For a little over a year now, I have been watching content from everyone’s favorite melon; theneedledrop. His Youtube channel is most likely the most popular music-review channel, and is constantly growing to this day. At the beginning of each year, he releases a list of the top 50 albums released in the previous year, and considering I was reviewing music a large majority of 2018, I decided I’d take a look at his thoughts on last year’s releases. So this is my reordering of Anthony Fantano’s top 50 albums of 2018 (I am working with his top 50, so these aren’t necessarily all of my top 50 albums, but just a ranking of his). I’ve decided to divide them based upon how I think their qualities are grouped up to help clarify what I think of some of the lower-listed ones.
If you want to see his list, you can find it here. If you want to see the whole video it came from, you can see that here. OR, if you’re just interested in his Youtube channel(s), you can find his main one here, and his secondary one here.
50-50: The One Bad One
50. Trench – Twenty-One Pilot
You can blame it on my hatred of Twenty-One Pilots, but I went into this as unbiased as I could. Although I like the more unique direction they find themselves going in, the music itself isn’t anything good. I will say, this is the only album on this list that I didn’t find at all good. The rest have their merits.
49-46: Decent, but Nothing Special
49. The Light is Leaving Us All – Current 93
A grand, immersive experience into the past; Current 93 brings you back to your old horse and carriage. However, it doesn’t do much else.
48. You’re Not Alone – Andrew W.K.
As much as I can love and appreciate Andrew’s message here, he sounds like the most generic dad rock that’s out there.
47. Isolation – Kali Uchis
Kali has always been hit or miss for me. This release definitely had both sides, but a large portion of the album ended up reminding me of a much worse version of Amy Winehouse.
46. A Laughing Death in Meat Space – Tropical Fuck Storm
I do think Tropical Fuck Storm does do a good job creating some nice, pleasing, quality indie rock, but it’s nothing too special. I was expecting something a bit more fun, from their album art, but I was sadly mistaken.
45-40: Good Music! But Not Very Noteworthy
45. Bark Your Head Off, Dog – Hop Along
The band’s 90’s indie influences collaborate well with their folk-esque acoustics to create a really quality rock album! That being said, it sound like a lot of other albums coming from similar bands, in my opinion.
44. All at Once – Screaming Females
Similar to Hop Along’s last album, Screaming Females come at you with some great rock music. Theirs; much more aggressive and hard-hitting! Wailing vocals and harsh guitar chords combine for a sound reminiscent of 90’s punk.
43. Aviary – Julia Holter
Aviary is a long, epic tale told through an hour and a half long journey with Julia. This, similar to Current 93’s release, is immersive and grandiose, but provides a little more. Filled with beautiful passages, and intriguing themes, this tries to give meaning to the life we find ourselves in.
42. Ion – Portal
Rapid-fire, intense, and doom-filled instrumentals are backed up with some… unintelligible, but impactful vocals to give a deep dive into some sort of hell constructed by Portal. It’s no wonder why their album art looks like it does, because the experience is like being electrocuted.
41. Dead Magic – Anna von Hausswolff
This section seems to be dominated with these long, more theatrical albums, and that’s once again what this is. Anna’s tense, often shoegazey piece is dominated heavily by darkness, but features many bright lights to show you the way through.
40. Idol – Horrendous
Similar to Ion, Idol is a metal album layered in complex guitar chords and roaring vocals. This, I think, a bit more enjoyable; may sound like a typical black metal album to most people, but features a bit more depth to it than many others.
39-27: Great, Interesting, and Never Boring
39. Negro Swan – Blood Orange
Blood Orange’s Negro Swan, takes a large look at issues of identity, sexuality, and gender; particularly in the African-American community; while providing some really soothing jazz, soul, and hip-hop.
38. Vile Luxury – Imperial Triumphant
In another death metal album, Imperial Triumphant provides a little more than the last few; being less one-dimensional. The jazzy introduction is a good example of how this one changes it up.
37. Orpheus vs. the Sirens – Hermit and the Recluse
Hermit and the Recluse brings a very epic, lyrically-heavy concept-album together. Similar to his other work, Ka delivers his slow, poetic verses incredibly well for a well-thought-out story that doesn’t get old.
36. Twisted Crystal – Guerilla Toss
Crazy, quirky, and funky techno music make up this album. I don’t know if it’s post-punk, weird electronica, or what, but Guerilla Toss basically throws you through a computer in this wild ride.
35. In a Poem Unlimited – U.S. Girls
The sometimes-smooth, sometimes-rough, symphonic pop/soul/jazzy/whatever else Meg brings on this album is not only catchy, but she provides great storytelling as well. I wouldn’t hesitate to say this is U.S. Girls’ most ambitious and versatile album to date.
34. Die Lit – Playboi Carti
Okay, firstly; this might be one of my favorite album covers I’ve seen in a while. The amount of incivility and craziness going on, combined with the black and white just makes it great to me. More importantly, it illustrates most of what this album is about in the first place; not giving a damn about anything, and having fun. Playboi Carti’s care-free beats and amusing rhymes make this album just a really good time.
