Maybe you’ve read the Pitchfork or Stereogum lists thinking about how to encapsulate the way music transforms and shifts you; trying to figure out how it does so for others, figuring out what has moved you and what also excels technically. Lists are kind of shitty, and we can debate over patterns: why technicality and trends are at times praised over genuinely, or what truly defines influence in circles that are so secluded. In the end, there’s a common love and struggle in putting into words these inexplicable things that as easily divide as they unite us. There’s no reason to value my list. What I can offer however, is another take after seeing these 200 song-long collective curations–having lived this decade through music and records that were essentially formative. I sometimes recall the moment I was transformed and had found my first outlet in music in a summer in the Philippines, back in middle school, listening to America’s Suitehearts off Fall Out Boy’s Folie à Deux for the first time (when I got more “seriously” into music, it was also my first vinyl purchase). Since then, I, like the universal story of every other person who was once a teenager and a bit more lonely than average — moved through years with music by my hand, music guiding me through awkward conversations, music being the only time I would genuinely smile, music being something that destroyed me when I was deprived of it. It’s dramatic, but isn’t that what our teen years are for?
I just finished off my first semester of college this Tuesday, and can pretty confidently say that one of the biggest things that got me to be able to go through everything is music. I’ve mentioned it in the past and still joke about it every now and then, but one of the most exciting things to me about going to school in America is the fact that I can go to shows (!!), see artists that I’ve been listening to since I was a kid after countless years, and immerse myself in incredible local music scenes. (Not to say that it isn’t prominent in the Philippines, though.) Given an abundance of free time (at times), I’ve been more closely immersing myself in new releases instead of just listening to whatever like I have in the past. I’ve never realized how critical it was for me to be with people interested in the same kinds of music–or any music, for that matter–at all. It’s just something I can so easily slip in and out of between days and everything I do. Before I get back on the grind of things, here’s a little self-indulgent list of albums that came out this 2018 that I’ve been loving, in no particular order.’ Joy as an Act of Resistance. by IDLES Though my furthest exposure to punk has been pop punk, I’ve heard tons of people talking about how amazing this album was and decided to give it a listen. Colossus is quite possible one of the best album openers I’ve ever heard and it hooked me in ever since that dramatic “goes and it goes and it goes” mixed with the abundance of religious imagery in its lyricism. Deeper into the album is a lot of confessional lyrics that aren’t normally touched on, from stillbirth to toxic masculinity. This is such a gorgeous listen to even if you’re not heavy onto the genre–because wow, it will convert you. Definitely listen in order as well. (Anyway, if you’re not listening to an album in order on the first listen you’re doing it wrong.) The raw energy, honesty, and emotion in this album is ridiculously infectious. There is a scene of me nodding my head to this album and getting a bit to into it in a random Barnes & Noble Cafe on a Wednesday afternoon that exists somewhere out there. Favorite track: Television Be the Cowboy by Mitski ProbablyMore?