- Polo G (Feat. Lil Tjay)- Pop Out
- Dababy- Suge
- J Cole- Middle Child
- Rosalia- Millionairia
- Sahweetie- My Type
- Billie Eilish- Bad Guy
- Ariana Grande- Fake Smile
- Normani- Motivation
- Vampire Weekend- This Life
- Chai- Curly Adventure
- Caribou- Home
- Sharon Van Etten- Comeback Kid
- Jamila Woods- Zora
- Solange- Binz
- FKA Twigs- Sad Day
- James Blake- Don’t Miss It
- Lana Del Rey- Mariner’s Apartment Complex
- Big Thief- Cattails
- Weyes Blood- A Lot’s Gotta Change
- Fontaines D.C.- Too Real
- Diiv- Skin Game
- Black Midi- Near Dt, MI
- Purple Mountains- All My Happiness Is Gone
- Fontaines D.C.- Big
- Black Midi- 953
- Diiv- The Spark
- Charli XCX (Feat. Christine and the Queens)- Gone
- Nilufer Yanya- Melt
- Angel Olsen- Summer
- Lana Del Rey- Venice Bitch
- Big Thief- UFOF
- Sharon Van Etten- Jupiter 4
- FKA Twigs- Cellophane
- Jessie Ware- Adore You
- Beyonce- Before I Let Go
- Lizzo- Water Me
- Vampire Weekend- Sympathy
- Thom Yorke- The Axe
- Deerhunter- Timebends
- Lana Del Rey- Norman Fucking Rockwell!
- Angel Olsen- What It Is
- Big Thief- Forgotten Eyes
- Ariana Grande- thank u, next
- Lizzo- Juice
- Koffee- Throne
- Young Thug (Feat. J. Cole & Travis Scott)- The London
- Tyler, The Creator- A Boy Is A Gun
- Denzel Curry (Feat. Kiddo Marv)- Wish
- Toro Y Moi- Who I Am
- Charly Bliss- Blown To Bits
- Baroness- Broken Halo
- Sturgill Simpson- Sing Along
- Tyler Childers- All Your’N
- Purple Mountains- That’s Just The Way I Feel
- Jenny Lewis- Wasted Youth
- FKA Twigs- Fallen Alien
- Thom Yorke- Runwayaway
- Cater le Bon- Daylight Matters
- Weyes Blood- Andromeda
- Vampire Weekend (Feat, Danielle Haim)- Hold You Now
SHARON VAN ETTEN- REMIND ME TOMORROW
Singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten delivers her best album yet with her fifth full-length release “Remind Me Tomorrow”. On previous albums she was grappling with an abusive relationship which happened in her twenties, while here she more optimistically seems to reach back toward her teen years, especially on standout tracks like “Comeback Kid” and “Seventeen”. It is also her most accessible album to date with focused songwriting, big choruses and synth flourishes. One of the best albums of the year so far.
DEERHUNTER- WHY HASN’T EVERYTHING ALREADY DISAPPEARED
Deerhunter’s eighth album is perhaps their best since 2010’s brilliant “Halcyon Digest”. While remaining experimental, this is also one of Deerhunter’s most catchy and “pop” offerings yet. Leader and songwriter Bradford Cox looks at the bleak and encroaching concerns of the day such as ecological damage and right-wing extremism through a realistic but empathetic lens. Deerhunter have quietly become one of the most consistently great indie rock bands of the past decade and a half.
GIRLPOOL- WHAT CHAOS IS IMAGINARY
Girlpool’s third album sounds like a different band all together. On 2017’s “Powerplant” the most distinct part of Girlpool were the group’s two singer’s beautiful female harmonies. Recently Cleo Tuckers, one of the two singers, came out as trans and began taking tester one pills which significantly lowered her voice making the two vocalists noticeably different. The group also has added more fuzz and distortion to its sound and “What Chaos Is Imaginary” frankly rocks more than its predecessor. Girlpool’s debut was a very stripped down affair, where the group added drums and bass on its second album. Only three albums in, the group seem to be musical chameleons making them one of the most interesting groups in the current landscape.
JESSICA PRATT- QUIET SIGNS
Third full-length release from L.A. singer-songwriter, Jessica Pratt, whose eccentric voice brings to mind Joanna Newsom and whose hushed, pastoral tone recalls early seventies female artists like Vashti Bunyon. The majority of the album is just Pratt’s vocal and fingerpicked acoustic guitar, with occasional organ and flute added. Its nine songs are gentle but arresting and absolutely gorgeous. “This Time Around” is the real standout.
