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A Dose of hardcore among the cream of 2018's musical crop

Former SVM reporter picks his top tunes of the year

F***ed Up's “Dose Your Dreams”  landed the top spot on Christopher Heimerman's list of best music of 2018.
F***ed Up's “Dose Your Dreams” landed the top spot on Christopher Heimerman's list of best music of 2018.

Over my rapidly approaching 40 years, music has enabled me to be my best friend one day, my worst enemy the next - or hell, maybe that’s morning to afternoon. When I was 14, I made one of the best/worst discoveries of my life: “August and Everything After” by The Counting Crows. As I slowly, painstakingly came to grips with the depression so deeply rooted in my family tree, Adam Duritz and Co. never made me feel about it. But boy, it felt cathartic to exacerbate it, to think someone could write music that sounded like I felt.

I hadn’t even been introduced to my favorite artist of all-time, the enormously/magnetically tortured Elliott Smith. That was years later, during college. But hey, during college, I also listened to a ton of The Libertines, the Arctic Monkeys, their tunes the anthems of many a night in the city.

As obnoxious, overbearing and, Lord only knows, ample these end-of-year lists are, if you’re remotely interested in doing it yourself, I highly recommend it. Because the same way a tremendous album will always be more significant than a prolific single, let’s zoom out a little further - you can sort of look at each year in music as a body of work, too.

My favorite albums of 2018 will bring me back to the times I laughed, and hurt, the hardest this year. They’ll transport me to the most memorable places we’ve visited, to my favorite moments with people

2018 will go down as the year that brought together three enormous talents, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers in supergroup boygenious. Sadly, 2018 will also be the year I spent weeks mourning the loss of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison. OK, let’s be real. Similar to with Elliott Smith and all the other tortured artists I’m drawn toward, I’ll never stop mourning Scott. Cruel as it feels, at least we got an all-too-brief glimpse of his new sort-of-supergroup, Mastersystem.

Yeah, there’s a lot of shoddy music out there, more of it available than ever before. But if anyone ever tells you the music industry isn’t glorious these days, that it’s oversaturated, slap them across their pretty-but-misguided face. Besides, this is where we come in, to help you sort out the rubbish and form your own compilation, your own album of the year.

Here’s mine:

1) F***ed Up - “Dose Your Dreams”: Jesus Christ, Abraham. And Haliechuk. And your band of merry misfits. Just when I’d thought the 2011 album that was sheer rapture for me, your hardcore-art-band’s opus “David Comes to Life,” was the peak of this particular ensemble’s greatness, you drop this.

I knew from the very intro, a single-note-at-a-time piano ambling reminiscent of the outset of “David,” I might be in for something. Sho’ ‘nuff, this album, checking in at 90 minutes of greatness, was as marvelous, as gripping as “David.”

If you don’t like Abraham’s guttural vocals, you’re better-poised to love this album than you would have been for “David.” Abraham only “sings” on about half the tracks. He has given the mic over to Heliechuk and, while the band has always employed numerous guest vocalists, it’s taken to the next level on “Dose Your Dreams.”

It’s a concept album, and many critics get caught up in the narrative. If you’re ambitious, follow suit. If you just want to rock out and enjoy one of the strangely best-tuned groups on the planet, do exactly that.

From the best song of 2018, “Normal People,” to the 90s-esque, grungy tune “The One I Want Will Come For Me,” and the Pink Floyd dead-ringer “Two I’s Closed,” the album has so much more to offer than adrenaline-juiced Abraham-led mosh tunes – although those (“None of Your Business Man” and “Accelerate,” notably) are as great as ever.  Timing has so much to do with which albums we love, which ones take longer to grow on us. Fucked Up continues to hit my ribcage at precisely the right times, for which I’m eternally grateful. Hear: Best song of 2018 “Normal People”

2) Jeff Rosenstock - “Post-”: God bless you, Mr. Rosenstock. You came so close to doing something that’s gotta be unprecedented: holding the title of best album of the year, wire-to-wire. “Post-”, a mostly unhinged assault on President Donald Trump, was the best gift the music industry ever unwrapped on New Year’s Day.

It nearly falls off the stage several times in ruckus anthems such as “USA” (featuring the #1 misheard lyric of 2018, a crowd’s chant of “Et tu, USA! Et tu, et tu USA!”) and “Yr Throat”, but in “TV Stars” settles in like a drunk’s moment of clarity to compare Rosenstock playing the role of hack on piano to Trump’s resume leading up to election: “I can’t play piano all that well/Like I’m fine, I can get away with it/If I’m acting like I’m drunk on stage, and you’re surprised that I’m playing anything/ I’ll get away with it/I’ll get away with it.”

