End of The Year Review 2018

End of The Year Review 2018

Top Albums 2018.JPEG

“I need a fix, of a little Tenderness!”

Full Best of 2018 List on Spotify

I’m Wide Awake!!!! I said that I would never stop doing this as long as I can help it.  It is enjoyable and I love to write and dive deeper into music each year. People always ask where I hear some of the music and who influences me in my music listening.  I have now listened to many of these artists for several years and they will always be my favorites (Father John Misty, The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie, Black Thought).  I then try to stay on top of what is coming out while paying attention to some buzzing artists by reading Stereogum, Pitchfork, AV Club and watching Dead End Hip Hop and The Needle Drop on Youtube (Often at the same time. It turns out I can’t read and listen to other people talk about music densely. I do not recommend it).  I have also begun to really follow what labels are doing. Labels like Subpop, Matador, TDE, and Rhymesayers are so consistently interesting that I try to give those artists a chance. This year I added a new avenue for music exposure. My musical influences became a little more broad through my contact with Joe Riley’s Musically Meditated Podcast. I was a guest on the show a few times now and and was hooked each week listening to his suggestions and music reviews.  Kudos to people like Joe and Anthony Fantano who really are doing all of us a service by giving their well thought-of opinions. If you are interested in getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new; read, watch, and listen to something that will give you a constant rotation of new music.

With all of that said, 2018 was a great year for music but I specifically think that it was a great year for hip-hop. This was a great year for up and coming artists (Noname, Saba, JID, Denzel Curry as well as great projects for several veterans (Pusha T, Black Thought, Freddie Gibbs, Open Mike Eagle).  Hip-hop artists can still be creative and find new ways of doing a genre that seems to always be changing. My list this year is heavily influenced by hip-hop. Though it was a great year for hip-hop I was really impressed with how many albums I liked outside of that genre. There was a great return to form for bands like MGMT, Death Cab, and Beach House. I am proud that these veterans are still changing and improving. Hats off to them. It takes a lot to continue to do something you love and think, “What can we do to be better?” when you are still selling lots of records and touring successfully.  Many many artists rest and get lazy. This is not a list for those artists.

We often hear people who haven’t listened to a new artist since 1996 that, “Music ain’t what it used to be”. I agree, no one will make All Eyez On Me or the Blue Album again and those will always be great. But, we also have talented and groundbreaking artists who deserve your attention now. Give them a try and listen with an open mind.

Last year when I wrote this piece, we were trying to navigate a post-Trump election America. We still are.  It is still an odd time. It’s easy to think we are deeply divided. When, in fact, we are not. We all want to be loved and be happy.  People who matter all want progress and to have a chance to successfully love their wives and raise their sons. Those who don’t these positive things, we will leave them in the past.  The artists I want to highlight are pushing forward and are doing something new and positive. In music I love that there are artists that continue to challenge the norms of society and covet, even target, an active/progressive/intelligent listener.  These artists challenge the listener to enjoy the music as they are enjoying great poetry or wonderful storytelling. My list this year is heavy with albums that contain great lyrics. I love doing this list and enjoy every minute of it. I hope you all listen to something on this list you like while drinking a beer or glass of wine with people you love. I also urge you to be kinder to one another, always. Maybe, be kind, while having a beer, and listen to something on this list you like.


As always, please let me know your favorites for the year. I can’t hear everything.

Of what I’ve heard, here are my lists.

30 Best Albums of 2018

1.Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

wide awake

2. Saba – Care for Me


3. Noname – Room 25

room 25

4. Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer

father john misty

5. Black Thought – Streams of Thought Vol 1 & 2


6. MGMT – Little Dark Age


7. Big Red Machine – Big Red Machine

big red machine

8. Denzel Curry – TA13OO

denzel curry

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


10. Beach House – 7

beach house 7

11. U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited

us girls

12. Busdriver – electricity is on our side


13. Pusha T – DAYTONA


14. Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

kurt vile_bottle it in

15. Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino


16. Anderson Paak. – Oxnard


17. Yuno – Moodie


18. CZARFACE – Czarface Meets Metal Face

mf doom czarface

19. JID – DiCaprio 2


20. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

blood orange_negro swan

21. Death Cab For Cutie – Thank You For Today

death cab

22. The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl


23. Snail Mail – Lush


24. Curren$y/Freddie Gibbs – Fetti


25. Mitski – Be the Cowboy

be the cowboy

26. Cullen Omori – The Diet


27. JPEGMAFIA – Veteran


28. Hermit and the Recluse – Orpheus vs. the Sirens


29. Tierra Whack – Whack World

Tierra Whack_Whack World EP

30. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex and Food

food and sex

100 Best Songs of 2018

Full Best of List on Spotify

1.Parquet Courts – “Tenderness”

