my top 50 albums of 2018

Posted by Brad Schelden, December 13, 2018 04:45pm | Post a Comment


#50 Steve Hauschildt - Dissolvi (Ghostly International)

I always look forward to what this dude does. I love his stuff in Emeralds and his solo albums. The vocals of Julianna Barwick and Gabi are featured on two of the best songs on the album. A great album of minimal and spooky sci-fi techno.


#49 Olafur Arnalds - re:member (Mercury KX)

A lush and dreamy album by Icelandic producer Olafur Arnalds. This album sits somewhere between ambient electronics and modern classical music. Another beautiful piece of work by Olafur.


#48 Weakened Friends - Common Blah (Don Giovanni)

This is for sure the year of the '90s resurgence on my top 50. This album is like one of those bratty and punky alt '90s albums that we all loved. This album will remind you of bands like Veruca Salt or The Muffs. And the album even features J Mascis!


#47 Mint Field - Pasar De Las Luces (Innovative Leisure)

Beautiful shoegaze from Tijuana. For those of us in the cult of shoegaze we know of the restorative and therapeutic powers of shoegaze. This album is seriously good stuff. An easy album to lose yourself in.


#46 The Beths -Future Me Hates Me (Carpark)

The Beths is like a New Zealand version of Camera Obscura. And that is exactly what I didn't know I needed so bad. Another Great debut album. Imagine Aimee Mann singing in a twee band from the mid '90s instead of a new wave band from the '80s.


#45 SRSQ - Unreality (Dais)

SRSQ is the solo project of Kennedy Ashylyn who also put out the Them Are Us Too album this year. A great album of gothy Cocteau Twins style jams. Kennedy has a hauntingly beautiful voice that will make you cry.


#44 Bound - No Beyond (Diehard Skeleton)

Another great new shoegaze band that sound like they could have come out of the '90s. A great collection of dreamy songs from this great DC band.


#43 The Spook School - Could It Be Different? (Slumberland)

I sure did fall in love with this record. I do think of all of these records on this list every year as my little special memory capsules. I can usually remember where I was when I first heard them or what I was feeling when I listened to them. This Scottish quartet is like a queer version of a twee band like Heavenly. Super catchy and endearing.


#42 The Sea & Cake - Any Day (Thrill Jockey)

There are certain voices that I just can never get out of my head. Sam Prekop is one of them. I love anytime I get to hear this dude. I was obsessed with his first solo album and many of The Sea & Cake albums. This album was really a pleasant surprise. They really do what they do so well. His voice is just so smooth and wraps around you like a warm blanket.


#41 Them Are Us Too - Amends (Dais)

Them Are Us Too is Cash Askew and Kennedy Ashlyn from the bay area. Cash passed away in the Ghost Ship fire in 2006. This beautiful album is full of dark and gothy shoegaze that could only come from the bay. It reminds me of living in San Francisco and the band Switchblade Symphony. A lovingly put together tribute and a fantastic little album.


#40 Ben Chatwin - Drone Signals (Village Green Recordings)

Absolutely beautiful ambient droney album. This is the companion piece to his album Staccato Signals. This was the kind of year that I needed to disappear into an album every once in a while. And this was that album. For fans like me of Max Richter and Johann Johannsson.


#39 Saloli - The Deep End (Kranky)

I can always count on Kranky to give me a couple great instrumental albums every year. Saloli is the project of Mary Sutton. And she has created a brilliant atmospheric synth masterpiece. Simple yet trance inducing. I seriously feel like I am floating up in the clouds when I listen to this. This album also features some stunning album art.


#38 Daniel Davies - Events Score (Burning Witches Records)

Daniel Davies also worked with John Carpenter on the new Halloween soundtrack. But this is his brilliant instrumental solo album. Sounds like something from the band Emeralds. An absolutely gorgeous and haunting album. This could be a soundtrack to a super dark sci-fi film.


#37 - Goodbye (Felte) is Jeff Fribourg from the band Froth. Sounds like the punk elements of Joy Division mixed up with some My Bloody Valentine style shoegaze. 


#36 Head Technician - Profane Architecture (Ecstatic)

Head Technician is Martin Jenkins aka Pye Corner Audio. He can really do no wrong. Super dark techno in the spirit of early Aphex Twin.


#35 Bloods - Feelings (Share It Music)

Garagey pop punk from Austrailia. Sort of like the Go-Go's or Bananarama mixed with Sleater-Kinney. Super fun and catchy.


#34 Camp Cope - How To Socialize & Make Friends (Run For Cover)

Camp Cope are another band from Australia. They are sort of folky indie rock. It is a great record that deserves to get more popular over here. I hope people discover them and fall in love with this record like I did.


#33 The Amazing - In Transit (Partisan Records)

I honestly barely listened to this entire album. I was so obsessed with the first track on the album that I would never make it to the rest of the album. These guys are sort of folkgaze. For fans of Red House Painters.