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ARIANA GRANDE- THANK U, NEXT
Over the past few years, Ariana Grande has become one of the biggest music stars in the world. Though she has a huge, gorgeous voice, her music is pure pop though she takes much influence from hip-hop & R&B. Like her favorite rappers, Grande wants to release music quickly and not be adherent to the traditional 2-3 years in between albums of most of music’s biggest artists. “thank u, next” comes right on the heels of Grande’s huge blockbuster “Sweetener”, released last summer, and grapples with Grande’s break-up with SNL comedian Pete Davidson. The title track has already been a smash hit for months and follow up singles “7 Rings” and “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” are catchy earworms as well. With other potential singles like “Bloodline” and “Needy” waiting in the wings, Grande may just have a second straight blockbuster on her hands, though this one may be slower burning.
50. ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER- HOPE DOWNS
Full-length debut by Melbourne, Australia quintet is a rock solid album where all ten tracks are winners. The group brings to mind late 80’s jangle pop and early 90’s alt-rock- think Feelies, R.E.M. & the Go-Betweens. RBCF consists of three rotating singer/guitarists which keep the songs from sounding alike. They also move quickly from slashing rock tracks to more melodic pop driven ballads. I didn’t hear this album until the very end of 2018 so it has barely set in but on my first few listens it sounds like one of the more replayable rock albums in recent years and a breath of fresh air.
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49. CUPCAKKE- EUPHORIZE
Most high profile album release by twenty year old, Chicago underground rapper Cupcakke. It’s probably the filthiest album by a female rapper since Lil Kim’s debut in 1996- her punchlines are over-the-top, outrageous and outright hilarious while being sex positive and all inclusive. Her beats are upbeat and club-ready with the biggest highlights being “Crayons” and “Duck Duck Goose”.
48. ARCTIC MONKEYS- TRANQUILITY BASE HOTEL + CASINO
After Arctic Monkeys fifth album “AM” broke through in America, threatening to make the British indie-rock band one of the biggest rock n’ roll bands on the planet, the band’s sixth album “Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino” shows them taking a sharp left turn toward lounge-lizard spacey synth and piano based esoteric singer-songwriter music heavily influenced by early seventies Bowie. Though the album takes awhile to grab onto, it reveals itself more with each listen, enriching the band’s already solid catalog. It also seems to free the group up to do whatever it wants next. Choice cut is the awesome “Four Out Of Five”.
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47. SHAME- SONGS OF PRAISE
Debut albums from South London post-punk band, who is indebted to Joy Division Gang Of Four & Interpol. While Shame’s sound is certainly nothing new, their passionate, raw, intense, pissed off and political songs play well against the backdrop of Trump and Brexit and the band ramp’s down the experimentation of their influences creating an album of muscular, hard-charging, anthemic rock.
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46. FRANKIE COSMOS- VESSEL
3rd full-length album by Frankie Cosmos, AKA Great Kline, the NYC-bred daughter of actors Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates. Kline plays a short & simple, but hooky hybrid of indie-rock and twee pop. “Vessel” is 18 songs in under 35 minutes, blunt but often profound musings on life and love in the big city. Not every song is perfect, but she never leaves you time to get bored. The track “Duet” melts my heart and songs like “Same Thing” and “Apathy” are some of her best work yet.
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45. MOUNT EERIE- NOW ONLY
“Now Only” is the companion album to Phil Elverum’s beautiful and haunting “A Crow Looked At Me”, made in the shadow of the death of his beloved wife to cancer. Where “Crow” moved chronologically through a brief but harrowing and intense period of time, “Now Only” takes a more non-linear approach, reaching back to Elverum’s childhood and up to the present, where he has to reconcile how to move forward in his life with a young daughter and without the love of his life.
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44. FLASHER- CONSTANT IMAGE
Debut album from political D.C. punk band who sound more like a blend of early 80’s post punk & new wave. “Constant Image” is a short album, all killer & no filler with punchy hooks. Philosophically taking stabs at an array of social injustices, Flasher’s anger is palpable but it goes down smoothly. One of the best debuts of the year and though its sound is nothing new, Flasher also sounds like nothing else now.
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43. OUGHT- ROOM INSIDE THE WORLD
Third album by experimental post-punk Montreal band Ought takes the group in a slightly more commercial direction to solid results. Ought has a decidedly eighties post-punk sound- think post-“Entertainment”-era Gang Of Four, a slightly less gloomy Joy Division and mid-eighties The Fall. Singer Tim Darcy sounds even more like The Fall’s Mark E. Smith than James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem does. Each of Ought’s previous albums has contained a few absolute gems and “Room Inside the World” is no different. “Desire” and “Disgraced In America” are two absolute standouts here, but while it is very unlikely you’ll start hearing Ought on the radio anytime soon, “Room” could end up opening up the band to a wider audience.
