VultureHound Top Ten Albums of 2018

2018 was the year that saw many musical acts coming into their own. Be it new artists like Tierra Whack or Snail Mail to vets like Nine Inch Nails and Pusha-T, artists found new and exciting ground to explore. For us at VultureHound this means we get to reap the benefits of the wealth of great music that has come out this year. From rap to rock, jazz, and R&B we’ve heard it all and narrowed down to the best for you. So strap in, grab some headphones and get ready for this year’s countdown of the ten best albums of 2018.

10. The Body – I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer

When The Body is truly on, nothing sounds as nasty and bleak as them. The Rhode Island natives’ latest, I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer,  is a testament to this across its ten tracks of brutal noise. Screams, drones and blown out bass assault the listener at every turn but perhaps I Have Fought Against It best aspect is how its entities through its pain. By shifting their production to be more sample-heavy allows them to create this aura of familiarity before crashing it all down around you. Tracks like “Nothing Stirs” build to this frighting ending that only it’s careful and meticulous start could get you to be invested in. With I Have Fought Against It The Body has created an album that demands you look into the blackest of night and hope that whatever is coming will take you out quickly. – Jake Doolin 

9. Kississippi – Sunset Blush

Often the releases we love on first listen get old quickly, Sunset Blush is not one of those. In fact this is an album to fall more and more in love with, with each listen. The guitars radiate warming sunshine even in the darkest moment, the drums and choppy post-punk basslines roll like gentle waves and both make a dreamy backing for beautifully emotive vocals. This release may sound dreamy but the lyrics do not hold back, stories of love, loss, and sadness are told eloquently and with gentle charm. There are hidden moments of pure positivity and as listeners hit play again (and they will) there are more and more moments of empowerment to discover. There are also some utterly wonderful examples of romanticized wordplay. Why is this release one of the best albums of the year? Especially on a grey winters day, this injection of sunshine is beautiful, Sunset Blush is clever, rounded and ultimately a sublime selection of powerfully delicate songs. – Ben Adsett 

8. Beach House – 7

Beach House is my favorite band, so for me to say that their newest record 7 is their best is a big statement. The Baltimore dream-pop duo has been putting out moody blissful records that charmed listeners. But with 7 the duo puts all their past work together to showcase the true lengths of their style as well as flex their songwriting muscles. Tracks like “Woo”, “Drunk in LA” and “Dark Spring” invoke the nostalgic sounds of their past but add new layers to make them sound fresh. With seven records behind them one might think the band has run out of ways to surprise us, but with 7 they have done just that. – Jake Doolin

7. Jeff Rosenstock – Post 

For an album written in a short space of time and considering that time was the start of Trump’s presidency, it was a surprise to see Jeff Rosenstock put together his most complete release to date. This album is an absolute masterpiece in political punk rock, the obvious nods to musical history make for some fascinating musical combinations. The Rage Against the Machine esq bassline and huge Weezer style singalong on Let Them Win or the angular guitar that explodes into an 80’s indie screech on the opener USA are two of many examples. Lyrically this is a forward-thinking critique on a less than forward thinking government, Jeff stays classy and balances opinions where he once wouldn’t have showing maturity and a clear understanding of the situation. Why is this release one of the best albums of the year? Amongst all of the cleverness and political content hides a truly incredible slice of indie pop full of euphoric singalong choruses and tap-a-long hooks. – Ben Adsett 

6. Zeal & Ardor – Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit just should straight up not work. A collection of tracks that mix negro spiritual with black metal instrumentation with elements of classic soul infused as well, just on that description alone one might have cause for concern. But Zeal & Ardor’s Manuel Gagneux is just the person to find the sweet spot in all these conflicting genres and make them work. And work they do as Strange Fruit not only build upon the bands past releases but refines the sound in a way that highlights the pain and anger that birthed the words Gagneux screams so powerfully here. At times it can be difficult to stomach these tracks knowing the history behind them but it’s not important and thoughtful and ultimatly that is the power of this record. – Jake Doolin

5. Sophie – Oil of Every Pearls Un- Insides

On 2018’s masterful Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, Sophie finally came into her own. The UK producer has always been distinctive since 2013 she’s been dropping bubblegum bass gems, but on her newest release she finds a spot for herself in the world of noise she’s surrounded herself in. From sexually explicit bangers like “Ponyboy” to personal bops like “It’s Okay To Cry” each track on Oil feels more connected to Sophie the person instead of the idea. That leads to the sweeping finale “Whole New World/Pretend World” which finds Sophie greeting the apocalypse with a dance party. And in the end, there is no better way to describe Oil than that, a person facing all the horrors of the modern world the only way they know how. – Jake Doolin