33. Whack World – Tierra Whack
When first hear it, you don’t think 60 seconds is enough time for a song to develop, mean something, and more importantly, leave an impression. Tierra Whack proves all of that wrong, limiting all of their songs to under a minute long, but still managing to have a great amount of fun, as well as tell a story. In the end, it’s kind of charming, actually.
32. The Sciences – Sleep
It’s no surprise that Sleep’s return to the studio was met with more critical acclaim. They don’t go there often (going without a release for 15 years), but when they do, they make some quality stuff. This album is no exception. Its usage of empty noise and lengthy guitar chords make you feel like you’re floating in space for 53 minutes.
31. El Mal Querer – Rosalia
There isn’t too much to say here. Rosalia’s fantastic voice is accompanied well, melding into one gorgeous creation of Spanish pop.
30. Your Queen is a Reptile – Sons of Kemet
Sons of Kemet’s complex jazz is unlike any other modern jazz I’ve heard. Pair that with their meaningful usage of track-names (paying homage to famous women in black history), and they tells a wonderful story with some fantastic music.
29. Prequelle – Ghost
Ghost has a bit of fun with this release, being a bit theatrical for a band of their style. Their sound, while heavily influenced by 70’s and 80’s metal, gets similar to bands like A7X, providing a both old and modern rendition of wailing metal. If you want a fun, new music video to watch, look up Ghost’s “Rats.”
28. Paraffin – Armand Hammer
A bit of a more abstract hip-hop album, Paraffin brings some experimentation to the underground scene. Amazing production and fantastic transitions give way to a slow, but meaningful and engaging rap project.
27. Stranger Fruit – Zeal and Ardor
Despite being a metal band, they show it in many different ways. The raw intensity they provide is certainly a spectacle, but it’s much more subtle than anyone else thus far. This album quickly goes from metal, to folk, to soul, all culminating in a dark, but much lighter experience compared to other metal bands.
26-19: I’ll Be Listening to These for at Least Another Few Years
26. DAYTONA – Pusha T
It’s no surprise that Kanye was tied to this project. Add it to his list of overly-short, but fantastic 2018 productions. Twenty-one minutes doesn’t sound very long, but once you’ve listened to it two or three times in a row, it will be. Every track on the album is meant to be played at full volume, in an old Cadillac, down some old California road.
25. Firepower – Judas Priest
Apparently this is Judas Priest’s 18th studio album? Who would’ve thought? The deep darkness and blasting guitar chords are exhilarating; and nothing like we’ve seen from them in what seems like forever. This return to form has Priest sounding forty-years younger.
24. Ye – Kanye West
Didn’t think I’d ever see a Judas Priest album next to a Kanye West one, but here we are. The simple, dark, and blunt nature of the cover is pretty representative of the album itself. Whether he’s talking about the thought of killing you, or himself, he lets it all out in what sometimes seems like his therapy. I guess he had to go through some rough stuff to get to Kids See Ghosts, but dang. At least he’s self-aware, I suppose.
23. Oxnard – Anderson .Paak
This is about as west-coast as rap gets; especially today. With features from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Pusha T, Kendrick, and more, it feels like this is the essence of California sometimes. The silky smooth production provides a soothing background for this return to 90’s hip-hop.
22. New Levels New Devils – Polyphia
This is what I imagine Ratatat would sound like if they tried to be a rock or metal band (which is coincidental considering this album cover features two tigers). Its fast and complex chords never tire out, and instead, continue to develop throughout their release. Before this, I had no information on Polyphia. After this, I can’t wait til what comes next.
21. Harutosyura – Haru Nemuri
Apple Music committed a crime when they simply labeled this album as “J-pop.” While there are obvious similarities to Japanese pop, Haru Nemuri does much more than that. Her driving beats and passionate cries make this release more similar to rap or punk than anything else. Harutosyura is filled with an amount of angst that could pass through any language barrier, and features just enough pop influence to make it catchy too.
20. Everything’s Fine – Jean Grae and Quelle Chris
If it’s not apparent from their style choice, Jean and Quelle have a very distinct perspective in the rap scene. The hilarity mixed up in this album is both entertaining and enlightening; making a point, while making you laugh.
19. Room 25 – Noname
Filled with soothing jazz and very outgoing vocals, Fatimah lets loose and doesn’t hold back on her sophomore album. Whether it’s about specific personal events, or the overall black and feminine social experience, she doesn’t shy away from critiquing everything that’s wrong with the world.
18-1: Honestly All Golden Classics
18. Dicaprio 2 – JID
I was honestly dreading the idea of listening to JID; given how popular this album became overnight. But as soon as I heard the flows and the beats from the first few songs, I was hooked. Dicaprio 2 features some of the best one-liners from 2018, along with some pretty killer production.
