The Grey Estates: 2018 Reflections
Along with our 2018 coverage, we also asked some of our friends and music industry pals to share their reflections on 2018.
The Album You Loved the Most This Year
Jeff Betten (Misra Records) : Maybe it's because 2018 is when I bought a house or when I turned 33, but This Is Hardcore by Pulp has started resonating with me from start-to-finish in a way that no other album was able to this year.
Amanda Starling (Angry Grrrl Music of the Indie Rock Persuasion) : As far as new records go, definitely “Bark Your Head Off, Dog” by Hop Along - it’s an actual masterpiece of music. This year I marinated a lot on a prior release, however, with Japanese Breakfast’s “Soft Sounds From Another Planet” - that might be my favorite record ever.
Eloy Lugo (Grandstand Media PR) : Sidney Gish - No Dogs Allowed. Obsessed with everything about this album. Some truly next level songwriting.
Sam Bielanski (PONY) : My Fave album of 2018 is The Future Hates Me by The Beths. This record is so my bag! I love how they disguise feelings of self doubt and loneliness within huge bops you can dance in your kitchen to.
Connor Murray (Crafted Sounds) : The Lamb by Lala Lala. I was waiting for that to drop for what seemed like forever and it did not disappoint. I saw them open up for Surf Curse last year. I never heard of them before then. I could not get enough of their set. I don't really know... the music is really raw and powerful. Made the hairs on my neck stand up when I saw them... Lala Lala rocks! I am really happy TGE helped cover their record.
Mike Caulo, Publicity for Merge Records : Ava Luna Moon 2, Milo and Elucid Nostrum Grocers, Fred Thomas Aftering, Robyn Honey, Papercuts Parallel Universe Blues
Angie Stranger (Despair at the Costco) : It's impossible to pick one best album of the year. I don't know how any one does it or even ranks all the great music that came out this year. My personal favorites though have been: No Dogs Allowed - Sidney Gish, Clean - Soccer Mommy and Vessel - Frankie Cosmos,
Greg Katz (New Professor & Cheekface): Hard to beat Noname's LP "Room 25" this year, so fresh and expressive! Human People made an amazing LP, "Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears," you can tell they really love the craft of songwriting and the personality blasts right through. I listened to Johanna Warren's "Gemini II" a lot. Ovlov was on repeat for quite a while. Also Rosalía, Ava Luna, Ariana Grande, Illuminati Hotties, Pet Fox, Kacey Musgraves, Mitski, and "Astroworld" of course.
Mary Kekic : My top two favorite albums this year have to be Gentle Leader by Peach Kelli Pop and Modern Female Rockstar by The Sonder Bombs. But never, ever forget the new and wonderful albums put out this year by Hop Along, The Sidekicks, Kississippi, Punch Drunk Tagalongs, No Thank You, The LLC, and Mitski. Oh, and never forget Spend the Night by The Donnas. I know it's been 16 years, but it's definitely been a sweet 16, am I right? (I'm right.)
Favorite Find of 2018
JB: “Loner Type" by Clara Kent, "Christian Name" by William Matheny, "brunch." by The Zells, "Destroyer" by Panama (thanks to the Season 2 finale of Atypical), "Butterfly" by Waterbed, "Green Light" by Lorde, "Radiation" by Bad Custer, "Flight Chief" by Slugss, "Are You In Love" by Cherry Pools
AS: My confidence to speak in front of a live audience! Before I had recorded the live podcast show, I hadn’t performed in front of a crowd since maybe 8th grade. It was cool to find that ability in myself again, and I’m hoping I can do more with it in the future!
EL: Kanopy! A free movie streaming service that most public library cards get you access to with an unbelievably well-curated selection of contemporary and classic cinema.
SB: My fave find of 2018 is the band CHAI from Japan. I love them so much! I think what they are doing is so damn empowering.
CM: I guess I never listened to Chastity Belt before this year. I guess I goofed... really bad.
MC: Louisville! Burrito Sundays at The Accordion Club in Durham! Making rosemary simple syrup and putting it in iced coffee!
AS: My favorite artists I discovered this year are Liza Anne, Hand Habits, Beach Bunny, local heroes Cheekface, and Haley Blais.
GK: The sandwiches at Lanza Brothers for sure.
MK: Beach Bunny is definitely a new favorite band I discovered this year. I also discovered Paqui Cool Salsa Verde tortilla chips. It's a problem.
The One Song That Helped You Get Through the Shitfest That Was 2018
JB: “Taxi" by Brian Dunne is my new go-to; it's all in the lyrics. He said, "Kid, where ya headin'?" I said, "That's a big question." He laughed and said, "You'll figure it out." I think we'll all figure it out.
AS: "The Opener" by Camp Cope (off of their record, How to Socialize and Make Friends) was a game changer and became my battle cry throughout 2018. As someone whose projects surround creating spaces and amplifying voices of people who are marginalized, it was incredible to find and connect with a song and band that had zero tolerance for being silenced or erased. The entire band musically and lyrically validated the experiences of countless non-men, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ - and they did it in a way that is catchy and is making a mark on independent music at a global scale. Plus, I'm pretty sure the most iconic bass line ever written in layered into that song, and it's a point of reference going forward to me.
EL: "Warm Apple Night" by Joe Pera from his TV show 'Joe Pera Talks With You' which is undoubtedly my favorite thing to come out in 2018.
SB: The song Hollywood by Superbody <3
CM: En La Vida by June Pastel. Shoutout Anthony. Wholesome fella w/ wholesome tunes that can calm you down/pick you up.
