2018 Mid-Year Albums of the Year

Story posted June 28, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by CommRadio Arts Staff

As we hit the mid-year mark for 2018, the CommRadio Arts Department takes a look at the top albums that have been released through June. Here is what the department voted for the top ten albums of 2018 (so far).

10. J. Cole - KOD

On KOD, J. Cole brings his commentary to a world that he sees as addicted to almost everything. Over the course of the project, J. Cole speaks on lust, money and drug addictions. He does this on a personal level when he talks about growing up watching his mother battle addiction on “Once an Addict (Interlude).” Though some may find his lyrics overly preachy, him offering his thoughts may open the eyes of some of the people his lyrics are directed at. The album has also seemed to bring two separate sides of the generational hip hop gap together. Cole’s lyrics on “1985 (Intro to ‘The Fall Off’)” has led to a conversation between him and one of the biggest faces of the SoundCloud rap era, Lil Pump. Even if some may perceive his lyrics as self-righteous, eventually something had to be said to start the conversation about addiction surrounding this generation of hip hop. - Jerome Taylor

9. Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy

Via her delivery, versatility and authenticity, Cardi B was able to construct an impressive debut album. She oozes confidence whenever she delivers her lyrics, as evidenced by her chart-topping single “Bodak Yellow.” But Cardi proves on Invasion of Privacy she has the talent to constantly create hits whether that’s an upbeat pop single like “I Like It” or a song from a place of vulnerability on “Be Careful.”  Those three songs becoming successful are a testament to her versatility as an artist. Her authenticity can be found on many levels as she chooses not to hide from the controversy that surrounded her and her fiancée, Offset, or when she opens the album rapping, “Look, they gave a b**** two options: strippin' or lose/ Used to dance in a club right across from my school/I said ‘dance’ not ‘f***’, don't get it confused.” Cardi B’s transparency has made her likable by fans, and her ability to create songs made her debut album one of the best hip hop offerings of the year so far. - Jerome Taylor

Read our full Invasion of Privacy review here.

8. JPEGMAFIA - Veteran

Veteran is nothing if not loud in every sense of the word. JPEGMAFIA frantically raps over glitchy production and provides the best glitch hop album of 2018. The album is messy intentionally as JPEG uses this “mess” to get his points across. And those points made are done so in a way that feels very much in related to how arguments are made in 2018. He is a man of the internet age and when he gives his pointed arguments in the same way in which a random would on the internet, they hit harder. JPEG holds a mirror up to the world and shows everything that we hate about it and when he’s done, you’re left in awe at his technical ability. - David Arroyo

7. Father John Misty - God’s Favorite Customer

Josh Tillman has been creating music under the name of Father John Misty for six years now and it’s difficult not to enjoy everything he releases. On his fourth solo album, the singer keeps his wit and cleverness throughout the duration of the tracks. Anyone who listens to Father John Misty knows that his ego is his prized possession. However, on God’s Favorite Customer, the singer takes a step back and sings to his audience to understand him better. This record contains lyrics that are more genuine and sincere, and while he is still singing about himself, he does so in a way where he comes to terms with his flaws. The higher level of maturity makes this one of Father John Misty’s most meaningful albums to date. His intense, yet soothing vocals keep listeners entertained and craving more. Last year’s Pure Comedy was enough to pull listeners in, and now God’s Favorite Customer is enough to make those listeners stay. - Jenna Minnig

6. Mount Eerie - Now Only

The follow up to his 2017 album A Crow Looked at Me, Phil Elverum returned with more thoughts on his wife who passed away. If that sounds depressing, it’s because it is. Elverum explores the love of his wife in a much more thought out way this time around though. Where A Crow Looked at Me was a raw, immediate reaction, Now Only is a man who had time to think about his wife’s death and create something more artful. Through his hidden metaphors on love and death, Elverum may finally be coming to terms with the very difficult situation of life without his wife. - David Arroyo

Read our full Now Only review here.

5. Saba - Care for Me

On Care For Me, Saba grieves the loss of his cousin and fellow Pivot Gang member. The album contains several tracks where Saba is trying to figure out how to deal with the murder of his close family member. He finds some solace in his music, evidenced by the chorus of “Calligraphy,” where he raps, “Write it away, write it away/ I just got tired of runnin' away, runnin' away/ Everyone leavin', I write 'em away, write 'em away.” Through skillful writing, Saba recalls moments he no longer can have, specifically, when he remembers his cousin throughout the projector when he reminisces about growing up in Chicago. Saba also effectively touches on societal issues while keeping his music personal by telling his own stories that generate a sense of empathy from the listener. This makes Care For Me the product of thoughtful writing in an era of hip hop when popular artists brag about how little time they took with their craft. – Jerome Taylor

