you’re getting a NOT-metal list and, dammit, you’re gonna like it!

Superchunk — What a Time to Be Alive


SUPERCHUNK FOR PRESIDENT, Y’ALL. A full-album rebuke of the current administration and an unfairly catchy set of tunes? On their 11th album, the North Carolina indie rockers couldn’t sound any more vital if they tried.

Hatchie — Sugar & Spice


This is only a five-song EP, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t fucking perfect. Hatchie (real name Harriette Pilbeam) hails from Australia and nods to everyone from The Sundays to Cocteau Twins with her infectious blend of dream pop. Take a listen and lose yourself inside.

Midnight Danger — Malignant Force


Much as I looooove the new Carpenter Brut record, there’s a very clear king of the synthwave hill thus far in 2018, and it is Midnight Danger. Malignant Force is dark. It’s confident. It sounds amazing. And it’s addictive as all hell — from “Stranger Days” straight through.

Lena Raine — Celeste Original Soundtrack


Celeste, one of the best video games of the year, needed a soundtrack that could live up to its lofty standards. Lena Raine gave it that and then some. As the game takes its protagonist, Madeline, through ups, downs, joy and heartache, so too does Raine’s work here. Her work here single-handedly convinced me to buy the game. Don’t miss this thing.

Jeff Rosenstock — POST-


Like Rosenstock’s best work, POST- makes its presence felt early and often, and it’s goddamn incredible when it does. I’ve been going back and forth on whether this tops its predecessor (2016’s Worry.), but whether it does or not, it’s still a tremendous burst of adrenaline from one of the most creative songwriters in punk.

Kacey Musgraves — Golden Hour


Kacey Musgraves > a thousand Taylor Swifts. I will hear no arguments to the contrary.

The Carters — Everything is Love


I, for one, am here for our new Beyoncé and Jay-Z overlords. Lemonade and 4:44 weren’t enough for ya? This new collaborative set should scratch the itch and then some. Find me a better 1-2 punch this year than “APESHIT” and “BOSS.” I’ll wait.

Beach House — 7


Can this band do anything wrong? No, seriously, can they? I’ve yet to see it from them. At any rate, 7 continues the Baltimore duo’s hot streak with some of their best, most immersive dream pop yet. Get on it.

Hinds — I Don’t Run


There’s something so wonderfully carefree about Hinds’ music. The Spanish quartet’s always left a bit to be desired on the production side — perhaps by design — but when the songs are as catchy and effortless as they are on I Don’t Run, none of that matters. Album No. 2 is an enormous leap forward from their debut, and well worth your time.

Honorable Mentions

  • Snail Mail — Lush
  • Pusha T — DAYTONA
  • Ryley Walker — Deafman Glance
  • Courtney Barnett — Tell Me How You Really Feel
  • Frank Turner — Be More Kind
  • Speedy Ortiz — Twerp Verse
  • John Prine — The Tree of Forgiveness
  • Frankie Cosmos — Vessel
  • Kendrick Lamar — Black Panther: Original Soundtrack
  • Carpenter Brut — Leather Teeth

Got some thoughts of your own about this year’s NOT-metal? Hit us up with a comment and share ’em!

Keep it (occasionally) heavy,

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