May 8, 2019
Apr 2, 2019
Feb 21, 2019
Dec 19, 2018
by Kasey Anderson
In the interest of full disclosure I should first admit that I intentionally excluded my band's album, From a White Hotel, from this list though I do think it was one of the best albums released this year. It just seemed weird to me to include it. That said, I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to plug the album, which you can purchase here.
On to the list.
More than a decade into her solo career, Shires has established herself as one of the truly great songwriters and instrumentalists of her generation. With To the Sunset - an album that is by turns plaintive, unbridled, and fragile - Shires made what is, at least to this point, the album of her career. Calling it a "Rock" record or an "Americana" record is reductive; To the Sunset is an Amanda Shires record and, at this point, she's good enough to be her own genre.
An album chock full of beautifully arranged, damn-near perfectly delivered, radio-ready singles that for some reason didn't find their way to Country Radio. It's a shame that format has bent over backwards to completely ignore and ostracize women because Musgraves made the best Country record of the year by a wide margin. I guess the Country Radio folks need to make sure there's always enough room on the charts for any dude named Luke who might decide to release a single at some point.
After an eight-year absence, Robyn returned and gave us yet another reminder that, when executed this well, Pop music is still every bit as relevant, rewarding and restorative as it has ever been. Eight years is a long time to wait but Honey arrived at a time when most everyone seems to require daily deliverance from the world in which they're living and for these 40 minutes, Robyn gives us exactly that.
If you're making a list of the best lyricists of the last 25 years and your list doesn't include Jean Grae, I'm sorry, you need to throw your list in the garbage can. Likewise, if your Best Albums of 2018 list doesn't include Everything's Fine, you need to start over. Everything's Fine is an astonishing album -- heartbreaking, wry, recalcitrant and forgiving -- that closes with "River," a song that deserves its own essay.
Technically two EPs (Vol. I was Thought with 9th Wonder, Vol. II with Salaam Remi), each of which could have easily made this list in its own right were I not confined by FTM's rules, Black Thought gave us a welcome reminder that he may well be the best MC to ever do it. In one couplet from "Twofifteen" (I heard murder ran this vast, deserted land / since back when Burning Man was blacks in Birmingham), Thought set the bar high enough that no one else would reach it this year, unless you count the dozen other couplets throughout Streams of Thought that are exactly that good, if not better.
These are such beautifully structured, beautifully arranged songs. With Be the Cowboy, Mitski and producer Patrick Hyland created an album that is lush without being overbearing, and sparse when sparsity is called for -- seemingly every decision made in service of the songs, which are intricate and introspective without sacrificing accessibility.
If there was a better single than "Make Me Feel" this year, I didn't hear it. Dirty Computer evokes Prince at times which makes sense, given his involvement in Monáe's life both personally and professionally. Like Prince at his best, Dirty Computer is celebratory, inclusive and inspired; a reminder that we can dance and march at the same time.
Folks who complain about the direction of Hip-Hop citing mumbly Soundcloud rappers and a lack of substance in lyricism must have missed a whole host of great records this year, Room 25 chief among them. At only 27, Noname finds herself at the vanguard of the ever-evolving genre and if Room 25 is any indication, she should probably get used to seeing her name on end-of-the-year lists.
If you know you know.
McCraven is among a group of young players who have been saddled with the responsibility of "saving" Jazz, a genre which has never been in need of saving to begin with. Here, joined by a number of his contemporaries (Shabaka Hutchings and Dezron Douglas among them), McCraven offers evidence of why he was designated among the genres saviors, while offering proof that Jazz is indeed alive and well.
Ten More Albums I Liked, In No Particular Order
American Aquarium - Things Change
Ariana Grande - Sweetener
Sam Morrow - Concrete and Mud
Anderson .Paak - Oxnard
Vince Staples - FM!
John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness
Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy
Erica Blinn - Better Than Gold
Dec 13, 2018
Our Top 25 Albums of 2018 were voted on by all contributors (including 2 new ones) again this year: Kelcy Salisbury, Robert Dean, Kevin Broughton, Jeremy Harris, Trailer (me), and Matthew Martin
(with friend Chad as a tiebreaker). We welcomed Kasey Anderson and Scott Colvin as first time voters. Today, we reveal numbers 11-25 of our favorites and tomorrow will count down the top 10!
