Top Tunes ’18: Chris Pyle

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Wow! 2018 has come and gone, and it’s about time we reflect on our favorite sounds of the past year. Leading up through the end of the year, WOUB Culture will be spotlighting what various music-centric people throughout the region have been enjoying the most for the past 12 months.

Chris Pyle is the owner of Donkey Coffee, a place where the tunes are always cool and the coffee is always hot — if you ordered it that way, of course.

My Favorite albums of 2018

1. Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnett

I wasn’t sold on this the first few listens. I’m a huge fan and I have always liked her records right as the needle drops. This one is a bit harder edged musically and the hooks aren’t as apparent at first. However, once I started to really listen to the lyrics, the album started to present itself. Barnett still has the wit but her songs are not just about mundane observations anymore. She goes deeper and more personal and grapples with what it means to be a women in 2018 as she relates to the world and the problems that we face as adults. Another brilliant record. She is now three for three.

2. Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae

Monae’s first album, Archandroid is one of my favorites of all time. Her third record sounds more like modern R&B music and although she is not taking as many chances musically with this one, she is still completely on top of her game. She still takes more risks in 1 song than most pop artists do on an entire album. Her Prince influence shines on this but she makes the songs her own. The music is fun but instead of using sci-fi metaphors like her last two albums, her lyrics are more direct and personal and deal with her sexuality and politics. Brilliant.

3. Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Great rock ‘n’ roll music is still being made in 2018! Thank God. Think early R.E.M. meets a drunk Tom Petty with other classic sounds throughout. This isn’t at all derivative though – they sound new and exciting like the first time you hear something you know you’ll be listening to for the rest of your life.

Think early R.E.M. meets a drunk Tom Petty with other classic sounds throughout. – Chris Pyle on “Hope Downs” by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

4. Ruby by Macy Gray

This is where old school and modern R&B collide. Her 10th album came out of nowhere for me. I had never listened to Macy Gray before and now I’m going back and listening to her whole back catalogue because I’m so impressed with this record.

5. Face Your Fear by Curtis Harding

Former Cee-Lo Green back up singer makes good on this ’70s soul-influenced R&B record that boasts gospel, punk, and rock thrown in for good measure. Wonderful grooves.

6. I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by Tune Yards

Tune Yards can be hit or miss for me even though they have made one of my favorite records of all time with Who Kill in 2011. Weird African rhythms and drum loops collide with punk sensibility with empowering lyrics on this new album.

7. Be The Cowboy by Mitski

This album is melancholy but still uplifting and hopeful – musically Mitski (full name, Mitski Miyawaki) she has a style onto herself and mixes her guitar with Eurodisco beats throughout. She tackles the personal and the political in her lyrics but there is a playfulness that comes through as well. After a few listens you will be hooked.

8. What A Time To Be Alive by Superchunk

Power pop punk music addressing The Trump era. This is the first album by Superchunk tackling politics and it’s right up there with their best.

9. Good Thing by Leon Bridges

What a change of course for Bridges. His first record from 2015 sounds like it came right out of 1965 by Sam Cooke. Musically, this one sounds like it came out in 2018. The songs are still incredibly strong but he relies on modern production. Instead of getting play just on college radio, this one has cracked the top 40. It’s always great to hear good music on top 40 radio.

10. Country Seat by Will Stewart

Well written Americana roots rock and country. Not even one throwaway song on the whole record.

Other artists that released albums I really liked from 2018:
Sunny War, First Aid Kit, Belle Adair, Beach House, Sam Phillips, Amen Dunes, Adam Remnant, Our Girl, Sarah Shook and Kurt Vile.