Another year of music and another super late album’s of the year list. I decided to take away the actual ranking of the albums (because I guess that’s not cool to do). Hopefully you can find some music on this list that you didn’t discover in 2018.
Best Albums of The Year In 2018
SiR – November
I have to admit, this album is new to me. However, I’ve checked it out as it made the list for B.G.M. album of the year. Now I feel sad that I didn’t listen to it earlier in the year. November is a beautiful old school R&B/Jazz/Blues/Rap album, one that I would add with the works of Kendrick Lamar and D’Angelo & The Vanguard as examples of how healthy R&B/Rap currently sounds. If (like myself) have missed this album during the year, you need to change this now – Eddie Carter
I have to admit, November may very well have been an album that I would have easily dismissed at first listen. With the exception of the track “D’Evils” there wasn’t anything else about this album that beckoned my ear. But the amazing earworm that is the hook of “D’Evils” sucked me in. Every time I reset the track, I’d let a little more of the album play, and before I knew it, the entirety of November was on repeat and a mainstay in my favorites for the year. This record is great, and a solid listen all the way through. It’s different, smooth, jazzy, spacey and a perfect summer album. Another huge album for TDE. – Isaac Atencio
“One spliff a day’ll keep the evil away” – Jon
King Buffalo – Longing to be The Mountain / Repeater
Having only heard Repeater earlier in the year (a fine EP, I must say), I must admit that I missed Longing to be The Mountain. However, I’ve have made up for that and by Odin, it’s a fine record. If you’re looking for epic Blues/Rock/Solos and songs that you can submerge yourself into, King Buffalo are happy to provide them. All hail the kings! – Eddie Carter
A true story… Earlier this year, Jon told me to get Repeater and give it a listen. I added it to my library and sat on it for a couple weeks. I was headed to his house to hang out and had the not so brilliant idea of getting a wee bit baked before leaving. I threw it on for the drive and HOLY SHIT, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the journey that ensued. The initial track felt like it lasted an hour (actual time about 13 min). All I have to say is that King Buffalo rules. Both Repeater and Longing to be The Mountain are standout albums of 2018. Smoke em if you got em, and let these records swallow you whole. – Isaac Atencio
Pusha T – Daytona
The first of Kanye West’s maligned “Wyoming Sessions” albums, and since it was the first, perhaps it was the one he was able to dedicate the most time to; Daytona is the most cohesive sounding, and least messy of the bunch. What could be considered a real follow up to Pusha T’s 2013 My Name is My Name (I don’t count the odds and ends collection Darkest Before Dawn as a true follow up), Daytona found Push scrapping any previously recorded material in favor of West’s ‘five albums in five weeks’ publicity stunt.
The beats are, more or less, invigorating- from the unrelenting skittering of “If You Know You Know,” to the ominous shadows of the album’s closing track, “Infrared,” West, when he puts his mind to it, is still a marvel behind the boards.
Pusha, despite the fact that he was busy campaigning for Hillary Clinton in 2016, still raps about what he knows, or at least, what he knew: moving weight. But he does so with such an effortless swagger and charm that, whether it’s fact or fiction or a blend of both, you get pulled into his narrative.