#32 Cat Power - Wanderer (Domino)

It really is crazy that Moon Pix came out 20 years ago! That was the first time I fell in love with Chan Marshall and Cat Power. We have gone on quite a journey together since then. I am happy she is sort of back to normal with this album because I really do love it. Her voice will always have a special place in my heart.


#31 Holy Motors - Slow Sundown (Wharf Cat)

This album came out at the beginning of the year but it has stayed with me the whole year. The singer reminds me of Mazzy Star. A perfect album for driving around late at night to. Not sure why this band was not featured on the last season of Twin Peaks. They would have fit in perfectly.


#30 Lala Lala - The Lamb (Hardly Art)

Another fun and catchy alternative pop album. I keep going back to this album and can never quite figure it out. But I do know that I like it and so should you. "When You Die" is the song I keep going back to on this album.


#29 Tirzah - Devotion (Domino)

This album reminds me of the mid to late '90s dance records. Sultry and soulful and a bit glitchy. This album would sit nicely next to Tricky or Portishead.


#28 Lowtide - Southern Mind (Rice Is Nice)

I could actually use more Slowdive in my life. So I am always happy to have another shoegaze band in my life that sounds like Slowdive. The perfect album to fall asleep to or try to stay awake to while driving home alone at night.


#27 Tracyanne & Danny - Tracyanne & Danny (Merge)

Tracyanne Campbell has one of those voices that will stay with me forever. I could never get enough of Camera Obscura so I am happy to have her back in my life. Jangly and twangy twee.


#26 Gang Gang DanceKazuashita (4AD)

The world is just always a bit better with a new Gang Gang Dance album. There is just something about this band that makes me so happy. I seriously just want to dive into this album cover and live inside this album for a while. They are just as weird and dreamy as ever. Ethereal jams.


#25 Teenage Wrist - Chrome Neon Jesus (Epitaph)

This album is straight up alternative '90s. I couldn't really help myself but falling under the spell of this one. I sort of need a couple of albums like this every year to keep my awake on the drive home when the shoegaze and dreampop is making me too sleepy.


#24 Nao - Saturn (RCA)

Dreamy and sensual R&B from the UK. The album deals with that tricky time in our late 20s and early 30s also known as Saturn return. Nao should also be a bigger deal than she is over here.


#23 U.S. Girls - A Poem Unlimited (4AD)

I am honestly still in love with the last U.S. Girls album. But I for sure had room in my life for this new one. We always need more albums like this in our life. Another album of politically charged indie dance tracks.


#22 Farao - Pure-O (Western Vinyl)

Farao is dreamy and dancey and ethereal. She likes to mix up her influences and manages to create her own unique sound. For fans of Bat For Lashes.


#21 Christine & The Queens - Chris (Because Music)

I sometimes have a hard time getting into some pop records. But this album took no time at all. This fantastic album is super fun and full of great pop songs. You can even listen to it in French or English. For fans of Robyn.


#20 Wild Nothing - Indigo (Captured Tracks)

I always end up liking whatever Wild Nothing does. It is just impossible for me to not like these records. Fuzzy dreampop always makes me happy. And I am always a fan of an album that you can lose yourself in.


#19 Ash Code - Perspektive (Metropolis)

I feel like I did not listen to as much new goth and spooky music as I normally do this year. But I do love this album. Super dark and synthy. For fans of Cold Cave.


#18 Now, Now - Saved (Next Wave)

Another album of emotional indie pop. Not you typical album but full of catchy and weird songs. For fans of Grimes and Chvrches.


#17 Nils Frahm - All Melody (Erased Tapes)

I have been trying to get into Nils Frahm for a while now but this is the album that finally did it. He has created one of the most beautiful albums of the year. Dramatic and modern classical music with his own electronic twist.


#16 Lucy Dacus - Historian (Matador)

Lucy Dacus is one third of boygenius along with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. I was already a big fan of the other two but had not yet experienced the genius of Lucy Dacus. I really am loving all these brilliant female singer songwriters that keep unleashing all these masterpieces on us.


#15 Peel Dream Magazine - Modern Meta Physic (Slumberland)

I am always looking for a new band that can make me feel like I feel when I listen to Stereolab. It is that certain kind of '60s feeling shoegaze. Mixing up all your favorite genres to make an album worthy of your time.


#14 Flasher - Constant Image (Domino)

This album makes me happy. Reminds me of the punkish indie bands of the '90s like Imperial Teen or The Breeders. These guys write some super catchy songs. Hints of new wave always make me happy too.


#13 Mitski - Be The Cowboy (Dead Oceans)

Mitski finally won me over with her fifth album. I am really not sure what took me so long to be convinced how great she is. A fantastic indie synthy pop record. Super fun and dancey.


#12  Kississippi - Sunset Blush (Triple Crown Records)

This is another one of those perfect records I just happened upon. I love the band name so I was hoping it would live up to that great name and it certainly does. The album is melancholic and poppy and the perfect album that you need in your life.


