Shindigmusic’s BEST ALBUMS OF 2018 Shindigmusic’s BEST ALBUMS OF 2018
Shindigmusic’s BEST ALBUMS OF 2018

It’s been a HUGE year in Arkansas music. From Country, Metal, and Hip-Hop to Punk, Roots and Psychedelia. In a year full of classics, there was something for everyone.

#20 VARIOUS ARTISTS “Bike Rack Records, Vol.1”

Bike Rack Records, Vol. 1, plays to the strengths of Arkansas music in that it features 10 artists across multiple genres, to show the range that the state’s musicians offer. Including Melody PondBrother MosesWill GunselmanSmokey & The MirrorJamie Lou & The Hullabloo, and Ashtyn Barbaree.

(Justin Bates — Shindigmusic)

#19 JOHN HENRY & FRIENDS “When The Storm Comes”

Featuring members of The Squarshers (John Henry Holthus, Brennan Johnson) and Arkansauce (Tom Andersen, Adam Collins), this  band have had this particular batch of songs lingering for quite some time. The homemade album packaging complete with stamped wax seal adds as much charm to the record as the 11 songs themselves. For fans of bluegrass, folk and americana there is a lot to offer . 

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#18 TEN HIGH “Self-Entitled”

Fayetteville’s Ten High have been a staple of the Northwest Arkansas musical underground since the release of 2014’s Libido. Their latest full-length, Self Entitled, marks a strange but wonderful turn from drunken punks to what feels at times like grunge inspired freakouts. While the pop hooks from 2016’s This Is A Pipe Dream still linger, the album as a whole leaves the previous albums friendliness to die by the roadside. 

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#17 ELEPHANTOM “Sunbeams and Daydreams”

Following a batch of singles throughout 2017, Fayetteville’s heir to the Arkansas indie throne, Elephantom, returns with the stellar Sunbeams and Daydreams. 9 tracks of psychedelic dream pop ripped straight from the Big Star and Teenage Fanclub playbooks.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#16 HOLY SMOKES! “Framework”

It feels like we’ve had “Framework” with us for much longer than a few months. But since Fort Smith emo-punkers Holy Smokes! released it as their debut LP in February, I’ve played the album so much that its songs feel worn in and second nature to me by now.

(Justin Bates — Shindigmusic)

#15 COLOUR DESIGN “They Don’t Exist”

What happens when hardcore meets shoegaze? One of the best rock records to come out in 2018 by far. Give it a listen and watch out for the guest appearance from Mr. Adam Faucett.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#14 BEN MILLER BAND “Choke Cherry Tree”

The Ben Miller Band might be used to big album releases and general music business “Next-Big-Thing” talk, but the attention that surrounded their latest release Choke Cherry Tree hit full tilt. Rolling Stone, Guitar World and even ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons were giving the band their dues. One listen to Akira Kurosawa and you’ll be humming it all day.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#13 TINY TOWNS “Self-Titled”

Tiny Towns are one of the latest upper delta bands to peak our musical interests here at Shindig. This Jonesboro band comes out swinging with irresistible charm on their self titled debut EP. Five tunes of indie pop gold including the standout tracks “Monroe,”  and “Settle.” The wah drenched ache of  “Anything but Me” is worth the listen alone.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#12 COUCH JACKETS “go to bed”

Is it possible to see visions when you listen to music? Perhaps it happens when you listen to Pink Floyd, or records from the psych-era Beatles or Beach Boys, or anything from Tame Impala or The Flaming Lips. Well, the same can be said for the latest release from psych-punk-pop rockers Couch Jackets.

