The Best Albums of October 2018

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We can almost see 2019 from where we are now—its glow is cresting over the horizon and soon we’ll be bathed in its rays. But before we get there, we have to basically go through a year’s worth of music to try to make sense of what it all means. What stood out most? What was the prevailing trend? What rose above it all? We haven’t figured that all out yet, but with the best of the year coming sooner than we anticipated, we’re at least giving one last look over the past month of music to review what was good. And there was a lot that was good: post-hardcore, indie folk trios, innovative jazz/electronic hybrids, plus the returns of a couple divas we’ve been waiting on for a while. Here are the 10 best albums of October 2018.

Boygenius essential trackBoygenius – Boygenius EP


Well, of course a trio comprising singer/songwriters Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus would be great. Individually each of these young artists stands among the best indie artists of recent years, each of their recent full-lengths endlessly replayable, gorgeous and affecting. Together, they form a similarly breathtaking whole, their combined strengths complementing one another as they each take turns guiding songs such as the heartbreaking “Me & My Dog” or the more bitter “Bite the Hand.” Though only six tracks long, Boygenius’ debut EP offers proof that massive talents can complement rather than compete with one another, and suggests that there’s something even greater in their future. – Jeff Terich

Cloud Nothings Last Burning Building review Album of the WeekCloud Nothings – Last Burning Building


What We Said: Comprising eight songs, just like the band’s two most celebrated albums, Last Burning Building is a study in energy and momentum. At no point do Cloud Nothings ever slow down, nor do they bother interrupting the steady stream of harsh guitar riffs in favor of a gentler or more lush arrangement. There are no pianos or horns here, no acoustic guitars or backing choirs, and it’s telling that Randall Dunn (Wolves in the Throne Room, Earth) is the one behind the boards. There’s not even anything remotely resembling a ballad, which is perhaps true of every Cloud Nothings to an extent, but here it’s both exhilarating and exhausting just listening to them. It’s hard to wear out a sound’s welcome when it moves so fast and hits so hard, the group delivering one relentless anthem after another in around 35 minutes total. – Jeff Terich

Neneh Cherry Broken Politics review Album of the WeekNeneh Cherry – Broken Politics

(Smalltown Supersound)

What We Said: That Cherry references social justice flashpoints with few specific calls to action, or asks existential questions with no easy answers for her or anyone, can be a frustrating thing to hear. It’s clear, however, that she shares in that frustration and recognizes the apprehension in saying “I don’t know” when asked what happens now, or even next. Neneh Cherry has never not seemed powerful, independent, or otherwise woke, but Broken Politics is a beautiful, uncomfortable meditation on activism and self-awareness in the face of a lost compass.- Adam Blyweiss

Daughters essential trackDaughters – You Won’t Get What You Want


Rhode Island’s Daughters split at the peak of their powers at the tail end of the ’00s, just before delivering their standout self-titled album—one they didn’t get a chance to promote and take on the road as it deserved. But eight years later, they’ve re-emerged a renewed and much more versatile band, one whose noise-rock grind has been transformed into atmospheric post-rock, dancefloor-friendly industrial and plenty of abrasive intensity throughout. They’ve never written a set of songs this good, but it’s still reassuring to know they’re capable of slathering these songs in plenty of nasty, uncomfortable effects. – Jeff Terich

best albums of October 2018 Fond HanFond Han – Wronked

(Exploding In Sound)

Following the brief and brawny Sham Cloud, Fond Han implode for Wronked, the band’s sprawlingly ambitious and beautifully executed sophomore effort. The record is unshrinking and dense, containing fluid movements that stretch, repurpose and continue to mutate the project’s sonic perspective. Confusion and clamor advance and recede through the album’s revolving door of accessibility, turning Wronked into a series of works of varying approachability. Tracks like “Twelve” and “Dumpty” serve as melodic checkpoints for listeners navigating through the thalassic swell of “Wronk” and “Ughed,” proving a full album spin to be most rewarding. Wronked is nuanced and bold, best suited for ruminative, repeated listening. – Patrick Pilch

