Top Albums of 2018 (100-51)

2018 was weird as hell, so let’s just get that out of the way. As such it makes sense that some of this year’s best albums would be, well, weird as hell. So strap in for 100 fantastic albums that we all think are worth your time this year, while they are placed in a general order of where we believe they landed in the hierarchy of music this year, we’ve decided that a different approach was warranted. You’ll notice that there are groupings of albums, we believe that the albums within each group are of comparable quality with other albums in its group. So just because one album is higher in a group than another doesn’t mean we think one is better than the other. In any case, we’re sure you can figure it out and we hope you find it helpful. Well, you’d better get a move on, there’s 100 albums for you to listen to, and we’d suggest you get to it.

This list was compiled with the help and opinion of Natural Music contributors. We are always looking for more writers and people with big ideas. If you are interested, contact us here.

Group D (albums loved by few writers, and late year discoveries)

Yo La Tengo - There's a Riot Going on

Suggested Tracks: You Are Here, Ashes, Dream Dream Away

Listen here: Spotify

Ice Age - Beyondless

Who said that post-punk ever died? Certainly not this group of Danish boys. ‘Beyondless’ sees the group exploring new ways to write hard-hitting jams. They’ve continued the trend of ditching the short-and-to-the-point structures of past albums and have switched that out for songs more churning, heavier songs that have an emphasis on making you willingly struggle under the suspense of their tension-filled melodies. With the re-addition of horns and strings, it sees them venturing into new territories while still keeping to the punk ethos. This record serves to quite possibly be their sonically richest and deepest yet. [Andrew Tran  - @trandrew20]

Listen here: Spotify

Melody’s Echo Chamber - Bon Voyage

Everyone’s favorite kinda sorta but not really jangle pop group is back with another thoroughly unclassifiable record. Bon Voyage wildly flits between everything from noise rock to dream pop and never settles down long enough to let itself be any of them. The end result is a delightful piece of music that is always capable of surprises no matter how long you end up spending with the record.

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Dizzy Fae - Free Form Mixtape

I'm just going to state a fact: it is a crime that this album wasn't included on more year end list and got so little publicity this year. I only discovered it a few weeks ago on the Quietus list but immediately fell in love. Dizzy Fae is just 20 years old but Free Form displays an artist brimming with confidence, not afraid to experiment. Free Form is exactly what it sounds like it would be, a freewheeling, hypnotic exploration that seamlessly weaves in and out of genres — jazz, hip hop, funk, and even a little house. Over 11 songs, she showcases her sultry vocal range through everything from soft melodies to straight-up rap. 2018 was a good year for Dizzy touring with heavy hitting artists like Toro Y Moi and Jorja Smith but this only the start for this young artist and we are excited to see what her future holds.

Listen here: Spotify / Youtube / Soundcloud

Ariana Grande - Sweetener

Suggested Tracks: raindrops, God is a women

Listen here: Spotify / Youtube

Ambrose Akinmusire - Origami Harvest

Jazz + Spoken Word + hip-hop influences, what more could you want.

Listen here: Spotify / Youtube

Various Artists - 15 Years of the Bunker

A hard hitting compilation from the New York based techno institution.

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp / Soundcloud

Bjørn Torske - Byen

Byen marks his Bjorn Torske's first solo album in eight years and his first record in ages to wholeheartedly embrace the space-disco sound he helped pioneer. 

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Elza - Deus e mulher

Suggested Tracks: Banho, Exu Nas Escolas

Listen here: Spotify / Youtube

Amen Dunes - Freedom

Suggested Tracks: Miki Dora, Believe

Listen here: Spotify/ Youtube / Bandcamp

Natalia Lafourcade - Musas Vol. 2

Suggested Tracks: La llorona, Alma Mia

Listen here: Spotify / Soundcloud

Of Two Minds - Of Two Minds

Right from the outset it’s clear as to the type of math rock Of Two Minds specializes in. Nearly every song on the record owes heavy influence to groups like TTNGPlini, and Chon, as opposed to the more jazz-influenced Japanese bands toe, and LITE, though moments of that peek through as well in the stunning drum work. The market for math rock may be dwindling, but so long as acts like Of Two Minds continue to release innovative records like this it will never truly disappear. Of Two Minds is one of the most purely enjoyable pieces of music that I’ve heard this year and it breathes a refreshing breath of life into the genre, in a way that feels divorced from the standard influences of the genre, while still paying them due respect. Anyone who loves technical instrumentation and just a hint of post hardcore will find a lot to love in this record and should check them out on their Bandcamp as soon as possible. [Drew Pitt]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