(Justin Bates — Shindigmusic)

#11 BONNIE MONTGOMERY “Forever”

Arkansas is no stranger to country music outlaws but there is something uniquely special about Miss Montgomery. One part Kitty Wells darling and two parts “Man In Black” badassery, Montgomery has carved a small but impressive catalog of country gems for traditionalists to swoon over. With music row gaining a very much needed music makeover, Montgomery seems poised for a Nashville conquest.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#10 RAH HOWARD “Let There Be Light”

Since bursting onto the scene in 2013, Rah Howard has become one of the most prolific and most talked about artists in the state. From the excellent “Let There Be Light” to the explosive “I’m Black,” Let There Be Light continues Howard’s ascension to the top of Arkansas Hip-Hop.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#9 GHOST BONES “Lipshifter”

This self-described “Post-Punk” outfit has quickly become one of the most talked about bands in the state. From the now legendary set at Hot Springs Hot Water Hills Music Festival, to capturing the crown at the 2015 Arkansas Times Musician Showcase, Ghost Bones have been wowing audiences with their danceable punk in a four-year assault.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#8 THE RIO’S “Self-Titled”

Little Rock’s funk/soul revivalists, The Rio’s,  have a timeless sound that seems to draw its inspiration from the music of decades past. On their full-length self-titled debut, that sound is evident, with tracks like Fooled Ya’, How Good?, Get Along, What I Need and more, dishing out rock solid grooves that have a classic sound with a modern feel. It’s a brilliant recipe for success.

(Justin Bates — Shindigmusic)

 

#7 WHITE MANSION “Everything In This Room Falls”

Everything In This Room Falls, shows a band starting to hit it’s stride in both songwriting and arrangements. From the slow build of moody opener “LIZARD | QUEEN” to the epic goodbye of “FADED,” the album stands as one of the most impressive releases in a year chock full of bonafide classics.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#6 TERMINUS “Fortune Looming”

When Terminus shuffled off in late 2017 to record “Fortune Looming” — the follow-up effort to their stellar debut “Safe Travels, See You Never” — we around the Shindigmusic offices often speculated what the new material would sound like. Would it be heavier? Would they dabble more into prog? Would it be more technical? The answer is a little of all of that.

(Justin Bates — Shindigmusic)

#5 DEADBIRD “III: The Forest Within The Tree”

One of the most important and influential bands to emerge from the state, Deadbird, returned with an absolute beast of a record that set the metal world on fire. One listen to this progressive/doom classic and you’ll know why we’re still in awe.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#4 AMASA HINES “Ivory Loving Glass”

Try as we might, it’s hard for us to silo the music of Amasa Hines. And perhaps that’s the point. Whether touching on elements of soul or jazz, more straightforward indie rock, or even a little bit of gospel, this brilliant central Arkansas outfit is keen to keep you on your toes.  The album may only contain five songs, but sometimes that’s all you need.

(Justin Bates — Shindigmusic)

#3 ADAM FAUCETT “It Took The Shape of a Bird”

One of the beautiful things about Adam’s music; he’s not exactly trying to reinvent the wheel, but he still manages to make everyone else that came before and does what he does sound sadly impotent by comparison. These songs cut deep, indicative of wounds that should be fatal but were somehow survived, and the scars look cool enough to get you laid.

(Dave Morris — Shindigmusic)

#2 WELLES “Red Trees and White Trashes”

Ozark native Jeh-sea Wells might just be Arkansas’s best kept secret. After relocating from Fayetteville to Nashville, Jeh-sea formed the band Welles and released the excellent Red Trees and White Trashes. The band has toured endlessly with sets at SXSWGovernor’s Ball, and a COS approved Bonnaroo appearance. It’s only a matter of time before everyone knows the name Welles.

(Robert Locke — Shindigmusic)

#1 ELISE DAVIS “Cactus”

Elise Davis doesn’t try to sugarcoat how she feels. Her music is honest, emotional and powerful. Whether the Little Rock native and now Nashville-based singer-songwriter is recalling upon previous relationships, pining for a new one, or just laying out her general outlook on life, Davis’s fresh approach to country music is exactly what the genre needs.

(Justin Bates — Shindigmusic)

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