SPILL MAGAZINE’S BEST ALBUMS OF 2018
With a huge team of writers and an absolutely massive list of albums reviewed this year, it was no easy task to come up with something resembling agreement on what Spill Magazine identifies as the top albums of the year. We are nothing if not ambitious though, and so here we are.
There is nothing easy about rating another’s art, and this year like the last was one high on inspiration, variety, and creativity…and absolutely overflowing with social commentary. These are fertile times for the seeds of change to take root, and many artists used their platforms to discuss the need for change, their discontent with present reality, or their hopes for a more balanced, accepting future. We also had a host of reissues, much of it from the most influential band in the history of music, The Beatles, as well greatest hits, film soundtracks, live albums, and remasters. Phew, that’s a lot of music to listen to. Thank goodness for good headphones and quiet moments.
In order to choose from a manageable list of albums, the entire catalogue of reviews was sifted through, selecting for a final vote only those new releases that were given a nine or ten rating. The shortlist was then voted on by Spill Writers, and the end result is the top six albums that rose to the top. Here are the top albums of 2018, as selected by Spill Magazine.
Bahamas, Earth Tones
Ezra Furman, Transangelic Exodus
Lucy Dacus, Historian
Myles Kennedy, Year of the Tiger
Yungblud, 21st Century Liability
Our top six albums of the year (because who wants to feel limited to a top five, right?) for 2018 are:
#6: Cancer Bats, The Spark That Moves
“While Cancer Bats have spent the last few years pursuing their Black Sabbath cover routine – cleverly called Bat Sabbath – the band returns sounding refreshed with their first record in three years and their best album since Hail Destroyer. The Spark That Moves is a blistering eleven-track album that pulls no punches. Cancer Bats sound tighter, focused, and as ambitious as ever as they clearly embark on what can very well grow to be one of the greatest highlights of their career.” ~Gerrod Harris
#5: IDLES, Joy As An Act of Resistance
“There is no shortage of thunder or urgency, the telltale sign of a band swimming in relevance, but there is also a seemingly carefully plotted control over both the vocals and the instrumentation such that the message behind the songs – songs about the dangers of traditional masculinity, and those of post-Brexit isolationism – always is at the fore.” ~Br.
#4: Young Fathers, Cocoa Sugar
“Nothing is easy about Edinburgh-based, genre-defying trio Young Fathers, though that ultimately is what is most arresting about them. Winning the Mercury Prize in 2014 and being heavily supported by trip-hop and electronic pioneers Massive Attack doesn’t hurt their appeal either. In truth, just like their genre and influences are hard to narrow down to a manageable list, it is similarly difficult to narrow down exactly why this album is so intensely engrossing. That struggle in classification and quantification may end up being the crux of the band as a whole – what is easiest to celebrate and appreciate about them is the simple fact that there is no box anywhere that could possibly fit the band inside.” ~Br.
#3: Travis Scott, Astroworld
“The entire album is amazing. One thing that the album does well is to be very diverse. Travis Scott is not afraid to use the infamous auto-tuned syncs and vocals he is known for on one track and switch up his style on another song. This can be seen on the songs, “Stop Trying to be God”, “No ByStanders”, and “Carrousel”. In “Stop Trying to be God”, Scott meshes low vocals with live instrumentation and a spaced-out beat to create something not really heard in music. But in songs like “No ByStanders” and “Carrousel” he creates an intense atmosphere that makes someone want to jump around and rage. Overall, despite offering different sounds, the listener is able to appreciate what this album offers.” ~Jonathan Hazlewood
#2: Courtney Barnett, Tell Me How You Really Feel
“There is something infectious about Courtney Barnett, something immediately arresting or even downright lovable about the authentically laissez-faire way that she seems to approach music. She smiles easily, writes lyrics that make you think as easily as make you laugh, seems willing to talk about music all day, and is delightfully bashful about her fame. On top of that, she writes simply great songs that cover a massive spectrum of influences, intentions, and instrumentation. While her 2015 debut Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit was full of quirky, wittily-constructed songs, Tell Me How You Really Feel shows a much more emotionally vulnerable side of Barnett, taking more overt risks in both the construction of her lyrics and the sonic landscapes upon which they are built.” ~Br.
#1: Paul McCartney, Egypt Station
“Egypt Station is pure McCartney. No Kanye, no attempt to appeal to kids, nothing but true, honest music. At 76 McCartney is at the top of his game. There is enough on this album to keep a listener glued to it for a very long time. It is a complex album, which means it endures. McCartney has nothing to prove at this stage, hell he had nothing to prove 40 years ago, but he continues to release albums that are thought provoking and songs with which listeners can relate. This is not an album for millennials, maybe they might enjoy it, but an album for people willing to listen to an album from beginning to end, and an album about more issues with aging.” ~Aaron Badgley
Thanks as always to all of our devoted and constant readers for your continued support, and of course, thanks to the artists for supplying us with the ultimately unquantifiable alchemy, the creative balancing act, the beautiful and terrible inspiration that is music. Happy holidays!