If that doesn’t draw a straight enough line, here’s the refrain: “TV stars don’t care about who you are.” The modern DIY punk scene savior/pioneer, ever since he beat Thom Yorke to the punch in letting fans pay what they wanted for albums released by his previous bands, Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Bomb the Music Industry!, has been a galvanizing force for many years.

He continued his pay-what-you-want policy with “Post-”, which appropriately wraps up by unifying the masses with a phrase that sticks in your head with its simplicity and its catchy melody: “We’re not gonna let them win.” Hear: “USA”

3) Car Seat Headrest - “Twin Fantasy”: A couple of my top-10 albums come with an asterisk. Will Toledo, better known as Car Seat Headrest, before his breakout albums “Teens of Style” in 2015 and Teens of Denial in 2016, released “Twin Fantasy.” I’m told it wasn’t good, and clearly Toledo agreed, so he completely re-recorded it.

Good move, clearly.

The album showcases Toledo’s signature mixture of self-doubt and willingness to crack wise about it. No one can make adolescent heartbreak and suburban ennui sound so brutal, yet so compelling. It’s clear these tunes were penned early in young Toledo’s career, as some of the tracks fail to differentiate from one another.

But this is a guy who wrote and released more music in a few years than most bands do in a career, so we’ll give him a pass if some of this incredible music is a touch redundant, sonically. Hear: The runner-up for best song of the year, “Nervous Young Inhumans”

4) Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s - “Animal”: Here’s the other asterisk. Imagine if folk rock and the classic Radiohead album “The Bends” had a baby, and you’ll come away with Margot (borrowed from the “Royal Tennenbaums” character) and the Nuclear So and So’s.

Ten years ago, the band and its monster label, Epic, disagreed on which version of an album recorded in seclusion should be released. The band preferred “Animal,” but Epic wanted to release “not animal.” So after a limited release because of the impasse, both albums were re-released this year, and are available on vinyl again for the first time in a decade.

There are five common songs on the albums, and it was pretty easy to decide with whom I said. I’m with the band – predominantly because of two songs right at its heart, the companion tracks, “Mariel’s Brazen Adventure” and “There’s Talk of Mine Shafts.” The former opens with a reflection on a failed relationship, the man confessing he wasn’t faithful, hence he has a son he’s never met. The track goes back in time to the best season of love, a bouncy recollection of a joyful road trip. Just as your can taste the cigarettes and the alcohol they pass back and forth, the track nosedives into the worst season of love: “Mariel, someone is beating you up/The house is beginning to crumble/The day’s on fire.” Right there, in the middle of a morning shootaround on the basketball court, I cried the first time I heard it. “Lightning Rod” is another highlight, but none of the songs miss. It’s a masterpiece. Hear: “Marie’s Brazen Adventure.”

5) The Beths - “Future Me Hates Me”: This is what I’m talking about. This album is like a great novel. I was hooked from the infectious opening track, “Great No One,” and through the closer, “Less Than Thou,” it’s just flat-out steady. As is the case in many albums I love, introspective, critical lyrics dripping with insecurity and self-doubt are ironically wrapped in upbeat tunes. The guitar work is excellent and in a year dominated by female vocalists, Elizabeth Stokes’ voice is my favorite. No matter how she feels about it, the New Zealand band’s debut has me certain future me will love their future projects. Hear: “Die a Little Death”

6) Mastersystem - “Mastersystem”: It cracks my top 10 for sentimental reasons, but it also happens to be a kickass rock album. It’s obviously a major bummer to think this was just the tip of the iceberg of this supergroup made up by the late Scott Hutchinson on guitar and vocals, his kid brother, Grant, on drums, Justin Lockey of Editors on guitar, and James Lockey of Minor Victories on bass. But I’m grateful we got a glimpse of what might have been. If you’d told me this was the quartet’s fourth or fifth album, I’d have believed you. It’s tight. It flows. It rocks from the outset, only taking a breather from headbanging during “Teething,” and even during that track, you can feel intensity percolating, waiting to bust loose like a geyser. The ruckus chorus in “Must Try Harder” is sort of the lament of every love-deprived teenager, every person who emerges from adolescence, only to end up a fish in a bigger body of water who knows far less than they thought: “Brace, brace/I must try harder in every way/Try to embrace the change.” The foreshadowing of Hutchison’s suicide is palpable as he sings “I used to want to fly, but now I don’t” in the opener “Proper Home.” That metaphor is obviously revisited in the closer, “Bird is Bored of Flying.” R.I.P., Scott. Thanks for yet another great album. Hear: “Notes on a Life Not Quite Lived”