Bonus points to Push for his hard work this year completely bodying Drake – a beef that was reignited on this very album; however, Push loses some points for his cavalier approach to the Me Too Movement on “Hard Piano.” That, as well as Kanye’s MAGA-inspired verse on “What Would Meek Do?” are not going to age well at all. – Kevin Krein
Freddie Gibbs – Freddie
This was a great year for Hip-hop, and Freddie was a real stand out for me. Freddie Gibbs really did some great things in 2018 and this solo record was ton of fun. I think that Freddie’s voice is one of my favorite voices from any emcee out there today. P.S. Did you see the infomercial promoting this album? – Isaac Atencio
“You Better Clean Them Sheets” Haha! Classic. This album hits so hard and is so solid.- Jon
La Luz – Floating Features
Floating Features was my number 1 pick for the year. I played the shit out of this record. It was my summer record, my all around listen record really. I played it at the pool, the lake, at work, in the background while I read. And boy-howdy do these women know how to blow your face off live. I’d say that seeing them in concert this year was also one of my biggest music highlights. They have taken surf/garage and really made it their own. Floating Features is haunting, psyche fueled glory. – Isaac Atencio
Wrong – Feel Great
Flex!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tight, mean, and spot on noise-rock. So good! – Jon
Failure – In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind
In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind is easily the strangest yet most satisfying album from Failure. Its aggressive, horrifying, and heartbreaking without coming off as pretentious or heavy-handed. That’s a remarkable feat in the day and age of artists using their art as a platform for projected therapy or a call to arms. I really didn’t know what to expect with In The Future Your Body Will Be The Furthest Thing From Your Mind. But what I got is another career defining album from a band who is always 20 years ahead of the listener. – Aaron Cooper
Kikagaku Moyo – Masana Temples
Years ago Kikagaku Moyo started out busking in Tokyo. Fast forward to 2018 and their footprint in the world of psychedelic rock has been firmly planted. With various festival appearances, a wonderful in studio performance at KEXP and the release of Masana Temples they have become a must see/hear band. Masana Temples is a perfect record to pop some quality headphones on and travel dimensions with. On the other hand it is definitely a room enhancer. Have company over? Drop the needle on this beauty and let the positive vibes permeate you environment. – Matt Jamison
HEADS. – Collider
I love that all of my favorite noise-rock albums are making the list this year because I didn’t let anyone fuck with Isaac and I’s choices. Haha! Moody, great tones, and attention to detail. Great album.
Weedpecker – III
This pick of mine is Jasper’s fault. He covered Weedpecker early in the year and I feel in love some smooth and technical psych rock that just owns. My only problem is that the snare seems super quite on like ever copy I have of this album. Anyone else have this experience? – Jon
Holy Wave – Adult Fear
Again another on of my picks that probably would have been axed in other years. Holy Wave I guess have been around for awhile and are on some legendary label. I don’t know. What I do know is that this is some really cool and inventive slackery lo-fi psychy stuff. – Jon
Ravyn Lanae – Crush EP
This EP is so damned good. Funky, soulful and fresh. Ravyn Lanae is one of my new favorite artists and is gonna be one I have my on for some time to come. Crush was phenomenal and “Sticky” is probably my favorite single of the year. Give it a listen if you haven’t already. – Isaac Atencio
I hate and love Isaac for showing me “Sticky cause it has been in my head since I first heard it. Damn You! – Jon
The Breeders – All Nerve
When it comes to legendary status, The Breeders have earned that title and then some. All Nerve is their first album in ten years since Mountain Battles, perhaps more important than in terms of history, it’s the first album to be recorded by the Last Splash line-up in twenty-five years. In those terms, it’s a historic release for the Generation ‘X’ crowd.
Personally, it’s an album which starts off stronger than it starts. From “Nervous Mary” to “MetaGoth” is spot on, those four tracks could have been released as an EP and it would have ruled my year. After that, it loses focus for me and drifts without an aim or goal. It’s not a bad record, but it felt a lil’ disappointing by the end of it. But that’s just my opinion, could someone write something positive about this one to counterbalance my whining? – Eddie Carter
This record is good Eddie. Shooooosh it! – Jon
Kali Uchis – Isolation
I like it. Pop R&B stuff with mixed elements of other genres. Real chill with enough curve-balls to keep you engaged. – Jon
Sumac – Love in Shadow
It’s pretty much mandatory that any Aaron Turner-inspired effort will land in the top ten of a Bearded Gentlemen Music’s best-of list. However, for my pesos, Love in Shadow represents the most interesting work Turner has churned out in years. Perhaps due to the influence of his collaboration last year with Japanese improvisational noise meister Keiji Haino or the scrapping of their initial stab at the album to significantly air out its compositions, this recording feels fresh and influential.
