Class of 2018: The Overachievers

You know it’s been a strange year in music when the Billboard charts and the critic’s year-end lists have so much in common. Stereogum gave the #1 spot to a pop country album; the same album that topped lists from People and Entertainment Weekly. Janelle Monáe finally got the credit she deserved when she released The ArchAndroid eight years ago. Mitski is getting high praise for an album that doesn’t even compare to her last two. Tabloid stars like Cardi B, Ariana Grande, and Travis Scott have become critical darlings, while Grimes has become a pariah for her choice in men and Kanye an outcast for his choice in hats.

A 25-year-old band from Duluth, Minnesota completely reinvented itself, Robyn returned with her most mature album yet, Daughters are back and angry as ever, Kamasi dropped another 2 1/2 hour epic in a year when EPs became LPs, and boygenius formed to make everything seem better.

The best rock release of the year is a re-recorded album from 2011.

Kanye produced five short albums, two of which were his own, but all anyone can talk about is the insane shit he says in interviews and his twitterstorm against Drake. Oh yeah, Drake released an album as well. Some people are really into it.

It was an amazing year in metal though. Seriously, metal is what saved 2018 in music. New and old groups just brought it month after month!

I listened to a lot of old vinyl this year. I also listened to a lot of Scandinavian music leading up to (and while on) our trip to Iceland, Sweden, and Norway.

When it came time to make a list of my favorite albums of 2018, I figured it would be 15-20 choices. As it turned out, I listened to a lot more new music than I thought. The difficulty came in trying to choose a #1, or even a Top 10. There were so many albums I ‘really liked’, but none I loved. That’s why I decided to create smaller, easy to digest lists.

What you’ll find below are my Top 50 albums (by genre), as well as my Top 10 albums to come out of Scandinavia.

AMERICANA / COUNTRY

alt-country, americana, contemporary country, country pop, country rock, southern soul   

#5. Lucero – Among the Ghosts
(Liberator)

the first word she said to me was goodbye

Long Way Back Home

#4. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
(MCA Nashville)

ain’t room for both of us in this town

Space Cowboy

#3. Anderson East – Encore
(Low Country Sound)

she can wear a nightgown to a wedding

All On My Mind

#2. Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain
(Fat Possum)

so cold he dreams of hell

Took You Up

#1. Ashley McBryde – Girl Going Nowhere
(Atlantic/Warner Nasvhille)

if you ever get tired of bein’ happy, give me a call

A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega

ARCHIVAL

singer/songwriter, piano blues

#1. Prince – Piano & a Microphone 1983
(Warner Bros.)

mama, where is father?
mama, butterflies

Mary Don’t You Weep

ELECTRONIC

deep house, electronic, microhouse, progressive electronic, tech house

#4. A.A.L (Against All Logic) : 2012 – 2017
(Other People)

this old house is all I have

Flash in the Pan

#3. Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of
(Warp)

a wave of black holes

Black Snow

#2. Jon Hopkins – Singularity
(Domino)

Emerald Rush

#1. Nils Frahm – All Melody
(Erased Tapes)

My Friend the Forest

EXPERIMENTAL / POST-

abstract hip hop, avant-garde metal, experimental hip hop, experimental rock, glitch pop, mathcore, noise pop, noise rock, post-hardcore

#6. Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit
(MKVA)

Lord don’t have mercy for you

Gravedigger’s Chant

#5. The Armed  – ONLY LOVE
(No Rest Until Ruin)

directionless toilet chatter

Heavily Lined

#4. Death Grips – Year of the Snitch
(Sunset Sound)

got good friends who love to headline

Death Grips is Online

#3. Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
(Holy Roar)

cruelty of that which is cherished

Balancing the Dark

#2. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
(Ipecac)

today’s gonna feel like tomorrow, some day

You Won’t Get What You Want

#1. Low – Double Negative
(Sub Pop)

you let it in when you took the drugs

Always Trying To Work It Out

FOLK

indie folk, singer/songwriter

#2. Mount Eerie – (after)
(P. W. Elverum & Sun)

when real death enters the house all poetry is dumb

(after)

