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The Grammys' Failure To Recognize 2018's Greatest Rock Records

John Bricker By

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If an average music fan was asked to judge the quality of rock music in 2018 based only on the Grammys, they would conclude that rock must not be producing quality records although nothing could be further from the truth. On February 10, 2019, the Grammys awarded From The Fires the coveted title of best rock album, honoring Led Zeppelin rip-offs Greta Van Fleet over Alice In Chains' Rainer Fog, Fall Out Boy's Mania, Ghost's Prequelle and Weezer's Pacific Daydream. Rock music flourished in 2018, and the Grammys embarrassed themselves by nominating some of the genre's worst contemporary albums. Although choosing to honor nostalgia leeches like Greta Van Fleet should leave a bad taste in every rock fan's mouth, none of the other albums were much more deserving, aside from Ghost's campy metal triumph Prequelle. From Mania's embarrassing electronica to Pacific Daydream's soulless millennial pop, the Grammys completely failed to represent the amount of creativity, innovation and craftsmanship present in modern rock. Here are the five best rock albums from 2018 you should listen to, and the Grammys should have praised.

Daughters
You Won't Get What You Want
Ipecac Recordings
2018

Rhode Island noise rock band Daughters' fourth studio album arrived on October 26, 2018, eight years after their last release, and what a groundbreaking comeback it is. You Won't Get What You Want takes all of the anger and darkness from their previous work and condenses it into a singular visceral experience. From "City Song's" opening gritty drone, pulsing kicks and massive snares, Daughters patiently establish a terrifying and mysterious atmosphere. The band uses their walls of rotten guitars and industrial noise to deliver equally disturbing lyrics. Lead man Alexis Marshall brings listeners along for an emotional breakdown fueled by existential dread on "The Lords Song" and struggles to accept the world's darkness on "Long Road, No Turns." Slower songs like "Less Sex" and "Daughter" provide much needed reprieve from You Won't Get What You Want's intensity, while still developing the album's sound. Although Marshall's performance falters and breaks immersion from Daughters' songs at points, they deserve recognition for You Won't Get What You Want's revolutionary terror.

Parquet Courts
Wide Awake!
Rough Trade Records
2018

Parquet Courts have created an addictive and intelligent punk rock masterwork in their fifth studio album, Wide Awake! Songwriters Andrew Savage and Austin Brown effortlessly incorporate biting social commentary into consistently engaging songs. From the first moments of opener "Total Football," Parquet Courts' grab their audience by their lapels and start shouting bold expressions of political philosophy over propulsive electric guitars and bouncy bass lines. Wide Awake! keeps the critique coming on "Violence," a vicious condemnation of the media's obsession with bloodshed, and "Before The Water Gets Too High," which pleads citizens to do something about America's troubled economy "Before the rich are refugees." Even when ignoring the band's gripping lyricism, Wide Awake! is full of instrumentally captivating tunes, from the funky title track to the multi-faceted punk barn-burner "Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience." Parquet Courts' close the album with "Tenderness," a charming encouragement to fight nihilism with kindness that resolves all of the album's lofty themes. Wide Awake! is a must listen for punk fans and easily one of the best rock records of 2018.

Jack White
Boarding House Reach
Third Man Records
2018

The Grammys' refusal to recognize Jack White's Boarding House Reach as an innovative achievement for modern rock is astonishing. White, a 12-time Grammy award winner, has more than established himself as an influential voice in rock music through his work with The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. With his third solo album, White strayed from tradition and crafted a cohesive collection of experiments. From the off-kilter synth lines of "Hypermisophoniac" to the jazzy piano of "Humoresque," each bizarre production flourish keeps White's infectious songs fresh, while his solid songwriting grounds his strange sonic explorations. Boarding House Reach presents gritty rock anthems like "Corporation" and "Over and Over and Over" interspaced with refreshing, odd interludes like "Abulia and Akrasia" and "Ezmerelda Steals the Show." Boarding House Reach comes together as one cohesive piece despite all of its twists and turns, and the Grammys' only excuse for ignoring it is the fact it distances itself from the traditional rock that inspires White. If you are looking for a truly inventive and challenging rock album, don't let Jack White's opus pass you by.

