Remember back in 2017 when we made some jokes about our ‘best of’ list being late and the political climate being bonkers? Well, we’re later and the climate, well the climate is cataclysmic. But it’s Christmas so we’re looking for the joy in life and we find joy in music.
Luckily, one thing we can take from what has been another eventful year is that this year’s output of music has been equally momentous annum for us all. The year saw some mega-stars drop equally mega albums and new cult-heroes gather their capes.
Below we’re going to take you through our favourite albums of 2018.
Try and argue with us, we dare you!
50.Joy – Ty Segall & White Fence
When Ty Segall announced his upcoming collaboration with White Fence we felt a little bit jaded. Such is Ty’s prolific output that a new album felt unneeded. Well, you know, sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up because this venture offered everything we hoped it would – a deep mind meld of two incredible artists.
The two have worked together previously on 2012’s Hair but this one, this one was the main event. A cracker full to the brim with psyche-tinged garage rock.
49. Superorganism – Superorganism
Arguably one of the most hyped bands of 2018, Superorganism set tongues a-wagging when they burst on to the scene properly this year. We waited with bated breath for the album, what kind of LP would come out of these guys? Answer: an album that feels as close to an accurate depiction of Gen Z as possible through an indie collective.
A copy and paste attitude to genre, the collective pull together sounds and songs from every corner of the world and stitch them together effortlessly through Orono Nugochi’s brilliant vocal.
48. Dear Annie – Rejjie Snow
Dublin’s Alexander Anyaegbunam, or Rejjie Snow as he is better known, arrived this year with one of the smoothest LPs of the year. His Irish roots may not shine through but his development continues to make us gawp and bop our heads in equal measure.
Standout track ‘Egyptian Luvr’ remains one of our favourite songs of the year. Get into this immediately.
47.Room Inside The World – OUGHT
We fell in love with OUGHT the moment we heard the vocal. Admittedly late to the party, the post-punkers have moved 2015’s effort on another notch. Now OUGHT have something truly special on their hands.
The vocal is tremendous but the arrangement is intricate and cultured. Brilliant tracks ‘These 3 Things’ and ‘Disgraced In America’ remain on our playlists.
46.QUARTERTHING – Joey Purp
2016’s release iiidropscame with a flurry of ideas and a whole heap of sounds ready to unload and mess you up where possible. Although Joey Purp’s 2018 LP QUARTERTHINGoffers similar wavy lines, there’s a notable difference.
The range of flows has expanded and the content covered is also markedly more in-depth but the real success is the focusing of Purp’s talent, providing a more laser-charged affair. The Chicago rapper is continuing to only fly up.
45.Big Red Machine – Big Red Machine
Big Red Machine, the brainchild of the quite unnerving pairing of Justin Vernon and Aaron Dressner, offered us a quite brilliant debut LP this year. The self-titled release was a deeply powerful and mentally agile assortment of sounds and songs.
At times it felt deliberately obtuse while at others it felt entirely enveloping, the fact of the matter is: this was two incredibly talented musicians being just that.
The tracks on here won’t set every muso’s heart alight, in likelihood the majority won’t enjoy the band. Hinds are a band built on fun, sun and sangria, their brand is that of a girl gang without any cares or worries and on that front they always, always deliver.
43.Foxwarren – Foxwarren
Foxwarren are a band of humble beginnings, ordinary development, familiar growth, and ultimately some outstandingly extraordinary songwriting skills. They use their subdued styling and suburban fervor to create a sound that evokes both the warming, orange glow of the fire and the chill one feels when turning your back to it. Their self-titled debut LP is really quite fantastic.
From the opening notes of ‘To Be’ the first track of the record, we are comforted and cradled by the warmed brass strings despite the context of the track. It’s a recurring theme, on ‘Everything Apart’ the lead single from the album we have a similar vein. It’s an accurate depiction of the album, sweet and smoky it provides a taste of the LP that feels impossible to spit out.
Whether it is on the soulful sounds of ‘Smudge’ or the more pop-laden ‘On Ice’ the band earn their keep across all of the 11 tracks.
