Despite plenty of 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. Regardless, 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.
Boygenius — Boygenius
It took me months to realize that the cover of Boygenius’s debut EP was an homage to the iconic cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s self-titled 1969 album. The metaphor truly fits. Boygenius is a band comprised of some of the best songwriters of the 2010s, Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus.
Much like CSN, each member comes to the table with a history of producing incredible songs in their own right, before this project was even a gleam in their collective eyes. But taken together, the power and potency of their musicianship and lyrical acumen is simply staggering. The songs are all gorgeous and meticulously realized, the vocal harmonies are stunning, the emotional depth is awe-inspiring. The fuzzed-out monolith that is “Salt In The Wound” is one my favorite songs of 2018.
J Mascis — Elastic Days
J Mascis is a bonafide legend. His work in the underground rock band Dinosaur Jr. really speaks for itself — 2016’s album Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not proved they’ve lost nothing of their potency — but that only tells half the story. The other half can be heard on his vast collection of solo albums.
His latest, Elastic Days, is a revelation. Sure, there’s the expected collection of heady guitar solos, but there’s also an ear for tender harmony that belies the searing bluster. “Web So Dense,” for instance is a melancholic masterpiece, fleshed out by elegiac strings, tender acoustic chords, and Macsis’s own voice, which sounds very nearly on the edge of tears throughout. With his prolific nature, it’d be easy to take someone like J Mascis for granted. Elastic Days is proof that we seriously shouldn’t.
Bleach Party — NOLA
Bleach Party are a Chicago-based garage rock band who’ve made waves in that city by releasing a consistent stream of new EPs and singles going all the way back to 2013. NOLA is their full-length debut, and it was certainly worth the wait. If you’re someone who longs for the days of the early ’00s garage rock revival, when bands like The White Stripes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Electric Six, and the Von Bondies were the next big thing, you’re almost certainly going to love this incendiary collection. Songs like “Entertain Yourself,” “Lunar Mood,” and “No Vacancy” walk the perfect thin line between swelling intensity and lasting emotional heft.
The Beatles — White Album (Super Deluxe Edition)
The White Album is by no means a new album. In fact, it’s 50 years old as of 2018. What is new however, and what merits mention on this list, is the collection of outtakes the band has put together for inclusion on the “super deluxe edition” that’s being released this week. After lingering in the vaults for five full decades, Beatlemaniacs around the world can finally listen to the full scope of what’s been dubbed the “Esher Demos” a collection of over two dozens that the individual members of the band made just ahead of the recording of The White Album, using mostly acoustic guitars at George Harrison’s home. The are some of the earliest takes on several of the band’s biggest and most beloved compositions, and offer new insights into their creator’s intent. There are too many gems to pick out a favorite, but I’d recommend starting with “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey.” It sounds like John Lennon doing a Lou Reed impression in this nascent stage, which is just wild. You’d think after all these years there’d be nothing left to learn about The Beatles. This new edition of White Album puts that idea to rest very easily.
Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers — Bought To Rot
Lauran Jane Grace is most well known in rock circles for fronting the beloved punk rock group Against Me. This year however, she decided to step outside of that entity and release a solo album backed by her new band The Devouring Mothers. The resultant record Bought To Rot is a 14-song excursion through the ups-and-downs of Grace’s life in her adopted hometown of Chicago. Eclectic is the adjective that springs to mind while pouring through this release with Grace alternating between Clash-style punk on the opening track “China Beach” to Bowie-reminiscent revelry on “The Friendship Song.”