Our Favourite Albums Of 2018

It’s unusual, at the start of lists such as this one, to comment upon the quantity of great music which has been released, as if there’s an exact number of good albums which can be objectively quantified. However, whilst respectfully raising a glass to those who think that little of worth has been released since Peter Gabriel went solo… 2018 has been one hell of a year for music. You could argue that there were no all-time-greats in the vein of Skeleton Tree or To Pimp A Butterfly this time around, but there has instead been an astounding deluge of diverse, idiosyncratic and powerful music released within the last twelve months. Start listening to records halfway up this list, and you’ll find music great enough to fit snuggly aside those we chose as our top ten. This list instead is a celebration then, of new sounds and ideas which still cast long shadows, while major releases from once-dominant names like Drake and Niki Minaj flew by without a splash.

2018 was a year when new zeitgeists emerged, or were set in stone. Underground hip-hop locked into a new, chopped-and-screwed groove with the abrasive and glitchy beats of Earl Sweatshirt, Shirt and JPEGMAFIA, while mainstream hip-hop from the likes of Kids See Ghosts and Travis Scott radiated exciting, psychedelic palettes. After years of threatening, jazz has found a new voice and new ringleaders in the form of Kamasi Washington, Idris Ackamoor, Moses Boyd and Sons of Kemet; finally knocking the genre out of a decades-old naval-gazing slumber and revitalising it as something as electric and exciting as ever.

It’s a cliche to even remark upon: but politically, this year has seemed rough. In the wake of a rupturing 2016, old institutions and untoppleable powers continue to exist in turmoil, and the future remains shapeless and unpredictable. A new political edge within music was forseen, but often inaccurately as the foot-stomping, beatnik protest songs of old. Many of today’s talents are much smarter than that, and musicians like SOPHIE, IDLES, Janelle Monae and Gazelle Twin offer their politics through pop and electronic music, capturing many of todays sentiments and putting them inside the music, rather than offering diatribes and false solutions atop it. On the other end of the spectrum, joyous pop music from Troy Sivane, MGMT and Kali Uchis has kept us dancing, reminding of us all the joy which can be found even within a climate which can feel increasingly hostile and remote.

This list was compiled by two music fans with nothing better to do, based only the albums they heard this year, featuring bias and ignorance of critical consensus. It is instead based solely on the music which impacted us, and which we enjoyed and listened to the most. From top to bottom, we consider all of these albums to be produced by incredibly talented individuals whose music this year will provide pleasure and inspiration for many more to come.

100. A Whole F****ng Lifetime Of This – American Pleasure Club

a2156766988_10.jpg99. Lala Belu – Hailu Mergia

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98. Age Of – Oneohtrix Never

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Where Will Intelligent Life Be Uncovered First? The Outer Reaches of the Observable Universe, or the Republican Party of the USA?

Opening an article like this one is a spin-the-wheel style game of chance, because the Republican Catalogue of Categorical Stupidity is a fat one. For example, this particular piece doesn’t, but could easily, concern the recent confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court. Through their votes, Republican Congressmen revealed themselves to be resolute partisans in a manner which would have been historical had the very same party not contorted themselves sideways upon the nomination of their President-to-be only two years ago, notable for being the first U-turn visible from space.

The brazen dismissal of the possibility of a just investigation into Kavanaugh upon becoming the new Republican’s poster boy came at the end of a mere week-long FBI investigation, held by a Bureau which itself said that nine weeks were required to do the job properly. Some Republicans celebrated that particular day’s premature resolution of yet another sexual assault case by cracking wise. Texan Senator John Cornyn has this to offer:

To celebrate the solidification of your political beliefs in the highest court in the land is one thing… to do so by referencing a key contributing factor in an assault case is something more revealing. (more…)

Oklahoma Teachers On Food-stamps and Raw Sewage in Alabama: the “Forgotten Men and Women” in America Today

Donald Trump became President on January 20th 2017 and, appropriately, marked the occasion with a tweet. It read:

A little over a year later, reports from the nation’s heartlands suggest a radically different narrative, where “forgotten men and women” have not only yet to be remembered, but have fallen foul to a collective bout of governmental amnesia. Shocking stories are not new to de-prioritised US states; the lack of clean water in Flint, Michigan reverberating the world over, such was the shock of such a situation within the world’s great superpower. So supportive was the story of the doom-leaden image of American painted by Donald Trump; Hilary Clinton’s neglect to visit Flint stands as one of her most deplorable campaign failures. (more…)

