My resolution this year is to expand the content of my blog beyond gaming. Like many of you, I have a multitude of other interests and I would like to spend more time writing about them. One of said interests is music. As long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep love for music because nothing does a better job of evoking strong emotion from me than a good song. What I love even more is sharing my favorite music with others so it can touch them the same way it did me.
With that being said, compiling this list was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a while because 2018 was an incredible year for music; probably the best since 2012. If I wanted to dedicate more time to this post, I could easily list off 25-30 albums that I absolutely adored. I’d even estimate that it took longer for me to decide which albums to include in my top five than it did to write the post.
From kick-ass projects from female artists to genre-defying masterpieces, here are my 5 favorite albums of 2018.
5. 7 – Beach House
Favorite Tracks: Lemon Glow, Drunk in LA, Lose Your Smile
Beach House has been putting the same album out for the past 10 years, but I’m not going to complain about it. As the old adage goes, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’ve yet to grow tired of their hazy, enchanting dream pop sound, and their latest album, 7, is a testament to that. Produced by former Spacemen 3 member Peter Kimber, better known as Sonic Boom, this album is Beach House at its darkest and heaviest. It’s also surprisingly psychedelic, layering throbbing synthesizers and guitars to create a mesmerizing wall of sound on multiple tracks. My favorite song, “Lemon Glow”, uses a metallic synth loop as its foundation to put the listener in a trance as vocalist Victoria Legrand melancholically sings about the trill of love and intimacy. Many may call 7 “just another Beach House album.” To me, it’s another great achievement in the band’s remarkable discography.
4. Isolation – Kali Uchis
Favorite Tracks: Just a Stranger, Tyrant, After the Storm
Blending elements of pop, bossa nova, funk, and R&B, Isolation was my favorite project from a female artist in 2018. Featuring 15 tracks at a length of just over 45 minutes, it’s a fantastic listen from start to finish. And it should be, considering all of the talent that worked on it. Kevin Parker, Damon Albarn, Thundercat, Steve Lacy, and David Andrew Sitek are a few of many big names that lent a hand in producing this tour de force. That’s not to take anything away from Uchis, who absolutely shines with brilliant vocal performances and inspiring lyrics about empowerment, loving yourself, and moving on from bad relationships. Isolation isn’t just a great album, it’s the exuberant beginning of the long and successful career of a soon-to-be pop icon.
3. Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) – Car Seat Headrest
Favorite Tracks: Beach Life-in-Death, Sober to Death, Famous Prophets (Stars)
Although it’s a remake, Twin Fantasy (Face to Face) feels like a new record. Released in 2011, the original was recorded by frontman Will Toledo with a cheap laptop microphone. Several years and a few successful albums later, Toledo was able to re-record the album in an actual studio with state-of-the-art equipment. The result: An absolutely electrifying rock record full of ass-kicking guitar riffs, catchy hooks, and undeniably clever lyrics. The increased production value vastly improves tracks like “Beach Life-in-Death” and “Sober to Death”, so much so that I now consider both among my favorite songs of decade. It’s slicker, livelier, and all-around better than the original. It goes to show that no matter how good songwriting is, money, equipment, and the right people are needed for those songs to realize their true potential.
2. Care for Me – Saba
Favorite Tracks: Busy/Sirens, Prom/King, Heaven All Around Me
Saba is the best Chicago rapper out there, and his sophomore album Care for Me is all the evidence I need to back that statement. A concept album dedicated to the memory of his late-cousin, fellow Chicago rapper Walter Long Jr., it tugs at your heartstrings with its raw, emotional lyrics about Long’s life and death, the hardships of being African American in today’s United States, the struggles of growing up in Chicago’s West Side, and other topical themes. Saba’s vivid, descriptive storytelling on Care for Me, particularly on “Prom/King” (a seven-and-a-half-minute hip-hop eulogy about Long), rivals that of rap greats like Nas and Ghostface Killah, and shows his potential to be in the G.O.A.T conversation by the time his career is over.
1. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love – Deafheaven
Favorite Tracks: Honeycomb, Canary Yellow, Worthless Animal
I first saw Deafheaven at a music festival while I was waiting for an Earl Sweatshirt set to start. Their textural, shoegaze-like brand of metal instantaneously caught my ears and turned me into a fan that very moment. Their latest release, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, continues their streak of excellent albums and may be the best material they’ve put out to date. From the gentle opening piano riff of “You Without End” to the to the boisterous final minutes of the closing track, “Worthless Animal”, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is a masterpiece that shows how much Deafheaven have progressed as songwriters. There’s bound to be something you can appreciate about this beautifully brooding and dark work of art, even if you’re not a fan of metal.
Did you listen to any of the albums on this list? What did you think of them? What were your favorite records of last year? Share your thoughts in the comments!