2018 In Review: Day 5 – Rock And Alternative

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2018 In Review

1. Introduction + Best Album Art
2. Song of the Year
3. Album of the Year
4. R&B and Soul
5. Rock and Alternative
6. Rap and Hip-hop
7. Dance and Electronic
8. Pop and Ballad
9. Folk and Country
10. Jazz and Blues
11. Crossover and World
12. Best Collaborative Work
13. Rookie Artist of the Year
14. Artist of the Year
15. Other Recognition
16. Concluding Remarks

This year, the single most competitive field to pick was the rock albums category (these days, it seems like a minor coup for anything other than dance/electronic songs to take that title). Leaving out the kind of albums released by Adoy, Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy, Kiha & the Faces, or Noeazy might be crazy talk in most years, and one could probably make a real argument for an entirely different set of twelve albums to replace the ones we’ve got below. The list of honorable mentions is long and deserved today.


  • The “next-best ten” and honorable mention lists are sorted by artist name.
  • This year, we’re providing Spotify playlists of music featured in these lists (provided that Spotify carries the music). The 2018 Rock and Alternative playlist is here and also embedded below:


Best Rock and Alternative Album 2018

Asian Chairshot – Ignite

Album after album, Asian Chairshot continue to refine their inimitable specialty: unbridled power that explodes out of setups that shouldn’t have such fuel. Ignite kept the band’s penchant for Korean-traditional melodies and groove, as everything from chanting “Round and Round” to blood-curdling “Mountain, Bird and Me” (one of the best singles of 2017) featured varying degrees of that influence. The chameleon-like vocals of Hwang Young-won and the ringing-and-pounding psychedelic arrangements somehow magnified the emotion of these melodies and amplified their power, and the hints of even more stylistic divergence – the bluesy intermission of “Hey Buddy”, rock-ballad serenity of “Us Then” – served to make the album even richer. Still a one-of-a-kind experience.

Runner-up Rock and Alternative Album 2018

Hyangni – 2 (read our review)

Hyangni can do the shoegaze/postrock tension as well as anybody, but as we noted in the review, what made 2 truly special were the moments of catharsis they granted in the midst of all that haze. While the grand choral display of “Anxiety Hell” and the exquisite breakdown of “End of My Room” were show-stealers, every track of the EP found a way to convert its intrigue into a worthwhile release. Exploring the edges of anxiety and fear of the uncertain, Hyangni crafted six self-contained but strangely connected tales – and on the emotional ride provided by their wild compositions, these stories emerged into stunning beauty.

The Next-Best Ten

Car, the Garden – Apartment

Decadent – Decadent

Huckleberry Finn – 오로라피플 (Aurora People)

Life and Time – Age

Lulileela – Rise from the Ashes

Modsdive – Four Wet Hands

Say Sue Me – Where We Were Together

Sons of Tiger – 호소 (Roar Out)

Sultan of the Disco – Aliens (read our review)

The Magus – Pathfinder


Best Rock and Alternative Song 2018

Rock’N’Roll Radio – The Mist

The oppressive synths that open “The Mist” are but a taste of what’s to come. Rock’N’Roll Radio brought their expertise in spacious and heavy grooves into a more ponderous atmosphere that appeared an extension of their EP from earlier in the year, and the result was a deliciously moody, near-six-minute journey that sees the titular mist intensify into a musical storm as the narrator wrestles with a certain regret. With remarkable efficiency, the band built a more absorbing atmosphere than perhaps any other this year – there was hardly any room to breathe.

Runner-up Rock and Alternative Song 2018

The Magus – Jailbreak (live performance, older version)

The Magus’ debut album was peppered with several uniquely memorable melodies and riffs, and I think “Jailbreak” had far and away the best one. A fantastic main riff powers the track: it’s an attitudinal banger that has both irresistible sizzle in Choi Jeong-hoon’s lead guitar and satisfying power in the backups and crashing drums. It basically serves as the song’s primary refrain, and the steady pulsing of the rhythm guitars and grungy atmosphere all build up to that release. The simplicity worked; in terms of pure addictivity, “Jailbreak” would stand up against anything else from 2018.

