The best albums of 2018

From Jay Rock to Saba, these are the 50 best albums of 2018

Each week of 2018, we’ve listened to as much new music as possible — not just because we love new music, but also to help our readers separate the best and brightest from the so-so. Each week, our post of the best songs to stream serves up the most enticing new music we’ve come across. In the process, we’ve slowly assembled a master playlist of our favorite albums of the year.

With the help of our editorial staff, who love all kinds of music, we’ve dialed up a living, breathing portrait of some of the most exciting sounds currently being made by both newcomers and long-established artists. Below are the best albums of 2018.

Want to explore in more depth? Check out our full Spotify playlist. Interested in other music? Be sure to check out the best songs to work to, best songs about money, and best songs about friendship

50. Jay Rock — Redemption

From Kendrick Lamar to SZA, the Top Dawg Entertainment label has brought us some of the biggest names in hip-hop over the past few years. But its the label’s original artist Jay Rock that helped build the foundation for its modern success. On his latest album, Redemption, we hear a West Coast take on Southern trap music, with hard-hitting and inspirational lyrics from Jay Rock that are interspersed with near-comedic levels of hubris. It’s a fun journey, this one, the kind of thing you should listen to before your next workout, or blast before you attempt something that’s just at the edge of your ability.

49. Spiritualized — And Nothing Hurt

And Nothing Hurt is among the most incredible home recordings in recent memory. A series of gorgeous wall-of-sound compositions crafted with tasteful, brick-by-brick precision by songwriter Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman), the album recalls classic records by Wilco, The Velvet Underground, and other classic songsmiths.

48. Earl Sweatshirt — Some Rap Songs

Fans of underground hip-hop from the likes of Madlib, J Dilla, and the Stones Throw label will find a welcome addition to their catalog in Earl Sweathshirt’s latest release, a hazy, low-fi album with more soul than “A sock with a hole,” as renowned underground rapper MF Doom would say. Fifteen short tracks showcase the rapper’s deepest thoughts (and on at least one occasion the voices of his actual parents), with jagged, sample-heavy beats that form one of the finest hip-hop albums of the year.

47. Sandy’s — Chime

San Francisco surf band Sandy’s Chime is a hidden gem of an album that we’ve found ourselves turning to when we need a change of musical scenery. Like a deep musical breath, soaring vocals and shimmering guitars transport you to the Northern California shore, where the band holed up in lead singer Alexi Glickman’s beachside cabin to live, eat, and make this spectacularly vibey album.

46. Sam Evian — You, Forever

If You, Forever and its like-minded predecessor are any indication, Sam Owens has no qualms about dishing out the kind of easygoing indie-pop that helped build labels such as Sub Pop. His solo efforts, in comparison to his work as the singer-guitarist for Brooklyn’s Celestial Shore, have always been languorous without ever sounding stagnant, buoyant without feeling bouncy. The same thing applies to Forever. It’s a record that rocks, albeit subtly, and explores many a vulnerability with brushed percussion and a host of silvery, ‘60s-inspired guitar work. There’s even a sax solo or two thrown in for good measure, as if the swirls of psychedelia and Owen’s wistful crooning weren’t enough to carry it.

45. Parquet Courts — Wide Awake

This Danger Mouse-produced rock record offers a rollicking listening experience that recalls the classic, no-holds-barred releases of the 1970s and ’80s. With apathetic speech-song vocals and punchy beats, the production is clean but not shiny, with the legendary producer bringing his gritty experience working with bands like the Black Keys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the forefront, and the band delivering its most vibrant songs to date.

44. Jeff Tweedy — WARM 

It seems odd that, more than 30 years into a career littered with blue-ribbon albums and accolades, Jeff Tweedy only has one proper solo album to his name. However, WARM, the collection in question, is just as moving and insightful as anything the Wilco frontman has put forth before. At the same time, it’s easily his most personal and direct recording to date, an 11-part series on fatherhood, addiction, death, and the surefire inevitabilities we all will face before the end. Tweedy tackles these topics with aplomb, resulting in a breezy, threadbare set of country-leaning musings that put his own insecurities—and those of most of us—on blast. Apparently, rehashing your anxieties doesn’t have to ruin you.

