All the Rage no. 58, December 12, 2018: My favourite songs of 2018

In which I look back at my favourite left-field pop songs of 2018, from Canada, Australia and beyond. So many excellent songs, so many excellent bands came our way in 2018 that this list only scrapes the surface. Let’s get to it! Your setlist and song-by-song reviews below.

 

  1. Rebel Yell, Stains (feat. Gussy)

So many great songs passed over the All the Rage airwaves in 2018 that it was incredibly difficult to choose the cut-off song, as it were: my “Rest of 2018” list is 33 songs long. That said, isn’t this a great piece of menacing electronic tuneage? I think my first exposure to Rebel Yell, a.k.a. Brisbane’s Grace Stevenson, was via a remix of a Lovely Head song. So when Hired Muscle, her debut album arrived last June, I was definitely on board. All in all, not a bad way to begin the countdown.

  1. Smaller Hearts, Chipper

Pet Shop Boys meets Stereolab, with hints of Depeche Mode? Yes, please. “Chipper,” and their whole album, hint at greatness to come from these Nova Scotians.

  1. Würst Nürse, Hot Doctor

I like to think my musical tastes are pretty eclectic, but if there’s anything that I’ve learned in putting together this show and podcast for the past three-plus years it’s that I definitely have a type, or a few types. And one type is definitely loud, aggressive, melodic punk with a social conscience and a sense of humor. Which is to say that I’ve got all of the time in the world for “the world’s first and best nurse punk band.” Being serious is easy; writing a straight-up Rawk song about sexism that includes the line, “I want your hot beef injection,” is something else. And that something else is Satirical Feminist Transcendent Rock Awesomeness.

  1. IV League, Superstar

Pure, anthemic pop. A glittering fight song.

  1. Civic, New Vietnam

Punk as fuck.

  1. Haolin Munk, Deep Space Float (feat. Lee Reed)

Chill as all get-out. And from just down the road in Hamilton. And it’s part of an odd concept album about aliens and space or some such. Check it out.

  1. Savour the Rations, Thank the Lord (feat. Domba, Kwame, Raj Mahal & Gibrillah)

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/5738271

Hard, heavy, profane Australian hip hop. Um, yes, I’m in.

  1. Choses Sauvages, Ariane

Mellow Québécois pop. I’ve already used the word “chill” to describe another song on this list, but it definitely applies here, and I’m too lazy to check a thesaurus.

  1. Donny Benét, Love Online

Finally seeing Donny Benét live (in Paris, no less. On a boat, no less) was a personal highlight of 2018. (I have no doubt that his January concert in Cologne will feature similarly in my 2019.) So was the release of his latest album, The Don. 80s-style synth-based pop combined with sexy-adjacent lyrics is his stock in trade. Think Chromeo-style come-ons delivered by someone posing as a gone-to-seed Lothario who, despite outward appearances, still has It. His secret is that the music is tight and his lyrics are clever without ever descending into parody. Being serious and sincere is easy, being funny and clever is difficult. Anyway, yeah, “Love Online” is a great song, but I could’ve picked any song from The Don. Treat yourself. Check him out. You deserve it.

  1. Flowertruck, Come Across

But just because it’s easier to be sincere than funny and clever doesn’t mean there’s no place for sincerity in my favourite songs, “Come Across” being a prime example. It leans heavy on the melancholy and angst and hits those feels like a pro, ably assisted by a chorus that’s been lodged in my mind for months.

  1. Speedy Ortiz, Lucky 88

See above re emotional heft, which Speedy Ortiz has become expert at delivering. They’re fast becoming one of the United States’ most dependable and exciting rock bands.

  1. Paupière, Défunte Lune de Miel

And now for some bouncy Québécois pop. Still disappointed that I missed them when they came through Toronto earlier this year.

  1. Babygirl, Over in No Time

Sad, beautiful dreampop from Toronto. Wonderful delicateness.

  1. Tram Cops, stolen land

A moody and haunting track out of Melbourne. Yeah. It sticks with you.

  1. Constant Mongrel, 600 Pounds

Heavy, in tone and content. A song from the soundtrack of a world in a bad spot and spiralling.

  1. Orlando Furious, Rage

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/arD_5YGJdQ0?rel=0

Stream of consciousness unlike anything else I heard this year. Discordant, dissonant, unsettling. 