Albeit long-ish, Love in Shadow’s four tunes don’t meander but intentionally ebb and flow from fascinating improv to austere arrangements. The best illustration of this effect is the raucous jamming sequenced through the second track “Attis’ Blade,” which faultlessly transitions to the seven-minute, gloriously constructed bass opus that opens the song “Arcing Silver” (a beginning that lovingly recalls some of the post-metal magic Isis consistently delivered). Given releases like Love in Shadow, Sleep’s revival album The Sciences, YOB’s Our Raw Heart, and a handful of others, 2018 was an exciting year for heavy music. – Nate Jones
The Internet – Hive Mind
This is some good stuff. – Aaron Cooper
The video below says everything I want to say about The Internet. Just warm fuzziez for days. – Jon
Freddie Gibbs, Curren$y, The Alchemist – Fetti
Another incredible effort from Freddie Gibbs, alongside Curren$y and The Alchemist. This album is short and sweet. From first listen, it hasn’t left my current standard rotation. – Isaac Atencio
Noname – Room25
Have you been sleeping on Noname? Time to remedy that. This woman may be one of the most powerful rappers out there today. Her cadence is impeccable and her messages are clear and concise. Noname’s experience in slam poetry and and insane timing really pair well with the lo-fi jazzy, minimalistic rhythm driven beats. Primarily drums, bass, and keys. With a few flourishes here and there. – Isaac Atencio
Mom Jeans. – Puppy Love
I love this band. As much as I hate to admit it sometimes, I really just need some sappy, heartfelt emo-y ass music in my life. Mom Jeans. fills that void and more for me. I was hooked on these guys when I first heard their stellar first record Best Buds, and Puppy Love is a perfect companion to it. – Isaac Atencio
Jay Rock – Redemption
I know we’re talking albums here, but I real quick want to talk about the big single. “WIN” was co-opted in a thousand different ways by a thousand different corporate entities, and I’m sure Mr. Rock was compensated handsomely for that. But something was lost in the version played by, for instance, ESPN during college football telecasts, and it’s this: the album version of “WIN” features some of the most delightful, bantering cursing in the history of recorded music. It is gleeful, it is pointed, it is filthy: it is terrific. By the time he says “I’m glad y’all gon’ die,” your smile hurts. Blast that shit—the real shit, now—and raise a glass to the king. – JP Gorman
The first four tracks on Redemption are absolute hip-hop brilliance and the opening track “The Bloodiest” has one the best lyrical runs I have ever heard. – Jon
Hinds – I Don’t Run
I love Hinds and I’ve never seen them live, but the videos I have seen you can tell that these four genuinely love the music that they make together and they seem to genuinely love each other too. Really great lo-fi garage type stuff with a punk flair. – Jon
Vince Staples – FM!
Only Vince Staples would release a summer album in November, and only Vince Staples’ summer album would be so centered on death. Staples continues to subvert expectations, as he mixes tales of gritty gang life on the streets of Long Beach with bouncy, fun production from the super hot producer Kenny Beats. I was a little wary of this album being framed as a radio show, but it actually works really well!
The corniness of the radio show hosts plays well with the sunnier production, and lends itself to some funny moments. Plus, there are guest appearances from E-40, Tyga, Earl Sweatshirt, and Ty Dolla $ign. I’m not super into the trend of super short rap albums this year (this one’s barely 22 minutes long), but in this case it’s mostly because I just want more Vince Staples. – Ricky Vigil
Tomberlin – At Weddings
This LP is the re-release of 2017’s self-published album of the same name, this time under Saddle Creek Records and with additional tracks — and was produced, recorded, and mixed by Owen Pallett. My best friend called her sound that of “mermaid music” the other year as a joke — but I like to think that it’s just as magical as the real thing would be.
