Mumford & Sons: Delta
Mumford has gotten a lot of flack from Americana genre fans since the release of their 2016 album Wilder Mind (my best friend Anna threatens to cut me off every time I mention them). After listening to newly dropped Delta, I think it’s safe to say that Americana is no longer their brand, but what they’ve developed as their new sound is something like I’ve never heard. The album flows incredibly well and as a surprise to nobody, some tracks caught me right in the feels (Picture You, especially). Definitely worth a listen, maybe even a few days on repeat.
Lauv: I met you when I was 18. (the playlist)
While Lauv maintains that this is JUST a playlist and NOT an album, I think we can all agree that Lauv drops some pop bops. He made his rounds in the festival circuit this year and quickly gained popularity. I personally have at least three tracks of his on my “Lately.” playlist at any given time, all of which I always sing along with VERY loudly. With the release of singles “Superhero” (a wrong he wrote in ten minutes based off of a note left at one of his shows) and “There’s No Way” collab with his lady love, Julia Michaels, I have a feeling this is just the tip of the Lauv iceberg. And I don’t hate that one bit.
Arctic Monkeys: Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino
Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino was my gateway drug into the Arctic Monkeys. I will admit, this is probably me being biased, but everyone should own this album. This is what you play when you open a bottle of red wine amid dim lighting and invite friends over for a chat. You listen to this album when it’s raining outside and you’re driving under some bright lights that reflect of off the street below. Every song is worthy of the repeat option.
Personal favorites: Star Treatment, Golden Trunks, Four Out of Five.
Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour
Golden Hour woke me up from some kind of slumber and I realized just how much I love Kacey Musgraves. She sings so sweetly that some of her songs will make you want to cry or fall in love with your partner all over again. In my opinion, this is her best album to date, signifying that she is a country artist who has effortlessly left her mark within the genre, as well as extended her craft to pop music.
Personal favorites: Slow Burn, Space Cowboy, Velvet Elvis.
Leon Bridges: Good Thing
I liken Leon Bridges voice and music to that of butter or warm sunshine on your face or a really good stretch after a run – it’s smooth, it’s beautiful and it’s addicting. “Good Thing” is Bridges’ long-awaited second album following a stellar debut album, “Coming Home.” Bridges is also from Texas, and I spent 11 years of my life in Texas and those years were so very good for my soul – as is Leon Bridges! The album progresses Bridges’ style into a more mainstream style, but still holds tightly onto his soulful, R&B roots. “You Don’t Know” has me dancing around my apartment getting hyped for the day while “Mrs.” has me laid back in bed reflecting on the day in peace. I have yet to see the man live, but bought tickets to his April show in Miami Beach back in September. Leon Bridges is forever on my radar, as he should be on yours.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Young Sick Camellia
So apparently 2018 was a stellar year for my soul because St. Paul & The Broken Bones also released a new album, “Young Sick Camellia.” I got to see them perform these and other beloved tracks in November in Fort Lauderdale and my love only grew deeper – as I knew it would. This group has an interesting background, especially lead vocalist Paul Janeway, who was once a preacher and now heads up an eight-piece soul band formed in Birmingham, Alabama. This album addresses the conflict with being a Southerner with conflicting views than that of his neighbors growing up. You’ll hear some family voicemails on and some interludes and ballsy lyrics throughout, all sung by Janeway, who’s voice and stage presence reach down into your heart, stomach, soul and every fiber of your being and bring you to life. It’s a personal album St. Paul & The Broken Bones has invited us to be a part of and for that, I thank you.
Ariana Grande: Sweetener
So this one is an interesting one for me to put here but you know what? Here it is. Ariana Grande caught my attention in 2018, mostly because I kept seeing headlines on what life was throwing at this poor girl and how she kept coming back out on top. Seriously – Ariana Grande had a 2018 that I don’t think I could handle without being institutionalized and amidst it all, she dropped an album, “Sweetener.” I’m still getting to know Ari, but I’ve come to love her and keep her newest album on my top played lists. “God is a woman” is my favorite track, which couldn’t have been more timely as women across the world mobilized and made their voice heard. “Sweetener” made me fall for Ariana’s vocal talents and when a song makes me sing along and bop around my apartment, you have my heart. I look forward to following Ari in 2019 and beyond and watching her grow alongside me into womanhood.
