The closing moments of the year often brings the most exciting, stressful part of a music blogger’s life. That’s right, after ingesting twelve months’ worth of music it’s time to whittle them down into a cohesive list of our absolute faves. For some context, I had the first drafts of these lists back in September. It’s an arduous task, but one that comes with great reward and satisfaction and perfect justification to pick up a drinking problem, but it’s worth it. This, Ladies and Gentleman, is List Week!
It’s time to give you what I believe to be the Top Albums of 2018. This was the hardest list to do as this was far too much great music around, and I think at least four or five different contenders for the top spot throughout the last couple months. Here are 30 albums recommended by Sounds Good that I hope at the very least will make an impression on you as they did on me. Let me know if it sucks.
SOUNDS GOOD’S TOP ALBUMS OF 2018
THIRTY: PRINCE – PIANO & A MICROPHONE 1983
While Prince might not be with us in this reality, he certainly made sure to keep his Vault stocked with various gubbins so we’d never forget. 2018 saw all of his material finally hit the modern age of streaming alongside Piano & A Microphone 1983. This short collection of tracks sees Prince somehow control the airwaves with the most minimalistic of tools available, and treats us with a set of songs that bring a bit of dramatic flair to Prince’s traditional traits.
TWENTY-NINE: BLOSSOMS – COOL LIKE YOU
Two years after bursting onto the scene, Blossoms returned with a second album that definitely did not suffer from second album slump. While it’d have been a tricky task to create something as huge as ‘Charlemagne’ and ‘Honey Sweet’, Blossoms did bring something that’s more assured in it’s execution. Soaring indie vibes fill the airwaves throughout, and the result is an album that holds it’s own. Thank you to Peanut Mixtape for stopping this record from passing me by.
TWENTY-EIGHT: J MASCIS – ELASTIC DAYS
J Mascis is responsible for some of my favourite records around, and his latest offering in his solo venture is another to add to that list. Elastic Days sticks to the tried and tested formula of J’s previous albums, but brings variety to the mix and a heck of a lot of J Mascis guitar leads to melt your face to.
TWENTY-SEVEN: SLEEP – THE SCIENCES
Sleep brought a bit of unexpected productivity to the infamous 4/20 with the release of The Sciences. The trio had been lying dormant for fifteen years but felt the urge to bring some monolithic thunder to our ears this year. It’s bold, heavy and it’s riffs upon riffs upon riffs, and is so good. Let’s spark up a fatty.
TWENTY-SIX: BOY AZOOGA – 1, 2, KUNG FU!
Anything that promises to bring Kung Fu to the count of three has got to be good, and Boy Azooga did exactly that with this debut. This album was a little slept on but with it’s overarching sense of strange, psychedelic explorations into madness and the straight up grooves of ‘Face Behind Her Cigarette’, it offers plenty of reasons to wake up.
TWENTY-FIVE: FOX MEDICINE – GREETINGS FROM MARS
I’ve had a lot of fun and experiences with Fox Medicine and well, this is the fan in me bigging them up right now. The Canadian duo absolutely tore my face off with new album Greetings From Mars earlier this year and there’s no reason why you should continue to live your life with your features still intact.
TWENTY-FOUR: SPRING KING – A BETTER LIFE
After receiving not the strongest of responses to their debut, Spring King made sure to be noticed with A Better Life. This record offers haymakers like you wouldn’t believe, and tracks such as ‘Animal’ continue to hit me with the ol’ one two. Sadly this turned out to be the band’s final album as they announced their demise not too long ago.
TWENTY-THREE: EVERYTHING IS RECORDED – EVERYTHING IS RECORDED BY RICHARD RUSSELL
Everything is Recorded… is a record that appeared to get lost in the shuffle of strong releases. If you like to treat your ears to something that’s Jazzy, subtle but filled with Funk and also comes with Sampha, Kamasi Washington amongst other talented artists, then get listening to this.
TWENTY-TWO: LET’S EAT GRANDMA – I’M ALL EARS
If I’m honest, I still feel a little bad for Grandma. The Norwich duo burst onto the scene with their debut but appear to have made an even bigger splash with I’m All Ears. This record sees the ladies deliver something that’s a little more concise, matured and filled to the brim with endless shimmer. It’s abrasive in parts, sweet in others and completely delicious to digest.
