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.
July was an especially fruitful month for rock fans looking for something new to listen to, stacked as it was with long-awaited releases from titanic, genre-defining bands, ambitious next steps from some adored indie groups, and some amazing statements from several groups on the come-up. While some of these albums haven’t garnered the wider exposure they may have otherwise deserve, here, collected are the 10 best new rock albums that dropped in July 2018.
Wild Pink — Yolk In The Fur
Wild Pink, the New York-based indie rock band made a bold, though criminally-undercovered statement about the ways of the world following the abysmal 2016 election with their self-titled debut that dropped last year. In 2018, the group decided to get a little more insular in thought and expansive in execution with their sophomore project Yolk In The Fur. As Steven Hyden put it in his RX review, “whereas Wild Pink unfolded as a series of dreamy short stories about millennial ennui in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Yolk In The Fur is a musical novel that appears to document an intense romantic (or perhaps wannabe romantic) relationship.” My advice, if you weren’t paying attention before, now is a good time to start.
Tony Molina — Kill The Lights
One of the best rock albums of the month comes courtesy of Bay Area hardcore veteran Tony Molina. His new project, Kill The Lights, is short, sweet and to the point. 10 songs. 15-minutes long. That’s all Molina needs to stake his claim as one of the most compelling songwriters of 2018. The Big Star vibes are strong on this record. Chiming guitars, hummable melodies, and a sweet sense of melancholy that courses through many of the songs like “Wrong Town.” Kill The Lights is the kind of record that begs for repeat listening, and rewards it with new epiphanies every time.
Deafheaven — Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
For a while there around 2013-14 just after the release of their second album Sunbather, Deafheaven were the de facto “hipster” metal band. Metal, historically, is not a “cool” genre — though the sheer number of modern rap stars rocking Megadeth t-shirts is staggering — but every once in a while, one group breaks through and becomes a critic’s darling. Prepare for the hype machine to rev up once again with the release of their new album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. As Uproxx’s Steven Hyden put it in his review, “Deafheaven is back making mesmerizing, unapologetically ‘big’ rock music that sometimes abandons metal altogether.”
Dirty Projectors — Lamp Lit Prose
Well, that certainly didn’t take very long. After making their fans wait five years in between projects for their last album, Dirty Projector’s followed up 2017’s self-titled record with a quickness. Lamp Lit Prose is everything you’ve come to expect from the David Longstreth-fronted indie rockers. It’s emotional, upbeat, with enough sonic twists and turns to keep you constantly on your toes as you listen through its 10-compact tracks.
Body/Head — The Switch
Kim Gordon is not the kind of artist to rest on her laurels. After the dissolution of Sonic Youth, the singer/bass player has thrown herself into a variety of different project, the most interesting however is a musical collaboration with Bill Nace, they’ve dubbed Body/Head. The duo’s latest album is an intense collection of experimental guitar tracks that recalls the vibe of the ’70s rock group Suicide.
Ty Segall And White Fence — Joy
Ty Segall makes new albums at the same, intense rate of speed as your favorite Soundcloud rapper. It seems like every few months or so, there’s a new project from this San Francisco guitarist for his fans to enjoy. His latest is a collaboration — half the work makes for a faster release schedule, I see you Ty — with White Fence titled Joy. Don’t let the 15 song track list intimidate you, this is a lean, mean, but expressive 30-minute release featuring some stellar hooks and off-kilter gems like the “Rock Flute” interlude.
Meg Meyers — Take Me To The Disco
Meg Meyers, an Angeleno by way of Tennessee has made one of the fiercest new records of 2018 with her second album Take Me To The Disco. As its title suggests, there are thick layers of pop sheen that gloss over many of the songs here, but make no mistake the posture, the attitude is pure rock and roll. Take the single “Numb” a bombastic swell of sound, rage-filled guitars flood the choruses and consume the slow simmer that permeates through the verses. It’s classic Nirvana, loud-quiet-loud territory, and I’m certainly here for it.
Beach Rats — Wasted Time
It might be a stretch to tag Beach Rats with the infamous “supergroup” label, but you can’t deny the pedigree that the different members bring to the table. Brian Baker of Minor Threat and Bad Religion, Ari Katz of Lifetime, and Pete Steinkopf and Brian Kienlen of Bouncing Souls. Not too shabby. The music itself is as brash and emotive as you’d expect, propelled by warp-speed drums, savage guitars, and caterwauling vocals. “Lonely For The Night” is a f*cking anthem.
Deaf Wish — Lithium Zion
Recently, I had the chance to talk to Courtney Barnett about the rise of vital rock bands throughout Australia, but especially in and around her home base of Melbourne. One of the names we overlooked was punk rockers Deaf Wish, who today rolled out their second album for Sub Pop Records titled Lithium Zion. For those who’ve been following along over the last few years, or were turned on with their last record Pain, the new album carries everything you’ve come to expect from this group: incredible energy, ripping guitars, and a whole lot of attitude. Highly recommend checking out “FFS” first and then diving in whole hog.
The National — Boxer: Live In Brussels
For many, The National peaked with the release of their 2007 album Boxer. I personally disagree with that stance — Trouble Will Find Me is superior in every way — but the devotion to that prior release amongst the band’s fans is total. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the group decided to perform Boxer in its entirety during a gig in Brussels last year. The resulting record is a raw and intense rehash of some of the most beloved songs in all of indie-rock.