Wednesday, January 2, 2019

My Favorite Albums of 2018

Back in December, I shared a playlist featuring my favorite albums of 2018 on Twitter. Having recently broadened the scope of this blog, I thought it might be fun to expand on that list, explaining a bit about each of the projects I selected, and why.

Obviously, I didn't listen to everything that was released in 2018 and these picks are just my personal favorites based on what I did hear. As such, don't be sad if your favorite album isn't listed and definitely don't take an album's absence from this list as an indication of its quality. With that said, let's begin.

#10 - Above & Beyond - Common Ground

I've always been a fan of EDM and electronica but I have to admit, it's pretty rare for an entire album's worth of such material to capture and hold my attention these days. I don't know if Above and Beyond's "Common Ground" is something I'll be listening to from beginning to end years from now, but I did find myself happily taking it all in more than a few times in 2018.

#9 - Gorillaz - The Now Now

Left rather disappointed by the last Gorillaz release, "Humanz," I was equally cautious and hopeful to give "The Now Now" a spin. As it turned out, I've found it to be a consistent, pleasant listen. While certainly not as bold, varied, or unique as earlier efforts, I think there's plenty here to like and the project has a nice flow that I feel makes it work well as an album.

#8 - Muse - Simulation Theory

In my opinion, this is the best Muse album since "The Resistance." I'm also a fan of many of the alternate versions of songs included as bonus tracks.

#7 - The Smashing Pumpkins - Shiny and Oh So Bright, Vol. 1

I really enjoyed The Smashing Pumpkin's "Oceania" back in 2012. This new album kinda feels to me like an extension of that project. Admittedly, it comes across a little light on content and new musical ideas but I do also enjoy listening to it.

#6 - You Me At Six - VI

A solid, fun pop-rock record with a little bit of edge, and sporting a few interesting musical wrinkles. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

#5 - Jack White - Boarding House Reach

If you're in the mood for an intricate, challenging, yet ultimately satisfying rock record, this new Jack White album won't disappoint.

#4 - Judas Priest - FIREPOWER

Easily, one of the best hard rock/metal albums I've heard in the past 20 years. Also, Rob Halford's vocal performances are nothing short of amazing, particularly given his age.

#3 - The Sword - Used Future

Not sure I'd call this a full-blown concept album but it's hard to deny the consistent, atmospheric presence of "Used Future." Definitely a great mood piece, with some fantastic, memorable instrumental elements amid a solid collection of ear worm-esque rock tracks.

#2 - Death Cab for Cutie - Thank You for Today

Historically, I haven't been a huge "Death Cab for Cutie" fan but this album really surprised me and I've found myself listening to it far more frequently than I ever thought I would.

#1 - Shakey Graves - Can't Wake Up

For me, this is the album from 2018 that everyone should own. So good, on so many levels. Beyond its musical excellence, I can't help noting that "Can't Wake Up" for me uncannily captures the essence of the year itself. I can absolutely envision myself listening to these tracks in the future and being transported back to this time, despite the generally-timeless quality of the music. It's a difficult phenomenon to articulate but there you have it. If nothing else, do give this album a try. There's something genuinely special about it.

As an added bonus, here's a playlist featuring my favorite tracks of 2018, which includes three songs from each of the albums listed above, and some additional music genres.

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