Top Albums of 2018

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10. Pusha T

Daytona

All killer. No filler. Running just 21 minutes, Daytona is a concise, gritty chapter to add to the storied rapper’s career. At 41, Pusha has not lost any bite. Despite his problematic year, Kanye West is at the top of his production game on these seven tracks. This record features dense beats and Ye’s signature soul samplings. With snarling takedowns of other MCs, harrowing stories of cocaine dealings, and razor sharp wordplay, Pusha reaches for a new level of confidence and charisma.

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9. Sleep

The Sciences

With their first album in almost 20 years, the legendary stoner metal outfit has returned with a pummeling, blazed out set of material. Just like the canonized Dopesmoker, The Sciences is a nonstop onslaught of slow, immensely heavy riffs. Lyrically, the band shamelessly pays tribute to their favorite plant. The Sciences is an audacious and inspired effort that pleased metalheads in 2018.

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8. Sons of Kemet

Your Queen is a Reptile

Your Queen is a Reptile is a challenging and fierce combination of jazz and traditional African rhythms. With barreling percussion and pulsating Tuba lines, Sons of Kemet take an unconventional approach to their instrumentation. This record is as sonically adventurous as it is socially and politically furious with each track being named after an important woman in black history (Harriet Tubman, Ada Eastman, Mama Phipps Clark). Your Queen is a Reptile is the most original and exciting jazz album of the year.

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7. Kacey Musgraves

Golden Hour

Whether it’s disappointing grandma with her new nose ring on “Slow Burn” or anxiously checking her phone during a “Lonely Weekend”, Kacey takes the smallest moments and gives them weight, and she makes the listener care about them too. The appeal of her first two records was her charming wit and contentiously progressive lyrics. But in the wake of her recent marriage, Golden Hour is more direct in its observations. While keeping traditional country elements at bay, Musgraves ventures into elements of psychedelia, pop, and even disco. Golden Hour is a warm and unapologetically modern step forward for country music.

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6. Beach House

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On their latest studio album, Beach House retains their distinct dream pop sound in top form. But inspired by a tumultuous past couple of years, the band leans into a noticeably darker direction. Led by Victoria Legrand’s celestial voice and Alex Scaly’s soaring guitar hooks, Beach House excels at creating spacious, ethereal atmospheres . There is nothing here to disappoint hardcore Beach House fans and nothing new that isn’t bound to captivate newbies to the dream pop sound.

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5. Yves Tumor

Safe in the Hands of Love

Safe in the Hands of Love is a truly genre-agnostic affair. This album is being labeled as an “experimental” project, but that is only because there is no other slot to peg it in. Exploring elements of RnB, pop, noise, hip-hop, folk, and other sounds at will, Sean Bowie sounds liberated to make the music he wants to make. At no point does Safe in the Hands of Love come across as overly pretentious or indulgent. These are just well written and memorable songs crafted with full creative license. Yves Tumor demonstrates just how invigorating making music can be.

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4. Let’s Eat Grandma

I’m All Ears

Out of the UK, Let’s Eat Grandma is a teenage duo making music far beyond their years. With production help from premiere names such as SOPHIE and David Wrench, Let’s Eat Grandma blend one adventurous and futuristic sound after another. While maintaining memorable hooks and sticky songwriting, Let’s Eat Grandma’s songs are brimming with bubbling synths and playful arrangements. I’m All Ears is just a hell of a lot of fun and a sneak peak into the future of pop music.

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3. Deafheaven

Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Deafheaven are not the first band to combine elements of shoegaze and black metal. But since their breakthrough Sunbather in 2013, George Clarke and company has been proving why they are the best. Deafheaven hasn’t always been warmly welcome by the “trve” metal community due to their rebellious embrace of shoegaze, dream-pop, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor-esque post-rock. The thrill of a Deafheaven album is the way the band is capable of juxtaposing moments of serenity and beauty with the brutality of black metal. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is the most arresting and ambitious metal effort of 2018.

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2. Daughters

You Won’t Get What You Want

On their first studio album in eight years, Daughters unleash the most intense and terrifying release this year. Furiously blending noise rock, post-punk, and avant-garde, You Won’t Get What You Want traps the listener with an unsettling atmosphere from start to finish. Buried underneath thick, cacophonous walls of sound and feedback, this album is an absolutely claustrophobic and anxious listening experience. It’s music that not only thrills sonically, but physically as well. You Won’t Get What You Want is Daughters’ masterpiece.

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1. A.A.L. (Against All Logic)

2012-2017

Nicolaas Jaar has long established himself as one of electronic music’s most explorative and inventive producers. For the past few years, Jaar has been releasing experimental albums and rule bending singles. But on this latest project under the moniker A.A.L., Jaar puts out a collection of straightforward, club ready bangers that he has been sitting on over the past five years. Although released and marketed as a compilation, this album is impressively cohesive. While staying within the boundaries of a classic ‘90s inspired house sound, Jaar shows he can make dance music as good as anyone right now.

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Matt Marciniec