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Sarah Spencer: Resident Alien writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2018: Io the Resident Alien

CHIRP Radio Best of 2018

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2018. Our next list is from DJ Io the Resident Alien.

2018 was quite a memorable year for this resident alien, marking my move from the Vancouver, Canada to the mighty city of Chicago, and finding my groove here as a DJ at CHIRP Radio. I've been having a great time sharing my favorite music with our listeners, and this year's new releases didn't disappoint. The ladies dominate my top 10 list, and in the interest of embracing a feminine and non-hierarchical way of being, here is are my top picks for 2018, in no particular order:


Church of Scars by Bishop Briggs (Teleport)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Bishop Briggs Church of ScarsHer debut studio album Church of Scars showcases this young singer's powerhouse vocals through an album packed with exceedingly catchy songs. Songs like "River" and "White Flag" demand to be played on repeat, fists pumping, in the privacy of your own home. Or in public. Hey, I'm not going to judge.



Hunter by Anna Calvi (Domino)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Anna Calvi HunterIn her first album in five years, Mercury Prize-nominated artist Anna Calvi explores the topics of sexuality, identity, and the gender spectrum, stating "I believe that if we were allowed to be somewhere in the middle, not pushed to the extremes of performed masculinity and femininity, we would all be more free." The album is raw, powerful, and sexy, and definitely worth revisiting for years to come.



On Dark Horses by Emma Ruth Rundle (Sargent House)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Emma Ruth Rundle On Dark HorsesIf gothic and brooding-yet-beautiful rock 'n' roll is up your alley, the latest release from Emma Ruth Rundle is not to be missed. With her captivating voice and crunchy guitars, this album is perfect for rainy days and long winter nights.



Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1 by Richard Reed Parry (ANTI-)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Richard Reed Parry Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1The Canadian multi-instrumentalist and member of Arcade Fire released his album on the Autumn Equinox, with its follow-up scheduled to be released on the Spring Equinox in 2019. This album features lush, organic, and circular rhythms, which the artist describes as a "meditative, wide-screen musical experience with Beach Boy harmonies and a hypnotic pulse." This is truly a beautiful album to experience.



Carolina Confessions by Marcus King Band (Fantasy)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Marcus King Band Carolina ConfessionsWith a powerful, smoky blues voice and expert musicianship, the Marcus King Band leave everything on the table with their latest release. This is an album that truly took my breath away this year. "Confessions" is one of the best songs of the year from any artist: with Marcus King's heartbreaking voice, the wailing guitars, blasting horns, and spacious organ-playing, this one hits you right in the gut.



Broken Politics by Neneh Cherry (Smalltown Supersound)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Neneh Cherry Broken PoliticsOn her fifth album in 30 years, Broken Politics gives us the Swedish artist grappling with current global issues, including the refugee crisis, gun violence, fascism, racism, and the general sense of despair. The resulting album is intimate and eclectic, with her soulful voice uttering poetry over beats that would please any trip-hop fan.



Family of Aliens by Teleman (Moshi Moshi)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Teleman Family of AliensOn their third album, the London-based quartet explores the realm of synthy dance-pop, resulting in a sound that oscillates somewhere between late-Radiohead and Peter Bjorn and John, with a dash of Depeche Mode mixed in. "Sea of Wine", "Cactus", and "Family of Aliens" are stand-out tracks for me on this one, but there's lots of good stuff here.



Saturn by Nao (Little Tokyo/RCA)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Nao SaturnOn this beautiful, soulful R&B album, Nao explores the astrological concept of the Saturn return, thought to be a painful time of emotional upheaval which can lead to transformation and personal growth. The songs feature the artist managing heartbreak, but also the personal regeneration that happens after the pain is processed. The opening track, "Another Lifetime" captivated me from the first listen, though there is a lot of great stuff to explore here.



Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae (Wondaland)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Janelle Monae Dirty ComputerI've been a fan of Ms. Monae ever since she thrust herself into my conscious awareness in 2010 with her sci-fi-themed R&B/soul masterpiece, the ArchAndroid, and I have followed her musical journey ever since. Though her latest release may not be as revolutionary as some of her previous work, it's nonetheless a great album filled with hits that'll make you shake your booty. As Monae's coming-out album, it's full of black, queer, people-in-general-loving pride that is not only entertaining, but an important continuation of the public conversation around human rights.



Wonder Under by Glad Rags (Midwest Action)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Glad Rags Wonder UnderThe second full-length album from the Chicago-based psychedelic orchestral pop music collective, this is a quirky and unexpected album that simply delighted me this year. They've thrown a lot into the pot with this one, but it works. If I had to describe it to the uninitiated, I would say it's a mix of the Beatles from the Sgt. Pepper's era combined with Randy Newman and the background music from the old 1970s Schoolhouse Rock educational cartoons. It's crazy, but it's good.


Honorable Mentions

My Brightest Diamond - A Million and One - Rhyme & Reason

Jaye Jayle - No Trail and Other Unholy Paths - Sargent House

Vapor Eyes - Smooth FM - self-released

Ume - Other Nature - Modern Outsider

Brandon Coleman - Resistance - Brainfeeder

Forma - Semblance - Kranky Klaus

Johann Grobe - Du Bist So Symmetrisch - Trouble in Mind

Yves Tumor - Safe in the Hands of Love - Warp

The Love Language - Baby Grand - Merge

Phosphorescent - C'est La Vie - Dead Oceans




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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2018

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