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42. JOEY PURP- QUARTERTHING
Underrated Chicago rapper Joey Purp delivers a worthy follow-up to 2016’s excellent mixtape “iiiDrops”. Purp toes the line between conscious rap and hard, street tough modern gangsta rap. “Quarterthing” contains bangers that will also make you think and the dextrous Purp is able to dance around among styles and voices, creating an exciting, varied album. Standout tracks are “Hallelujah”, “Godbody” and “Lebron James”.
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41. BOYGENIUS- EP
Boygenius is an exciting all female indie-rock supergroup consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus & Julien Baker. Each individual brings their outsize talents to the 6 song EP creating a whole equal to the sum of its amazing parts. If this project is a one off, it’s a pretty great one. If it ends up bearing more fruit then it will be exciting to see where they go next. It’s also well worth checking out each musician’s music on its own.
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40. BLOOD ORANGE- NEGRO SWAN
“Negro Swan”, Dev Hynes’s fourth album as Blood Orange, examines the flipsides of ‘ugly’ and ‘beauty’ and what is is like to live in the margins as an African-American gay person in modern America. Hynes is a top-notch producer, who works with some of the biggest & best pop stars of today including Solange Knowles, Haim, Sky Ferreira & Carly Rae Jepsen. Though his music is never boilerplate pop, Blood Orange is the place where he expands and explores his music to the greatest depth. “Negro Swan” is a lot to dig through and is not immediately accessible, revealing its greatness slowly. “Nappy Wonder”, “Orlando” and “Runnin’ (with Georgia Anne Muldrow) are early highlights.
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39. TOMBERLIN- AT WEDDINGS
Debut album from Kentucky-based singer songwriter Sarah Beth Tomberlin. Raised in a suffocatingly strict southern Baptist home, Tomberlin grapples with the loss of her religious faith and “At Weddings” celebrates the beauty of every day mundanity resulting in intimate music which is devastatingly beautiful and heart wrenching. Key tracks are “Any Other Way” and “I’m Not Scared”.
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38. DIRTY PROJECTORS- LAMP LIT PROSE
Coming a just a year behind his 2017 self-titled break-up album about Dirty Projector’s leader Dave Longstreth’s longterm bandmate and partner Amber Coffman, “Lamp Lit Prose” has flown a bit under the radar this year. “Lamp Lit Prose” is a lovestruck, optimistic album about finding that earthquaking romance after a long period of depression. With track titles like “Break-Thru”, “I Feel Energy”, “I Found It In U”, “You’re The One” and “(I Wanna) Feel It All”, Longstreth’s joy is palpable and the buoyancy of the music here matches the lyrics. In a year and a time filled with anger and often despair, “Lamp Lit Prose” is a light in the dark.
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37. TY SEGALL- FREEDOM’S GOBLIN
Ty Segall is one of the most prolific artists working today. Even a music-obsessive such as I probably knows much less than half his discography. He’s released twenty albums in just under a decade so one must narrow the focus on the standout releases if possible. “Freedom’s Goblin” is a sprawling double album which takes from nearly every non-radio friendly electric guitar sound of the last fifty years. Early Metal, Stoner-rock, Crazy Horse inspired guitar jams, T-Rex-era glam rock, late sixties garage rock- it’s all here. There is even a kick-ass cover of disco-funk band Hot Chocolate’s “Everyone 1’s A Winner”. With an album this long not every track is created equal- Segall is intentionally messy and stylistically all over the place but the dude shreds and anyone lamenting the decline of guitar rock should check this out immediately.
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36. COURTNEY BARNETT- TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL
Sophomore album “Tell Me How You Really Feel” sounds smaller and more minor than Courtney Barnett’s 2015 full-length debut “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit”, which was a surprise hit for the young Australian singer-songwriter who has a way with quippy, memorable and detailed lyrics and crunchy guitar riffs. “Feel” is more introverted with less hit potential but it does not feel like a misstep. I think in time it will show as an under-appreciated album with a handful of hidden gems- a likable album among a series of peaks and dips in the hopefully long and storied career of a major songwriting talent.