Shawn Mendes: Shawn Mendes
When Shawn Mendes first put out "In My Blood" and "Lost in Japan", I knew his forthcoming album would be something special for me. Yes, he'd had hits before that I loved, but this sound and rawness was new for him - something I was very excited to get more of. For the first time, it truly felt like we were getting to see the real Shawn. When the full album came out, I quite literally could not get enough. Every single song tells a story, exposes a new side of Shawn that we haven't really seen before. And, while Shawn has always played the guitar, these songs have really set him up to showcase both his vocal and instrumental talent - I even got to see a few live this year at Jingle Ball and people who thought I was silly for loving him so much were thoroughly impressed after his performance.
From the relatability and upbeat sound of "Nervous" to the cheeky "Particular Taste" and sarcastic "Queen", I truly found myself coming back to this album again and again and that is why it's my 2018 Album of the Year. See you next year, Shawn! *blows kiss*
5 Seconds of Summer: Youndblood
I'll admit it upfront - I am a 5SOS stan. So, I know it might seem like it was inevitable that they would make my top three this year; however, these guys hit a bit of a sophomore slump with me with their second album, so there was a lot riding on this one. And holy cow y'all, it did NOT disappoint. Youngblood is such a perfect pop/rock album. The lyrics are real and vulnerable yet dangerous and rebellious, which it turns out is exactly the 5SOS I needed.
There are ballads, there are bops and there are bangers. The true trifecta. But, beyond that, it's an album you can tell the band worked HARD on. Not only did they write lyrics that are raw and relatable, but they learned to really master new instruments - they've discussed how they wanted to become very well-rounded musicians and all took up playing the piano, etc. throughout this writing process. I've never been prouder of this band and STILL get excited when Youngblood comes on the radio. Don't even act like you don't love it!
Charlie Puth: Voicenotes
Earlier this year when Charlie Puth pushed back the release of Voicenotes, I was super bummed - I'd been looking forward to this album for a long time. I really enjoyed his first album, which he later admitted wasn't exactly done in his style due to trying to push it out while he was still buzz worthy, so I was intrigued to see who the "real" Charlie Puth would be.
Um, if this album is that, I think I love the real Charlie Puth??? Voicenotes is amazing. From the production and sound, which Charlie did himself, to the beats in the songs and the catchy lyrics, it's a perfect pop masterpiece. These songs have a way of drawing you in with the verses and then hitting you hard with the chorus, and it is seriously impressive. Charlie's style is truly unlike any other, IMO - while I think it's pop, I can't think of anything else to compare it to, and that's what makes this album so cool. My personal favorites are Empty Cups, Somebody Told Me and Slow It Down, but you really can't go wrong with a single song on this one.
**I cannot express how much I loved these three albums, and I don't even think these three blurbs do them justice. I made a playlist this summer called Boys of Summer 18, consisting solely of songs from these three albums, and WOW it got me through some down, stressful times those few months. Music-wise, 2018 was GOOD to me.
Florence and the Machine: High As Hope
This album is the Florence we’ve all been waiting for. High As Hope is so raw and emotional and shows a side of Florence Welch that we have yet to see. This album was as much of a healing process for her as it now is for me and for all of her fans. Detailing some of her personal struggles, the whole album has a ‘phoenix from the ashes’ feel to it and showcases the process of finding and becoming comfortable with yourself. The sound on the album is much more stripped and natural than her previous work, letting the vocals and lyrics really shine through and creating something that's somehow heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Her lyrics are much more open and honest and in a year as crazy and scary as 2018 was, being able to fall back on an album as refreshing and hopeful as this was indescribable. Being a massive fan of hers for a few years now, it means a lot to see her finally becoming comfortable in her life and career and it encourages others to find the same things for themselves as well. Every single song on the album is gorgeous and heartfelt and definitely worth a full listen through.