TWENTY-ONE: MARMOZETS – KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW
Marmozets dropped one of first records to cross into the threshold of “loved” territory for me, and it’s stayed there since. Nothing gets me more amped up than the intro to ‘Play’ and Knowing What You Know Now does not slow down one bit. It’s full of hooks and riffs, and it’s attitude makes this one of the most entertaining listens of the year.
TWENTY: PUSHA T – DAYTONA
Unfortunately I didn’t listen to much Rap and Hip Hop this year, but I couldn’t deny giving Daytona a spot on this list. Pusha T’s collaborative effort with Kanye is grimy, bold and an absolute blast to listen to. It’s short length seems to have been Kanye’s gimmick for 2018 but fortunately each track is beefy enough to make it for it. Also, Pusha’s yearlong diss against Drake has been entertaining, so props for that too.
NINETEEN: AGAINST ALL LOGIC – 2012-2017
Nicholas Jaar has been dropping a steady stream of good music over the years, and this collection of tracks for his record label might just be his finest. If you’re into House music that dabbles in groove and off-kilter rhythms then check this out.
EIGHTEEN: ICEAGE – BEYONDLESS
Iceage continue to dazzle the mind with new album Beyondless. Considering they started off as a bunch of angry little hoodlums, Beyondless seemed to be a pipedream. Their fourth album showcases a much more assured, patient sound that’s not afraid to bury the speakers in fuzzy distorted goodness, and it’s lead wonderfully by the driving force of single ‘Pain Killer’.
SEVENTEEN: VULFPECK – HILL CLIMBER
If you had to take one thing from this list it’s this: LISTEN TO VULFPECK. These guys are responsible for creating some of the most original, upbeat music around and their latest offering is no different. Hill Climber features all of the jazzy-instrumentals you could ever need, paired with the band’s traditionally bright and sunny vocal harmonies too.
SIXTEEN: DAMN THE WITCH SIREN – RED MAGIC
Damn the Witch Siren burst onto the scene with easily the raunchiest record of the year. Old-school synth goodness peppers this record with a range of songs that are filled with breathy hooks and an urgent need to take a cold shower. It’s bold, confident and absolutely filled with the desire to get the word about sex out there. It’s a wonderful thing, and so is this record. I hope to have it one day.
FIFTEEN: OH800 – CHARACTER BUILDING
Oh800 dropped one of the best singles of the year in ‘I Want You Around’ and were responsible for delivering my most anticipated record, and boy did they succeed. Their debut album is a rampant celebration of Dance-Punk and the result is a set of songs that do not fail to get the hips moving.
FOURTEEN: JACK WHITE – BOARDING HOUSE REACH
Now for some reason, this record has divided opinion and I just wanted to say, what the fuck? Why? While Jack White’s solo discography failed to convince me that The White Stripes needed to remain dormant, Boarding House Reach came along and certainly did a whole lot of persuading. This record is strange, and isn’t afraid to dabble in the disjointed for a song or two. The ambition is met with seriously interesting instrumentals, and certainly piqued my interest in future Jack White releases.
THIRTEEN: DONNA MISSAL – THIS TIME
This little record almost slipped me by but I’m glad it grabbed my arm on the way out. Donna Missal’s debut is a soulful exploration into smooth, RnB and Pop music that offer a lot of depth and groove. This is my definitive late night record and I don’t think I can ever stop being obsessed with it.
TWELVE: CAR SEAT HEADREST – TWIN FANTASY
I couldn’t give a shit if this is a remaster but I wasn’t around when Car Seat Headrest burst onto the scene. Twin Fantasy is a glorious collection of down trodden Indie music that dabbles in elongated instrumentals and guitar sections that seem to repeat endlessly. I know I’m super late to the party but isn’t ‘Bodys’ a wonderful track? Easily my “coming of age” track of 2018.
ELEVEN: MGMT – LITTLE DARK AGE
Finally, MGMT return to form. After years of stagnating with solid, but underwhelming releases, they firmly threw themselves back into the limelight with Little Dark Age. Like their much-loved debut, they did a great job at pairing their strange lyricism with proper banging instrumentals. This is like a little dancefloor jam in the middle of the Upside Down or something.
TEN: CONFIDENCE MAN – CONFIDENT MUSIC FOR CONFIDENT PEOPLE
“I MUST CONFESS / I’VE BEEN SLEEPING WITH YOUR EX COS I HEARD HE WAS THE BEST”…an intro I never thought I’d have to stop myself from belting out when in public, but here we are. Australia’s Confidence Man dropped one of the most exhilarating, dancefloor-heavy albums in a long, long time and MY GOD DO I LOVE IT. It’s satirical beyond belief, and is also on the nose when it comes to delivering some of the best, free-flowing dance jams around. Listen to ‘Better Sit Down Boy’ and TRY TO TELL ME you don’t dig it. TRY IT.
