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Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour made several Dallas tastemakers' top albums of the year.EXPAND
Kacey Musgraves' Golden Hour made several Dallas tastemakers' top albums of the year.
Mikel Galicia

Dallas Music Tastemakers Tell Us Their Favorite Releases of 2018

It's that time of year when music fans everywhere reflect on the best releases of the last 12 months. Publications' top-album lists have started to populate the internet to celebrate the standout albums and singles of 2018. With streaming music taking over as the dominant conduit for most listeners, sorting through the flood of new music in the digital era can be a lot like grabbing a drink of water by way of a fire hose.

Fortunately, there are people who make a living keeping their ears to the ground full time, gleefully combing through new music that bubbles to the surface, locally and afar. Music journalists, club DJs, record store employees and radio DJs are all on the front lines on the eternal quest for that new favorite release.

We asked a few of these specialists to give us their top-10 releases of the year and specifically what local release stood out for them.

Music Journalists

Wanz Dover
Blawan, Wet Will Always Dry
Tony Allen and Jeff Mills, Tomorrow Comes The Harvest
Plant43, From Deep Streams
Meat Beat Manifesto, Impossible Star
Martin, Voids
Charles Bradley, Black Velvet
Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth
Julia Holter, Aviary
ERP, Afterimage
Silicon Scally, Live at Scand

Local pick: Rainy Days by Cygnus
Cygnus returns with his ninth album of electro explorations. Rainy Days is more of an introspective headphone record than a dance floor thumper. Much like the title implies, this collection of songs is the perfect soundtrack for a dark, rainy day of playing space opera-themed video games while sinking into an extra comfy couch. Somber synth melodies dancing between the speakers take priority over a bed of subdued beats. It's a beautiful and calming collection of electronic compositions that can be enjoyed far away from the clubs.

Garrett Gravley
Earl Sweatshirt, Some Rap Songs
Boygenius, Boygenius
Mind Spiders, Furies
Daughters, You Won't Get What You Want
Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy
Advance Base, Animal Companionship
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, Dirt
Playboi Carti, Die Lit
Sleep, The Sciences
Hey Cowboy!, The Soft Kind

Local picks: Furies by Mind Spiders and "The Soft Kind" by Hey Cowboy!
In this EP, Mind Spiders goes even further into a post-punk territory without compromising their signature garage-punk sound. They also do an English language reinterpretation of Grauzone's song "Eisbar" ("Ice Bear"), and Peter Salisbury's version of the synth riff is absolutely spine-tingling. I also cannot get enough of the rhythm guitar intervals and Mark Ryan's vocal delivery on "Never Like That."

Upon first listen, I had to listen again just to ascertain what exactly I was hearing, but I knew "The Soft Kind" was fantastic. Sometimes, the spoken word in "Gaby's Noodles" gets stuck in my head out of nowhere.

Eva Raggio
David Byrne, American Utopia
Brandi Carlile, By The Way, I Forgive You
Superorganism, Superorganism
Jack White, Boarding House Reach
Leon Bridges, Good Thing
Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel
Marianne Faithfull, Negative Capability
Bobby Sessions, RVLTN (Chapter 1): The Divided States of AmeriKKKa
The Carters, Everything is Love
Charley Crockett, Lonesome as a Shadow

Local pick: All That Wanting by Claire Morales
For her quirky folk, and Dead Mockingbirds’ Greatest Hits, which is the best kind of satisfyingly head-banging garage rock.

Daniel Rodrigue
SRSQ, Unreality
Mind Spiders, Furies
Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!
Kurt Vile, Bottle It In
Young Fathers, Cocoa Sugar
U.S. Girls, In a Poem Unlimited
Hookworms, Microshift
Low, Double Negative
Claire Morales, All That Wanting
Bobby Sessions, RVLTN (Chapter 1): The Divided States of AmeriKKKa [and RVLTN (Chapter 2): The Art of Resistance]

Local pick: Held by Felt & Fur
Triptych Records released Felt & Fur’s Held in November as the first record by the new local imprint. Held, the band’s second full-length release, was recorded by Britt Robisheaux and mastered by Jeremy Cox. Held finds the electronic trio from Denton layering analog synth sounds and samples by Randall Minick, synth and drum machines by Jarrod Estes with Alizsha Pennington’s haunting vocals and guitar work.

Jacob Vaughn
Brandi Carlile, "The Joke"
Touche Amore, "Green"
Charles Bradley, Black Velvet
DFW Singer-Songwriters, Main St. Tapes
Mitchell Ferguson, "Cry"
Polyphia, "G.O.A.T."
E.B. The Younger, "Used To Be"
Alex the Great, "Out of Order"
Somogyi, Sideways Dreams

Local pick: "Used to Be" by E.B. The Younger
From Eric Pulido’s upcoming first solo album To Each His Own, "Used to Be" was recently released with a music video featuring actor and Dentonite Jason Lee. The name of Pulido’s new solo project, E.B. The Younger is an ode to the idea that something better came before, and "Used to Be" touches on being young and losing time in an indie rock manner, giving fans a glimpse of what will be in his new album.

The Radio DJs

Paul Slavens (Paul Slavens Show on KXT)
Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!
Dirty Projectors, Lamp Lit Prose
Oneohtrix Point Never, Age of
Jlin, Autobiography
Steve Reich, Pulse/Quartet
Venetian Snares & Daniel Lanois, Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois
Tune-Yards, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life
Aphex Twin, Collapse
Anticlines, Lucrecia Dalt
Mitski, Be the Cowboy

Local pick: Lust Heals, Give Me My Sin Again by Francine Thirteen
As for the local release, I choose anything by Francine Thirteen. From what I can see, she still hasn't really released an album, but I still look forward to each of her releases. Something about it really impresses me. I have yet to see her perform and I can only imagine that that will color my opinion. For now, I am just very intrigued with the sound of her work and the musical palette she is creating.

