Best Albums of 2018

While 2018 offered up a multitude of mediocre and disappointing albums, a few gems shone through the rough. Here are our best albums of 2018!

Honorable Mentions

  • twenty one pilots – Trench
  • Snail Mail – Lush
  • The Dangerous Summer – The Dangerous Summer
  • Boston Manor – Welcome to the Neighbourhood
  • With Confidence – Love & Loathing
  • Now, Now – Saved
  • The Story So Far – Proper Dose
  • As It Is – The Great Depression
  • Mayday Parade – Sunnyland
  • Trophy Eyes – The American Dream

Let’s get into it…

8. Ryan Beatty – Boy in Jeans

Imagine if Lorde’s Pure Heroine was written instead by a gay boy who is slightly horny and possibly high. Yeah, that would be Ryan Beatty’s debut record Boy in Jeans. Mixing carefree pop with soulful R&B, Ryan Beatty crafts an album that speaks volumes of youth, heartbreak, love, and just having some fun. Standout tracks include “Powerslide,” “Haircut,” “Speed,” and “Flash.” Boy in Jeans will capture listeners of Lorde, Daniel Caesar, and bearface. Click here to listen.

7. Waterparks – Entertainment

Waterparks’ unique blend of pop punk and electronic power pop is expanded upon and further refined on their sophomore effort EntertainmentEntertainment is undoubtedly entertaining between its anthemic choruses, syrupy synth melodies, and crunchy guitar riffs. Standout tracks include “Blonde,” “Not Warriors,” “We Need to Talk,” and “Rare.” Entertainment is bound to please followers of As It Is, Against the Current, and PVRIS. Click here to listen.

6. Florence + the Machine – High As Hope

Florence Welch provides her most personal and vulnerable material to date on Florence + the Machine’s fourth studio album High As HopeHigh As Hope is outlined by organic instrumentation, luscious background vocals, and the powerhouse delivery of Welch, but the most compelling aspect of this release is her raw, emotional exposition. Standout tracks include “Hunger,” “Sky Full of Song,” “Patricia,” and “Big God.” High As Hope is sure to attract listeners of Alice Merton, London Grammar, and Lily Allen. Click here to listen.

5. Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else

The colorful, glistening indie pop rock of Fickle Friends’ You Are Someone Else is entrancing and consistently replayable. The band’s debut record is defined by smooth electropop and scintillating guitar melodies, melding contemporary sounds with a throwback attitude. And gosh, the bass grooves will get stuck in your head for days! Standout tracks include “Glue,” “Brooklyn,” “Say No More,” and “Paris.” You Are Someone Else will appeal to fans of The Aces, Paramore’s After Laughter, and The 1975’s I like it when you sleepClick here to listen.

4. Charlie Puth – Voicenotes

Charlie Puth has always displayed an element of retrospective influences in his sound, but Voicenotes is a drastic change from his previous outing. Trading doo-wop harmonies and antiquated piano ballads for uptempo ’80s pop rock jams and dark R&B moments, Voicenotes is a multidimensional pop record with plenty to offer to diverse audiences. Standout tracks include “Empty Cups,” “Somebody Told Me,” “BOY,” and “The Way I Am.” Voicenotes will capture listeners of New Edition, Breakbot, and ZAYN. Click here to listen.

3. The Aces – When My Heart Felt Volcanic

The vibrant, shimmery indie pop rock of The Aces’ When My Heart Felt Volcanic is captivating and undeniably fun. This debut full-length is characterized by ’80s-influenced guitar timbre and catchy songwriting, blending the ever-present throwback elements with fresh, modern-day production. Standout tracks include “Just Like That,” “Strong Enough,” “Last One,” and “Lovin’ Is Bible.” When My Heart Felt Volcanic will appeal to fans of Paramore’s After Laughter, Fickle Friends, and Scavenger Hunt. Click here to listen.