Fucked Up Dose Your Dreams reviewFucked Up – Dose Your Dreams


What We Said: Like David Comes to Life, Dose Your Dreams features 18 tracks, and it’s similarly overwhelming, its lengthy progression of sounds unfolding as if constructed like a mixtape of 18 different bands. And that’s not out of character for Fucked Up; before the release of David, for instance, they released a “compilation” titled David’s Town in which they played the part of a series of fictional punk bands named Redstockings, Gacy and the Boys and the like. That eclecticism permeates every corner of Dose Your Dreams, juxtaposing moments like the dark prog-punk chug of “Torch to Light” against the swirling psychedelia of “Talking Pictures.” And the classic Fucked Up joyful menace returns in “House of Keys,” while one track later on the title track, they’re indulging in a string-laden disco funk. Is it weird? Absolutely. Do they pull it off? Indeed they do, though it’s about here when the question raises itself: What kind of band exactly is Fucked Up now? Not that it’s ultimately all that important when the band are delivering a number of remarkable songs. – Jeff Terich

Julia Holter Aviary reviewJulia Holter – Aviary


What We Said: Amid the external and internal horrors that Holter navigates are some of the prettiest, most expansive songs she’s ever written. Over time she’s grown closer to the art-pop abstractions of Björk, and though Aviary exists in its own tonal and compositional space, the connection is undeniable in a track like “Another Dream,” rife with twinkling acoustic elements and disorienting electronic edits. The diversity of the material shows a great deal of playful growth on Holter’s part, however. She delivers dreamy, fractured pop with cartoon timpani on “Underneath the Moon,” dystopian synth landscapes on “Colligere,” eerie drones on “I Would Rather See” and even a marching post-punk darkness on “Whether.” – Jeff Terich

10-26-makaya-mccravenMakaya McCraven – Universal Beings

(International Anthem)

What We Said: Universal Beings creates a solid foundation through the efforts of some of jazz’s best performers of the moment. Yet it’s just a starting point, McCraven after the fact taking these live-recorded sessions and re-editing them into four seamless, side-long suites that represent not only different aspects of contemporary jazz but different moods and approaches as well. As flawed an idea as it might be to try to encapsulate a wide-ranging sampling of contemporary jazz all in one 2xLP collection might be, McCraven ably pulls it off by not only working with the kinds of musicians capable of giving dynamite performances but by curating the end result and packaging it in such a way that it’s more conceptually streamlined than four free-flowing jazz sessions might otherwise be. – Jeff Terich

Robyn Honey reviewRobyn – Honey


What We Said: Honey tackles the immediacy of Robyn’s life, and in that vein she’s also filled it with music about the music she loves. It’s a very-meta thread spun throughout the album by DJ tours, nights she partied at specific clubs, as well as in-progress studio work with the likes of Joseph Mount (Metronomy), Mr. Tophat, and Kindness. “Send to Robin Immediately,” for example, isn’t just the song title but the instruction Kindness used to label its production stems for her. The resulting 41 minutes of electronica are decidedly post-disco, even anti-disco—dance-pop intersected with blue-eyed soul. Honey wears the trappings of house but it’s just Balearic, and has no illusions of being a nonstop party. – Adam Blyweiss

Unknown Mortal Orchesta IC-01 HANOI reviewUnknown Mortal Orchestra – IC-01 Hanoi


What We Said: It’s not necessarily a gateway free-jazz record nor a rival anything by the late drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson or the late guitarist Sonny Sharrock. Yet it’s galaxies from a redux of Sting shutting down The Police back in the day, opting to record with serious jazz musicians rendering a cheerful and bright pop record-with jazz adjacent moves. No. IC-01HANOI, born out of live jam sessions during the Sex & Food recording sessions, are revelatory avant-garde expressions coming from a diametrically opposed creative department in the UMO audioverse. – John-Paul Shiver

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