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Unwrapping December music; wrapping up the year

Bands gave us gifts in last month – indietronica, alt, pop and more

Remember December 2018? It was a great month. Good times. Seems so long ago.

The rest of you have moved on to 2019, but not me, man. I’m still listening to last year’s music. So 2018.

Mostly, that’s because there’s been very little new rock music released so far in 2019. A handful of singles. A few EPs. A release of old DEVO “B-Sides & More.” Wait, DEVO?! So 1978. And so, so good.

It’s not like December was full of new releases, either. Decembers are always quiet musically, other than the dusting off of those favorite holiday albums and playlists. Can you dust off a playlist?

But one gets busy around the holidays, and thus the attention to music wanes a bit. Even for me.

I listened to and graded only 23 records in December, and about half of those were from earlier in 2018. You see, even people like me miss out on new releases. Many of them. Part of the joy of December music listening is culling others’ “best of the year” lists and discovering well-hidden gems.

Like the wonderful, relentless tune “Deathmask,” by British indietronica band The Longcut. I discovered that song and the band’s 2018 album, “Arrows,” through a Twitter mention by another band with one of 2018’s best records, We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Yes, indietronica is a thing. And, yes, We Were Promised Jetpacks is a band.

Some other good stuff from earlier in the year I discovered through the music website Travellers Tunes. Its “Best of 2018” list introduced me to some cool stuff from British alt artists The Blinders, 485c, The Lovely Eggs and She Drew The Gun.

And, of course, there were some new releases that struck a chord in December. Appropriately, The Decemberists released a solid EP, “Traveling On.” Smallpools cranked out yet another strong, catchy, poppy release, the EP “So Social.” And the northern California band Facing New York put out its first record in 10 years, “Dogtown,” which was among my top 100 for the year.

There were also some good tunes from The Raconteurs, Martha, Art Brut and others. You can check out all of these bands and more on my last playlist of 2018, created in 2019, which I have linked in this story on the website.

And that’s a wrap on 2018. Time to live in the moment. Hey, 2019, how ya doin’?


Jeff Rogers is a former Editor for Sauk Valley Media and current director of the Illinois Press Foundation. You can reach him at

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