2018 :: TOP ALBUMS – 30 THROUGH 02

It was such an interesting year in music, both filled with hope and despair. Again, I found it hard to narrow choices to 30 in some ways, tough to find enough music truly deserving of honor in others. Here’s where I netted out. As always, this is a very personal list, so I expect no one to agree with my choices. I only hope to inspire and pay some sense of homage to the things that moved me this year musically. I stuck with the Twitter format, but embraced the 280 character limit for 2018. Enjoy and in the immortal words of George Michael, “Listen Without Prejudice!”

30

The Internet

HIVE MIND

Welcome to Groove City, population 5. “Hive Mind” is a seamless glass bridge of a record, smoothed out and sensual, connecting RnB’s sybaritic past with the Milky Way of a libertine future.

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29

Leon Bridges

GOOD THING

Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Raphael Saadiq walk into a party… Seriously though, Bridges is stretching his legs into a funky strut through the American South and we’re thrilled to take that walk with him.

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28

Idles

JOY AS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE

“Joy” is a blunt battering ram of an album, sparking with verve and burning with passion. This is fist-in-the-air punk for a world spinning off-axis.

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27

Superorganism

SUPERORGANISM

If the concept of “ONE LOVE” had a band, Superorganism would be it. Indie pop finds a globally quirky universality in this debut.

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26

Lily Allen

NO SHAME

Lily Allen sifts through the rubble of personal struggle to spin vulnerable pop perfection on “No Shame.” Hurt and self recrimination find  a beautiful catharsis.

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25

The 1975

A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS

Listening to The 1975 is an exercise in glorious pop contradiction. Somehow, an exploration of their own frenetic personal shivers becomes just the right statement for the entire digital generation.

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24

SOCCER MOMMY

CLEAN

Just when I think young music will be permanently lost in a haze of Xanax-fueled party rap, the music gods send a release to chastise my unbelief. “Clean” is honest, earnest, plainspoken, cool, melodic and… Well.. Clean. What indie rock should be.

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23

Daniel Avery

SONG FOR ALPHA

Ambient puts on dancing shoes in this experimental turn for DJ Daniel Avery. As these songs wind to life, they transport to an Autechre-laden club in the 90s, replete with nostalgia and a cloudless eye to the future.

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22

Georgia Anne Muldrow

OVERLOAD

The title of the first track on “Overload” sums it up best — “I.O.T.A (Instrument Of The Ancestors).” Muldrow mixes up a stock pot of soul goodness that is as much Sun Ra and “Bitches Brew” as it is Erika Badu and “Untitled (How Does It Feel).” Avant-garde super soul.

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21

Yves Tumor

SAFE IN THE HANDS OF LOVE

Who knew outer space could be so warm and familiar? “Safe” is a ranging experimental meditation, swollen and pulsing with elan.

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20

Sam Wilkes

WILKES

Bassist Sam Wilkes shows uncompromising maturity in this debut, giving us dreamy, mature compositions that embrace and showcase saxophonist Sam Gendel’s horn. Listenable AF.

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19

Kamasi Washington

HEAVEN AND EARTH

Idea after musical idea spin to life in this sprawlingly sophisticated statement of an album. Hancock, Davis, Hubbard and Ra all find their echoes here. Washington swings confidently into full effulgence and we’re happy to bask in that glow.

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18

Janelle Monaé

DIRTY COMPUTER

It’s as if Prince, Nile Rodgers and Betty Davis got together to discuss sexuality, love, cultural heritage and freedom and then wrap it in a slice of pop perfection. How can such an important reflection be so danceable? No mean feat.

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17

Charles Lloyd and the Marvels + Lucinda Williams

VANISHED GARDENS

Pairing sax legend Charles Lloyd (with his Marvels including Bill Frisell) with Americana songwriting icon Lucinda Williams doesn’t make sense at first glance, but this works SO well. The result is an engrossing blend of the two sounds, twisting and eddying around each other.

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16

Ezra Furman

TRANSANGELIC EXODUS

A thematic collection of songwriting, throbbing with life, blood and gristle. Furman burns bright on these tracks roaring like a Camaro running hot down a deserted road on a bitter night. Immediacy and paranoia yield to confident acceptance. Redemptive.