NINE: JEFF ROSENSTOCK – POST-
The very first album that hit the Loved status this year. Jeff Rosenstock continues to make Pop Punk cool again with his third album POST-. It’s frantic, full of riffs and an absolutely entertaining listen throughout.
EIGHT: U.S. GIRLS – IN A POEM UNLIMITED
U.S. Girls dropped one of the most colourful records this year with In a Poem Unlimited. The project of Meghan Remy really hit it’s stride with a guest-heavy record that seemed to explore all manner of genres and to produce a sound that showed off that exploration in a big way. From the start of ‘Velvet 4 Sale’ comes something that’s filled with groove and seems to dabble in psychedelic thunder throughout. This is how I’d imagine an acid trip to be.
SEVEN: TOM MISCH – GEOGRAPHY
Tom Misch has caused quite the stir since bursting onto the scene with his debut album Geography. He appears to be everywhere right now, and that makes me happy. If you’re ever in need of a record that’s romantic, rhythmic, classy and filled with jams then Geography is for you. The likes of ‘Lost In Paris’ and ‘Disco Yes’ aim for the hips whereas ‘Movie’ and ‘You’re On My Mind’ strike the heart. It’s beautiful, and one of the most well designed records in years.
SIX: SHOPPING – THE OFFICIAL BODY
Sometimes it’s necessary to listen to some Post-Punk, and you cannot do wrong with Shopping’s The Official Body. This record is angular beyond belief, and offers some of the most original instrumentals around, especially if you’re into guitars that sound like the intro to South Park.
FIVE: NICA – BRUISED
Hands down, the most beautiful album of 2018. Nica’s debut is filled with so much emotion that it makes it almost hard to recommend, but I wouldn’t want to not let you in on this experience. Nica has thrown all of her life experiences, highs and lows into this release and produced something that encapsulates it in a way that makes you feel it too. It’s gorgeously crafted, and filled with glorious anthems that seem to soar into the atmosphere.
FOUR: SOCCER MOMMY – CLEAN
The best singer-songwriter record of the year. Soccer Mommy’s second album is a heartfelt journey into a world that’s filled with self-deprecating lyricism, open and honest statements and a sound that celebrates the pain of Grunge. Clean is filled with music that’s anything but, and can surprise you with a filthy bassline or a curse word throughout. It’s badass.
THREE: IDLES – JOY AS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE.
Just a mere year passed since IDLES burst onto the scene before they followed it up with Joy as an Act of Resistance. It strives to tackle the stigma of masculinity and despite all of it’s brutality, it actually succeeds at being one of the most upbeat records of the year. Don’t get me wrong, everything about it is disgusting, but IDLES do a wonderful job at combining the filth with song topics and lyricism that simply wish for everyone to get along and feel good about themselves.
SECOND: PARQUET COURTS – WIDE AWAKE!
From the second those chords hit on ‘Total Football’, you know Parquet Courts are going to deliver something wonderful. Wide Awake! Is an album that opens the eyes to numerous industries while also taking shots at political and societal norms, and does it in a way that doesn’t seem too heavy. The band delivers some of their best riffs and grooves on this record, and it certainly helps to have a single as joyous and hip-shakingly good as ‘Wide Awake’ on there too.
NUMBER ONE: DAUGHTERS – YOU WON’T GET WHAT YOU WANT
After seven years away from the scene, Daughters returned with something that not only reminded us of their sound but also brought forth that they’re never going to leave us alone. You Won’t Get What You Want is a record that doesn’t care to make you feel good, it’s determined to get into the mind and warp it in a way that won’t be the same once it’s done with it.
Throwing their trait of keeping things concise aside, Daughters instead opted to bring a new sound which converted their previously hasty material into drawn out expeditions that drone into the night. Frantic guitars combine with battered drum patterns to construct a record that’s an absolute behemoth, downright terrifying and absolutely in need of taking the top spot on our list.
And that’s it! List Week has come to a close and so has 2018 for Sounds Good. We’re gonna take a little break to fully enjoy pigs in blankets at Christmas and weeping into a bottle of Lambrini on NYE, but will return in 2019 with a brand new look and a new gusto to do all this blogging lark once again. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and good music, good vibes, always.