As the world goes mad and we balance staying informed with protecting ourselves from what appears on the news each night, one thing continues to thrive and gives us hope, a voice, something to relate to, and most importantly an escape. It’s the Holiday Season and I’d love to be rainbows and butterflies in the spirit of them, but the truth is that 2018 has been tough. Whether it’s watching children be ripped apart from their families and put in cages, realizing that weapons remain more important than human life, witnessing the worst wildfires in California history and the complete lack of couth our leader showed toward the disaster, seeing tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free met with tear gas instead, or the fact that our planet is dying and most people don’t seem to care. The one semblance of light that we still have to cling onto is the arts, expression, and the amazing musicians that make these trying times more tolerable.
Multiple times through the year I listened to an album or EP and thought “there is no way this can be topped” only to be surprised by the next. As 2018 comes to a close, I give you my personal awards for the year and hold onto hope that we can see a better 2019 if we all try hard enough.
Favorite Album of 2018: Amy Shark – Love Monster
Album of the year is always so tough. I seriously thought that Donna Missal‘s This Time was going to sweep all of the lists here at Lemonade given the fact it was as close to perfect as you can get. With that being said, I am such a sucker for an album that I can relate to and much like Paramore‘s After Laughter last year, Amy Shark‘s Love Monster was a similar story for 2018. What makes Amy Shark such an incredible writer is the fact that she isn’t interested in what will be deemed “poetic” whatsoever. Instead, she captures the most intimate and neurotic feelings many of us feel during relationships, many of which others try and suggest are “crazy”. Amy Shark does what every great songwriter should do. She makes you feel like you’re not alone with your thoughts and neuroses. The originality of Love Monster just completes the package and makes it whole. The Australian’s sound is hard to compare to anyone else’s out there and is an absolute gem for this generation.
Favorite Song of 2018: “Colored Walls / Fly Low” – SVIBES
Sanders Bohlke and Chris De Luca go together like every cliche perfect pairing out there. “Colored Walls / Fly Low” hit me the first time I heard it and I spent most of 2018 telling other people to listen to it as well. Between Bohlke‘s solo releases and the other tracks SVIBES released in 2018, they gave us just enough of a taste to be craving a lengthier release in 2019. I have a ton of favorite songs from 2018, but none stuck out quite like this one did.
Favorite EP of 2018: Rotana – demo love series
Was it meant to be a release? Were they just demos to preview? Rotana continues to be a bit of a mystery. In my opinion, she is one of the most talented human beings that I have had the honor of interviewing and has all the makings to be a superstar of the music industry. With that all being said, Rotana is elusive. She doesn’t show up on social media much (and who can blame her) and when she releases new music, it tends to be out of the blue without much lead-up. In the case of her demo love series EP, it has simply vanished from Apple Music and Spotify as if it were never there, to begin with. It’s unfortunate for those who didn’t get to listen to it since the music was simply fantastic, but as I said…this is Rotana, enjoy the ride, you never know what is going to happen next.
Favorite New Artist or Band of 2018: Donna Missal
I believe I have told the story many times now, but the first time I heard Donna Missal, I had accidentally stumbled onto her set at Bumbershoot in Seattle, WA. From that moment on, I knew she was going to be something incredible. Her debut album, This Time is as close to perfect as you are going to get and yet somehow it pales in comparison to seeing her live. She’s original, she makes no bones about being herself, and to top it off she has an absolutely insane voice. If this woman doesn’t end up needing a room just for her Grammy Awards one day, it will be a terrible crime.
Favorite Male Artist of 2018: William Ryan Key
Finding a favorite male artist every year can provide somewhat of a challenge. A large portion of the most popular male vocalists out there are usually part of a band, therefore, disqualifying them from this category. William Ryan Key knows all about that given his former band, Yellowcard’s fame. This year Key made the decision to release a solo EP, Thirteen, and it was everything Yellowcard fans could have asked for. The fully acoustic release hit all the right spots for those of us who listened to Yellowcard in our teens but have all inevitably hit our 30’s. Although Thirteen was well received by diehard fans, I still feel like the release is underrated. If you haven’t heard it yet, it is well worth your time.
Favorite Female Artist of 2018: Amy Shark
Time and time again, we hear about how the phenomenon known as the “overnight success” is never really how it seems. While it seems like Amy Shark came out of nowhere, she is actually proof of the fact that you should never give up on your dreams no matter what. The 32-year-old singer/songwriter spent the majority of her 20’s trying to grab the attention of labels only to have it fall on deaf ears. How stupid they must feel now. What might be the most impressive aspect of Shark, is actually quite simple. Every single word she writes screams honesty. Now I know that might sound extremely cliche, but it only takes a couple of listens to her album, Love Monster, for you to understand exactly what I mean. She’s in her own league right now. She isn’t playing by any industry rules or falling into a sound that the radio deems “popular”. In my personal opinion, she is the purest talent the music world has right now.
Favorite Band or Duo of 2018: Ice Nine Kills
If I go back and look at all the amazing bands I listened to and saw in concert this year, I would spend forever trying to pick one as my favorite, so instead, I am going with the band who completely took over my Apple Music account this year and released one of the best metalcore albums I have ever listened to…EVER. Ice Nine Kills‘ latest album, The Silver Scream, is simply phenomenal. Full of tracks inspired by horror movies like The Shining, Halloween, Friday The 13th, IT, and even Jaws, the band somehow made what could have been a complete disaster into something brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, the band has been inspired by such films throughout their career, but The Silver Scream feels like an entirely different beast creatively. INK continues to get better and better as time goes on and proves that metal is far from dead.
Favorite Music Video of 2018: “Hide” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise
For the early part of 2018, Rainbow Kitten Surprise‘s How to: Friend, Love, Freefall was my go to when I was listening to music in my car. The album is absolutely fantastic from start to finish. Personally, I love when bands utilize a music video to bring the undeniable power that lyrics hold to a whole new dimension. “Hide” is a wonderful track by itself, but when you add the music video to the song, it turns the message into something larger than life. If you haven’t watched the video yet, I highly suggest you take the six and a half minutes out of your life right now to do so. Regardless of who you are and what your upbringing was if this video doesn’t hit you in the feels and make you smile by the end of it? I don’t know.
My Favorite Moment of 2018: Lights in Whistler
As the summer slowly faded into fall and the wildfire smoke in Washington and British Columbia was blown away by a chilly breeze, I made my way to one of my favorite places on earth to see one of my favorite artists play there for the first time.
My mom had bought tickets to an outdoor light show in Whistler, Canada (Vallea Lumina) the day before Lights would be playing the second to last free concert of the summer at Whistler’s Olympic Plaza. Although my mom isn’t much of a concert goer, she didn’t really have a choice since her Nissan Leaf wouldn’t have made it all the way there on one charge, so I picked her up on my way to the border, promising her that she was going to love seeing Lights in concert. Not only did she love the concert, but she has also since become a superfan of the Canadian songstress. And who can blame her? I have been a superfan since the days of The Listening, but the truth is that the artist we see today is infinitely better and she was already great back then.
Whistler is a special place for me and Lights truly is a special artist, not only for me but also for this magazine. To see her first show ever in that beautiful mountain village will forever be one of my favorite memories. Turning my mom into a fan as well was just the cherry on top.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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