With Summer in full swing, the amount of high profile releases coming up is fairly low. But not to fret! There has been so much good stuff released already this year that you have plenty to keep you busy, even if new releases are slumping for the next few weeks. Here’s my list of the 10 Best Albums Of 2018 (so far).
10. CHVRCHES — Love Is Dead
Nothing groundbreaking here, but CHVRCHES put forth a solid third release. It’s tough to not have a clunker when you make your first three records, but CHVRCHES successfully avoided the Sophomore Slump and were able to create a very good third album. Love Is Dead certainly doesn’t raise the bar, but it meets the high standards this trio has set.
Must Listens: “My Enemy”, a collaboration with Matt Berninger of the National, is the lasts example of how well Mayberry and Berninger’s voice work together.
9. The Carters (aka Jay-Z and Beyonce) — EVERYTHING IS LOVE
This just dropped so it’s still a lot to take in. The main takeaways are this: if you love Beyonce and Jay – Z, you’ll love this record. If you don’t, this won’t be the album that changes your mind (see Beyonce or 4:44 or any Blueprint for that purpose)
Must Listen: “APESHIT”, because it highlights the reason why Beyonce and Jay – Z will be relevant 20 years from now and why Quavo’s main source of income will be playing the spring concert circuit at private colleges for rich white kids.
8. Hinds — I Don’t Run
Spanish Rock Band Hinds blends two voices and two songwriters to make one cohesive record about losing people and growing up. The songs sound scrappy, but the lyrics read like poetry. Though stylistically similar, this record is a major improvement from their debut Leave Me Alone.
Must Listen: “The Club”, “Soberland”, “To The Light”, “Echoing My Name” and “Linda” demonstrate the best this album has to offer.
7.Unknown Mortal Orchestra — Sex and Food
As awful, cliche and pretentious as this phrase is, the album is so much better live. Sex and Food is a great record to put on when you’re ready to chill out, but not pass out.
Must Listen: “Hunnybee” and “We’re Not In Love We’re Just High” will make you want to dance.
6. Father John Misty — God’s Favorite Customer
God’s Favorite Customer reminded me more of Fear Fun than it did Pure Comedy. Misty fans will find this engaging and beautiful, where non-fans may recognize Josh Tillman’s talent, while not being enthralled with the content. This album feels like Tillman’s most blend of Father John and J. yet.
Must Listen: “Mr. Tillman”, “Please Don’t Die” and “God’s Favorite Customer”.
5. Camp Cope — How To Socialize And Make Friends
It seems impossible not to blend the personal and the political now, and Camp Cope gives us the perfect guide to do just that on their sophomore effort, How To Socialize And Make Friends. It’s punk, it’s painfully Australian and it’s a record only Georgia Maq could make. Camp Cope has a way of ending their albums with the most devastating song that you’ve ever heard– the album’s closer “I’ve Got You” is their most heart wrenching yet.
Must Listens: “The Opener” for the bass alone, “The Omen”, “Sagan Indiana”, “Anna” and most importantly, “I’ve Got You.” The star on all of these songs is the writing.
4. The Decemberists — I’ll Be Your Girl
Not a fan of The Decemberists? Me neither…til I listened to I’ll Be Your Girl. It was like listening to this record gave me the enzyme I needed to be able to digest the rest of their catalogue. The album fuses genres and reinforces the idea that life sucks and then you die, but at least we have each other in the mean time.
Must Listen: “Sucker’s Prayer”, “For Once In My Life”, “Everything Is Awful” and “I’ll Be Your Girl”
3. Lucy Dacus — Historian
Lucy Dacus’ album Historian is here for the long run. I can already feel how these songs, and their meanings, will speak to me differently depending on where I am in life. And I think that’s exactly the point and why Historian is truly a work of brilliance.
Must Listens: “Non-Believers”, “Pillar Of Truth” and “Addictions”.
2. Courtney Barnett — Tell Me How You Really Feel
In 2018 it seems like all artists are trying to say something, to make their statement, to be profound and release their magnum opus at the tender age of 25. That’s why Tell Me How You Really Feel is so perfect for 2018. With refrains like “I need a little time out”, “I don’t know anything”, “Sometimes I get sad// It’s not all that bad // One day, maybe never // I’ll come around” and “I think you’re doing you’re best // I think you’re doing just fine”, Barnett is able to capture the aphasia and the ephemeral nature of living in 2018.
Must Listens: “Crippling Self Doubt And A General Lack Of Confidence”, “Nameless Faceless”, “City Looks Pretty” and “Sunday Roast”
1. Brandi Carlile — By The Way, I Forgive You
Remember what I said about artists failing in trying (and failing) to make their magnum opus? There is one exception to this: Brandi Carlile’s By The Way, I Forgive You. The record is stronger than any album that Carlile has made, or for that matter, any album that has been released this year. These 10 songs make for such an amazing culmination of years and years of talent and perspective that I don’t have the words for it yet. It’s timeless, it’s current, and it is Perfection–vocally, lyrically, conceptually and musically. If you listen to one record this year, make it this one. You won’t get bored til at least 2021, and Carlile will likely have another album out by then. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to speak about this more eloquently because I have not doubt this will be my #1 album of the year.
Must Listens: Well, the entire album but if I MUST choose, “Every Time I Hear That Song”, “Sugartooth” and “Party Of One”.