The latter of the tracks is, for me, one of the stand-out songs of the year. Simple and pretty in many ways, it feels as regular and romantic as a high school sweetheart. One line sums up this piece of indie-folk perfectly: “It doesn’t matter how we turn on the light, baby, let’s turn off the dark” and with it, the sentiment is lavishly laid across the airwaves for us.
41.Oxnard – Anderson .Paak
.Paak’s major label debut comes with a decent blend of new and classic beats. Oxnard, the first LP to come out on Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath from .Paak, was always going to have an incredible beat but what has changed the pace is the use of jazz and funk to create a new fresh sound.
.Paak’s voice is like liquid smoke, it’s smooth, sultry and has a hint of death to it. Without doubt this album is another step toward greatness for Anderson and with every effort we see a little bit more of his ever-growing talent.
40.Beyondless – Iceage
Their fourth studio album sees the Danish punk band at their most ferocious and vicious. But while you may get distracted by all the sharp edges of this album the high intensity colour of each song is what really seals the deal.
Rønnenfelt’s lyrics are bathed in a kaleidoscopic view, at points they feel like holy script and others like a letter written in blood. Feeling both cold and scorched this album is built on a multitude of layers, each one worth a sumptuous section begging for your listening teeth.
39.Whale City – Warmduscher
27 minutes. That’s how long an album capable of enlightening your brain and darkening every corner of the room at the same time takes to achieve its goal. Warmduscher’s brilliant album Whale City is here to put a finger in your cerebral cortex and swirl it around with an ugly grin.
As the sundown sound of ‘Summertime Tears’ slows the pace and ends the album you are left thinking why Warmduscher aren’t on Top of the Pops? But a Top of the Pops edition where Jimmy Saville has been dug up and propped up, to present with a centipede for a tongue… we digress, Whale City is a banger.
38.Transangelic Exodus – Ezra Furman
If Furman’s previous release dealt with the struggles of living life as a social outsider, his latest album acknowledges that the feelings of marginality that this and, ironically, draw us closer to others that also feel outcast. His lyrics are a reminder to the downtrodden that they are not alone, as through our own experiences comes the understanding of others’ struggles.
‘Transangelic Exodus’ is, in total, a powerful call to arms that gives strength to those who feel they need it and truly rejoices in the power of the individual. It is a colourful combination of sounds and insightful lyrics are a true testament to Furman’s creativity, and assures us that no matter the climate, no matter the cultural reference points which surround us, a voice can be spoken with honesty and authenticity is better than any noise in the world. – Jessica Porter
37.Little Dark Age – MGMT
MGMT take on a sleeker appeal with their latest LP, their fourth studio album, as they give away the over-the-top antics of the last two albums and instead are looking sharp and slinky on this LP.
Van Wyngarden’s lyrics are cleverer and less impenetrable while the sound is geared towards a streamlined synth-pop sound. They offer tasty harmonies, a musical nous, and as ever an insatiable appetite for life.
36.Heaven and Earth – Kamasi Washington
Kamasai Washington, the saxophonist and bandleader, has truly arrived this year. Famed for his incredible ability to hear and deliver a brilliant arrangement the man is now stamping his authority on modern, mainstream music.
Coming over the two separate discs (Heaven and Earth) each running around an hour there’s a definitive difference between the two. “The Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of,” Washington explained in advance press materials. “The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between.”
35.Double Negative – Low
The first notes of Low’s September release Double Negative sound closer to an episode of Stranger Things than the band would likely like to admit. ‘Quorom‘ is deliberately disagreeable and hardened, purposly difficult to navigate and unwilling to compromise. If you were in any doubt, this album is for the muso’s among us. There is no easy pass with Low.
With the sound resembling something you might here in a post-apocalyptic church the trio have moved their slowcore sound into the performance art sphere. Offering the audience the chance to see music as only a means to transfer a feeling, Low have created an ambitious and ultimately gratifying piece of work which will long define their artistry.
34.Virtue – The Voidz
The Voids returned in 2018 with all the same terrible haircuts they left us with on 2014’s Tyranny and came flying back with Virtue and a hefty bag full of pop sensibilities. The 16 track homage to the night is a distinctly marked improvement for a band destined to live in The Strokes’ shadow.