The Next-Best Ten

Day of Mourning – Fractura

Doe Jaemyoung & Sunji Lee – 이 노래가 (This Song Being)

DTSQ – Love Me More

Huckleberry Finn – 항해 (Voyage)

Hyangni – 내 방의 끝 (End of My Room)

Lulileela – Light Beside You

Night Off – 우린 매일매일 (As Always We Are)

Peppertones – Runaway

Sons of Tiger – 타래 (Skeins)

Yeaseol – 태초의 아침 (The First Morning)

Honorable Mentions


Adoy – Love
Airy – Seeds
Akke – We Need the Mother
Beon – Triangle
Billy Carter – The Green
Dancensingalong – 대단한 환희의 오후 (The Afternoon of Extravagant Delight)
Dark Mirror Ov Tragedy – The Lord Ov Shadows
Day6 – Moonrise
Day of Mourning – This Too Will Pass
Doe Jaemyoung & Sunji Lee – A True Travel
DTSQ – Neon-Coloured Milky Way
Eeajik – 공진 (Resonance)
Ego Function Error – Ego Fun Show
Faulocity – Resistance
H a lot – H a lot
Herd – Hivill
Hyukoh – 24: How to Find True Love and Happiness
Jaurim – Jaurim
Kiha & the Faces – mono
Kim Ganji X Ha Heonjin – 세상에 바라는 게 없네 (Don’t Want Nothing in This World)
Laybricks – People People: We’re All Diamonds.
Ma Hyun-kwon – 고집 (Stubborn)
Memnoch – Command Hallucination
Monotheism – inner.
Noeazy – Triangle
Peppertones – Long Way
Rock’N’Roll Radio – 무의미의 축제 (The Festival of Insignificance)
Sahon – Chanting for the Fallen
Samui – 마음은 언제나 여러 개가 있지 (There Is Always More Than One)
Shirts Boy Frank – 아무도 모르게 피어난 (Blooms)
Stainpulse – Circling
Woogotsa – Unisex


9 and the Numbers – 99%
Adoy – Wonder
Airy – 없어지는 길 (Disappearing Ways)
Akke – Yograj
All Against – No. 9
Amado Lee Ja Ram Band – 귀뚜라미 (Cricket)
Asian Chairshot – 빙글뱅글 (Round and Round)
Band 88 – 환상특급 (Twilight Zone)
Beon – When I Say
Black Syndrome – Bible Black (Feat. Park Geun-hong, Manju)
Bye Bye Badman – You’re Always Right About Love
Car, the Garden – 섬으로 가요 (Island)
Cho Kyu-chan – 0년 0월 0일 (Reset)
Dabda – 꿈의 표정 (Look of a Dream)
Day6 – Better Better
Day of Mourning – Prayer
Dear Cloud – Blue Jeans
Decadent – 우주형제 (Space Brothers)
Decadent – 피터파커 (Peter Parker)
Eeajik – 아스라한 (Asrahan)
Gila – Shimmer
Ha Hyunsang – Dawn
H a lot – Prom
Herd – Fireworks
Herd – Starlight
Hyangni – 불안지옥 (Anxiety Hell)
Hyukoh – Love Ya!
Jannabi – Good Boy Twist
Kim Bada – 흐름 (Flow)
LeeSA – 여우짓 (Foxy)
Life and Time – 잠수교 (Jamsugyo)
Lulileela – 선인장 꽃 (Cactus Flower)
Ma Hyun-kwon – 고집 (Stubborn)
MDSZ – 6
Modsdive – Buran
Modsdive – Irrevocable
Monotheism – Gloom
Organic City – 나락 (Naraka)
Peppertones – 긴 여행의 끝 (Long Journey’s End)
Plugged Classic – Heavy Mind
Rock’N’Roll Radio – 구름에 가려진 달처럼 (Like Moon Behind a Cloud)
Samui – 오늘따라 (Today of All Days)
Say Sue Me – Just Joking Around
Say Sue Me – Old Town
Seoulmoon – 코코넛 러브 (Coconut Love)
Seoulmoon – 해 뜰 때까지 (Till Sunrise)
Shin Hae-gyeong – 담다디 (Damdadi)
Shirts Boy Frank – Swallow (Only Loveless)
Sonic Stones – This Is Hell!
South Club – 왕따 (Outcast)
The Magus – Child’s Water
The Magus – Seoul Ground
The Poles – Moon in Water
Unchained – 표류 (Drift)
Vassline – Divine Deception
Voyeur – 부덕의 소치 (Consequence of Inadequacy)
Woogotsa – 사랑은 무능력함으로부터 (Love Comes from Incompetence)

Lyric translations by author. Artist profile and album cover images from Bugs Music.

Read our past series:

2017 In Review

2016 In Review

2015 In Review

2014 In Review

2013 In Review

2012 In Review