The year is almost over so it is time to look back at what was awesome in music during the year. I have already looked back at the Top Rock Albums of 2018 (click to read). This list will cover all other genres that I listened to over the year including Pop, Country, Christian and whatever other genre you want classify these albums. Rock is my favorite genre and that is why it gets it’s own list, but that doesn’t take away from any of these choices as I think they are great on their own.
Note: These albums were my favorites and not necessarily the most played on the radio (which I hate the radio) or even the biggest sellers. There aren’t the trendy indie bands on everyone else’s top albums list. These are just what I came across during the year and connected with me in some way. So, we might as well get started…
The #1 Album of 2018
Matt Nathanson – Sings His Sad Heart: Man, what can I say about this guy. He is my favorite singer/songwriter out their right now and has been for sometime. Within just a couple listens to this album I felt like I knew all the words and I was singing right along like I had grown up with these songs. And how do you know an album is great, you keep singing it when you aren’t even listening to it. Yes, I was and I am still singing. The songs “Mine”, “Way Way Back”, “Used To Be” “Long Distant Runner” and “Best Drugs” are some of my favorites but there is not a bad song. Perfect!!
My #2 Album of the Year:
Billy Raffoul – 1975: An E.P. made the list. Short and sweet. Six songs and each only about 3 minutes in length. When it is this good, that is all you need. I find his vocals to be perfect rock vocals with that Jeff Buckley raspiness and the songwriting is top notch. the album is mostly acoustic and is stunning. I love “I’m Not a Saint”, “1975”, “Forever” and “Until the Hurting is Gond”. I can’t wait until we get a full LP from him. It will be sensational I am sure.
The Remaining Favorites In No Particular Order:
Calum Scott – Only Human: This is a very impressive debut album and the songs are so strong. Calum’s vocals are the draw to this album. His ability to connect to a song and make you feel it is uncanny. The arrangements of the two cover songs is also something special as they are not really cover songs as he changed them so much that they are now his songs. What can I say, I love a good love songs.
Panic at the Disco – Pray for the Wicked: This one is all my daughter’s fault. She has played this album relentlessly since its release and I have grown to like it very much. The songs are pop rock songs and Brendon Urie has some serious pipes. His theatrical approach adds a little something extra to the songs. I liked “High Hopes”, “Dying in LA”, “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” and “One of the Drunks”. All-in-all, great album.
The Fratellis – In Your Own Sweet Time: The album is full of infectious pop melodies and a sound that is strictly their own. The songs are fun and enjoyable enough to play over and over despite the lyrics not always being so happy-go-lucky. They will make you want to dance or just sit back and enjoy while you are tapping your feet. It is a total feel good album. A couple of my favorites were “Starcrossed Losers” and “I Am That”.
Shawn Mendes – Shawn Mendes: And this one I blame on my other daughter. I think I can sing all the words to this now as many times it has been played in the car. But sadly, I liked it. “In My Blood” is so powerful and he sings with such passion, how can you not like it. The other songs I liked were “Nervous”, “Queen” and “Particular Taste” as well as “Youth (feat. Khalid). This kid has a lot of talent and he gets better with each album.
James Bay – Electric Light: James Bay’s debut was amazing. I love his guitar sound and it was a good rock album. For this one, he decided not to repeat himself and went with a little more pop sound with an occasional guitar thrown in so we wouldn’t forget. It was so different at first that it threw me. The more I listened, the more I got it and the more I liked it. I like “Wanderlust”, “Sugar Drunk High”, “Wild Love” and “Wasted On Each Other”, oh yeah, “Pink Lemonda” was great as well. Solid pop album.
Rick Springfield – The Snake King: Rick Springfield has been around long enough, he can do whatever the hell he wants. With this one, he went Blues…well Rick Springfield’s version. Being a Christian, I am fascinated with his anti-religious aspect of the album which might be a little demented on my part, but that is what I am. I like the darker themes and anything questioning the norm. He took a chance and I feel he succeeded and gave us a very worthwhile project. I liked “Little Demon” and “In the Land of the Blind” to name a couple.
BØRNS – Blue Madonna: BØRNS falsetto vocals, the dream-like styling of a lot of the songs, the danceability of others made this album really enjoyable from beginning to end. This is the type of pop music I could really enjoy. It is not a bunch of formula driven songs being forced down your throat by radio. It is more artsy and unique and actually is filled with talent. You can’t say that about a lot of today’s music. I really liked “Faded Heart”, “Supernatural”, “God Save Our Young Blood” and “Second Night of Summer”.
