Best of Music 2018: 25 Favorite Albums of 2018

boygenius photo by Tim Aarons

boygenius (Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, & Lucy Dacus)
Matador / October 26

Standout Songs: “Bite The Hand”, “Me & My Dog”, “Souvenir”

Though only six songs in length, this record was one of my favorites of the year. How can you not love the harmonizing of Baker, Bridgers, and Dacus as well as how their voices are so contrasting? On “Me & My Dog”, Bridgers takes center stage before guitar comes roaring in and the harmonizing of her bandmates elevates the song that much more. This album shows what actually makes a supergroup “super” — elevating each other’s individuality while also somehow being more than the sum of their parts.

Tash Sultana photo by Tim Aarons

Tash Sultana
Flow State
Lonely Lands / August 31

Standout Songs: “Harvest Love”, “Free Mind”, “Big Smoke”

I wasn’t sure how the Aussie multi-instrumentalist-singer-songwriter was going to capture the magic she displays in her live show on a studio album. But quickly those fears faded. If you’ve ever seen a Tash Sultana show, you’ve been blown away by her jill-of-all-trades one-woman show. On Flow State, she does a wonderful job introducing the world to her expansive soundscapes. She combines elements of R&B, reggae, rock n roll, singer-songwriter ballads all into one cohesive record. Despite many of the songs carrying on for five-plus minutes, they’re full of catchy hooks that make this a tasty pop record. Also, I must have watched that “Harvest Love” bedroom recording video 200 times in 2018.

Cat Power photo by Betsy Martinez

Cat Power Wanderer18.
Cat Power
Domino / October 5

Standout Songs: “Woman”, “Nothing Really Matters”, “In Your Face”

While many considered Chan Marshall’s last full-length record Sun a dud, I actually enjoyed that electropop-leaning record. Still, it was no surprise to see Cat Power return to her roots as a folksy singer-songwriter with smoky vocals, and the execution on Wanderer was nearly perfect. The vulnerability we’ve come to expect was there in spades. Marshall parted ways with longtime label Matador for the first time after label execs demanded hits, playing an Adele record to show what they were looking for. Marshall stuck to her guns and delivered a sweet and introspective album worth your time. FULL REVIEW HERE.

Death Cab for Cutie photo by Monique Hernandez

Death Cab for Cutie
Thank You For Today
Atlantic / August 17

Standout Songs: “Autumn Love”, “Gold Rush”, “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”

Easily the best Death Cab album of the 2010s and shows the indie-rock kings still have a lot more to give following the departure of founding member Chris Walla in 2014. “Autumn Love” is the best song the band has written in maybe a decade, its “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” chorus washing over you in a truly satisfying manner. “I Dreamt We Spoke Again” has a bit of the lo-fi soul to it that blew this band up 20 years ago, but updated for 2018. Ben Gibbard is still one of the best indie-rock songwriters currently at it, and this album proves it.

Marian Hill photo by Tim Aarons

Marian Hill
Republic / May 11

Standout Songs: “Wish You Would”, “Differently”, “Subtle Thing”

The way Marian Hill blends elements of electronic music with R&B and jazz is truly unique. You don’t often hear horns used in electronic music the way this group uses it. It’s sexy and as I wrote in the album review this year, it’s a record that can both be your entire bedroom playlist. Samantha Gongol’s wispy vocals float effortlessly over the minimal production of Jeremy Lloyd. It’s seductive and confrontational all at once and has me excited to see where this band takes things moving forward.

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