2. Toss Up by Kevin Krauter
Kevin Krauter’s Toss Up is, by a comfortable margin, the best debut of 2018 to get super baked before listening to — which is not to say you have to be high to appreciate Kevin’s debut, it just wouldn’t hurt either. As Kevin even admits, his debut is “easygoing,” which is absolutely the vibe that Toss Up imbues on audiences upon a first listen (and reiterates upon repeat check-ins.) Laid back, chill, but also introspective. It’s rare that a lyricist can begin a verse with such vivid a picture but end that same verse 180 degrees from where they started; Kevin does this multiple times throughout his debut (both verses of “Who Do You Know” come immediately to mind), with each clever turn of phrase more ingenious than the last.
While Kevin’s debut will certainly appeal to any music fans who appreciate indie pop/r&b/rock, it should especially strike a chord with Midwesterners who flew the proverbial coop or those who stayed planted there. Listening to Toss Up reminds you distinctly of those high school-era summer nights, enjoying your aloneness in your bedroom, wondering what the next summer day may bring. Kevin mentioned in his rollout for Toss Up that “a lot of the songs are about solitude in a very healthy sense, about trying to make it something useful and productive. It was good to center myself in that experience.”
Mostly focused on this solitude, as well as friendship and love, Toss Up became a true anchor in an era of seemingly never-ending push notifications. By the time the title track arrives at the end of the album and we discover that the phrase ‘toss up’ refers to a paper airplane that Kevin pretends to ‘know where to aim’, it’s increasingly apparent that Kevin created an album uniquely his own, one that no one could possibly replicate. As the extended outro of “Toss Up” ended on an initial listen, there was only one word that accurately summed up what Kevin had accomplished: “Wow.”
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