2. Noname – “Self”

3. Yuno – “No Going Back”

4. Blood Orange – “Saint”

5. Saba – “LIFE”

6. Parquet Courts – “Before the Water Gets Too High”

7. Beach House – “Lemon Glow”

8. Anderson Paak. – “Bubblin”

9. The Beths – “Future Me Hates Me”

10. U.S. Girls – “Rage of Plastics”

11. Arctic Monkeys – “Four Out of Five”

12. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Hunnybee”

13. Open Mike Eagle – “Relatable (peak OME)”

14. Parquet Courts – “Wide Awake”

15. Father John Misty – “Mr. Tillman”

16. Arctic Monkeys – “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”

17. Father John Misty – “Just Dumb Enough to Try”

18. Childish Gambino – “This Is America”

19. MGMT – “Me and Michael”

20. Father John Misty – “Hangout at the Gallows”

21. Pusha T – “The Games We Play”

22. Aesop Rock – “Klutz”

23. JID – “Slick Talk”

24. Kurt Vile – “One Trick Ponies”

25. Interpol – “The Rover”

26. Busdriver – “the year I became a mutherfuckin’ G” ft. Dntel & Lorde Fredd33

27. Soccer Mommy – “Your Dog”

28. Black Thought/9th Wonder – “9th vs. Thought”

29. Cullen Omori – “A Real You”

30. Yuno – “Fall In Love”

31. Chance the Rapper – “I Might Need Security”

32. Anderson Paak. – “6 Summers”


34. MGMT – “When You Die”

35. Noname – “Prayer Song”

36. The Voidz – “Leave It In My Dreams”

37. KIDS SEE GHOSTS – “Reborn”

38. MGMT – “Little Dark Age”

39. Death Cab for Cutie – “Autumn Love”

40. Big Red Machine – “I Won’t Run From It”

41. Denzel Curry – “BLACK BALLOONS/13LACK 13ALLOONZ” ft. Twelve’len/Goldlink

42. Arctic Monkeys – “Star Treatment”

43. U.S. Girls – “Velvet 4 Sale”

44. Parquet Courts – “Freebird II”

45. Big Red Machine – “Deep Green”

46. Denzel Curry – “SIRENS/Z1RENZ” ft. J.I.D.

47. Saba – “PROM/KING”

48. FETTI – Curren$y/Freddie Gibbs/Alchemist – “The Blow”

49. Tobe Nwigwe -”SPICE” ft. Spice Adams

50. Adrianne Lenker – “symbol”

51. Kurt Vile – “Loading Zones”

52. Snail Mail – “Pristine”

53. JPEGMAFIA – “1539 N. Calvert”

54. The Decemberists – “Severed”

55. Black Thought/9th Wonder – “Twofifteen”

56. Mitski – “Nobody”

57. Saba – “BUSY/SIRENS” ft. theMIND

58. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays”

