Let me start by saying that this is my personal top-10 album list of 2018. Ignoring what the critics say (though a few of these are critically-acclaimed), these are the albums I just can’t stop listening to from start to end. 2018 was a big year for female-driven work, from pop to folk to country, and all the genres in-between. I got to see 4 out of the 10 below in concert this year, and that definitely played into the ratings below. So without further ado, here are my top-10 albums of 2018. Comment below with your favorites!
10. Julia Holter, “Aviary”
I’ve been a fan of Holter’s since 2013(ish), and this album beautifully blends her atmospheric voice with ambient electronics and instruments. “Voce Simul” is one of my favorite songs to listen to while walking around the city on a cloudy day. There’s something sexy and haunting and intriguing about this album; each song is a new chapter that needs to be explored.
9. Frank Turner, “Be More Kind”
When asked to describe Turner’s music, I often describe it as “grown-up punk rock.” I saw my first Frank Turner show this past September at “Sea. Hear. Now.” and he, his band, and the crowd that loves him blew me away. “1993” will have you hopping up and down and “Blackout” reminds me of being at an underground pop rock concert in college in the best way possible. Listen to this when on a run, when you need a pick-me-up, or when you just want to feel good.
8. Cat Power, “Wanderer”
I’ve loved Cat Power since hearing her cover “Sea of Love” (originally by Phil Phillips) in the 2007 movie “Juno.” Mixing originals with covers, Power delivers another strong record after a 6 year hiatus. I love her cover of Rihanna’s “Stay,” and “Woman,” which she co-wrote with Lana Del Rey, is another stand out.
7. Kacey Musgraves, “Golden Hour”
Is she country? Is she pop? Does it matter? Admittedly I didn’t listen to Musgraves before this album, but after seeing her debut on SNL, I knew I had to take a listen. “Slow Burn” is my favorite track off this album, but the album in its entirety is surely worth a listen (or two). Her lyrics are honest, yet playful and catchy.
6. Ariana Grande, “Sweetener”
I’m pretty sure this album is on everyone’s top lists, whether they are a pop fan or not. Grande’s latest album broke genre barriers and had everyone bopping along with her sometimes sugary, sometimes soulful, “Sweetener.” If you somehow haven’t hear it, start with “God is a Woman” and still listen to “Pete Davidson” to temporarily mourn the loss of the relationship. Follow that with “No Tears Left to Cry” and you’ll be singing along with Grande in no time.
5. Foxing, “Nearer My God”
I was turned on to Foxing with the release of this album, and I’m kicking myself for not listening to them sooner. This is one of the small handful of albums I turn on when I don’t know what to listen to. There’s energy, there’s power, there’s rock––it’s just a solid album. Hoping to catch them live in 2019. “Gameshark” was one of my top listened to tracks of 2018.
4. Florence and the Machine, “High as Hope”
I’ve never met a Florence and the Machine album that I didn’t like, and “High as Hope” is no exception. I saw Florence and the Machine in concert earlier this year, and that woman has more energy and spirit than any artist I’ve ever seen. Not to mention vocals that are almost unearthly. “Patricia,” a tribute to Patti Smith, is one of my favorite tracks on the album, and Florence’s full range really comes out in the opening track “June.”
3. Mitski, “Be the Cowboy”
I don’t even know what to say about this album, just that it’s really, really freaking good. There are pop elements in “Washing Machine Heart,” disco elements in “Nobody,” dynamic vocal range in “Geyser,” Robyn-like beats in “Why Didn’t You Stop me?” and the list goes on. Seriously, just listen to this album. “Old Friend” is my favorite track off of “Be the Cowboy.”
2. The Boxer Rebellion, “Ghost Alive”
Saw these guys perform at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia this year in support of this album, and hands down, it was my favorite show of the year. The album starts strong with “What the Fuck,” my favorite track off the album. Ranging from loud rock to softer melodies like “Here I Am,” the album highlights Nicholson’s dynamic vocal range and the undeniable talent of the entire band. In only 11 songs, “Ghost Alive” encompasses an entire range of emotions, and I am so there for that.
1. Brandi Carlile, “By the Way, I Forgive You”
Seeing Brandi Carlile perform at “Sea. Hear. Now.” slides in as a close second in the “favorite show of the year” category. Carlile puts her all into her performances, and that’s the same case in this album. Stand out tracks for me include “The Joke” and “The Mother,” and she’s recently released a breathtaking and moving music video for “Party of One.” Do yourself a favor and listen to this album at home, with the speakers up loud, and let her words and melodies fill your home and soul with all the feels.