George Clanton - Slide

This album showcases an artist fully realizing his own sound and potential. Although George Clanton has several albums under his belt, Slide is his first that was purposely created to release under his own name. George clearly has a strong affiliation with many of the sounds of the 90’s including the danceable beats of trip-hop and the textured guitars of shoegaze, but he finds a way to combine these influences and create something distinctive and contemporary. Glistening synths and pulverizing drums prevail throughout the album, but they come together best on the album’s single “Make It Forever”. The track oozes with kinetic energy and contains one of the most infectious choruses from 2018 as George pleads, “Holding back the tears from falling/Yeah that’s what I’ll do/Holding back the tears so long/When you come back again/We can convene/Make it forever”. Keep an eye out for what George Clanton does in 2019, because if Slide is any indication of where he is going, you won’t want to miss it.

Listen here: Spotifyh / Bandcamp

Haley Heynderickx - I Need to Start a Garden

Suggested Tracks: The Bug Collector, No Face

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Daniel Avery - Song for Alpha

Suggested Tracks: Slow Fade, Stereo L

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Devon Welsh - Dream Songs

In 2016 Majical Cloudz, comprised of Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto, decided to break up to pursue solo efforts. Dream Songs is the product of this dissolution. Devon Welsh trades in the electronic pop for guitar, piano, and strings for a beautiful candid debut album that sets his singular voice free to wander and soar.

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Nathan Fake - Sunder EP

Suggested Tracks: Sunder, Cloudswept

Listen here: Spotify / Youtube / Bandcamp

Tess Roby - Beacons

I was immediately enamored by Tess Roby when she released her ballad 5 single last May. The way the track just flew over you, dripping emotion with delicate and sparse production that provided the ideal backdrop for Tess’ reverb-soaked vocals. Dream Pop is a genre in which it is easy to fall into derivative territory: there are only so many combinations of hazy guitar tones and spacey drum hits; but Beacons remains fresh and doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in at just 32 minutes. Her careful synth layering and elegant guitar work, often teetering towards ambient pop and minimalism enable her voice to float effortlessly over these 8 tracks in a truly angelic manner. The pose she assumes in her album cover, lying peacefully on a bed of grass is a depiction of the ideal listening environment for this wonderful project. [Nick Delguadio]

Listen here: Spotify / Youtube

Jean Grae, Quelle Chris - Everything's Fine

Last year Quelle Chris released Being You Is Great I Wish I Could Be You More Often to minimal fanfare, silently sliding under the radar of most critics. This year, in a savvy team up album with Jean Grae, he has done much the same. Everything’s Fine is a cheeky, cynical look at the world, and each moment bursts with poignancy or hilarity over tightly crafted beats. In a world that is getting harder to laugh at every day, Jean Grae and Quelle Chris find plenty to poke fun at, while still managing to expose important truths. [Drew Pitt]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Jeff Rosenstock - POST

In 2016, Rosenstock’s highly acclaimed album ‘WORRY.’ became the anthemic record for a modern generation of indie punk rockers. In a little over a year, he comes back with a project that’s even more ambitious than before. There’s a wide variety of styles ranging from piano ballads to aggressive pop songs to progressive rock epics. It all comes delivered on a platter of infectiously catchy riffs and vocal melodies shrouded by a theme of rebellion and a can-do attitude. It may not be the type of punk some people may be looking for, but don’t misjudge it’s poppy hooks, ‘POST-’ can pack quite a punch. [Andrew Tran  - @trandrew20]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Jonny Greenwood - Phantom Thread OST

Listen here: Spotify

Deafheaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Deafheaven is quite honestly not here to please anyone. If you’re a fan of metal, they’re consistently pushing their sound further from the purity of harsh metal, and if you find yourself on the side of indie rock, they refuse to compromise their vocals. Yet, if you can look past the strange blending of elements you’ll quickly find one of the most interesting bands in either genre. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is certainly the softest of their records to date, however that doesn’t mean it’s ready for the radio by any means, for each moment of soft, loving post-rock inspired meandering, there is another instance of violent screams and shredding guitars. While time will tell if this record can stand alongside the excellent New Bermuda and the groundbreaking Sunbather it certainly seems well equipped to do so. [Drew Pitt]

