15 Great Musical Discoveries from 2018

Written by on February 19, 2019

Every couple months, my KPSU radio show Six Degrees of Rockination has a theme. On December 29, 2018, that theme was my favorite musical discoveries from the past year. To be clear, not all of these bands and songs were new in 2018, but they were new to me. I discovered them in 2018, so I celebrated them in this show. What songs did I play?

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Bellbottoms”

I’ve known about the Blues Explosion for years, and this song originally came out way back in 1994. So why am I just discovering it now? I have no excuses. All I know is God bless the movie Baby Driver for using this song in their opening scene, because I friggin’ love it.

Alex Lahey – “I Haven’t Been Taking Care of Myself”

This 2017 song reminds me of some grunge songs from the 1990s. Tracy Bonham, Jennifer Trynin, Letters To Cleo, Veruca Salt. This song would fit in well with any of their stuff.

Frank Turner – “If Ever I Stray”

I’ve known about Frank Turner for years, but only in the last year have I jumped head-first into his back catalog, and I’m so glad I have. Frank’s got about a million songs, they’re all good, and most of them would work as pub sing-alongs. If you like this one, check out his song “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous.”

Alvvays – “Archie, Marry Me”

I can’t get enough of how her vocals soar in the chorus. The song absolutely explodes.

Otherkin – “Ay Ay”

This Irish foursome is hands-down my favorite band I discover in 2018. If you like this song, you’ll like all their stuff. Hard rock with a pop sensibility. Right in my wheelhouse.

Awolnation – “Here Come the Runts”

This is kind of a weird song, but I don’t care, I think it’s absolutely tremendous. Dude changes speed, changes volume, changes intensity. A little odd, but a hell of a ride. If you like this one, check out his song “Burn It Down.”

Confidence Man – “Bubblegum”

The older I get, the more I appreciate a good, catchy, danceable pop song, and this one definitely qualifies. If you like Fatboy Slim, you’ll love this song.

Kate Nash – “I Hate Seagulls”

Oh my God, I’m head over heels in love with Kate Nash and can’t believe it took me this long to discover her. Her lyrics are astonishing, both in their simplicity and their depth. Every song feels like a short story. The change midway through this song is what makes it my favorite. If you like it, check out her song “Don’t You Want To Share the Guilt.”

Summer Cannibals – “Full of It”

I saw this Portland, Oregon foursome open for a different band, and they completely stole the show. I hope they’re headlining shows soon, because they deserve to. If you like this one, check out their song “Show Us Your Mind.”

The Blue Stones – “Soul’s Full”

I’ve known about this band for a few years now, but it was only in 2018 that I dove deep into their back catalog, and I’m so glad I did. This song is a good example of how they shift intensity within songs. If you like it, check out their song “Criminals.”

Hobo Johnson – “Peach Scone”

This dude is an absolute original. I’ve never heard anyone rap like this. He always seems on the verge of going of the rails, and yet he never does. It’s amazing.

Andrew W.K. – “Music Is Worth Living For”

It took me awhile to get into this song. At first I thought it was cheesy and weird. Now I think it’s cheesy and wonderful. Rocking and anthemic, with super-high falsettos and crunching guitars, this song’s got it all.

Avail – “Scuffle Town”

A band from Richmond, Virginia singing a song about Richmond, Virginia. I love how the rhythm shifts subtly between verses and choruses. I also love how he screams “Third per capita! Third per capita! Next year, number one!” I don’t understand it, I just know I love it.

For I Am – “For All You Pretty People”

This is pretty much a perfect pop punk song. Hard-edged, but with a pop hook you can’t resist. And for the record, I’m pretty sure this is first Belgian band I’ve ever played on my show.

Partner – “Everybody Knows”

And we finish with a song about getting baked. This Canadian duo love to combine comedy, catchy hooks, and facemelting guitar solos. If you like this one, check out their song “Ambassador to Ecstasy.”

And there you go! 15 great songs I discovered in 2018. And guess what? This isn’t just a list I came up with. This was an actual hour-long radio show that you can listen to. Want to hear it? Here’s the link. A solid hour of world-class music I discovered in 2018.

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