2. LANY – Malibu Nights

LANY’s sophomore record Malibu Nights arrives just one year after their self-titled debut but is decisively more improved. Trimming down the album to just 9 tracks, the album feels more cohesive and refined compared to its 16-track predecessor. Malibu Nights shares a tale of heartbreak and confusion, and while not a single song on this record is totally cheerful, you will be shouting along to the upbeat choruses and crying your eyes out to the gut-wrenching piano ballads after just a couple spins. Standout tracks include “Thick and Thin,” “Taking Me Back,” “Let Me Know,” and “Malibu Nights.” Malibu Nights is bound to interest followers of joan, MILKK, and COIN. Click here to listen.

1. 5 Seconds of Summer – Youngblood

After nearly three years, 5SOS recrudesces to deliver their most experimental and mature record yet. Youngblood is expertly characterized by moody guitar melodies, pensive atmosphere, and stellar vocal performances contributed by all members of the band. Catchy, instantly replayable, and downright interesting, Youngblood is our album of the year. Standout tracks include “Babylon,” “Better Man,” “Midnight,” “Talk Fast,” and “Moving Along,” but every song is amazing! Youngblood will appeal to listeners of All Time Low, The Vamps, Fall Out Boy, and Imagine Dragons. Click here to listen. I mean, was this a surprise to anyone? I literally got a custom necklace made over this album.

 


Let us know your favorite albums of the year in the comments below!

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Best Songs of 2018

Well, it’s that time of year again. We get to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past year. Right now we’ll run through our top songs of 2018… While this is Alt Columnist, we can’t deny there were some true bops in every genre this year. There’s a bit of everything on this list, from rock to indie to pop punk to singer/songwriter to R&B to electropop. So strap in and enjoy!

Best Songs of 2018

  1. “Bulletproof” by DALES
  2. “Bad Girls Don’t Cry” by The Night Game
  3. “Enough” by Speak Low If You Speak Love
  4. “Surveillance” by George Ogilvie
  5. “Growing” by Blue Heaven
  6. “Drive” by Pale Waves
  7. “If You’re Over Me” by Years & Years
  8. “Magnetic” by Phillip Phillips
  9. “Topanga Lawrence” by Charmer
  10. “Cool Out” by Imagine Dragons
  11. “Good Kisser” by Lake Street Dive
  12. “Pacific Kiss” by MILKK
  13. “Again” by Kehlani
  14. “Bullet For Your Sweetheart” by Make Out Monday
  15. “Bad Machine” by Boston Manor
  16. “take you home” by slenderbodies
  17. “Sister Cities” by The Wonder Years
  18. “Daydream” by The XCERTS
  19. “My Life” by The Vamps & New Hope Club
  20. “Haircut” by Ryan Beatty
  21. “Lash Out” by Alice Merton
  22. “Swim” by Fickle Friends
  23. “Why” by Shawn Mendes
  24. “Babe, Can I Call?” by The Hunna
  25. “all the kids are depressed” by Jeremy Zucker
  26. “Blonde” by Waterparks
  27. “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” by The 1975
  28. “Sky Full of Song” by Florence + the Machine
  29. “Just Like That” by The Aces
  30. “James Dean” by The Wrecks
  31. “Taking Me Back” by LANY
  32. “Voices” by Against the Current
  33. “Hair Too Long” by The Vamps
  34. “My My My!” by Troye Sivan
  35. “Villains” by Mainland
  36. “Moving Along” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  37. “Misty Mae” by Georgia Fearn
  38. “Malibu Nights” by LANY
  39. “Before the Sun Goes Down” by The New Respects
  40. “Mariners Apartment Complex” by Lana Del Rey
  41. “Heaven’s Gate” by Fall Out Boy
  42. “You Can Count On Me” by Trophy Eyes
  43. “The Overpass” by Panic! at the Disco
  44. “stop and stare” by joan
  45. “Mad Love” by Honest Men
  46. “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  47. “That Something” by With Confidence
  48. “Daphne Blue” by The Band Camino
  49. “Heat Wave” by Snail Mail
  50. “Jumpsuit” by twenty one pilots
  51. “Not Warriors” by Waterparks
  52. “Powerslide” by Ryan Beatty
  53. “Best Friend” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  54. “Brooklyn” by Fickle Friends
  55. “Lovely” by Pinkish Blu
  56. “Revolution” by The Wrecks
  57. “Hunger” by Florence + the Machine
  58. “Lake Effect Kid” by Fall Out Boy
  59. “Midnight” by 5 Seconds of Summer
  60. “Empty Cups” by Charlie Puth
  61. “Thick and Thin” by LANY
  62. “Lovin’ Is Bible” by The Aces
  63. “Love It If We Made It” by The 1975
  64. “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes
  65. “Babylon” by 5 Seconds of Summer