MC: Easy: "Bad Year" by The Spook School
AS: Mitski's Nobody has been acting as my therapeutic release. I first heard Nobody while abroad, feeling very lonely, but also guilty much like Mitski discusses in, I believe, an interview with Genius. The line "I don't want your pity // I just want somebody near me" rips my heart out as it's been such a longing my entire life not to be pitied, but just have someone there saying, I get it and I'm here for you. I've had several losses this year and Mitski has been here to help me through.
MK: I'm pretty sure I listened to Shitty Boyfriend by The Sonder Bombs way too much this year. Sorry.
One Accomplishment You're Proud of From 2018
JB: I released my last album Three A.M. and the Stars Were Out in December of 2017 (which counts for the purposes of a 2018 year-end recap), and I tracked two follow-up albums this year. I'm proud of my art - it's going to last beyond my lifetime.
AS: I recorded my first ever live taping of Angry Grrrl Music of the Indie Rock Persuasion! The Fest welcomed me onto their roster of incredible artists and creators, and I was fortunate to record with friends I deeply love and respect in front of a full, live audience. It was special reuniting with my friends in Slingshot Dakota, Expert Timing, and Gutless, and I think just getting those moments to bond with them while really finding my own voice and "stage presence" changed my life. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity, and I hope more events like it are on the horizon for the podcast!
EL: I watched 1 Adam Sandler movie every day for a whole year. The Sandman is an incredible actor and history will prove me right.
SB: I recently finished recording my first LP and I feel really proud of the songs we made, I can't wait to share it with everyone next year!
CM: The Zells' album release show was really cool. There were just so many people. I had not seen anything like it from a show I'd been a part of. It was a really satisfying feeling especially because I worked on that release mainly when I was abroad in Germany. I was really happy for those guys. They've been playing together forever, so it was really nice to see them do their thanggg on their special day. Also Bethlehem Steel and Baked played on the bill alongside the Silver Car Crash homies. They are phenomenal talents and even greater people! I honestly did not feel cool enough to be there. Hell... I was not even old enough; it was 21+ hahaah.
MC: I started making candles. Didn't see that one coming.
AS: I did so much in 2018. I joined a research lab that helps survivors of abuse, I had my first serious internship, I graduated from college a year early, I celebrated one whole year with my partner, Gary, and I went to Europe for two months. I did so much stuff and I forget even though the last few months have been terrible; I accomplished so very much and I need to be kinder to myself about it.
GK: Many people I work with made amazing music. It's the greatest honor in my life to have the trust of creative people. Also, doing Cheekface is fun.
MK: Ugh, just one?! Okay, um, I recorded a demo EP and released it the same day. It sounds a lot better than I ever expected. Nothing big, no fanfare, but I'm glad I finally put something out there. I also got a tetanus shot.
Nathan Walker (Riot Act Media) : I made a list of people who work behind the scenes in the music industry that I think are pretty great. The list is in alphabetical order and in no way is this list definitive of all of the incredible humans I encounter in this wonderful industry…
Michelle books this great spot called Trixie’s here in Detroit (technically Hamtramck but there’s not enough room to explain that) and just opened her own vintage store called Jean’s Vintage. Michelle works hard to put on great shows, keep the scene safe, she’s got impeccable taste, makes a mean cocktail, and shares her kiddie pool with polite children when it gets hot out.
Amber is A&R at Saddle Creek and, well, just look at the year they had… the work speaks for itself. In addition to that, Amber is a lovely person to be around with zero pretense, hardworking, is someone you can absolutely confide in, and is an inspiration.
Trish helps book Austin’s Cheer Up Charlies, a wonderful venue, she runs a great zine called Anon, and, just this year, started her own record label, The Nothing Song. Every time I’ve seen Trish at SXSW, she’s friendly, dressed in an amazing outfit with more colors than the rainbow, and doing fifteen different things, but always has time to say hi, catch up, high five, before she’s off to her next hustle!
Natalie works at Polyvinyl and though I’m not sure of her job title, unofficially, I’m sure it’s “secret weapon.” She’s hilarious on Twitter, more knowledgeable than you on the NBA, endlessly lifting up her friends with compliments, and I think she is micro-saving a lot of things from falling apart every damn day.
Meredith is the booking agent for a TON of incredible bands at Panache. She has a great ear for upcoming talent, has a knack for being utterly professional over email but always full of warmth and kindness, and is someone you absolutely need to high five the next time you’re in the room together.
Courtney is a dear friend, hardworking artist manager, and multi-hat wearer at Everloving. A great shit talker, an excellent .gif finder, an even more excellent restaurant finder, and, no joke, she might even be better at finding vintage fashion than either of the previous skills.
Christine is a publicist at Epitaph and is absolutely who I want to be when I grow up (career-wise). Talented at her job, wonderful to be around, and effortlessly cool, I’ve always idolized how chill she is when I run into her at shows and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Caroline recently left her job at Mute to venture into the unknown but every knows she’s going to absolutely crush whatever comes next. She’s long been known as one of the best in radio but she’s also kind, outspoken, supports her friends fiercely, and is the best dog mom in NYC.
If you’ve ever needed anything in a rush from Suicide Squeeze in recent years, you already know Megan and know how wonderful she is. She’s a secret weapon of kindness, positivity, and efficiency, and I suspect to those who know her closer than I do, an extremely good best friend.
This one is a bit of a high five to ALL of the musicians working hard to break into this industry. Without managers, you’re often left cold-calling on your own behalf and navigating shark infested waters. It’s not easy and we all know that your only goal is to get to a point where you only have to focus on your real passion, making music. Giant hugs to all of you! None of us would be here without you.