As we bid 2018 farewell and leap enthusiastically (or hesitantly) into a new year, we look back once more and shuffle through the haphazardly overflowing playlists we’ve created over the span of these 12 months. We’ve discovered our brazen confidence listening to Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, immersed ourselves into the dreamy lyrics of Beach House’s 7 while continuing to reevaluate the state of current politics with Courtney Marie Andrews’ May Your Kindness Remain.
Scroll down and let the nostalgia wash over you.
Here are our top albums of 2018.
1. Con Todo El Mundo by Khruangbin
Released: January 26, 2018
“Khruangbin was one of the last bands I saw before leaving Chicago this year to move to Portland. The genesis of the band feels like something out of a novel — three musicians who eat at the same Southeast Asian restaurants in Texas start getting influenced by the unique, regional style of funk they hear while slurping down noodles, so they form a band.
An amalgamation of psychedelic rock, hip-hop, and Thai funk, Con Todo El Mundo spoke volumes to me as a work that could have only been created in today's digital age where influential, eclectic sounds and recordings are only a click away.
As I sat with the record, I heard b-boy jams (aka breakdance circles), prom dance floors of yesteryear, and hazy, sweat-filled lounges in my father's homeland of the Philippines. The album has grooves that'll make you boogie in broad daylight and ballads that'll beg you to open that moonroof while on a summertime midnight cruise.”
— Alex Paguirigan, Music Licensing Creative
2. Whack World by Tierra Whack
Released: May 30, 2018
“Tierra Whack is reconceptualizing what an album is and can be. Whack World is a delightful, playful, sensual and hooky romp of 15 one-minute songs that have done what all good art should do, left me wanting more.."
— Laura Hardin, Label Manager
3. Sweetener by Ariana Grande
Released: August 17, 2018
“Sweetener is such an honest record. It's full of happiness, joy and finding light. I can't help but smile when I listen to Sweetener. I love it so much.”
— Casey Wheeler, Project Manager/Creative Services
4. Skulls Example by Dear Nora
Released: May 25, 2018
"It's Katy's expressive and simplistic descriptions of nature that first caught my attention. "White Fur is in the care of no one," I'm walking on that snowy, sunny path in the woods of my childhood home when I listen.
The song, "Sunset on Humanity" describes the juxtaposition between two realities we have created for ourselves. Technological advancements and the natural world that still surrounds us.
Skulls Example is a contemporary example of our complex experiences in life...described in the most appropriately minimal of ways.."
— Jamie McMullen, Music Licensing Coordinator
5. The House by Porches
Released: January 19, 2018
“The House is filled with melancholic lyrics and interludes that make my heart ache, but it keeps me dancing from start to finish. The perfect balance of darkwave and synthpop.”
— Marilynn Wexler, Music Licensing Coordinator
6. Rare Birds by Jonathan Wilson
Released: January 19, 2018
7 . Isolation by Kali Uchis
Released: April 6, 2018
“Isolation features collaboration from a variety of artists from Jorja Smith to Steve Lacy, and it shows in the best of ways. Uchis' debut album mixes genres like funk, soul, and bossa nova (to name a few) into an intoxicating body of work that sounds both vintage and modern.”
— Fiona Kang, Community Ambassador
8 . BbyShoe by BbyMutha
Released: February 22, 2018
“BbyMutha was one of my favorite performances of this year, I saw her in Oakland at Women in Music Fest with a bunch of other talented women/femme performers.
— Jené Etheridge, Music Licensing Coordinator
9. Foxwarren and El Mal Querer
Released: November 30, 2018 + November 2, 2018
“There were so many phenomenal albums this year it's been hard to keep track. My list is going to be jockeying for positions through the end of the year. New on the list this week is the November release, Foxwarren (Andy Schauf's) band of 10 years, which glimmers with chordal structures reminiscent of Elliott Smith. It's emotionally charged and atmospheric. Rosaliá’s El Mal Querer sits at top with equally powerful and engaging Spanish pop constructed from her Flamenco roots. In the face of another adverse and challenging year in the political artists answer the call and continue to deliver their message. Looking forward to what 2019 has in store."