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35. SUPERCHUNK- WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE
11th full-length release by North Carolina indie-heroes Superchunk, continues their brilliant 2010’s late career run with “What A Time To Be Alive”, an energetic, angry and political album perfectly ripe for these crazy times. It is therapeutic to listen to people in their fifties calling out “old people” their age, or not much older for all of the messes they have made. Among the many album highlights are the title track, closer “Black Thread” and “Reagan Youth”. Another feather in the cap of this remarkably consistent punk institution.
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34. NONAME- ROOM 25
Second self-released album by Chicago rapper and spoken word artist Noname even betters her debut “Telefone”. Noname throws in jazz & neo-soul beats creating a vibe, which is simultaneously relaxed and confrontational. Always thought provoking- Noname talks love, career, violence, death & racial and gender politics. Of the moment and encouraging all of us to be better, including herself. Fellow Chicagoan guest stars like Ravyn Lenae, Saba & Smino further enhance the music.
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33. THE INTERNET- HIVE MIND
Second album by talented R&B/Soul outfit featuring lead vocalist and solo act, Syd, which offers are rock solid array of songs that vary from upbeat pop to slinky funk to sultry slow jams. There are no obvious standout tracks here but no filler either and “Hive Mind” gets better with each listen.
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32. 1975- A BRIEF INQUIRY INTO ONLINE RELATIONSHIPS
Third album by British pop band The 1975 is stylistically all over the map. Though it’s tough to love every track, the group’s ambition, excess and outrageousness is easy to admire and the group delivers perhaps the song of the year, and if not certainly the song that most captures the year’s zeitgeist, with “Love It If We Made It”. The band combines current pop, nineties R&B, eighties yacht-rock and adult contemporary, schmaltzy jazz and indie-rock and somehow make it work- usually….
31. TRAVIS SCOTT- ASTROWORLD
Master rap curator, Travis Scott, brings together many of the biggest names in modern rap, R&B and indie-rock, including The Weekend, Drake, Frank Ocean, Thundercat, Sheck Wes, Gunna, Juice WRLD, John Mayer & Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker to create one of the year’s biggest event rap albums. “Astroworld” captures the sound of rap of rap today, murky and psychedelic, but placed in an accessible package. Lead track “Stargazing” is a big highlight and the Drake featuring “Sicko Mode” is one of the hottest tracks of the year.
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30. SLEEP- THE SCIENCES
First album by Stoner-metal pioneers in almost twenty years is a sludgy blast for those of you who like this sort of thing. Sleep is the side project of High On Fire guitarist Matt Pike and Om’s lead singer Al Cicneros. I don’t know Om’s music, but Sleep is considerably slowed down and less political than High On Fire. They are close as can be to a modern day Black Sabbath, and it’s Sabbath and their most stretched out and jammiest. “The Sciences” has a grand total of six songs with half of them over ten minutes. All are worthwhile with key track being “Marijuanaut’s Theme”
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29. HIGH ON FIRE- ELECTRIC MESSIAH
Though I have heard of “High On Fire” for years, “Electric Messiah” is the first time I actually got around to listening to them and boy had I been missing out. Though I hear “Electric Messiah” is just another very good album in a long career marked by consistent output, to me this is new and therefore comes highly recommended. High On Fire combine early thrash with proggy doom metal, taking from early Metallica, Sabbath and especially Motorhead. “Electric Messiah” is a great listen all the way through with the Lemmy-saluting title track being my highlight. If any of the aforementioned bands is your bag, you need to check these guys out. Cool album cover, too!
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28. ARIANA GRANDE- SWEETENER
My favorite pop album of the year so far, “Sweetener” is Grand’s fourth and perhaps her best. On “Sweetener” she reconciles with the horrific and tragic 2017 bombing during her concert in London, while celebrating her new love and engagement to SNL’s Pete Davidson. They have sadly since broken up, but apparently remain friends. “No Tears Left To Cry” was one of the songs of the summer and best pop songs of 2018, while follow up singles “God Is A Woman” and “Breathin'” show that “Sweetener” shows no signs of slowing down and is one of the most successful big name releases of the year. Grande has the big voice and vocal chops to pull off a great ballad with the pizazz and taste to deliver a plethora of dance floor bangers. She is as close to a sure thing that we have in pop right now.
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27. YUNO- MOODIE EP
Debut EP by talented Jacksonville, Florida musician, which genre-hops across it’s six tracks encompassing R&B, rap, pop, reggae, chill wave & psychedelic indie-rock ala Animal Collective. “No Going Back”, “Why For” & “So Sl0w” are all gems, but the entire EP is a worthwhile listen and leaves me wanting more and dying to see what Yuno will do next.
