Top 50 Tracks of 2018 (50-41)

50. Gilligan Moss “What Happened”

If you care about IDM and you are not listening to Gilligan Moss, then what are you even doing? The titular track from their What Happened EP exemplifies the duo’s ability to create lush dance music through layering of esoteric sounds. The spastic shuffling beat and endless textures ensure that “What Happened” can be played in the clubs but it is anything but standard dancefloor fare. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

49. Superchunk “What a Time To Be Alive”

With a lead guitar riff that sounds like a call to arms, galloping drums, and an irresistibly catchy chorus, the title track of Superchunk’s eleventh studio album pulls no punches and does little to disguise its target on this heavy-hitting, tongue-in-cheek paen to America’s current commander-in-chief. “To see the rot in no disguise, oh what a time to be alive, the scum, the shame, the fucking lies, oh what a time to be alive,” singer Mac McCaughan sings during the song’s victorious chorus. When turbulent times are confronted this directly in art the results are often clumsy and embarrassing. In the case of Superchunk’s “What A Time to Be Alive”, however, the stinging rebuke is simultaneously resounding and captivating. – Andy Mascola

48. Arctic Monkeys “Four Out of Five”

There was nothing leading up to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino that signaled Arctic Monkeys were about to make their “if David Bowie was a schmaltzy lounge singer” album but I couldn’t be more happy they did. “Four Out of Five” is the most accessible while also being the most ridiculous of the songs on the album. With a premise that is somewhere between Ziggy Stardust and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Alex Turner sings about the taqueria on the moon and there is no way to tell if he is being ironic or not. In the end, it doesn’t really matter; the track is near perfection either way. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

47. Cornelia Murr “Who Am I to Tell You”

Cornulia Murr’s debut album Lake Tear of the Clouds is a quiet whisper of an album. It’s powerful in its quiet. The track “Who Am I To Tell You” is one of the more upbeat tracks, with a marching drumming rhythm and soft bassline. Murr croons “who am I to tell you how to treat a lady” in a subtly sardonic tone. There is synthy keyboard with folksy banjo and tambourine breakdown near the end. The lyricism and rhythmic nature of the track evokes that of a girl group. Though the album is not one I would describe as danceable, this track comes close – and speaks to Murr’s versatility as an artist. – Jacqueline Sun

46. Oh Pep! “Your Nail and Your Hammer”

Featuring a buoyant acoustic arrangement, catchy chorus, and wonderfully complementary vocal parts from duo Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerich bring distinctive immediacy and vitality to the song. With a sweet harmonies reminiscent of First Aid Kit, and an excellent use of strings, “Your Nail And Your Hammer” brings a vibrancy to the band’s most recent release, I Wasn’t Only Thinking Of You… The song represents a progression for the band, and marks an important step in their growth. Despite Oh Pep!’s indie status, “Nail and Hammer” has the feel of a radio hit, speaking to the bands range and talent. – Tom Heubel

45. Parquet Courts “Freebird II”

Without a doubt one of the strongest songs on Parquet Courts’ excellent sixth studio album, Wide Awake!, “Freebird II” finds itself placed smartly at the heart of the record’s track sequence. Over a buoyant analog organ and Sean Yeaton’s sprightly bassline, Andrew Savage sings abstrusely about an obviously complicated familial relationship. “Freebird II’s” cheerful chord structure and sanguine twists and turns further help to obscure the deeper meaning behind lyrics like, “The first name I called you is not a name at all, more of a duty than a function.” Regardless, the song’s all-in ending leaves the listener optimistic as the entire band repeats the line, “Free, I feel free, like you promised I’d be,” in unison. The incongruence of the song’s lively tone and Savage’s darkly personal lyrics make “Freebird II” one of Parquet Courts’ strongest singles to date. – Andy Mascola

44. Guided By Voices “Space Gun”

Look, if you told me there’d be a Guided By Voices song worthy of consideration in 2018 I too would have looked at you with Pabst drunken eyes. Still, we should all know by now to never underestimate the prolific songwriting power of Robert Pollard. While the album itself falls short of a year end list, the title track is as good as any of Pollard’s hits from Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes era. Don’t sleep on the old man who can drink more than you or me combined. – Greg Scranton

43. TunE-yArDs “Heart Attack”

“Heart Attack” embodies everything that has made TunE-yArDs an indie darling for the better part of a decade with the off-kilter syncopated beat combined with Merrill Garbus’ powerful vocals. There is a careful consideration for danceability with the track that is fairly new for TunE-yArDs that makes it feel like an evolutionary step that brings the duo closer to the mainstream while not losing is intrinsically them. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

42. Polo & Pan “Canopee”

Polo & Pan’s track “Canopee” epitomizes summer for me. French electronic duo Polo & Pan creates unique, upbeat, and fun electronic cuts that are both danceable yet complex and layered. “Canopee” is one of those tracks. It begins with a Spanish-influenced classical guitar riff under dreamy French vocals. It then modestly introduces an electronic xylophone beat that maintains the summery, poolside feel, before breaking out into a deep, bass-y drop, that seemingly just happens. It’s not like a typical EDM or electronic track with marked drops that have drawn out setups to make it obvious that a drop is about to happen. Instead, this drop is subtle in its setup but extremely effective in how bass-heavy it is. This pattern continues throughout the track and is a technique employed throughout the album. I highly recommend listening beyond this track to the album – it’s nothing like any electronic album that I’ve ever heard before. – Jacqueline Sun

41. Hippo Campus “Bambi”

“Bambi”, the title track on Hippo Campus’ second full-length, speaks earnestly about the difficulty of carving time out for oneself, especially at the expense of one’s friends. Lead singer and songwriter Jake Luppen muses, “I haven’t been much myself/And I feel like my friends are being put through this hell I’m feeling…Serving myself” This idea of self-care is one that is taking a greater prominence in our daily discourse – though we understand the importance of maintain our own mental and physical health, it can often be hard to juggle this with our desire to be there for the people in our lives. Luppen manages to discuss this issue succinctly, and the band is able to balance out the melancholy lyrics with an upbeat, well produced indie pop song. In this way, “Bambi” is able to offer solace across a wide spectrum, providing thoughtful lyrics for those looking to explore their emotions, and an upbeat tune for those that just need to dance. – Tom Heubel

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