My Favorite Music of 2018


Yeah, I know it is mid-February.  Blame Trump.   And see my prior piece.  The idea of doing a full discussion of my favorite music of 2018 is just too daunting.  If I wanted to do it with the level of detail that I did in the past, I’d never get it done.  So, as part of my new approach, I’m just going to list a bunch of albums that I liked last year, with little or no analysis.

I know that there are some albums from 2018 that would probably have made the list had I listened to them, and I’m sure I left out some good stuff, but that’s just the way it is.

The Best

The album I probably listened to the most last year was The Decemberists’ I’ll Be Your Girl.  Although they did try to bring in some new sounds, it still is a Decemberists album, and I liked it a lot.  And, of course, people get killed in odd ways.  Add to that, their late in the year EP Traveling On, and they had a great year, in my opinion.

Second on my list is Lucero’s Among The Ghosts, in which the band (mostly) stripped out the horns that were part of their last few albums, but it wasn’t completely a return to basics–their writing and playing has just gotten better and better with each release.  And two songs about the Civil War!

I also wanted to mention Angélique Kidjo’s brilliant re-imagining of Talking Heads’ Remain In Light, one of my all-time favorites.  You can read more of my thoughts about it here, where it was Cover Me’s top cover album of 2018.

I did see a bunch of great concerts last year, but want to single out the three different, all amazing, performances by Rhiannon Giddens that I was privileged to attend.  A solo “workshop” performance and full band show at the Clearwater Festival, and the “Sisters Present” group show at Symphony Space.

The Best of The Rest

American Aquarium–Things Change

Courtney Barnett–Tell Me How You Really Feel

The Brother Brothers–Some People I Know

Victory BoydThe Broken Instrument

Alejandro Escovedo–The Crossing

I think that this might have ranked higher if I listened to it more.

First Aid Kit–Ruins

I’m With HerSee You Around

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit–Live at the Ryman

Not the jaw-dropping live album that the fans wanted, but still….

The Jayhawks–Back Roads and Abandoned Motels

Lake Street Dive–Free Yourself Up

Bettye LaVette–Things Have Changed

Van Morrison & Joey DeFrancesco–You’re Driving Me Crazy

Rhett Miller–The Messenger

The song “Total Disaster” is an hysterical, self deprecating look at his career.

John Prine–The Tree of Forgiveness

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats–Tearing At The Seams

Jill Sobule–Nostalgia Kills

Amanda Shires–To The Sunset

Best known as a fiddler, Shires de-emphasizes the fiddle and it still works.

Bruce Springsteen —Live on Broadway

Watched it on Netflix–it was riveting.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones–Young Sick Camellia

Richard Thompson–13 Rivers

His best album in years, and that’s saying something.

The War and Treaty–Healing Tide

Erika Wennerstrom–Sweet Unknown

William Elliot Whitmore–Kilonova

Long review here

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