However true that may be, Julian Casablancas’ other band still have a considerable amount to contribute. Moving his classic vocal into the 80’s disco was a troubling road to navigate but it is done with an effective and enjoyable push, while the music that rages from one genre to the next. Settling first at a cheesy disco then onto the hardcore punk club, it never settles and never sleeps. It’s New York in a box.
If you want a good time, as ever, you look to The Voidz.
33.American Utopia – David Byrne
If one thing became abundantly clear on the latest studio album from the walking art exhibit which is David Byrne, it is that Byrne’s appetite for the eccentric and purposely obtuse will never be sated.
Across the album’s ten-track Byrne rarely gives his listener an easy ride. No, instead he offers up a deliberately confounding set of parameters and defining attributes to keep his audience constantly striving for their own interpretations of his work and, in turn, life. American Utopia is another piece to hang in the gallery of David Byrne, a notable addition to an already bursting room.
32.So Sad So Sexy – Lykke Li
Lykke Li arrived back in our speakers with one of the songs of the year. Her brilliantly sexy and slinky sound on ‘sex money feelings die’ was luckily replicated across her follow up to 2014’s I Never Learn but she also gave a little more.
The first album from the pop star in four years left a lot of people wondering if music had passed her by or whether this star, who had always been the iciest of fingers clasped to the pulse of the musical world, still had the beat in her heart.
These notions were quickly put to bed with her effortless sound matched with a suitably emboldened back beat and her naturally endearing vocal. Lead track ‘sexy money feelings die’ is likely to go down as one of the best of the year, but title track ‘so sad so sexy’ also offers a glimpse at Lykke Li’s power in her vulnerability. On this album more than ever Lykke Li offers a bit of her soul and her music is all the better for it.
31.TA1300 – Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry’s latest LP is not only a definitive moment for the young Floridian rapper, but also sees him carve out his own lane for the genre of Soundcloud Rap. Offering up a no-holds-barred view of a life many of us will never live means that Denzel Curry is becoming a zeitgeist artist.
A gritty, murky and dark sound is often cut through with moments of love and joy. With it, Curry offers up a continuously spinning coin and we as an audience are always waiting for it to land, never knowing if we will get the light or the dark and that’s the exciting part.
30.Invasion of Privacy – Cardi B
Cardi B is the American Dream incarnate. Her rags to riches story is what storytellers and music journalists dream of. From stripper to global megastar, Cardi B has not only taken on the world with her brash and brazen personality but she’s delivered an impeccable rap album.
I dare anyone to hate Cardi B. She may not exactly be the type of person you invite round for tea at your Nan’s house, but her effervescent nature is infectious to say the least. On Invasion of Privacy she uses both that shimmering personality and her powerful delivery to give us an album equal parts brazen and vulnerable, colourful and monochrome, open and guarded.
It’s a freaking masterpiece.
29.Bloom – Troye Sivan
Pop is no longer a dirty word. If you can accept that sentence and you’re not a staunch indie/rock/rap/alternative etc. fan then Troye Sivan’s incredible LP will leave you warmed like a hot mug of tea.
Warmed by its humanity, warmed by his lyrical imagery, and totally scorched by it all being wrapped up in shimmering pop production. The Australian former YouTube star expertly traverses difficult content, many of which concern living today as a gay man, with a delicacy which belies his apparent musical experience.
Two songs to show the two sides of Troye are conveniently sat next to each other. The sweetness of ‘The Good Side’ is intoxicatingly subtle and cultured, while title-track ‘Bloom’ comes out like a flash mob with a penchant for power-disco. Whichever your preference Sivan has you covered.
28.Bottle It In – Kurt Vile
The latest offering from Kurt Vile is Bottle It In and in the title, one could feel that Vile is determined to keep his emotions inside and perhaps the audience staring at a seemingly blank vessel. But instead, what Bottle It In represents is the invitation to the inner working of Kurt Vile’s transcending and never-resting mind.
The latest LP is another journey back home, in the bleary-eyed morning, with a thick head and a guitar in Kurt’s hands, it feels folk-tinged and utterly veracious to Vile’s way of life. However, on this album, the journey home goes via the scenic route.
