The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

2018: A Year in Underrated Music

Paul Holtz and Zoe Glasser

Rosalía – El mal querer

Spanish singer Rosalía is a force to be reckoned with on her second album, El mal querer (in English it roughly translates to “the bad desire”). Rosalía sings staunch, trembling lines about jealousy and romantic torment, reminiscent of romance novella. The main production of her songs are hand claps and her own voice, synthesized and laid over each other. The lack of a booming production makes it so that she is singing in a empty cathedral, and we are just hearing the echoes. There are quiet waves of electronic bass in “Pienso En Tu Mira” and vocals through vocoder in “De Aqui No Sales” — along with a vrooming motor, screeching car-brakes and shrieking sirens. The song sure to attract the most attention in the US is “Bagdad,” as it riffs on Justin Timberlake’s hit song “Cry Me a River” before leaping into choral overlays. A crisp 30 minutes long, El Mal Querer is intended to be a concept album – each track comes with a chapter number and subtitle – although without either a translation or any fluency in Spanish, what the concept may be remains a mystery. It doesn’t matter: this is music potent and adventurous enough to grip you without you understanding a word of what she’s actually singing.

Must Listen Songs: Malamente, Bagdad, Di Mi Nombre

SOPHIE – OIL FROM EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

English DJ SOPHIE basks in a glossy, angelic glory, with a shimmering voice and image perfectly constructed for the spotlight. Her debut album is certainly an opener to a formidable future. Tracks like the singles “Faceshopping” and “Ponyboy” arrive with a noisy, warped weight, and with “Whole New World/Pretend World,” this ambitious maximalism works in service of the song’s thematic interest in utopia. These songs are vastly different from her previous songs: instead of glimmery, plastic electronic-pop like her EP, Product, they are dark, bass-forward and aggressive singles. The four-minute center of the record, “Immaterial” is glittering diamond in her own constructed madness; it’s SOPHIE at her most dense, inverting the ritzy excess of Madonna’s “Material Girl” into a high-concept banger for our age of Instagram influencers. The album ranges from quiet, soft spoken coos (songs like “Pretending” and “It’s Okay to Cry”) to machine-like, disorienting avant-garde electronica. Packed with more than enough ideas to constitute what’s still considered a “debut album,” OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES pushes new limits of excess only to settle into the same sort of razor-sharp, high-concept pop that’s worked for SOPHIE since the beginning.

Must Listen Songs: Immaterial, It’s Okay to Cry, Ponyboy

Beach House – 7

Six albums in, Baltimore duo Beach House has well-established itself as masters of this unmistakable sound: a transportive pulse of organs and swooning melodies drawing from psych pop. 7 plays like a dark distortion of the Beach House we’ve come to know. The band’s signature hypnotic sound is still here—all mystical keyboards, soaring guitars, and alternately brooding and operatic vocals. But this sound has been cracked open, letting in both light acoustic and acidic electric guitars, blown-out bass lines, and rhythms that beat out of the speaker (and occasionally run amok). The album is ruled by an distorted temperamental energy that cuts some songs off abruptly (“Lemon Glow,” “Girl of the Year”), redirects others at whim (“Dive”), and lets others build up and wash away slowly (“Black Car,” “Last Ride”). The roar of deadpanned, psychedelic opener “Dark Spring,” for example, disappears suddenly into the ballad “Pay No Mind,” before the 808 groove of “Lemon Glow” arrives to pick up the pace again. With 7, Beach House have freed themselves. This is the sound of a band that knows itself very well and yet, in seeking outside perspectives and embracing imperfection, has discovered a whole new level to explore. If this album feels like an alternate-reality Beach House, it’s because they have altered their reality.

Must Listen Songs: Drunk in LA, L’Inconnue, Girl of the Year

Janelle Monae- Dirty Computer

NPR recently named Janelle Monae’s third studio album the number one album of 2018, and for good reason. The Kansas City native’s fusion of synth, R&B, rap and pop is somehow both colorful and coherent, combining light-hearted beats with heavy political lyrics. Monae has always been a lyrical storyteller, and she makes no exception here. Accompanied by its visual album, which Monae termed an “emotion picture”, Dirty Computer sets the scene of a not-far-off dystopian future in which all people are forced to conform to suffocating standards, and those who do not are considered “dirty computers”. The earlier tracks on the album act as a sort of exposition for this story, with the later ones providing conflicts and conclusions. Monae expresses her empowering self-confidence and prideful femininity through tracks like “Pynk” and “I Like That”, singing “I’m always left of center and that’s right where I belong” on the latter. At the same time, she criticizes the current political climate in America on “Screwed” and “Django Jane”. Furthermore, the list of featured artists is incredible, with artists such as Zoe Kravitz, Grimes, and Pharrell Williams; even Stevie Wonder drops by for a 47-second piano interlude. Combined with its visually stunning music videos, Dirty Computer is an eclectic experience that contains diverse music styles and powerful, topical lyrics, and is a must-listen for 2018.

Must Listen Songs: Crazy Classic Life, I Like That, Americans

Mitski- Be The Cowboy

Mitski (real name Mitski Miyawaki), although popular in the indie scene, was fairly unknown to the general public until the August release of Be The Cowboy. She has received a Grammy nomination for Best Package, but sadly none for the music itself. Whereas Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer is mostly upbeat, the Japanese-American singer prefers to have more control over her sound. Her soothing voice lends itself perfectly to her lyrics, which range vastly in tone from optimistic (“Me and My Husband”) to lonely (“Old Friend”) to frustrated (“Geyser”) and even to desperate (“Remember My Name”). To top it off, Mitski wrote all fourteen songs and played multiple instruments on each. Each song tactfully encapsulates a different emotion, all of which are relatable to any listener, in a short 32 minutes. The album’s opener, “Geyser”,  begins with a siren-like wailing that immediately captures one’s attention, and through its synthesized background music, simple piano melodies and straightforward, emotional lyrics, it keeps it. The fan-favorite track on the album, Nobody, chronicles a depressive episode with a strangely appropriate dance beat behind the sad lyrics. The song opens with the lyric “My God, I’m so lonely”, but as synthesized piano turns into a steady kick-drum, you can’t help but bop your head. As a result of the following she gained from Be The Cowboy, Mitski will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

Must Listen Songs: Nobody, Two Slow Dancers, Lonesome Love

Donate to Theogony

Your donation will support the student journalists of Alexandria City High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Theogony

Activate Search
2018: A Year in Underrated Music