4. Ghost – Prequelle

They might not seem like it, but Ghost is having a blast. Over three albums now the Swedish rock outfit has crafted a darkly funny vibe in both their showmanship and songcraft. But on their latest release, Prequelle, the band drops the more goofy aspects of their past and instead hones in on crafting a set of songs that retain their fun vibe. Bridging the gap between the harder sounds of their first record and the more dancy style of their last EP, Prequelle is the sound of a band finding their groove. From the ABBA-esque “Dance Macabre” to the groovy “Pro Memoria” the band is having fun playing with the perceived notions of just what type of band they can be. – Jake Doolin

 

3. Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

It seems appropriate that an album called ‘Ordinary Corrupt Human Love’ should be the one to expose everyone’s favorite shoegaze meet Black Metal quintet’s bruised heart. Probably the group’s most jarring record yet, it might also be their best alternating between stunning, lush quiet moments before bursting into full-on roars with an intensity that would make Odin himself proud. Songs like the opener ‘You Without End’ and 12 minute epic ‘Canary Yellow’ are just the sort of vital listening to get you through these last few winter nights and fill your belly with fire. If you’ve been sleeping on Deafheaven so far, there has never been a better time and arguably, never a better record, to begin correcting this with. – Jozef Raczka 

2. Architects – Holy Hell

British metal starlets Architects have capped off a tumultuous couple of years with their exceptional latest album Holy Hell! The record is as brutal as it is emotional and sees the band’s technical ability complimented perfectly with electronic elements and heart on your sleeve lyrics. Stand-out tracks include first single Doomsday, the last to have late guitarist and songwriter Tom Searle featured on, and Modern Misery. – Elizabeth Birt 

1. Idles – Joy As An Act of Resistance

A top 5 album, a lauded Later… With Jools Holland performance, sold-out gigs all around the UK, Europe and the US – there’s no question about it: IDLES are firmly on the ascent. The Bristol-based quintet (Joe Talbot, Adam Devonshire, Mark Bowen, Lee Kiernan, and Jon Beavis) have seen quite a turnaround in their fortunes in the past few years, though it took a while for them to get started. Debut album Brutalism arrived in early 2017 after almost 5 years of waiting, picking things up again for the band after the release of two promising (and now highly sought-after) EPs, and helping them hit their stride.

It hit the sweet spot between punk ethos, hardcore spirit, and cathartic rock, and they toured off it enough that you could have forgiven them for taking 2018 off. Fast forward a year and it turns out that all that touring was merely a warm-up in comparison to the jaunt they’ve been on for their second album, Joy as an Act of ResistanceVultureHound’s 2018 Album of the Year. Once again led by Talbot’s observational lyrical bent, the album is an emotional rollercoaster born from dark and forbidding places; personal trauma (the devastating centerpiece ‘June’ acts as a eulogy for his stillborn first child), xenophobia, jingoistic nationalism and the struggles of coping with mental ill-health.

Despite all this, it is a resoundingly positive record, heralded by the clattering drums of opener ‘Colossus’, a song that builds from a relative whisper to a scream over five cinematic minutes. ‘I’m Scum’ kicks against the pricks whose vague hatred of anyone even slightly left-wing has polluted UK print media, its jubilant chorus taking pride in being viewed as ‘dirty, rotten, filthy scum’ as IDLES sardonically take themselves down a peg, before firing back on the album’s venomous closing track ‘Rottweiler’, giving the tabloids hell as a track that predates even their debut album finds a home.

Elsewhere, ‘Great’ calls for a reexamination of the not-so-United Kingdom’s place in the world after the bitterly divisive Brexit vote, viewed by Talbot as the country ‘burning bridges and closing doors’, while ‘Samaritans’ and ‘Television’ respectively address the male mental health crisis and the ridiculous nature of unrealistic beauty standards. There’s even the gleeful ‘Gram Rock’ a song about two hedge-fund managers doing cocaine at a funeral set to hard-hitting riffs and a general sense of overindulgence, embodying the spirit of saying yes to everything. It works brilliantly.

Over 42 exuberant and impassioned minutes, IDLES cement themselves as one of rock’s brightest hopes, extolling the virtues of compassion and community while simultaneously clamoring for change. The band shows no signs of slowing down, and from the sounds of things, they wouldn’t have it any other way. 6 years of hard graft since their debut EP, they’ve definitely scored a win. Badabadabing. – Gareth O’Malley