According to various sources, I listened to about 70 albums in 2018. Here are 10 I felt like bringing to your attention.
I usually leave off albums everyone may already know about–that’s what other more established, punctual end-of-year lists are for. There’s a video playlist at the end with a lot more tunes, but I’ll start this list off with an…
I have my wife to thank for introducing me to Sigrid. Using scientific data, “High Five” was my most played song of 2018. She has two fantastic EPs, with an LP planned for March. She has the pipes, she has the hooks, her videos kick butt, and I’m all in.
Kali Uchis left Columbia for the US to drop a mixtape that landed her a collaborative role with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Bootsy Collins to The Gorillaz, so you may have heard her voice before. She put out a decent EP a few years ago, but we finally have her debut LP, and it was worth the wait. The album opens with smooth lounge jazz, and before you know it she’s bouncing between soul-funk, reggaeton, and pop-R&B, to name a few. The 5-star tune for me is the low-fi “In My Dreams“, and I imagine we’ll be hearing her name a lot more in the near future.
8The Internet – Hive Mind
I had dabbled listening to The Internet on their past albums, but none really grabbed me. Hive Mind grabbed me! The band melts R&B neo-soul with disco funk to create a super smooth, chill album full of interesting sounds below the surface. With lyrics like “let your heart flow”, and probably the grooviest bass lines of 2018, Hive Mind is perfect for sitting in a dark toom and doing whatever.
7Nap Eyes – I’m Bad Now
Nap Eyes made their first appearance on my 2016 list, and I’m happy to report they’re at it again. It’s impossible to not compare the vocals with Lou Reed, but anyone who says this band is a Velvet Underground ripoff isn’t listening. The amazing thing about this album/band is how laid-back it sounds, but every note and syllable is so precise. I can’t decide if they’re subtly brilliant or brilliantly subtle, but this is one chill onion that’s worth peeling.
6Sidney Gish – No Dogs Allowed
Sidney Gish is a DIY bedroom rocker who happened to put out one of the most delightful albums of 2018 (technically she released it New Year’s Eve). If the opening track doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what else to say. This album may have been self-released, but I can’t imagine a label not wanting to sign her. One watch of her performance of “Persephone” and it’s pretty easy to see she has talent to spare.
5Say Sue Me – Where We Were Together
It wouldn’t be a year-end list without a band that captures my love of 90s indie rock. Hailing from the beach town of Busan, South Korea, Say Sue Me capture that 90s Yo La Tengo vibe with a bit of surf rock thrown in. So I guess Yo La Tengo-meets-Man or Astroman is a good comparison. Jangly guitars bounce from song to song, and as if this album weren’t enough, they went and released an EP where they cover Blondie, Velvet Underground, and The Ramones! This band/album was my sleeper hit of 2018.
4Miya Folick – Premonitions
I thought this album’s opening track “Thingamajig” was one of the most beautiful songs of 2018, and every time I hear it I never want it to end. While that opener is mainly piano and strings, the album pulls a neat trick and evolves as you listen into a St. Vincent-esqe techno-pop album. Every song sounds unique and fresh and I can’t wait to hear what she does next.
3Skating Polly – The Make It All Show
Skating Polly has been around a while, earning praise from rock legends like Kathleen Hanna and Exene Cervenka. The Make It All Show is their 5th album, and I feel like it’s the one where everything really comes together. This is an explosive album full of riot grrrl power. Step-sisters Kelli and Peyton trade lead vocals and guitar effortlessly between songs (watching either of those new videos after the first one I linked really warms my rock heart). Kelli’s brother Kurtis joined and mainly plays drums, but even he trades off drums for guitar–what I’m saying is this is a talented, tight band, and The Make It All Show is one of my favorite rockingest albums of the year.
2Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
Parquet Courts are no stranger to my lists, as they’ve consistently been one of my favourite bands over the past decade. I said above that Sigrid’s “High Five” was my most played song of 2018, but “Tenderness” from this album was right behind it (with “Wide Awake!” right behind that). I didn’t think we needed a sequel to “Freebird” but want to thank the band for providing one. Their sounds range from Doors-meets-LCD Soundsystem to Disco Talking Heads to Pavement covering the Beach Boys–yet every song is uniquely Parquet Courts, and the album has a great flow from song to song. Behind the fun grooves are some great lyrics commenting on what’s going on in this shitshow world, and I believe this is the best Parquet Courts album (yet).
1Shannon Shaw – Shannon In Nashville
I’ve been a fan of Shannon Shaw for years, whether it was her association with Hunx & His Punx, or her own Shannon & The Clams (who, by the way, also put out a great album this year). In 2018 she released her first bonafide solo album, and it quickly became my favorite album of the year.
The album is produced by Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys, and has a backing band that’s played with the likes of Elvis and Johnny Cash but despite this pedigree Shannon is the clear star, belting out effortless tunes from the top of her mountain. “Broke My Own” is the diamond of the bunch, but every tune sparkles with her unique retro-punk style and amazing voice. If Janis Joplin covered “Son of a Preacher Man” or “These Boots are Made for Walkin'” it’d fit right in on this album. Shannon In Nashville is a timeless (modern) classic.