Best of Music 2018: 25 Favorite Albums of 2018

Tom Misch photo by Tim Aarons

Tom Misch
Beyond The Groove 4 / April 6

Standout Songs: “South of the River”, “Lost in Paris”, “It Runs Through Me”

Few made as quickly an impression on me in 2018 as Misch did on the opening guitar riffs of “Lost in Paris”. A guy who can play an insane number of instruments, he flexes his collective musical muscles all across Geography in a way that suggests he could be both left-of-center and mainstream. His voice is pitch perfect, almost too perfect. He’s the one white-guy R&B singer that doesn’t go falsetto, which is refreshing. In fact, he reminds me a bit of Craig David (who is back to killing it, by the way) meets John Mayer. GoldLink’s verse on “Lost in Paris” is fantastic.

Julia Jacklin photo by Stephanie Varela Rheingold

Phantastic Ferniture
Phantastic Ferniture
Polyvinyl / July 27

Standout Songs: “Bad Timing”, “Fuckin ‘n’ Rollin”, “Dark Corner Dance Floor”

Truth is, I probably listened to this album more than any other album in 2018. I spent at least 100 listens trying to figure out what Julia Jacklin is fucking saying on “Dark Corner Dance Floor”. From the moment “Fuckin ‘n’ Rollin” dropped, I knew this was going to be a straight-forward rock record reminiscent of early Tom Petty. “Bad Timing” might be the best song about trying to date in LA that isn’t actually about trying to date in LA. There’s not a bad song in the bunch and it’s a perfect road-trip record. It soundtracked many bus rides from LA > Vegas or LA > Bay Area that I took because I’m a cheap bastard.

Spiritualized photo by Stephanie Varela Rheingold

And Nothing Hurt
Fat Possum / September 7

Standout Songs: “Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go”, “A Perfect Miracle”, “I’m Your Man”

While “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” still remains my favorite Spiritualized song, the album of the same name has been dethroned as my favorite album from J. Spaceman. “Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go” is the best song he’s probably done since then, even though he’s played it in live sets for years. From the guy whose initial group Spacemen 3 said he was “taking drugs to make music to take drugs to” has remained a dependent force, though it was the first record since 2012. This was further proof that sometimes good things com to those that wait, and this hazy masterpiece gets more rewarding with each listen.

Anderson Paak photo by Thane Fernandes

Anderson .Paak
Aftermath / November 16

Standout Songs: “Tints” ft. Kendrick Lamar, “Cheers” ft. Q-Tip, “Brother’s Keeper” ft. Pusha-T

I’ll be honest I had this album slotted in as my expected No. 1 record of the year before it dropped in November, but it fell just short of that distinction. Paak loaded up on features on the second half of this record, with Dr. Dre, Pusha T, Snoop Dogg, J. Cole, and Q-Tip all appearing on separate songs on the record’s back half. “Cheers” might be the best song Paak has written, inspired by the loss of his friend Mac Miller and also featuring A Tribe Called Quest leader Q-Tip, who had to bury a friend in the past few years in Phife Dawg. Hearing the two go deep on that was a highlight. “Tints” was one of the earworms of the year for me. If Paak had included the swagalicious “Bubblin'” on the record, it might have made it No. 1 on my list.

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