By Brian Kraus
Who doesn’t love to know a band before they blow up? It’s easy to forget rookie acts in the shadow of best of lists and Spotify high scores. There was a lot of great new talent that dropped this year that we should really be talking about. That said, here are ten stellar debuts albums from 2018 you need to hear.
Makari - Hyperreal
Not only is Hyperreal a debut album but it’s also the debut of Makari’s new vocalist Andy Cizek (also of WVNDER). Cizek fits the post-hardcore/space rock outfit like a glove, smoothly confident from the rolling opener “Better.” You’re probably already familiar with Andrew Wade’s production (A Day To Remember, Neck Deep, the Ghost Inside), so it’s worth the stream just to hear him bring this album to life.
Fiddlehead - Springtime And Blind
Fiddlehead cuts like “Poem You” shine a light on a longing and melodic-leaning Pat Flynn. Easily the most accessible of Flynn’s post-Have Heart works, Fiddlehead’s catchy coarseness is closer to early Title Fight than his tenure spent screaming at the sun. There is a Revolution Summer vibe throughout the album, an era when hardcore bands softened up. That said, Springtime And Blind sounds influenced by the past, not stuck in it.
Belmont - Belmont
Chicago’s Belmont has already received some buzz for their self-titled debut, and deservedly so. Here’s a record that brings us back to scene classics like Such Gold’s Misadventures and The Story So Far’s Under Soil And Dirt. The band’s prickly melodic punk shredding and sing-a-longs make this a kickass album in its own right.
Hot Mulligan - Pilot
Hot Mulligan still sound green – in a good way. Carrying the torch from the “emo revival” hubbub some years back, Pilot sends excited emotions in a sloppy college house show sense to swarms of devotees already coming out to see them play. I predict they won’t be opening tours for much longer. The keys on songs like “How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?” add a nice touch of Motion City Soundtrack.
Well Wisher - This Is Fine
New Jersey has been a talent breeding ground for quite some time and Well Wisher are another one for the books. Retro, warm and fuzzy riffs, steady punk energy and pop-pleasing vocals from Natalie Newbold all make this newcomer of the NJ scene so endearing.
Bearings - Blue In The Dark
Pure Noise has forever been on the pulse and they’ve come through with another solid find. One of their 2018 releases, the debut from Ottawa, Ontario’s Bearings, exists in a familiar emo/rock space but shows enough character to stand out early. The title track is a sweet nostalgia trip with harmonies to boot, and it wouldn’t be out of place on Transit’s Joyride.
Blue Heaven - Volume 1
No Sleep introduced us to Maryland’s Blue Heaven this year with Volume 1. It’s a shimmering display of indie swagger (especially on the single “Growing”) and it’s clear these guys take their tones dead serious. The record has a certain coolness about it reminiscent of the sound change on The American Scene’s Haze with steady, sometimes hypnotic vocals (think Jon Simmons of Balance & Composure).
Valleyheart - Everyone I’ve Ever Loved
Releasing an album in mid-December is an easy way to get lost in the Christmas season. Never fear, we see you, Valleyheart. This is a phenomenal rock record sprouted from the New England winter. The theme of religion is reoccurring, albeit certainly not in the sanitized worship radio sense. Check “Intangible Dream,” where frontman Kevin Klein outbursts, “Now I hear the preacher/Who speaks from your screen/He sounds like an asshole/With words of prosperity.” Everyone I’ve Ever Loved is something to sink your teeth into and discover more with each listen. Followers of All Get Out, Come Wind and Tallhart will instantly fall for it.
Vein - Errorzone
It’s been a life-changing record cycle for Vein. “Virus://Vibrance” is their manic wake-up call and that’s only track one. They add ammunition to a resurging hardcore/metalcore movement - think Knocked Loose and Code Orange. Head-splitting vocals and violent screeching turns take aim at an imperfect world. These guys probably watch horror films at night with the lights off. We pity the fool who doesn’t bring earplugs to the Errorzone.
Jesus Piece - Only Self
Philadelphia’s Jesus Piece inject industrial strength into their hardcore and it’s truly heavy. Brutality defines this 29-minute ride but grooves do sneak through (“Lucid,” “Punish,” “Curse Of The Serpent”). Frontman Aaron Heard expels his vocals like the world is ending. Relentless, powerful and distorted. Very Advent-esque. There are no weak links here.
Stand Atlantic - Skinny Dipping
Homesafe - One
Windrunner - MAI
Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers - Bought To Rot