Feature: Paul Fuhr’s Favorite Tracks of 2018

Paul Fuhr is a noted podcast producer, author, father, and a clandestine man who dreams of driving the Aston Martin DB5 on curvaceous European roads every night. We wanted to ask him for his take on 2018 because he excels at finding all the hidden morsels in music, the bits others might frequently ignore and forget to sweep up on repeated listens; Paul loves the conspicuously-hidden tracks, crouching on his haunches to inspect things like a next-door neighbor who’s dealt with that exact thing before and knows a guy who can fix it for cheap. We’re thrilled to have him contribute, and won’t tell him that this list implies a ten year contract on The Lazy Flame if you don’t.

Here are Paul Fuhr’s Favorite Tracks of 2018. And then some.


Palace Winter
“Take Shelter”

“Bittersweet anthems of heartbreak and longing are apparently effortless for Copenhagen duo Carl Coleman and Dane Caspar Hesselager. I’ve long been taken with their sound: a delicate balance of electro-pop with a portent of doom weaved through it all. You often get the sense that something terrible could happen at any given moment. With their sophomore album Nowadays, they’ve only become more masterful in their work. As this track tells you, it’s perhaps time to take shelter against something that might otherwise destroy you. Thankfully, it doesn’t—and it’s just one of 11 beautifully crafted songs that similarly (and cleverly) inform misguided optimism with necessary foreboding.”

[Palace Winter Official]


Caroline Rose
“Getting To Me”

“Songwriter/producer Caroline Rose rocketed onto my radar early in the year, scattering all of my R.E.M. and Bruce Hornsby songs in every direction. (How dare she!) Rose is wickedly funny, if not caustic and clever by equal measure—a potency that’s on full display with her second full-length album Loner. This track is a particular standout: the song of someone who is finding themselves at odds with the beautiful people, pomp and circumstance they aren’t willing to suffer anymore. It’s an indictment of classicism as much as it’s carefully constructed track that’s as rousing as it is sharp, biting social commentary.”

[Caroline Rose Official]


Father John Misty
“Mr. Tillman”

“Oh, Father John Misty. Every year, you come sooooo close to having me write you completely off as a parody of yourself. And yet, you somehow cut it so close to the bone this year that you managed to fall back into my good graces all over again. Against my better judgment, I’ve put God’s Favorite Customer in my Top 5 albums of the year—an album I’d mentally written off as a meta-hipster screed, given all that’s come before. Regardless, I bought a fresh jar of beard butter and played God’s Favorite Customer. “Mr. Tillman,” the hilariously self-effacing track about trying to check into the Chateau Marmont is as disorienting and as funny as anything I’ve read or seen in 2018. Tillman knows he’s on the edge of everyone’s nerves and pivots in a direction I didn’t expect here, releasing a track that instantly deflates the balloon of self-importance and grandiosity. Easily one of the funniest tracks I’ve heard in a decade.”

[Father John Misty Official]


Gaz Coombes
“Walk The Walk”

“If this isn’t on your Top 10 of 2018 list, you simply didn’t hear “Walk the Walk.” This song demands to be carried with you no matter where you go. If I could get away with having a theme song, I’d petition to have this track follow me around. Formerly of the Brit-pop group Supergrass, Coombes released this track earlier in the year at a time when I wasn’t feeling quite myself. In fact, one night when I was falling asleep, I could see my past sliding in and out of view like a kaleidoscope. So too is this song’s structure. It’s essentially a sonic kaleidoscope: memories sliding in and out of view, collapsing and rising without warning. It’s gorgeous yet never makes you feel quite at home, which is a perfect description for my own brain: a space wracked with anxiety, depression and doubt. This track tells me that it’ll be okay if I simply act as if.”

[Gaz Coombes Official]


Photo by Michael Ochs)

a-ha
“The Living Daylights” (Live)

“This is kind of a cheat on several levels, but this is my list, goddammit. In 2018, a-Ha performed their 1987 James Bond theme for The Living Daylights unplugged for a series of concerts in Britain. For a Bond fanatic like me, it’s more than interesting to hear the group tackle this song thirty years later, stripping it done to its bare bones. Even so, it still has all the hallmarks of a Bond theme and I, for one, believe it has more power here than its (sadly) forgettable 1987 incarnation. It’s seasoned. It has weight. It means something. I can’t keep from listening to it, unpacking new meanings the more I listen to it. It’s a song that’s inextricably been with me since I was 10 years old but it’s taken me until I’m 41 to truly understand what it means.”