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15

Let’s Eat Grandma

I’M ALL EARS

Teen Brit duo Let’s Eat Gramma makes shimmering, swirling, multi-hued, hazily sinister beauty in this collection of future pop mini-masterpieces. This melange of prog, psych, disco, synth, pop (and a whole lot more) is nothing short of revelatory.

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14

Hookworms

MICROSHIFT

Hookworms’ psychedelic punk past surrenders to fevered synth dreams on “Microshift,” making the album a decided move to clarity and emotional honesty for the band. This is an acute, rapturous release where joy finds triumph over angst and we’re the better for it.

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13

Shame

SONGS OF PRAISE

Urgent, articulate, ascerbic and witty, “Songs of Praise” navigates the line between rock and punk with a cocksure swagger. A perfect, livid slash of an album for a fragmented society in a turbulent time.

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12

Sophie

OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES

Surreal landscapes pass below as we dance in swirling skies, soaring. Androids strut and stalk through wet neon nighttime streets. Spheres of chrome and glass give birth to gleaming orbs of pure energy. Sophie guides us through it all with a confident, plastic hand. Brilliance.

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11

Khurangbin

CON TODO EL MUNDO

Turns out, Houston Texas 3-piece Khurangbin is everything you needed. Vibey AF. It’s like DJ Shadow and the RZA teamed to produce an Aphrodite’s Child release with Eddie Hazel guesting on axe (and someone spiked the studio’s water supply with high-grade acid). Global GROOVES.

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10

Snail Mail

LUSH

This takes me to a place of warm analog nostalgia, were earnestness and talent were valued über alles. This is an indie-rock record filled with emotionally honest songs of young longing and technically honest musicianship. All of that equals something very special in my book.

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09

Jon Hopkins

SINGULARITY

A rich musical journey in synth-driven ambient house. Is that even a thing? It is now. These compositions pulse to life, evolving, growing and dying with digital throb. Just kill the lights and let this album wash over you.

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08

Anna Calvi

HUNTER

With a deeply evocative voice, serious guitar skill and a love for the gothic, Anna Calvi is a force. Bowie sway holds hands with a stately Dead Can Dance march here. It’s a very compelling mix that feels both rooted and completely fresh. Beautifully haunting.

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07

Interpol

MARAUDER

Interpol has cut the tether. Gone is the sheen that pervaded past releases, replaced with an immediacy and abandon. This is the work of a band ready to get down to rowdy, sinewy, menacing business. And, that they do on “Marauder.”

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06

Spiritualized

AND NOTHING HURT

Jason Pierce is in an amazing place. “And Nothing Hurt” is the work of someone completely in control of their gifts. It listens like a sweeping gospel coda composed somewhere between Tom Verlaine, Graham Parsons, Alex Chilton and the Velvet Underground. Heady, moving stuff.

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05

Kait Dunton

TRIOKAIT2

Dunton, Appelt and Reed make tight, original, soulful jazz with a progressive, virtuosic ear. Perhaps most impressive is that for all of the accomplished technical chops clearly evident on the album, all of the work on “TrioKait2” never loses sight of its deep emotional heart. 

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04

Tamino

AMIR

Another stunning debut on the countdown. Tamino, the 21 year old Egyptian phenom channels the most amazing qualities of Jeff Buckley and fuses them with his heritage. WTF? Pardon me while I swoon. A singular talent in bloom.

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03

Albert Hammond Jr.

FRANCIS TROUBLE

Perhaps the most even rock release of 2018. Vibrant, funky, crisp, crystal clear pop rock with an engaging backstory of a lost twin and rebirth after life threatening addiction. Serious doesn’t always have to feel so dire and perfection can find bright life in that juxtaposition.

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02

Nils Frahm

ALL MELODY

Is this neo-classical? Is it post-techno? Is it jazz? Who the hell knows. I do know that it is a complete conceptual statement from an artist hitting stride. Exquisitely recorded… At once intimate and expansive, this is an aural odyssey you must take. 

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