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Our Top Picks for the Best Albums of 2018

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With December here and gone in just days, it’s time to look back at some of the best music 2018 had to offer, and we can’t hide our astonishment over the gifts so many artists have bestowed upon our ears this year! The past 12 months have proved massive for music lovers, from seasoned artists to a few finding their voice and experimenting with sound, there is something to love for just about everyone.

But before we bid farewell to the past year, our staff shares an eclectic mix of their favorite albums from 2018 that are bound to become classics in the years ahead. Did your favorites make the cut?

Ben Rector, “Magic”

Alex Keobke: Ben Rector has been creating outstanding music since his 2007 debut album, Twenty Tomorrow. His soulful voice is combined with heartfelt lyrics that are sure to put a smile on the face of those who take the time out to listen to some of his best work. Rector showed that he is at the top of his game with the release of his most recent album, Magic, earlier this year. The album was very successful including debuting at number 1 according to Billboard’s American/Folk albums and has helped Rector’s career reach new heights. While there are many tremendous songs on the album, a personal favorite is the touching song, “I wIll Always Be Yours” that may be the first dance song between my future wife and I when we get married this September. Rector is currently gearing up for a tour that will last two months and see him travel to several different cities in America.

Janelle Monae, “Dirty Computer”

Elizabeth The: For years, Janelle Monae has flown under the radar — the underappreciation for her unique artistry was frankly criminal. It was Dirty Computer that finally brought this Neo Soul Queen under the spotlight where she belongs. This eclectic and electrifying album takes us through Monae’s journey of self love, sexual liberation, and individual freedom as the singer/rapper gets personal and real about her identity and her take on the American Dream (and with a whole lotta funk at that). From “Make Me Feel” to “Pynk,” Dirty Computer is a celebration of being your authentic self and is a true contender for Album of the Year at the 2019 Grammys.

Matt Nathanson, “Sings His Sad Heart”

Nicole Drum: With songs that about a long-in-the-past breakup, Sings His Sad Heart hits all the right notes for feelings that we all feel but are often too unwilling to admit: the lingering sadness, regret, and feelings of loss for relationships that we’ve long walked away from but still wonder about. It may not be the album that hits the hardest this year or the one with the biggest hits, but there’s an honesty and an introspection there that makes it a must-listen — one that might just help heal your own sad heart.

First Aid Kit, “Ruins”

Tania Hussain: One of my favorite records from the past year comes from First Aid Kit with their fourth studio album, Ruins. In what might be their best yet, Ruins brilliantly blends elements of folk with a melodramatic ’50s/’60s country pop, while tapping into the genre’s dark, gritty and moody dynamics. Musical duo and sisters, Klara and Johanna Soderbergh, have created a record that really challenges their sound as well and lifts them to harmonic new heights in a 10-track record that details a disintegrating relationship with a cool intelligence backed by strong emotion. With beautifully harmonic voices that balance out the sound and feeling that counters the loneliness felt in every one of the lyrics, each track showcases a sharp sentiment with nostalgia-soaked sounds and stylization. It’s incredibly underappreciated and something you must hear. Honorable mention goes to my second most-listened to record of this year, Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour.

Paul Simon, “In the Blue Light”

Katherine Hernandez: The best album I heard in 2018 was Paul Simon’s “In the Blue Light.” While not full of new tracks, Simon’s fresh take on existing tracks and deep cuts makes this album feel almost brand new. Those who were lucky enough, myself included, to see his Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour were introduced to some of these arrangements and his collaboration with yMusic on songs like “Can’t Run But” and “Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War.” While these songs weren’t necessarily hits for Simon the first time, this album proves that sometimes things are better the second time around.

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What were some of your favorite albums of 2018? Share with us in the comments below.

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