Favourite Albums of 2018, #5 to #1

Note: Not recommending individual songs here – every song on these albums is worth your time

#5. 7, Beach House

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There are few bands capable of making music as richly textured as Beach House. With 7, they craft a work of dark brilliance, with their signature swirling guitars, densely textured vocals and haunting atmospherics. There’s a bite to their sound that defies the melancholy of past work, surging forward. Beach House have always made memorable, lush music – and this record suffuses it with a shade of inky black that shines.

#4. DiCaprio 2, J.I.D

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J.I.D is an MC in the truest sense. His lithe, sharp delivery, strong mic presence and descriptive – if not picturesque – lyrics. The comparisons to Kendrick are inevitable – his wordplay and punchlines are stellar, but they’re second to his powerful recollections of his past, laden with violence and survival, and thoughtful examinations of his present. J.I.D said his intent with DiCaprio 2 was to make a movie, something cinematic – it’s evident that he succeeds several times over.

#3. Swimming, Mac Miller

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What can you say about this album now, when its wounded but hopeful heart is the last remnant of Mac’s legacy? It’s still difficult to talk about this album without remembering that this was Mac at his most mature, taking his pain in his stride while acknowledging it all the same. Swimming is the closest that he came to dispelling his demons before they took him – and that note of optimism is the most important one he could’ve left us with.

#2. Sweet Decay, Ciaran Lavery

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Ciaran Lavery is hurting – and he isn’t afraid to wear his bleeding heart on his sleeve. The songs on Sweet Decay drip with memory and sorrow, the heft of these motions made stronger by the impassioned grit in his voice. Every emotion is felt, not just sung. Be it the difficulty of distance or the nakedness that accompanies love, Ciaran captures it all with heartfelt words. This is a record that will resonate and ripple through many parts of one’s life, and reveal shades of it that you didn’t even know existed.

#1. Kids See Ghosts, Kids See Ghosts

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If the beauty in struggle was to be encapsulated in an album, Kids See Ghosts is what it would sound like. Recalling the tumult of their lives, Kanye and Cudi could’ve easily given in to their blackest tendencies – but they choose to see the rainbow-tinted light. Tackling their failings, their successes, their struggles with mental health and everything in between over a short-as-can-be runtime, brevity is the name of the game. This masterpiece of sound, with psychedelic, trap, rock and soul influences in underpinned by a love for the music that they create, and use to express themselves. Kids See Ghosts achieves a level of cohesion that can only be engineered by Kanye, and then colours it with the expansive palette of Cudi. Their vocals, their lyrics, and most of all, the production is impeccable – and through the ego of knowing what they’ve accomplished, Ye and Cudi hand us their hard-won beacon, and tell us, go. Be reborn. What a canvas to draw resurrection on.

 

 

 

 

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Favourite Albums of 2018, #5 to #1

Favourite Albums of 2015 – #16 to #14

#16. Thank Your Lucky Stars/Depression Cherry – Beach House

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Thank you Beach House, for dropping two incredible albums in the same year. Championing a genre that deserves greater exposure, Beach House puts shoegaze front and center in these projects. The production is intricate and textured, but never jarring. Gliding and swirling through the layers is vocalist Victoria Legrand’s tranquil voice. The music on these albums is thematically complex, but its reupholstering of dream pop makes it a serene listen. Wonderfully, these albums complement each other. If Depression Cherry is the surreal dream, Thank Your Lucky Stars is the jolt back to a harsher reality. All you need for this experience is to close your eyes and let the music engulf you.

 

#15. Sound & Color – Alabama Shakes

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If the grooves and funk that slinks its way in and out of the spaces of this album don’t make you feel incredibly alive, kindly visit a doctor for your soul.  This is an album that will tug at your heartstrings just as well as it might cause you to pull a hamstring while dancing.  It feels epic, without losing any of Alabama Shakes’ everyman soul. Sound & Color is truly an appropriate title; rather than music, this is on par with a vibrant theatrical performance. And as with any good performance piece, there’s little else to be said about this album. Experience it. It’s worth every second.

Listen to: Don’t Wanna Fight, Shoegaze, Future People 

 

#14. A.L.L.A – A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky has been an intriguing character from the start of his career. His music, Houston-inspired despite him being from New York, placed him as an outlier in the culture, just as much as his fashion sense did. Yet, Rocky’s been having massive success. A.L.L.A however, unravels quite a bit of the person behind the success and conflicts. Still recovering from A$AP Yams’ sudden death and a breakup, while still dealing with his fame, Rocky infuses A.L.L.A  with lyrics that are in turns mournful, frustrated, celebratory, and brash, backed by production dripping with psychedelic influences. It isn’t possible to nail down a single persona for A$AP Rocky, and that seems to be the point. A.L.L.A is self-assured, often arrogant, an album that revels in its darkness; much like the man responsible for the music.

Listen to: L$D (Love $ex Dreams), Canal St, Everyday

Favourite Albums of 2015 – #16 to #14