This week is our year in review week at Not a Sound and we wanted to try celebrating a few things that don’t get celebrated enough. Both of our editors are musicians and/or songwriters outside of the blog and are passionate about the creative craft that goes into making good music. With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to do a pair of columns celebrating the craft of music rather than just the whole finished product. In the last article we basically just wanted to geek out about a few of our favorite lyrics from releases in 2018. In this one we want to share some of favorite musical moments from 2018. We hope you enjoy these songs as much as we do!
The Offensively Heavy Chorus Riff in “Whispers Among Us” by Rolo Tomassi
On an album that is definitely not your father’s metal album, Rolo Tomassi pull off incredible cinematic moments, beautiful jazz sections, and lush synth washes, but it was not the most experimental moment on the album that first caught my attention, rather it was exactly what I came for: an obscenely heavy riff. Usually when a band tries to out-heavy themselves it comes off somewhat comical, satisfying, but in a way that makes you think “oh I can’t believe they did that.” The chorus of “Whispers Among Us” manages the incredibly difficult task of landing a riff that is unthinkably heavy, but contextualized in a way that it isn’t in the least bit comical. Instead it hits like a falling building, catching the listener unsuspecting and burying them before they know what hit them.
The Classic, Disney-esque Strings in “Window” by Noname
Though Noname’s newest offering is led primarily by her talented lyricism, it is also an album full of creative arrangement choices. Perhaps one of the most ear-catching is the introduction to “Window”, which features a beautiful, cinematic string section that can only be prepared to the opening of a fairy-tale or a classic Disney movie.
The Transitions From “On Watch II” to “E.D.” to “The Author” on Slow Mass’s “On Watch”
Slow Mass’s newest record might be the most underrated album of 2018, due in large part to their mastery of dynamic movement both in songs and between them. One of the most incredible moments on the album comes as the interlude “On Watch II” crescendos into the frenetic “E.D.”, which is more than doubly as heavy as anything previous on the album, which itself fizzles out after only a minute into the reserved track “The Author.” It happens so quickly and from so out of left field that it almost demands you replay it to make sure you didn’t imagine it.
The Jarring Beat Changes on “SICKO MODE” by Travis Scott feat. Drake
“Sicko Mode” is the best song off 2018’s Astroworld. In an album full of hits, it stands above the others as the main attraction. Between the multiple beat changes and catchy (if uncomplicated) flows from Scott and Drake, the song feels like a thrilling rollercoaster, the kind where you’re ready to ride again as soon as you get off.
The Rock n’ Roll Ecstasy of “Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)” by KIDS SEE GHOSTS
To those only marginally familiar with their careers, it may seem unlikely that Kanye West and Kid Cudi created one of the most explosive rock jams of the year. But indeed – it happened. The crushing guitar chords and booming drums clash gorgeously with Kanye’s yelpy singing, while Cudi’s bass-heavy voice sounds like it could swallow up the world. Add in the gorgeous harmonies provided by Ty Dolla $ign during the breaks, and you have the type of song that you’ll be turning up to max volume over and over again.
The Psychedelic Mirage of “Nowhere2go” by Earl Sweatshirt
The first single off of Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs is a beautiful hallucination of sound. There is so much going on, so much to unpack during its 1:53 run time. Earl raps over a disorienting yet infectious beat, as layer upon layer of melodic samples whirl around him. It is gorgeous and exhilarating, the type of song that begs to be longer. The sounds themselves are so beautiful that it is easy to forget that Earl is actually saying words here; his voice sounds like just another instrument in the mix.