Later this month I’ll write about my favorite movies of 2018. It’s this whole ordeal with rankings and insight and whatever else. I’ll include trailers and possibly pictures, too. The past few years I’ve written about my five favorite films from the given year, but I’m feeling a bit advantageous this year. I’ll rank every damn movie I’ve seen, including Uncle Drew. This post, as you gathered by the title, will be dedicated to 15 albums I’ve enjoyed most. It’s been a long time since I’ve provided any musically inspired list. This isn’t some definite ranking of my favorites, because I love each of these albums immensely and that makes it impossible to pick a favorite. These are just the 15 albums I’ll remember most about 2018 in alphabetical order.
7 from Beach House
This Baltimore pop duo consistently produces some of the best sounds in music. 7 is another example of their wistful and imaginative work. It’s amazing what Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have accomplished over the years as 7 marked Beach House’s seventh studio album. Like every album on this list, the entirety is worth hearing, but specifically check out Lemon Glow, Dive and Black Car.
Bottle It In from Kurt Vile
Lansdowne’s finest put out another killer record in 2018. My dad loves telling me how one of Kurt’s brothers and I used to ball in Lansdowne Boys Club together way back when. Kurt Vile doesn’t need much of an introduction at this point as he’s made successful album after successful album. Bottle It In isn’t any different. Vile is at his best with longer, mostly jest songs. Bassackwards is the best song on the album. It’s nearly 10 minutes, but it certainly doesn’t feel it. It’ll put you in the right mood on a drive, or just at home sipping on some whiskey.
boygenius from boygenius
Julien Baker is one of the very best things in music currently. Her heartbreaking lyrics and infectious sound on the guitar create an ultimate sound. Baker teamed up with the equally brilliant Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus to put out the best LP of the year. The trio goes by boygenius, and the six-song LP is worth every repeated listen. Stay Down probably ranks as my favorite since it’s so re-listenable, but each song needs to be heard, especially Me & My Dog, which appears on many top songs of 2018 lists.
Big Red Machine from Big Red Machine
Anything Justin Vernon touches becomes something special and meaningful. Earlier this year, Vernon partnered with The National’s Aaron Dessner to make this mythical 10-song album. I wrote about this at length this summer, but just please listen to I Won’t Run from It. It’s reminiscent of Vernon’s DeYarmond Edison days. It’s probably the best song I heard this year, or at least my favorite.
Clean from Soccer Mommy
I wrote about Soccer Mommy earlier this year: https://feelingjustswell.com/2018/06/19/soccer-mommy/
Her debut album appears on many, many top lists from major publications. Check out Your Dog. But in actuality the entire album dazzles.
Daytona from Pusha T
GOOD Music released these efficient seven-track albums this summer. KIDS SEE GHOSTS was more than solid. Ye had one, maybe two, good tracks. Pusha T, however, put out one of the best albums of the year. The Games We Play and Hard Piano rank as favorites.
God’s Favorite Customer from Father John Misty
Josh Tillman constructs some of the most thought-provoking yet exceedingly badass music. He loves himself, that’s for certain. But even in self-deprecating songs, true genius shines through. Tillman writes about his feelings and his thoughts with so much wit and brutal honesty. Date Night might be the most fun song off the album. We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anybody Can Do About That) makes you reflect and feel.
I’m All Ears from Let’s Eat Grandma
Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingsworth have been best friends for years. Their sophomore album, released at the end of June, features some of the best songs from 2018. I’m All Ears represents the best in indie pop—the lyrics colorful, the sound majestic. Their band name is an inside joke, illustrating why grammar matters. Let’s Eat, Grandma means something entirely different than Let’s Eat Grandma. It’s Not Just Me, produced by Faris Badwan and SOPHIE, takes two meanings, depending on the verse. The first, as Walton explains, deals with a romantic relationship, while the second verse deals with friendship. Donnie Darko is a 11-minute ode to one of the best movies. It’s a great song to hear on a summer drive. Falling Into Me is perfection.
Just for Us from Francis and the Lights
Disclaimer: Francis and the Lights released Just for Us in 2017 two days before New Year’s, but whatever. I listened to this short album on repeat as I drove down to visit a friend to ring in the New Year. Francis Starlight has collaborated with Kanye West, Drake, Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper and Bon Iver. He’s an incredibly talented musician in his own right, and it feels like he’s close to breaking out in a major way. The album is barely 25 minutes, which makes it ideal to intake in one sitting. Never Go Back, Cruise and Morning are tracks I keep in rotation.
LONER from Caroline Rose
In mid-September, I saw Caroline Rose in concert (photos below). She is forever a badass. She covered Brittney Spears’s Toxic and played My Heart Will Go On using a recorder. Her album, LONER, was my first favorite album of 2018 with probably the best album art. Adam Duritz, from Counting Crows, recommended it on his Instagram. It has all of the goods as Rose pokes fun at cat calling, hipsters and advertisers. Rose writes in a fun, catchy way, but she also uses her platform to speak on issues that matter. More of the Same, Getting to Me and Jeannie Becomes a Mom are tremendous.
Oxnard from Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak released his album in November, and it’s definitely worth several listens. The funk music has plenty of powerful lyrics mixed with some real rhythm. 6 Summers might be the best track. Although, Left to Right makes you want to get up and dance a little.
Room 25 from Noname
Noname crushes her second, mostly self-reflective album. She’s a real talent with her use of imagery, which is evident from the beginning of the album. Ace, Prayer Song and Don’t Forget About Me are my favorites.
Some Rap Songs from Earl Sweatshirt
This masterpiece was released Nov. 30. It’s the first album Earl put out since I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside in 2015. Basically, every song is a minute or two, which creates a rather surreal, fast-paced listening experience. It’s an album to listen to regardless of your mood. His free-flowing lyrics grab your attention, no matter how depressing they can be, and the production and sampling form the perfect album. Cold Summers, Nowhere2go and Shattered Dreams are favorites.
Swimming from Mac Miller
Everybody my age knew Mac Miller as a teenage sensation. He became mega popular at the time high school came to a close. I didn’t really listen to him then. It wasn’t until more than halfway through college when my friend, Matt, recommended I listen to his mixtape Faces. It’s then I became a Mac Miller fan for life. In early August, Swimming came out, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’ve listened to the Tiny Desk Concert what feels like a thousand times. I know the impact he had on everybody he met. The outpouring of support shown by the music community was staggering in early September. His progression as an artist was something special to witness. It really felt like Mac Miller would continue to get better as an artist, which is why losing him hurts even more. He already gave the world so much. But it would have continued. Spotify messed with everybody’s emotions last month, releasing a recorded Dunno with Mac on the piano.
Wide Awake! from Parquet Courts
This might be one of the more important albums of 2018. The lyrics are essential, the production treasured. Parquet Courts lives to evolve as a band, which is always welcomed. It’s protest music. It’s punk at its best. Wide Awake! makes you feel alive in so many distinctive ways. Total Football, Tenderness and Wide Awake are essential tracks.