Car Seat Headrest
Twin Fantasy
Matador
2018

Car Seat Headrest's Twin Fantasy is a densely lyrical, chaotic and powerful indie rock opus. In 2011, front man Will Toledo independently recorded and released the original Twin Fantasy, a flawed record held back by muddy, cluttered production. In 2016, Toledo remade the album with his new band mates, guitarist Ethan Ives, drummer Andrew Katz and bassist Seth Dalby. The full band's finely tuned performances finally allow Toledo's songs to flourish. On "Bodys," Car Seat Headrest delivers a power pop extravaganza, effortlessly pulling together motifs and piling them higher and higher on each cathartic chorus. Car Seat Headrest also delivers restrained psychedelia on "High To Death," where Ives' soft, shimmering guitars effortlessly complement Toledo's dejected mumbling. With the help of the band's diverse performances, Toledo's songwriting mastery shines. Toledo's intimately confessional lyrics and Car Seat Headrest's overpowering fever pitches on multiphase surfer rock odyssey "Beach Life-In-Death" and penultimate rock aria "Famous Prophets (Stars)" take listeners through a whirlwind of heartbreak and euphoria. Twin Fantasy is more than just a remastered diamond in the rough. Its intimate lovesick power makes Car Seat Headrest's masterpiece one of the most important rock albums of the decade.

Hop Along
Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Saddle Creek
2018

Bark Your Head Off, Dog, the third studio album by Philadelphia-based rock quartet Hop Along, is a flawlessly arranged and performed fusion of rock, folk and power pop. Bassist Tyler Long, guitarist Joe Reinhart and drummer Mark Quinlan create a textured, beautiful foundation for Frances Quinlan's masterful vocal performance. Across the record's nine tracks, Quinlan consistently delivers poetic lyrics with charmingly quirky delivery. In the folk ballad "How You Got Your Limp," Quinlan jumps from gentle whispers to strained cries over a melancholy blend of acoustic guitars, strings and whistling. Quinlan effortlessly tempers her wild delivery to deliver an addictive hook on "Somewhere a Judge," describing an "afternoon vanilla sun" shining on her lawn. Hop Along's songs are just as captivating as Quinlan's vocals, often delivering beautiful detours and triumphant outros. The lo-fi acoustic intro of "Look of Love" gradually blossoms into one of their catchiest songs, ending with an angelic outro filled with warm guitars, spacey drums, soft harmonies and Quinlan's distant cries. Bark Your Head Off, Dog is the best rock album of 2018, and Hop Along's genre-defying revelation deserves much more recognition than it receives.

Tracks and Personnel

You Won't Get What You Want

Tracks: City Song; Long Road, No Turns; Satan In The Wait; The Flammable Man; The Lords Song; Less Sex; Daughter; The Reason They Hate Me; Ocean Song; Guest House.

Personnel: Alexis Marshall: vocals; Nick Sadler: guitar; Sam Walker: bass; Jon Syverson: drums.

Wide Awake!

Tracks: Total Football; Violence; Before the Water Gets Too High; Mardi Gras Beads; Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience; Freebird II; Normalisation; Back to Earth; Wide Awake; NYC Observation; Extinction; Death Will Bring Change; Tenderness.

Personnel: Andrew Savage: vocals, guitar, keyboards; Austin Brown: guitar, vocals, keyboards; Max Savage: percussion, synthesizer; Sean Yeaton: bass. Personnel: Player Name: instrument; Player Name: instrument.

Boarding House Reach

Tracks: Connected By Love; Why Walk a Dog?; Corporation; Abulia and Akrasia; Hypermisophoniac; Ice Station Zebra; Over and Over and Over; Everything You've Ever Learned; Respect Commander; Ezmerelda Steals the Show; Get In the Mind Shaft; What's Done is Done; Humoresque.

Personnel: Jack White: vocals, electric guitar, percussion, synthesizer, acoustic guitar, electronic drums, bass, organ.

Twin Fantasy

Tracks: My Boy (Twin Fantasy); Beach Life-In-Death; Stop Smoking (We Love You); Sober to Death; Nervous Young Inhumans; Bodys; Cute Thing; High to Death; Famous Prophets (Stars); Twin Fantasy (Those Boys).

Personnel: Will Toledo: production and vocals; Andrew Katz: drums; Seth Dalby: bass; Ethan Ives: guitar.

Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Tracks: How Simple; Somewhere a Judge; How You Got Your Limp; Not Abel; The Fox in Motion; One That Suits Me; What the Writer Meant; Look of Love; Prior Things.

Personnel: Frances Quinlan: vocals, guitar; Tyler Long: bass; Joe Reinhart: guitar; Mark Quinlan: drums.

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