Dowdy’s top 10 of 2018 (And A LOT more)

Best of New Rock for 2018

So every year we put together a list of top ten artists based on our views of the music.  The industry listening habits have changed a bit in how albums are purchased and listened to.  Many times best albums come from best song or songs that hit the mainstream.  My list includes some EPs and in some cases, just single songs.  Plus I added a few extra categories that made sense based on the styles of music that came out this year.  So with that, let us begin.

#10.  Nothing But Thieves – What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way

I got into this band late in the game but actually considered one of their songs for my first dance at my wedding this year.  Deep lyrically and strong performances all around.  They won’t get the play they deserve in mainstream, but the album is solid beginning to end.

#9.  Cold War Kids – This Will All Blow Over In Time

The band that has the tie-in to being early GrizzlyFest headliners, CWK also run under the radar.  They have a surprising amount of hits under their belt that you would only know if they played them back to back.  A full double album with a throwback feel.

#8. Panic! At the Disco – Pray For The Wicked

You move your head to them every time you hear them.  Solid song writing and the pipes of Brendon Urie ease you through the album.  A great mix of emo-pop and dance beats that can guide you through a day of chores or deep thought.

#7. Robert DeLong – See You In The Future (EP)

The first of the EP’s, Robert DeLong scored a catchy hit with Favorite Color Is Blue featuring K. Flay. This is the first of three appearances by K. Flay on this list as she gets the Best Team Player award for 2018.  In a modern digital infusion into music, Robert DeLong is safe in his playground on this album.

#6. Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground

Morello has been a part of many groups.  And they all sound like a derivative of RATM.  That’s great, but I want to hear something unique… and he brought it; as well as an all-star cast of guest performers, such as K. Flay, Gary Clark Jr., Steve Aoki, Portugal. The Man, Big Boi and Killer Mike. It’s a get up-and-go album that will keep you energized; a perfect companion to gaming.  If you like the deeper politically motivated drive of Morello, the lyrics put forth by each individual vocalist transcends Morello’s vision into a greater piece.

#5. Bishop Briggs – Church of Scars

The year of the woman may have detonated in 2017, but it continues in 2018 as the next few albums are dominated by dynamically gifted voices.  Bishop Briggs got some love with Coldplay last year, but proves she belongs on the big stage here.

#4.  Alice Merton – No Roots

One caveat, the album comes out next year, but multiple songs are out for pre-release and I am calling for the exemption.  Great storytelling with a dance feel and strong soul vibe.  This could be an early contender for 2019 Album of the Year.

#3.  Billie Eilish – You Should See Me in a Crown (Single)

Yes, my first true single as an album of the year.  She has so many songs out there, either her own or collaborations, that there is plenty to look for.  She has been sneaking into our world for a while but this song is a big look-at-me moment.  Her artistry is especially impressive given that she just turned 17 a few days ago.  A more modern and digital version of Lorde.  I’m looking forward to more in 2019 from Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell.

#2.  Twenty One Pilots – Trench

I have to give my wife credit for turning me onto them during the BlurryFace time.  The two-man band can seem a bit gimmicky and unlikely to satisfy in a live setting but they showed they are a force during their time at the Save Mart Center last February.  TOP has the ability to also put together an album from beginning to end with skill.  They tell a story and know how to ease you through the highs and lows with excellent pacing.  They would have been my number one pick for 2018 if not for…

#1.  Muse – Simulation Theory

Some saw the last couple albums as a downer from their near Rock God status (in part thanks to guitar hero).  They integrated technology and digital musicianship into those albums and perfected that into Simulation Theory while giving us the driven rock they were always known for.  Like TOP, they built an album that combines Stranger Things like 80s fun and modern day political heat into an amazing album that is easy to lose a day to listening to on repeat.  On top of this album, their deluxe album reimagines each song into an entirely unique listening experience.  Everything hits on this album and worth a nonstop stream into your earballs over the next month.


Now for some fun, I decided to give a few other categories from albums put out this year.  Let’s start with the top relationship albums.  Whether you have an ex you hate or just down on hard times, these albums will provide a perfect soundtrack to the rocky road ahead.  In no particular order:

Albums to Brood Over Someone To

Two Feet – A Twenty Something F*uck (EP)

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

Florence + The Machine – High As Hope

The 1975 —  A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships


We Are Getting Paid/Promotional Music Albums of the Year

These are the bands that are getting played at every WWE, NFL, NBA, live event anywhere.  They may even get play at rodeos and soccer matches.

#5.  Mike Shinoda – Post Traumatic

#4.  Bishop Briggs – White Flag

#3.  Fall Out Boy –  M A N I A

#2.  Panic at the Disco! – Pray For the Wicked

#1.  Imagine Dragons — Origins


We Gave Up But Still Want to Get Paid Albums of the Year

The disappointing performances for past elite artists in many people’s minds that are proving that they can still sell to past memories of greatness.

#5.  Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch

It hurts to say it as this is my personal favorite band, but the end of the trilogy albums that started in 2016 was a complete let-down.  I’m hoping it is just an aberration and not a trend for Trent Reznor and company.

#4.  Gorillaz – The Now Now

To be honest, this has been a trend with the Gorillaz.  Did you know that they had an album this year?  Probably not, as it is straight booty.  May be time to pack it in.

#3.  Alice in Chains – Rainer Fog

It is hard to continue on with a deceased front-man. AIC has tried for so long, but there is nothing comparable to the 90s.  You are just helping to feed their addiction by buying this stuff.

#2.  Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots

The DeLeo Bros just keep trying to push their music with the name that made them famous.  Adding a reality show front-man that sounds very similar to Scott Weiland just shows how close they are to being their own cover band.  Pack it up guys.

#1.  A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant

Can we discuss the myth that is Maynard James Keenan?  He is a deity to so many, yet he has just pushed out nothing but invoices to his fans with the hope of a magical new Tool album.  I at least went into this album with the blinders off.  I couldn’t even get a full listen through before I moved to something worthwhile.


They Still Make Music Albums of the Year

Yeah, all of these artists put out something new this year.  You didn’t know because you haven’t heard of them in the last decade.  It’s nice to see they are still trying.

#1. The Breeders – All Nerve

Cannonball was new in 1993.  That is all you have heard or will ever hear, but they have a bit of grunge royalty on them.

#2. Hoobastank – Push Pull

Hoobastank.  Yeah.

#3. Dave Matthews Band – Come Tomorrow

We all know a DMB fan.  They are in that mid-stage Phish fan training.

#4. The Living End – Wunderbar

I liked them.  I enjoyed seeing them at an old New Rock birthday bash in 2000-something.  Then they went back to Australia.  I guess they still write.  Cool.

#5. Dashboard Confessional – Crokked Shadows

When your shtick is to be the soundtrack for broken-hearted teens, your life-span will be as short as those kids grow up and learn how to deal properly with relationships.  The window is closed man.  Let it go.

Pennywise – Never Gonna Die

Well they are punk and I’m sure old punk rockers never stop… until they die.