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Kylee Grimwood | Contributor
Some disclaimers before I get started:
- These are in no order whatsoever
- This Top Ten is around 60/40 subjective. I believe in the musical integrity and quality of these albums, but also I just like ‘em.
That said, narrowing it down to ten albums was SO difficult. But here they are.
Brother Moses – Magnolia
Standout tracks: “Inertia” | “Ache”
Brother Moses is admittedly one of my favorite bands of all time, so their appearance on this list was kind of expected, but boy did they earn it. Magnolia is chock full of insane musicianship from all five band members, and the storytelling from song to song is incredibly mature for their first full length album. Each song tells its own story, but the album also posits a lot of the questions and uncertainties that come with getting older and dealing with major milestones. I think my favorite part is that, for all of the questions raised, Brother Moses doesn’t fight to provide us with the answers, just the knowledge we aren’t ever quite as alone as we might think.
Liza Anne – Fine But Dying
Standout tracks: “Paranoia” | “Socks” | “I Love You, But I Need Another Year”
Liza Anne is everything I ever wanted to be, and this album is one of my go-to’s when my emotions get overwhelming. Trading out the more singer-songwriter vibe of her first two albums, Fine But Dying is full of grungy guitars and inventive melodies. Liza Anne is also refreshingly honest, writing about her mental health and personal character flaws in a way that’s vulnerable and accessible. Fine But Dying feels a lot like looking in a mirror, one of those mirrors that magnifies every pore and blemish on your face. But it also feels like you’re sitting on a couch with a friend, swapping worries and insecurities and not having to worry about any judgement.
THE WLDLFE – I’m Not Worried Anymore
Standout tracks: “Dream Pt. II” | “June”
I’m gonna be honest, this album was a dark horse for me. I had listened to THE WLDLFE and I dug their sound, but sidelined them into the “expected pop” category. I wasn’t even kind of prepared for the depths of their musical creativity, but I’m Not Worried Anymore changed my mind completely. This album is kind of anthemic for the Gen Z experience with songs about love, friendship and heartache, showing a lot of maturity in terms of the overall arc. I’m Not Worried Anymore is filled with risky instrumental choices and every one of them paid off.
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
Standout tracks: “Happy & Sad” | “High Horse”
Golden Hour is a combo of soft, heartfelt songs and upbeat, disco infused bops with none feeling out place. Choosing my favorite songs for this album feels a little like a cheat, because I really feel like it deserves to be listened to in its entirety. Kacey Musgraves was off my radar entirely as a country artist, but I have to say I was sorely mistaken in my not listening to her sooner. Kacey is an honest and simple storyteller and every word from her mouth feels authentic.
Leon Bridges – Good Thing
Standout tracks: “Shy” | “Beyond” | “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be)”
Leon Bridges is the kind of artist that makes me excited about the future of R&B. While he holds true to the smooth and buttery roots of his genre, every track provides something fresh and new. He croons about love, and I feel excited to fall. He sings of heartache, and I find myself hurting for him. Leon’s range and ability to convey emotion throughout this album really has me questioning why more people aren’t as obsessed with him as I am.
Brandi Carlile – By the Way, I Forgive You
Standout tracks: “The Joke” | “The Mother”
I’ve been listening to Brandi Carlile since high school when a friend introduced me to her 2007 album The Story. Aptly, she’s one of the most incredible storytelling songwriters I’ve ever heard and I’m so thrilled to see her finally getting the Grammy recognition she deserves. By The Way, I Forgive You charts the story of humanity, encouraging the listener to experience empathy for all sorts of people in all sorts of situations.
Lucy Dacus – Historian
Standout tracks: “Night Shift” | “Timefighter” | “Pillar of Truth”
It’s hard for me to think of a more explosive artist than Lucy Dacus. This is in part due to the way so many of her songs build to this massive crescendo of instruments and emotion. However, with the release of Historians, she’s also shot to the top of Album/Song of the Year articles at a ton of major publications, and she truly deserves it. Dacus pulls her songs from her journals, from her lived experiences and her songs reflect that with vulnerability and nuance.
Rayland Baxter – Wide Awake
Standout tracks: “Angeline” | “Sandra Monica” | “Let It All Go, Man”
Rayland Baxter is an artist that stands apart from the crowd. He fuses bluesy rock, motown and classic country, but somehow it all comes together. Wide Awake stands as a sort of commentary on American life, the obsessive nature of our culture and the divides that stand between us. The writing on this album paints a picture that criticizes without attacking, always keeping Baxter as involved as the rest of us.
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Standout tracks: “Geyser” | “Nobody” | “Washing Machine Heart”
This is Mitski’s fifth studio release and I’m honestly concerned this is the first I’m really hearing about her. She’s very clearly matured as a songwriter and artist, but the thing I find most compelling about this album is the adapted “cowboy” persona. She’s fearless, she’s rough around the edges and she’s unapologetic about all of it. She may be flawed, but rather than shying away from that she’s leaning into it, pulling us into the chaos alongside herself.
Mikaela Davis – Delivery
Standout tracks: “Emily” | “Do You Wanna Be Mine?” | “Other Lover”
Delivery is one of the last albums I came across this year, and I’m so glad to have it, even right at the buzzer. This is her first full length album, but it comes across as well-thought-out and full of intention. One of my favorite things about Davis is her key instrument being the harp, lending a certain classical whimsy to several songs on Delivery. Everything about Delivery seems to be seeking after creativity and uniqueness.
- Trash Panda – The Starclimber
- The Greeting Committee – This is It
- The Aces – When My Heart Felt Volcanic
- Gibbz – These are Love Songs
- Morgan Saint – Alien
What are your thoughts on Kylee’s Top Ten Albums of 2018?
Let her know on Twitter: @KyleeGrimwood
TAGS: Brother Moses | Liza Anne | THE WLDLFE | Kacey Musgraves | Leon Bridges | Brandi Carlile | Lucy Dacus | Rayland Baxter | Mitski | Mikaela Davis | Trash Panda | The Greeting Committee | The Aces | Gibbz | Morgan Saint