It has been an excellent year so far in the music industry. Although it is still too early to make any big statements, but 2018 is shaping up to be a clear improvement on last year. Only two months in and a plethora of fantastic albums have already been released and there isn’t a specific genre asserting its dominance just yet.
No. 5 Veteran- Jpegmafia
Genre: Hip Hop/ Experimental Hip Hop
It’s been an interesting year so far in Hip Hop, most mainstream releases have been rather lackluster, Drake being the only mainstream artists who has released anything truly worth noting with his two track EP, Scary Hours, and his feature on Blocboy JB’s Look Alive. Migos’ highly anticipated album, Culture 2, the sequel to their well received 2017 album, Culture, was over-saturated with unnecessary filler tracks and unexciting production. Nevertheless the album got streamed over a billion times on spotify, so I doubt the Quality Control signees are going to be bothered by the lack of critical acclimation. On the other side of the spectrum, however, alternative and underground Hip Hop have started off 2018 excellently with artists such as; Maxo Kream, Black Milk, and Yoshi Thompkins all releasing great albums, but none are as impressive as Jpegmafia’s experimental Hip Hop album, Veteran.
The 28 year old rapper gifted the Hip Hop community a unique album filled with absurd samples and hilarious lyrics matched by a smooth delivery that perfectly fits his style. Jpegmafia offers his audience a new take on experimental Hip Hop, for years now the subgenre has been associated with distorted bass lines screaming vocals, but the Maryland rapper’s smooth vocal delivery and effortless flow leaves his music more accessible for a mainstream audience, especially when compared to his contemporaries, such as; Death Grips and Danny Brown. Filled with satirical cut throat lyrics fuelled by Jpegmafia’s dark humor, this combination ends up creating some genuinely quotable one liners and hilarious moments all throughout this album.
No. 4 Post- Jeff Rosenstock
Genre: Punk/Pop Punk
With major Punk and Pop Punk influences, Jeff Rosenstock fills his newest album with next level social commentary and awareness and incredible melodies. Punk and Pop Punk especially is a genre that lost its stature, since every subpar and mediocre band from the previous decade decided to milk its sound dry. After years of full grown adults creating entire discographies about the struggles of angsty high school loners, it became easy to forget what an incredible genre Punk is, and it’s safe to say the Rosenstock brought the genre back with his previous album, Worry, a project that would get Pitchfork to describe its creator as “one of the most important figures in modern punk”. Rosenstock set the bar as high as he could with his previous album, but he definitely does not disappoint on its successor. Hundreds of artists over the past few years have attempted to tackle the current American social and political landscape in their work, be it Painters, Stand up comedians, or rappers, everyone is filtering their political opinion into their art, but almost nobody does it as well as Jeff Rosenstock on his newest album.
No. 3 Someone Out There- Rae Morris
Rae Morris is the least experimental and cutting edge artist on this list, yet her project is extremely enjoyable, and one of the year’s highlights, where each song on this album is a defining example of what high quality pop music sounds like. Rae doesn’t need to do anything crazy or different to attract the listener, her tremendous raw talent is enough to do that on its own. Someone Out There is arguably the most well produced project of the year so far, and Rae Morris continuously proves on this album that in a few years she could very well rival some of the biggest and most talented names in the industry. While most songs on here are traditional pop songs, with catchy hooks and enjoyable verses that are perfect for a car ride with your friends, Rae Morris proves her artistic versatility on the album’s title track, a song that is sure to leave you emotional by the time it concludes.
No.2: Little Dark Age- MGMT
With some of the most interesting subject matter I have come across in recent years, the duo manages to create one of the best albums of the year. No matter how many great albums 2018 will offer, Little Dark Age is still going to be one of the more notable releases of this year. This record is far more than beautiful instrumentals and catchy hooks, although that is definitely what the listener is going to notice on the first listen, those won’t be the reason MGMT fans are going to constantly be coming back to revisit the LP, it’ll be the well written verses and truly intriguing subject matter. There are thousands upon thousands of songs that revolve around love and heartbreak, but I don’t believe I have ever listened to a song about a relationship failing due to the girlfriend working out too much, which is the topic MGMT sing about on the opening track of this album.
No. 1: In a Poem Unlimited- U.S Girls
This album was not meant to make this list, I had my top five good and ready right until I randomly stumbled upon this record and suddenly, I was restructuring this entire article. Undoubtedly the best Pop release of the year, if not the best release of the year in general. In a Poem Unlimited is an album with no standout feature, not because there is nothing special about this record, but because there are so many excellent features that it is impossible to highlight a single aspect and claim it outshines the others. Carried by excellent song writing, and a blend of Synth Pop and Disco in the instrumentals, singer Meg Remy shines on this record to create what could potentially be her magnum opus. Sonically speaking, this album is as versatile as they come, any other artist attempting to sing over these kind of instrumentals would end up with a messy project. Every artist tries to familiarise their listener with a certain sound to build expectations and consistency, but it’s impossible to associate U.S. Girls with just one sound after listening to this project, instead you will be associating her with what phenomenal artistry sounds like.