The Greatest Showman: A Nightmare Of Tent-Sized Proportions

*SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for The Greatest Showman, predominantly that it’s a car crash*

19th Century circus pioneer PT Barnum is credited with coining the phrase “there’s a sucker born every minute”. The latest retelling of his story, The Greatest Showman, seems to have taken such a sentiment to heart. This is a word-of-mouth hit which condescends to its audience every second of its runtime. It’s creators expect the audience to buy into the feel-good tale of a grinning hero who spots a niche in the market for the afflicted and vulnerable and uses them to make himself filthy, stinking rich – whilst selling itself as a celebration of the very thing he exploits.  (more…)

Our 75 Favourite Albums Of 2017

2017 maintained 2016’s phenomenal momentum for another 12 furious months, where even the most headline-grabbing releases of the year – from Taylor Swift’s Reputation to Harry Style’s solo debut – came and went before Noisey could even pen a think-piece about them. Popular music itself spread it’s purview wider than in any year in memory; songs needn’t be released further than SoundCloud to find viral success, all while vinyl sales were at their highest number in decades. Some of the year’s hottest rap records were barely twenty minutes long, while Purient released a three and a half hour record; BROCKHAMPTON put our three albums and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard released five.

While the decades-old UK/US centrism of music perpetuated, the sounds of international music continued to penetrate further into the mainstream. Tinawiren and Ibibio Sound Machine shone light on the rhythms of Mali and Nigeria respectively, Rosalia and Gabriel Garzon-Montano brought hispanic music further into the mainstream, just as Luis Fonsi’s Spanish-Language ‘Despacito’ took over the world with a helping hand from born-again Bieber.

On the other side of the spectrum, indie icons MacDemarco, Spoon, Father John Misty and Fleet Foxes put in strong records, proving claims of the death of ‘pitch-folk’ to be somewhat exaggerated. These records helped make 2017 a year of fulfilled expectations. After the loss of giants of popular music such as Cohen, Prince and Bowie in 2016, successors like LCD Soundsystem and Bjork released records which somehow managed to fulfil the weighty expectations placed before them. Of course 2017 saw yet further greats leaving the mortal plain, with Malcolm Young, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, Charles Bradley, Chester Bennington, Glen Campbell, Chuck Berry and Chris Cornell sadly joining the Hall of Fame in the sky.

2017 was also the year hip-hop became America’s most listened to genre for the first time in history, meaning that pop music is no longer means Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga but DJ Khaled and Lil Uzi Vert. With great power comes great irresponsibility however, and the music industry was rocked by the death of 21-year old ‘emo rapper’ Lil Peep, at the hands of the prescription drug addiction currently dominating the mainstream. Elsewhere, underground icons Milo, Uncommon Nasa and Open Mike Eagle dropped thick and fast, and the genre continued to define itself as the politically-conscious successor to countercultural folk and punk from decades past, with leaders Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Rhapsody and Vince Staples releasing politically-minded LPs in a year where eyes eyes turned to art for guidance through frankly-disturbing political developments.

What truly defined music in 2017 though was the listening public’s response to the sheer cascade of sounds, genres and styles presented before them. A new popular eclecticism has descended upon those with even a casual relationship to popular music: artists like Forest Swords can be spoken of in the same breathe as Code Orange; factionalism is a thing of the past, and while teenage cloud-rap stars have more opportunity to shine than ever, so too does a has-been like Morrissey have chance to find a willing ear too. So open are the public to new ideas, Drake can call his new album a playlist and Brian Eno can release his latest available to be re-mixed on an app and nobody bats an eyelid. It represents a torrent of open-mindedness that leads one to wonder for how many more years a ‘greatest album list’ will be representative of the way people listen to music at all…

This list was compiled by three music fans based only the albums they heard this year, featuring bias and ignorance of critical consensus. It is instead based solely on the music which impacted us, and which we enjoyed and listened to the most. From top to bottom, we consider all of these albums to be produced by incredibly talented individuals whose music this year will provide pleasure and inspiration for many more to come.

75. Goths – The Mountain Goats

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74. Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

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