7) Mitski - “Be the Cowboy”: I actually slightly preferred her 2016 album, “Puberty 2,” which says something about just how good that one was. It’s probably because I never forget the first time I hear an artist like Mitski, who has such incredible command of every musical phrase, every moment of her albums. The distortion-buoyed “Your Best American Girl” remains one of my favorite songs of all time, and she’s toned it on “Be the Cowboy.” It’s jam-packed with great characters in tough spots, from the gorgeously hair-raising opening track “Geyser” to the haunting, repeated final refrain in the closing track, “Two Slow Dancers”: “We’re two slow dancers, last ones out.” The album title isn’t just a clever name, either, as she injects a country-Western feel to several of the tracks. And disco? Because why not disco. She’s Mitski. She does what she wants. And we all win, every two years she graces us with an LP. Hear: “Geyser”

8) Snail Mail - “Lush”: Honesty is the best policy, right? Transparency is all the rage? You’re going to get both from Lindsey Jordan. She’s a rare, fast-rising talent who, at age 18, doesn’t code how she’s feeling about love, defeat and restlessness with the world in which she’s living. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a classically trained guitarist. It’s an album you’ll want to live with a bit, and I advise getting yourself to a place where you can hear, and feel, every lyric. Hear: “Stick”

9) Cursive - “Vitriola”: At last, Tim Kasher took a break from beating up on himself to beat up on President Donald Trump.

Kasher has spearheaded a couple of lackluster albums with The Good Life and solo in the six years since Cursive’s last album, the heady-but-massively-disappointing “I Am Gemini,” and in the past 12 since its last truly great album, “Happy Hollow.” Accustomed to holding a magnifying glass over everyday ants such as domestication and substance abuse, an act that got tired (and you could hear even Kasher getting disinterested), he’s returned to his heart-gripping form and joined the litany of artists who have published their anxiety and abhorrence in regards to our commander in chief.

The album has recaptures Kasher and Co.’s ability to shift seamlessly from gritty dissonance (“It’s Gonna Hurt”) to jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching beauty (“Remorse), an agility unheard since 2003’s “The Ugly Organ.” Throw (back) in the group’s haunting use of cello and a series of clips that sound like unnerving noises from a haunted house, carefully woven throughout, and for me there isn’t a better comeback album from 2018. Hear: “It’s Gonna Hurt”

10) Arctic Monkeys - “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”: OK, where the hell did this come from? Don’t get me wrong. I like it. A lot. But it took two passes and several looks back at my Spotify app to make sure I was, in fact, listening to the same band that’s carved out a legacy by blowing the roof off the club, urging us to dance, laugh, think, and headbang simultaneously.

Now here we are, feet up, swirling the tunes in our proverbial mouths to pick up all the notes in this proverbial vintage. They often seem floral, but strip away the lovely harmonies, the airtight, brilliant musical bed tracks, and the lyrics are super-dark. See: Alex Turner crooning in “Four Out of Five”: “Come and stay with us/No, it’s such an easy flight/Cute new places keep on popping up/Around Clavius, it’s all getting gentrified/I put a taqueria on the moon/It got rave reviews/Four stars out of five.” It’s unmistakably Turner. Can’t mistake that voice. But written on an upright piano, it’s such a curveball. But hot damn, it’s a good curveball. Like 2018 Jhoulys Chacin good. Hear: Title track, “Four Out of Five”

11) Lucy Dacus - “Historian”: It’s among the most compelling albums of the year, exhibited by the lay-it-all-out-there lyrics on the initial track, “Night Shift”: “The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit, I had a coughing fit/I mistakenly called them by your name/I was let down, it wasn’t the same.” When, around the 4:30 mark of the 6-minute, 30-second opening track, she drop-kicks the monitor and brings in her band’s full force, you gather Dacus isn’t to be taken lightly.

What a year she’s had (see: my Number 14 entry).  “Historian” is also the very-steadiest album of 2018. There are worse things an artist can be knocked for, obviously, but the fact that the album is so steady, so consistently good, has a lulling effect for me. Hear: “Night Shift”

12) Hop Along - “Bark Your Head Off, Dog”: Misogeny. Drugs. Neglect. Misunderstanding never cleared up. The cruel sands of time. There’s a lot of heady stuff addressed on Hop Along’s third album, but none of it would pop if Frances Quinlan weren’t singing it.