59. The Decemberists – “Sucker’s Prayer”

60. Jay Rock – “Wow Freestyle” ft. Kendrick Lamar

61. Belle & Sebastian – “The Same Star”

62. Denzel Curry – “SUMO/ZUMO”


64. Freddie Gibbs – “Weight”

65. Hermit and the Recluse – “Fate”

66. Saba – “SMILE”

67. Open Mike Eagle – “Microfiche”

68. Cullen Omori – “Four Years”

69. Anderson Paak. – “Smile/Petty” ft. Sonyae Elise

70. Cat Power – “Woman” ft. Lana Del Rey

71. Saba – “LOGOUT” ft. Chance the Rapper

72. Kendrick Lamar ft. Ab-Soul,Anderson Paak., James Blake – “Bloody Waters”

73. Black Thought/Salaam Remi – “Fentanyl”

74. Amen Dunes – “Believe”

75. U.S. Girls – “M.A.H.”

76. Death Cab for Cutie – “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”

77. Kali Uchis – “After the Storm” ft. Tyler, The Creator and Bootsy Collins

78. JID – “Off Deez” ft. J.Cole

79. FETTI – Curren$y/Freddie Gibbs/Alchemist – “Location Remote”

80. Buddy – “Black” ft. A$AP Ferg

81. Busdriver – “tiny infinities” ft. Hemlock Ernst

82. Tobe Nwigwe – “JOCKIN”

83. Hermit and the Recluse – “Orpheus”

84. Roc Marciano – “Corniche” ft. Action Bronson

85. Blood Orange – “Charcoal Baby”

86. Beach House – “Drunk in LA”

87. The Decemberists – “Tripping Along”

88. Interpol – “If You Really Love Nothing”

89. Courtney Barnett – “Nameless,Faceless”

90. Earl Sweatshirt – “December 24”

91. Tierra Whack – “Flea Market”

92. Evidence – “To Make A Long Story Longer” ft. Jonwayne

93. The 1975 – “Love It If We Made It”

94. Superorganism – “Everybody Wants To Be Famous”

95. Tyler, The Creator – “Potato Salad” ft. A$AP Rocky

96. Noname – “Don’t Forget About Me”

97. Let’s Eat Grandma – “Hot Pink”

98. Dirty Projectors – “Break-Thru”

99. Jean Grae and Quelle Chris – “My Contributions to This Scam”

100. JPEGMAFIA – “Baby I’m Bleeding” ( Thanks to @florkleton for this suggestion)

Album of the Year 

Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

wide awake

My #1 Album of the Year comes from New York City post-punk band, Parquet Courts with their 6th studio album, Wide Awake! This album absolutely blew me away. I heard some of their work in the past but I had this album on repeat in every life situation for most of the year. From driving in my car happy by the events of the day to driving in my car frustrated by my day.  I listen to a lot of music in my car. This album is a mix of several genres and sounds and was produced by the always great, Danger Mouse. This album sounds like a high-energy 90s grunge band with a punk singer delivery on some songs and on others sounds like a funky street band walking through a Chicago street festival.  

I don’t know if I’ve listened to a band that blends both super fun and devastatingly serious lyrics as well as Parquet Courts.  This album is very political with depth. Social commentary is easy. Social commentary that makes you think about your own personal feelings about a subject and how you might want to change your life and actions, is very hard. This band pulls it off. I feel like I can quote Wide Awake! endlessly, but for the sake of your reading pleasure I will only highlight a few of my favorite lines.  The challenge to climate change deniers and the politicians who are willingly blind to the problem on “Before the Water Gets Too High” are some of the best lyrics I’ve heard in a long time.

Before the water gets too high

Add up the bribes you take

And know time can’t be bought

By the profits that you make

Before the water gets too high

To float the powers that be

Or is it someone else’s job

Until the rich are refugees?

Before the water gets too high

The lyrics on the absolutely stunning, “Tenderness” will make you want to grab your girlfriend/boyfriend/son/daughter/wife/husband/mother/father and hug them until they feel uncomfortable.  A song which starts with a fun dance piano riff that continues through the entire song. I imagine this song coming on and the listener dancing hard at first and then slowing down to a crawl where you eventually just grab a chair and the lyricbook.  I love it. Slow the hell down and smell the flowers. Enjoy the positive parts of your life. Quit staring at your phone! Love more. Touch more. Don’t be so judgemental. Don’t try to be perfect. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Always and often. (We are all guilty of these things. We can improve)

Well I can’t count how many times I’ve been outdone by nihilism

Joined the march that splits an open heart into a schism

I cower at the thought of other people’s expectations

And yet still hand over mine to them

All of the great lyrics on the album are still surrounded by wonderful music, enjoyable singing, and flow to the album that makes it one of my favorite albums in a very long time.  Wide Awake! Is brilliant and needed at a time where we all need to be entertained but also treated like intelligent humans who need to love each other a little more and solve our problems together, not apart. Please give this album a listen.  

Pleasant Surprises

MGMT – Little Dark Age — I was totally off of these guys because of their last several albums I didn’t like.
Yuno – Moodie — (Never heard of this artist signed to Sub-Pop. Super catchy EP with a lot of hope left for exciting future projects.

Tobe Nwigwe – THE ORIGINALS/MORE ORIGINALS — This guy sort of came out of nowhere for me. Great rapper and the visuals that come with this are great. Check him out.

Tierra Whack – Whack World — I am partially just fascinated by the concept of having an compiled of 1 minute songs. It works well. I don’t know if I love it or sort of hate it but I know it is interesting and creative.

Underrated/Overlooked Albums: Albums critics/people did not give enough love to.

Open Mike Eagle –  What Happens When I Try To Relax — Could be on this part of the list every year. Get acquainted. You will not regret it. Wrote this exact thing last year. Respect him and start adding him to your “Best Of” lists.

Busdriver – electricity is on our side — Busdriver continues to put our interesting projects that push the boundaries of hip-hop and alternative music. This is not for everyone, but I love it.

Big Red Machine – Big Red Machine — Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and Aaron Dressner from The National made a surprising and interesting album.

Albums and Artists that didn’t come out in 2018 that I listened to a lot:
Alex Cameron – Forced Witness (2017)
Damien Rice – O (2003)

Nick Drake (All albums and songs)

Bill Callahan (All albums and songs)

Elliott Smith (All albums and songs)

Live Shows I saw this Year

Vampire Weekend (The Metro)

Most Watched Live Performance Videos

Alex Cameron – Juan’s Basement

Tyler, The Creator: Tiny Desk

This is worth watching for the backup singers alone. I have never been more impressed by back-ups singers. They steal the show.

Saba: Tiny Desk

Parquet Courts Live @ Rough Trade

Albums I look forward to coming out in 2019

Malibu Ken (Aesop Rock and Tobacco) – Malibu Ken – Jan 18th

Czarface and Ghostface Killah – Czarface Meets Ghostface – Feb 15th

Lambchop – This (is what I wanted to tell you) – March 22nd

Alex Cameron – TBA

Danny Brown – TBA

Previous End Of Year Lists