Tomberlin is one of those artists who I hold close to my heart in a way I rarely do with people. At times the songs on this album has seem more “me” than well, me. They’ve oriented me back between my ears and down toward the heart in times of emotional turmoil, with Sarah Beth Tomberlin’s intense lyrical honesty and gentle, yet deep, instrumental compositions. A heavily acoustic experience, Tomberlin incorporates guitar and piano with more modern sonic inventions for a gorgeous debut at the intersections of singer-songwriter, indie and folk. – Kelsey Simpkins
Anderson Paak – Oxnard
“Cheers” featuring Q-Tip is top 3 tracks of the year, so fucking good. Anderson Paak is an incredible musician and a great vocalist/rapper. Oxnard is a great step forward for this dude. – Isaac Atencio
Leon Bridges – Good Thing
This might be the first album to win a Grammy in the R&B category to appear on any Bearded Gentlemen Music top-whatever list. In any case, Leon Bridges latest effort is silky smooth but offers just enough edge and variety to make it a worthy presence on the tardiest “best-of” list of 2018. Good Thing is not exclusively an R&B record but has moments of contemporary jazz (the final stanza of “Bad Bad News”) and exhilarating instances of pop bliss (the acoustic folkiness of “Beyond,” the retro-funky “If It Feels Good Then It Must Be,” and a little touch of disco in “You Don’t Know” represent my personal standouts). I confess that any album that gets lost in the 1970s as convincingly as Good Thing will always earn huge kudos from me. – Nate Jones
I really love that this album was all over the map in terms of it’s soundscape and identity. Leon Bridges found success in his initial LP, Coming Home, playing his version of the soul and motown style that inspired him. Instead of choosing to stay on the proven path, Bridges used this opportunity to explore all the different types of R&B that has inspired him over time. Some of it really works, and some not so much. There are a few track on this album that are no means bad, but I would probably skip over while listening. But there is truly some solid gold on Good Thing. I would really love to hear Leon Bridges run with a couple soundscapes that he has played with on this record, especially the Jazz heavy track “Bad Bad News”. Such a smooth, timeless track. – Isaac Atencio
boygenius – boygenius
My friend Ted recently quipped, “I have what seems to be a permanent compulsion to listen to boygenius.” Same, Ted. Same. I’m a fan of all the insanely talented women in this supergroup, and when they get together to collaborate and harmonize on these six beautiful songs… I just completely lose my shit. Listen to it. Now. I await your thank-you note. – Amie Taylor
YOB – Our Raw Heart
This year, I’ve mostly been about Doom and Blackgaze albums, with the odd dash of Americana and Indie. But one album stood head and shoulders above everything else that was release in 2018. Our Raw Heart is a heavy experience, a challenging album from a legendary band. In my article for this album (linked here), I was spoke about how this album evoked a spiritual experience in my soul. That initial moment when I started to listen to this album, it hasn’t fade. Even as the year draws to an end, it gives me chills down my spine. It’s not an easy album to listen to, but it’s an essential album to absorb and reflect on. When I look back on 2019, I will look back on YOB and know they released a fantastic record. – Eddie Carter
Dream Wife – Dream Wife
A tour de force in Riot Grrrl attitude emboldened by a pop sensibility that could make even the most chauvinistic arsehole shake his booty and grab a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale. Cool, sassy and vital, Dream Wife are the most essential new band of 2018. – Steve Wheeler
Great Falls – A Sense of Rest
Great Falls have really outdone themselves with A Sense Of Rest. The Seattle trio has been the premier live music experience for years. Known for an abrasive onslaught on the senses that will not only sonically brutalize you but if you aren’t careful you could get a bass guitar or guitarist to the nose. The new record was able to bottle this energy up for safe in-home consumption. My personal favorite song of the year is the 14 minute epic “We Speak In Lowercase”. Just magnificent. Two thumbs up. 10 stars. 100%. GET IT! – Matt Jamison
Jeff Rosenstock – POST-
