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KHSU's Favorite Albums of 2018

Wait, wait, isn't this 2019?! Before we give a final au revoir to 2018, we grabbed KHSU's Music Director, Mark Shikuma, and had him share his Top 20 favorite releases of 2018, accompanied with brief reviews.


01. LONNIE HOLLEY, MITH (Jagjaguwar)
Based in Birmingham, AL, internationally known U.S. folk artist and self-taught musician, Lonnie Holley and his stream-of-conscience vocal delivery and unique rhythms, akin to Delta Blues artists, such as Skip James and Robert Johnson, has delivered a truly unidentifiable, magical album, MITH. With the subtle assistance of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Shazhad Ismaily, who collaborated with Holley in arranging this recording, MITH is a spontaneous document, and in the way that Van Morrison attempted to create spontaneity with his landmark album, Astral Weeks, Holley achieves this without thinking about it.


02. GURRUMUL, Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow) (Skinnyfish Music)
Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, sometimes referred to as Dr. G, launched into the greater Australian music landscape with a powerful vocal that employed his native, indigenous languages of Yolnu, as well as in English. Sadly, he passed away just as he finished his final album, Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow). The arrangement, in collaboration with longtime musical partner, Michael Hohnen, is contemporary, with Philip Glass or Brian Eno-like influences, paired together with Gurrumul’s original delivery, made for a powerful last document.

03. GEORGIA ANNE MULDROW, Overload (Brainfeeder)
Since her debut release in 2006, LA-based musical artist, arranger, producer and songwriter, Georgia Anne Muldrow, has been prolific and widely diverse, constantly stretching musical boundaries from her R&B base, often weaving in elements from a vast palate of influences, including avant-garde jazz, blues, fusion and leftfield Hip Hop, as well as, lyrically, keeping true to her Afrocentric politics. With Overload, Muldrow has successfully synthesized a number of these elements into a profound, forward-thinking R&B release.

NY-based multi-media artist, composer and poet, Laurie Anderson collaborates with the famed SF-based Kronos Quartet. For over a decade, Anderson and Kronos leader David Harrington have been trying to work together on a project. Even though the project Landfall, which is presented as a multi-media piece, featuring projected text on a screen, film and spoken word, began several years before Hurricane Sandy hit the greater New York area in 2012, one can see how this recorded document became a metaphor to that tragedy and about loss, which also includes the death of her partner Lou Reed, who died in the same year as the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

05. KAMASI WASHINGTON, Heaven and Earth (Brainfeeder)
One of the leaders of the new crop of Jazz “Young Lions” who are emerging from a burgeoning LA scene, which includes Cameron Graves and brothers Ronald Bruner Jr. and Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Notably his working with contemporary R&B-Hip Hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus has brought him wider notice, however, it’s his massive, expansive and dense releases such as his debut, The Epic, has brought him high praise among his peers and critics. His 2018 release, Heaven and Earth, takes off from his previous debut, with a musical jazz odyssey, traversing from fusion to Be Bop as well as soundtrack music, that also embraces a new type of Afrocentric stance. Another fantastic and ambitious release.

06. WARM DRAG, Warm Drag (In The Red)
By chance, vocalist Vashti Windish and multi-instrumentalist Paul Quattrone (of Oh Sees and !!!) got together to form Warm Drag. “I basically wanna make Bomb Squad versions of rock n’ roll songs,” said Quattrone, who employs samplers and an array of effect pedals, referring to the legendary Public Enemy producer team. In other words, Quattrone was successful in creating a dense collage of sound, pushing forward this dark, pulsing garage music.
07. ORQUESTA AKOKÁN, Orquesta Akokán (Daptone)
This Brooklyn-based Cuban band is led by vocalist Jose Pepito Gomez, who grew up and learned his chops in Havana. Orquesta Akokán’s self-titled debut, which also includes some of Havana’s legendary surviving musicians, was recorded in Havana for this vibrant debut release on Brooklyn’s great independent label, Daptone.

08. THE BETHS, Future Me Hates Me (Carpark)This young New Zealand rock band is led by Elizabeth Stokes, a whip-smart songwriter, and is made up from her friends, formerly from University of Aukland, where they all were studying jazz. Future Me Hates Me is far from jazz, offering instead, tight, hook-filled, infectious power pop songs.

09. ROSE DROLL, Your Dog (Father/Daughter)
A surprising debut by a young SF-based DIY singer-songwriter, whose emergence is among a growing number of DIY female artists also based in the greater SF-Oakland Bay Area, which includes Tune-Yards, Jay Som and Kadjha Bonet. Rose Droll cleverly blends Hip Hop and R&B to her distinct, yet not over-fussed, arrangements.


10. THE NUDE PARTY, The Nude Party (New West)
This group of young musicians from North Carolina decided to move up to upstate New York, and under the tutelage of Black Lips’ drummer, Oakley Munson, hone their songs and recorded with Munson at his home studio. The result is a perfect cross of ‘60s garage influences – one from the East Coast, namely Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, and also from the West Coast, namely the psychedelic-garage bands from San Jose, including The Chocolate Watchband and SF’s The Warlocks, adding their own contemporary spin, resulting in a fun, rockin’ debut record.

11. KHRUANGBIN, Con Todo El Mundo (Dead Oceans)

12. THE BREEDERS, All Nerve (4AD)

13. SARAH DAVCHI, Gave in Rest (Ba Da Bing)

14. SHANNON SHAW, Shannon In Nashville (Easy Eye Sound)

15. GAYE SU AKYOL, Istikrarli Hayal Hakkikattir (Glitterbeat)

16. MAKAYA McCRAVEN, Universal Beings (International Anthem)

17. INSOLITO UNIVERSO, La Candela Del Rio (Olindo)

18. RACHEL BARTON PINE, Blues Dialogues: Music By Black Composers (Cedille)

19. LOMA, Loma (Sub Pop)

20. HARRIET TUBMAN, The Terror End of Beauty (Sunnyside)

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