Don’t get me wrong. The lyrics are fantastic. But I’d listen to Quinlan, with her raspy, heartfelt voice, sing the phone book. It’s especially endearing when she tries to keep it hushed in “Not Abel,” as she sings “Not one word of all the time they spent growing up brothers/Even love, yes, even love, yes, even lose, something to lose.” Moments later, she’s turning loose her incomparable growl.

She does so again in “What the Writer Meant,” featuring the heartbreaking line “God is the One Who Changed.” It’s followed a surprising appearance by a violin for color. The album is loaded with great guitar work, and despite the heady subject matter addressed, songs such as “Somewhere a Judge” and “Fox in Motion” are danceable and fun. Hear: “What the Writer Meant”

13) Father John Misty - “God’s Favorite Customer”: Honestly, I’d love this album so much more if it certain passages didn’t resonate so loudly, so painfully.

For some reason, when Elliott Smith brings us along to helplessly stare into the abyss, it’s endearing. Maybe it’s because of how brutally honest Josh Tillman is that when he sings such a literal refrain as, “Hey, I’m worried about you/You’re too much to lose/You’re all that I have, so please don’t die” that it hits home that this is more than art, that hundreds of thousands will again next year.

His captivating voice and ability to turn a phrase, reminiscent of Sir Elton John during his prime, remains unmatched among male singers.

But the fact that I avoid this album because of how its poignance hits me right between the ribs keeps it an arm’s length from my top 10. Hey, that’s why these lists are advisory: They’re subjective, hinging on how each album affects everyone. Hear: “Mr. Tillman”

14) boygenius - “boygenius”: The last thing these insanely talented fast-risers wants me to bring up first is that they’re women. Tough noogies. Maybe they shouldn’t be so talented – how ‘bout that?

Maybe if they weren’t women, those incredible harmonies wouldn’t make all the hairs on my arms stand up. What’s most incredible is that the boygenius triumvirate works so well. So many supergroups are never as good as the some of their parts. In “boygenius,” the lead microphone is graciously handed around, and when the vocals are layer, woven together, echoing one another, it’s pure magic.

No doubt, 2018 was a monster year for the women of music in general, and the indie rock sector was no exception. It’s pretty wild to think of how high the ceiling is for these three, especially with their willingness and ability to collaborate. Hear: “Stay Down”

15) Nine Inch Nails - “Bad Witch”: Technically an EP, if I’d had to wrap it in with the first two installments of what’s really an LP broken up over three installments (“Not the Actual Events” and “Add Violence were released in 2016 and 2017, respectively), this wouldn’t have cracked my top 25. “Bad Witch” on its own as a six-track assault on our president is brilliant, its leadoff track “Shit Mirror” the best running tune of the year, in my opinion.

When an unnervingly simple three-chord guitar riff joins the maddeningly repeated phrase of “New world, new time, mutation, fells all right,” that’s some vintage Trent Reznor magic. Seconds later, the album seamlessly slides into “Ahead of Ourselves,” which explodes from a minute of low-fi, “The Downward Sprial”-eque feel into the still-lo-fi but screams (both vocals/synth) of “Obsolete, insifnificant/Antiquated, irrelevant/Celebration of ignorance/Why try change when you know you can’t.”

The next track, my favorite literal title on the album, “Play the Goddamned Part,” is an instrumental descent into madness, featuring a rotate-your-head-90-degrees piano arpeggio that cycles relentlessly in the background (often nearly inaudible and a haunting horn section – cool stuff, man). Throw in unmistakable shades of Bowie in “God Break Down the Door,” and I’m all in. Hear: “S*** Mirror”

16) Young Jesus - “The Whole Thing is Just There”: I’ll be surprised if this makes Jeff Rogers’ top 100. Not only does dude listen to a ton of albums, but he weeds out the ones that feature tracks that lose him. Down spots, we call them.

On the whole, Young Jesus is an emo jam band (hello, they’re on the Saddle Creek label). So there’s a lot of noise exploration, which takes patience. But with regularity on this album, good things come to those who wait: gorgeous harmonies reminiscent of Beirut, and simple, heartbreaking phrases such as “I won’t see you anymore” on “For Nana.” The lyric emerges from the veritable mist and vamps the listener into nostalgic Nirvana.

