Best Albums of 2018 – 5 Seconds of Summer, LANY, The Aces, & More

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 Conan Gray. 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 – 5 Seconds of Summer, The 1975, twenty one pilots, & More

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

2017 Year-End Roundup

Alright, so the big album-related lists from 2017 are out of the way (Best Albums & “Worst” Albums), so let’s jump into some more year-end lists! Let’s start with best songs. We’re gonna blow through the majority of these and then talk about the list-toppers a bit more in detail. Keep in mind this is all my personal opinion and you’re free to disagree! Let me know your favorite songs of 2017 down in the comments below.

Best Songs of 2017

  1. “All the Land Glimmered” by Julie Byrne
  2. “No Halo” by Sorority Noise
  3. “Main Attraction” by Sincerely, Me
  4. “Hiccups” by WATERS
  5. “Get By” by Real Friends
  6. “All” by Joseph
  7. “Better Off” by 7 Minutes in Heaven
  8. “Cannot Do This Alone” by Colony House
  9. “New York” by LEDGES
  10. “Take What You Want (feat. 5 Seconds of Summer)” by ONE OK ROCK
  11. “Feel Good” by Neon Trees
  12. “Apartment” by Seaway
  13. “The Last of the Real Ones” by Fall Out Boy
  14. “Paradise” by Broadside
  15. “Okay” by As It Is
  16. “Certainty” by Seasonal
  17. “What’s Wrong” by PVRIS
  18. “Sold” by Heavy Things
  19. “Caroline” by A Will Away
  20. “Everything You Want Me to Be” by Coldfront
  21. “Young for the Summer” by DALES
  22. “Celebrate the Reckless” by Magic Giant
  23. “The Fog” by LAYNE
  24. “Kids” by The Gospel Youth
  25. “Feelings” by Hayley Kiyoko
  26. “Don’t Take the Money” by Bleachers
  27. “Last Young Renegade” by All Time Low
  28. “The Breakup” by LANY
  29. “Slow Burn” by State Champs
  30. “Lookers” by The Menzingers
  31. “Fire” by The Dangerous Summer
  32. “In the Middle of It All” by Citizen
  33. “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles
  34. “Tiger Teeth” by Walk the Moon
  35. “Daylily” by Movements
  36. “Hiding With Boys” by Creeper
  37. “Liability” by Lorde
  38. “Beautiful Things” by Grayscale
  39. “Black Butterflies & Déjà Vu” by The Maine
  40. “Fake Happy” by Paramore

That’s it! My top choice is “Fake Happy” by Paramore because I found myself constantly coming back to this song and loving it more and more every time. The lyrics are amazingly well-written and give such an awesome commentary, and the melodies in this song are absolutely stellar. “Black Butterflies & Déjà Vu” is my second pick because this song is so emotionally-charged and “gives me all the feels,” if you will. The instrumental is fantastic and the guitar melody is always stuck in my head on repeat. “Beautiful Things” by Grayscale is next on the list due to its heartfelt lyrics and spectacular vocal performance, along with that catchy hook! “Liability” by Lorde is a song that I can personally relate to and is such a moving piano ballad, which is quite out-of-the-ordinary for Lorde. “Hiding With Boys” is an epic rock tune outlined by smoky nostalgia and heart-rending lyrics that makes me feel some type of way. “Daylily” by Movements also makes me … feel something … and is such a poignant song between its raspy, impassioned vocals and raw instrumentals. I’ve been waiting for a studio version of “Tiger Teeth” by Walk the Moon for AGES and we finally got it! It definitely lives up to and even surpasses the live recordings of this atmospheric, emotional tune. “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles isn’t what most fans expected from him, but my God, this monumental power ballad the best thing we could’ve ever dreamed of getting from this former boy band member. All of my top picks have something in common: they all made me feel. I don’t mean to get sappy, but that’s why I love music, it makes me feel things.