Ah, Jeff. The beautiful and crazy Mr. Rosenstock. I’m so chuffed Post made it to the B.G.M. list as it was through Bearded Gentlemen Music that I first heard his work. This fast paced record never rests, it keeps bouncing like a kid full of candy who needs a time out. You cannot help but end the album with a massive grin on your face. How he had the time to also release another album with Antarctigo Vespucci is beyond me. The man is a legend and POST- is a worthy addition to that legacy. – Eddie Carter
Of course you’re angry. We all are, about one thing or another. But that anger needs focus, which seems the entire point of POST-. In song after song of rollicking and tuneful and oftentimes hilarious rock, Rosenstock goes beneath the surface of the mundane to talk, or better yet think, about why it is we’re so upset. There’s more than enough bullshit going on right now to make anyone’s anger righteous on its face, but with a little more effort we can figure out who, and what, exactly, is making us feel this way. Do that, and the feeling becomes a weapon you can use, which it very much is for Rosenstock here. – JP Gorman
I love Jeff Rosenstock and will probably never be able to objectively talk about his music, but POST- is my new favorite thing he has ever released. His songwriting has never been tighter, and he’s gotten so good and boiling down giant themes into personal narratives. You can throw around punk rock slogans all over the place, but talking about how the horrible shittiness of the world makes you personally feel worthless is a totally different thing. Thanks, Jeff! – Ricky Vigil
Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
After 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit record, Barnett found herself as somewhat of a critical darling. But instead of falling victim to the ‘bigger is better’ mentality on her follow-up, Tell Me How You Really Feel is an exercise in introverted wit. One minute Barnett is directly calling out internet trolls and the next she’s baring her soul with meticulous detail. Sometimes within the same song!
Sonically speaking, Tell Me How You Really Feel proves Barnett doesn’t fit in the stereotypical singer/songwriter mold most publications seem to put women in. From start to finish, this is a guitar album. Barnett rips through garage rock verses and power pop hooks with a distinctive guitar style not found on many of the year’s top albums. After seeing her perform at 2018’s Pitchfork Music Festival, I’m convinced the future of rock n’ roll belongs to women and Barnett is among the commanding officers. – Aaron Cooper
During a very dark period of what was a very difficult year for me personally, this record, and the song “Charity” in particular, helped me get through some shit, in ways large and small, important and silly, immeasurable and obvious. There are as many different reasons for loving music as there are people on this planet, but I can’t think of another one that matters as much, and so for this record, and for that song, and for both landing when they did, I’ll be forever grateful to, and for, Courtney Barnett. – JP Gorman
What they said. – Eddie Carter
Neko Case – Hell-On
The first Neko Case song I ever heard was “Set Out Running.” I was going through a divorce at the time, and the wrenching combination of her voice and the lyrics stopped me dead in my tracks. I remember thinking, “This woman understands heartbreak and pain, and how to make it beautiful.” Truly gifted artists, in my opinion, know how to take what life gives them (whether it’s beauty or bullshit) and turn it into art. The kind of art that lets you know you’re not alone. I’m happy to say that Ms. Case is still doing just that, and her latest album is one of her best. FYI: “Bad Luck” will be stuck in your head for days. You’ve been warned. – Amie Taylor
Beach House – 7
People have called Beach House shoegaze for awhile now under the guise that some pieces of their songs can kinda sorta fill a niche among the genres finest moments. Heck, they even teased a complete transformation back on 2015’s Depression Cherry with “Sparks” being the lead single. All that’s to say that they finally released their shoegaze record of sorts with 7. – Daniel Carlson
Jeff Tweedy – Warm
Jeff Tweedy’s most Neil Young-ish record to date. Who couldn’t resist? – Haley Lewis
