Standout Songs: “Some People”, “Numb”, “Tear Me To Pieces”
It was great to see Meg Myers re-emerge this year following a split from a major label to put out her sophomore record. This record sounds more fully Meg than her debut did, undoubtedly due to having more control over the end product. “Some People” is my favorite song she’s ever written, pulling in Enya-like production with her unique vocal talent, the final notes of the song reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt”. If Marla Singer from Fight Club had a singing career, it would sound a lot like Meg Myers. Producer Christian “Leggy” Langdon managed to pull the best out of the singer, and their duet “The Death of Me” is one of the album’s top points. The song “Numb” gained her notoriety amongst music outlets and for good reason. Hoping we see her at some festivals in 2019. Read our interview from 2018 here.
Standout Songs: “Teenage Fantasy”, “Lost & Found”, “Blue Lights”
Another debut album that had major impact, Jorja Smith exploded on the scene. She’s soulful like Alicia Keys and really knows how to deliver lyrical gut punches. I’m really impressed by where she can take her voice, and “Teenage Fantasy” is the kind of R&B earworm I love. She’s going to be a massive star and it’s one of the stronger debut albums in the pop-R&B genre in a while. She carries a certain swaggered approach to the music, baring her soul with an unwavering confidence.
Standout Songs: “Nobody”, “Geyser”, “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?”
This album topped many notable outlets’ year-end lists, and cracks my top 10. The singer-songwriter has dramatically improved her craft from album to album, and her sound added a ton of sonic depth on her latest record. She’s one of the best young songwriters going today, and the narratives she constructs on Be The Cowboy are easily relatable and I don’t know if anyone handles melancholy seemingly as effortlessly as she does.
Standout Songs: “Now U Got Me Hooked”, “Cityfade”, “Know You”
I did a handful of DJing this year for the first time thanks to my friend Grant Owens talking me into it at the start of the year, and pretty much every set featured at least one song from this Nicolas Jaar project. It’s much more uptempo and to the point than most of his work under his own name and really quite groovy and disco-esque. It’s an album you can bop your head to and also actually predict when the drops are gonna come or when the song is going to switch tempo, which is unusual for a Jaar song, let alone an entire album. He chose a bunch of funk and soul samples, and put together an album of tunes that embody the kind of electronic music I like.
Standout Songs: “Screwed” ft. Zoe Kravitz, “Pynk” ft. Grimes, “I Like That”
Seeing Janelle Monae front row at Music Tastes Good last year was one of the peaks of 2018. I watched, stunned, as though I was watching Prince live on in a woman’s body. I never got to see The Purple One but felt the kind of feelings I’d assume he was able to bring out of a crowd. It’s no surprise this album was inspired by Prince and is the first album really of its kind: a black queer female mainstream pop figure singing about being black and queer. Listening through this record, I can’t help but think of this quote from an interview with Ebro on Beats Radio: “Songs one, two, three, four—that’s the reckoning. That’s you feeling the sting of being called n***** for the first time by a white person. Feeling the sting of being called bitch by a man for the first time. Feeling the sting of being called queer or a f***** by homophobic people. It’s reckoning and dealing with what it means to be called a Dirty Computer.”