It may or may not be a secret to some that I listen to a lot of music. I recently calculated how much I time I spend listening to music and I figured out that I’ve listened to over 150,000 minutes of music in this year alone. To put that in perspective that’s like listening to music nonstop for 104 days. This isn’t me trying to brag, I can already hear the tapping of keys spelling the words “weird flex but ok”, this is just me explaining that this admittedly arbitrary list was difficult to make. Regardless here I am 360 days into the year delivering what I believe are the best albums I’ve heard this year. But first, here are some honorable mentions in no particular order.
Vince Staples continues his discography with an album about summer that released in winter. FM! delivers everything you would expect from a Vince Staples album and then some. Vince still uses his sharp tongue to deliver some incredibly dense lyrical schemes that add to the overall enjoyment of the album. The small Earl Sweatshirt feature was also quite unexpected but equally as welcome. Give this one a listen if you haven’t.
If you read the article I wrote about this album earlier in the year you’re already well aware of what I think about this album, but just to reiterate I really enjoyed what this album means for Father John Misty. It is a step in the right direction and gives an unbiased look into the character Joshua Tillman has created.
Amine was one of the few artists from the XXL’s 2017 freshman list I wasn’t worried about. His debut album Good For You already proved he knew where he was going musically and his sophomore album has only validated that fact further. If you were somehow skeptical after listening to Amine’s first album I implore you to listen to ONEPOINTFIVE it is an incredibly original and impressive musical adventure.
I wasn’t much of a Travis Scott fan going into this album but coming out I knew I was hooked. Indisputably, the most fascinating part about this record is the features. Name’s like Drake, The Weekend, Quavo, Takeoff, and Kid Cudi are ultimately what sold this for a lot of people including myself. However, that doesn’t mean Travis Scott’s performance is weak. “5% TINT” and “COFFEE BEAN” remain my favorites from this record which solely feature Travis Scott. If you’re looking for an easy listening rap album this is definitely your best pick.
Singer-songwriter, R&B group Thirdstory blew me away this year with their debut album Cold Heart. A 44-minute ode to heartbreak, this album is definitely one of my favorites this year. I would advise you to get into Thirdstory fast before they blow up and everyone starts listening to them.
Now with those albums out of the way here is my official top ten. While I did listen to a lot this year there were some albums I wasn’t able to thoroughly get through before the year was over and for that reason, they aren’t on this list. There are definitely a lot of amazing albums that came out this year and fitting it to one short list was very difficult. Anyway, starting from number ten we have…
Existential takes everything that made Makeout Reef an amazing group and dials it up to eleven. After listening to this album I am convinced Makeout Reef owns the title of “garage band.” The gritty production, the constantly booming audio, the overall amateurish nature of the album is what makes it so unique and fun to listen to. At this point, I’m just waiting for them to get signed so they can continue to produce amazing music.
The soundtrack Thom Yorke created for Luca Guadagnino’s film Suspiria is a chilling masterpiece. It is an incomparable mess of sounds and tones thrown together into one big beautiful spectacle of audio. The few songs that are intelligible are incredibly cold and harrowing. It feels like there is a hidden evil lurking beneath the music just waiting for the right moment to strike. The striking imagery that is coupled with the songs are equally as abstract and communicate such strange motifs. I have yet to watch the film but I can only imagine how perfectly it fits Luca Guadagnino’s style of filmmaking.
Kanye Wests short-lived eighth studio album ye displays two things about the titular artist. One: Kanye has really lost the ability to care and two: Kanye has still got it. The Life of Pablo was an incredibly disappointing mess with a lack of any coherent direction and a mishmash of conflicting ideas. On the other hand, ye is a fully realized piece of art that stays as long as it needs to in order to adequately fulfill its purpose. Each song is a cohesive vignette about Kanye’s concurrent struggles and allows the listener a constructive look at the enigmatic artist. It’s definitely up there with some of Kanye’s best work despite barely cracking 25 minutes.
Coming in at number seven is yet another album that heavily features the everpresent Kanye West. It’s difficult to say what hasn’t already been said about this album. Simply put, its a flawless display of the true staying power of Kanye West and Kid Cudi. These two have likely unwittingly created a classic that will continue to be spun into the distant future.