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26. KALI UCHIS- ISOLATION
“Isolation” is the great genre-bending debut album from 23 year old, Colombia American singer-songwriter, Kali Uchis. Uchis moves effortlessly from funk to R&B & blues- neo-soul to dance pop to rock to throwback soul & doo wop. While showing a slew of influences like Amy Winehouse & M.I.A., as well as album collaborators like Bootsy Collins and Damon Albarn, Uchis maintains a sound all her own. “Isolation” is 15 tracks with very few misses and its 46 minute length feels perfect. Early favorites are “In My Dreams” as well as “Miami”. 2018, so far, seems to be a year filled with disappointed event albums but plenty of promising great new artists.
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25. LET’S EAT GRANDMA- I’M ALL EARS
Sophomore release by esoteric British female teenage synth-pop duo sounds way more sophisticated than their years. “I’m All Ears” is experimental and sounds futuristic with two tracks on the album, including the great “Donnie Darko”, spanning past the nine minute mark. They move from psych-pop to prog to beat driven dance music, sometimes within the same song. Two of the best and more accessible cuts on the album are “Falling Into Me” and “Hot Pink”. One of my favorite new sounds of the year.
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24. JEFF ROSENSTOCK- POST
With No Age, Superchunk and now, Jeff Rosenstock releasing great albums in the first quarter of 2018, punk is already enjoying a great and resurgent year. Rosenstock is a punk lifer in his mid thirties who has just come onto my radar. “Post-” is titled as such because the record deals almost entirely with the aftermath of the 2016 election clusterfuck and how to deal in Trump’s America. Though the subject matter is dark and upsetting, Rosenstock’s simple yet well-played and passionate music with power-pop riffs and shout-along choruses are inspirational. “9/10” and the nearly eight minute “USA” are two major highlights.
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23. LUCY DACUS- HISTORIAN
Sophomore album by promising, young Virginia-based singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus is in a similar vein as her friend and Matador label-mate Julien Baker. Dacus’s music is less spare and frankly rocks much harder than Baker’s though with busier production- horns, string instruments & added vocal effects. Dacus writes exceptionally well and while the subject matter can be heavy, the lyrics are clever, introspective and philosophical. Musically she is the master of the “slow build” and “Historian” gets better with every listen.
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22. FUCKED UP- DOSE YOUR DREAMS
Surprisingly great double album and while only the band’s fifth full-length release, they are almost fifteen years into their recording career and had been left for dead by many. “Dose Your Dreams” is the Canadian hardcore band’s most diverse and one of their best album’s yet. Though its 82 minute running time is a ton to swallow in one sitting, it doesn’t really drag much until the last twenty minutes or so and even there they deliver one of the best tracks on the album “Came Down Wrong”, with J. Mascis on vocals. Lead screamer Damian Abraham only appears as the vocalist on about 2/3’s of the tracks, deferring to guest singers on the remainder. That along with new musical elements alluding to dub, disco, prog, hair metal & alternative rock make “Dose Your Dreams” Fucked Up’s most varied album.
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21. SOCCER MOMMY- CLEAN
Soccer Mommy is twenty year old Nashville singer-songwriter, Sophie Allison & “Clean” is her excellent studio debut album- ten songs of witty, observational indie pop/rock. Allison comes off as Generation Z’s version of Liz Phair, just as blunt but more sad. Certain songs, especially “Cool” and “Your Dog” hit me immediately and are among my favorites of the year, but every track on the album seems to season upon repeat plays due to Allison’s sharp story-telling and attention to detail. She is another exciting new voice pointing toward an exciting future for indie music.
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20. SCREAMING FEMALES- ALL AT ONCE
I have been hearing about Screaming Females for years and finally decided to take the plunge and listen to them on their seventh album “All At Once”. I am damn glad I did and I definitely see what all of the fuss was about. The band is led by singer and lead guitarist Marissa Paternoster who delivers distinct, impassioned vocals and muscular guitar riffs. Apparently the group has tightened up its songwriting and taken its sound to a more radio-ready, pop-punk place. What I hear is a kick-ass, solid rock band with tons of hooks and I am excited to explore them more.
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19. FATHER JOHN MISTY- GOD’S FAVORITE CUSTOMER
Father John Misty’s fourth full-length, “God’s Favorite Customer” is a much briefer and more pleasurable effort than the epic but execessive “Pure Comedy”. As per usual Misty matches melody with wit and sings like a 1970’s golden-voiced God. He comes off here as more empathetic than on the often hopeless and dire “Comedy”. Standouts include lead single “Mr. Tillman”, “Hangout At The Gallows” and “Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest Of Them All” on a remarkably consistent album and are all among FJM’s best songs in an increasingly impressive body of work.
