31 decent albums from 2018

I figure if you can’t get a year end album list out by the end of the year, you may as well hold off and coordinate it with the Grammys.

Meek Mill had a better 2018 than Drake.

31) Travis Scott Astroworld

I listened just long enough, at just the right volume, to reach the point where this started to sound good enough to make my list. I refuse to turn into a curmudgeon.

30) Jay Rock Redemption

The best song on the album is a jock jam, which is cool for Jay’s bottom line, but I’m still waiting on the Kendickesque masterpiece.

29) Neko Case Hell-On

As I close in on 40 I’m learning to appreciate music that sounds good with leisurely weekend coffee and Neko fits the bill.

28) David Byrne American Utopia

I really, really wanted it to be better but the earnestness of the corny lyrics is endearing. Bonus bucks for putting me in the mood to listen to more Talking Heads in 2018.

27) Nas Nasir

This one didn’t deserve the critical beating it took. Nothing here is terribly groundbreaking, but Nas was a victim of Kanye fatigue here.

26) Dave East Paranoia 2

The Nas protege outdid his mentor in 2018.

25) ASAP Rocky Testing

Rocky tries to do way too much with this one, but there are plenty of gems and the rest is fine.

24) Nicki Minaj Queen

Cardi’s success probably helped create an environment where Nicki’s people let her put out a straight up rap album, even if it sounds like she is playing catch up to her new rival.

23) SOB X RBE Gangin

They are the best new rappers period. Two albums and the hands down highlight of the Black Panther soundtrack…..everything they touched was perfect. Best rap group of the year. Best anything group of the year.

22) Chvrches Love is Dead

Nah, they haven’t shown a ton of growth in three albums, but I appreciate a band that can just be consistently enjoyable.

21) Blood Orange Negro Swan

Dev Hynes latest release lacks the standout tracks of his previous work. I appreciate him as an artist, but I had to work harder to enjoy this one.

20) Vince Staples FM!

More songs please.

19) Lil Wayne Tha Carter V

Easily Wayne’s best album in a decade. He settles in to being a legend and doesn’t try to cater to younger ears.

18) The Decemberists I’ll Be Your Girl

A far cry from their prime, but another decent collection of songs.

17) J. Cole KOD

He has the heart but lacks the skill of a GOAT….he’s like the sixth man on a championship team, coming in to manage the game while Kendrick rests up for the final push.

16) John Prine Tree of Forgiveness

This is an excellent late career gem by a great American songwriter.

15) Various Artists Black Panther: The Album

It has Kendrick Lamar, Vince Staples, and SOB X RBE (did I mention I love them?) Without a Kendrick album in 2018 this has to do.

14) Frank Turner Be More Kind

Yeah, it’s all fairly generic but I’m a sucker for big singalongs.

13) Courtney Barnett Tell Me How You Really Feel

Thankfully she wasn’t born in an earlier generation when the industry would have cut off her teeth and forced her to sing coffee house music.

12) Cupcakke Ephorize

That “Goodnight Moon” line is a strong contender for lyric of the year. Cupcakke may be the best rapper in the world right now. Seriously.

11) Kanye West Ye

Yeah, I’m just a fan I guess….sue me.

10) Kanye West and Kid Cudi Kids See Ghosts

^continued^ This is the album I was most surprised to like this year.

9) Pusha T Daytona

Wrapping up the G.O.O.D. portion, Push is on as usual, outshining everyone in the Wyoming sessions.

8) Pistol Annies Interstate Gospel

Oh look at me I’m eclectic cause I listen to Pusha T AND Miranda Lambert’s country super group.

7) Robyn Honey

It took me a minute to get used to a Robyn album that didn’t smash me over the head with big hooks but I came around.

6) Car Seat Headrest Twin Fantasy

This is probably the only new rock band I have gotten into since going on festival hiatus. I bet they (he?) kick ass at a festival. Confirmation?

5) Father John Misty God’s Favorite Customer

I loved Pure Comedy. And then it just kept going and going and all the songs starting blending together like a Drake album. 2018’s offering was like collecting the previous work’s highlights into a concise soundtrack for mental illness and religious angst. Love.

4) The Carters Everything is Love

Jay-Z and Beyonce could have put out a gimmick and still increased their brand. Instead they completed the trilogy, building on their recent solo releases and painting a candid picture of the joys and pitfalls of life as rap royalty. Well into middle age and still breaking new ground, this is uncharted territory in a genre that is no longer just for the kids.

3) Janelle Monae Dirty Computer\

Janelle has been crushing for a while now. It’s refreshing to see her star rise.

2) Phosphorescent C’est la Vie

The title track is Matthew Houck’s best song yet and the album flows into a cohesive compilation with absolutely no weak moments. It’s the band’s best album and in ten years will most likely be my favorite album of 2018. It probably is.

1) Cardi B Invasion of Privacy

My music taste lives in the moment and this is Cardi’s moment. This is the best pure rap album by a woman since, I don’t know….a great many years? And it arrives at a moment hip hop is rightfully being asked to answer for its woeful underrepresentation of female artists. We are still years away from knowing if Cardi has the staying power to diversify a few GOAT lists, but Invasion of Privacy is just perfect for 2018.

I’m going to redo this list a year from now to reflect some artists I’ve listened to a lot over the last month or so….so don’t scream at me about Kacey and Meek just yet.