Best EPs of 2017

  1. Fade by Cold Climb It
  2. Likes Me Like That by Over Atlantic
  3. Aesthetically Pleasing by Sincerely, Me
  4. Do You Feel the Same Way Now? by Forbidden Envy
  5. Best When In Motion by Life Lessons
  6. Bloom by Seasonal
  7. Symmetry by 7 Minutes in Heaven
  8. Hard by The Neighbourhood
  9. Without You by pineview
  10. Wednesday by LAYNE

Click the links to read what we have to say about these EPs!

Best Debut Albums of 2017

  1. Totem by Welman
  2. AM/PM by The White Noise
  3. Lovely Domestic Bliss by Guide Dog
  4. Prosper by Gold Route
  5. Love Jail by Julia Louise
  6. Tasha Sits Close to the Piano by Jaws of Love.
  7. Homecoming by LEDGES
  8. Busybody Lazybones by Woolbright
  9. Landmark by Hippo Campus
  10. Red, Green, or Inbetween by WSTR
  11. Fail You Again by Can’t Swim
  12. Float Around by Coldfront
  13. Overexposed by Sleep On It
  14. Coast Modern by Coast Modern
  15. Always Lose by The Gospel Youth
  16. The Heights by Knox Hamilton
  17. Dreamcar by Dreamcar
  18. Cigarettes After Sex by Cigarettes After Sex
  19. Greatest Hits by Remo Drive
  20. Here Again by A Will Away
  21. In the Wind by Magic Giant
  22. Eternity, In Your Arms by Creeper
  23. LANY by LANY
  24. Feel Something by Movements
  25. Harry Styles by Harry Styles

Click the links to read what we have to say about each of these albums!

Most Underrated/Overlooked Albums of 2017

  1. Apprise. Assemble. Arise. by Concealed in Clouds
  2. Enjoy the Great Outdoors by Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else
  3. Odyssey by The Accidentals
  4. Swear I’m Good At This by Diet Cig
  5. Fever Dream by Everything Everything
  6. Sincerely by Dude York
  7. Telephone by Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
  8. Waiting on the Sun by Jule Vera
  9. Bear Your Mind by Free Throw
  10. come out, you’re hiding by flor
  11. Connect the Dots by MisterWives
  12. Make the Best of It by Have Mercy
  13. For Posterity by Dryjacket
  14. Overexposed by Sleep On It (ironic title)
  15. Vultures by Dead Leaves
  16. Orc by Oh Sees
  17. Chew by Muskets
  18. Hurts So Good by The Polarity
  19. The Same View With a New Light by WATERMEDOWN
  20. Easy by The Weeks
  21. Homecoming by LEDGES
  22. The Love You Let Too Close by Thousand Below
  23. The Good Life by Makeout
  24. Stranger in the Alps by Phoebe Bridgers
  25. Tasha Sits Close to the Piano by Jaws of Love.
  26. Waiting for Morning to Come by Being As An Ocean
  27. Totem by Welman
  28. Not Even Happiness by Julie Byrne
  29. Always Hope by Forever Starts Today
  30. Float Around by Coldfront
  31. Camp Cope by Camp Cope
  32. Busybody Lazybones by Woolbright
  33. Metaphysical by The Technicolors
  34. Landmark by Hippo Campus
  35. Content by Joywave
  36. The Heights by Knox Hamilton
  37. Goner by Heavy Things
  38. Dreamcar by Dreamcar
  39. Volcano by Temples
  40. In the Wind by Magic Giant
  41. Awkward Phase by Eternal Boy
  42. Coast Modern by Coast Modern
  43. Here Again by A Will Away
  44. Back to Beautiful by Picturesque
  45. Diverge by Hawking
  46. Something More! by WATERS
  47. All These Countless Nights by Deaf Havana
  48. Synesthesia by Courage My Love
  49. Origami by Vinyl Theatre
  50. After the Party by The Menzingers

Click the links to read what we have to say about each of these albums!

Those are all the lists we have for 2017! Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below. Thanks for reading!