Despite innumerable think-pieces loudly proclaiming the contrary, rock is not on its last legs in 2018. In fact, it’s thriving quite nicely. Are there artists dominating the charts in a Drake-like fashion this year? No, and it doesn’t seem like there will be anytime soon. That being said, the slate of new and amazing music being released on a monthly basis for those who love a fuzzed-out guitars has been downright impressive.
Here are the best new rock albums that dropped this week.
Eric Church — Desperate Man
But isn’t Eric Church a country artist??? That is certainly the box that genre labels have traditionally boxed Church in, but listen to this album all the way through and tell me what you hear. Loud guitars, funky and outlandish drum lines, open-hearted lyrics. I dunno, sounds like a rock album to me. The biggest country signifier is the twang in Church’s own voice, but turn up the volume on “Desperate Man” and tell me that isn’t the closest thing you’ve heard to The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” in decades. My point exactly.
Fucked Up — Dose Your Dreams
Dose Your Dreams is a commitment. It’s a nearly 90-minute long, double-album packed with more hooks, more ideas, more emotion, more gutturally raw rock and roll singing as any other record you’re liable to come across this year. Fucked Up are one of the best hardcore-ish bands to come out of Toronto in quite some time, and this new record might just be their best yet, or at least, it’s in the discussion alongside 2011’s David Comes To Life. It’s boozy and brawny, and begs to be cranked while driving down your nearest interstate.
Tokyo Police Club — TPC
It’s a pretty great week if you have a lasting affinity for Canadian rock bands. In addition to the new Fucked Up record, we also got a pretty stellar back to basics release from Tokyo Police Club. It’s been a good four years or so since David Monks — whose sister Katie’s band Dilly Dally released an incredible record called Heaven a few weeks back — and company have rolled through with a new album, but the wait was well worth it. TPC is project packed with scrunchy guitar melodies, cymbal-clattering drums, and at the forefront, evocative verging on spoken word vocals by Monks. The song “Simple Dude” in particular, is a vibe.
Jim James — Uniform Clarity
As the frontman for My Morning Jacket, Jim James’ bread and butter over the last 20 years has been spaced-out, trippy psychedelic guitar jams. For Uniform Clarity, he decided to strip things back to the barest essentials; just a dude, an acoustic guitar, and a couple of microphones playing the same tracks from his earlier solo record Uniform Distortion. The sparsity of the arrangements really adds an emotional heft that may have been missed under the wealth of electric instruments. For any fans of his music, this is a must-have.
Doyle Bramhall II — Shades
Eric Clapton has a Christmas album coming out next week, but I really don’t want to talk about that. What I do want to talk about is this new album by his sometime-protege Doyle Bramhall II, one of the finer guitar players out there today. For many, blues guitar has become passe to the point of meaninglessness, and it takes a superb player to really shine through the morass. Bramhall is that kind of talent. And when he hooks up with his mentor Clapton on wah-wah tinged “Everything You Need” or duets with Norah Jones on “Searching For Love,” you can practically feel the sparks flying.