Bottle It In is one of Vile’s better albums. It sees him working to the title, scribbling down a few obscure messages, lovingly placing them in an antique coca-cola bottle, plugging it with songcraft and flinging it into the choppy ocean, asking you to follow it. Wherever it may go.
27.>>> – BEAK
If you wanted to sum up the latest release from trio BEAK> you only need to look at the album’s cover. What might seem a simple illustration to some, will stick out in the minds of BEAK fans. This cover has colour and the band have began to add a little of the rainbow to their dark sound.
Now fans of the project from former Portishead drummer Geoff Barrow needn’t worry too much, this isn’t the band’s kaleidoscopic break into mumble rap or anything. The LP is still firmly rooted in its dark, dank and disturbing niche but where previously the offered a claustrophobic attitude to musical spacing they’re now giving you a little light to see your shithole situation more clearly. A corker of an album from a band comfortable in their own skin.
26.Negro Swan – Blood Orange
Far away from his origins as part of the emo rock band Test Icicles, Devonte Hynes operates in a far slicker model now. On Negro Swan Hynes offers a view on black depression all packaged within a slinky indie r&b model.
It’s easy to forget the nugget of stinking truth at the foundation of this album. Hynes’ sound is cultured and cultivated reflecting a scene concerned with the downbeat of music but where his music could be categorised as fashionable his unwavering views aren’t, they’re honest and authentic.
Hynes refuses to budge across the album, always offering a stark and uncompromising view of society he witnesses all the while providing a groove that could make a suit sashay.
25.Historian – Lucy Dacus
We’ve all heard about “that tricky second album”, well all of us except Lucy Dacus, who alongside being in one of the best groups around (more on that later) is also showing off her incredible solo work on her newest LP Historian.
‘Yours and Mine’, a track written after Dacus took part in the 2017 Women’s march, may well be rooted in the thumping nature of political camaraderie but Dacus also delivers succinct stabs to the patriarchal pouting of shriveled old men. With it, and the accompanying nine tracks on the album, Dacus is proving that at 23 she may well be young but the head on her shoulders is wiser than most.
24.Freedom’s Goblin – Ty Segall
Ty Segall is an auteur of sorts. His fuzzy garage sound is very recognisable and applicable to the varied rock genres Segall has graced with his musicianship. But Ty has been holding onto a secret, he’s also got some pop sensibilities in there and Freedom’s Goblin, his double album, allows them to fully bloom.
His marauding muso mind allows Segall to not be sectioned off to his own corner of the rock world and in this LP he takes his largest step over the fence. Whether he is dropping Springsteen-tinged jazz elements or offering a glam rock glitter to others (‘My Lady’s on Fire’ is a particular favourite) – this is Segall honing his craft and allowing himself to express himself without reproach. It’s wonderful to see.
23.Yawn – Bill Ryder-Jones
Like all the 35-year-old’s previous releases Yawn powerfully strikes you with the first listen but with each spin, the record somehow improves when you discover a hidden new layer from Ryder-Jones whether this is a lyric or guitar note that somehow you hadn’t noticed on previous visits to the track.
If you’ve ever seen the West Kirby man live you’ll know just how much he uses humour during a gig when interacting with the crowd, it is this same humour that also transcends onto the record with the final track’s tongue-in-cheek title of ‘Happy Song’ which is a stunning six-minute blow-off to a magnificently hypnotic record that sees Ryder-Jones cement his name as one of Britain’s most gifted musicians today. – Joe Taysom
22.TwentyTwo in Blue – Sunflower Bean
Sunflower Bean are the whole package. Nick Kivlen on guitar feels like he was lifted directly from a T-Rex gig and drummer Jacob Faber has the unsuspecting but wild eyes of a true rock and roll drummer. Nor only the music which has authenticity and eclecticism across every not. But they also have the modernity that so many other bands miss.
Bands of the recent past were very concerned with their placement. Too often they recoiled at being called a certain genre over another, they enjoyed the sub-cultural tribal nature of rock and roll.
Sunflower Bean are doing the exact opposite, they are the cut and paste generation, only 22 as you might assume, they possess not only the ability to create something for a new generation but they have the wide-eyed open minds that will encourage others to come along with them for the ride.