[a-ha Official]


Superorganism
“Everybody Wants To Be Famous”

“Congratulations, Superorganism. I saw you perform what I’ll loosely describe a “show” a few months ago. If I’m more accurate, it was a full-on, meta-physical, multimedia assault on my senses—a wild barrage of imagery beamed from an epileptic-neon-nightmare-backdrop while loud, disconnected music came here and there. I know the history of the band—eight members who all moved into a London flat like a bizarro, younger Arcade Fire—and I was eager to see them at work. I’ve included this track less because I like the song (I do) but because it’s the first song (and concert experience) that truly made me feel two decades too old to be there. Personal growth, yay!”

[Superorganism Official]


Sylvan Esso
“Funeral Singers”

“Ever since I had the pleasure of seeing Sylvan Esso perform at the MoPop festival in Cincinnati, Ohio one crisp fall evening with my friends Cory and Kate (I had zero idea what I was getting into), I keep eagerly coming back to Sylvan Esso. That night, I was simply warming my hands on their kinetic energy on that stage. It was a light show and a transcendent experience in a multitude of ways. This latest track has hovered around my most-listened of 2018 not because it’s unique or special or has a place in my heart. It’s because I always enjoy the comfort of having Amanda Meath’s calm, tremulous voice somewhere in my year’s playlist.”

[Sylvan Esso Official]


Over Sands
“Isthmus”

“I’m calling it now: Over Sands will blow up in 2019. At least, I hope so. I keep pulling for them—one EP after the next. Instead of an EP, they only released one track in 2018—the maddeningly beautiful “Isthmus” that recalls with precision what it’s likely to be alone, disconnected or free-floating from where you truly need to be. It’s almost a crime that they only released this one meandering track in 2018. I hope it’s the promise of more to come in 2019, like their stellar EPs Roman Rooms and Memory House.”

[Over Sands SoundCloud]


photo by Malcom Elijah

This Will Destroy You
“Escape Angle”

“This L.A. outfit isn’t simply dedicated to creating dark, atmospheric tracks that take their time in unfurling into larger, more tapestries of sound. It’s no secret to my friends that the song “The Mighty Rio Grande” stands as the only instrumental track capable of bringing tears every single time, with not one word spoken in the entirety of the track. The last time that happened was probably at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when I was six years old and Spock’s torpedo casket was being blasted out into space. This Will Destroy You is truth in advertising: their music will tear you apart emotionally if you let it. Lately, I’m all about giving myself over to the music and seeing where it takes me. “Escape Angle” is no different. This track has accompanied me between many difficult appointments this year as well as several depressing road trips. It’s as though putting this song on creates something of a protective slipstream around me—I can travel wherever I want and not worry about overthinking something. It’s got me. It understands me. The song is designed for me to float around in it, discovering new things about myself and others, without any fear of leaving its embrace too soon.”

[This Will Destroy You Official]


photo by Charlotte Wales

Lana Del Rey
“Mariners Apartment Complex”

“Say what you will about Lana Del Rey being more of a concept than a performer, but I positively dig the melancholy-summertime genre she’s cultivated over the years. She brings nothing new to this track but I don’t need a reinvented Lana Del Rey: I need exactly what she presents here, just as she’s done time and again. If a song can be sepia-toned while looking at something that’s happening right this second, like having a fading photograph of something that just occurred moments ago, that’s what her sound recalls here. It’s about anticipating loss even when you still have the thing you’re most afraid of losing in life. It’s all temporary, she suggests, and it’s best that you understand it now before you find yourself shattered later on down the road. I’ll take these sun-dappled cautionary tales as long as Del Rey is around.”

[Lana Del Rey Official]


Paul’s Top 5 Albums of 2018
God’s Favorite Customer, Father John Misty
7, Beach House
Lush, Snail Mail
Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett
R.E.M. at the BBC

Paul’s Top 15 Movies of 2018
Widows
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot
Puzzle
Tully
All About Nina
Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
American Animals
A Star is Born
Vox Lux
Hearts Beat Loud
Blindspotting
The Endless
You Were Never Really Here

-Paul

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