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18. TIRZAH- DEVOTION
“Devotion: is the debut album by British singer/songwriter Tirzah, which veers away from the electronic indie-dance pop of her past singles, and delivers a beautiful and hypnotic 11 love songs. She takes her cues from the best of mid to late nineties R&B and adds modern electronic beats, but slowed way down giving out a raw and spare vibe. “Gladly”, “Fine Again” and “Affection” are three highlights of an album which reveals greater depth which each listen.
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17. PARQUET COURTS- WIDE AWAKE!
Fourth album by Brooklyn-based, smart and sardonic punk band Parquet Courts continues their winning streak with their most diverse offering yet. Produced by Danger Mouse, “Wide Awake” alternates between some of the groups loudest and angriest music yet like “Almost Had To Start A Fight”, “Violence”, “Total Football” and the title track with warmer, mellower tracks like “Mardis Gras Beads” and “Tenderness”. This music nods back to NYC art-punk but is lyrically of the moment and feels brand new.
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16. U.S. GIRLS- IN A POEM UNLIMITED
U.S. Girls have gained indie-rock credibility and stature slowly over the past decade, but “In a Poem Unlimited”, the group’s latest release, represents a great leap forward for them. Meg Remy, the group’s main creative force, combines her experimental inclinations with synth-pop and disco to create the group’s most pop and accessible music yet, while also its most pissed off and political. It is a diatribe against male violence presented in danceable, pleasant earworms. “Rosebud” and “Pearly Gates”, especially, are two of the better tracks of 2018 so far.
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15. PUSHA-T- DAYTONA EP
A near perfect EP produced by Kanye West in the midst of his epic political Trump-suck up meltdown. Luckily Kanye still knows his way around top-shelf beats and Pusha’s raps are his most satisfying since Clipse/Hell Hath No Fury way back in 2006. All seven tracks are bangers and this doesn’t even include the single track Drake-diss “The Story Of Aldidon” which was released a few weeks later.
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14. ROBYN- HONEY
First album in eight years, the the beloved Swedish alternative pop chanteuse is a very welcome return and one of the better albums of the year. No one does downbeat dance pop like Robyn, combining groove with heartfelt lyrics. In the last eight years Robyn dealt with a breakup of her longtime boyfriend (they have since gotten back together) as well as the death of her longtime producer and friend Christian Falk and “Honey” reflects that. “Honey” works as a whole, there are no weak tracks but especially the title track, “Missing U”, “Ever Again” and “Between The Lines” should go down as instant Robyn classics in her incredible discography.
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13. DJ KOZE- KNOCK KNOCK
Most high profile album yet from one of the the millennium’s best DJ’s and techno artists. DJ Koze if a German producer whose “Knock Knock” is a nearly 80 minute album encompassing nearly every type of electronic music imaginable, including minimalist techno associated with the Kompakt label, trip-hop, danceable club music with 70’s soul samples & balearic-style dream pop . The album features a slew of guest vocalists including Roisin Murphy, Jose Gonzalez and Kurt Wagner, and many of the tracks are warm, melodic and even summery. The album contains music to chew on but three obvious highlights include Gladys Knight sampling “Pick Up”, Bon Iver sampling “Bonfire” and the deeply groove oriented “Illumination”.
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12. YVES TUMOR- SAFE IN THE HANDS OF LOVE
A great leap forward for genre-bending group who hugs the line between experimental music and pop music in most of its forms. This is only Yves Tumor’s second full length and it’s surprisingly accessible tracks like “Licking An Orchid”, “Lifetime”, and the standout “Noid”. “Safe In The Hands Of Love” contains elements of noise-rock, 90’s R&B & alternative rock, dream-pop, glitchy electronic music & ambient and it’s one of the year’s better and certainly most unique albums.
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11. DEAFHEAVEN- ORDINARY CORRUPT HUMAN LOVE
My favorite current metal band just keeps getting better with every album. “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love”, Deafheaven’s fourth album, is its third classic in a row. The group continues to tweak its singular sound of Death Metal, Thrash & Shoegaze by adding more moments of quiet & beauty; repetitive piano lines and ambient ocean swells, which make the juxtaposition of their thunderous guitar riffs and demonic vocals that much more powerful. The entire album is a thing of beauty but “Glint”, “Canary Yellow” and “Honeycomb” are three of Deafheaven’s very best songs yet.