#1. boygenius – boygenius
(Matador)

when I’m home I’m never there long enough to know

Me & My Dog

HIP HOP

abstract hip hop, conscious hip hop, east coast hip hop, experimental hip hop, hardcore hip hip, pop rap, southern hip hop, trap rap, west coast hip hop

#4. Denzel Curry – TA13OO
(Loma Vista)

don’t need a tattoo on my face ’cause Denzel is a different race

CLOUT COBAIN | CLOUT CO13A1N

#3. Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs
(Tan Cressida)

why ain’t nobody tell me I was bleedin’?

The Mint

#2. BROCKHAMPTON – iridescence
(Question Everything / RCA)

want more out of life than this

SAN MARCOS

#1. Kanye West & Friends – The Wyoming Sessions
(G.O.O.D.)

how do you respond?

If You Know You Know

METAL

atmospheric black metal, blackgaze, black metal, deathgrind, death metal, doom metal, funeral doom, heavy metal, metalcore, progressive metal, sludge metal, war metal

#12. Evoken – Hypnagogia
(Profound Lore)

hellish myopia to kill with euphoria

Valorous Consternation

#11. Thou – Magus
(Sacred Bones)

defeated our mortality, defeated time, always alone

The Changeling Prince

#10. Khemmis – Desolation
(20 Buck Spin)

the only mourner left to grieve

Isolation

#9. Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
(Prosthetic)

lacquer of the tongue paints the town red

Fen of Shadows

#8. Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
(Metal Blade)

there’s warmth within the past that’s so familiar

Where Owls Know My Name

#7. Mournful Congregation – The Incubus Of Karma
(Osmose)

joy of one day, is the sorrow of the next

Whispering Spiritscapes

#6. Vein – Errorzone
(Closed Casket Activities)

worry, fixate and then repeat

Virus://Vibrance

#5. Wayfarer – World’s Blood
(Profound Lore)

animal crown drifts from corpse to corpse

Animal Crown

#4. Infernal Coil – Within A World Forgotten
(Profound Lore)

dream of the ashes I will become

Crusher of the Seed

#3. YOB – Our Raw Heart
(Relapse)

endless worlds in endless mind

Original Face

#2. Panopticon – The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness
(Nordvis)

we will destroy our culture and ourselves

The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness

#1. Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
(ANTI-)

hung from the throat by sunflower stems

Honeycomb

R&B / TOP 40

alternative r&b, contemporary r&b, neo-soul, pop rap, trap rap

#6. Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
(Famm)

a moment in time, don’t watch me cry

The One

#5. Tierra Whack – Whack World
(self-released)

he likes my diamonds and my pearl

Whack World

#4. Teyana Taylor – K.T.S.E.
(G.O.O.D.)

a rose in Harlem

Rose in Harlem

#3. Post Malone – beerbongs & bentleys
(Republic)

paranoid man makes paranoid plans

Psycho

#2. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
(Atlantic / KSR)

my little 15 minutes lasting long as hell, huh?

Be Careful

#1. Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
(Atlantic)

box office numbers, and they doin’ outstandin’
runnin’ outta space in my damn bandwagon

Dirty Computer [Emotion Picture]

ROCK / POP

art pop, art rock, chamber pop, electropop, garage rock, glam rock, indie rock, neo-psychedelia, psychedelic pop, synthpop