43. Anderson .PaakOxnard

Lush beats and fully fleshed-out arrangements lay a mesmerizing musical foundation for California rapper/vocalist/instrumentalist Anderson .Paak’s Oxnard, his major label debut on Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. The same driving beats and joyful speech-song vocals that fans loved on 2016’s Malibu are back in full force, but the rhythms are a bit slower and funkier on the follow-up, making this a more of a sunset record, where Malibu seemed purpose-written to wake up to.

42. Father John Misty — God’s Favorite Customer

Father John Misty is self-absorbed, cynical, and one hell of a songwriter. With God’s Favorite Customer, however, Josh Tillman (Misty’s given name) has added something unexpected to his repertoire: Empathy. His fourth LP as Father John is as heartbreaking as it is honed, rooted in naked vulnerability and folkier, Harry Nilsson-esque arrangements built on a bed of acoustic guitar, shattered piano, and wry lyricism. Whether it’s a blacked-out exchange with the hotel concierge or an episode in which he examines his wife’s renewed longing for normalcy, the album’s many narratives present Father John at his most exposed.

41. Ambrose AkinmusireOrigami Harvest

Musical activism remains at the core of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s latest work, which ties together themes from the Black Lives Matter movement, and various other modern protests in spoken word segments, classical interludes, and beat breaks. Origami Harvest folds together numerous art forms, musical outlooks, and dispositions, offering one of the most forward-thinking works of sheer art music we heard in 2018.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Hi-viz bike reflectors and a tiny flashlight

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The best new music this week: Robert Ellis, Golden Daze, and more

Looking for the best new music? Each week, we find the most compelling new releases just for you. This week: Brand-new music from Robert Ellis, Broken Social Scene, and Golden Daze.

The 25 best love songs on Spotify for your wooing pleasure

Valentine's Day comes but once a year, but love is forever. If you're hoping to impress your significant other -- or if you're trying to procure one -- we put together a list of the best love songs for your wooing pleasure.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.

All U.S. 2020 Toyotas will have a trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio

This fall, with the introduction of the 2020 model year vehicles, all Toyotas sold in the continental U.S. will include SiriusXM satellite radio installed with a three-month trial subscription of SiriusXM All Access.

Where to catch the encore of Marshmello's Fortnite concert if you missed it

EDM star DJ Marshmello performed a different sort of concert today: one held live in-game in Fortnite. The concert was held in Pleasant Park, where the usual football field was transformed into a stage and a massive dance party broke out.

Schubert left Symphony No. 8 unfinished. A smartphone’s A.I. just completed it

We all know computers can be used to make music, but can artificial intelligence be used to not only generate music, but complete one of the most famous unfinished symphonies of all time? Huawei has used its A.I. to find out.

The best free music download sites that are totally legal

Finding music that is both free and legal to download can be difficult. We've handpicked a selection of the best free music download sites for you to legally download your next favorite album.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.

Spotify could terminate accounts of listeners using ad blockers

Bad news for those who block annoying ads on Spotify -- the company has updated its Terms of Service to explicitly ban ad blockers. Consequences for users found circumventing the rules include suspending or terminating your account.
Home Theater

Apple's new AirPods could arrive within months, pack health sensor tech

Apple may release new AirPods in the first half of 2019. A wireless charging case, health sensors, water resistance, and better Siri integration are some of the improvements rumored to be part of the new package.

Donald Glover is (somehow) first rapper to win a Grammy for Song Of The Year

Donald Glover (AKA Childish Gambino) has become the first hip-hop artist to win Song Of The Year, an award that had illuded countless other popular rap artists for decades.

Rock out in the carpool lane with Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke microphone

Carpool Karaoke fans can count down the days till summer. That's when Singing Machine's Carpool Karaoke microphone will be available. Connect the Carpool Karaoke Mic to your car radio to make your next road trip a mobile karaoke party.

After Twitch ban for using homophobic language, musician Deadmau5 apologizes

Electronic musician Deadmau5 has been suspended from Twitch after using homophobic language during a PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds match. The musician later said he wouldn't be returning.
1 of 5