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10. CARDI B- INVASION OF PRIVACY
“Bodak Yellow” was one of the most standout and ubiquitous tracks of 2017- rap or otherwise, announcing Cardi B as a bright new star of the genre. Cardi is a Bronx-born rapper who became a social media star through Instagram and joined the cast of the VH-1 series “Love & Hip Hop: New York” before releasing any music. Unlike most reality stars or actors who later become musicians, Cardi showed that she was a talent from the get-go. “Invasion Of Privacy” is her official major label debut and is the antithesis of the modern, sprawling, endless big budget rap star album (see Migos & Drake). It’s all killer, no filler and contains “Bodak” as well as her other hit singles “Bartier Cardi” and “Be Careful”, as well as summer of 2018 summer smash “I Like It”. Cardi’s rapping is funny, clever and biting and she may just be the best thing in commercial rap right now.
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9. ICEAGE- BEYONDLESS
When Danish punk band Iceage broke out with their debut album “New Brigade” in 2011 they sounded gloomy, apocalyptic and dangerous. But like any great band they have evolved their music with each album while maintaining their own distinct sound. Iceage are still strictly indie and very unknown among the mainstream but they have gotten catchier and more accessible as they’ve aged. “Beyondless” is their fourth album and certainly one of their best. Tracks like “Catch It”, “Pain killer” and “Thieves Like Us” are some of the band’s best songs yet- goth pop but with a detached, ramshackle, almost drunken quality to them. The band plays tightly while frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt sings loosely and off the rails, bringing to mind Pete Doherty of the late great Brit band the Libertines. “Beyondless” is one of 2018’s better albums.
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8. SNAIL MAIL- LUSH
In a year in which indie-rock is somewhat dominated by young females, Snail Mail’s kick-ass debut album “Lush” may just be one of 2018’s best. Snail Mail is eighteen year old, Lindsay Jordan, a gay D.C. native, who is indebted to nineties indie-rock and who was taught guitar by the great Mary Timony. Her music is gritty, spare & sad but nearly every song builds to a soaring chorus with ripping’ guitar riffs for some of the most satisfying rock songs of the year; especially “Heatwave”, “Pristine” and the truly great “Full Control”.
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7. JANELLE MONAE- DIRTY COMPUTER
Third album by the extremely talented Janelle Monae, combines a pop sensibility with an experimental, futuristic sound and outspoken politics and a myriad of genres; R&B, rap, soul, funk, dance-pop and 80’s style New Wave. Influences include Prince, Bowie, Janet Jackson, Chic & P-Funk. “Dirty Computer” takes a look at our modern surveillance state and especially at what it means to be a minority (in Monae’s case black and queer) living under it. Its messages are life-affirming and badass rather than heavy handed and the album is a blast of a listen start to finish. Standouts include Prince-homage “Make You Feel”, the pro-female anthem “Pynk (Feat. Grimes)”, the hyper sexual “I Got The Juice” and politically dead on “Django Jane” and “Americans”.
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6. MITSKI- BE THE COWBOY
Third album by Japanese-American Mistki Miyawaki is her most accessible and charming to date. Moving away from the distortion of her last album, “Puberty 2”, “Be The Cowboy” offers up a more polished approach while sacrificing none of her music’s more challenging & complex aspects. On “Be the Cowboy” Mitski adopts the persona of a typical suburban wife longing to break free of the marital and societal expectations placed on her. Standouts include lead track “Geyser” and the disco-banger “Nobody”.
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5. KACEY MUSGRAVES- GOLDEN HOUR
“Golden Hour”, lovable Nashville outlier Kacey Musgraves third album, is her best yet and by some measure. Musgraves has a lovely voice with an obvious southern twang, which will likely always keep her rooted to a country sound. Yet she cleverly takes traditional country music and infuses it with early eighties pop, disco and R&B freeing her music up to sound unlike anything else out right now. Her lyrics are funny, witty, relatable and progressive (especially in the country world) and she cleverly turns cliched phrases like “Wonder Woman”, “Space Cowboy” and “High Horse” on their ear. The highlights are abundant with too many to list here and I hope Musgraves ends up all over the radio. “Golden Hour” is one of the best albums of 2018 so far and it is easy and fun to root for such a likable artist.
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4. BEACH HOUSE- 7
Over the course of the last decade. psychedelic dream pop Baltimore duo Beach House has unlikely become one of the bigger and most consistent great bands in indie rock. In seven albums they have yet to deliver an album short of very good and close to half of them have been great. Their new album, the aptly named “7” is one of their very best- right up there with “Bloom” and “Teen Dream”. While keeping their signature hypnotic, hazy sound with rich soaring vocals, “7” is heavier and thicker-sounding than their previous albums with more live instrumentation, particularly drums. Highlights are found all over the album but include “Lemon Glow”, “Dive”, “Black Car” and “Drunk In LA”. I predict “7” will land in my year end top ten as it continues to get richer and reward me more with each listen.
