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2018 Music Roundup

Ian Davino, Claude Brun, Elliot Armitage, and Owen Ashley, A&E Editor, Video Editor, Staff Reporter, and Contributing Reporter
Originally published January 17, 2019


Travis Scott – Astroworld

After crafting the trap masterpiece “Rodeo,” Travis Scott followed it up with the disappointing “Birds in the Trap Sing Mcknight,” leading many to call his debut a fluke. “Astroworld” proves that Scott’s talent for crafting structurally impressive and instrumentally dynamic rap songs was no flash in the pan, as it lives up to, and arguably surpasses it.


Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts

A psychedelic, emotive odyssey, Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s “Kids See Ghosts” is only 23 minutes long but packs in more content than most full length albums. “Kids See Ghosts” has two halves: a ferocious, energetic first act and a more contemplative second one, a structure rarely seen in such short albums that nonetheless excellently embodies the themes of mental health and bipolar disorder that run through the album. West and Cudi play off of each other and their styles are a beautiful contrast, as West is brazen and outspoken while Cudi hums and sings softly. “Kids See Ghosts” is a must-listen, a record that defies genre and length conventions, one that only gets better with every listen.



Beach House – 7

Filled with beautifully aetherial melodies and impressively tight production, “7” is a return to form for the Baltimore dream pop duo. The album strikes the perfect balance of the youthful sparkle of their breakout 2010 project “Teen Dream” and a new, darker direction. The duo uses grand walls of synth and driving drum machine patterns to back the wonderfully soothing singing. “7” is possibly Beach House’s most dynamic album and a must listen for anyone interested in their artful dream pop aesthetic.



Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

True to the band’s inspirations in classic punk music and The Velvet Underground, “Wide Awake!” is packed with socio-political commentary that rarely devolves into cheap sloganeering as a lot of political music does. That being said, this isn’t a political record but rather an excellent post-punk/indie rock album that just happens to find much of its lyrical content in the divisive landscape of 2018. Incredibly groovy drum beats and baselines back the youthful and brash singing with lyrics that get straight to the point in the best way possible.



Blood Orange – Negro Swan

“Negro Swan,” the fourth studio album from Blood Orange (Devonte Hynes), embodies its name to the fullest: it tackles dark and hopeless realities with an elegant and beautiful musical edge. Driven by beautiful synths and horns, tracks like “Saint” and “Charcoal Baby” pair this with despondent portraitures, while Hynes’ demand “tell me want you want from me” in “Chewing Gum” makes him seem truly tired with the problems facing him and his community. The record is a powerful and poignant character study and cultural commentary, and is undoubtedly Hynes’ best work to date.



Death Grips – Year of the Snitch

The most recent project from experimental hip hop group Death Grips is an exciting and avante garde foray into psychedelic rock with noise rap overtones. From the rave inspired opener “Death Grips is Online” to the black metal flavored closer “Disappointed”, Death Grips manages to create a surprisingly cohesive project considering how eclectic and experimental it is. “Hahaha” sounds like a 70’s surf rocker took every drug in existence while “Dilemma” is a psychedelic rock anthem with one of the catchiest choruses on the project. “Year of the Snitch” project is catchier than it may seem at first listen, while still maintaining the harsh experimental edge. It might be a little hard to get into but there is no denying Death Grips’ mastery of what they do.



Kali Uchis – Isolation

After featuring on songs by Daniel Cæsar and Tyler, The Creator, Kali Uchis’ debut album “Isolation” is filled to the brim with soulful and catchy contemporary r&b. “Isolation” touches back to Uchis’ Colombian roots on songs like “Neustra Planeta” while working with modern contemporaries on “Just A Stranger” or “After The Storm.” Chilled and tropical, “Isolation” is one of the more memorable projects of 2018




The self-produced beats on underground rapper JPEGMAFIA’s latest offering “Veteran” are so vivid and textural that you feel like you can almost reach out and touch them. This, alongside his charismatic delivery that ranges from sassy to furious, makes it one of the most unique and surprising rap albums to drop this year. Jpeg takes on some of the hottest flows in hip hop with a tone of parody but despite this, “Veteran” feels decidedly original and it’s surely worth a listen for anybody interested in underground hip hop.


Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy

A re-recording of a 2011 lo-fi bedroom pop album posted to Bandcamp and recorded in the back seat of a car in a Target parking lot, “Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)” retains the sensitive indie charm of the original while completely revamping its sound. Many tracks go from emotionally poignant and personal verses to roaring choruses filled with some of the best sounding guitar leads of 2018. If you’re worried that real rock music is dead or stagnating, listen to “Twin Fantasy” and think again.



MGMT – Little Dark Age

The first album from MGMT in five years, “Little Dark Age” boasts their best and most concrete sound yet. Ranging from weird, impersonal, and cruel to eccentric, touching and deeply personal- you’ll find yourself tapping confused feet. Dark synths and vocals mixed with pop structure and cutting lyrics work best when listened to all in one go, immersing you in the slightly deranged headspace MGMT worked so hard to create.


Honorable Mentions:

Lil Wayne – The Carter V

J.Cole – KOD

Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs

Playboi Carti – Die Lit

Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today

Skeggs – My Own Mess

Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending

Jack White – Boarding House Reach

Mitski – Be the Cowboy

Brockhampton – Iridescence

A$AP Rocky – Testing

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2018 Music Roundup