It’s been a while, I hope this finds you all well. My last While We’re Waiting was December 18, 2018. So yeah, it’s been almost a month. With Christmas and New Year falling on Tuesdays, I didn’t have anything for those. Then last week, I wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t able to get anything done. So here we are, a month later and I’m back in the hot seat.
There are so many sports topics to discuss, too. The Browns’ coaching hires, the Cavs’ woes, the Indians’ lack of doing…well…anything, Ohio State’s coaching transition. There’s no shortage of sports material, yet I’m going to talk about music today.
Long-time readers may know how much music means to me. Some may remember I used to do a weekly new music roundup on Tuesdays. I’ve since set a lot of that to the side to allow this space to focus more on sports. But I still love doing the annual roundup of my favorite music of the year. And with the holidays and such, I haven’t had a chance to do it until now. Next week I’ll return to sports if you can bear with me just this one week.
A reminder of my methodology. Throughout the year as I listen to new albums, I keep a running tally of what I’m listening to. Then, at the end of the year, I go through the list and pare it down to only the albums that left some kind of impression on me. Then, I go through the list one at a time and place them in their proper spot on the list. I keep it simple and tend to go with my gut feeling. I start at the top. Do I like this album better than my current number one? If so, it becomes the new number one. If not, I then compare it to the current number two. Eventually, each album finds its proper slot.
Also, as a disclaimer, I do not claim these to be the objective best albums of the year. Rather, this is just my personal list of my favorite music of the year.
This year, I made a focused effort to listen to fewer albums. I’m not saying I listened to less music, just fewer albums. I was inspired by an internal conversation with Mike Hattery, and I wanted to try to really just allow myself to live in my favorite albums more often and spend less time chasing diamonds in the rough. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve discovered so many great artists and albums that way. But to find the good, I also have to listen to a lot of really bad music as well.
This was definitely the year of hip-hop for me. I generally prefer rock music to rap, but there were so many quality rap albums released this year and I spent more time listening to it than in previous years for sure. But my top five is still filled with mostly old favorites of mine, which isn’t terribly surprising.
So without further ado, here are my favorite albums of 2018!
46. Post Malone – beerbongs & bentleys
45. Jeff Rosentstock – POST-
44. Bat Fangs – Bat Fangs
43. Soccer Mommy – Clean
42. Tribulation – Down Below
41. The Men – Drift
40. The Soft Moon – Criminal
39. A Perfect Circle – Eat the Elephant
38. Black Panther Soundtrack
37. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
36. Senses Fail – If There Is Light, It Will Find You
35. The Carters – Everything Is Love
34. Mount Eerie – Now Only
33. Mitski – Be The Cowboy
32. Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs
31. War On Women – Capture The Flag
30. Nothing – Dance on the Blacktop
29. Nicki Minaj – Queen
28. A$AP Rocky – TESTING
27. Sleep – The Sciences
26. Primal Rite – Dirge of Escapism
25. The Armed – Only Love
24. Drake – Scorpion
23. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts
22. J Mascis – Elastic Days
21. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
20. Turnstile – Time & Space
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for anything that calls back to 80s hardcore punk. In a year in which I didn’t find a lot of new punk albums that really resonated with me, I spent a lot of time listening to this one.
19. Nas – NASIR
Kanye West was a busy man in 2018, producing a handful of excellent albums, including this one. While it may not stand up to peak Nas, I still really enjoyed this one.
18. Sandrider – Armada
Sandrider frontman John Weisnewski actually has a day job. He works for Bungie (creators of Halo and Destiny franchises) as a sandbox designer by day and then makes kick-ass sludge metal at night. You can hear the Seattle influence for sure, but Sandrider does so while still sounding fresh and contemporary.
17. Pusha T – Daytona
Another Kanye-produced album, and the one that the general consensus probably considered the best of all the Kanye-produced albums this year.
16. Vince Staples – FM!
Any time Vince Staples releases new music, I’m going to pay attention to it. FM! was a bit of a surprise album released out of nowhere.
15. Typhoon – Offerings
One of the first albums of 2018 that I listened to heavily on repeat.
14. No Age – Snares Like A Haircut
Mixing elements of lo-fi, shoegaze, and punk, this album was an absolute return to form for No Age.
13. Say Sue Me – Where We Were Together
This band, which comes from South Korea, delivers incredibly catchy hooks wrapped in the shiny veneer of surf rock.
