Music has been pretty steady so far in 2018 with only a handful of truly great albums so far. It turns out though that it’s like this every year, it’s just that I forget this every year and question “where are all the great albums?” in February.
Believe me when I say that there have been some real gems that have dropped in February, so please don’t sleep on these ones.
1. U.S. Girls – In A Poem Unlimited
Meghan Remy goes by the name of U.S. Girls, and has done for quite some time. The last album that dropped was in 2015 and it was decent, but it turns out she can make much better music. In A Poem Unlimited has a variety of sounds, jumping from slick synth pop, to neo-psychedelia to infectious, groovy jams. Meghan makes some bold statements on feminism and also even calls out Obama’s reign as president.
Rosebud is an intoxicating song that locks me in a trance every time I hear it. M. A. H is incredibly catchy and Pearly Gates has a very unique chord progression but still remains very accessible. A pop highlight in 2018 that will remain to be one of the best by the end of the year.
2. Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy
Will Toledo’s beloved 2011 Bandcamp album gets re-imagined in 2018, and sounds much more refined than the original. The lo-fi 2011 release had a certain kind of charm to it that couldn’t be denied but at the same time, you can’t argue that the recording quality wasn’t amateurish.
Of course that was the point, but with the rest of the band, this new version feels more expansive and musically it’s more exciting. A few of the cuts have been amended and they are better for it; Famous Prophets has a piano instrumental which extends the track to 16 minutes but every moment of the song feels necessary.
Car Seat Headrest are becoming the indie rock saviours in the 2010s and I can almost sense that they will be remembered for years to come.
3. Ravyn Lenae – Crush EP
I expect big things from Ravyn Lenae. In a world where R&B is thriving, there’s no reason why Ravyn can’t join some of the biggest names. At times reminding me of SZA and Kali Uchis, Ravyn still brings her own personality to the table. It’s a much needed change in the R&B game as she uses funk and Neo-Soul in her music, which gives the songs so much flair.
Production comes from Steve Lacy who has previously worked with Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, The Creator. It certainly feels that the production adds a lot to the style of Ravyn Lenae as some tracks feel as sticky as toffee, but then other cuts feel buttery smooth.
I’m excited to see what’s to come for this excellent, young voice in music.
4. Kero Kero Bonito – TOTEP EP
A very divisive band that plenty of people will not enjoy. Their debut album was extremely sugary and playful that I know isn’t for everyone. Hell, it isn’t even for me but what can I say. You can’t always keep your masculinity in line, you’ve gotta let loose sometimes, lads.
However, this new EP shows a different direction in which the band make use of their guitars and even have a few shoegaze-y tracks here. They’re not quite as “fun” this time around, but this sound is pretty interesting for KKB and I’m interested to see where they take it.
5. Khrysis & Elzhi Are Jericho Jackson – Jericho Jackson
Khrysis is a producer who has worked with the likes of Rapsody, Talib Kweli, Add-2, 9th Wonder and many more names in the hip-hop world over the years. His production is rooted in the jazzy, soulful, classic 90s sounds that are very familiar at this point. So you could dismiss this record as a throwback but when the beats are this good, I can’t just dismiss quality.
Then of course we have Elzhi, who is undoubtedly one of the most underrated rappers of all time. This man can flow on a beat and rhyme words together like not many others can. He often comes up with very detailed song topics that blow me away.
His rapping isn’t quite as on another level as it previously has been, but here we do get more melodic flows than usual which makes this a more accessible album that any hip hop fan would enjoy all the way through.
6. Screaming Females – All At Once
This band has been at it for years and their 2007 (What If Someone Is Watching Their TV?) album is one you must get into if you love rock music. This new album is perhaps their most exciting one since that album.
All At Once is more melodic and instantly catchy in comparison to their past few albums. The guitar playing isn’t quite as raw but the focused melodies make up for it. The frontwoman has an energy that isn’t matched by many other rock bands of the modern era and it’s a real shame this band doesn’t get more recognition, so don’t miss this one.
Although I may not get the same amount of enjoyment out of it as many others have, the new MGMT album has some great synth pop tracks on there that you should check out. I felt that it was a little spotty throughout and one too many duds for me to call it a great album, unfortunately.
The new Black Panther soundtrack is also solid and has some undeniable bangers on there (X, King’s Dead, Paramedic). TDE did a damn good job of compiling this one together.
Khruangbin dropped their album in January (Con Todo El Mundo) but it still deserves some praise here. It’s a lovely meditative album that dabbles in Latin music and Middle Eastern music. It’s a journey of an album that keeps you gripped in the gorgeous sounds that you will almost never hear in modern contemporary music.