1. The Black Light
by The Ting Tings
If you'd told me ten years ago when this punk duo broke out with their sassy, in-your-face We Started Nothing, that I would be crowning one of their albums best of the year, I would have laughed. But here we are a decade later, and the Ting Tings have matured like a fine wine over the course of their career. The Black Light is what the future of music sounds like. It's experimental, with beautiful synth sounds and unconventional refrains that showcase their unique beats. It's really nothing short of a revelation. I never really thought that music could sound like this, yet here it is, and it's damn good. Yes, The Ting Tings have retained some of their cheekiness in some of the songs of The Black Light, but for the most part, it's like listening to a brand-new group. Innovative, startling and just straight-up exciting, this is the best album of the year.
Key Tracks: Estranged, Earthquake, Fine & Dandy
2. Art of Doubt
Metric's new album is less experimental synth-rock and more getting back to basics, with a rock sound that is classic yet remains fresh, and vocalist Emily Haines has never sounded better. Energetic, rebellious and just masterfully constructed, this is another Metric album brimming with great tracks.
Key Tracks: Dark Saturday, Art of Doubt, Dressed to Suppress
3. Black Honey
by Black Honey
Just try not to rock out to this bad-ass album. Innovative with catchy beats, great sounds and cheeky lyrics, this brings to mind other fantastic female-fronted bands like Metric and Garbage, but is altogether something different. At times in-your-face, and others taking a back seat to the unique sounds, Black Honey is a youthful alt-rock album with heart.
Key Tracks: Midnight, Bad Friends, Just Calling
4. This Time
by Donna Missal
Donna Missal's sound is an interesting mix of pop, R&B, jazz and blues. Sometimes it goes into show tune territory, other times she croons like a champ. What it all boils down to is one amazing showcase for Missal's powerful voice, trimmed with catchy beats and a showstopping lineup of songs.
Key Tracks: Jupiter, Keep Lying, Transformer
by Elise Davis
This album embodies what the best of country music can do. Catchy songs, lyrics you can empathize with, and intimate song-writing. The songs here are textured, beautiful and sung with tenderness by Elise. The ballads in particular are stirring and masterful.
Key Tracks: Hold Me Like a Gun, Burn, Married Young
6. New Compassion
With a muffled quality to the vocals of the songs, New Compassion has a sort of retro quality to it, something that sounds more home-grown. It is very effective, with strong beats, and a sort of frenetic energy to many of the songs.
Key Tracks: The Way, Fighter, Your Love
7. Young EP
by Charlotte Lawrence
As the title suggests, Charlotte Lawrence may be young (at just eighteen), but she has proven that she's a force to be reckoned with on this EP. Showcasing her ability to drop some pretty epic, confident beats, as well as her willingness to show her vulnerable side, this is an impressive, mature work from a rising talent.
Key Tracks: Wait Up, Everybody Love You, Young and Reckless
8. Wandered Away EP
by Anna Leone
The melodic, ethereal sound of Anna Leone is an experience, moving and soul-stirring. Leone's paired-back style is deceptive in its simplicity; graceful, mature and impactful.
Key Tracks: My Soul I, I Never Really, Into the Cold
by Caitlyn Smith
Caitlyn Smith's latest album is soft and vulnerable and yet strong and powerful. The range of emotion exuding from the tracks on this album, the mournful to the hopeful and defiant, really add up to more than just an average album. A blend of country and pop that's clearly a labor of love.
Key Tracks: This Town is Killing Me, St. Paul, Tacoma
by Mikky Ekko
Mikky Ekko has always been a really innovative artist, experimenting with his sound and reinventing himself constantly. The daring in-your-face pop and confident vocals prove that his vision has really become something extraordinary.
Key Tracks: Not the One, R.I.P., What's It Like Now
30 Best Songs of 2018
1. No Muse by Wild Moccasins - All of the elements of this song work together to create one stellar number. The verse, the bridge, and the chorus each are striking on their own, and combine to become something really, really fantastic. Melodic, with cutting lyrics, and an innocence to the vocals make for a wholly interesting and unique song. Best song of the year.
3. Jupiter by Donna Missal - That crazy warping sound throughout the song really turns this track into something special. Coupled with that strong chorus (belted out with an equally strong voice), and this is a song to be reckoned with.
4. Earthquake by The Ting Tings - This is synth-pop at its finest. A great example of how interesting sounds can really elevate a song into something truly one-of-a-kind. And it's awesome.
5. bellyache by Billie Eilish - For such a young singer (who was just fifteen when this song was released), this seems like the release of an accomplished artist. Polished, with unique sounds, this is a staggering achievement for an artist of any age.
6. Just Calling by Black Honey - This song is just really cool. It has a fun sound and a great hook.
8. Slide by LPX - This is a powerful song with barely-contained energy that builds throughout the bridge, before bursting in an impressive display of frenetic vocals during the chorus. Seriously, I love the energy of this song.
9. Schedules by Sigrid - This is a great pop song. It has a very playful air to it, enhanced by Sigrid's vocals.
11. St. Paul by Caitlyn Smith - The chorus of this song is something really special, gentle, yet sweeping and melodic.
12. Dark Saturday by Metric - There's something classic about the first single from Metric's latest CD. It has a rebellious attitude to it that just makes for a great rock song.
13. Never Be the Same by Camila Cabello - The former member of Fifth Harmony certainly had a runaway hit with this number, and for good reason: It's infectious and fun as hell.
14. Fighter by HAERTS - There's an urgency to "Fighter" that propels the song along at a brisk clip, with a frenetic energy to the chorus that's subtle, yet loud at the same time.
16. Wait Up by Charlotte Lawrence - The chorus on this one is one that will stick with you once you've heard it. Simple, yet effective.
17. Hold Me Like a Gun by Elise Davis - Country at its best: A great beat, imagery familiar yet specific, and a vulnerability that draws one in.
18. Drunk on a Feeling by Madilyn Bailey - This is a strong ballad, complete with string and piano accompaniment. It's minimal and brimming with raw emotion.
19. Shelby '68 by Kylie Minogue - On her latest album, Minogue spins an interesting mix of country and dance for a sound that's truly unique. This toe-tapper is the best of the crop.
21. Jeannie Becomes a Mom by Caroline Rose - A funky, upbeat song heavily influenced by music from the 70's. This is just infectious and hard to ignore.
22. Lost My Mind by Lily Allen - A deeply personal song, one can feel the desperation of Allen's lyrics, and appreciate the tragedy she's overcome. This is a song that really resonates.
23. All the Stars by Kendrick Lamar & SZA - A prime example of how hip-hop and pop music can work together effectively for a fresh final product, this song has a great build toward a powerful chorus.
24. You Me and the Silence by LOVA - A funky beat and just turns into something crazy fun with the refrain. This is one that's hard to get out of your head once you've heard it.
25. Graves by CHVRCHES - CHVRCHES brings their signature sound to a catchy song that feels like an instant classic, 80's but modern.
26. Heart to Break by Kim Petras - Utterly saturated in 80's synth (there's no subtly here), Kim's powerful voice roars from out of this song.
28. Living in the Future by Dawes - Subtle and lovely. The synthesized refrain explodes out from the rest of the song, commanding attention.
29. Quiet by MILCK - A confident song that's both vulnerable and powerful at once, while showcasing a strong, versatile voice.
30. Don't Panic by XYLO - A flirty, cheeky song that is clearly a lot of fun.