isten here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Kraus - Path

In 2013 Deafheaven’s Sunbather took the world by storm with its calculated combination of ear splitting black metal and soothing shoe gaze over post rock song structures. Earlier this year Kraus attempted the same between shoegaze and noise rock to great success. Path constantly toes the line between soothing and overwhelming, and does so with unexpected grace. Any given song could blow into a million screaming pieces at the drop of a hat and the combination of sheer force and soothingly whispered vocals is profoundly affecting. [Drew Pitt]

isten here: Spotify

Gazelle Twin - Pastoral

Pastoral is a towering work that truly distills all of its maker's talents into a unified whole. Written in response to the current Brexit chaos in England Gazelle Twin shows us that any romantic idea of England is disillusioned at best. Pastoral is a disquieting listen weaving political criticisms with terrifying experimental production that we can only imagine captures some of the feelings of internal struggle England is currently experiencing. [Alek Prus]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour

Maybe the coolest thing about Kacey Musgraves' new album is how blatanly uncool it sounds.  More than a few snarky commentors have called it "Ranch Access Memories," but that's a perfect fit for the album.  Like late career Daft Punk before her, Musgraves is a joy to listen to because she's an unpretentious, top-notch songwriter that makes immaculately produced music.  As with the giants of country music before, sometimes that's all it takes. [Marcus Michelan]

Listen here: Spotify

Lil Wayne - Tha Carter V 

Faced with a half decade-long legal struggle, various health issues, and a career that’s been on a steady decline for the past several years, Lil Wayne made the impossible happen. Not only did the long coveted fifth installment to Wayne’s historic Carter series reinstate Weezy’s status as a chart topping hit-maker, but it was also a damn good album.  Hardly burdened by it’s extensive length, the album spans at least five years of recording sessions, allowing Wayne to hand pick the most impressive creations that he’s had to hide from the world for so long. From the stunning Mona Lisa, which showcases an animated sounding Kendrick Lamar, which has shown to have been in the vaults since 2014, to one of the more tasteful uses of posthumous XXXTentacion vocals we’ve heard since his passing. The one thing about this album, however, that keeps everyone coming back for more is Wayne himself. His bars sound vibrant and even youthful, his rhyme schemes are densely layered, his punchlines are hilarious, and he’s sounding as if he’s got something to prove. The album isn’t carried by it’s guest features, in fact, they all just sound honored to be there. Tha Carter V, miraculously, was the album that Lil Wayne and his fans deserved. [Joey Hughes]

Listen here: Spotify

Tim Hecker - Konoyo

It’s been said that Tim Hecker makes music so detailed and beautiful that there isn’t a set of headphones or an audio system powerful enough to do his music justice. Konoyo only serves to back up this assertion. Each track teems with life, and the fully fleshed ideas on each track seem custom built to push electronic music forward. The album itself is colder and more crowded than his pinnacle Ravedeath, 1972, with Konoyo having much more in common with the menacing Virgins. If this album is on heavy rotation, like it deserves to be, my only request is that you bring a coat, you’ll need it. [Drew Pitt]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Laurel Halo - Raw Silk Uncut Wood

This is a record that really rewards establishing a relationship with it. Diving into its twists and turns, and absorbing the vast sonic ground Laurel Halo covers among the 6 tracks here. Yes, this is an ambient record, but this is not a passive listening experience. She warms you with a long, sprawling, soothing piece with subtle melodies and peaceful instrumentation...only to come right back with shorter, more chaotic tracks that often agitate in the best way possible. She tests the sonic landscape of singular tones and wrestles with syncopated drum beats over a 4 track mid-section that lasts roughly a third of the record but is incredibly diverse in its evocative nature. She finds a beautiful capstone in a second long swaying track who’s aquatic nature provides a panacea for all endured throughout the first two thirds of the album. It is most definitely a journey fit for a single sitting. [Nick DelGaudio]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

André 3000 - Look Ma No Hands EP

For what it’s worth, André 3000 was living the life of an essentially retired musician who’d occasionally contribute a guest verse here and there; we accepted his choices as a musician. But when Mother’s Day rolled around, we were greeted with a melodic 20 minutes of 3 Stack’s multi-genre talent. It’s not the first time André’s shown his versatility as a musician but the Atlanta rap legend goes full jazz in this EP, recruiting James Blake and Kevin Kendrick to accompany his bass clarinet. The end result is an extremely personal, jazz-tinted journey by one of modern music’s most introspective artists. [Francisco Martinez]

