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Connor Skelly | Contributor
Top 5 Albums of 2018
5. Cardi B – Invasion of Privacy
I could not wait for this album to come out. Most of it was related to my sheer interest in how fans would respond to the first project after global hit “Bodak Yellow.” While the Bronx rapper was making a name for herself long before she had bloody shoes, I saw potential for her longevity as an artist with the single “Be Careful.” It was a controversial choice to kick off the release and that is absolutely a compliment. The album cemented Cardi B as a player in rap, becoming the de facto rival to Nicki Minaj though it seems that tension has subsided. While the production and industry-leading features vary enough to keep you listening all the way through, Cardi’s off-key rhymes detract from an otherwise stellar diving board into stardom.
4. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel
The first song I ever heard by Courtney Barnett was “Avant Gardener” and for the past 5 years, I have considered her one of my favorite storytellers. Her ability to throw you in the room with every minute detail and human emotion is what propelled her to the top of the alternative and indie charts. This time, however, her stories are less detailed, more introspective and highly unapologetic. While many know her as a relatable rocker, curious of the fighting couple in the parking lot while walking home with a bag of avocados, Barnett takes off the gloves and offers brutally honest feedback to the world she has so carefully observed. She tackles the frustration of Internet trolls in the single “Nameless, Faceless” while still inclined to give humanity the benefit of the doubt in “Hopefulessness.”
3. Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?
Alkaline Trio is my second favorite band so I will thoroughly enjoy anything they put out. That being said, I immediately loved this album as soon as a I heard “Blackbird.” The song was a familiar one, telling the tale of a kid with no plan completely immersed in the existence of a liberated woman in black. Trio’s latest album is also very reminiscent of their early work, enabled by their togetherness in the studio. Long-time fans will immediately hear the parallels to Goddammit or From Here To Infirmary while coming to the conclusion that Matt Skiba and Co. have a lot more in them in terms of songwriting and musical ingenuity.
2. Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
Parquet Courts do a complete 180 following up from 2016’s Human Performance, a much more reverent and introspective project. Wide Awake!, is fun, groovy, and carefree. It wraps up the feeling of accepting life and saying “Ah, fuck it” in a wonderful, little bow. This album basically told me: “Look, the world sucks and you are probably going to be around for awhile, so at least try to have a good time.” Co-singer Andrew Savage delivers subtle, yet socially-conscious critiques in “Violence”. In “Tenderness”, one of my personal favorites, I felt like I just finished the last mission in Fallout 3 and the dystopian world around me is starting to look a little bit brighter. The New York City punk band continues to sonically redefine what “punk” means in 2018 while delivering the usual punchiness and lack of apologies we would come to expect from The Clash, Descendents, or Bad Religion.
1. Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
“Well fuck, I’m miserable / Which means it’s me that hasn’t changed / Or moved an inch out of this place / That doesn’t mean I want to end up this way”
Spanish Love Songs – “Nuevo”
These 4 lines sum up SPL’s March 2018 release. This album succinctly articulates the desire to grow emotionally, socially, and financially while coping with the self-awareness of despair. A follow-up from 2016’s Giant Sings the Blues, Schmaltz is more anthemic, powerful and well, sadder, than any of the band’s previous work. Frontman Dylan Slocum encapsulates a world that many 20 and 30-somethings feel wherein the universe begins to pull away from them. Having to cope with aging family members, passing friends, and lost jobs is never easy and it is comforting to know that there are bands out there that convey those emotions and experiences in such an impactful way.
Oh and the transition between the first and second tracks gets rid of all the pain in the world, for a moment.
What are your thoughts on Connor’s Top 5 Albums of 2018?
Let him know on Twitter: @connor_skelly_