Yes, the album is six songs. It’s not an EP, though. Not when it wraps up with the 21-minute jam that is “Gulf.” Six tracks was just perfect, guys. Hear: “Saganism vs. Buddhism”

17) Tierra Whack - “Whack World”: I’m not a rap guy, apart from my affinity for the Twin Cities’ Doomtree artists (see: next entry). I grow weary of drawn-out albums that lean on beats and samples, rather than people playing actual instruments.

“Whack World” is the antithesis of drawn-out, each of its tracks checking in at exactly one minute. Best of all, it doesn’t feel gimmicky. It feels well-orchestrated. That said, I’ll gladly admit the rapid-fire nature of the album is why I’ve revisited it a couple of times. It never had the opportunity to lose my attention. It’s clever, varied, and includes a spot-on impression of a hillbilly lamenting how a near-lover reminds her of her dead-beat dad.

For such a short album, there’s a ton of substance here. Hear: “Bugs Life”  

18) Four Fists - “6666”: P.O.S. is one of my favorite artists. The best description I’ve heard of his style is rap you can skateboard to. Four Fists is a collaboration with P.O.S. and fellow Doomtree artist Astronautalis, who’ve been making guest appearances on each other’s albums for more than a decade.

The full-length tag-team effort is best listened to in its entirety – even better, during a cardio workout. The beats are cold, and the chemistry between the longtime collaborators is glaring. Hear: “Dork Court”

19) Field Music - “Open Here”: Here was a pleasant surprise. I admit I’ve never gotten into Field Music, but this album hooked me. “Count it Up,” an anthem clearly influenced by the great Brian Eno, stopped me dead in its tracks when it reminded me of all the things I take for granted. The title track is a Beatles-esque beauty, and the album from front to back is flat-out captivating. Hear: “Count it Up.”

20) Antarctigo Vespucci - “Love in the Time of Email”: Welcome to the guilty pleasure portion of my list. As I’ve alluded to, one of my favorite parts of this whole album-ranking thing is discovering artists. Then I get to go into their back catalogue. The most recent LP is littered with influences I love: Los Campesinos, Albert Hammond Jr., Motion City Soundtrack, Vampire Weekend and the like.

But I loved the 2015 LP Leavin’ La Vida Loca, even more, as it was glaringly influenced by one of my favorite bands. The Weakerthans. Comparisons aside, this album moves. It’s upbeat and fun and a nice vacation from thinking too hard about the words. Sometimes we just want to hear a love song for exactly what it is, without needing a decoder ring, amirite? Hear: “Breathless on DVD”

21) Joyce Manor - “Million Dollars to Kill Me”: It’s not that I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. It’s just that I usually reserve the term for mainstream music, which Joyce Manor is not for some reason, no matter how accessible the quartet’s music gets. The band’s 10-song, 19-minute sing-alongfest “Never Hungover Again” from 2014 was the most efficient album in recent memory, and so immediately lovable. After the 2016 letdown, too grown-up LP “Cody,” Joyce Manor returns to its delightfully juvenile 2014 form. Hear: “Big Lie”

22) Cloud Nothings - “Last Building Burning”: If you loved the band’s 2017 album, “Life Without Sound,” and are looking for more of the same, you might be let down. Personally, I love both albums (and the band’s whole catalogue) equally, but for different reasons. Whereas “Life Without Sound” was peppered with singles, “Last Building Burning” reverts to the band’s more raw days, as a relentless attack on your ear drums rather an any semblance of preoccupation with hooks.

The only radio-friendly tune in the mix is “Leave Him Now,” and I personally respect a band that’s capable, let alone willing, to revert to less accessible tunes, in the spirit of being true to its art. Hear: “So Right So Clean”

23) How to Dress Well - “The Anteroom”: Josh Krell’s voice is extraordinary. When it’s not enveloped in digital effects, it’s hard to think of another in the music scene that’s so beautifully fragile, so willingly vulnerable. Through those effects, though (so many moments on this album feel like a page straight out of my top album of 2016, Bon Iver’s auto-tune-heavy “22, a Million”), each track is like a puzzle within a puzzle of an album - each aching to be fit together.

But it takes time, relistenings, and perhaps most imporant, the right, distraction-free setting, so you can pick up each carefully crafted nuance. Hear: “Vacant Boat”

24) Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers - “Bought to Rot”: Love Against Me!? You’ll enjoy LJG&TDM, perhaps as much as Grace does. Outspokenly transgender, Grace took a timeout from being an LGBTQ champion, which has more or less, fair or not, become the defining characteristic of Against Me!.