Listen here: Soundcloud / Youtube

Amnesia Scanner - Another Life

In an interesting turn of events Amnesia Scanner has taken their machine torture room and given it a voice. Inklings of this voice had been heard on their previous effort, AS Truth but Another Life sees the boundary pushing group explore a poppier side, while making sure to keep their experimental roots close at hand. “AS Another Life,” “AS A.W.O.L.,” “AS Too Wrong,” and “AS Chaos” all feel as though they might be played at a festival stage, and help keep the energy of the album at a consistent high, while the remaining track feature the same warped vocals and screaming synths that they have been using to tear the rubber from subwoofers for years. This is undoubtedly their best work, and a stunning testament to the versatility of such a strange band. [Drew Pitt]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Tomb Mold - The Manor of Infinite Forms

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Death Grips - Year of the Snitch

Somehow we all continue to take Death Grips for granted. What this group has done over the past few years is nothing short of a miracle. Year of the Snitch somehow sees them get even weirder by adding a strange cast of features and an extremely lo-fi aesthetic. The album comes across as disjointed upon first listen but the longer you give it the more and more it reveals its layers, much like an ogre

Listen here: Spotify / Soundcloud

Ski Mask Tha Slump God - STOKELEY

Florida has been on one this year, between Denzel Curry’s TA13OO and STOKELEY we’ve seen a huge increase in playtime for Florida rappers. Even still, many of these artists remain contentious in the larger hip-hop arena. Luckily for skeptics, Ski Mask showcases himself as one of the most clever and versatile voices in rap today. Flitting effortlessly between hazy, melody driven mumble rap and skillfully delivered verses, STOKELEY proves itself to be a mandatory listen. If you don’t agree with me I suggest hitting the road and cranking “Foot Fungus” and “Nuketown” reallllllll loud and get back to me on your opinions on this album, you’re welcome in advance. [Joey Hughes]

Listen here: Spotify / Soundcloud

Anenon - Tongue

Tounge is producer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Allen Simon’s fifth album, and follow up to 2016’s Petrol.  While Petrol largely reflected the upbeat, urban surroundings of Los Angeles, Anenon moved to Tuscany, Italy to record Tongue, and this change of scenery is reflected in the overall palette presented on the album.  Simon’s airy saxophone playing features heavily, but here is surrounded by field recordings and given a more natural canvas on which it thrives.  Throughout Tongue, Anenon draws inspiration from ambient, electronic, free jazz, and the avant-garde, pulling bits from each to create minimal, stripped down tracks that flow effortlessly.  Simon’s unique style of playing the saxophone, which he taught himself to play after picking it up at 22, is breathy and relaxed; on the first track, “Open,” when he starts to play over a recording of birds, it sounds like another one has joined in—his playing is perfectly unobtrusive and fitted to the context of the song.  Later, on “Mansana” Simon opens it up, with a solo that takes up the first three and a half minutes of the song, showing his ability on the instrument. It is almost frantic, yet, in contradiction with itself, still minimal and soothing. This is perhaps Anenon’s greatest feat on Tongue—it is a minimal ambient work, and yet each moment is wholly captivating.  “Verso” is essentially a looped piano riff set on top of some string synths, yet for its simplicity is one of the most driving and suspenseful moments on Tongue; there are more moments like this throughout the album.  Anenon doesn’t try to do too much anywhere on Tongue, and the result is something beautifully minimal, compelling, and outstanding.  [Aaron Kelley]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Caroline Rose - LONER

LONER proves that patience is a great virtue to possess as Caroline Rose took three years creating, re-working, and fine tuning this album into its final product. The reward is increased critical acclaim for Ms. Rose, and one of the most addicting albums in 2018 for her fans. LONER departs from Rose’s folk roots from her previous work, and offers bolder, brighter, and more dynamic pop production. Although Rose strives for a more accessible and commercial sound, she maintains her authenticity through fantastic songwriting that paints an all-encompassing picture of her personality. From the satirical protest of sexism in the song “Bikini”, to the vibrant synth-pop balladry of “Jeanie Becomes A Mom”, LONER is a versatile and meaningful record that becomes more fun with each listen. [Jacob Heyerly]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Avantdale Bowling Club - ST

The genre label 'jazz-rap' has existed since the early 90s when groups like A Tribe Called Quest, Del La Soul and Digable Planets sampled jazz records to create smooth and mellow boom bap beats that perfectly complimented their more laid back 'conscious' rap styles. Essentially though, 'jazz-rap' was predominantly hip-hop music that simply sourced its samples from jazz.