#11 Kevin Krauter - Toss Up (Bayonet Records)

Kevin Krauter from Hoops has gifted us another perfect album of smooth and dreamy soft pop. A nice album to relax into.

half waif

#10 Half Waif - Lavender (Cascine) 

I really don't love every album with a lady and a keyboard. But sometimes it just works perfectly. Half Waif is Nandi Rose Plunkett. She gives us another album of some darkly emotional synth pop. I just can't get enough of this music. "Lilac House" is the highlight of the album for me. I usually just start it over as soon as it ends. The album is dramatic in a similar way to Kate Bush. Full of emotion and theatricality in a way that works.


#9 Foxwarren - Foxwarren (Epitaph)

This album came out just in time to sneak into my top albums of the year. This is Canada's version of soft '70s era rock. I am a sucker for soft rock so it wasn't hard for me to fall for these guys. Better than most bands trying to do this same thing. Andy Shauf has a fantastic dreamy voice and this is the perfect project for him. The songs are catchy and immediately familiar.

jenn champion

#8 Jenn Champion - Single Rider (Hardly Art)

Jenn Champion has had many names and incarnations over the years. But I have seriously loved everything she has ever done. She was in one of my favorite bands Carissa's Wierd. Do yourself a favor and go rediscover the Carissa's Wierd albums.This new album is just the best. She has given us her version of a synth pop album. She is basically the indie rock Robyn on this new album. Reminds me of that Ladyhawke album I was obsessed with back in 2008.  I always love to have this lady in my life. I feel like she is always there for me right when I need her.


#7 Laurel - Dogviolet (Counter Records)

I really do love a good debut album. Not only is it exciting to listen to an artist for the first time. But you just know they are pouring everything they have into that first album. All their best lyrics that have been trapped inside them for years. There is nothing like that energy of a really good debut album. The UK has given us another great new artist in Laurel. Everyone should be listening to this album. She reminds me a bit of PJ Harvey. Imagine a more pop version of PJ but the same intensity and brilliance.

yves tumor

#6 Yves Tumor - Safe In The Hands Of Love (Warp Records)

Can we just talk about that album cover. Might be my favorite and most disturbing album art of the year. This album is a bit crazy at times but I love it. The album sounds like something David Lynch would create in one of his fever dreams. Experimental and dark at times. But also absolutely gorgeous and jazzy as well. It is always fun to find an album like this but also sometime impossible to explain what it is like until you get deep inside of it yourself. A deep and dark cinematic journey is where it will take you.

den mate

#5 Den-Mate - Loceke (Babe City Records)

I love everything about this album. It is hard to actually figure out where this album is taking you at times. It crosses over some genres even within the same song. It is dreamy and shoegazey and all the things that make me happy.  It really starts off with a fantastic track "Charlotte" and then just keeps getting better. Some of the songs almost seem too big for themselves. But the album really works and I look forward to losing myself inside of it every time I put it on.

snail mail

#4 Snail Mail - Lush (Matador)

I found myself obsessed with so many new female voices this year. It just sort of happened that way. I didn't really even notice until I started to put together my top 50 albums this year. This is another brilliant debut by another artist we now have to look forward to. Matador is a perfect home for Snail Mail. She captures that '90s sort of indie feel that Matador encapsulated so well. This album reminds me of Veruca Salt or Frente or Helium or all those bands I loved back then. I was so happy when I heard this for the first time and fell in love right away.

soft kill

#3 Soft Kill - Savior (Profound Lore)

At this point in my life I am deep into music nostalgia. Most albums that I get obsessed with remind me of a certain time in my life and most likely a certain album from my past. These guys are like a darker shoe gaze band at times. But also remind me of the darker bands of the '80s like The Chameleons or Killing Joke at times. All of the songs do have a certain urgency and energy to them. For fans of the early albums of Interpol or Editors.


#2 Tomberlin - At Weddings (Saddle Creek)

Sarah Beth of Tomberlin has one of those voices that can just tear you apart. It is an achingly heartbreaking beautiful little album. She deals with all the feelings of heartbreak and loneliness that we have all felt at some point in our life. But albums like this for some reason always make me feel good inside. It is soothing and comforting to know we are not alone. Tomberlin makes life just a little bit easier for all of us. A fantastic debut album that should go right up there with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers.

shannon shaw

#1 Shannon Shaw - Shannon In Nashville (Nonesuch)

It wasn't very hard to pick my #1 this year. I just could not get enough of this album. It kept me warm and happy throughout the months this year. Shannon of Shannon & the Clams made a brilliant solo debut album this year. That voice is just something else. It is like a girl group album that just got rediscovered. Except this is a new album and it is brilliant. It is dreamy and spooky and country tinged and everything you need in a good album. Put it on repeat and you will not be disappointed.


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