words by bridget conway
The list of what will be 2018’s great releases already feels a mile long; it seems like almost every day we hear a new song or read a new tour announcement (or both!) from both emerging and established artists. While this can be overwhelming, it’s also exciting—2018’s releases seem to be building on music of the past to feel fresh and unexplored, foregoing previous limitations of genre while drawing inspiration from music of the past. I’m eager to see where 2018 takes us, so I’ve compiled a list of a few of the album releases I’m excited about in the next few months.
Screaming Females: All at Once, out February 3rd
Screaming Females make brazen, high-energy, catchy punk. Marissa Paternoster, the band’s frontwoman, characterizes the punchy backing instrumentals with a rich, dynamic voice that never fails to demonstrate robust expression, which is no different on the two singles released from All at Once thus far; “Glass House” is rhythmic, alternating Paternoster’s potent vocals with showy guitar riffs and pounding drums. “Deeply” sounds less traditional than Screaming Females’ rock sound than “Glass House” and more indie pop-influenced, featuring synthesizers, Wurlitzers and xylophones and a more wistful vocal style . Both singles are, hopefully, an indication that All at Once will be rooted in Screaming Females’ past powerful sounds and expansive to new ones.
Palm: Rock Island, out February 9th
Last year, Palm released both an EP, Shadow Expert, and a full-length, Trading Basics, and don’t show any signs of stopping. They’ve released two singles: “Dog Milk” and “Pearly,” which build off the bright art-rock Palm released in 2017. Rock Island deals in what seems like its own new musical language, compulsively creating as it moves. Palm disregards the rules of indie rock, disregards the archetypal groupings of certain instruments or chords to build their own concepts and vocabulary from scratch. It’s impossible, therefore, to anticipate what the next moment of a Palm song is like, let alone a whole new album—but, like Palm’s discography thus far, is sure to be excellent.
Hailu Mergia: Lala Belu, out February 16th
Ethiopian Jazz builds on traditional Ethiopian rhythms and jazz to create music that can only be described as limber, stretching and adapting across genres and cultures. Hailu Mergia has been making incredible Ethio-Jazz since the ‘70s, but he’s releasing a new album this February—the first major (non-compilation) album of the genre in more than twenty years. The first single off of Lala Belu, “Gum Gum” feels at once fresh and authentic to the genre, and I’m excited for Mergia to bring new Ethio-Jazz to 2018.
Car Seat Headrest: Twin Fantasy: Mirror to Mirror, out February 16th
I can’t say with a clear conscience that “excited” is the word I’d use to describe how I’m feeling about Will Toledo’s announcement that he’s done a studio recording of 2011’s richly lo-fi Twin Fantasy, but leaving this off this list felt untrue to my anticipation of the release, regardless of doubts I have. The songs released thus far off Twin Fantasy: Mirror to Mirror, “Nervous Young Inhumans” and “Beach Life-In-Death” are certainly not bad—Toledo is a talented musician, and his studio re-recordings of these songs he made are still sonically powerful. What lacks is the organic, emotional, private-diary quality of the original—Toledo’s voice doesn’t break and expand in the Mirror version of “Beach Life-In-Death” the way it does in the 2011 version, and I’m afraid the studioization of the album will take away from these aspects so many listeners have come to love.
Current Joys: A Different Age, out March 2nd
Nick Rattigan may be known for being half of Surf Curse, but this year he’s releasing music as his solo project, Current Joys, Relying on drum machines and solitary guitar melodies as backing, Rattigan’s voice is heart-wrenching; beautiful not only for its sonic qualities, but for its earnestness and honesty, communicating a sound of nostalgia, of sadness, and of emotional vulnerability. Not only will A Different Age feature Rattigan’s musical strengths, but also his cinematic ones, as he is releasing it as a visual album. The first two singles, “Become the Warm Jets” and “Fear” have been released as both songs and videos, with narratives and symbolic elements that follow those of the sonic and lyrical qualities of the respective songs.
Ed Schrader’s Music Beat: Riddles, out March 3rd
Much of Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s discography is fast paced, bizarre, and above all, decidedly electrified; the first single, “Dunce,” off Riddles, is no different. However, the addition of minimalist-pop artist Dan Deacon on Riddles transforms Ed Schrader’s Music Beat’s aggressive post-punk sound into something more intricate and nuanced than they’ve shown on their previous records.