BEST INDIE ROCK ALBUMS OF 2018, Episode 1 (February 2018): The Academic, No Age, Typhoon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Physical Plant

Speaking of Indie Rock, I remember very well that the last year started with a crack with the release of a pair of excellent records by the Japandroids and the Cloud Nothings, two albums which left a strong mark in 2017. In comparison, the beginning of 2018 was maybe less explosive than what we experienced last year, but anyway we still had an handful of interesting albums to heard. The best, however, has yet to come!

Before introducing the records and the artists let’s do the usual recommendation: if you landed on this page from a search engine, please check that this one is effectively the latest update for indie rock music. There may be in fact newer charts, in this case easily accessible in the rock section of the blog. This post illustrates the best releases in indie released up to the first days of February 2018; we can certainly expect many other publications in the months to come.


 

Number 1

TALES FROM THE BACKSEAT by The Academic

 

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The Academic is one of those bands that owe part of their success to the fact that one of their videos has become viral. This was the video of their single Bear Claws, shared on the summer of 2017, which used the delay of a live stream on Facebook to create a musical loop where new instruments where gradually added on every loop, one after the other. However, listening to Tales from the Backseat, which is the debut LP that the Irish band released at the beginning of 2018, we recognize that their skills go far beyond the capacity to make interesting videos. The music played by this quartet of rockers is in fact a very pleasant and cheerful kind of indie rock and the album collects a number of of light-hearted songs that are very enjoyable to hear.


 

Number 2

SNARES LIKE A HAIRCUT by No Age

 

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No Age, the two-person rock band from California, in the U.S., have always demonstrated the gift of merging together the rough sounds of noise rock with a style that remains in any case melodic and accessible, with always interesting results. And although their music showed some fluctuations of approach from one album to another, each one of their records manages always to be enjoyable and also extremely valuable. One of the comments in one of their Youtube videos says: “No Age have yet to release a bad record,” and it’s really the truth. Snares Like A Haircut, their new and fifth LP, absolutely confirms what has been said so far. The record arrives on the shelves five years after their last album, An Object, which gave the duo quite an unexpected success. In their last work the two guys have shaded the minimalist approach of their previous works to make an album that maybe is less experimental than what they did in the past, but which results more compact and effective from a purely musical point of view. The change of style seems in this case as the result of a genuine increase in their maturity (the two became both fathers before this new album), rather than being simply the effect of a growth in their audience.


 

Number 3

OFFERINGS by Typhoon

 

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Typhoon is an indie rock band from Oregon, in the Unites States. The correct wording should be “ensemble” rather than “band”, given that it features eleven members. Because of such a peculiar line-up, which includes two violinist and two trumpeters as stable members, it’s quite disconcerting to discover that the music offered by their last album, Offerings, is so delicate, light, almost whispered. The atmospheres that we find in the 14 tracks of the album are extremely melancholic, often dark, as the band is showing a sense of suffered abandonment against the difficulties and problems of real life in our current times. Where we would have expected an explosion of sounds, we find contained tones, elegant songs but without strength.


 

Number 4

WHAT’S LAID DOWN by Physical Plant

 

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Physical Plant is an indie-psychedelic rock band from Florida, in the U.S., that arrived to their debut LP, What’s Laid Down, after many years of of “underground” and local activity in the New College of Sarasota, their city of origin. As it collects the results of many years of work, this album is extremely varied and heterogeneous and contains also some interesting tracks. The style of the band is really particular and these guys showed a certain courage in composing complex and complex songs. For sure they have all the credentials to try to address international audiences.

 


 

Number 5 

WRONG CREATURES by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

 

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There are records which result very easy to review and others, on the contrary, that require much more time and many more plays. For me this was the case of the last album from the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wrong Creatures, which stationed in my “to be selected” folder for at least a couple of weeks. And this is not because the music played by this group is particularly complex or elaborate, but simply because despite a number of repeated series of plays, I couldn’t decide whether I liked it or not. There is something in the songs of this album that’s still fascinating and which makes them extremely pleasant, but nothing that could really strike my attention. In the end I realized that this record was played with skill, class and elegance, but with the autopilot. I have the impression that the trio of American rockers came to this record without particular enthusiasm, and the fact that the best songs were practically all known since last year didn’t help their cause. Trashing the record would be probably too much, but this album won’t be remembered for sure as one of the best of the year, and of the band as well.


 

 

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