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top 10 albums of 2018

top 10 albums of 2018

honorable mentions (in no particular order): my absolute favorite moment listening to music this year was the first time i listened to kamikaze by eminem. by all means, hip hop has passed eminem by and modernity has no place for what he does, which itself kinda transcends music as an artform and at this point more closely resembles poetry than contemporary rap. but fuck man. fuuuuuuuck. that album is brilliant in every way. trolling the passing fads in hip hop; still doing his thing at as high of a level as ever; over the past 15 years eminem at his best has been eminem processing his own failure and avenging himself for his mis-steps. and thats what this album was. an apology to his fans for the trash he released a year earlier and a reminder that he’s still got it. / hope downs by rolling blackouts coastal fever would have made this list in most years, and i will probably end up caring more about that record years in the future than a couple of the records that are on the list. it just, idk, wasnt as good as i was hoping for. and that isnt fair to the band, all of whom were cool af and kicked it with me and gio after their show at el club absolutely blew us away. they would occupy the 10 spot over what ended up there if i hadnt expected it to occupy the 1 spot before it came out. everybody expects greta van fleet to resurrect guitar music, but if it ever happens, i think this band will be the one that gets us there. / i have to deal with boygenius in some way. phoebe bridgers is possibly my favorite person that i dont know personally and, as has been documented in this space in the past, appointments by julien baker practically saved my life during a failed attempt at camping in yosemite. the boygenius show was absolutely incredible, and a song from this album is going to be near the top of my songs of the year. but its only 6 songs, lucy dacus doesn’t really resonate with me, and idk this was an insanely strong year for music. / scorpion is the best drake record since take care, but at this point i just dont understand why drake feels compelled to even release albums. there are 4 ABSOLUTE RAGING FIRE BANGER CLASSICS on this record, and like 18 tracks of pure filler garbo. drake wont make anybodys (well, anybody serious) mount rushmore of rappers, but as a pop artist, he has absolutely owned this decade. drake is nothing more than a bunch of brilliant 6 year olds standing on each other’s shoulders in a trenchcoat (the people that produce his tracks and write his bars), but those 6 year olds deserve all the success that theyve achieved. / testing by a$ap rocky. bro, im so sorry. you deserved better. this album is an ambitious experimental slow burn with some really amazing high spots. but it got absolutely buried on its release date by daytona. you cant expect to make the list when you arent even the best hip hop record released on the day you drop. / twin fantasy by car seat headrest would be on this list if it werent a remake of an album from 2011. will toledo will get his due for what he did this year in another space. / the black panther soundtrack was dope. / hop along has the tallest guitarist in music history. chanting “dont worry we will both find out just not together,” bark your head off, dog, or as the philadelphians jokingly called it at their show, bark your dog off, jawn, is my unofficial 11th best record of the year.

important disclaimer before i start the countdown: that mitski record will not be on my list and i refuse to believe anybody actually likes it.

10. the wonder years- sister cities

the 10 spot was BRUTAL. i should probably have just done a top 9. for real, at some point i probably referred to every album that follows this as a possible album of the year. but yeah, choosing number 10 between all the honorable mentions was very very difficult. im going with this one because the album that probably made the biggest impact on me this year is the “burst and decay” acoustic e.p. that the wonder years dropped in 2017 and so this is their lifetime achievement award. also this album rules and this band definitely deserves their status as “the emo band with the second most intense and ravenous fan base.” emo is alive as fuck and the wonder years is doing an admirable job carrying the torch for the bands we grew up with. essential track: sister cities

9. action bronson- white bronco

i cant believe this is number 9. dude number 9 is usually some bullshit i listened to for 3 days right before i made the list and never listened to again. remember when i said phoebe bridgers is my favorite person i dont know personally? yeah that was a lie. action bronson is our generations david bowie. listening to action bronson makes me completely forget that donald trump is president. bronson is evidence of both intelligent design and chaos theory at the same time. you couldn’t possibly create somebody like him in a lab, and nothing about him makes sense, but he is perfect in every way. his charisma is unparalleled. his flow is as confident as kanye was on watch the throne. hes just as funny as chris d’elia. action bronson is a beautiful day in the middle of winter where the sun is reflecting off the snow and youre driving with the windows down and everything is good. anybody that doesnt put this record at number 1 is listening to music for all the wrong reasons and takes themselves way too seriously. everything i say from here on is a lie. this is the album of the year.

