By Abhishek Sherigar and Bijan Haghighi-Mood
Hello and apologies for our very late list for 2018. To be quite frank, this was a result of the combination of procrastination but also a reflection on our listening habits from the previous year. We felt it was best for us to take time to refine this list further and expand what music we were listening to. We reached out and listen to acclaimed albums and genres we typically wouldn’t bother dipping our toes into. With our tastes combined, we usually trend toward edgy hip-hop, rock music, and cool/experimental jazz but felt that to create a list like this one, more exploration was need. Albums like Twin Fantasy and Be the Love we usually would never have given a second glance, let alone add them to our listening lists. However, because of our aforementioned decision, the music on this top 10 is far more diverse than it would have been otherwise. Now, in no particular order at all, here are our top 10 albums of 2018.
Little Dark Age – MGMT: After five years of relative silence and lack of output, the rock/electro-pop duo have released a challenging, experimental, and cerebral work which was a welcome surprise. It contrasted the work they are most well known for while also not completely diving straight into murky water of more experimental music like they did after their first few hits. This unique and refreshing blend of quirkiness along with the stability of what made them famous in the first place is a must listen. Favorite Track: “Little Dark Age”
In a Poem Unlimited – U.S Girls: Megan Remy’s sixth album is is a combination of synth pop, blues, soul, and dream pop, and if you dig deeper you’ll probably find something else. It’s brimming with groovy aetherial sounds and a seamless blending of influences. You can understand well written lyrics that explore political and social resentment while masquerading under the veneer of flowing joyful pop music. Remy’s latest album is a confident refinement of her previous work and is clearly one of the best releases of this year. Favorite Track: “Mad as Hell”
Oxnard – Anderson Paak: The rapper and singer delivers a hedonistic, vain, braggadocious album that we enjoyed through and through. Mr. Paak isn’t couchsurfing anymore, and you can hear it. Anderson paints a picture of lavish Los Angeles with his signature funky hip-hop sound. Favorite track: “Mansa Musa”
Heaven & Earth – Kamasi Washington: Despite not completely living up to The Epic, this sophomore record was an experience in and of itself. Soulful and powerful vocals support Kamasi’s masterful tenor sax solos. He has recemented himself as a true giant of modern jazz, comparable to those who came before. Favorite track: “Street Fighter Mass”
Be the Love – Mitski: The fifth studio album from the singer-songwriter paints pictures of intense love and sadness. Themes of failing relationships, insecurities, and longing are present from beginning to end. This, along with an open and rich sound contrasting her previous albums, creates something different to the rest of the pop landscape. Reinforcing her lyrics are poignant piano melodies, melancholy guitars strumming, and intense blasts of sound from an organ. Be prepared to shed some tears. Favorite track: “Two Slow Dancers.”
Year Of The Snitch – Death Grips: While we personally find Year Of The Snitch to be one of the weaker albums in the band’s discography, we can’t deny that there were some absolutely great moments. Tracks like “Black Paint” have this great noise rock to them while feeling like a Death Grips song, and “Streaky” shows a less noisy but still intense side of the trio. If anything, this album excels at adding new things to the group’s normal sound but is not too jarring like some of their previous works; however it does tend to get to that level of wonkiness occasionally. Favorite Track: “Black Paint”
Veteran – JPEGMAFIA: At first it can be easy to dismiss Veteran at a glance due to some of the song lyrics being over the top, which can make it seem like there’s a lack of substance. However there are a lot of really good elements to this album so you shouldn’t be put off immediately.The best and most worthwhile part is the experimental production that has a flair of its own in the industrial hip hop sphere. While Peggy’s rapping is more than competent the beats are the absolute standout with the bizarre yet well done samples and interesting structures. Favorite Track: “Baby I’m Bleeding”
Wide Awake! – Parquet Courts : With their sixth studio album, Parquet Courts decided to enlist producer Danger Mouse to bring an album full of upbeat tunes. The positive style of the songs give it such a fun vibe to listen to even when the more melancholy lyrics and slower songs come in. The spread out critiques of our modern day culture manage to combine smoothly with the vibe of the album, making it an enjoyable punk album on top of its already solid rock instrumentals. Favorite Track: “Normalisation”
Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) – Car Seat Headrest: With the remake of Twin Fantasy, lead Will Toledo and the band manage to pull the same feat they did with the original, which is having some of the most human lyrics in an album. The major change to the remake is that it no longer has the lo-fi sound of the original and while we prefer the original for that sound, the new recording gives the album a new context. While it retains all the themes of young love, depression, anxiety, and retreating into a fantasy, Will’s new vocal delivery and lyric changes present all these themes through a lens of acceptance, which makes it stand apart from its former. The tracks have been polished up or changed drastically featuring improved transitions for the lengthier songs and changes to the instrumentals of songs, which make it a worthy listen for those who have listened to the original already. Favorite Track: “Beach Life In-Death”.
Self Titled – Avantdale Bowling Club: Avantdale Bowling Club is one of the strongest debuts seen in recent memory. Jazz rap was taken to a new level off this release, and this is because of the major change of using a jazz band instead of samples for the instrumental. The jazz instrumentals are dynamic, always changing and tend to build up to engulfing climaxes throughout the album.The album is mainly a self-reflection of album creator Tom Scott’s life up to this point, and the lyrics are handled pretty well. Scott does a good job at building the context of his life and gets more and more vocally intense along with the jazz band accompaniments. Favorite Track: “F(r)iends”