Yeah, I’m surprised too. I’m not going to explain every song on this list, but let’s go through a handful of my favorites.

“I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” is basically if The 1975 made a late ’90s Third Eye Blind song… and it somehow works.

“Bullet For Your Sweetheart” by Make Out Monday is reminiscent of Fall Out Boy’s From Under the Cork Tree, lyrically and musically, which is a welcomed sound.

Speaking of Fall Out Boy, while I consider MANIA to be their most unsatisfactory project to date, “Heaven’s Gate” surprised me with its soulful melodies and organic instrumentation, seemingly harking back to the Folie á Deux era of their career.

Similarly, Panic! at the Disco’s Pray For the Wicked was a disappointing release, but “The Overpass” provided some punch, rhythm, and excitement with gutsy horns, racing percussion, and soaring choruses.

“stop and stare” by joan is an ’80s-inspired indie pop rock jam with warm synths, ethereal atmosphere, and a stellar guitar solo.

“Daphne Blue” by The Band Camino is an undeniable summertime anthem, perfect for a windows-down, volume-up drive.

“Powerslide” by Ryan Beatty is another tune for the summertime, but much more chill and smooth and, uh, suggestive, bound to get stuck in your head with its bouncy melodies and vocal harmonies.

“Lovely” by Pinkish Blu delivers a hazy indie rock vibe through nicely reverb-laden guitar timbres and poignant lyricism.

Fall Out Boy originally released a demo of “Lake Effect Kid” on their 2008 Welcome to the New Administration mixtape, but the song finally got its rightful studio version released this year, a decade later, as a love letter to the band’s hometown of Chicago. This is the Fall Out Boy we’ve been missing.

“Midnight” by 5 Seconds of Summer was released as a Japanese bonus track on their latest effort Youngblood, but it’s easily one of the best songs from the record. (Although, as you can tell from their numbers of entries on our list, it’s fairly difficult to say there were many inferior songs on the album to begin with.) “Midnight” is a sultry plea for a deeper relationship with a paramour who only gives their love after midnight, but the tune is so anthemic and gargantuan that the tremendous choruses and celestial atmosphere nearly eclipse the subject matter.

“Empty Cups” by Charlie Puth is a rather similar song, begging a lover to stay, but with more groove and allure… and more scandalous in regards to cheating.

LANY’s “Thick and Thin” employs tasteful simplicity and heartfelt lyrics to craft a refined, exquisitely minimalistic tune deserving of repeated listens and shouted singalongs.

“Lovin’ Is Bible” by The Aces is a fabulous ’80s-influenced tune with some real character. The chorus is undeniably catchy, and the guitar riffs are absolute earcandy.

“Love It If We Made It” by The 1975 is a desperate yet hopeful survey of our world’s current sociopolitical state, and while it is quite anxiety-inducing, it is one of the band’s strongest works to date.

Speaking of anxiety, “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes is an empowering cry for help, a portrait of persevering through mental health struggles and general challenges of life. Shawn Mendes surprised us with this Kings of Leon-inspired pop rock song, and it’s brought me to tears on multiple occasions.

“Babylon” by 5 Seconds of Summer is a ripping pop rock anthem, characterized by colossal guitar melodies and sky-high choruses. Calum Hood’s moment to shine is an ultimately defining moment for the Aussie band.

