songs of the year

 
 
Artwork by the wonderful Mark Torpey

Artwork by the wonderful Mark Torpey

In 2018, music moved way faster than we’d seen before and we did our absolute best to keep up with it. These are our favorite singles released in the past year and we can’t wait to share them with you. - Holden and Chris

 
 
 

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#10

big red machine - lyla

Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is constantly surprising me with the development of his original falsetto sound. When I heard he would be doing a collaboration with The National’s Aaron Dressner, I became overly excited.  This song pulls the electronic sound of 22, A Million, with the powerful ballad motifs of Vernon’s older music.  It even has a little bit of a 2018 rap sound with the constant “uh”s throughout the first verse.  This song is every bit of beauty that I expect from these two artists, and then some. “Lyla” is what is becoming a classic of cryptic lyrics amalgamated with mesmerizing synths coupled with a crepe-cake’s worth of vocal layers.  It is the ooze.


#9

CHoker - juno

An absolutely beautiful song. If Choker has a knack for creating wonderful landscapes and imbuing anything he does with cinematic lyricism, this song is the pick of the bunch. It starts off with a haunting pitch shifted vocal with soft r&b drums and a live bass, only for it to explode into an experimental hip hop ballad full of crashing drums and 808s. “Big fucking deal” Choker chides, intermittently dispersing banal references to ‘Gwen Stefani’, ‘Neo-Soul’ and his ‘Iphone background’ amongst his grand declarations. If you are ever in doubt of Choker’s talent and originality, simply slap this on.

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#8

03 greedo - floating

That feeling of ecstasy you get after a good day? “Floating” is that as a song.  Unexpectedly, 03 Greedo, a rapper known for rapping about murders, drugs, and gang life, made one of the most hauntingly jammable songs of the year.  The clean guitar mixed with a bass-heavy synth gives the back drop for one of the most unconcernedly catchy hooks of the year. I can barely tell when the song starts in ends, leading me to just keep the song on repeat it’s so catchy. Despite this completely chill vibe, the song is about getting back at his enemies.  His effortlessness in this act translates directly to this track’s addictive chorus. It is unfortunate Greedo got sentenced to life in prison just a few weeks after putting this song out. Nevertheless, he lived a badass 15 minutes of fame and I will forever be thankful for the head-bobbing he has given me walking to this song.


#7

OCtavian - little

If there is one genre that had a phoenix’s life cycle in America, it is British Grime Rap.  That is why Octavian is so important: he brings a new style to the London rap scene. With his sharp French accent coupled with a Rudeboi attitude, the up-and-comer is letting everyone know he has it on “Little”.  This is self-motivation at its finest. The ad-libs act as if he is having a pump-up conversation with himself in the mirror. Knowing how to work with the dark production that suits him so well, he delivers harsh blows at the haters, and a booming sense of self-confidence to himself.  After this song, we should all be scared of Octavian; he has a killer flow, bumping hooks, and a voice that sounds like no one else in rap right now.

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#6

lil wayne (ft. nivea) - dope new gospel

Lil Wayne’s self-actualizing masterpiece. Sharing vocal duties with an ex-fiance with whom you share a child isn’t the most instinctive choice when putting together a banger, but Nivea and Wayne’s chemistry is palpable throughout this song - no wonder they were once engaged!. Wayne transcends it all, citing Michael Jackson as his primary inspiration all while bouncing over a super infectious Marvin Sapp beat. This one has been on repeat for months and is Wayne at his sincere, catchy best.



#5

snail mail - pristine

The teenage angst section of music had been lacking for a while.  Lindsey Jordan isn’t necessarily doing anything new, but what she does she does with absolute precision.  Her crystal-clear vocals laden over the harpesque-guitar chords that pay serious homage to the OGs of her sound like Liz Phair and all of Sleater-Kinney.  This song embodies everything I love about sad girl music: emotion-heavy, simple guitar riffs, and a chorus worth belting. With “Pristine” starts a whole new wave of teenagers everywhere getting back to picking up their guitars and writing lyrics about ex paramours.   I can’t wait to see what happens with Snail Mail in the future.

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#4

boygenius - me & my dog

The emo ballad of the year. This song starts off recalling the heady rush of everything that comes with falling in love with someone: the all-night makeout sessions, the belief that this new person will make you a better version of yourself but it also details the insecurities that come along with that. Phoebe Bridger’s voice carries the main narrative until Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus burst through in a chorus of solidarity. All of them sound sad, but they’re sad together and they’re going to get through anything the world (or a no-good ex) may through at them. What a heartwarming tribute to female friendship.


#3

kanye west (ft. kid cudi and 070 shake) - ghost town

“Somedayyyy, somedayyy…” - that Shirley Ann Lee clip at the beginning of Ghost Town is my favourite sample of 2018. Almost certainly the most straightforward track on Ye, Ghost Town is a solid soul song with a great performance from Kid Cudi but with the added x-factor of a show-stealing turn from 070 Shake. Her vocal style can only be described as a yelp, but it works exceptionally well here. It is earnest, jolting and one of the most memorable musical moments of the year.

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#2

travis scott (ft. drake) - sicko mode

Listening to ASTROWORLD for the first time nearly caused me to have a heart attack. I had just about recovered from Frank Ocean’s surprise feature on Carousel, when I was hit with those crashing organs and then suddenly a lone voice…

Astro...

It can’t be!” I whispered to myself, not wanting to believe.

Yuh…

“He wouldn’t...” I quivered, almost breathless. And then there he was. Of course Drake is on the biggest project of the year, the man can’t help himself! Coupled with the countless shoutouts to Houston rap legends and the never-ending beat switches, this song can only be described as crazy.


#1

noname (ft. smino and saba) - Ace

I wrote a piece about this song in our first issue where I said I listen to this song on an average of three times a day.  Those stats have faltered a litte, but my love for this infectious tune has not. The amazing production and collaboration of the three Chicago-based artists is them at their absolute best.  This is what music is about to me, just three amazingly talented musicians coming together to create a song that makes you wanna smile, dance and scream every lyric. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to keep up with the Saba verse, but it will forever live in my memory as a definition of the power of friendship and music.

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