Avantdale Bowling Club however, feels like a genuine fusion of rap music and jazz music in a way I haven't really experienced before. A live jazz band performs most of the tracks and Tom Scott (who I have never heard of until now) flows effortlessly over some pretty complex percussive patterns. It is literally a marriage between jazz music and rap music. Smooth hip-hop beats co-exist with loose modal jazz drumming, repeated horn lines with sax solos, precision rapping with loose ad-libs, smooth jazz piano with long bass and synth noodling, catchy hooks within extended verses and 6/7 minute plus tracks. At times 'Avantdale Bowling Club' has the feel of a more roomy, mellow, introspective take on 'To Pimp A Butterfly' or Koi Child though this is just a jumping off point for Tom Scott's own, very personal brand of story telling and live instrumentation rap. - [foxtrot_stowaway]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Sleep - The Sciences
Sleep didn’t have to do this for us. The legends of doom and stoner metal could have simply wandered off into the vapor clouds of Dopesmoker. Yet here we are, with another stone(d) cold classic of metal on our hands. Riffs that carry the weight of generations are ever present on the record, and the surprisingly crisp drumming reminds you that doom metal doesn’t always have to be lo-fi and washed out. We should all thank the metal gods for this one. [Drew Pitt]

Listen here: Spotify

J.I.D. - DiCaprio 2

On the Dreamville up and comer's first album since 2017's acclaimed 'The Never Story', JID continues to show his potential to be mentioned among the greats of modern hip-hop.  Given the DJ Drama treatment, JID is able to put aside any conceptual notions, simply delivering track after track of clever, lightening speed bars, while dabbling occasionally in R&B, all to great success. Sounding as hungry as a mid 2000's Lil Wayne, it's obvious that we're only seeing the beginning of a blossoming career, and it's only a matter of time before the whole world is talking about JID. [Joey Hughes]

Listen here: Spotify

The Caretaker - Everywhere at the End of Time - Stage 4 / 5

The Caretaker’s Everywhere at the End of Time is a multi-part sound collage and noise project exploring the theme of dementia and it’s progression represented through sound. This project is split into stages, each representing a further descension into dementia. This year, Stage 4 and Stage 5 of this compilation were released, both of which being releases corresponding to the later stages of dementia. The Caretaker represents this state of being by creating noisy soundscapes composed of confused and manic British dance music samples from the 20s and 30s. Listening to these stages puts the listener in a place of horror and confusion while having functioning thought and memory clouded by glitchy and nonsensical samples. This representation of the deterioration of the mind and memory loss was seen as highly creative to us at Natural Music. The music itself works wonderfully as dark ambient and these stages certainly represent a highlight to the ambient and noise genres for 2018. [Zane Truesdell]

Listen here: Bandcamp

Group C

Nils Frahm - All Melody

German pianist Nils Frahm’s beautiful compositions have crossed over from the classical world to appeal to the avant-garde electronica community. As his audience has grown, so has his music. While his early works were recorded at home and last album ‘Spaces’ was compiled from performances in concert halls, ‘All Melody’ has been produced in Frahm’s vast new customized studio in Berlin, and he has used the space to create his most expansive music yet. But while there are many more layers here, they don’t suffocate the intimacy that has been Frahm’s hallmark ever since he was sitting alone at his piano in his bedroom.74 minutes long, and also bursting with heavenly choir arrangements, All Melody is the perfect summation of what Frahm can do as a musician, as a composer and as a producer. 

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Jenny Hval - The Long Sleep

Jenny Hval is a genius. One of the most wholly original pop artists of the last few decades. She crafts this idyllic genre that is this perfect concoction of pop, ambient, and experimental that allows for captivating listen after captivating listen. In just a 23 minute EP, she conjures up a hazy yet cathartic journey. Beginning with a soothing pop piece that contains one of her catchiest choruses to date, then flowing into an angelic piano ballad, preparing you for the eponymous Long Sleep to come. She then proceeds to lay on you a 10 minute drone epic, with light vocals and the pitter-patter of sounds to make a true dreamscape. No project this year fits its title more aptly than this. [Nick Delguadio]

Milo - budding ornithologists are weary of tired analogies

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Last year we gave Milo the #1 album spot with his incredible album Who Told You to Think!?!? and we even got to hang out with him after a show in January (check out that story here). This year was busy for Rory Ferreira, on January 1st he released an album under the Scallops Hotel moniker, then in August he released a debut album under a new moniker, Nostram Grocers a collaborative effort with Elucid , he closed out the year with this album which he also said will be the final album under the milo moniker. If budding ornithologists really is the last milo album it will serve as a great bookend for the artistic pursuit that the project has been. budding ornithologists is slower to pull you in than last year's enthralling Who Told You to Think!?!? but grows vastly upon repeat listening. Once again, Rory raps deep, discursive and playful words over fractured, contemplative beats.