  1. Tim & the Boys, Hey

Driving, straight-ahead rock and roll with a nice aggressive edge…. Geez. I feel like I’m trying to write about wine. You can use words like “mouthfeel” all you want, but it basically comes down to, do you like it? Yeah, I like this song. I like it a lot. It’s my 14th-favourite song of the year. It rocks. It annoyed me to no end that I couldn’t buy these Sydneysiders’ album in Canada until months after it was released Down Under.

  1. Confidence Man, Don’t You Know I’m In a Band

In 2018, Confidence Man followed up on a couple of ridiculously enjoyable singles with a ridiculously enjoyable debut album. Case in point, this tongue-in-cheek assertion of pop star entitlement that is itself a near-perfect pop song. I want Confidence Man to be around forever, please.

  1. BBQT, High Wasted

Charming, off-kilter indie pop from Montreal. One of my two go-to summer songs on this list.

  1. Muncie Girls, Picture of Health

So, Muncie Girls is one of only three non-Canadian or -Australian bands that made my top 30, which should give you a good idea of how much I like this song. “Picture of Health” is pop-punk done right, and I’m particularly taken with their stuttered repetition of words in the song’s earwormy chorus. I’ve never heard that done before, and it Sounds. So. Cool.

  1. Little Ugly Girls, Tractor

Australian (from Hobart) riot grrrl band with tracks preserved in amber since the 1990s and whose album was only released this year. “Tractor” roars.

  1. Chromeo, Room Service

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/B-_xw6lf9T8?rel=0

We’re all running low on energy. Chromeo makes the case against going out, and for staying in and getting down. I’m convinced.

  1. JuliaWhy?, Pocket

More proof that the future of rock and roll is female.

  1. Metric, Now or Never Now

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/4Eh6mc993AIHTEpj3LFIlp

The live version of this song was a standout when I saw Metric in Utrecht in November, leading me to revisit it on the album. Verdict: It’s among Metric’s best.

  1. Petra Glynt, Surveillance

Probably the most epic tune on this list, “Surveillance” is an uncompromising and abrasive piece of artpop that had me thinking of U.S. Girls or an unvarnished Grimes. Bonus points for making a danceable song about living in a surveillance society.

  1. Sunscreen, Tide

My choice for 2018 summer song. A gentle pop tune that nails that end-of-summer feeling. 

  1. Phantastic Ferniture, Fuckin ‘n’ Rollin

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/00F5GpqtjDr750q3M2Bkfm

Reminds me of Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phonenix in that all of the guitar pop songs on this Sydney band’s debut album sound timeless, like they always existed. Perfection.

  1. Sahara Beck, Here We Go Again

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/5s2JcXMkuhkEF8MYeWFrW1

I’ve been a fan of Sahara Beck since coming across her song “Brother Sister” on triplejunearthed.com. After a 2016 debut album on which she seemed to be trying to do everything at once, Beck comes through in 2018 with the superb “Here We Go Again,” a song built on the same emotional depth that characterized her previous work. I’m very excited to see where she goes next.

  1. Superchunk, Reagan Youth

Who would’ve thought that a 30-year-old band would deliver the year’s most insightful take on how everything went wrong in the United States. A song that is as musically vital as it is emotionally necessary.

  1. U.S. Girls, Incidental Boogie

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/5DZBl18zByeRXwRotKcVvF

From the first time I heard U.S. Girls’ “Incidental Boogie” in 2015 (on the Free Advice Column EP), it was clear that Meg Remy was someone to watch. Fast forward three years later, and U.S. Girls’ latest album, In A Poem Unlimited, is deservedly topping best-of lists. The whole album is great: rage at social injustices mediated by elaborate, sultry (and sometimes menacing) pop arrangements. In writing and performing a pop album of great substance, Remy (working with myriad conspirators) is performing at pop’s highest difficulty setting and succeeding brilliantly. Easily the best album, with the best songs, of the year. And the re-recorded “Incidental Boogie” is just harrowing in its bleakness.

So there you go. See you in 2019!

All the Rage no. 53 – September 15, 2018: Hello, Duisburg!

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: I’ve relocated to Duisburg, Germany. 45 minutes from Cologne. Home to the world’s largest inland port. The cycling is fantastic. I’ve managed to tear myself away from it to gift you 52 minutes or so of tasty tuneage, from the thrilling experimentalism of Petra Glynt to the sombre beauty of Molly Drag (lots of Montrealers on the show this week). And so much more.