17. Dirty Computer – Janelle Monae
This year was filled with Hunter’s realized love of pop music, but this is the most true with Janelle’s Dirty Computer. Funky, soulful, and most of all, empowering; its sounds and messages all preach for beautiful freedom.
16. Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides – SOPHIE
Strangely soothing chaos is the name of the game in this album. SOPHIE’s music is past descriptors in many ways. Imagine if Death Grips produced a female pop artist, and gave them the aesthetic of Lady Gaga. Weird, cacophonous, but beautiful.
15. Some Rap Songs – Earl Sweatshirt
Earl’s expression of his personal experiences and internal turmoil continues with Some Rap Songs. Though it’s only 25 minutes long, it doesn’t cut short, leaving you to want more. It’s simply efficient with its brilliant and rich darkness.
14. Time ‘n’ Place – Kero Kero Bonito
I was skeptical when I first heard praise for Kero Kero Bonito’s newest release, but it’s well-deserved. One of my favorite rock albums from this past year; it blends indie rock, 80’s pop, and their old J-pop sound, while still adding a bit of harsh experimentation to create a pretty unique sound.
13. Twin Fantasy – Car Seat Headrest
Although it’s technically a revamp of an eight-year-old release, 2018’s Twin Fantasy is an entirely different album than the original. Will Toledo’s fantastic songwriting and lyricism are easier to enjoy in this much-more-crisp release, so you can get all the cutesy imagery.
12. Virtue – the Voidz
Julian Casablancas continues his rock stardom, but under another band name. The early-2000’s rock is hard to miss, but the sheer amount of experimentation makes it still incredibly fresh and fun. If you need any sort of proof (outside of the album art itself), just watch the music video for “QYURRYUS.”
11. Little Dark Age – MGMT
If you wanted an 80’s alternative revival, you got it. Thanks to MGMT, we have just about the best recreation of thirty-year-old sadboi music. They even decided to include the more fun and playful side, with songs like “She Works Out Too Much,” so you weird, happy people can sing along too.
10. Boarding House Reach – Jack White
I haven’t been a huge fan of the small amount of work coming from post-White-Stripes-Jack-White, but this is the exception to the rule. His usage of synths alongside his classic blues-guitar throws a passive, yet present middle-finger to anyone who claims rock can’t be experimental.
9. Year of the Snitch – Death Grips
Every new Death Grips album manages to cut its own path through the deep foliage of weirdness. Nine months after its release, and I still don’t really understand what’s going on half of the time. But that’s what make it so great.
8. Musas vol. 2 – Natalia Lafourcade
This is definitely the best collection of traditional Latin music I’ve heard. It may also be the ONLY collection I’ve heard, but that’s beside the point. The analysis of this is pretty simple: if you want something incredibly beautiful and calming to listen to, this is it.
7. Wide Awake! – Parquet Courts
If we’re being honest, everything I had heard from Parquet Courts before Wide Awake! was underwhelming to me. They’re a good example of why it’s sometimes bad to go through a band’s discography, starting from their first album. Because this release is going to be a classic. Its mix of punk, post-punk, southern rock, classic rock; and basically everything else existing between 1960 and 1990; makes a near-perfect rock album.
6. 2012-2017 – Against All Logic
This collection of songs contains the most unique and fun electronic/dance music I’ve heard in years. The genre that everyone is all-too-familiar-with at this point does have some room to grow, and this album shows just how you can do that.
5. Joy as an Act of Resistance – IDLES
Some of the best punk I’ve heard in a while. IDLES brings back the old, classic, 70’s and 80’s British sound I’ve been missing for so long. Both filled with rage towards bullies, and a love for all people, generating a pretty positive message.
4. TA13OO – Denzel Curry
I don’t think there’s a single album from 2018 that has taken more of my time than Denzel Curry’s TA13OO. All I needed was an emo vibe and a creepy clown to make trap one of my favorite genres.
3. Veteran – JPEGMAFIA
With endless hilarity and some experimental beats, Veteran is one of the more unique experiences you’ll have while listening to an album; especially hip-hop. When you have a song called “I Cannot F*****g Wait Til Morrissey Dies,” I don’t know what else there is for me to say.
2. Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts
Catchy, anthemic, beautiful, and sometimes comedic music fills this super-short album. Kanye’s genius once again shines through, but I can’t tell if it’s purposeful or not. Either way, this trip through the mind of Mr. West finishes his 2018 theme of mental health; giving all of those who struggle with it more hope toward the future.
1. You Won’t Get What You Want – Daughters
One of the more unsettling experiences you’ll have while listening to an album. Daughters basically created a psychological thriller. Which may sound terrifying, but it’s a damn good one. I don’t listen to this often, but only because it’s too effective at what it does.
I’m sure my opinions on these will change overtime, but I’m going to be leaving these as they stand. I thought I’d give you a mean-score list; averaging my ranks with Anthony Fantano’s, but that’s a lot of pictures, and another 50-album list, so I’m gonna leave it at this.