#10. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
(Mom + Pop)

hesitation lingers till I’m unreasonable

Charity

#9. Lucy Dacus – Historian
(Matador)

in five years I hope the songs feel like covers dedicated to new lovers

Addictions

#8. Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
(Sub Pop)

perhaps you shouldn’t drink alone

Mr. Tillman

#7. Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
(Transgressive)

wanted to take back what I’ve said before but I couldn’t find my receipt

It’s Not Just Me

#6. Foxing – Nearer My God
(Triple Crown)

pin photographs on cork boards, unfollowing my dead friends

Slapstick

#5. Pinegrove – Skylight
(self-released)

the long road noise is loud and you can’t hear the song go

Intrepid

#4. U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
(4AD)

making this living just brings about dying

Pearly Gates

#3. Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt
(Fat Possum)

like to sit around and dream you up a perfect miracle

I’m Your Man

#2. Ty Segall & Freedom Band – Freedom’s Goblin
(Drag City)

want to show you what I have not seen

Freedom’s Goblin

#1. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
(Matador)

stop smoking, we love you
and we don’t want you to die

Bodys

SCANDINAVIAN

Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian

#10. Spurv – Myra  
Oslo, Norway
(Fysisk)

Et blekt lys lyder

#9. The Amazing – In Transit 
Stockholm, Sweden
(Partisan)

there’s nowhere left to hide

For No One

#8. Anna von Hausswolff – Dead Magic
Copenhagen, Denmark
(City Slang)

all the traces that I have left behind

The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra

#7. Iceage – Beyondless
Copenhagen, Denmark
(Escho)

your saliva is a drug so bittersweet

Catch It

#6. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Bergen, Norway
(Nuclear Blast)

beneath the blackened sun, mountains they rise

Mighty Ravendark

#5. møl – Jord
Aarhus, Denmark
(Holy Roar)

we felt the winter within

Bruma

#4. Tribulation – Down Below
Arvika, Sweden
(Century Media)

travel through the maze, navigate well

The Lament

#3. Robyn – Honey
Stockholm, Sweden
(Konichiwa)

all these emotions are out of date

Honey

#2. Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Bergen, Norway
(Norse)

I hugen sjå me hugen trå, det vinder nå

Hugsjá

#1. Ólafur Arnalds – re:member
Reykjavík, Iceland
(Decca)

re:member

 

Favorite Albums of 2018:
A.A.L. (Against All Logic) – 2012 – 2017
Anderson East – Encore
Anna von Hausswolff – Dead Magic
Ashley McBryde – Girl Going Nowhere
boygenius – boygenius
BROCKHAMPTON – iridescence
Car Seat Headrest -Twin Fantasy
Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain
Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want
Deafheaven -Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
Death Grips – Year of the Snitch
Denzel Curry – TA1300
Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs
Evoken – Hypnagogia
Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
Foxing – Nearer My God
Iceage – Beyondless
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Infernal Coil – Within a World Forgotten
Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Janelle Monáe – Dirty Computer
Jon Hopkins – Singularity
Jorja Smith -Lost & Found
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
Kanye West & Friends – The Wyoming Sessions
Khemmis – Desolation
Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
Low – Double Negative
Lucero – Among the Ghosts
Lucy Dacus – Historian
møl – Jord
Mount Eerie – (after)
Mournful Congregation -The Incubus of Karma
Nils Frahm – All Melody
Ólafur Arnalds -re:member
Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of
Panopticon -The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness
Pinegrove -Skylight
Post Malone – beerbongs & bentleys
Prince – Piano & a Microphone 1983
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Robyn – Honey
Rolo Tomassi – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It
Skeletonwitch – Devouring Radiant Light
Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt
Spurv – Myra
Teyana Taylor – K.T.S.E.
The Amazing -In Transit
The Armed – Only Love
Thou – Magus
Tierra Whack – Whack World
Tribulation – Down Below
Ty Segall & Freedom Band – Freedom’s Goblin
U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
Vein – Errorzone
Wayfarer – World’s Blood
YOB – Our Raw Heart
Zeal & Ardor -Stranger Fruit

Class of 2018: The Soundtrack
Class of 2018: The Performers
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Favorite Albums 2018

 

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