Yer tracklist:

Petra Glynt
Surveillance

U2
The Blackout
https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/AWeYqbUzyF0

Marie Davidson
So Right

Erthlings
Bridges

White Blanks
I Don’t Wanna (Die)
https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/7455706

Noughts
Skew

Straight Arrows
Out and Down

La URSS
Cristal

Danny Michel
Purgatory Cove

Molly Drag
Last Words

FRTIZ
Summer Holiday

Plum
Cool 2 Start
https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/3732961

Black Springs
Slinky Day

Choses Sauvages
Damoclès

All the Rage no. 52 – August 30, 2018: Goodbye to the Garden City

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: My last show in Canada before crossing the ocean … to Germany! And what better way to mark the occasion than with JuliaWhy?’s garagey sensibility, Nun’s ominous electronic foreboding, Babygirl’s dreampop, Würst Nürse’s punkiness, and so much more.

Your setlist:

Sahara Beck
Here We Go Again
https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/5s2JcXMkuhkEF8MYeWFrW1

JuliaWhy?
Pocket

Loose Tooth
All the Colours Gone

Phantastic Ferniture
Uncomfortable Teenager

Brian Tamaki and the Kool-Aid Kids
Tunnel Vision

Baby Cages
All U Want

Leathers
Day for Night

Youngblood
Dark Place
https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/1hMoML8Dc9H1KuZODcUb2L

Sam Taylor-Wood & Pet Shop Boys
I’m In Love With a German Film Star (Radio Edit)
https://embed.music.apple.com/ca/album/im-in-love-with-a-german-filmstar-radio-edit-single/293317675

Nun
Pick Up the Phone

Heathers
Black Moon

Babygirl
Over in No Time

Primo!
A City Stair

Würst Nürse
Hot Doctor

Briggs
Here (feat. Caiti Baker)

All the Rage no. 51 – August 23, 2018: I’m going nowhere

Back from vacation with another edition of your biweekly(ish) source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: Some mellowness, some hip hop, some punk-inflected pop from Nooky, Tropical Fuck Storm, Billy Moon, Fog Lake, Okin Osan and others. And! The triumphant return of ATR favourite Hello Seahorse!

Your setlist:

Nooky
Black Future

Tropical Fuck Storm
Stayin’ Alive

Metric
Dark Saturday
https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0xJRUArUCDBb0tGwo1Std2

Petra Glynt
New Growth

Dilly Dally
I Feel Free

Billy Moon
Dingus
https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Ol_9QyNRL3g?rel=0

Slowfish
Stringy Bits

Exposure
Erase

Squaring Ciricles
Movement

A Lily
Paint Me With Your Blood Again

Fog Lake
talk

Hello Seahorse!
Son

Okin Osan
I Wanna Be That Girl

All the Rage no. 50 – July 15, 2018: The Half-Century Show

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: Episode Number 50! Spotlight on the songs that have made ATR: Martina Topley-Bird, Girls Against Boys and Metric finally get their due. Also: the three quintessential ATR bands. And! As always, plenty of the best new music from Canada and Australia.

Your setlist:

Martina Topley Bird, Too Tough to Die

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0N3DUVHC7gAgVnzfPfmpAY

Girls Against Boys, All the Rage

Heart Beach, Underwater

Laura Sauvage, Alien (Anything Like It, Have You?)

Murray Darling, Don’t Say You’re Moving to Melbourne

Moody Beaches, Guns

Dark Fair, Off Into My Head

Ramon Chicharron, Los Monos Están Berracos

Fingerless, Out There

Little Ugly Girls, Tractor

New War, Get in the Boot

Rebel Yell, Toxic

Johnny Headband, Hot Button Topic

Metric, Lost Kitten

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/6fNr1CSeK84DIW932nV3c3

All the Rage no. 49 – June 23, 2018: Feel-good hits of the year

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: Good music equals good mood. The proof is streaming below.

