Album Bracketology, Part Two: Let's Call Him Fred Toppel

Album Bracketology, Part Two: Let's Call Him Fred Toppel

[Editor’s note: Propeller’s editorial staff is on spring break. In our absence, we are again allowing Matthew Kauffman Smith to publish a double-elimination “music tournament.” Kauffman Smith’s system for determining his favorite album of the previous year is confusing and his taste in music is mediocre at best. We have encouraged our design intern to use these articles to explore web design potentials before she posts them. Anyone reading beyond this point does so at their own risk.]


Part 1: Rules Nonsense
Part 2: Parallel Universe Nonsense
Part 3: Total Nonsense


By Matthew Kauffman Smith
Fresh out of college, I nabbed an internship in Washington, D.C., at a prominent nightly program at ABC News. The staff treated the interns well. We weren’t paid and we did odd jobs that no one else wanted to do, but we didn’t really care. We had a fair amount of downtime and were able to hang out in the editing rooms, watching the show come together. We attended daily briefings and, considering the rough-and-tumble environment of network news, everyone was always pleasant.

Album Bracketology was always my dream, so I never really aspired to work in TV, but I wanted to impress the staff nonetheless. My greatest accomplishment was probably cleaning the microwave on a down day. I don’t want to give away all of the trade secrets, so I’ll just say that the host of the show—let’s call him Fred Toppel—loved pizza. The host and the staff loved leftover pizza as well, which was evidenced by the saucy, cheesy remnants pasted to the sides and top of the microwave.

Scraping cheese off shiny, plastic micro-insides wasn’t my goal in life, but as an intern, I knew my place. I never asked for creative control over anything but the microwave. I realized I was lucky.

In this opening anecdote about ABC News, a key name has been changed and the location of the anecdote is left vague. Upon reflection, there is no reason to do this.

Motorcade, from Dallas, Texas, crafts melodic, ’80s-influenced synth and guitar rock. Their eponymous debut album was released by Idol Records in January of 2018.

Motorcade, from Dallas, Texas, crafts melodic, ’80s-influenced synth and guitar rock. Their eponymous debut album was released by Idol Records in January of 2018.

Here the author continues his impenetrable references to virtual tournaments in parallel universes. (Is it a Spider-Man thing?) Yes, web magazines require “content,” but these pieces raise the question: At what cost?

Bands that make it to Album Bracketology also realize their good fortune. As we discussed in our last installment, band Motorcade released an album in 2018 that the Propeller staff enjoyed quite a bit. Due to an oversight however, a member of the Propeller staff—perhaps the design intern—forgot to submit the band for consideration. Motorcade did not make it to this year’s tournament but received a wild card to the Propeller album of the decade. Motorcade also called out any band finishing 64th, challenging them to a listen-off duel. Motorcade beat Portland band Typhoon in this impromptu, one-off contest, and remains alive for album of the year—at least in a parallel universe.

Speaking of parallel universes, our sideline reporter Alvin Bracketology discovered two tournaments—both without Motorcade—happening simultaneously with our official bracket. Alvin found links to Parallel universe double elimination and Parallel universe single elimination. Follow along with these at your own risk.

Back to the Official bracket, we conclude losers bracket round five and say goodbye to some very fine albums.


64. Typhoon: Offerings
63. VHS Collection: Retrofuturism
62. The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
61. Bodega: Endless Scroll
60. Michigan Rattlers: Evergreen


The Michigan Rattlers released a fine, alternative country album, which is far better—but maybe not as memorable—as the Michigan tourism campaign of the 1980s:


59. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
58. Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel
57. Dirty Projectors: Lamp Lit Prose
56. Black Panther soundtrack
55. Shakey Graves: Can’t Wake Up
54. Laura Gibson: Goners
53. Kali Uchis: Isolation


Kali Uchis had her breakthrough album in 2018, and even though she’s only 24, she’s wise enough to know that Bootsy Collins makes any song better.


52. Shad: A Short Story About War
51. Doug Paisley: Starter Home
50. Chvrches: Love is Dead
49. Art Brut: Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!


Art Brut not only returned from a seven-year hiatus to place in the top 50, but also released the greatest video of the year featuring animated eggs.