Hozier: Nina Cried Power
Although only the EP has been released, the four songs Hozier has finally gifted us are some of his most amazing to date. As a huge fan of his, I’ve been waiting so so long for new music and this certainly did not disappoint. The four songs capture the true essence of Hozier’s work that we fell in love with back in 2014, while taking his sound to a completely new level. It’s like everything we love about him rolled up into one perfect EP. The title track captures his political/activist side with the legend Mavis Staples, “NFWMB” features the dangerous and darkly romantic qualities we’ve come to know and love, the striking ballad, “Shrike” (if you loved “Cherry Wine” this will be your new favorite), shows off the truly poetic nature of his lyrics, and “Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)” gets right down to the rhythm and blues style he’s influenced by. Although not on the official EP, I’m completely obsessed with his newest song, “Movement”, and I’ve had it on repeat for literally over a month now. With it’s groovy rhythm and vocals, you can’t help but be drawn in by it. With the new album, Wasteland Baby!, still months away, Nina Cried Power is just what we needed for the long wait ahead!
Mt. Joy: Mt. Joy
One of my favorite discoveries from 2018, Mt. Joy will be your new indie dream band. Their standout hit, “Silver Lining”, really struck a chord with me and I’ve been hooked ever since. This album has everything on it, from upbeat jams, like “I’m Your Wreck” and “Astrovan”, to slower ballads, like “Younger Days” and “Cardinal”, and somehow I can’t help but dance to all of them. To me they’re just such a fun band, with playful anthemic lyrics, cool guitar riffs, nostalgic vibes, and soulful vocals. Mt. Joy is the quintessential summer road trip band and is guaranteed to get you through the winter.
Kacey Musgrave: Golden Hour
Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour for me was more than just a favorite album - it provided my year of familiarity and comfort. Soft rock with a lot of twang and disco pop is easily how you can sum up Golden Hour. This 13 track album provided the perfect soundtrack as I made my new home in California. Between “Lonely Weekend” and “Happy and Sad” I felt every emotion. Kacey’s always been the independent, fierce country lady I’ve grown to love and while I’ve taken a break from her music, this sucked me right back in.
I’ve looked up to Kacey for years. In short, I think she’s headstrong, opinionated in all the right ways and fashion icon. I could gush about her for hours, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. If you’re happy, sad, complacent, tired, this album fits the mood. There’s a track for everyone!!!! See you in February, lady!
The 1975: A Brief Inquiry to Online Relationships
The amazing thing about The 1975 is that they’re constantly evolving yet maintaining their roots. This album is a top album for me this year. “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” managed to make my Top 2018 tracks on Spotify despite only being out for three weeks. Don’t get me started on “Love It If We Made It.” This is the one track I cannot wait to scream live at a show (still waiting on those California dates btw)! I think the best part is that the band uses society’s dependency and need for technology to fuel their album inspiration and it’s very apparent in this era. Part one was a treat, and I cannot wait for part two to drop in May.
teddy<3 : LillyAnna
I’m going to admit that I owned Teddy Geiger’s album and sang every song, but teddy is another level. However, she wasn’t gone from the spotlight completely. She penned tracks for a couple of my favorite artists like One Direction and Shawn Mendes. LillyAnna is a 9-track beautiful and melodic masterpiece. While each song teddy<3 has penned has very similarities, what makes LillyAnna special is it’s all her own voice. She didn’t want these songs for another artist, she wanted them for herself and that makes this collection that much better. I love her friendship with Shawn, but I cannot wait to see what she has for us next!
If I think back to the year as a whole this album has be must listen weekly. Considering this came out in January, I think it’s the best option for my favorite overall album. Knowing the story to how the album came together, LOYALS are going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2019. With standout tracks “To the Top”, “Bail Out”, and “Skyline”, there is something here for everyone.
Fickle Friends: You Are Someone Else
Having heard singles from this album since 2016, I knew that the collective debut from the England band would be a must listen. At sixteen tracks, You Are Someone Else introduces, explores, and establishes the band’s sound to the listener. Since its release in March I have constantly had this on in my car, at work, and one of my first suggestions to people looking for new music. Fickle Friends are just scratching the surface of their sound and this is a great first representation. Check out “Glue”, “Say No More”, and “Hello Hello”.
The Story So Far: Proper Dose
2018 finally introduced me California’s own, The Story So Far. The first batch of singles “Out of It”, “Let It Go”, and “Upside Down” gained my attention after my buddy Brooks talked about how excited he was for this upcoming album. While I enjoyed the initial singles, “Take Me as You Please” had me sold on the sound and band as a whole. Proper Dose is one of those albums you can’t skip a track and for that reason it makes my list. It’s so well put together, down to the tracklist. While I might have missed out on them to this point, Proper Dose made me a believer. Must listens: “Upside Down”, “Take Me as You Please”, and “Keep This Up”.
