It feels like New Year’s was just yesterday. How are we halfway done with the year already? Well, time flew by because this has been a very consistent year for new music. With releases left and right, we had much variety to choose from to soundtrack our lives. I can list over 30 albums that were solid releases, but everyone loves a top ten. Here are the ten best albums of 2018 so far.
10. Artist: SOPHIE
Album: Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides
After a string of fascinating singles that offered an alternative to the redundant “Electronic” music that has become stale over the years, Scottish producer SOPHIE has finally released her debut solo album Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, and this album is filled with disorienting beats, sporadic metallic sounding noises, and at times quite disturbing soundscapes, and it’s all brilliantly produced, offering atmosphere and an otherworldly back drop for the chaotic but catchy as Hell instrumentation. The majority of this album’s vocals are handled by Montréal singer Cecile Believe, who offers both sexy and angelic fervor that grounds the chaotic nature of SOPHIE’s production. SOPHIE even provides lead vocals on the tender and delicate opening track that simply but profoundly encourages us to give in to emotion. “It’s okay to cry,” she says, but if you’re inclined to shed tears, they will most likely be tears of joy after hearing how invigorating this album is.
9. Artist: KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Album: KIDS SEE GHOSTS
Genre: Hip Hop/Alternative Hip Hop
Despite the inconsistency of the recent 5 album series of Kanye produced albums, this string of music did spawn a couple of gems, and the best album of them all without a doubt is the new Kanye West and Kid Cudi collaboration album KIDS SEE GHOSTS. This is the best both artists have sounded in awhile. The production is Psychedelic, it’s innovative, and it’s foray into abrasion finally perfects what Kanye was going for on albums such as Yeezus and The Life Of Pablo. Lyrically both artists speak about their struggles with mental illness, but they sound like they are in a spot now where they have prevailed over those struggles.
8. Artist: Tropical Fuck Storm
Album: A Laughing Death In Meatspace
Quite possibly the most bizarre Rock album of the year so far. Australian Supergroup “Tropical Fuck Storm’s” debut album A Laughing Death In Meatspace is zany, it’s dark, and a little cartoonish, and it’s so damn addictive. The Noisy instrumentation packed with buzzsaw synth bass and sinister guitars reflects the chaotic nature of the lyrics, lyrics that often tackle social and political commentary. This album is a soundtrack to the circus of a country the U.S. has become.
7. Artist: MGMT
Album: Little Dark Age
Following the frequent waning of acclaim for not living up to the radio hit status of their breakout singles “Kids” and “Electric Feel,” the future of “MGMT” became uncertain, but after a much needed break that rejuvenated the band, “MGMT” returned this year with the stellar Little Dark Age. This album finds the band going back in a “Pop” direction, but this time they do it in their own terms without sacrificing their Experimental desires. This album draws a lot from 80’s “Synth-Pop,” and the anachronistic nature of the music is enthralling.
6. Artist: U.S. Girls
Album: In A Poem Unlimited
Genre: Art Pop/ Art Rock
Canada based musician Meghan Remy knew exactly what she was doing when she adopted the “U.S. Girls” moniker ten years ago. Though she currently resides in Canada, Remy is from the U.S. and she knows firsthand what women have to deal with in this country. Her new album In A Poem Unlimited vividly paints dark pictures of misogyny and domestic abuse, and it is a necessary raising of awareness. The “Art Pop” and “Art Rock” heavy instrumentation adds catchy and at times psychedelic contrast to the album’s darker themes, and the result is a compelling Pop album that isn’t afraid to be brutally honest.
5. Artist: Parquet Courts
Album: Wide Awake!
Genre: Indie Rock/Post-Punk
Wide Awake! is a necessary title for “Parquet Courts’” new album, seeing as how it tackles very relevant issues such as the desensitization that has developed in this country when it comes to tragic issues such as gun violence and racism, but instead of giving into nihilism like most of their contemporaries, the band encourages optimism and they realize that unity is the key tool to defeat these dire times, and with “Post-Punk” heavy instrumentation that also flirts with genres such as “Dub” and “Indie Rock,” they definitely get their point across.
4. Artist: The Voidz
Genre: Experimental/Art Rock/Art Pop
It’s official. Julian Casablancas cares a Hell of a lot more about his newer band “The Voidz” than he does “The Strokes,” and you know what? That’s okay. His desire to experiment is being fulfilled. The new album from “The Voidz” titled Virtue is a chaotic but infectious odyssey that incorporates elements from various genres. You never know what sound is coming after the preceding track, and though this album is incohesive at times, it’s damn intriguing with it’s bizarre melding of genres and existentialist lyrics.
3. Artist: Father John Misty
Album: God’s Favorite Customer
Genre: Indie Folk/Indie Rock
What happens when “Indie Folk’s” sharpest songwriter forces himself to live in solitude at a hotel for a month? Well, we get a compelling album of course. Joshua Tillman A.K.A. Father John Misty followed up last year’s masterpiece Pure Comedy with a deeply personal and unsparing album titled God’s Favorite Customer this year, and it is an album filled with melancholy ballads that unlike Pure Comedy, looks inward most of the time. It’s revealing of the singer/songwriter’s personal thoughts, but at the same time maintain’s his signature wit.
2. Artist: JPEGMAFIA
Genre: Hip Hop/Experimental Hip Hop
Hip Hop for the most part has been underwhelming this year, but Baltimore rapper and producer JPEGMAFIA isn’t going to let Hip Hop completely fall into the hands of the countless mumble or druggy “Trap” rappers. His latest album Veteran is far from escapist “Rap.” He projects the flaws and ignorance of this country on this album and calls out racists and misogynists with utter contempt. He pushes for equality but he encourages us to fight back instead of turning the other cheek, and with unique production highly experimental in nature, this is the most innovative Hip Hop album of the year so far.
1. Artist: Janelle Monáe
Album: Dirty Computer
Genre: Pop/R&B/Hip Hop
So far this year there hasn’t been a better crafted or more intoxicating album than Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer. This album hits all the right notes. It’s catchy, it’s artistic, and it features meaningful lyrical content. It’s an album that encourages self-acceptance, and at the same time it’s not afraid to be vulnerable. Monáe’s confident delivery shape shifts from singing to rapping throughout the album, and her sexy and confident delivery uplifts those who have had to face hardships in their lives. Though it’s main theme is female empowerment, this album invites everyone of all genders, sexual orientations, and all races to her celebration of self-acceptance.
Written By: Steven Sandoval