Sounds of Twenty-Eighteen


2018 is coming to an end and it shaped up to be both the longest and shortest year we’ve yet to witness. Justin and I spent the year sending each other new releases, sneaking his camera into shows downtown, and watching Mac Demarco crowd surf through a dusty Phoenix alley. It’s been a wild and wonderful year, for ourselves and our soundtracks. We’re here to yet again bring you the officially unofficial list of our favorite albums this year. Click here to stream the full list on Spotify.

Justin

1. Khruangbin // Con Todo El Mundo

What is a Khruangbin you ask? The name translates to “airplane” in Thai, which is fitting to the universal sounds this Texas trio create. I’ve been following the band’s quick rise to stardom since I first caught their set at SXSW in 2015 and to no surprise, I clocked in more hours on Spotify listening to the group’s groovy psychedelic tunes more than any other artist this year. Their music is the perfect accompaniment to just about any passive activity you can think of — yoga, reading, cooking, a nice long walk on the beach. Every track is pleasant and at times danceable in a crunchy kind of way.


2. Blood Orange // Negro Swan

Negro Swan manages to be Dev Hynes most autobiographical and intimate Blood Orange album yet. Steeped in gospel, trap, and downtempo R&B, it’s like a private conversation between Hynes and his listeners. It’s richly produced, layering guitars, synths, and heartbreaking lyrics. A super engaging listen that is easy to get lost in. “Charcoal Baby” stands out as one of my favorite tracks of the year, but the album as a whole is best listened to front to back.


3. A.A.L. (Against All Logic) // 2012 – 2017

Imprinted on the record sleeves in big letters are the words ”IF YOU DON’T KNOW JACK ABOUT HOUSE, THEN YOU’LL LOVE THIS!” As sarcastic as that statement is, it’s 100% true. House Music is not a genre I typically seek out, but I took notice when electronic music producer Nicolas Jaar surprise released this album under the obscure alias, Against All Logic. 2012-2017 is a compilation of songs created during that period, previously unreleased but recognized by fans of his performances. What makes this album so unique is how stark of a contrast it has to the common perceptions of house: its songs are intricately layered, full of unrecognizable instruments, soul sampling, that make it such a joy to listen to.


4. Parquet Courts // Wide Awake!

Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts are the rock band we deserve in 2018 and for Wide Awake! they teamed up with Danger Mouse, arguably the best indie producer of the last two decades. These songs are a good blend of punk influences and indie rock — nothing too strong, but nothing too sweet either. Andrew Savage’s vocals are as strong as ever, and the bass lines are funky as hell. Just try to listen to the album’s title track without feeling something…it’s undeniable!


5. Pusha T // Daytona

A 2018 end of the year recap would not be complete without a mention of King Push. His beef with Drake captivated the rap world and had many people speculating his diss track “Story of Adidon” put an end to the Canadian superstar’s career. Although Daytona is a short seven-song album, it’s flawless and easily the best out of G.O.O.D. Music’s Seven Summer releases produced by Kanye West.

Lia

1. Amen Dunes // Freedom.

Earlier this year, GQ boldly stated that Damon McMahon released the best album of 2018. I’m delightfully compelled to agree. Amen Dunes caught my eye after browsing the FORM music festival set list, admittedly not knowing who they were before. I was taken aback at how instantly I was hooked inside McMahon’s soulful voice and blurry words. Collaborating with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Delicate Steve, you can feel how deeply personal this record is. Damon McMahon has been around the indie rock scene for longer than I’ve had my driver’s license, but I’m on board and I can’t wait to see where he takes me.


2. Cut Worms // Hollow Ground.

2018 was a solid year in music, especially since discovering Max Clarkes brain child Cut Worms. When I saw this band perform live at Valley Bar – I felt like a Beatles fan girl cheesin’ my way through their entire setlist. They’re a group of three old-school, talented musicians with a flare for beachy, garage rock. I played them for my Dad one lazy afternoon, and he was shocked to hear they weren’t a band from his high school days. They’re easy listening, fun as hell, and extremely talented.


3. Travis Scott // Astroworld.

What I’m most interested about with this album has actually very little to do with Travis Scott himself. He’s undoubtedly a visionary, but this album has so much greatness floating around it – with features from Tame Impala, John Mayer, Thundercat, and Frank Ocean. It’s like a really good movie you watch over and over again, and when you do – you notice little treats sprinkled throughout.


4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra // Sex & Food

UMO hasn’t put out a new album since 2015, so this one was huge for me. Their music makes me feel like I’m living in a kaleidoscope. Their style has always had an otherworldly psychedelic quality to it, and this one could be their dreamiest yet. I caught them live right after this album release, and you could tell their energy was unified. Hunnybee is my favorite track maybe of this year, about frontman Ruben Neilson missing his daughter on tour. Tug at my heartstrings, why dontcha.


5. Cardi B // Invasion of Privacy

I would be doing this list a disservice if I lied about my Top 2018 Spotify tracks. Cardi B, without a shadow of a doubt, showed up multiple times. While I was quick to blame the Spotify algorithm, I just can’t deny that this spicy Scorpio, Balenciaga wearin’ powerhouse was the sound of my summer. I’m still not even sure I know what words come out of her mouth but one thing I know for sure – she slaps.

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