MAGNET’s Top 25 Albums Of 2018

1) The Bevis Frond We’re Your Friends, Man (Fire)
2) The Beths Future Me Hates Me (Carpark)
3) Idles Joy As An Act Of Resistance (Partisan)
4) Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Hope Downs (Sub Pop)
5) Tracey Thorn Record (Merge)
6) Hop Along Bark Your Head Off, Dog (Saddle Creek)
7) Courtney Barnett Tell Me How You Really Feel (Milk!/Marathon Artists/Mom + Pop)
8) Kamasi Washington Heaven And Earth (Young Turks)
9) Amy Rigby The Old Guys (Southern Domestic)
10) Screaming Females All At Once (Don Giovanni)
11) Sarah Davachi Let Night Come On Bells End The Day (Recital Program)
12) Guided By Voices Space Gun (GBV Inc)
13) Blood Orange Negro Swan (Domino)
14) Robyn Honey (Konichiwa/Interscope)
15) Superchunk What A Time To Be Alive (Merge)
16) Young Fathers Cocoa Sugar (Ninja Tune)
17) Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer (Atlantic)
18) Richard Swift The Hex (Secretly Canadian)
19) Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour (MCA Nashville)
20) Kurt Vile Bottle It In (Matador)
21) Angélique Kidjo Remain In Light (Kravenworks)
22) Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (Domino)
23) First Aid Kit Ruins (Columbia)
24) Loma Loma (Sub Pop)
25) Lucy Dacus Historian (Matador)

The Bevis Frond

Meltdown Festival: John Maus Delivers The Most Intense Solo Performance You Will Ever Witness

John Maus kicked off the 2019 leg of his tour in support of last year’s Addendum the end of January, and he hit Philadelphia’s Union Transfer last week. He also hit himself. And the air. And screamed and contorted his body and jumped up and down—all while dressed like a soccer dad after a week-long bender. Maus’ onstage delivery is somewhere between performance art, a nervous breakdown and karaoke, and the philosophizing synth whiz leaves it all on the stage, where he performs solo with his prerecorded music. British cult eccentric Nick Nicely opened the show, his face obscured by some sort of white scarf. For the first time in his life, MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was the most normal guy in the room.

Nick Nicely

4AD Released “Dark Was The Night” 10 Years Ago Today

10 years ago today, 4AD released Dark Was The Night, a Red Hot Organization compilation curated by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the National to raise AIDS awareness and featuring Spoon, Bon Iver, the Decemberists, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, Yo La Tengo, Cat Power, New Pornographers, Iron & Wine and more. Read our review of its 2016 follow-up of sorts:

Normal History Vol. 517: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 35-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

“The activity of not attempting to get somewhere in terms of what already exists presents an opportunity to make things up as we go along. It was a thrill to get a playlist in the mail from Moscow, Idaho—a place we’d never even heard of—and a strange sensation to get a letter from a guy in Arkansas who’d been beaten up for wearing one of our weirdo T-shirts. We went on tour because it was a scary adventure, not to sell records.” —Jean Smith, “Surviving The Underground,” Monitor Mix, NPR, 2009

“In January” from The Family Swan (Kill Rock Stars, 2002) (download):

Essential New Music: Michael Chapman’s “True North”

True North is Michael Chapman’s second album for Paradise Of Bachelors, and once again Steve Gunn sits in the producer’s chair. But this is very different from 2017’s 50, which paired the veteran English singer/guitarist with a much younger band of Americans who probably remember his old records better than he does. Now that the 78-year-old Chapman has scratched the urge to make an American record off of his bucket list, he’s gotten down to the more serious matter of taking stock of a long life.

Chapman’s dogged guitar picking evokes the road, and the curving pedal steel and cello melodies that wrap around his picking suggest a warm comfort that he can’t quite grasp. Closer at hand is his old friend Bridget St. John, whose voice has a similarly lived-in sound. Their harmonies add just enough sugar to make Chapman’s plainly stated, bitterly measured observations go down one after another. 

—Bill Meyer