Sunflower Bean have grown beyond our imaginations and now they can bask in the sun.
21.God’s Favorite Customer – Father John Misty
The return of Papa John was always going to be a homecoming of sorts. His fan base (Can Flub) now is so big and vitriolic that Tillman was always going to return with a bang. The man has become a bit of a myth and with the new album God’s Favorite Customer he transcended again, this time from man to meta.
With lead single ‘Mr. Tillman’, Josh offers the clearest refelction of his life yet. That reflection holds the sadness of a trapeze artist suddenly realising that he wanted to be an accountant after all. That no matter how fun and bright the indie-pop circus that dances around him is, now he’s had it all he’s not sure he wants any of it.
His fourth studio album with his Father John Misty moniker still holds all the wit and wonder we loved on his previous three. These crucial observations are performed across some beautiful, grand arrangements which feel enriching and colourful. But now Tillman’s offering a little more vulnerability and sadness and his music is all the better balanced for it.
20.Wanderer – Cat Power
Chan Marshall, AKA Cat Power, has been away for a while and we’ve all been sadder for it. Her first album in six years was a moment of celebration for us in the office. Gladly, and as expected, Marshall delivered an album full to the brim with songwriting nous and undeniable, emotionally charged talent.
Her 10th studio album sees Cat Power reflecting on the huge wealth she has in the old Music Bank. She uses her expertise, whether it be on the piano, guitar or through her sating vocal, Marshall delivers songs which always have a tangible thread of ‘Cat Power’ running through them. This time she uses this thread to create a tapestry looking back and forward at once.
‘Robin Hood’ and ‘You Get’ offer these moments of nostalgia in spades all the while delivering an entirely distinct Cat Power sound. 10/10 Cat Power doesn’t miss many opportunities to put out a great album.
19.Lush – Snail Mail
Snail Mail had a tough ask this year to stand out from the crowd with the follow up to 2016’s release Habit. But in a world seemingly saturated with singer-songwriter’s Lush proves to not only be a rock album filled with sincerity and relatable moments but a record where Snai Mail has laid the foundations for her burgeoning career.
The real key to Lindsey Jordan’s work is not that it offers up a cold reflection of her youthful world but that in the crux of every song she knows that it is all part of the journey of life.
With just her thoughts and a guitar she manages to transcend the adolescent bullshit that befalls so many bedroom pop idols and give her fans songs filled with raw emotion, clarity and comfort at once.
18.boygenius – boygenius
Ok, ok, we know – not technically an album. But the scene’s best new band, a supergroup made up of Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers, released a self-titled EP this year and it nearly blew us all over.
If you’re fans of one of these singers then you simply must get your ears around this EP. Baker, Dcus and Bridgers all provide their own points of view on this record but manage to do so in a harmonious and glorious output of songmanship.
The songs are epic in their emotion, feeling as raw and sharp as a fresh wound the band conveys moments of sadness as clearly as moments of joy. Stand-out song ‘Me & My Dog’ can easily make you cry on any given day with their hamronies alone, and that’s an ability we cherish here at Far Out.
17.How Many Times Have You Driven By? – Hana Vu
The new LP How Many Times Have You Driven By is a simple but effective look not only into the work and mind of Miss Vu but also a deeply personal peek into the soul of society’s forgotten generation. Across tracks like ‘Cool’, ‘Shallow’ and ‘Crying On The Subway’ she offers a varying and veracious view which would point to an older head, but instead we find idealism fighting against cynicism.
Truth is, Hana manages to gain and give this view because she has in fact been working on her musical and artistic output for over five years. Having shied away from the big DIY scene she said: “I wouldn’t call myself a curmudgeon, but I found it hard to be friends with other young people. Instead, I found two or three key homies, then just did my own thing— socially and in my music”. Having written and produced tracks from her bedroom, she’s developed a talent for seeing and seizing the particular zeitgeist of a genre.
The true majesty of Vu’s LP is not in the delivery, a slinky but seemingly self-aware production permeated with a nonchalant vocal, nor is it the eclectic cultural touch points, which meander through R’n’B, new wave grooves and bedroom-pop.
