It’s been a full official calendar year of Radical Beat writing, slogging around trying to make sense of this wild terrain, and here’s my top ten albums to put a bow on it for 2018. What a stressful but largely satisfying time it has been. Special thanks to Apathy & Exhaustion: there’s no way I would have heard some of these without Tony hurtling them down my inbox, and I wouldn’t have been on the lookout for many of the other ones without doing Radical Beat and contributing to A&E. Thanks mate. (no worries, mate!! – Tony)
Jeff Rosenstock – POST-
A January 1st release that managed to fend off enough competition for the full twelve months is impressive, but there was never much doubt that POST- was going to make it. This thirtysomething punk record marries personal and political anxiety perfectly, and the lovely Jeff Rosenstock even gave it away for free.
Evidence – Weather or Not
Mr Slow Flow of Dilated Peoples fame released his third and supposedly final weather themed record here, with a rain-focus that is working nicely again as we head back into winter. While it’s not mind-blowing lyrically, aesthetically it combines East coast boom bap and West coast smoothness into a really enjoyable experience.
Reggie & The Full Effect – 41
41 is a piece of sophisticated, middle-aged emo, with a lot of sad moments but also beauty, humour and gonzo, topped with James Dewees’ powerful pop pipes. The award for “Best Song Title of the Year” goes to the fun electro-swamp of Channing Tatum Space Rollerblading Montage Music (feat Fluxuation).
Pennywise – Never Gonna Die
“Tony already did a review, but I’ll do one myself for fun as soon as I get chance,” I told myself in April when Never Gonna Die came out. Famous last words of the always-working-on-new-last-words-wordsmith. But his review gets to the gist of the matter: this is an old-fashioned Pennywise album that is one of their best in two decades, delivering hope to nearly any artist who is considered long past their peak.
Superchunk – What A Time To Be Alive
Despite all determinations that the Trump circus would not be “normalised,” after two years within this belly I can tell you that it seems to have happened. And while a lot of anti-Trump posturing has become tiring or worse, the alt-pop What A Time To Be Alive manages to tackle the state of our days in a way that is anthemic, uplifting, cathartic and downright danceable.
Epic Beard Men – Season 1 (live review)
The debut album from former Epitaph rapper Sage Francis and B. Dolan manages to have a classic hip hop style without sounding like a nostalgia project, all full of flair, original choice of topics and a big bold sound. If you spend every holiday season on the hunt for unconventional tunes, listen to War on Christmas.
Popes of Chillitown – Work Hard, Play Hard, See You In The Graveyard
This one took me back to blurry-eyed fun times at Satan’s Hollow. Intelligent words and beat-heavy ska punk club music from London’s Popes of Chillitown. You can enjoy each element depicted in the album’s title in isolation, or as part of a satisfying, hearty whole.
Revenge of the Psychotronic Man – That Was Just a Noise
An unreasonably fast punk compilation from Manchester’s now defunct mainstays (they played their last gig in early December). A fitting documentation of over a decade of drinking music with nods of social consciousness, fun remixes and love for our animal friends.
Four Fists – 6666
Another long-awaited rap collaboration that pays off, 6666 from Astronautalis and P.O.S. is as beautiful as it is dark. The influence of punk on the album is undeniable even without any fast guitars, from the no bars held pissed off lyrics of fire and revolution, colourful but purposefully unglossy production, and Joe Strummer as the project’s spiritual advisor. A class piece of work, in every sense.
The Antidon’ts – We Reap What You Sow
This local Florida entry tops the year off with surf-vibed, crusted-skate vigour, dissatisfaction dissipated through punk rock chops. We Reap What You Sow also, almost single-handedly, does a good job of both pulling down the average age of the artists in my list (a bit at least) and holding my reputation as a local music journo-supporter intact. Keeping the dream alive.