Allie X: Super Sunset
I’ve been really obsessed with Allie X for a while now and I think she creates the kind of pop music that is an acquired taste. I meant hat in the best way. There’s nothing generic about her lyrics and definitely nothing normal about her performances. There’s no one like Allie X.
Her lyrics are so specific, in “Science” she sings, “Think we can see Mercury, Following the light, Driving to the restaurant.While my lipstick dries, Yeah, we've got next to nothing, But nothing feels so right, As stumbling through the dark with you, Comets in the sky.”
This is Allie X's version of Hollywood and life in L.A., there are aliens, nuns, and starlets that all coincide in one world.
“Angels all left, but we'll stay.”
Mitski: Be the Cowboy
Mitski has the ability to turn personal trauma into songs with so much layering and depth that you don't realize you're singing along to heartbreak.
Be The Cowboy has Mitski layering gorgeous orchestrations and presenting a level of self-awareness and honesty that is shocking. You feel yourself in these lyrics. The line on, "Lonesome Love" hits hard, “Cause nobody butters me up like you, and/Nobody fucks me like me.”
This is an album that just gets better and more complex every time you listen to it.
Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour
Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour is one of those albums that hit me at the exact right place and time. I was driving to Big Bend to spend my 27th birthday alone. It was on Easter weekend and everyone was spending time with their families and I wasn’t excited about their pity invites.
What started as a romantic idea in my mind turned out pretty lonely in practice. So I turned on my friend Kayleigh’s album review of Musgraves Golden Hour. She said, "She sounds like a person struggling, a person hurt, but not a person for whom the world is ending. More like someone who knows that struggle and hurt and unwanted distance are inevitable parts of love."
Hello, that’s me. I had just enough time before I hit Marathon to listen to the whole thing. “Slow Burn” set to the backdrop of a West Texas sunset while I came to terms with the possibility that I might always be this lonely was an unforgettable intro. Standout albums define moments in our lives and this will always remind me of entering a new phase in my life.
Mitski: Be The Cowboy
Mitski is a genius and Be The Cowboy is the perfect example. Her lyricism is intellectual without being dry or trying too hard. In this album, she stepped away from her guitar-driven sound and stepped more into the realm of pop, but she did it in the most Mitski way possible. The songs are still powerfully emotional but in a refined way. She stepped away from her more confessional approach to songwriting and experimented with the realm of fantasy and it really paid off.
This is an album I have listened to countless times and truly cannot get enough of. Every time I listen to it, I find a new favorite part. Each song has held a special place in my heart at one point or another. When I first heard the line “I know I’ve kissed you before/ But I didn’t do it right/ Can I try again” in ‘Pink in the Night’ she described a feeling I didn’t even know how to articulate, and she did it so simply. Her music makes you feel something and that is why it is so special.
Look, everyone who knows me knows I would die for Phoebe Bridgers, and now I am adding Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker to that statement. These three amazingly talented women came together and further proved that art is better when it is made with friends. The actual music is amazing, but their relationship with each other made this album even more special.
The combination of their voices mixed with their impeccable songwriting proved to be a little much for my fragile heart at times. I really can’t listen to ‘Me & My Dog’ without crying at least a little bit. When all three of their voices sing “I wanna be emaciated/ I wanna hear on a song without thinking of you” I just lose it. It’s only six songs, but it holds a very special place in my heart, and I hope we get to hear from them as a group again someday.
Clone Wolf: Icehouse
Clone Wolf is the indie rock band I have been waiting for and I didn’t even know it until I saw them play in New York earlier this year. Their debut album came out at the end of a very hard summer. It was hot. I was tired. My AC was broken, but this got me through it. Sometimes you need something a little loud to drown out all the shit in your head and that’s what this album did.
All three members are incredible musicians and each song has so many facets that you could listen to it 100 times and find something new in each listen. Whenever I am having a bad day, I’ll get in my car and blast this and just drive. Sometimes with a purpose. Sometimes not, but it always makes me feel better.