No, Hana Vu’s upcoming coronation as the Queen of bedroom-pop is duly expected because she, a 17-year-old from LA, has enough authentic charm, charisma and most importantly, talent, to make music which moves your feet, sways your hips and touches your soul – regardless of age or location.
16.Acts of Fear & Love – Slaves
Slaves are back with their third album in three years and it is nine tracks of full-throttle unambiguous power punk, the brilliant Acts of Fear and Love is coming in at number 16.
Isaac and Laurie announce themselves on this album more so than their previous two efforts. Lyrically it is the band at their most intelligent but accessible. Musically they have invigorated their sound and re-christened their movement without losing touch with their soul. In truth, Acts of Fear and Love is the album to make Slaves’ dreams a reality. It’s their best work yet.
This album is a statement of intent and it is one that demands to be read and read very fucking loud.
15.Astroworld – Travis Scott
Travis Scott’s Astroworld is arguably the biggest albums of the year when considering the volume of sales, impressions and reach, and basically, all those things that keep data scientists hard at night.
But far more importantly, Astroworld delivers where it needs to. It delivers on beat, vibe, delivery, and content. Scott has produced an album he will likely be able to match any time soon. From the first notes of the slouch-drill beat of ‘STARGAZING’ Scott sets out his stall on what will be a seminal album for the rapper. The track is an introduction to his life, his unquenchable dreams of being a star and the destiny he feels lay before him. Through all the muck and mire, Travis Scott will be a star.
His star quality is undeniable but where Scott really shines is his curatorial style. Carefully selecting prime artists, influences and sounds to make an album so 2018 it’s going for a NO Deal.
14.DAYTONA – Pusha T
2018 will be the year that Ye broke down, that he lost his marbles, but it will also be the year that King Push came and took his crown. From the first notes of ‘If You Know, You Know’, the first track from the brilliant DAYTONA, you… know that this is going to be something special.
Special it is as well, the album is a short sharp burst of musical prowess and a simply astonishing command of lyricism. It marks Pusha T as one of the best there’s ever been and most certainly one of the best there is.
13.Twin Fantasy – Car Seat Headrest
IN 2011 Will Toledo, the leading man in Car Seat Headrest released an album of unconventional and awkward odes to adolescence. IN 2018, with a label at his back he decided to re-record that album and it was an absolute triumph.
Recorded just two years after Teens of Denial fully announced Toledo and his band to the wider world, Toledo’s confidence to re-visit his own work and re-work it shows an artist willing to take risks.
What we found though was that it wasn’t really a risk at all. The album is full of the same wit, cynicism and density of thought that runs through his work. Where before Toledo may have missed moments that needed expansion on the 2018 version of Twin Fantasy he gives himself the license to explore them further.
This is undoubtedly Toledo’s masterpiece.
12.Clean – Soccer Mommy
Sophie Allison is young. You can hear this, not only in her delicate voice but in her musical moments on her latest LP Clean. But where she may not have all the experience that comes with age she’s proving that what she does have under her belt she is putting to good use.
On tracks like ‘Still Clean’, the opening to the LP, Allison offers us a too-real and too heartbreaking image of a temporary fling being flung into the void. It’s usual bedroom-pop fodder right? Wrong. Allison approaches it in such a way that the song feels as sore, sharp[ but ultimately small as a fresh paper cut.
It this ability which picks Clean out as a stand out album of the year. Soccer Mommy may be treading the same ground we’ve all got our boots muddy on but she’s doing it in barefeet and inviting us on the road with her.
11.Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino – Arctic Monkeys
The sixth studio album from those Sheffield boys was always going to be a hit. That was a given. But what many people didn’t expect was that Alex Turner and co would craft a whole new conceptual album which would transcend genre and place Turner in the upper echelon of songwriting history.
The album is a far departure from anything the band have ever done before. Dropping their usual structure built on the back of a heavy guitar riff, Alex Turner instead wrote most of the album on his piano and uses it and his ability with aplomb. Forget the leathers, this album is all about silk.
A concept album based on the hotel and casino that the band found on the moon allows Turner to explore different value streams, offer up different points of view and create new worlds, all in a safe gravity-free space.
