JB “the Indicator” aka John Byce picks the best of 2018’s hefty crop of new releases. Here’s how it works: John chooses his top ten-ish, he rates’em, we stock em, you’ll like em!

JB knows. As an avid music collector, a bodacious drummer, a true connoisseur of sonic wonderment trends in modern rock and related music each year The Indicator offers us his distillation of the year’s expansive releases dialed down to 20 must-haves. This is a veritable check list for 12 months of great tunes from High-Fidelity land. They are all in stock, most of them on CD and LP. What could be better? Here’s the 2018 round up. Enjoy!


10) Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie
File this under Dadrock. This dude plays shows wearing his own band’s t-shirt. That breaks so many style rules that it’s kinda badass depending on where you place him on the clueless / not giving a fart graph. C’est La Vie continues where 2013’s Muchacho left off, but adding to the Daniel Lanois’ Eyes of the Maker vibe, he’s bringing some Paul Simon’s Me and Julio and Lambchop’s vocoder soul from FLOTUS. Yea, it sounds like a disgusting cocktail but tis’ the season for eggnog.

9) Mitski – Be The Cowboy
I try to compose my list before all the other year end lists get published so as not to be persuaded by the “professionals”. I’m seeing this record at the top of some of those lists and it’s for good reason. I’m listening to it right now and thinking dang, maybe I need to nudge it towards the top of mine… But I’ll resist. 14 epic songs in 33 minutes. Little personal antidotes with layers of possibilities and emotive responses. The production and arrangements are huge! Almost too much for ears that have been honed on punk and hip-hop. It’s introspective indie-pop that has graduated to the wide-screen fancy pants big league theatre type experience.


8) Damien Jurado – The Horizon Just Laughed
Jurado enjoyed a renaissance when he released Saint Bartlett, his 10th LP in 2010. He was appreciated by fans of flannel clad Pacific North Western styled rock as well as in quiet, folky singer songwriter circles. But this Richard Swift produced psychedelic trip, turned on a new generation of record listeners with a mix of his earnest lilting tenor, roots rock rhythms and experimental arrangements. Jurado and Swift teamed up again for projects in 2012 and 2014 continuing their winning streak culminating with Visions of Us on the Land which is total ear peyote. The Horizon Just Laughed is Jurado’s self produced follow up to the Swift trilogy and I’m glad to report that the magic is still there and kinda in a fresh new personal expression. There’s horns and strings and all kinds of decoration but focused to complement this experienced storyteller and his cardigan clad voice.


7) Beach House – 7

“Hey dudes, lets hang out and listen to some Beach House” is a phrase that has never been uttered in real life. Maybe Cocteau Twins, or Yo La Tengo.. Possibly Galaxie 500, but never Beach House. If I walked into Anthropologie and heard some some Beach House on the PA, I wouldn’t be surprised. They actually play some pretty good music in there. File under dream pop for affluent middle-aged shoppers.

 


7) Julia Holter – Aviary

This CalArts composition major has established herself as a creative force in the rare space where modern chamber and pop music meet and this is her her third full length for Domino Records. If you imagine a darker Joni Mitchell without the songy choruses then you’re in the right ballpark. This release is her longest at 90 minutes and stretches out compared to her other Domino releases but she keeps our interest with pulsing rhythms, layers of strings, horns, synths and the artist’s haunting vocal melodies. She’s definitely straddling the worlds of avant-guard and pop but my worlds aren’t colliding.


6) Richard Swift – The Hex
Tragic… Swift is a renowned producer, working with great artists like Damien Jurado, Shins, Fruit Bats, David Bazan, Nathaniel Ratliff and Ray LaMontagne to name a few. He is also a recording artist in his own right and this posthumous release is very likely his greatest. Kinda like a “The Dock of the Bay” or “Donuts” kind of a situation, this record might be how many music fans get to know the name of an incredible artist who’s career came to an abrupt ending at the age of 41.


5) Frankie Cosmos – Vessel

This is the indie pop project from excellent singer song writer Greta Kline. Her lyrics poetically describe the inter workings of a self-aware 20 something with clever melodic lines over clean guitar riffs. This is her first for Sub Pop. By the way, no animals were harmed in the making of this record.

 

 

4) Noname – Room 25
2018 might be the year of the short album. In one since as a consumer of this stuff I kinda feel swindled, but really it’s allgood. If an artist can keep me engaged and inspired for a good 30 minutes then it’s worth whatever value we put on this stuff. Speaking of, you can’t really buy this record; not in a physical since anyway. Noname if you are listening, put this on wax!!! Until then, point you browser to Room 25 and hear what might be the best hip-hop record of the year that happens to be from a fearless woman, spittin’ sense over rich grooves, making independent music a la Chance The Rapper.

3) Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose
These guys have had their heyday. 2009’s Bitte Orca was likely where their indie-cred peaked. Or maybe 2012’s Swing Lo Magellan, but then Amber Coffman left the group and broke Dave’s heart and The Projectors 2017’s self titled break up record (which was fantastic by the way!) seemed to be ignored by the trendy media and blog world. It was filled with his brand of progressive indie-pop with Usher like R&B vocal stylings, but also featured lyrics so dark and gloomy it seemed comical at times. This year’s Lamp Lamp Lit Prose was a 180 degree attitude adjustment. It’s almost a praise and worship record. Maybe people don’t wanna hear that in 2018 but these are some hot jamz for real.

2) Floating Action – Heartache Essentials
Black Mountain resident and creator of an endless stream of golden eggs, Seth Kauffman seems to be in possession of some magical hen that’s filling cartons with farm fresh nuggets of dubby roots rock wisdom. Outside his commitments with Jim James, Ray LaMontagne, Angel Olson.. sage Seth somehow finds time to craft balm for our hard hearts. And yes, it’s essential.