That’s our list! Let us know your favorite tunes of the year in the comments down below or tweet at us on Twitter. @AltColumnist

August 2018 Alt Col Picks

Plenty of great records were released in August, so here are our favorite albums, EPs, and singles of the month! (In no particular order.)

This month’s list will be heavily abbreviated. I apologize in advance.

  • With Confidence – Love & Loathing

A fabulous pop punk record filled to the brim with energy and emotion. Standout tracks include “That Something,” “Spinning,” “Moving Boxes,” and “Jaded.” Love & Loathing will capture listeners of All Time Low, State Champs, and Broadside. Click here to listen.

  • Trophy Eyes – The American Dream

Quite a stylistic transition from their previous outing, The American Dream offers a brighter, more upbeat display of Trophy Eyes. Standout tracks include “Friday Forever,” “You Can Count On Me,” “Lavender Bay,” and “Autumn.” The American Dream will appeal to fans of Like Pacific, Grayscale, and Homesafe. Click here to listen.

  • As It Is – The Great Depression

Just about a year and a half after their 2017 record, As It Is delivers a refreshingly dark album, a haunting commentary on mental health, interpersonal struggles, and social norms. Standout tracks include “The Wounded World,” “The Truth I’ll Never Tell,” “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry),” and “The Fire, the Dark.” The Great Depression is bound to satisfy followers of Oh, Weatherly, Story Untold, and WSTR. Click here to listen.

  • lovelytheband – Finding It Hard to Smile

~~~cool LA vibes, bro~~~ Standout tracks include “Make Believe,” “Maybe, I’m Afraid,” “Stupid Mistakes,” and “Coachella.” Finding It Hard to Smile is sure to attract listeners of Beach Weather, Tilian, Anarbor’s recent material, and joan. Click here to listen.

  • WSTR – Identity Crisis

Another quick album turnout, WSTR recrudesces on Identity Crisis with more exhilarating pop punk anthems. Standout tracks include “Bad to the Bone,” “Silly Me,” “Crisis,” and “Hide Everything Sharp.” Identity Crisis is for fans of ROAM, Seaway, and Neck Deep. Click here to listen.

  • Vinyl Theatre – Starcruiser

After escaping the neglect of Fueled By Ramen, Vinyl Theatre blows everything out of the water with Starcruiser, an album chocked full of experimental sounds and blazing hooks. Standout tracks include “Feel It All,” “We Make the Music,” “Our Song,” and “Done With These Days.” Starcruiser will attract followers of COIN, twenty one pilots, and Night Riots. Click here to listen.

  • Deaf Havana – Rituals

Yet another fast release and stylistic shift. Deaf Havana’s Rituals steps outside their typical rock boundaries to serve a polished, pop rock sound with electronic elements and poppy hooks. Standout tracks include “Sinner,” “Holy,” “Heaven,” and “Hell.” Rituals is sure to satisfy fans of Anarbor, PVRIS, and LANY. Click here to listen.

  • Belmont – Belmont

Belmont’s debut self-titled record is a hard-hitting pop punk project with a bit of a harsher tone than most. Standout tracks include “Hollowed Out,” “BMC,” “Empty,” and “Pushing Daisies.” Belmont will appeal to followers of Trash Boat, WSTR, and Like Pacific. Click here to listen.


MORE GREAT ALBUMS

Click to listen.


Extended Plays

Click to listen.


Featured Singles

Click to listen.


Let us know what you think of August’s releases down in the comments below!


Our Alt Col Picks are curated lists of the best albums and EPs for each month! We keep a schedule of upcoming releases and pick our favorite ones at the end of the month, giving them a spotlight here and on Twitter. To be featured in one of our lists, hit us up on our contact page or Twitter, though nothing is guaranteed. (We rarely make exceptions to include past releases, so if your album came out in June, we might be hesitant to include it in July or August, for instance.)