24. Handsome Jack - Everything's Gonna Be Alright
The best rock ‘n’ roll album of 2018, from a power trio in Buffalo, N.Y. The Robinson bros. might have killed The Black Crowes, but the spirit of the band breathes through these guys. ~Kevin Broughton
23. (tie) Larkin Poe - Venom and Faith
Rebecca and Megan Lovell (formerly of the bluegrass band The Lovell Sisters with older sister Jessica) are mostly “known” as touring musicians for the likes of Kristian Bush and Elvis Costello…among others. On their fourth full-length album, the sisters absolutely hit the sublime with their powerful brand of roots rock and blues. Rebecca’s sultry and soulful vocals blend perfectly with Megan’s hot bluesy slide guitar licks for one of the finest albums in recent memory. ~Scott Colvin
23. (tie) Western Centuries - Songs From the Deluge
Great musicianship from the closest thing to a country super-group 2018 has seen. These guys are all heavily grounded in bluegrass, yet this album synthesizes all the best parts of American roots music. Come for the three-headed monster of vocals and songwriting, stay for the pedal steel. ~KB
22. Amanda Shires - To the Sunset
More than a decade into her solo career, Shires has established herself as one of the truly great songwriters and instrumentalists of her generation. With To the Sunset - an album that is by turns plaintive, unbridled, and fragile - Shires made what is, at least to this point, the album of her career. Calling it a "Rock" record or an "Americana" record is reductive; To the Sunset is an Amanda Shires record and, at this point, she's good enough to be her own genre. ~Kasey Anderson
21. Lincoln Durham - And Into Heaven Came the Night
20. High on Fire - Electric Messiah
Is there any project Matt Pike is involved with that sucks? Pretty sure that’s impossible. Check out "Sanctioned Annihilation" & "Drowning Dog." ~Kelcy Salisbury
19. Sleep - The Sciences
The Sciences is one of the year’s best records and moves beyond, “good follow up to Dopesmoker,” and places Sleep as the undisputed heirs to the throne of Black Sabbath. The Sciences is not only a neck breaking, sludgy love song to the universe, it’s a poem to the mysteries of faith, but it’s also a masterpiece. ~Robert Dean
18. Blackberry Smoke - Find a Light
These guys are working hard. Consecutive years with top-flight albums, they retain their Southern rock identity without being chained to it. This is an all-American band. ~KB
17. Great Peacock - Gran Pavo Real
I've been a fan of Great Peacock for a few years now and after their last album, I was excited to see where they would go. As I would go to shows over the next few years, it became clear they were going to go in a more electric direction. And, they absolutely did. This album is a rocker full of the harmonies and introspective lyrics you've come to expect. This is the one you reach for on Saturday night around midnight. ~Matthew Martin
16. John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness
People are always naming "greatest living songwriters" like John Prine isn't still teaching a masterclass every time he drops new music. Admittedly, that isn't as frequent as in the past, but on The Tree of Forgiveness, Prine reminds us why he's the undisputed. Tuneful, insightful, and bright, this isn't a late-life woe-is-me dirge-fest like many elder statesmen and women give us; this is prime Prine. ~Trailer
15. Caleb Caudle - Crushed Coins
Caudle has been pumping out perfect country songs for a while now. On Crushed Coins, Caudle hits his full stride. These songs are the best set of songs he's put out. The music and production are absolutely suited for his voice and his songs. "NYC In The Rain" is a perfect song and a perfect Caleb Caudle song. I don't think there's anyone else I can imagine singing this song other than Caudle. If you haven't checked out his work, this album is the one to start with. It's Caudle at his best. ~MM
14. Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere
The truth: Ashley McBryde doesn't fit the boring sonic pastiche that is mainstream country radio. Her songs are too good, her voice too unique. She deserves airplay and stardom though, and I hope she's one of the new leaders to push the door down. Girl Going Nowhere is a statement of being, filled with catchy and well-crafted songs. "Tired of Being Happy" is an absolute gem. ~Trailer
13. Brent Cobb - Providence Canyon
A great follow-up to 2016’s “Shine On Rainy Day.” The last three songs of that record were swampy and a little menacing, a thread woven through this album, particularly on “If I Don’t See Ya’” and “.30-06,” with their bad-boy Skynyrd feel. But when I hear “King of Alabama,” I’ll always remember the one time I got to see a then-fledgling musician, Wayne Mills. It was in Tuscaloosa in 2002, the night before heavy underdog Auburn beat Alabama 17-7. I was blown away then by the guy’s talent, and to this day I regret I never saw him again. No one that night or any other would ever dream of his fate: “It was a friend who took him from his family.” Cobb has done Mills fitting memorial, and made another great album. ~KB
12. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Years
It’s not often I can look to my hometown for musical pride. Let’s be honest, until Sarah Shook came around, Foreigner’s Lou Gramm might be Rochester, NY’s most notable artist (C’Mon, admit it, “Jukebox Hero” and “Urgent” were freaking awesome). Shook is a total badass and this album proves it. ~SC
11. Shooter Jennings - Shooter
Shooter is a portrait of a man who’s come to terms with his abilities, goals, and what he’s after. You can’t write a bunch of feel-good tunes that go hard with the beers, without a sense of purpose and humility …otherwise it comes off contrived and douchey, AKA most of the garbage pop country radio peddles. ~RD
Albums beyond the top 25 that appeared on multiple ballots:
Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
Hawks and Doves - From a White Hotel
Colter Wall - Songs of the Plains
Vince Staples - FM!
Eric Church - Desperate Man
JP Harris - Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing
Mike & the Moonpies - Steak Night at the Prairie Rose
Buffalo Gospel - On the First Bell
Pusha T - Daytona
Oct 24, 2018
Oct 23, 2018
Aug 16, 2018
These are real reviews from a popular digital music service.
Cody Jinks - Lifers
Kane Brown - Lose It
FGL - Simple
|Huh? They were good before? ~Trailer|
Kane Brown - Weekend
Keith Urban - graffiti u
Amanda Shires - To the Sunset
Dan + Shay
Jason Eady - I Travel On
Mitchell Tenpenny - EP
Aug 2, 2018
*some foul language*
When a coworker you thought was a jerk says he's into Tyler Childers and Whitey Morgan
When somebody's Brantley Gilbert ringtone goes off
When the room smells like Kane Brown fan
New Amanda Shires & Lucero albums Friday??
When you have a flashback to your mom taking you to a Rascal Flatts concert when you were little
When somebody's in your face saying Cody Jinks sucks
Brad Rice, probably...
Some dude from Billboard said "Meant to Be" is a country song