The 10 Best Albums of July 2018

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The best albums of July 2018

Last month we took a bit of a break from our monthly best-of rundowns to offer up a list of our favorite albums of the year so far. We stopped at 31 arbitrarily (technically we miscounted, but who’d turn down a bonus album?), but the truth of the matter is that we could have kept on going, even if the number wasn’t nice and round (plus our editor was off on some glamorous vacation and couldn’t be bothered to whittle it down one further). Now that another month has passed, with a never-ending heatwave that makes us wonder where the sweat ends and we begin, we offer up another 10 of our favorites. July is historically not the most fertile month for new music—it’s the middle of festival season and a lot of labels save their prestige releases for the following three months. Still, we came up with 10 great releases, and now that we peruse these again, there’s technically 12. Somehow the mathematical challenge still evades us, but we soldier on in the name of good music. Here are the best albums of July 2018.

best albums of July 2018 ClearanceClearance – At Your Leisure


Chicago mainstays Clearance have been churning out undoubtedly delightful variations of all things indie rock for the past five years, and their latest release is their most concise and pleasant yet. Though often pigeonholed as admirable Malkmus imitators, Clearance have finally broken free from knee-jerk critiques and comparisons on At Your Leisure, following in the footsteps of all the right influence. In fact, Clearance’s latest is teeming with an number of stylistic predecessors, as the group adopts Coxian croons that soar over R.E.M. inspired melodies. At Your Leisure is a balanced and breezy listen; a sweet midsummer jangle pop treat. – Patrick Pilch

best albums of July 2018 The CradleThe Cradle – Bag of Holding

(NNA Tapes)

Paco Cathcart is currently New York City’s best kept secret; a prolific visionary on the cusp of long deserved recognition. Bag of Holding is his latest, and seems to be a turning point in the artist’s massive discography. The Dungeons and Dragons-referencing release encapsulates Cathcart’s M.O.—a style particularly dense, yet warmly inviting. Bag of Holding is a world within itself, operating at a pace so beneficial to the heft of each track, as transitions become focal moments in the lyrical and compositional drama. With the orchestral assistance of Sammy Weissberg and vocal backup from members of Palberta, The Cradle’s latest comes to life in one of the best post-modern folk records in recent memory. – Patrick Pilch

best albums of July 2018 DeafheavenDeafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love


What We Said: There’s a sense of freedom and limitlessness to Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, a feeling that however well-defined Deafheaven’s music once was, it’s no longer exclusively bound by those definitions. There’s also a bittersweetness about Clarke’s romanticism, just as on past albums when death and joy were often intertwined, just as the moments of sweetness and grace on their albums are frequently endpoints after periods of blistering harshness. The difference here is that Deafheaven is even more likely to let joy or mellifluous harmony stand alone, and there’s arguably nothing metal at all about that. Which doesn’t necessarily mean Deafheaven aren’t still metal, just that their definition of it continues to prove more fascinating and elusive the longer they play it. – Jeff Terich

best albums of july 2018 imperial triumphantImperial Triumphant – Vile Luxury


What We Said: As metal bands go, New York’s Imperial Triumphant are pretty weird. While so much of heavy music has already reached its limits on how to be extreme, Imperial Triumphant find different extremes on less-traveled terrain. They’re descended from the same freakish bloodline as Gorguts, balancing shifting time signatures with dissonant chord structures and seemingly out-of-nowhere bursts of melody and accessibility. And the presence of horns, piano and other acoustic instruments on Vile Luxury gives the strange feeling of an avant garde jazz band interloping on a session of particularly evil black metal. – Jeff Terich

The Internet Hive Mind review Album of the WeekThe Internet – Hive Mind


What We Said: Every member of The Internet gets their shining moment on Hive Mind—whether it’s Steve Lacy’s smooth vocals on the roller-rink bounce of “Roll (Burbank Funk)” or Patrick Paige’s affecting outro rap on “It Gets Better” or Lacy and Matt Martians sharing the mic on “Beat Goes On.” Hive Mind is proof that The Internet have always known what they were doing. They only broke down so they could build themselves back up even better. And they pulled it off. – Ben Dickerson

Jaye Jayle best albums of july 2018Jaye Jayle – No Trail and Other Unholy Paths

(Sargent House)

What We Said: Though the more overt heaviness of Young Widows, Evan Patterson’s other band, isn’t present throughout much of No Trail and Other Unholy Paths, it’s still a remarkably heavy set of songs. That comes in large part through the use of repetition and drone, Patterson and company turning what should be a comfortable groove into something more ominous and menacing. The longer the synths ooze, the guitars ring out or the saxophone squeals, the more dangerous these songs feel.- Jeff Terich

best albums of july 2018 loticLotic – Power

(Tri Angle)

What We Said: Much like footwork, Lotic focuses on the rhythm section. Where other producers use small samples and patches to build their songs, Lotic on songs like “The Warp and the Weft” seems beholden to girthy, unwieldy lengths of percussion, clipped and only sometimes repeated in challenging, almost irritating fashion. The melodies and noise present aren’t afterthoughts, but they’re certainly fighting for space. When they win, the results can range from fascinating (“Love and Light”) to magical (“Fragility”). More regularly they’re just intense—heavily processed, impenetrably knotty, unapologetically artistic and undanceable. Power brilliantly snowballs elements of bass music, R&B, and hip-hop into something large and dangerous enough to destroy them all. – Adam Blyweiss

Tony Molina Kill the Lights reviewTony Molina – Kill the Lights


What We Said: With Kill the Lights, Tony Molina doesn’t change the thing that makes his songs unique, nor what makes his songs so good for that matter. Rather, it’s an effort to reveal a different side of them, sometimes revealing their most barest elements and at other times adding new layers on top of them. They rarely need much to sound great, but when Molina goes for broke, he finds new avenues for expansion and growth, all without wasting precious vinyl real estate. – Jeff Terich

Nine Inch Nails Bad Witch review Album of the WeekNine Inch Nails – Bad Witch

(The Null Corp.)

What We Said: Overwhelming fear of repetition, in terms of past mistakes, current national disgraces and creative endeavors, has remained a focus of Nine Inch Nails for all of the project’s existence. That doesn’t change here. But what’s certain is that Reznor and Ross—to no small degree because of Ross, who can steer his bandmate in the right direction more than any other Reznor collaborator has managed to—aren’t repeating shit on Bad Witch. – Liam Green

Thou Rhea Sylvia reviewThou – The House Primordial/Inconsolable/Rhea Sylvia

(Robotic Empire/Community/Deathwish Inc.)

What We Said: This masterful trilogy of EPs has more than settled any worry about the creativity left in Baton Rouge sludge metal band Thou’s tank. Each installment more creative and engaging than the last, this is a wholly impressive trio of offerings—one droning, one stripped-down and one hard rocking—from a consistently impressive band. And there’s still one full-length left to go before the year’s over.- Laura Ansill

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