THE BEST 18 ALBUMS FROM 2018
There were a lot of great records I wanted to shout out this year. I’ve listed eight unranked honorable mentions and a ranked top ten. This lineup has changed quite a bit since my mid-year summary, as some of these records have grown on me over time. The way my top five ended up was especially surprising to me this year, but I feel confident with this ranking. So, without further ado …
Beach House — 7 :: It’s one of Beach House’s best records. The band has developed their sound in some interesting ways. Moody, dreamy, slinking, and soaring. Give it a listen, especially if you’ve written off Beach House as artistically stagnant.
Captain Kudzu — Arboretum ::
This psych-injected indie rock record is as sharp and smart as heck. Cleverly arranged, produced, and performed, Arboretum is an engaging early effort from Birmingham, Alabama’s Captain Kudzu. Don’t sleep on this one (I say that for most of these albums, but really don’t sleep on this band).
Jack White — Boarding House Reach :: The latest from Jack White has been divisive, to say the least. Some praise it for its unique, experimental style, while others deride it as a “long, bewildering slog” (see also, this hilarious tweet). I’m in the first camp of listeners, as I believe such a bold artistic statement deserves recognition. Just to scratch the surface, the album features Jack White rapping and a songwriting credit from Al Capone (you heard me right). Though it’s not my favorite Jack White record, Boarding House Reach is so unpredictable and exciting that I’m sure to revisit it in the years to come.
Low — Double Negative :: I’ve admittedly never been a Low fan, so that’s probably why the stylistic hard-left of Double Negative was so appealing to me. This record really took me by surprise, and it’s a very solid listening experience. Listening all in one sitting is also highly recommended (maybe even necessary) to fully appreciate what Low was going for on this album.
Grouper — Grid of Points :: This album is haunting. Grouper wields her voice like an instrument that adds mood and atmosphere to her minimal, vibey compositions. It ends perfectly with a field recording of a train, of all things. Good for listening when it’s dark out.
Tony Molina — Kill the Lights :: While this album is very, very brief, it undeniably feels like a whole and complete record. The pacing is perfect, and the songwriting is great to boot.
STREAKING IN TONGUES — Kindergarten Prayers :: I’ll be the first to say that this album is all over the place, but the pure, authentic spirit behind STREAKING IN TONGUES merits the band more attention than they currently receive. It’s long and sometimes tedious, but Kindergarten Prayers is avant-garde and anti-folk at their best.
Hermit and the Recluse — Orpheus vs. The Sirens :: Using Greek mythology as a framing device for autobiographical narrative is a high concept you’d be more likely to expect from Sufjan Stevens than a hip-hop duo. However, the Hermit and the Recluse (rapper Ka and producer Animoss) have used this interpretive lens to deliver one of 2018’s most mature and engaging — and, yes, heady — albums of the year. Give your full attention to this record, because it deserves it.