Top Tunes ’18: Brian Koscho< < Back to
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.
Brian Koscho lives in Athens with his wife Sherri, their cat Maggie and dog, Bosco. Brian has worked as the Marketing Director at Stuart’s Opera House and the Nelsonville Music Festival since 2007 and has helped operate the Ohio music collective Aquabear Legion since 2004. He plays bass and makes noise in Athens band Unmonumental, and hosts a couple podcasts on aquabearlegion.com including one all about Ohio music called “The Western Reserve.”
I like to keep these lists to my favorite releases of the past year- there was lots of other music not from 2018 that I listened to a ton this year. But I don’t think anyone needs to wrap their year up by reading me talk about how much Brian Eno, Grateful Dead, Silkworm, Silver Jews, and Michael Hurley I listened to this year (which is probably my actual top 5). So here’s what I loved most in 2018. And a few extras I need to spend some more time with. I will also be doing a Best of Ohio 2018 (plug, plug) episode of my podcast, The Western Reserve, in early January. ______
Daniel Bachman – The Morning Star
Dan is a wizard and his albums will always find their way on my best of lists for any year, ever. The Morning Star might be one of my favorites- nice and droney and weird, in between spurts of beautiful fingerpicked guitar. Bachman continues to take the instrument and the genre of American Primitive as a whole in new and exciting directions. This entire record shows off those directions perfectly.
John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness
John Prine is one of the greatest musicians and songwriters to ever walk this planet. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I would start with his first four albums and then move on to this newest release. It’s so good. I had the luck of being able to see Mr. Prine in Cincinnati this summer with the fantastic Tyler Childers opening to a packed and enthusiastic house, and though I caught him at NMF13, this set was one for the ages. This album’s songs about life, love, and eternity are from a man who knows just the right way to spin tales about each of those topics. Like life, this record covers all the bases: it will make you cry, laugh, and get lost in a few moments along the way. The lyrics are up there with Prine’s finest with my two favorites on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum with “I Have Met My Love Today” (“I saw your picture and I knew you right away”) and on “When I Get to Heaven” (“I’m gonna get a cocktail, vodka and ginger ale/Yeah, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette that’s nine miles long”). This is an absolutely beautiful record.
Pusha T – Daytona
Lots of good hip hop this year but this is the only one that cracked my top ten. Pusha T is still destroying almost every other emcee out there and puts out by far the best of those Kanye related albums that came out this year. “If You Know You Know” is an announcement that dude is still on top of his game. “I predict snow, Al Roker” takes home the best drug/Today Show crossover reference in hip hop lyrics this year. Those old Clipse records hold up too, seriously.
Yo La Tengo – There’s a Riot Going On
Yo La Tengo is still putting out amazing records as they near 35 years as a band. There’s a Riot Going On is so solid all the way through, they are still pushing their creative envelope and expanding their sound without ever straying too far. I don’t know if there is another band that has consistently put out such great music for so long. It seems weird to call a legendary band underappreciated, but I really do think YLT is. Not to sound like a grumpy old man, but the veterans are still putting out better stuff than the new kids.
Guided By Voices – Space Gun
Speaking of mid-90’s to the present… I love Guided By Voices, but I can be overwhelmed with their prolific output. A lot of the post classic lineup albums haven’t hit for me but Space Gun is pretty solid. I saw them at Springsfest in July and they were great and these songs all sounded awesome. It’s a real good rock and roll band playing with Pollard these days (with Doug Gilliard and Bobby Bare Jr. in the ranks among others) and this record is definitely one of their best releases in years.
Adam Remnant – Sourwood
I listen to a lot of Ohio music throughout any given year. In fact I do an entire podcast called The Western Reserve over on Aquabear Legion focused on Ohio music. Often I leave Ohio stuff off my WOUB top 10 because there’s too much I love and I can’t fit it in with the national stuff. Not this time. Sourwood is an incredible record. Adam Remnant (formerly of the also-fantastic Athens group Southeast Engine) continues to write some of the best songs I have heard since the last time I heard his new songs. This album hits close to home, with not only themes of my actual home of Athens, but also Remnant’s interpretations of becoming an adult and growing up in mid and late 30’s. A beautiful record. Plus, it’s on Anyway Records, and Bela Koe-Krompecher puts out lots of great music.
Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
I admittedly do not keep up with new jazz but I have been a big fan of Kamasi Washington’s output over the past few years. Heaven and Earth continues his creative surge following his beautiful debut The Epic. Clocking in at over two hours (almost three if you include the EP The Choice which was hidden in the packaging of the LP/CD) this album is an experience. I cannot wait to see him play inside the Art Institute of Chicago in 2019. Go listen to this.
Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore – Ghost Forests
When two musicians you love do an album together it’s an easy one to get on your radar. I love this record, it has such a texture and feel to the whole thing. Perfect for devoting full concentration to it or letting it play through the speakers in your office or on your headphones while doing something else. It works in all settings and unfolds in different ways depending on them. Two NMF alumni, Mary played solo this past year and Meg has taken our Porch Stage with the massively loud and awesome Heron Oblivion (who also play MELTED on February 24, get your tickets). Ghost Forests gets more enjoyable with each listen.
Low – Double Negative
Low is another group that has had a long and fantastic back catalog. I have been a fan since my days working at Record Exchange at the end of high school, and actually had a chance to see them in the early 2000’s in Oberlin. Double Negative takes the Low tried and true formula (quiet, sparse songs) and for lack of a better phrase… makes them really weird. Lots of strange sounds poking up throughout, some drone, and a general sense of tension follow the album’s beautiful arrangements. Might be favorite of theirs outside the classic Long Division.
Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
These guys put out a HUGE record this year. And finally the people that hadn’t realized how great the Witch are now are beginning to realize it. Their latest release takes them into new sonic territory, that makes someone like me who never went full-on into a metal phase have even more to relate to. This is a heavy record, but in different ways than previous ones. Musically, Skeletonwitch are spreading out a bit and I love it. It’s awesome to see places like Pitchfork putting Devouring Radiant Light on the best Metal of the year lists. Well deserved. Not many groups could change vocalists and put out the best record of their discography. Good work.
Saba – Care for Me
Nathan Salsburg – Third
Nathan Bowles – Plainly Mistaken
Collections of Colonies of Bees – Hawaii
The Breeders – All Nerve
Vince Staples – FM!
Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs
Grouper – Grid of Points