This year I was glad to see female artists well-represented across many year end lists. It’s stating the obvious (at least for those who view female musicians as equals), but female talent has always been present in the music industry. The only difference with 2018 is that females are getting more of the respect and recognition they deserve, and I would argue this is primarily because a large number of amazing women have stood up against a music industry that has historically been anti-female, sexist, and full of toxic masculinity.
Take a listen to some of the fantastic releases I came to love throughout this year, many of which feature female artists. It has been a busy year at Soundscape City with releases from Luna Vista and Cloud Six, and a laundry list of projects that are soon to be released in 2019 (but I’ll keep them secret for now).
Enjoy! Below is a Spotify playlist and links to each release.
Pacific Northwest Releases
No Kind of Rider – Savage Coast
It took 12 years as a band for No Kind of Rider to release their first full-length album, and Savage Coast was actually worth the wait. It’s dark, moody, and has just the right balance of catchy grooves mixed with intricate melodies and technical rhythms. I just hope their next release doesn’t take 12 years to make…
Jenn Champion – Single Rider
It’s easy to overdo 80s style productions. Jenn finds a place where her throwback production only adds power to her emotional content and musical aesthetic rather than detract.
Sloucher – Be True
Further embracing their 90s sound, Sloucher’s first full length, Be True, is strong all the way through. The occasional twang adds to the nostalgia of this release, but it’s also clear that Sloucher has their eyes set on the future as their popularity grows.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food
Lo-fi psych and soul.
This is my favorite Unknown Mortal Orchestra release to date. Their blend of lo-fi and danceable soul pairs perfectly with Nielson’s lofty lyrics about the complicated state of our modern society. UMO have refined their songwriting while managing to retain the raw aesthetic of earlier releases.
Black Belt Eagle Scout – Mother of My Children
Rooted in Paul’s indigenous, queer, and feminist identity, this heartfelt release is at times shockingly simple and gorgeous, as well as abrasively gritty. Black Belt Eagle Scout is Portland indie rock at it’s finest. Not bad for a first release.
Sama Dams – Say It
While Sama Dams lean more toward catchy vocals and brighter synths on this release, they still retain the dark and dreary quality achieved on earlier albums. The combination of creative and skittering drum parts with tightly executed vocals, emotive synths, and brutally honest lyrics gives Say It a depth not commonly found in music today.
Laura Viers – The Lookout
Waiting five years since her last release, Viers keeps pushing her quirky brand of folk into the future. Her songs feel fresh, nostalgic and comforting all at the same time. Recent collaborations with Neko Case and k.d. lang also bring new perspective to Viers’ songwriting and production.
Coastlands – The Further Still
Coastlands have been hard at work touring all over the US, and you can hear it in how well-executed The Further Still sounds. Taking cues from bands like Russian Circles and Pelican, Coastlands displays more raw energy on this release, balanced by melodic flourishes and intricate rhythms. Sissoyev continues to record and produce the band, refining Coastlands’ atmospheric and epic tones (dare I say) further still.
Moorea Masa and the Mood – Shine A Light
It’s hard to listen to Shine A Light and not smile. Masa’s voice is the standout feature of this release, but the production has just the right amount of Motown funk and modern polish. Give it a spin, and try not to smile. I dare you.
Typhoon – Offerings
Kyle Morton and Typhoon have taken their charming brand of orchestral pop and infused a more straight-ahead indie rock sound into the mix. More strings, more distortion, and less horns give Offerings a darker mood, matching more closely to Morton’s downtrodden lyrics.
Rhye – Blood (Toronto, CA)
Boygenius – S/T (Los Angeles, CA)
Bad Bad Hats – Lightning Round (Minneapolis, MN)
Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog (Philadelphia, PA)
Lucy Dacus – Historian (Philadelphia, PA)
St. Vincent – Masseduction (New York City, NY)
Foxing – Nearer My God (St. Louis, MO)
Lo Moon – S/T (Los Angeles, CA)
Covet – effloresce (San Jose, CA)
Petal – Magic Gone (Scranton, PA)