Jeff Tweedy’s latest solo record feels like the start of something new for him, in much the same way as Wilco’s 1994 breakthrough Being There. On WARM, Tweedy has written (or at any rate released) some of his best songs in years, and he did fun things with their arrangements and sound that feel different than what’s come before. Whatever that says about Wilco’s future as a relevant contemporary musical force remains to be seen, but with this record Tweedy showed us he’ll keep making art we can believe in regardless, which was very good news in a year severely lacking it. – JP Gorman
Julia Holter – Aviary
Aviary was a late release in 2018, where it was sort of lost on the rush before Christmas and the End of Year for me, but not this one thankfully. At first, I was a little confused by Aviary, as it felt as if it was being too arty, as if it was trying to exist by being on the raggedy edge of music and noise. However, my initial reaction was wrong, and I’m glad I gave this another chance. This is an album which defies convention and form, it’s free-form and swirling, with more than a hint of chaos that I’ve not heard in years. If Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Frank Zappa had have collaborated on an album, it would sound a little like this. – Eddie Carter
Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning
One of my favorite things about Life Without A Sound was the underlying darkness behind the pop-punk melodies. With the follow-up Last Building Burning, there’s underlying melody within an otherwise ugly affair. If Life Without A Sound was a garageband growing up and patting you on the back, Last Building Burning is a kick to the teeth and a blood-curdling scream in your ear.
Recorded in just a little over a week, Cloud Nothings waste no time with building tension. In fact, the only track to build upon anything is the 11 minute opus “Dissolution”. But even that is more about harnessing raw energy than it is about experimentation.
Oddly enough, Last Building Burning manages to reveal a glimmer of hope every once in a while. “So Right So Clean” channels Husker Du and pre-label Superdrag in all the right ways letting us know the Cloud Nothings we know and love are still there but just a bit more morose than what we were expecting. – Aaron Cooper
Mitski – Be The Cowboy
I can’t believe you fucking people! This was my favorite fucking album of the year.
Mitski’s fifth full-length in her relatively short career finds her fully embracing the idea of being an ‘Artist’ with a capital A. Be The Cowboy is a song cycle about the idea of love; don’t get confused. It’s not an album of ‘love songs.’ These are songs about love: the anticipation, the yearning, and the regret.
No two songs on Be The Cowboy sound alike, as Mitski shuffles through bombastic, thundering tracks like the opener “Geyser,” slithering post-disco grooves on “Nobody,” rollicking Beatle-esque pop on “Me and My Husband,” or the pensive, skeletally arranged closing moment “Two Slow Dancers.”
Peppered with the addition of string and horn arrangements throughout, as well as fascinating instrumentation and evocative lyrics, Be The Cowboy shows the maturation in Mitski as a songwriter and performer, and it makes for one of the most compelling albums of 2018. – Kevin Krein
Be The Cowboy for me was a missed opportunity, and I’m not talking in terms of position here. Mitski is a talented lady, the songs are compelling, but they end when they’re starting to get interesting. Seriously, I love the music here, but every damn time I get the groove, it’s over. I’ll be following her career, but this could have been a massive album if the songs had time to stick around. – Eddie Carter
Earlier this year I found myself in an unfamiliar coffeeshop, and I accidentally ordered a 16 oz. iced coffee that cost nearly seven dollars, which we can all agree is an outrageous sum. I paid what I owed and was polite about it, and it was good, I suppose, but I’ll never go back there, if only because coffee, even iced, even flavored, should never under any circumstances cost that much money. Mitski wasn’t playing as this happened, but she should’ve been, as this music feels like the kind they play at places where the absolute worst people on Earth happily spend seven bucks on bean water with cream and sugar, for reasons they can’t quite explain, but also, really, simply: because they can. – JP Gorman
P.S. You can kinda tell how things were ranked as numbers were removed after blurbs were added. So yea. Anyway, hope you found some new tunes that you are stoked on. Here is to an amazing 2019 full of dope-dope jams!