8. slothrust- the pact

im hungover from writing about action bronson. leah wellbaum is a fascinating creature. dive into this band. its a real fun trip into a bizarro version of alice’s wonderland. i discovered this band when i was living in royal oak because they did the theme song for “youre the worst” on fx. that was like 2013. i proceeded to listen to them A LOT. i thought the lead singer was a guy until last year. for real. anyway, this is their best album and it comes across to me as a real statement. a real “planting your flag at midfield in your rival’s stadium” moment. the guitars are aggressive and smart and fun during the high spots, and leah’s writing and incredibly unique voice SHINES when she is counted on. essential track: walk away

7. earl sweatshirt- some rap songs

when frank ocean released blonde i captioned it as my #4 album of the year (huge mistake: thats now one of my favorite albums of all time) by saying that i wasn’t cool enough to write about it. well, fuck it. do you know how many people told me i look like jason momoa this year? avant garde jazz as hip hop. a lot of rappers have tried to make this album. a$ap tried and ended up in my honorable mentions. tierra whack released that album of 1 minute songs that was pretty cool. rapidly changing soundscapes has become sort of a trope in rap since pablo (dont @ me), but nobody has really done it effectively in a way that invites pleasure listening since father stretch my hands. but here is earl “toejam” sweatshirt standing alone on a tiny tiny planet far away in space making otherworldly hip hop that you never want to stop listening to. ive been listening to this dude since bachelor parties were fun and i still have no idea what he looks like. i think hes like 19. earl is better than tyler. fuck. yeah, im definitely not cool enough to write about this album. essential track: azucar

6. death cab for cutie- thank you for today

taking my mask off in case you forgot who was writing this list. as the only person in america that put this record on their top 10 list let me start by backing into the corner and playing defense. this album came out during a weekend in august when i was visiting jack and julie nicholls and their two adorable children, logan and brody, in suburban minneapolis for a wonderful weekend of disney board games, family boat rides, and trips to the mall of america. by all means, that was the perfect setting to dive into an album about the melancholies of, like, actually growing up from an aging emo band playing without their musical driving force that hadnt written an essential song in the better part of a decade. this is ben gibbard at ~83% of his peak potency writing a vintage deathcab record about being in his early 40s with the same clear-eyed perspective and laser-focused exactitude that allowed him to write about the same feelings when he was in his late 20s. and man, IT FUCKING GOES. this album romanticizes regret and self-hatred like its 2006 and i love every second of it. im sorry carly. i ruined everything. essential track: summer years

5. snail mail- lush

this is, for sure, the most important album of the year. lindsey jordan, a 19 year old white girl, just strolled into the dusty throne room, sat down, kicked the decaying bones away from the floor in front of her, and put jesse lacey’s crown on her head. essential track: heat wave

4. with a tear rolling down my cheek, mac miller- swimming

theres no chance i listen to this album as much as i did otherwise. and if that doesnt happen, this album is in the honorable mentions at best. and i so badly wish that was the case. i started listening to mac miller when i was in law school, working out at im west with all the undergrad frat bros and sorority girls. mac millers early mixtape stuff was the perfect soundtrack to being, or at least being surrounded by, a bunch of shitty white teenagers with only the best intentions at the exact moment in life where excitement peaks. listening to mac miller was like hanging out with the best kid at the party. not the most popular or the best looking or the one with the richest parents, just the best kid. the one everybody would be the saddest about if they, you know, died. anyway, back to today. mac was evolving as a musician into something really, really, really, really fucking special. go watch his tiny desk. he composed all of this. he was taking hip hop to a place its never been. he was turning into something like an andre 3000. i mean, he had just settled into the cocoon, but he was on to something real. theres no way to listen to this record without the context of its existence, but still. essential track (of the year*): 2009

