Staff Picks: Best Albums of 2018

2018 was an interesting year in the music world. Starting off with the loss of Dolores O’Riordan, of the Cranberries, in January, Kendrick Lamar receiving a Pulitzer Prize for his DAMN, to the loss of the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. Through it all,there have been some great releases this year, and I have managed to pull five out of my diverse playlist.

1.Fight the Fury Still Breathing: Anyone who knows me, shouldn’t be surprised by this choice. Being a huge fan of Skillet, it should come as no surprise that I would love the sideproject spearheaded by front man / bassist John Cooper, joined by Skillet guitarist Seth Morrison. Their energy is amped with the talent of Jared Wade on drums and John Panzer III on guitars. The energy created by these four gentlemen is amazing. The hard hitting, edgy guitars, and the raw emotion that comes throughin the lyrics, Cooper’s voice is almost primal in it’s sound. It is hard to pick a favorite on this five song EP, but my top three have to be “Still Breathing”,“My Demons” and “Dominate Me”.

2. Greta Van Fleet Anthem of the Peaceful Army: When I first heard Greta Van Fleet, last year, I wasn’t sure what to think about them. Like probably 90% of people out there, I thought I was hearing Zeppelin! After their 2nd song came out, I started to realize they had something new. With the release of their first full length album, it’s obvious that they are a breath of fresh air, with a touch of nostalgia that we all long for, but only a touch. I love that they seem to take a longer trip down the road they started, on their EP, and widen the possible destinations. The bluesy feel evokes that Zeppelin feel in many of the songs but they make it their own over different sections, almost like they’re owning the similarities but making sure that people know that they are their own band, with their own style. I love that. This is one band that will be great to watch for years to come! Songs to check out would be “When the Curtain Falls”and “Mountain of the Sun.”

3. Paul McCartney Egypt Station: This is one of the oddballs, I know. But, first off, I was raised on the Beatles and Wings, and was even named after a Beatles‘ song. Wings were one of my favorite things to listen to when I was little, so now it makes sense, right? Add to it, that this was Sir Paul’s first solo debut to #1, EVER, so it deserved a look! This album is a change of pace for him, and shows that even at almost 76 yrs. old, he has still got it! The songs on this album show that while he tries to blend more contemporary bits and pieces, into his work, like the song “Fuh You”, his best is when he is just himself. Don’t get me wrong,that song is nice, upbeat and fun, as is “Come on to Me”, but listen to“Despite Repeated Warnings” after those, and you see the genius behind “Elenore Rigby” come back. The same with the final track “Hunt You Down / Naked /C-Link”. Those are pure, and essential Macca. Now if only tickets to see him weren’t so astronomical, I’ve always wanted to take my dad to see him….

4. Crowder I Know A Ghost: Sit back friends, and let me tell you about an awesome guy named David Crowder. His blend of blues, folk, electronic and rock music is catching, toe-tapping and just down right fantastic. He calls it folktronica in a blog on his web page. Hailing from Texas and living in the Cabbagetown part of Atlanta, he has a great deal to draw from.  His lyrics are powerful, evidently how many modern worship services across the country, use some of his music.  “Hundred Miles” with its soft, melodic guitar, echoing vocals, the reverent tone increases at just the right time. Even a traditional church hymn is made new, almost whimsical with his treatment. “Wildfire” has the more rock sound that will definitely get your toes tapping. Crowder’s third solo effort is definitely another addition to my collection.

5. Switchfoot NativeTongue: Ok, I’m cheating a bit. Forgive me boss man! I am a big Switchfoot fan, have been for years. When I heard earlier this year that their hiatus was over, I was thrilled. They have released three songs off the new album, so I am including it in my 5. The rest is supposed to come out next month, so I can see how it may not count, but I can’t help myself! I even have the names of the rest of the songs… So, the three songs released are “Native Tongue,” “All I Need” and“Voices.” “Native Tongue” is by far my fave so far. The beat behind the lyrics is catchy and I can envision it being a crowd favorite at a show. “Voices” is another great one. A bit different, but not too out there. If these are any indication of the rest of the album, this could be one of the best Switchfoot albums since, oh, maybe Hello Hurricane (2009)!

  • Honorable Mentions to check out

I didn’t feel like these were honestly my faves, but worthy at least a check out cause they were close!

Halestorm Vicious

David Byrne American Utopia

Florence & the Machine High as Hope

  • Upcoming I’m watching for in 2019

       –Skillet!

       – Rest of Switchfoot’s Native Tongue

       –Duran Duran (yes, I am an 80’s Duranie…. unapologetically)

By Contributing Photographer/Writer Michele Hancock

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