WVAU’s 2018 Albums of the Year


WVAU Staff

Every year, WVAU asks its community about the music that moved them, the songs they listened to on repeat, and the albums they’ll never forget. This year, in a new form, we’re highlighting what our community says is this year’s best. These are WVAU’s albums of the year.

10. Spirit of the Beehive – Hypnic Jerks

When I first heard about Hypnic Jerks, the unexpected new LP by indie punk group the Spirit of the Beehive, I was honestly a little worried. When I first listened to the Philadelphia rock band in 2017 on the critically acclaimed Pleasure Suck, it was out of love for their distorted basement-rock stylings mixed with experimental cuts and jumps. When I heard that the same band that had defaced every potential moment of listener gratification through pitch-warping, reverb, and distortion had embodied a new psych-pop sound I had my doubts. But, as the first distorted vocal of opening number “nail I couldn’t bite” rang out, I was hooked. Even though the record reverts to pop-nuances at time, it still manages to seamlessly interweave a trademark grittiness, dare I say ugliness, that TSOTB have made all their own. Read Shannon’s full column on the Spirit of the Beehive’s album, Hypnic Jerks.

9. Kali Uchis – Isolation

2018 appears to have treated Kali Uchis well! Her debut album, Isolation, received much deserved, wide-spread acclaim. As someone that has been listening to Uchis since her first mixtape, Por Vida, this album was magic. Hearing her angelic voice, infused with expertly produced tunes and beautifully resonating lyrics, I could not help but feel proud to have been witness to the journey of this talented artist. Tracks like “Your Teeth In My Neck,” “Dead To Me,” and even interlude “Gotta Get Up” were clear portrayals of the beloved “Uchis-sound” that her fans have grown to love. With that said, I am even more excited to see what the future holds for this artist!

8. The Internet – Hive Mind

The Internet is one band that I sadly did not get to see live this year, and after watching everyone’s Snapchat stories, I know what my New Year’s resolution is going to be. This group is overflowing with talented artists, and when they come together it is simply dreamlike. In their fourth album, The Internet served up exactly what we were all expecting—good music. Hive Mind features favorites like “Come Over,” “Hold On,” and “Next Time/Humble Pie.” This album, like much of 2018 was shaped around retro vibes; really embracing the good of the olden days. Of course, the nostalgic tunes this group produces come with their own contemporary twists, as one would expect when you have such exceptional artists creating them. 

7. Travis Scott – ASTROWORLD

“SICKO MODE” was definitively one the best hype songs of the year. If you and your friends were getting for a night out, and it was not queued up—should you have even gone out in the first place? Travis Scott had a pretty big year, with his share of tabloid drama, but he set the record straight by showing that at the end day he takes his craft seriously. Standouts on ASTROWORLD, other than “SICKO MODE” of course, included “STARGAZING,” “YOSEMITE,” and “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” and arguably the rest of the album. The name of the game this year appears to have been versatility. Scott proved that by dropping 17 tracks that clearly share a similar sound but come at that sound from various angles as you can see in tracks like “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” and “WHO? WHAT!”

6. Snail Mail – Lush

Snail Mail a.k.a. Lindsey Jordan made her presence known with her single “Pristine,” and her debut album Lush kept the same energy. Jordan is out here proving that indie rock is not dead yet. That is no small feat, especially when you consider that she is only 19 years old. With lyrics that carry maturity well beyond her years, Snail Mail’s moody tunes were just the right tone for 2018. Tracks like “Speaking Terms,” and “Heat Wave” are heartbreakingly beautiful, and ride the amazingly fine line of pushing you to cry your eyes out and hold your head up high (why not do both?).  

5. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

Brooklyn rock band Parquet Courts knows how to release incredible albums filled with bangers all around. But their latest album, Wide Awake!, has to be their best. The first song off the album, “Total Football,” kicks off the record with an incredible guitar melody and even better lyrics, especially in reference to Tom Brady. Other hits on the album include “Almost Had To Start A Fight/In And Out Of Patience,” “Freebird II,” and “Tenderness.” This album has banger after banger and is worth listening to 100 times over.

4. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

Courtney Barnett‘s second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, is a wonderful indie, garage rock album. This album only grows on Barnett’s sound in her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, with compelling vocals, flourished hooks, and aggressive instrumentation. Songs that really show Barnett’s range as a musician are bangers “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch” and “Nameless, Faceless.”

3. Blood Orange – Negro Swan

Negro Swan, given its message, was one of the most poignant albums of this year. Blood Orange was able to brilliantly encapsulate both the beauty and pain of contemporary marginalized communities in his 16-track art piece. With features from the likes of Steve Lacy, Tei Shi, and A$AP Rocky (“Chewing Gum” was definitely a favorite of mine), Blood Orange crafted some timeless bops that bring representation to the feelings of people that so often feel silenced and unheard. His inclusion of narration from transgender rights activist, Janet Mock, was so refreshing, and something wholly different from what we typically see from the music industry. In these changing times, this album is one that I am sure we will be talking about for years to come.

2. Noname – Room 25

Noname proved her artistry with Telefone in 2016, and this year’s Room 25 only cemented her place in the rap game. The name behind Noname is actually Fatimah Warner, who hails from Chicago. Ironically, listening to her music I drew some parallels to fellow Chicagoan, Chance the Rapper. Her sound is one that can both lull you into relaxation and also hype you up, all while making you think and ponder the rhymes she spits. Something that really stuck out on this record, was the range of influences. Each track seems to have been woven together with care, different spices and genres. “Ace,” “Part of Me,” and “Montego Bae” were three of my favorites and they are great examples of the creativity that was put into this album.

Note: Noname is changing her album cover, so we included a photo of her. 

1. Mitski – Be the Cowboy

Mitski‘s Be The Cowboy was one of this year’s most touching and personal albums. What isn’t there to love about Be The Cowboy? From Mitski’s beautiful vocals to the complex arrangements found in each song, Mitski creates a dynamic and vulnerable album. Songs including playful-bop “Nobody” to sorrowful “Two Slow Dancers” are hits. She sounds her best ever in this album – confident, radiant, and daring, which is why this has to be our number one choice.