3. pinegrove- skylight

i only have one grandparent left. i picked baba up from his house to bring him to thanksgiving. i put this album on. baba was floored. music is good. pinegrove is the best band in the world. the percussion in rings… dude. zach levine, just unreal. paterson & leo, evan writing about friendship “WHY I LOOOOOOOOOOVE YOU ENOUGH TO SAYYYYY IIIIIIT.” angelina, a song ive been in love with for 3 years shows up, and explodes just as gloriously as ever. “warm night before thanksgiving, what do i have to be nervous for?” and then, the most beautiful song possibly of the decade, skylight. there isnt enough storage space on this computer for me to write about skylight. chase the glory bro. chase the glory. drunkenly riding your bike a million miles an hour with the fall sun caressing the tops of your ears, screaming “I CLIMBED THROUGH THE SKYLIGHT WHATEVER YOURE FEELING IS ALRIGHT” while suburban onlookers are just trying to have a nice day in the city with their families. standing on a rock outside a restaurant, your friends are waiting inside for you, staring at the moon. chase the glory bro. things dont have to be right. sometimes a song can be 45 seconds. record some live takes and just release them on bandcamp, whatever. sometimes your dreams get dashed in an instant for no reason. pick up the pieces. love is powerful. when youre 85 years old things make even less sense. music makes you feel good. essential track- skylight

2. the beths- future me hates me

andy greenwald said it perfectly, “hooks for days.” the beths are an indie band from new zealand. this is their debut album. theres a very high probability that their next album will be about 35% as good and over the course of time they will fade away. i may regret putting this ahead of pinegrove, but whatever. its better. just a heads up, the first track is the worst track. after that, every single song is a masterfully crafted indie rock confection. like if you went to one of those hype-monster bakeries in new york or la and walked out with a box of cupcakes and they were all perfect. i dare you listen to any song on this album and try telling me tomorrow that it isnt still stuck in your head. it sounds like the 90s because i think in new zealand it still is the 90s. the standouts are future me hates me, happy unhappy, little death, and less than thou. if you take anything away from this list, it should be this band. trust me. that being said, if youre still reading at this point then youre definitely alex erskine and ive already told you about this album 50 times. essential track- happy unhappy

1. kanye west and friends- the entire month of june

you probably just skipped everything above and scrolled straight to here. well, yeah, duh. of course i was going to find a way to do this. no, not a single one of these albums would make this list on its own (eh, daytona would probably slot in at #10). but nothing in this year of music comes close to the excitement of waiting for these albums, and then watching the dominoes ACTUALLY drop one by one each friday; each with 2 or 3 songs that should be on any year-end playlist. lets get right to it, the nas album was DISGUSTINGLY underrated. that was vintage nas spitting bars and bars and bars over vintage kanye beats. and nobody cared because kanye said some ignorant shit during a psychotic phase and nas vaguely alluded to possibly being anti-vax. if you think that nas album was corny and unnecessary then youre dead inside and you dont actually like hip hop. bro go listen to bonjour. right now. do it. YOU IDIOTS LISTEN TO TRAVIS SCOTT ALL THE TIME EVEN THOUGH THAT SONG EXISTS. poor teyana taylor dropped, i dont know, the coolest female r&b album ive ever heard? and you all just ignored it because kanye was attached. kids see ghosts is amazing. daytona is most people’s top hip hop album of the year. and ye, even with its shortcomings, has the song of the year. do you realize how different the narrative would be about kanye if he distilled this into one 12 track album? here, check out the playlist in the comments. thats not only the album of the year, but one of the most potent hip hop albums ever recorded.