— Eric Nordby, Brand Ambassador + Music Producer
10. Hot Snakes by Jericho Sirens
Released: March 16, 2018
“After 14 years, Hot Snakes are back in town with "Jericho Sirens" - chock-full of Swami John's blistering guitar riffs, brutal beats by J Sinclair and Mario, Gar Wood's guttural bass grooves, and Rick's gnarly vocals. This album is sure to turn the party into a sweaty mess and not clean up after. Notable tunes include Six Wave Hold-Down, Death Camp Fantasy, I Need A Doctor, and Death Doula. I highly recommend giving album one a spin. Guaranteed to shred your ear balls.”
— Rob Dennler, Senior Creative Director
11. Wide Awake by Parquet Courts
Released: May 18, 2018
“Parquet Courts Wide Awake really took me by surprise this year. It takes the catchiness of Jock Jams and stadium rock and puts it through filters of punk rock, a sly sense of humor and raw artful simplicity. Also, you can dance to it (some of the songs are straight up funky).”
— Steve Schroeder, Artists & Repertoire Curation Manager
12. 7 by Beach House
Released: May 11, 2018
“There’s a stark departure in Beach House’s 7, the duo’s new approach being dialed up, shaking up the world of mellow daydreams evoked from their previous work. The masterful layering combined with haunting vocals feel spatially satisfying — ever mellow moment feels welcoming and entrancing from start to finish.”
— Michelle Goldstein, Copywriter
13. It’s A New Day Tonight by Michael Rault
Released: May 18, 2018
“Michael Rault's album It's a New Day Tonight delivers such a unique and timeless take on ‘70s psych pop — it's so refreshing. The melodies are infectious, the lyrical content is heartfelt and self reflective without feeling like a damn Nicholas Sparks novel and the production is next level insane, much due to Wayne Gordon of Daptone I'm sure. Spin if you like Wings, Badfinger, Big Star, and the like.”
— David Katz, Music Producer
14. God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
Released: June 1, 2018
15. Love//Warrior by Frankie Simone
Release: September 6, 2018
“Love//Warrior is a pumped album packed full of empowerment and light. Frankie Simone kicks ass and Barton's production makes you wanna shake yours.”
— Jenna Covey, Community Ambassador
16. boygenius by boygenius
Released: October 26 2018
“Boygenius was short, sweet and sad, which is perfect since I'm a sucker for sad girl music. Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus are all phenomenal artists by their own right, but putting the three of them together had some pretty magical results. Such a power trio.”
— Marissa Hernandez, Music Licensing Creative
17. Nearer My God by Foxing
Released: August 10, 2018
“Foxing's Nearer My God had all of my favorite things; distinct instrumentation not typically seen in the genre, sick guitar solos, and more angst than you can shake a stick at. Nothing says 2018 like post-hardcore-sad-boy music because everything sucks and you're just trying to make it to 2019.”
— Nathaniel Schmidt, Project Manager/Creative Services
18. Childqueen by Kadhja Bonet
Released: June 8, 2018
“I love the throwback, psych-soul sound of Kadhja Bonet's Childqueen. It feels comfortable like I'm in a familiar space, yet at the same time it's completely new. I could drown happily in Kadhja's honey voice — I love it so much.”
— Nicole Hooper, HR Generalist + People Operations Team Lead
19. Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Released: June 15, 2018
“Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever is a new-ish Australian outfit that makes raw, jangly guitar-driven rock music, reminiscent of R.E.M. the The Clean. Super solid band with somehow a fresh sound even though you can hear their influences.”
— Ryan Rebo , Software Engineer
20. Honorable Singles Mention
“We the Funk” by Dillion Francis feat. Fuego
“Turn up the heat — and turn down the tempo and mood because hey, it’s 2018. Dillon Francis continues to breathe life into Moombahton on this dark and bumping collabo with Fuego: the hi-hats are hooky enough by themselves but the bari sax instead of a chorus seals the deal for me.”
— Michael Van Pelt, Artists & Repertoire Senior Catalog Manager