48. Vance Joy: Nation of Two
47. Chanti Darling: RNB Vol. 1
46. Brazilian Girls: Let’s Make Love
45. Death Cab for Cutie: Thank you for Today
44. Laurel: DOGVIOLET
43. Gregory Alan Isakov: Evening Machines
42. Snail Mail: Lush
41. The Goon Sax: We’re Not Talking
40. Flasher: Constant Image
39. Noname: Room 25


For the second time in three years, Chicago rapper Noname finishes 39th and remains one of the most promising future stars of hip hop.


38. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
37. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
36. Rosalia: El Mal Querer
35. Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse
34. Jorja Smith: Lost & Found
33. boygenius: boygenius EP


The New Zealand and Australia contingent continue to represent well, as three albums from the Australasia Album of the Year placed in the 38, 41, and 48 respectively, with four bands still alive in the final 32. But the highest honor of this installment of Album Bracketology goes to No. 33 boygenius, which won 2018 Propeller EP of the year.

Boygenius is a supergroup comprising of past Bracketology veterans Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus. Dacus finished 85th in 2016, and Baker and Bridgers finished 73rd and 59th in 2017. Dacus is still alive for album of the year honors for 2018. In fact, given her success as a solo artist and a member of a band, Propeller is crowning Dacus our 2018 Propeller Artist of the Year. Congratulations, Lucy!

Next time around, we’ll go down to 16, or even 12 if the Propeller editors allow me to go more quickly. Here is a recap of the top revealed albums so far:


105. Now, Now: Saved
104. Iceage: Beyondless
103. Shannon and the Clams: Onion
102. Tove Stryke: Sway
101. Superorganism: Superorganism
100. H.C McEntire: Lionheart
99. First Aid Kit: Ruins
98. U.S. Girls: In a Poem Unlimited
97. Proclaimers: Angry Cyclist
96. Eternal Summers: Every Day Feels Like I’m Dying
95. Interpol: Marrauder
94. MGMT: Little Dark Age
93. Twin Shadow: Caer
92. Town Mountain: New Freedom Blues
91. The Love Language: Baby Grand
90. We Were Promised Jetpacks: The More I Sleep, the Less I Dream
89. Kero Kero Bonito: Time ‘n’ Place
88. Cupcakke Euphorize
87. Michael Rault: It’s a New Day Tonight
86. Birdtalker: One
85. Mitski: Be the Cowboy
84. Ume: Other Nature
83. The Struts: Young and Dangerous
82. Tunng: Songs You Make at Night
81. Kamasi Washington: Heaven and Earth
80. Tracyanne & Danny: Tracyanne & Danny
79. Dubstar: One
78. Ural Thomas and the Pain: The Right Time
77. The Joy Formidable: AAARTH
76. Viagra Boys: Street Worms
75. Panic! At the Disco: Pray for the Wicked
74. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
73. Georgia Anne Muldrow: Overload
72. Shame: Songs of Praise
71. Kurt Vile: Bottle It In
70. Open Mike Eagle: What Happens When I Try to Relax
69. Angelique Kidjo: Remain in Light
68. Charles Bradley: Black Velvet
67. Neko Case: Hell-On
66. Maribou State: Kingdoms in Colour
65. Eleanor Friedberger: Rebound
64. Typhoon: Offerings
63. VHS Collection: Retrofuturism
62. The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
61. Bodega: Endless Scroll
60. Michigan Rattlers: Evergreen
59. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
58. Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel
57. Dirty Projectors: Lamp Lit Prose
56. Black Panther soundtrack
55. Shakey Graves: Can’t Wake Up
54. Laura Gibson: Goners
53. Kali Uchis: Isolation
52. Shad: A Short Story About War
51. Doug Paisley: Starter Home
50. Chvrches: Love is Dead
49. Art Brut: Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!
48. Vance Joy: Nation of Two
47. Chanti Darling: RNB Vol. 1
46. Brazilian Girls: Let’s Make Love
45. Death Cab for Cutie: Thank you for Today
44. Laurel: DOGVIOLET
43. Gregory Alan Isakov: Evening Machines
42. Snail Mail: Lush
41. The Goon Sax: We’re Not Talking
40. Flasher: Constant Image
39. Noname: Room 25
38. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
37. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
36. Rosalia: El Mal Querer
35. Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse
34. Jorja Smith: Lost & Found
33. boygenius: boygenius EP


Matthew Kauffman Smith is still doing this.

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