Her side project doesn’t pave any new roads, necessarily, but it’s just so doggone enjoyable - particularly the hilarious track “I Hate Chicago,” in which she attacks every iconic aspect of the Windy City, only toward the end of the song revealing the key reason for the insults: “I especially hate Bridgeport, ‘cause that’s where she lives.” Should have seen that coming, yeah? Hear: “I Hate Chicago”

25) Speedy Ortiz - “Twerp Verse”: This album doesn’t necessarily set Speedy aside, but holy smokes, is she steady in her work. Both ironically and unfortunately, her tendencies toward the atonal, while a tribute to her musical acumen (or perhaps ambivalence), become somewhat predictable. If that’s a thing.

If this all makes sense, the moment a song settles into a recognizable chord progression, you know she’s going to turn it upside-down. A cool act for a while, but eventually the unpredictable becomes, well, predictable.

26) Courtney Barnett - “Tell Me How You Really Feel”: Far more reserved than her breakout 2015 album “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit,” her new LP is still laced with snark, but just far more toned down. Some of us grow up and settle down faster than others, I guess. Hear: “Need a Little Time”

27) Restorations - “LP5000”: Love Bruce Springsteen, or his other contemporaries, such as The Gaslight Album and The Hold Steady? If so, this one goes out to you. Hear: “The Red Door”

28) Soccer Mommy - “Clean”: Don’t listen while sleepy. A gorgeous album chock full of painfully poignant analogies, its heart rate doesn’t seem to exceed 80 beats per minute. Hear: “Blossom (Wasting All My Time)”

29) Dirty Projectors - “Lamp Lit Prose”: The timeless, odd sound of this band is always a joy to rejoin whenever it releases a new album. Hear: “Break-Thru”

30) Superorganism - “Superorganism”: If you love either sample-happy dance groups such as The Avalanches, or hot takes on online communities, I strongly recommend Superorganism. Hear: “Nobody Cares”

31) Alice Bag - “Blueprint”. If you have any room in your heart for femme-rock, you’ll want to make lots more for pop-punk Alice Bag, who makes Cat Power look tame at times. Hear: “77”

32) Noname - “Room 25”. When rappers yell and spew obscenities, I tune out. Perhaps that’s why I love the Chicago rapper’s chilled-out flow and preference of intellect over shock. Very cool, soulful album. Hear: “Blaxpoloitation”

33) IDLES - “Joy As an Act of Resistance”: It took me three listens to come around on what many put among the year’s best albums. I still need to be in the right space to appreciate it – like on a treadmill. Hear: “Never Fight a Man With a Perm”

34) Low - “Double Negative”: It’s been a minute since we’ve brought up the Donald, yeah? Well, this household name of a slowcore band never lets him, or the America he represents, out of its sights. Hear: “Always Trying to Work It Out”

35) Okkervil River - “In the Rainbow Rain”: Will Sheff and company continue to put whimsical, upbeat-sounding melodies to dark, albeit everyday subjects – you know, like famous people who’ve had tracheotomies, as featured in the opening track … wait for it … “Famous Tracheotomies.” Hear: “Love Somebody”

36) The 1975 - “A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships”. The British band seemingly comes of age in its most ambitious effort. Just do me a favor guys, and ease up on the auto-tune. Hear: “I Like America & America Likes Me”

37) Adrianne Lenkner - “abyskiss”: I simply can’t get enough of Big Thief, and its singer really cuts to the bone with this collection of tunes surrounding loss and trauma. Hear: “10 miles”

38) Art Brut - “Wham Bang Pow Let’s Rock Out”: Sometimes, you’ve just gotta crank up something unabashedly fun-loving. Hear: “She Kissed Me (and It Felt Like a Hit)”

39) J Mascis - “Elastic Days”. Whodathunkit, that the Dinosaur Jr. frontman would become a folk-rock hero? While the iconic indie-rock band has unexpectedly re-emerged in the past decade, Mascis has set himself apart on his own, as a master of the unplugged open book. Hear: “See You at the Movies”

40) Albert Hammond Jr. - “Francis Trouble”: It’s time to stop referring to Hammond as the former The Strokes bassist. Clearly the force behind that group sets himself apart in an eerie way with a concept album about his twin sister, who lost her life in utero. Hear: “Tea for Two”

Christopher Heimerman is a former SVM reporter and current editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at

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