2018 has been a roller coaster of a year for me personally and professionally, but one of the most consistent things in a crazy year has been the music. There have been so many great albums, EPs, songs and videos that this list was always going to be filled with difficult decisions. As Brandon stated similarly in his year-end favorites, there were numerous moments where I thought, “This album is a contender!” It happened over and over again.
Now that all of the holiday season is coming to a close, I had to make some choices. So enough of the pomp and circumstance! It is on to my favorites of 2018. So bring on 2019, because 2018, thank you, next.
Favorite Album of 2018: Donna Missal – This Time
We have been waiting for Donna Missal to release an album since we put her on our “Breakout Artists for 2017” list (HERE). Well, she finally dropped her debut album, This Time, back in September and it has been a staple on all of my playlists and in my CD player in my car (yeah, people still use those…). The LP is nothing short of spectacular with lovely ballad-esque songs like “Skyline”, the heartbreaking tracks of “Keep Lyin'” and sensual love songs (“Thrills” and “Jupiter”).
We had a ton of contenders, but Donna Missal‘s This Time rose to the top and would not relinquish the title. Seriously though, it is unreal. The quality of the production, vocal talent and every detail is accounted for. Listen to “Girl” and try to tell me that the track is not perfect.
Favorite Song of 2018: “Unknown (To You)” – Jacob Banks
If you have not picked up Village from UK singer/songwriter Jacob Banks, then that should be your New Year’s resolution. Of all of the tracks on the British artist’s debut album, the one that caught me and reeled me in was “Unknown (To You)”. Not only is the song wonderfully constructed, but Jacob Banks is, to me, one of the most emotive vocalists I have ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Favorite EP of 2018: Ungodly – BAUM
It is not often that a 20-year old can put this much expression and passion into an EP. Well, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, Sabrina Teitelbaum, better known by her stage name BAUM, unleashed her EP, Ungodly, upon the world, we quaked with love and admiration.
BAUM released the album as an expression of love and self-confidence and she deserves every ounce of both that she received from the release. The grungy pop sound is nothing short of excellence and, like all great EPs, left us wanting more.
Favorite New Artist/Band of 2018: UNBLOOM
When I was first introduced to UNBLOOM, aka Jonathan Zarola, I was completely unsure of what to expect. Other bloggers had been on the bandwagon before me, but I was a quick convert with his single, “Chances”. And while we were not the first to break UNBLOOM, we have certainly become huge fans.
Also, consider the fact that 2017 was the first full year dedicated to music for the Canadian Producer/DJ, he also took the time to sing, showing that the artist is multi-talented and deserves our attention. We expect great things from UNBLOOM in 2018 and beyond!
Favorite Male Artist of 2018: Adrian Daniel
Brooklyn-native Adrian Daniel released one of the most underrated albums in 2018. His third studio album, FLAWD, is the best R&B album I have heard in decades. While artists like The Weeknd and Khalid received the majority of headlines and accolades, and rightfully so, Adrian Daniel‘s FLAWD, in my opinion, was a more masterful and complete album than anything his peers produced in 2018.
While this album may have been lost in the shuffle with other media outlets and award shows, Adrian Daniel deserves more credit for developing and progressing R&B into the 21st century.
Favorite Female Artist of 2018: Lauren O’Connell
This is not Lauren O’Connell‘s first rodeo. She has produced a number of albums and EPs, but when we premiered her latest LP, Details, back in February, I knew that she would be on my favorites list. It is a darkly depressing album, but the amount of resilience she has shown through her years of fighting mental illness is inspiring and as such so is this record.
Favorite Band/Duo of 2018: Crimson Apple
Crimson Apple – consisting of sisters lead vocalist/keys Colby Benson, guitarist/vocalist Shelby Benson, bassist/vocalist Carthi Benson and percussionist Faith Benson – has not released a lot of music in 2018, but what the Hawaiian quartet did unveil was brilliant. Their single, “Can’t Get Out of Bed”, is a killer track that blends the K-pop and alternative genres into an energetic dance song.
I know there is not much material to say that this was my favorite band, but Crimson Apple is on the leading edge of the future of pop music. I think if you give them a chance you will enjoy them as much as I do!
Favorite Music Video of 2018: “Summer Forever” – Bahari
This song is everything. Bahari put out a few amazing songs this year, but this nostalgic 1970s track reaches out to an era of civil unrest that mirrors our current situation. “Summer Forever” brings back the innocence of summer vacations when all we had to worry about was getting to our part-time summer job on time and making sure we spent as much time outside with friends as possible.
“Summer Forever” is a beautiful soundscape with a video that matches. Bathed in oranges, yellows and browns, the scene is reminiscent of Charlie’s Angels and That 70s Show with that sensual chemistry that the trio provides. It is a fun, energetic single that has a video that matches the seriousness and campiness of the 70s alike.
Favorite Moment of 2018: Christmas Morning
“I love music” has to be the biggest understatement I have ever written. But until this Christmas, I was missing a huge arrow from my musical quiver. This year my fiancee, Jess, remedied that situation by getting me my first record player so that I could listen to vinyls. Not only did she pick up a great quality turntable, but also purchased some of my favorites albums. It was one of the most thoughtful and wonderful gifts I could have received as an audiophile. My girl knows me so well!
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