Top Five Albums of 2018

Commentary, Music

2018 brought incredible new music from some of my all-time favourite artists.

New albums from Judas Priest, Arkells, Bob Moses, Laura Jane Grace, Courtney Barnett, Metric, and Florence and the Machine. A bunch of great singles from Avril Lavigne, Kesha, and The Beaches. A futuristic concept album movie from Janelle Monae. Marilyn Manson covered the theme from The Lost Boys. Our cups truly ranneth over!

Read on for my Top 5 albums of the year, followed by some of my fave 2018 songs in no particular order.

1. Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer

dc

Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer does for the Information Age what Ziggy Stardust did for the space age – namely, weave the concerns of the day into a radical tale of identity, repression, and rebellion. Dirty Computer is set in a neon dystopia where joy exists clandestinely, and where outsiders struggle to survive and express themselves in a society that sees them as a glitch to be erased. Sonically, the album tells this story through exuberant funk, electro-pop and R&B, with forays into rap and psychedelia.

Monae’s lyrics are witty and often dual-edged, with deeper meetings buried beneath  catchy synths and funky guitars. This is cyberpunk at its sunniest.

(Read my full review here.)

2. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel 

cb

Courtney Barnett’s sophomore album is a confessional rock record that retains the singer-guitarist’s gift for wit and wordplay. With distorted guitars and unpolished vocals, Tell Me How You Really Feel is grungier than its predecessor. That said, it’s also disarmingly earnest, with moments of anger tempered by frank honesty.

Read my full review here.

3. Judas Priest – Firepower

firepowerJudas Priest’s Firepower is a behemoth of an album, apocalyptic and oddly intimate, filled with songs to do battle by – and lonesome walks through the rubble. Iconic metal vocalist Rob Halford is in fine form here – whether he’s growling demonically or shrieking like a bansheehe’s never sounded so wicked.

(Read my full review here).

4. Dear Rouge – PHASES

phases

Dear Rouge’s sophomore effort is a stylish collection of new wave-tinged electro-rock.  The strongest songs arrive on the last two thirds of the album: “Motion” is a swaggering eighties throwback, while “Chains” and “Little by Little” are infectiously danceable anthems of persistence. “Flashes” glitters like a disco ball, and “Modern Shakedown” sounds like something Rough Trade would have put out in the eighties.

Read my full review here.

5. Arkells – Rally Cry

Rally CryA theme of solidarity runs through Arkells’ latest record, a collection of rock anthems about love, righteous anger, and community. The Hamilton rockers have a Tragically Hip-ish tendency to bury darker meanings under euphoric choruses and radio friendly riffs. But it’s not all doom and gloom – this is a rally, after all. Defiant, angry, and kind in equal measure, Rally Cry is the album we needed in 2018.

Read my full review here.


Bonus: Top Ten Songs of 2018*

And now, in no particular order, my ten favourite songs of the year.

*To avoid repetition, I’ve excluded songs included on the albums listed above. You should really just listen to everything here.

Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers – Apocalypse Now (& Later)

Diemonds – Our Song

Avril Lavigne – Tell Me It’s Over

Bob Moses – Back Down

The Beaches – Fascination

Florence and the Machine – Hunger

Rod Stewart – Grace

Metric – Dark Saturday

Marilyn Manson – Cry Little Sister

Kesha – Here Comes the Change

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