Time to clear something up.

A lot of the time when I tell people that I do criminal defense I get asked the same question. “How can you live with yourself when you know that you’re defending a client that’s guilty?”

It’s funny. That question is such a monumental issue for laypersons whenever they think about the legal profession, but it isn’t really something you think about when you’re an attorney. That’s the case for a couple of reasons. First, it’s important to note that under the Ethics Rules that govern lawyers, it is illegal to mislead a judge or jury. So it’s not like we can go out there and perpetuate a client’s fraudulent defense. Nonetheless, this issue is very complex and our attitudes toward it as lawyers are rooted in fundamental principles of American Jurisprudence that, in my opinion, don’t get enough airplay in our social discourse.

The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” means so much more than we typically give it credit for. Government by and for the people means that we all exist in a state of equality that transcends the civil rights and economic issues that are usually brought to mind when we think of American democracy. More than just guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities, the level playing-field that our Constitution calls for guarantees that none of us stands above any other in the eyes of the law. Now, a common way to think about that is to invoke the idea that “nobody is above the law.” But that doesn’t just mean that nobody is immune to the restrictions the law places upon us; it also means that no individual is above any other in enforcing those laws.

For much of human history, the poor classes were at the whims of the ruling class when it came to the penal system. If the king said you were guilty, then you were guilty. As societies developed and started resembling the present, courts and tribunals started replacing monarchs as the eyes of the law (mostly at the delegation of the ruling classes that became annoyed with the responsibility). As courts evolved, devices such as burdens of proof, evidence, confrontation of witnesses, etc. began to find their way into the protocol. As the power to convict shifted out of the hands of the government and more into the hands of the people, the concept of justice that we take as inherent in nature was born.

Today, in the United States, the power to convict is exclusively in the hands of the people. When you hear the words “The People of the State of Michigan vs. Person X,” as you will in every criminal matter in the state courts, it literally means that the two adverse parties in the case are Person X and all of the citizens of the state. We elect prosecutors to represent the populace, and they are our servants in exercising the will of the people to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the defendant. We elect judges as referees, but every criminal defendant facing incarceration is still entitled to a jury of his peers to determine his fate. We require a unanimous verdict amongst these jurors because it is only when assured that no reasonable person construing the evidence of the case could legitimately doubt the guilt of the defendant that we as the people may deprive that defendant of his or her rights as a member of our community.

Every defendant is furthermore entitled to an attorney to ensure a fair fight in the process. When it’s one person against the entire population, it becomes pretty easy for the population to manipulate the system in its favor. The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution provide protection to the lonely defendant against that tendency. However, the Constitution is pretty densely worded and the legal interpretation of it is constantly in flux. As a defense attorney, my role is to enforce those protections and make sure that my client gets a fair shot, regardless of his or her guilt.

If the justice system is compromised, if we allow the population to overstep their constitutional boundaries even one time, then the fabric of our entire social union unravels. If the scales of justice become imbalanced, we are all at risk. If one-hundred guilty defendants walk free, then we must fix the inefficiencies of our law enforcement. If one innocent defendant is shackled, then all innocent people are exposed to the oppression of an unjust sovereign. By instituting a burden of reasonable doubt into our criminal justice procedure, those that drafted the Constitution that I was sworn to protect implicitly stated such. And that is how I can live with myself when I know that my client is guilty.

Sometimes its all about who you know.

I recently had a client reach out to me about problems he was having with his landlord.  He was renting an apartment in a relatively big city and his heating did not work.  After numerous promises by his landlord to fix the problem, he decided that it was necessary to take legal action.  I met with the client to discuss his options.  We decided it would be best to withhold rent until the problem was fixed and notify the landlord of that intent.  The next day I drafted the necessary documents, printed them out, and was preparing to send them by mail when I realized that I had a friend that knew the landlord.  I called my friend and had the problem taken care of that night.  Sometimes being an attorney is more about being a member of the community than anything.