Of the new album, Milo writes:

this album doesn’t have an arc or a point or a moral to preach. it’s a contemporary rhythm and poetry album made by someone who loves the form and enjoys creating what they want to hear in the world. all of my songs become spells. i go out into the world, corralling small groups together and we yell and cry and howl and laugh around these words, some being gorgeous lies that come true. with 7 years of urban shamanism under my belt i no longer seek the story of the adventurer, i seek the experience. i cannot tell you all about it as that would commodify, as that would turn what is decidedly non fractal into SEO keyword. i refuse. so what you hear in this album is simply a pamphlet. little aphorisms and landmines to burst your mind out of the mundane a moment, broken myth and hopes and torments, riddled out of myself as they came, very little editing.

If budding ornithologists really is the last milo album it will serve as a great bookend for the artistic pursuit that the project has been.

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Ross From Friends - Family Portrait

Family Portraits’ is a powerful debut album varied in style but unified throughout, a deeply emotional look at an unremembered past. Family Portraits is "almost two years of intense studio time, working 20-hour days and often spending months perfecting just one aspect of a track," according to the label. The album draws on the influence of his parents — whose relationship began during a 1990 bus trip across Europe, throwing parties anywhere they wanted using a homemade soundsystem— and growing up around music. One of the singles “Pale Blue Dots”  features a video made using footage his mom took on that 1990 European bus trek. [Alek Prus]

Listen here: Spotify / Youtube / Bandcamp

Grouper – Grid of Points

Grouper exists in a strange place in music. Never quite ambient enough to drift away, but too soft to demand a detailed first listen. Grid of Points takes a step back from the shimmering beauty of Paradise Valley and again buries it beneath whispers and static. Each song calls you in to listen closer, then drifts away in a sea of massaging fuzz, amounting to one of the most luxuriously relaxing albums of the year. Still, in that relaxation, there is sadness, poignance and pained poetry, listen closely through the static, just be careful you don’t fall into the sea. [Drew Pitt]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt

There's a real comfort in hearing an absolute master make an album that isn't trying to change the world.  For the most part, the songs on "And Nothing Hurt" and controlled and small: more strummed ukuleles than psychedelic freakouts.  For an artist known for maximalism, it's some sort of magic trick that this is the most comfortable Jason Pierce has sounded in his own skin.  [Marcus M]

Listen here: Spotify

Porches - The House

A departure from the dreamy atmospheres of Porches’ 2016 album Pool. The House, Aaron Maine’s third album as Porches, is an somber portrayal of love and regret, decay and change. With a sound that flows between darkwave and dance pop at times embracing tenets of experimental sound Maine shows more interest in reimagining stylistic boundaries than expanding or eliminating them. [Alek Prus]

Listen here: Spotify / Bandcamp

Smino - NOIR

Smino should already be on your radar, last years excellent blkswn showcased Smino as a Drake like dream combo of singing and rapping (though he’s actually better than Drake at both) but if last year was just a test case for both skillsets, NOIR is an excellent display of him as an R&B artist. There’s still rapping on this project, and where it does peek out it is predictably excellent, but the woozy, stoned beats of Monte Booker turn this project into a dark room with joint smoke drifting lazily upwards. Highlights of the project are nearly impossible to choose, as each track exudes a level of craftsmanship that is hard to come by in modern hip-hop, but make sure that “KLINK,” “SUMMER SALT,” and “PIZANO” all get rotation on your next playlist worthy smoke sesh. [Drew Pitt]

Listen here: Spotify

Freddie Gibbs/Curren$y/The Alchemist - Fetti

FETTI finds two rappers who've cultivated large and loyal followings over years of consistent and prolific work partnering with a veteran producer to create a lavish mini-album that rivals each artist's best work to date.  With uncompromising originality, Gibbs and Spitta have   a ridiculous amount of chemistry, with their respective tough guy/laid back personas complimenting eachother perfectly over Alchemist's forward thinking, sample based instrumentals. With little to prove and few expectations, FETTI was the gift that we didn't know we needed in 2018. [Joey Hughes]

Listen here: Spotify

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