Stand out track ‘Four out of Five’ is the perfect song to represent the album. Not for its scoring but for its irreverence and humour built around a sultry and slinking sound expertly crafted in outer space. Turner uses these building blocks to create an album that should always be seen as the moment he grew from lead singer to superstar.
10.7 – Beach House
Arriving in the Spring with a heap of hype surrounding the band we were geared up and ready for this release, and Beach House didn’t disappoint.
The duo have found new heights and depths on this record letting it breathe as if a living thing. Lengard, in particular, makes this record something to hang her hat on. Choosing moments to fill every inch of the airwaves and others to let them be filled by the listener’s imagination. It’s an incredible performance.
In totality, which is how every Beach House album begs to be defined, the album works beyond the usual parameters of a record. It drives and repeals, it peaks and troughs and it inspires and creates. It is an album which will surely define Beach House – if not only for the fact it lets the listener define it for themselves.
9.Tell Me How You Really Feel – Courtney Barnett
Following 2017’s Lotta Sea Lice would always be a difficult feat. To match the output of two long-haired troubadours with just one is maths we’d always rather avoid… but then again, Barnett is one smart cookie.
Sometimes I sit and think and Sometimes I Just Sit saw Barnett at her development stage. Moving on from her arrival onto the scene, the album was a compilation of contemporary growing pains. Tell Me How You Really Feel however sees Barnett back at her brilliant best.
As ever with very intelligent things they are best explained simply. So simply put; Barnett’s songwriting is masterful, her lyrical integrity is unfathomable and her continued development is that of a superstar. We may have said it before but Courtney Barnett is one for the ages.
8.In A Poem Unlimited – U.S. Girls
Meg Remy, the genius behind the moniker U.S. Girls has created in In A Poem Untitled, a deeply effective and booming voice and with each track her music reads like an open letter to society, signed, sealed a delivered with an infectious groove.
2018 has surely been the year where Jazz and more modern forms of music have collided to create something timeless yet fresh. In A Poem Unlimited manages to achieve this same feat not only with relative ease but with a strength and vigour that is often lost in the indie genre. This album is not for the faint of heart, this album is for the real ones.
Standout track ‘Rage of Plastics’ is pure musical mastery. The rearing horse of Remy’s saxophone is only saddled by her smoking gun of a vocal. Feeling every bit the femme fatale for the digital age, Remy has a lot more power in her lungs than any breathy stereotype from a Chandler novel, she owns every note of this album and with it stamps her authority on society as a whole.
A modern melting pot of genres and influences, the album will remain a cultural touchpoint for years to come. Mark our words.
7.And Nothing Hurt – Spiritualized
As to co-founder of Spaceman 3 and the main man in Spiritualized, Jason Pierce has carved himself a spot on the modern music wall of fame. On what might be his last album as part of Spiritualized the artist has again developed his sound and created an album full of answers to life’s most troubling facets.
With this band Pierce always set his sights on creating something grandiose and distinctive, something not held back by the limitations of wealth or time and with this latest album he may have finally reached his peak.
Luscious, luxurious and drenched in the troubles of love, Pierce delivers a set of songs carefully created to tackle the world’s growing list of anxieties one fully curated and cultivated song at a time. Expect choral renditions of Elvis alongside delicately poised lyrics, all beautifully sewn together with the gilded thread of an artist without restraint.
6.Wide Awake – Parquet Courts
Thank fuck for Parquet Courts. The bands on this list all have a particular sound or niche which makes them distinctive but none of them, and we mean not a single one of them, can play like Parquet Courts.
The band have developed and honed their sound for Wide Awake!on the backs of their fans. Cultured every toe-tapping, indie dancefloor ditty with the sound of the city running through their veins. They effortlessly blend every genre you ever cared for with a double shot of reality, a touch of hedonism, a splash of cliche and an American sized serving of poetic irony. Parquet Courts are the band we all needed in 2018. When it’s all going to shit, at least we can have a dance.
Across the album the band reaches heights of afrobeat basslines coupled with a stoner-rock attitude to make dancing feel nice and breezy, all the while being serenaded by the lyrical prowess of a poet with a pen in his hand. Thanks lads, we needed this one.
