Top 50 Tracks of 2018 (10-01)

10. The Goon Sax “We Can’t Win”

We’re Not Talking, the sophomore full-length by the Brisbane, Australia indie pop trio The Goon Sax, exhibited a marked improvement in terms of production, vocals, and song composition compared with their debut just two years ago. Another welcome addition is the inclusion of occasional backing vocals by the band’s drummer, Riley Jones. On the touching ballad “We Can’t Win”, Louis Forster and Jones trade verses with remarkable results. The track starts with a gentle piano and a Casio-esque beat as Forster describes a relationship unsettled by distance. The song is made even more poignant by the inclusion Jones’ response verses in which she echoes Forster’s longing. “We Can’t Win” is a touching moment made that much more visceral by the plaintive boy/girl exchange. – Andy Mascola

09. Drake “Nice for What”

Drake holds little ownership over bounce music besides his label being located in New Orleans yet “Nice For What” is the biggest New Orleans bounce hit since “Back that Azz Up.” While there is probably a conversation worth having about Drake’s propensity for appropriating regional music style, “Nice For What” eschews it by having an incredibly feminist message. While many women feel the need to humor men, Drake simply asks “You gotta be nice for what?” Combine that with Murda Beatz’ Lauryn Hill sampling beat and “Nice For What” is another Drake classic. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

08. Preoccupations “Disarray”

I don’t care what they call themselves so long as they keep making songs like “Disarray.” Preoccupations (formerly Viet Cong) haven’t let namegate distract them from making consistently excellent records and this year’s New Material is no different. Several tracks could have been nominated but “Disarray” was an early single and favorite among fans for it’s anthemic and epic sound. While it’s lyrics poetically address the darker elements in life, there is a hopefulness to the music itself, suggesting the possibility of everything turning out alright. “Disarray” encapsulates a dark and moody persona that defines much of their 2018 release while creating space for the possibility of light to illuminate and heal even the darkest of circumstances. – Greg Scranton

07. Bodega “Charlie”

For an album that spends a considerable amount of time skewering a social media-obsessed culture with tracks built on herky-jerky post-punk, Endless Scroll, the appropriately titled debut full-length from Brooklyn band Bodega, does manage to fit in a couple tender moments. One of said moments arrives in the form of “Charlie”, a heartbreaking tribute to a dead friend. “’In My Life’ I would play on repeat, in the lot next to the park that you were buried beneath,” guitarist Ben Hozie sings as he proceeds to recall shared moments and pieces of conversations between himself and the deceased, all the while wondering what it means to “live outside of the dream.” An uncharacteristically warmhearted ballad, “Charlie” proves that while Bodega have smart-ass charm to burn, they’re also capable of exhibiting tremendous sentimentality. – Andy Mascola

06. Cardi B featuring Bad Bunny & J Balvin “I Like It”

“I Like It” was undoubtedly the song of the summer which does not always guarantee it a spot at the “song of the year” table but for Cardi B, her second number one single cemented her place in pop music. Paying homage to her latin heritage, Cardi assembled an international cast adding Colombian singer J Balvin and Puerto Rican artist Bad Bunny while sampling Pete Rodriguez‘ boogaloo classic. But make no mistake, Cardi B is what makes the track with her brash yet relatable raps. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

05. Ethers “Rip Off”

I dare you to listen to this track 3 times in a row, I dare you. If you choose to accept this challenge I will guarantee one of two things will happen, a.) you, like I did, will become an instant fan or b.) you won’t. My bet is on A. Afterall, how can you resist Bo Hansen’s crunchy guitar riffs, Matt Rolin’s plodding drum beats supported by Russ Calderwood’s thick bass lines, and topped off by iconic blasts from Mary McKane’s farfisa? It’s all just too much to keep any lover of unpopular music in their seat. This song strikes at the heart of the music dweller who exists somewhere between Sam the Sham and The Pharoh’s “Wooly Bully” and early Pink Floyd’s “A Saucerful of Secrets”. If like me your music preferences span the aforementioned, Ethers are you jam, if not, they’re still 2018’s hidden gem. – Greg Scranton

04. Speedy Ortiz “Villain”

“Villain,” the slow-burning track from Twerp Verse shows off what Sadie Dupuis and Speedy Ortiz are capable of. Over snaky guitar arpeggios, Dupuis tells a tale of male privilege and sexual harassment. But the song doesn’t seethe with indignation or hatred, instead it reflects the banality of situation. Sexual harassment is insidious and to hear Dupuis’ inner monolog about whether to report it or not gives valuable insight into one of the year’s major event, the Kavanaugh hearings. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

03. Mitski “Nobody”

No other single this year was able to take an emotion as unpleasant as loneliness and spin it into an infinitely relatable and infectiously danceable disco banger the way Mitski’s “Nobody” did. The song begins unassumingly enough with a “Theme from Shaft” hi-hat and a plaintive piano as Mitski sings, “My God, I’m so lonely, so I open the window, to hear sounds of people.” Just before the track’s one-minute mark a disco guitar enters and the entire ordeal is transformed into a dancefloor-ready, mirror ball extravaganza. “Nobody” is an enduring triumph that will no doubt stand as a career highlight for this superbly talented artist. – Andy Mascola

02. Parquet Courts “Violence”

“You protect no one by obscuring the mirror that reflects our own problematic reality” rants A. Savage on “Violence.” For a band who is usually thought of as insouciant, Parquet Courts deliver sobering reality on the organ-laced track. Not just during the gang vocal chorus of “violence in daily life” but during the verses with lines like “Savage is my name because Savage is how I feel when the radio wakes me up with the words ‘suspected gunman’.” It’s not a feel good song but 2018 was rarely a feel good year. “Violence” is the song we deserve. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

01. Superorganism “Something for your M.I.N.D.”

The wildly creative Superorganism has taken the world by storm this year with their unique and catchy brand of indie/art pop. “Something for your M.I.N.D” was written by teenager Orono Noguchi when she was still in high school and who would later find a place in the group after meeting members of the London based collective online. Noguchi’s deadpan delivery provides the perfect foil to the upbeat and quirky instrumentation and backing vocals of the 7 other members. Keep an eye on this globally minded synergistic group of quirky and talented artists, they’re sonic world domination is just beginning! – Greg Scranton

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