Your setlist:

Shirley & the Pyrmaids, One Life

Expanda Fuzz, Check Your Watch

Moaning Lisa, Good

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/7137071

VOIID, Not For You

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/7135436

White Blanks, Go Right Now

Georgia June, Pressure

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/6529526

Muncie Girls, Picture of Health

Wax Mannequin, Boring

Fritz, Biggest Fool in the World

https://www.triplejunearthed.com/embed/7119326

Loose Tooth, Keep Up

Seaside, Golden Girl

Stars, One Day Left

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/xXW1BB6N1gg?rel=0

Single Tear, in your arms, in my arms

Chromeo, Room Service

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/B-_xw6lf9T8?rel=0

All the Rage no. 48 – June 17, 2018: Soft, loud, melancholic

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: We get mellow with Future States, punch with Lié and Surf Dads, and end with a Tropical Fuck Storm of despair. Let’s go.

Your setlist:

Shaun Carlo & Jeepz, Earn

Future States, Heaven

Phantastic Ferniture, Fuckin’ and Rollin’

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/00F5GpqtjDr750q3M2Bkfm

Chromatics, Black Walls

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/UwigmMTsM-Y?rel=0

Smaller Hearts, Summertime III

Asta Rangu, Plastiscine

Lié, Country Boys

Surf Dads, Hold Onto Me

The Dollar Bill Murrays, The Shape You Take

Squaring Circles, Anima

 

Tropical Fuck Storm, Rubber Bullies

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/_fhOUfxIvgY?rel=0

All the Rage no. 47 – May 27, 2018: A great indie compilation and so much more

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: Multiple songs from Hamilton’s Haolin Monks and Grey Records’ excellent Grey Matter compilation. Also, the answer to the question, if someone pitches me a band that sounds like “Pet Shop Boys meets My Bloody Valentine at a Stereolab concert,” am I going to play it. Spoiler alert: Yes. Yes, I will.

Bonus spoiler: The band in question (Smaller Hearts) delivers.

Yer setlist:

Ubik, Lost and Later

Cold Meat, Love in a Void

Heart Beach, Need

Smaller Hearts, Chipper

Zöe Fox and the Rocket Clocks, Warrior Princess

Spiral Perm, Santa at NASA

Eekwol feat. Boogey the Beat

Haolin Munk, Deep Space Float (f. Lee Reed)

Navy Gangs, Housekeeping

Speedy Ortiz, Lucky 88

Shirley & the Pyramids, More than the Sun

Great Earthquake, Learn to Love the Ordinary

Orlando Furious, Rage

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/arD_5YGJdQ0?rel=0

The Garrys, Swamp Stomp

Nylex, Fascinate

Haolin Monk, Astro’s Revenge (f. Emay)

Sightlines, Love Ethic

IV League, Superstar

All the Rage no. 46 – April 16, 2018: Sonic Productivity/Sonic Procrastination

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: So I recorded this back in mid-April and thought I’d be able to get around to polishing and posting it while in Brazil. That didn’t happen, but better late than never. Anyway, for your listening pleasure, I present to you the sounds of Le Plaisir, Suss Cunts, Primitive Calculators, and a super-stunning piece of musical genius by Rebel Yell. And more. Wow.

Your setlist:

Rebel Yell, Stains (ft. Gussy)

Confidence Man, Don’t You Know I’m in a Band

Tim & the Boys, White Guys

Civic, Burning Steel

Sloan, Spin Our Wheels

Blush Response, Cruel

Choses Sauvages, Ariane

Midlife, The Gloves Don’t Bite

Kwame, Wow

Le Plaisir, Chilblains

BBQT, High Wasted

Suss Cunts, Tempter

Amya Laucirica, Under the Tide

Stella Donnelly, Mechanical Bull

All the Rage no. 45 – April 8, 2018: The Don

Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: Your biweekly source of the best left-field pop/rock/punk/dance from Canada, Australia and beyond. This week: Donny Benét’s new album is finally out, and it’s fantastic. Let’s start with that. New Primitive Calculators! Birdz & Omar Musa! Dakk’One! So much more! Listen up!

Your setlist:

Donny Benét, Love Online

Birdz & Omar Musa, About Me

Dakk’one, Lullaby

White Hex, Gold

Primitive Calculators, Power

Preoccupations, Antidote

Candy, Apartment in the City

Flowertruck, Come Across

Soft Wounds, Story

Wild Meadows, Fever

 Hit Bargain, Capitulate

Talk Show Host, We’re Not Here to Make Friends

So Young, Sixteen