 


1) Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

C’mon people, look around. This is not right. It’s not normal and it’s not good. Don’t let 2018 be the new normal. Our well being is not contingent upon the suffering of others. Fear and hate have become the means of destroying ourselves. Stand up against violence and hear this record at full volume.

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS…ten more totally worth listening too in 2018

Vince Staples – FM!

ANDERSON .PAAK – Oxnard

Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin

Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer

Pusha T – Daytona

Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

 

 

 

 

  • Marantz TT1060 semi-automatic turntable
    Here’s a nice entry level table that will severely outperform any newer table even close to it’s price point. The Marantz TT1060 is a semi-automatic table which means the tonearm will return to rest at the end of play.
  • Technics TT SL 1800 turntable
    Technics SL-1800 full manual direct drive turntable, circa 1977. This table is a heavy beast with a very strong motor. A new stylus has been installed on the Stanton cartridge and sounds fantastic. All tonearm features have been set correctly and the stylus tracks at a recommended 3 grams
  • Realistic Lab 430 Direct Drive Turntable
    Very nice inexpensive table with the benefit of direct drive (no belts to change) and auto return. The table has been thoroughly gone through and all features work as they should. A new elliptical stylus has been mounted on the Shure cartridge and balanced correctly.
  • Sonamp 260 from SONANCE
    Soooo nice! This super nice, modestly priced 100 watt per channel power amp has been all checked out and works great. It’s cost effective way to run lots of power!
  • Technics SL-210 full manual turntable
    The table has been thoroughly inspected and gone through with all features working correctly. This is a full manual table, simply turn the table on and move the stylus to the record surface, no auto features to adjust or be concerned with. The new stylus sounds great, is readily available and super affordable. A nice survivor from 1978!
  • SANSUI FR-D35 SEMI-AUTOMATIC DIRECT TURNTABLE
    A new stylus has been installed on the vintage AT cartridge and all features of the table work perfectly!
  • EPI A110 SPEAKERS: 2-way, classic bookshelf charmers! Sound great, woofers rebuilt like new!
    2-way, classic bookshelf charmers! Sound great, woofers rebuilt like new. Circa 1980’s Epicure Productions vintage feature 8”woofers. Critically acclaimed in their day and still sound good, audiophile delivery without the high dollar price. Full-on ready, great sound, woofers rebuilt like new!
  • TASCAM 102 CASSETTE DECK!
    So fresh and so clean! This deck is in great shape and sounds like a champ. Bust out those old bootlegs and mixed tapes.
  • VINTAGE RARE SAE MARK XXXI SOLID STATE STEREO POWER AMPLIFIER WORKS GREAT! SOUNDS GREAT!
    Unit is in really nice physical condition. Recently gone through, tested and checked, all functions have been tested and work great! ready to rock with a pre-amp!
  • ADVENT LAUREATE Mini Tower Speakers
    amazing sound, brilliant natural refined listening experience. woofers on both speakers just completely rebuilt better than new! The Advents, both large and small, sounded pretty good and gave excellent value for the money. The company was one of a long string of companies that descended from the original Acoustic Research (AR). Advents eventually lost their enormous popularity and nearly faded away. International Jensen, a company based in the Chicago suburbs, rescued Advent and resurrected it. The Advent model we tested deserves a Ph.D. Advent appropriately names it the Laureate. The Laureate overwhelmed my skepticism that a modestly priced floor-standing loudspeaker could deliver good sound
  • SANSUI SR-525 DIRECT DRIVE TURNTABLE
    Excellent working and sounding Sansui SR-525 full manual direct drive turntable. A new stylus has been installed, and the cartridge has been properly aligned in the headshell according to Sansui specifications. This is a very heavy table with great Sansui build quality.
  • YAMAHA NATURAL SOUND A-700 INTEGRATED STEREO AMPLIFIER
    A classic “hoss” circa 1983/84. 100 watts per channel! Has phono input.
  • Fisher REC 727 AV Receiver
    This Fisher A/V receiver has phono input, remote and 200 watts! Fire it up bro!
  • Marantz REC SR 225
    This super vintage budget receiver is the perfect starter unit for someone wanting to explore the world of hi fidelity sounds. It’s been all checked out and has a clean bill of health; and with phono input so it’s good to go with any classic turntable.
  • Sansui SPEAKERS SP 2000
    These Sansui SP-2000 speakers from the 70s are some awesome vintage rockers! These big boys have a four way/six driver configuration plus a bass port. They have been tested and sound great.
  • BOZAK CS4000 mod speakers, omg!! these big-boys ROCK!
    8 tweeters, 1 midrange and 2 woofers per. all original, very clean. extremely rare and VERY AMAZING sound!
  • BOSE 901 SERIES V SPEAKERS WITH BOSE 901 SERIES V ACTIVE EQUALIZER
    The essentially crossoverless design gives the 901 an unmistakable coherence, the model’s greatest strength. Its incredibly wide dispersion comes in a close second. The Bose 901s sound great anywhere in the room, After extensive listening, the Bose 901s strike me as being damn good. They have some limitations, but don’t all $1,400 speakers? For that matter, what $10,000 speakers are perfect? They are so smooth and musical.
  • Polk Audio T15 Bookshelf Speakers, 2 way plus bass port
    You can enlarge your sound while shrinking the speakers with a reliable bookshelf system. The Polk Audio T15 speakers can blend into the background while delivering impressive tone quality. It can be a superior system that offers balanced drivers and tweeters for a wide response with low distortion.