12. Nine Inch Nails – Bad Witch
Trent Reznor promised a new NIN album and he delivered with Bad Witch. Short enough to be an EP, but Reznor insists it’s an LP, so it’s on my list. Regardless of classification, the songs on this album are excellent.
11. Weakened Friends – Common Blah
Probably the last album I discovered in 2018 (thanks to Craig Lyndall), this album reminds me so much of the feeling I got when listening to Sleater-Kinney. I know, it’s so lazy to compare bands with female singers, but that’s just who this reminds me of.
10. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog
Perhaps the most surprising album on this list for me, personally. I kind of assumed Alice In Chains had flamed out. Their previous album was probably the first Jerry Cantrell album that I just didn’t love. But this album has elements of everything Alice In Chains does best.
9. Brockhampton – iridescence
This group likes to refer to themselves as a boy band. Of course, they sound nothing like your traditional boy band. Instead, it’s a collection of ultra-creative artists putting their own twist on hip-hop.
8. Kanye West – ye
It’s been a busy and controversial year for Kanye. No matter what, though, any time Kanye releases a new album, the music world stops and listens. It seems like the common consensus is that this album was a miss for Kanye. For myself, though, it was the rap album I listened to the most. I spent all summer with this pretty much just on repeat. For whatever reason, I found this Kanye to be more personally relatable than most.
7. Big Ups – Two Parts Together
Big Ups have long been one of my favorite punk bands of all time. In what could be their farewell album, they deliver yet another collection of songs that take you on a journey through all the starts and stops.
6. Titus Andronicus – A Productive Cough
Say what you will about Titus frontman Patrick Stickles, but he’s never one to rest on his laurels. While some fans would probably love him to make The Monitor over and over again, he instead continues to go in his own direction. This time, he strips away all the loud, punk stompers and instead gave us a beautiful album of sharp ballads.
5. Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning
You know my list is top-heavy when these Cleveland natives release an album and it’s “only” number five on my list. Make no mistake, if you like Cloud Nothings, you probably loved this album. While it may not be exactly new, it’s simply Dyland Baldi and crew doing what they do best.
4. Slothrust – The Pact
These Boston natives make a form of music that I find incredibly difficult to describe. I’m not alone. Googling them to see how others describe their sound and you find the same issue I have. The music so all-encompassing that to call it any one thing isn’t fair. They are capable of flat-out rocking, going weird with trippy experiments, and delivering some of the most beautiful but powerful ballads imaginable. In fact, this will be the only album I share two songs from, as I feel it’s impossible to share just one as representative of what this band is capable of. This album just blew me away.
3. Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams
A simply brilliant double-album from this incredible Toronto band. There’s always a sense of creative tension with Fucked Up’s music, and frontman Damian Abraham has said that this album was sort of his way of stepping back and feeling like the band doesn’t need him to be great. I would strongly disagree, but regardless, this album sees the band at it’s most focused, musically, and delivers something that feels like arguably their best album yet.
2. Iceage – Beyondless
Speaking of bands that transcend labels and descriptions. This Denmark-based punk band first burst onto the indie scene in 2011 with their debut, New Brigade. I’ll admit, I didn’t really get it. It felt like punk, but it was so deconstructed in a way that I couldn’t wrap my head around. It wasn’t until they released You’re Nothing in 2013 that I started to get them. And just when I thought I got them, they put out Plowing Into The Field of Love, an album that sounded nothing like what came before. This band continues to push boundaries, innovate, and experiment in ways that punk bands don’t really do. Hell, I don’t even know if what they’re making is even considered punk anymore. They are a band unto themselves, and this album is their finest yet.
1. Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
There was simply no other choice for me at number one. There is nothing on this planet quite like Deafheaven. People are often prone to hyperbole when talking about this band because, well, how else to explain what is going on with their music? They don’t create songs, they create sonic journeys (See? I told you….hyperbole) that blend myriad styles, sounds, and influences. At their core, I suppose they are a black metal band, but they often have more in common with Smashing Pumpkins or Slowdive than Venom or Mayhem. I’m not convinced that this isn’t the greatest band on the planet right now.
There you have it, that’s the list of my favorite music of 2018. I’d love to hear from you guys in the comments. What was the music you were listening to the most over the past year? Let me know and I’ll be sure to check out any suggestions you guys have.