BALLADS 1 left a lot to be desired from the 88rising’s poster boy, Joji. Aside from being a bit scary to look at, the album is widely panned due to the sheer number of forgettable cuts. However, the one thing that saves this album and the reason why it places so highly on my list is the amount of absolutely flawless tracks this album boasts. The first six tracks are some of the best songs Joji has put out in his admittedly short career. The remaining six arents bad by any stretch but they certainly do leave a lot to be desired. The title of the album implies this is to be an ongoing series of albums Joji plans to release and if that’s the case, color me excited.
Earl Sweatshirt is a true master of his craft. With barely any promotion, he has created one of the most standout rap albums of the year. With little to no features, bare-bones production, and Earl’s complex hard hitting lyrical prowess the album epitomizes everything that makes Earl standout among the other big names in the music industry. He has carved out his own place in the rap scene that only fits him perfectly, making him an irreplaceable part of the constantly evolving music community. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another three years to hear more of his musical genius.
I recently got into jazz this year and one of the albums I first listened to this year was No Doubt by multi-instrumentalist, Braxton Cook. I’m not sure what it is about this album that makes it feel so good to listen to. The lush texture of the vocals, the beautiful saxophone solos, perhaps the overall musicality of the album is what makes it so amazing. Braxton Cook simply understands music far greater than a lot of other artists out there and he makes that astonishingly clear in this record. I recommend this to all fans of jazz new and old, as well as people who are looking to get into the genre as a whole. It’s an amazing display of the genre’s musical shift into more hip-hop and R&B focused elements.
Allow me to begin this paragraph with an incredibly audacious statement, Tha Carter V has no bad songs. Yes, you read that last remark correctly. After listening to Lil Wayne’s fifth entry in the Carter series I almost immediately knew it was one of my favorites of the year. Starting with a heartfelt message from Lil Wayne’s mother followed by an amazing feature from the late XXXTentacion and ending with the especially powerful song “Let It All Work Out” which deals with the heavy topic of suicide. Every track has something new and interesting to offer that constantly pushes the inherent threshold the rap genre poses to most artists. The production is very creative on this album and Lil Wayne is able to seamlessly lead the listener through virtually any story he wishes to tell. I am now a massive Lil Wayne fan and I plan to listen back into his discography. This album is a definite must listen to anyone even remotely interested in the rap genre.
Before I begin gushing about Death Grips’ newest masterpiece I’m going to admit something I’ve held onto for some time now. I used to have some pretty elitist sentiments about Death Grips. After the release of their fifth studio album Bottomless Pit, I thought that I could no longer be surprised by them. To me, the record was in some sense a victory lap for the trio. Sonically it was their most familiar record to date. It consisted of their usual fast-paced, visceral, experimental hip-hop that everyone had long since grown accustomed to. That’s not to say the album was bad, mind you. It was just predictable. Now allow me to eat my prior sentiments because Year of the Snitch is one of Death Grips’ most impressive, unprecedented, and engaging records to date. So much about this album calls back to what initially made me fall in love with the California-based trio. That lighting-fast, animal-like production, and lyrics give me chills every time I listen to one of the tracks off this LP. At long last Death Grips has come back to reclaim their position as the cornerstone of all experimental hip-hop.
At last, my favorite album of 2018 is this genre-defying hallmark of an album by one of my all-time favorite bands. There is a vast amount lasting appeal in this album that has the power to draw in even the most exclusive of audiences. I can still remember the two-month bender this album took me on where the only thing I was able to listen to and talk about was this. It’s what inevitably lead to me to talk about this album on this website. That article remains one of my favorites one of my most popular. For good reason too. I put a lot of work into it simply because I was so enthralled by the album. Ask anyone who knows me, whenever “Star Treatment” or “Four out of Five” comes on in the car I will leave it on and sing it the whole way through. Artists spend their entire careers attempting to capture even a modicum of what Arctic Monkeys is able to accomplish in just one album’s runtime. The beautiful cosmic themes this album plays with and Alex Turners unbelievable vocal performance throughout the entire record barely scratch the surface of the boundless potential Arctic Monkeys displays in this record.
Thank you for reading my top ten favorite albums of 2018. I hope you enjoyed reading my scattered thoughts about music. If you’re a loyal reader of this website or a first timer I appreciate you taking the time to read my stuff. I have a true passion for writing and I hope to continue writing for this website in 2019. I wrote a lot in just one year and I plan to widen my spectrum of topics and begin talking about more than just entertainment. For all intents and purposes, I am a jack of all trades, and I hope my website will reflect that sentiment soon enough. Thank you all again! I’ll see you in the next one.