Anderson East – Encore: Anderson East’s ‘Encore’ is the follow-up to his label debut album ‘Delilah’. With ‘Encore’, Anderson is finding himself and bringing us such a powerful vocal performance. His voice was so soulful with that grittiness and emotion that it reminded me of Joe Cocker. For that reason alone, I really dug this album. The album harkens back to old time soulful rock with a little blues that spoke to you and made you feel. You could really see that in “Girlfriend”. We need more of that music.
As far as honorable mentions, I don’t really have many. I found myself spending more time in the Rock genre than all the others so I was limited in my albums for this list. I know there is a ton of music out there that would be on most people’s list, but I just don’t have enough time in the day to listen to it all.
Matt Nathanson – Pyromattia: I have to say this is an exceptional covers album…hell…it is an exceptional album period. Matt Nathanson creates imaginative re-interpretations of some classsic Def Leppard songs and turns them into Matt Nathanson songs. Let’s jut say he “Mattifies” them into his own songs that you would think he wrote himself. If you are Def Leppard fan you are going to love them, if you are a Matt Nathanson fan you are going to love them and if you are a fan of music you are going to love them.
Thirdstory – Cold Heart: The debut album (after an E.P.) from three guys that have such great harmonies and such smooth voices. My daughter loves them and we saw them in concert this past year and it was a great show. They have a soulful R&B feel mixed with all the pop sensibilities. Great songs such as “Hit the Ceiling”, “G-Train” and “Over (When We Said Goodbye)” keep you coming back for more.
Needtobreathe – Forever On Your Side (Niles City Sound Sessions) E.P.: ‘Forever On Your Side’ E.P. is another sensational release by Needtobreathe. Their songwriting and musicality is second to none. The album takes them back to their roots and reminds us of why we love this band. I can’t speak more highly of this band. They are a band for me that I see their talent outshines their success. I think they are one of those bands that are flying under the radar of mainstream radio and chart success despite their obvious ability to be better than the everyone else and it is a crying shame.
Steve Perry – Traces: Steve Perry has grown to iconic status for his vocals from all those classic hits with Journey. He disappeared for around 20+ years from the music scene and walked away from it all. Well, he is back. He is older and not quite the same, but who would be after being away so long. The only thing that matters is Steve Perry is BACK!!
I have never been one for soundtracks, especially from musicals or just period. However, this past year had a couple I thought were really great and enjoyable. And one just to mention.
A Star is Born: The soundtrack features 19 songs from the movie from Bradley Cooper to Lady Gaga and both singing duets. Bradley’s rough, aged vocal style sounds great with those country/rock tracks and was the biggest surprise for me as well he did. Lady Gaga, well, what can you say. She is a tremendous talent and you can’t go wrong with songs from her. Worth Checking out!
The Greatest Showman: I know this came out in 2017, but it was December and after my cut-off for ranking albums last year. The movie was so good and much better than I would have thought for a musical (not really into those). Thanks to my kids, this was played a lot and I grew to really enjoy the songs. Hell, I would catch myself listening to it when they weren’t around. So there you go. Loren Allred’s “Never Enough” gave me chills and almost brought me to tears. “This is Me”, “Rewrite the Stars” and “A Million Dreams” were all great songs that you wanted hear over and over.
Lastly, this should be in the Rock category as its Queen, but it is a movie soundtrack:
Queen Bohemian Rhapsody: This is more than a Soundtrack, it is a great greatest hits collection as well. You get songs that are different versions, live versions, songs you haven’t heard before. You get the Live Aid songs, the song “Doing All Right” by Smile the pre-Queen band, the 20th Century Fox Fanfare performed by Queen and you get all their hits. It is wonderful!!
Lit – These are the Days: If you like a little more laid back style with a Country tinge to it, then you might actually enjoy it. It holds up pretty well. It was too much for me and didn’t really show anything new for that genre that could make it exciting. Since there are some hints at what they once were, a California rock band, I am not totally turned off by it, but it was extremely disappointing. It could have been so much better and probably won’t get played a lot down the road for me, but a country fan might like it.
Worst Album of the Year:
Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods: I love Justin, but not sure what he was trying to do with this one. He usually has the songs, but this one was pretty lacking in what we have grown to love from him. I did like a couple songs, but haven’t listened to it since its release and never desired to go back and that says a lot right there. I would go see him in concert though, I still like him, just not this one.
And there you have it, the final list of my Top Albums of 2018. I hope you enjoyed the list and stay tuned for Top Songs of 2018 next. Let me know what albums you dug this year and which ones you didn’t. I like to know that as well. Thanks for stopping by.