Staff Picks: Best Albums of 2018

Best of year albums always strike me as a little odd. I always wonder how many of the “Top 50” albums of 2018 critics have actually listened to completely enough to differentiate between numbers 47 and 48, or even 30 and 31? It’s just a crap shoot. Well, for I’m Music Magazine, I’m providing you with my top 5 albums released in 2018. Albums will include EPs because, much of the best music I’ve heard this year was released on EPs. What you won’t see on this list are any “big name” artist’s new music because frankly, I didn’t find anything noteworthy on any of these “established” acts music.  That being said here goes:

5. Secrets in the Sunset Goodbye June:  This follow-up to Magic Valley showed a bit of a new side from the Nashville cousins and it worked. The single from the EP was “Live in the Now” and we reviewed it extensively and found it to be exactly what you’d want from the band. Secrets in the Sunset see the band taking on some familiar territory and really starting to mold their sound.

4. 28 Days in the Valley Dorothy: My prediction is this band will explode in 2019. I see them kind of in similar place Great Van Fleet was about a year ago. 28 Days is an amazing album that brings back and updates part of the Haight-Ashbury sound of Jefferson Starship, a little Grateful Dead and others from the golden era of San Francisco psychedelic rock. From the opening notes of “Flawless” to “White Butterfly, Freedom” and “Philadelphia” this album took Dorothy to where they need to be and was part of the reason Linda Perry has been nominated for a Grammy as producer of the year.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody SoundtrackQueen: Ok, so I lied a little bit about not including established acts but, how is it possible this album be left off of any list of “best of?” The only issue I have with this is that it doesn’t have even more Queen, or even some deeper tracks but that is being nit picky. One of the, if not the, greatest bands of all time re-entered the conversation with the Freddie Mercury bio-pic that showcased the amazing talents, struggles and successes of Queen. The hits are here and the entire setlist from their historic performance at the 1998 Live Aid concert is featured in its entirety. To paraphrase a line form the movie, could you imagine waking up the day after compiling your best of list and not having Queen on it? I know I couldn’t and it makes me incredibly happy to see so many young, old and in-betweeners enjoying this seminal band once again.

2. Anthem of the Peaceful ArmyGreta Van Fleet: The fact AOTPA is second is a surprise to me because GVF is without question my favorite band in the last 30 years (which is about 10 years older than their average age). AOTPA is an amazing album that showcases all the best GVF has to offer.They move beyond the comparisons to the mighty Zeppelin that have plagued them and have provided an album that defies genres. It contains the blues rock you’d expect but also delivers progressive pieces, folk rock and downright rip roaring tunes that will get your feet moving and your head banging. From the opening of “Age of Man” to the closing notes of “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer),” this album is incredible. If the comparisons have stopped you from checking them out – do yourself a favor, check your ego and bias at the door and just enjoy what Great Van Fleet is doing for music.

1. a modern tragedy vol. 1grandson: grandson has, right now, taken the mantle as The Only Band that Matters and has awoken the spirit of some of the great socially conscious bands of all time. On vol. 1, the music and lyrics do all the talking taking on everything from gun violence, the opioid crisis, police violence and many subjects in-between. Using music as the messenger grandson is doing everything possible to make a difference. This five song EP gives us a glimpse of what is and what can be for this talented artist. Using powerful guitar and forceful beats this is the beginning of an amazing journey and we highly recommend everyone become grandkids. We can’t wait for vol. 2, the first headlining tour and beyond.

By Contributing Writer Don Manuszewski

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