Reid Robinson (Sonic Assembly on KUZU)
Low, Double Negative
Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth
Francine Thirteen, Lust Heals, Give Me My Sin Again
David Byrne, American Utopia
JPEGMAFIA, Veteran
Jake Schrock, Tropical Depression
Alice Cooper, Live From the Astroturf
Nenah Cherry, Broken Politics
Asukubus, Painful is Silence
Yves Tumor, Safe in the Hands of Love

Local pick: Tropical Depression by Jake Schrock

Michael Briggs (Mostly Local on KUZU)
Goldenjoy, Paradox
Giant of the Mountain, Nature's Wrath
Mr. Breakfast, Glass Dome
Tristan Thorndyke, Rock'N'Roll Cannibals
Cig Oasis, Uncovered!
Echo Spring, Echo Spring II
Doomfall, Why Fear the Godless
Sarah Ruth, The Shape of Blood to Come
Noogy, Demo


Local pick: Gods of Biomechanics by Mountain of Smoke

This is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year, local or otherwise. The excellent, sludgy doom duo picked up Alex Johnson on effected pedal steel and really brought their sound to the next level. This is unlike anything you've ever heard.

The Record Stores

Christopher Todd Penn (Good Records)
Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel
Lucy Dacus, Historian
The Glands, I Can See My House From Here
Low, Double Negative
MGMT, Little Dark Age
Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
Michael Rault, It's A New Day Tonight
Spiritualized, And Nothing Hurt
Kamasi Washington, Heaven And Earth
Jonathan Wilson, Rare Birds

Local pick: Motorcade by Motorcade
Motorcade’s debut sounds like a lost album that has always been in your collection. Pop, synth-pop, psych and rock swirled in a blender that starts in the late '60s stops in the '80s for a bit and has the right amount of 2000s in there for good measure. It has been an album I have gone back to countless times in 2018. I love that this Denton-DFW supergroup of sorts has been getting some national love as well.

Luke Sardello (Josey Records)

Mildlife, Phase
Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!
Ben Pirani, How Do I Talk To My Brother?
Chip Wickham, Shamal Wind
Mark Pritchard, The Four Worlds
Kamaal Williams, The Return
Khruangbin, Con Todo El Mundo
Ross From Friends, Family Portrait
Nu Guinea, Nuova Napoli
Mr. Fingers, Cerebral Hemisphere

Local pick: Kryptonyte by Kryptonyte
It's the brainchild of Dolfin Records’ Ben Hixon with the heavy '90s-era Memphis rap influence with touches of Houston screw, featuring Lord Byron and Jade Fox (aka Liv.e). Psychedelic rap at its finest with Pen & Pixel homage by Rami. What’s not to love?

Kate Siamro (Spinster Records)

Black Panther soundtrack
Kali Uchis, Isolation
Alejandro Escovedo, The Crossing
Richard Swift, The Hex
Gruff Rhys, Babelsberg
Damien Jurado, The Horizon Just Laughed
Flasher, Constant Image
Parquet Courts, Wide Awake!
Ting Tang Tina, Love is Trippy
Adam and the Figurines, Adam and the Figurines


Local pick: Adam and the Figurines by Adam and the Figurines

Adam and the Figurines' self-titled album reminds me of living in Portland when I was a kid. It's cheerful, the entire album blends nicely, and I found it calming although poppy.

The Club DJs

JT Donaldson
Stefan Ringer, Meekside//Freekside
Waajeed, From the Dirt
Ben Hixon, Body & Brain
Cajmere ft. Dajae, Brighter Days
Mingus X Strata, Jazz in Detroit/The Lost Tapes
Ben Hixon, Living Quarters
Channel Tres, "Controller"
Jay Daniel, Tala
DJ Spinna x Sade, Adu-Redu
Ohbliv, Retrospective

Local pick: Living Quarters by Ben Hixon

Blake Ward (Resident at Beauty Bar)
Poppy, Am I a Girl?
Robyn, Honey
Snail Mail, Lush
Justice, Woman Worldwide
Kim Petras, Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1
Travis Scott, Astroworld
Sophie, Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides
Pusha T, Daytona
Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
Confidence Man, Confident Music for Confident People

Local pick: The Chopping Block by Rosegarden Funeral Party and "Calling" by Junk Food
Rosegarden Funeral Party just has it together. They released a great EP, they’ve got the look and they leave it all on the stage when they perform. I really think they are the next band to break out from Dallas.

Junk Food is one of my favorite local DJs, and his production is coming a long way. It’s great to Wuki pick up this track from him. I know he worked hard on it, and I can't wait to see what’s next for him.

DJ Red Eye (Resident at Beauty Bar and It'll Do)
Mariel Ito, 2000-2005
Denis Sulta, "DKY" (single)
DJ Seinfeld, DJ Kicks
Kirilik, "Squaring The Circle"
DJ Bone, A Piece of Beyond
Loods N Grab, "Love Is Real"
Third Son, "Heartiste"
Essaie Pas, "New Path (Anthony Rother Remix)"
Djedjotronic f/Douglas McCarthy, "Take Me Down"

Local Pick: "Edge of Time" by Vectorvision

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