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3. KAMASI WASHINGTON – HEAVEN & EARTH
“Heaven And Earth”, saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington’s second full-length release (after his three disc debut “The Epic” and excellent “Harmony Of Difference EP” is another astounding musical accomplishment by one of modern jazz’s leading lights. Though certainly not as long as “The Epic”, “Heaven And Earth” is a two disc set lasting over two hours with not an ounce of mediocrity on it. It’s a concept album with two distinct sides- “Heaven” is now Washington experiences the world inwardly while “Earth” represents the outward world. External vs. internal. The weight and breadth of “Heaven And Earth” are a throwback to progressive jazz albums of the early 1970’s such as Miles Davis and Weather Report. I’ve loved everything Washington has put out and “Heaven And Earth” is his best yet and one of 2018’s best albums.
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2. LOW- DOUBLE NEGATIVE
One of the absolute standout albums during one of the most tumultuous years of the past century. Incredibly, Low, 12 albums & 25+ years into their career, has delivered it’s best and most relevant release yet, while almost totally changing up their sound. Known as one of the pioneers of the early-mid nineties slow core movement, “Double Negative” deals often in glitchy electronic noise whereas the group through most of its career was traditional guitars, bass & drums. It brings to mind Radiohead’s “Kid A” and like that album sounds downbeat, paranoid & oftentimes downright upsetting. It is a perfect release during our society’s great unraveling.
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1. NO AGE- SNARES LIKE A HAIRCUT
“Snares Like A Haircut” is L.A. punk duo No Age’s first album since 2013 and their best in a decade. In fact it’s also my favorite album of the year so far. No Age take the hard driving energy of punk and the beautiful feedback haze of shoegaze and add it to sharp songwriting which has hooks for daze. They are equal parts pop and experimentation and “Snares”, their fifth full-length album, contains their best set of songs since “Nouns”. The highlights are abundant and include “Drippy”, “Cruise Control” and “Tidal”. Nearly every track on the album is under four minutes and the second the album ends it leaves the listener wanting more.
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LEON BRIDGES- GOOD THING
While Leon Bridges 2015 album “Coming Home” was a worthy debut of throwback soul heavily influenced by Sam Cooke & Otis Redding, its music too closely mirrored its influences to truly stand out by itself. Bridges has a beautiful voice no doubt and anyone who can shine a light on the greatness of 60’s soul is doing the universe a favor. That said Bridges new album “Good Thing” ups the ante considerably and feels much more contemporary, combining modern R&B with that retro soul which made Bridges appealing in the first place. “Good Thing” is filled with tasteful ballads and a few upbeat, more danceable songs and two of the standouts are lead single “Beyond” and “Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand”.
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AMEN DUNES- FREEDOM
Best album yet from psychedelic, indie folk artist Damon McMahon, who has been recording albums for over a decade under the Amen Dunes monicker. Like War On Drugs and Kurt Vile, Amen Dunes music unravels slowly and can feel hazy and druggy with moments of tension and release. Though I enjoyed Dunes past music, “Freedom” represents a leap forward in songwriting especially with standout tracks like the title cut, “Blue Rose” and “Believe”.
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TUNE-YARDS- I CAN FEEL YOU CREEP INTO MY PRIVATE LIFE
“I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life”, tune-yards fourth album, is their most confrontational and political yet, while leaning towards a poppier direction musically. Lyrically, group leader Merrill Garbus focuses heavily on social justice as well as cultural appropriation and white guilt, critical of white liberals turning a blind eye toward injustice. The music is funky and bass-driven with Garbus’s otherworldly harmonies with herself giving the group a signature song. Standout tracks include “Colonzier”, “Coast To Coast” and lead track “Heart Attack”.
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CAR SEAT HEADREST- TWIN FANTASY
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SABA- CARE FOR ME
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STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS- SPARKLE HARD
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BELLE & SEBASTIAN- HOW TO SOLVE OUR HUMAN PROBLEMS PTS 1-3
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THOM YORKE- SUSPIRIA OST
KURT VILE- BOTTLE IT IN
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VINCE STAPLES- FM!
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CLOUD NOTHINGS- LAST BUILDING BURNING
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CAMP COPE- HOW TO SOCIALISE AND MAKE FRIENDS
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NEKO CASE- HELL-ON
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