The Best Tracks of May 2018 & Monthly Spotify Playlist
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The entire first half of the year was full of excellent albums, and I think the pace might even increase as the weather warms up. What I’m trying to say is, this summer is about to be jam packed with great releases, and I’m including May in that too because this month has been nonstop gems. Here were a few of our absolute favorites, along with a playlist including all those and more. Take a listen and find your new favorite artist.
THE BEST TRACKS OF MAY 2018
I have to lead off with the new Retirement Party album, because I’ve been listening to that more than anything else recently. As Emily wrote in her review, this is a mental health record that doesn’t glamourize mental illness and anxiety. Instead these songs craft a relatable description of the thoughts that bombard the mind of an anxious person: “Am I going to get cancer from that sunburn I had once? Am I a good person? Do I nap too much or not enough? What the hell am I doing here?” All of that upon a pop punk / emo guitar driven structure that suits these lyrical themes so well. Seriously, take a listen to this thing.
Next up on the most listened to records of the month, has to be Now, Now’s long awaited new LP, Saved. If there was any justice, this record would be a pop hit on the scale of Lorde’s Melodrama. The hooks are on point, the vocals are beautiful, and most of all this record just makes me want to dance. Sure it’s different from their last LP, Threads, so some indie purists will get upset, but too bad. Pop records are always going to exist. I would rather we get some good ones. Add Saved to that collection with Paramore’s After Laughter.
2 of my favorite rock n roll songwriters released records in May: Courtney Barnett and Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. I have to say, I haven’t fallen completely in love with either on the whole.
Arctic changed things up completely and wrote a concept album about a hotel/casino on the moon (into it), with strong anti-capitalist themes (oh baby), but it’s almost entirely an instrumental piano record (ehhh) and it drags outside of the album’s highlights: “Four Out of Five”). What can you do, I’ll take a new Arctic Monkeys record however I can get it.
Unlike Alex, Courtney Barnett stuck to more of the traditional trajectory of her past releases on her new LP. Old school heartfelt rock and roll grooves, and this record does groove. More than anything else, Courtney found her stride on this release, and when her lyrics and hooks can really grab you (“City Looks Pretty“ and “Nameless Faceless“), these are some of my favorite rock tracks of the year. But when the songwriting itself doesn’t grab me, I’m left with a long jam session; not my scene. Still both, this and the Arctic record are worth your time for the singles alone.
What else? Hmm. The Big Ups record was really cool, so was Remember Sports’ latest, Slow Mass’s new album totally blew me away, and the new albums from World’s Greatest Dad, Secret Mountain, GobbinJr, Tancred and Illuminati Hotties all had me jamming. Did I mention that there were a ton of interesting releases this month? It’s really exciting to hear all of these new bands, each bringing something a bit different to the table. Just goes to show that there is still a wealth of talent yet to be discovered.
We can’t go through the best of the month without mentioning Pusha T’s new album, Daytona. Yes it’s only 7 tracks, yes it features problematic Trump loving Kanye, and yes it’s been outshined by Pusha’s Drake diss track that called him out for being a shitty dad (eeeeeek), but underneath all that controversy, it’s also one of the better hip hop releases this year. Pusha is a real rap vet and he’s still out here writing verses that would fit in Fishscale or Cuban Linx in 2018. Can someone still do that in this age when most rappers have hooks for bars? Yes. There’s still room for lyrical talent in hip hop. I’m glad Pusha is still willing to fill that role, and call out any of the frauds that have weakened the art form in his opinion.
But May wasn’t just about great new albums, it was also about sweet fucking singles. Remember those? Ovlov dropped a track that filled my head full of smoke (in the best way possible), Warm Thoughts premiered a ripper of a new track, Mitski’s new single was mind blowingly beautiful and had a video to match, and Save Face released their 2nd single on their upcoming release on Epitaph.
But if we are going to play the single that totally blew your mind contest the winner has to be Rico Nasty’s new track “Rage”. Rico Nasty typically makes “bubblegum trap”, essentially a poppier version of traditional trap rap, but on this track she pulled heavy from her nu-metal and screamo influences. The result is a brutal banger of a track that puts all other attempts at “emo rap” to shame. More of this please.
I have recently fallen in love with the music of Partner. They’re a comedic indie rock band (think Rozwell Kid meets Flight of the Conchords). They’re creative and funny, and most importantly they’re music is good! Their most recent album, In Search of Lost Time, is full of hilarious and relatable tracks and they just filmed a NPR Tiny Desk session, thats touching and fun like they do so well.
Speaking of live sessions, we released live sessions with Ernston, Well Wisher, and Hurry this month and they all came out just how we were hoping. Even better, all of our live sessions are available for ‘Pay What You Want’ on our Bandcamp.
I think that’s enough writing, you want the music! Check out all these recommendations and more in our monthly Spotify playlist below.
Writing by Henderson // @HendoSlice
Playlist curated by Steven Lalonde // @StevenLalonde
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