5.Some Rap Songs – Earl Sweatshirt
When speaking with Vulture Earl said the album was “just the concept of brevity. It’s been made evident to me that I’ve become kind of obsessed with simplifying shit, which sometimes can lead to oversimplification. People take a lot of liberties, I feel like. Incomplete shit is really stressful to me, and the concept of unsimplified fractions is really stressful to me.”
The album comes as a reflection of Earl’s last few years, a period of time where he has lost not only his father but his longtime friend and collaborator Mac Miller as well, and also has a new collaborative group to work with. Because of this, the music has moved on with Earl offering more genre-blending than any rapper around right now, effortlessly mixing jazz with modern beats and a sumptuous delivery. The grief he’s felt is expressed either explicitly or subtly and his maturation as an artist is accelerated because of it.
Some Rap Songs shows that Earl Sweatshirt is still a man in control of his own destiny and it’s one we want to watch, with his permission.
Simply put, as it should be, it’s dope.
4.Songs of Praise – Shame
Born and bred in the murky water south of the river we’ve had high hopes for Shame for a long time. But now they’re nowhere near the toilet scene, and with their debut LP they’ve burst through the door and are firmly in the public conscious. And they’re doing a damn fine job of fucking it up as they go along. The debut album was always going to be highly anticipated – could they put their energy on to a full length record?
In a word? Yes.
Shame have managed to do that very tricky thing of feeling authentic, gritty and credible, all the while writing and recording efficiently, succinctly and ultimately delivering beyond the hype.
3. Freedom – Amen Dunes
A record full of so many contradictions may seem off-putting and, in lots of ways, Freedom can at times be a very frustrating to listen to. However, despite its lack of resolution, this album holds many important lessons for those who choose to embrace its inconsistencies and open ends.
When given our full attention, Freedom teaches us to reframe our understanding of the past, whilst also warning against the emotional struggles that undertaking such a task can create. Whilst attaining “a vacant mind” may be harder than it seems, the process of self-reflection that we must undergo to reach this end may, in fact, give us the inspiration we need to continue growing as individuals. – Jessica Porter
2.Be The Cowboy – Mitski
It’s hard to avoid being caught up in the slick and shimmering production quality of Mitski’s LP Be The Cowboy it’s equally difficult to avoid being grabbed forcefully by the incredibly detailed and direct imagery that she creates. What’s easy though, is to love Mitski’s increidble talent for writing this perfect power-pop masterpiece.
Whether it is the delicately balanced ‘Old Friend’ or the tight-lipped-smiling track ‘Me and My Husband’, or indeed the stand out single ‘Nobody’ which rings out like if Nico arrived in 2018, Mitski always develops a fully-formed plot and sub-plot for each journey through her creativity.
That journey, as wide and varied as its characters are, is not just a performance art piece though. No, the songs are succinct, smart and selective while allowing the arrangements to always support the songs destination but enjoy the road we’re all travelling on.
This is Mitski at the height of her powers. Conjuring memories, creating new ones, delivering verdicts and being tried for her crimes, on Be The Cowboy Mitski has created a career-defining album.
Far Out Album of the Year is…
Joy As an Act of Resistance – IDLES
It’s easy to throw around superlatives. I could sit here now typing away all the words under the sun to highlight the power and prowess of the second record from Bristol-grown band IDLES Joy as an Act of Resistance and you could either choose to accept them or ignore them.
So instead, while we will be casting out our superlative-baited hooks for you to munch on, please, do one thing for us and listen to this album. Trust us, this will be the best thing you’ll do this year.
The array of topics tackled with sincerity and knowledge on this record, across tracks such as ‘Colossus’ ‘Samaritans’ and ‘June’ to name a few, is not only promising from a musical point of view but astounding from a societal one. Not only can this band write punk songs about toxic masculinity but they can do it without being immediately judged and labelled.
The title of the album is the most poignant point, in this regard, Joy as an Act of Resistance is the point of the album, the point of the band, and should be the point we are willing to push through the armour of an establishment so dependant on our despair.
Whether it’s the power punk, the football chants, the harrowing moments of sadness or the indie dancefloor bangers – on their second record, IDLES have shown that they’re growing, they’re showing off their political and poetic prowess, they are proving themselves on every track and they are, without a doubt, the most exciting band in the country right now.