As I write this, one hour before New Year’s Eve, I figured there aren’t enough best-of lists out there yet and you all needed one more to get you through the last 25 hours of 2018.
Before I get into the songs, one other note: “Book,” the, well, book by Beastie Boys, is a heck of a read and was my favorite book of the year. If you have any interest at all in the band, give it a shot.
Here are 25 songs I liked this year. If you start now, you can listen to one per hour and finish your year out in style. I’ll even include an extra that you can crank up as the clock strikes midnight. It’s the new Auld Lang Syne. I’m rambling. I’ll stop.
Not the top 10:
25. David Byrne – Gasoline and Dirty Sheets
David Byrne is a legend. “American Utopia” has a couple of great songs and plenty more that are just fine, but the live show, which made its way to the Fox Theatre in August, blew my mind. Some guy who had front row seats at one stop on the tour recorded the entire damn thing with his phone or something. I hate people who do that, but it allows me to embed the whole show for you to watch if you’re killing time waiting for the ball to drop or whatever, so who’s the dumb one now? (It’s still him. I got to watch the show in peace and then capitalize on his efforts.)
24. Cautious Clay – Cold War
This song makes me want to exclusively drink whiskey sours for New Year’s Eve. Because he says whiskey sours. I thought he said “We can find it at the bottom of this whiskey sour,” but it’s actually “we divided at the bottom of this whiskey sour,” so that shows what an expert I am.
23.. Khruangbin – Maria Tambien
This band is freaking awesome. That is all.
22. Adrianne Lenker – symbol
I didn’t love Big Thief, but I love “symbol” and some others from Adrianne Lenker’s solo album, “abysskiss”. But I am also weirded out by unnecessary lack of capitalization.
21. Arctic Monkeys – Four Out Of Five
“Four Out Of Five” is pretty good. Acceptable. Better than passing. The song also fits the description.
20. Lord Huron – Back From The Edge
The latest from Lord Huron didn’t seem to be a favorite for many people, and it didn’t match their 2015 release, “Strange Trails,” but it was pretty good!
19. Interpol – If You Really Love Nothing
If you’ve ever heard me play a single Interpol song on air, you know that I believe this band is almost cursed because they had one of the greatest debut albums ever. Interpol has released a lot of great music since “Turn On The Bright Lights,” but it’s always seen in the shadow of that album. This song rules, and I like a lot of the new album, “Marauder.”
18. Beach House – Lemon Glow
I finally had the opportunity to see Beach House live this year. It was a glorious summer Sunday night of dream pop. The new album is good. Good stuff. Good, good, good.
17. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – An Air Conditioned Man
The guitar riff at the beginning is great enough to warrant inclusion on this list. The song title is even better.
16. Raconteurs – Sunday Driver / Now That You’re Gone
I’ve never been a huge Raconteurs guy despite my love of all things Jack White. But these songs are both good. I also lucked into seeing Jack White perform at Third Man Records – Cass Corridor this year, which was probably my favorite live experience of 2018, even beating out David Byrne.
15. Car Seat Headrest – Bodys
I know, I know. This is kind of a cop out because it technically came out in like 2011. But it’s a song I liked a lot that was released in some way this year. You’re not cool just because you were scouring the depths of Reddit in 2011. It’s my year-in-review anyway, man, jeez, back off.
14. Low – Fly
My guess is, if I re-did my 2018 list next year, this song would be much higher. Low is one of my favorite bands, almost every album of theirs gets better with repeated listenings, and I just haven’t been able to dive deep into it just yet. It’s my loss.
13. Thom Yorke – Has Ended
Remember when it seemed like Thom Yorke hated Detroit? I spent just about the entirety of my 20s and a lot of my late teens just wishing he’d play here. But in 2018, he was here twice! Radiohead’s show at LCA was also among my favorites on the year, and it was a special treat to see him solo in an intimate venue at the Masonic Temple earlier this month.
12. Deerhunter – Element
Here’s a weird thing about these kind of lists: This song has been out long enough for me to enjoy it enough to put it on this list, but it’s going to be on a full album coming out a few weeks from now. Mark it down — Deerhunter has a great chance of making this list two years in a row with the same exact music.
11. Johnny Marr – Hi Hello
It’s Johnny Marr. No explanation needed.
This gives me a chance to plug the upcoming “Salford Lads Club” program, breaking down records from The Smiths, song by song. This will be on the air in January, provided I stop being lazy and start editing the episodes.
10. Barrie – Tal Uno
This is where the order actually starts to matter. I just recently discovered Barrie. If you like dream pop, this is for you.
9. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake
These guys gave a wake-up call to people who left their phone number on their website. I thought that was pretty cool. This song is fun and danceable.
8. Soccer Mommy – Your Dog
It’s No. 8 on my list, but this might be the indie song of the year. It’s catchy, it was all over the place, it has swear words we had to edit out — it has it all.
7. Childish Gambino – This is America
Here’s another song that we can only play an edited version of. This is definitely the video of the year. I also loved Childish Gambin’s summer two-pack of songs. I wish it still felt like summer.
6. Jim James – Just A Fool
Jim James released two companion albums this year, meaning we got two different versions of this and many other songs. I thought that was pretty awesome. Both versions seem pretty well suited for a nice summer afternoon on the front porch.
5. Kurt Vile – Bassackwards
This entire album is good. It’s occurring to me that maybe I should have started writing about the top songs first, because I’ve been at it for a while and now I’m just writing sentences like “This entire album is good.” You can get the money you paid for this article back by emailing Hey@FerndaleRadio.com. Ask for Dave Kim, not me.
4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Hunnybee
This was my frontrunner for album of the year for a while. Unknown Mortal Orchestra has this certain vibe that I really enjoy. The vocals are soothing and the music pairs perfectly with it. There you go — more of that hard-hitting analysis you know and love.
3. Ty Segall – Shoot You Up
I saw Ty Segall live this year. It was loud. It was awesome. “Freedom’s Goblin” was one of the first releases we got from a record label, which allowed us to just add it straight to rotation, saving us time, effort and maybe even money, so shout out to Drag City Records for that. Remember — we always want new and local music. If you have something you think we should add, email us at Hey@FerndaleRadio.com. You can ask for me this time.
2. Father John Misty – Hangout At The Gallows
A great album opener on a great album. I love “Mr. Tillman” as well. I get why people can be annoyed with Father John Misty, but it seems pretty obvious to me that a lot of his shtick is just an act, and a funny one at that. The man knows how to write and perform. He was also part of the glorious Homecoming festival hosted by The National this April in Cincinnati
1. Wild Nothing – Partners In Motion and Letting Go
I made it all the way to No. 1 and now WordPress decides it wants to make me make a bulleted number list. Cool.
Anyway, “Indigo” by Wild Nothing is my favorite album of the year. The production value is incredible. The guitars sound so freaking good. The vocals are on point and, to me, these songs all have such a singalong quality to them that I find myself blasting them in my car all the time. Their show at El Club was another highlight of 2018.
Blast “Letting Go” at midnight tonight, let go of all the bad parts of 2018 and carry the good ones on to next year. From all of us at Ferndale Radio, Happy New Year!