50 Favorite Albums of 2018


At the start of this year, I lived in Texas, and by its end, I had driven 4,000 miles to Alaska. On the political and global stage, the word continued to shift and turn just as dramatically and quickly, leaving me dizzy as this year ends. The one constant has been a compulsion toward music, listened to in all manners of states—geographically and of being. Every year I compile a list of favorite albums, mostly for myself to revisit the music I’ve enjoyed, but this year the exercise has been particularly therapeutic—a way of tracking the year in song since it has made so little sense elsewhere. Here are 50 albums from this year in a somewhat arbitrary order that I’ve personally enjoyed more than other albums released from this year and that you might too or might’ve already but might’ve forgotten about.

Click here for the accompanying Spotify playlist: Personal Favorites of 2018

(RIYL = Recommend If You Like…)

1. Mitski – Be the Cowboy

RIYL… saying, “I feel that,” after hearing a lyric that cuts you deep, over and over again

2. Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs

RIYL… descending through a poet’s clouded, troubled mental hellscape

3. Amen Dunes – Freedom

RIYL… cruising down city streets as the sun sets

4. Tirzah – Devotion

RIYL… holding a loved one on a blanket in a city park

5. Noname – Room 25

RIYL… staying up late listening to your smart friend regale you with stories and jokes

6. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

RIYL… metaphors for the love between marginalized peoples

7. Playboi Carti – Die Lit

Playboi Carti – Die Lit

RIYL… as the cover depicts, stage-diving into a mob of enthralled young people 

8. Boygenius – boygenius

RIYL… ugly crying in public

9. Beach House – 7

RIYL… existential black and white french movies

10. Travis Scott – Astroworld

RIYL… navigating the sprawling houston metroplex with a confident guide

11. Julia Holter – Aviary

RIYL… gazing up into the night sky, searching for meaning

12. U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited

RIYL… dimly lit, hazy rooms

13. Rosalía– El Mal Querer

RIYL… losing yourself in dramatic fashion

14. Milo – budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies

RIYL… densely crafted punchlines that complicate the rapper ethos

15. Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog

RIYL… gathering around a storyteller in the city center

16. Ariana Grande – sweetener

RIYL… mothafuckin’ artistry

17. Saba – CARE FOR ME

RIYL… the crisis of mortality you enter after losing a loved one

18. Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour

RIYL… flat Texas countryside and safe space dive bars

19. Sheck Wes – MUDBOY

RIYL… BALLIN’ LIKE A MUTHAFUCKIN’ PRO (punk is dead. long live the new punks.)   

20. Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, the Faster I Run

RIYL… a band constantly perfecting its sound

21. Pusha T – Daytona

RIYL… bars that got Drake shook

22. The Internet – Hive Mind

RIYL… tipsy swiping on tinder

23. Half Waif – Lavender

RIYL… grabbing a stranger on the dancefloor and realizing its someone you love

24. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy

RIYL… Cardi B

25. Tierra Whack – Whack World

RIYL… you got just watch this one if you haven’t seen it, and if you have, watch it again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOTebhPy04g

26. Lucy Dacus – Historian

RIYL… songs about loss that don’t diminish your faith in humanity

27. Snail Mail – Lush

RIYL… that exhilarating but anxiety-inducing period after graduating

28. Robyn – Honey

Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

RIYL… sugar-coated dance anthems

29. Kamasi Washingtion – Heaven and Earth

RIYL… metaphysical jazz

30. Anderson Paak – Oxnard

RIYL… viewing the world through rose-tinted shades

31. Iceage – Beyondless

RIYL… a post-punk, gothic fireworks display

32. Grouper – Grid of Points

RIYL… having your physical essence dissolve into static

33. Leikeli47 – Acrylic

RIYL… a modern, black matriarchy

34. Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt

RIYL… imagining a miniscule version of yourself inside black-and-white landscape portraits

35. Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain

RIYL… believing in yourself and the goodness of others

36. Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

RIYL… volleying between transcendent grace and consuming anger

37. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

RIYL… earnest introspection that sounds sarcastic

38. JID – Dicaprio 2

RIYL… thinking about what would happen if Busta Rhymes and Kendrick Lamar raised a son together

39. Ambrose Akinmusire – Origami Harvest

RIYL… complicating the lines between orchestral, jazz, and rap music

40. White Denim – Performance

RIYL… wanting to know how a song sounds live

41. Superorganism – Superorganism

RIYL… imagining social media as pop musical

42. Jean Grae and Quelle Chris – Everything’s Fine

RIYL… cleverly masking your pain with wry comedy 

43. Vince Staples – FM!

RIYL… california summers, summer fun, wondering if you’ll make it to tomorrow

44. Thee Oh Sees – Smote Reverser

RIYL… music that fuckin’ rips

45. serpentwithfeet – soil

RIYL…  a self-actualizing dollhouse pagan ritual

46. Mick Jenkins – Pieces of a Man

RIYL… Gil Scott Heron in the trap

47. Open Mike Eagle – What Happens When I Try to Relax

RIYL… playing mental games with yourself to get through a party

48. Masaego – Lady Lady

RIYL… being seduced in a library

49. Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer

RIYL… Father John Misty as much Father John Misty likes Father John Misty

50. Joji – BALLADS 1

RIYL…  wondering what a young George Michael would’ve posted on soundcloud

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