4. Beach House - 7

Beach House’s latest album, 7, is an exhibition in musical layering. From vocals to instrumentation, 7 builds this grand record that is sometimes hard to grasp. That’s not a knock on the album, but more a testament to how good the project is. 7 is a very heavy listen with new sounds hitting the listeners’ eardrums every second. The small moments feel massive and the moments that are supposed to feel big feel small. Beach House operates in such a unique space on 7 and shows why they are one of the most well-received dream pop bands of today. - David Arroyo

3. Field Music - Open Here

In their first release since 2016, brothers Peter and David Brewis return to their musical project, Field Music. The English duo matured both sound and lyrical content on their newest album, Open Here. It’s hard to put politics and fun in the same sentence, but Field Music makes it possible with the way they pay attention to detail on this project. The release follows the controversial voting surrounding the topic of Brexit in England. This situation prominently drives a heavy portion of lyrical matter on this album. The brothers also use their experiences in fatherhood to write the meaningful songs, almost like a letter to their children in the future. While much of this record focuses on a serious issue, the Brewis brothers know how to incorporate fun sounding music into that. Thanks to the hard work from Field Music, there’s never a dull moment on Open Here, which makes it one of the top albums of 2018. - Jenna Minnig

Read our full Open Here review here.

2. U.S. Girls - In a Poem Unlimited

If 2017 wasn’t already the year for girl power, 2018 certainly is. Meghan Remy, who creates her music under the name of U.S. Girls, crafted one of the most compelling and energetic albums of the year so far. In A Poem Unlimited is female empowerment at its finest. With lyrics that chime in on topics ranging from sexual harassment to women making a comeback, it is difficult to find something wrong with this record. If the lyrics weren’t enough, the instrumentals that accompany them are a whole other story. Despite the sometimes heavy subject matter, U.S. Girls makes each song sound brand new with the upbeat and lively music while the singer’s chilling vocals captivate listeners. Through Remy’s work with other collaborators, helping to make each song fresh and different, U.S. Girls crafted an album not clearly settled in one genre that perfectly exemplifies the best music has to offer in 2018. - Jenna Minnig

1. Pusha T - Daytona

Daytona is Pusha T’s first studio album since 2015, and on this project he teams up with Kanye West to craft a tight-knit, 7-track album filled with street lyricism and head nod inducing beats. Kanye West’s performance as a producer on the project elevates the album to new heights. He seemed to rediscover his love for chopping up samples and, by doing so, Kanye is able to create dark and menacing beats that gave Pusha T the perfect backdrops to create the scenes he is known for. Over his lengthy career, Pusha T has been successful for finding inventive ways to talk about the life of luxury for a rich drug dealer and on tracks like “If You Know You Know” and “The Games We Play,” he continues with this style of lyricism. His lyrics about street life were to be expected, but his input on the state of hip hop is what got the whole hip hop community buzzing as “Infrared” became the opening shot for the most talked about rap beef of the summer. The combination of stellar production and lyricism gives Daytona the replay value of any great album. - Jerome Taylor

Read our full Daytona review here.

 

Arts Staff Members Personal Top Ten:

Jenna Minnig Jerome Taylor David Arroyo
1. U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited 1. Pusha T - Daytona 1. Pusha T - Daytona
2. Father John Misty - God’s Favorite Customer 2. Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy 2. U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited
3. Field Music - Open Here 3. U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited 3. Field Music - Open Here
4. Beach House - 7 4. J. Cole - KOD 4. Beach House - 7
5. Pusha T - Daytona 5. Mount Eerie - Now Only 5. Saba - Care For Me
6. 6. Mount Eerie - Now Only 6. Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts 6. A.A.L. (Against All Logic) - 2012-2017
7. Frankie Cosmos - Vessel 7. Kali Uchis - Isolation 7. Janelle Monáe - Dirty Computer
8. Jack Stauber - HiLo 8. Saba - Care For Me 8. Mount Eerie - Now Only
9. JPEGMAFIA - Veteran 9. MGMT - Little Dark Age 9. Father John Misty - God’s Favorite Customer
10. Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy 10. Jay Rock - Redemption 10. Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy

 

Jerome Taylor is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jerometaylor91697@gmail.com.

David Arroyo is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email arroyodavid01@gmail.com.

Jenna Minnig is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email at jkm5756@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

David Arroyo's photo

David Arroyo

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

David Arroyo currently serves as one of two General Managers for CommRadio. David is a former arts & entertainment director, social media director and editor for the station. He has produced for multiple Penn State sports while in CommRadio, has done play by play for Penn State sporting events such as football, basketball and volleyball and co-hosted and produced his own talk show. During the fall of 2017, David was an anchor, producer and reporter for the Centre County Report. David most recently interned at WPVI-TV, 6abc in Philadelphia during the summer of 2018. While at 6abc he was a programing intern and helped in the production of their weekly show “FYI Philly.” David has interned at B94.5 (State College) and Center City Film and Video (Philadelphia). Follow him on Twitter (@_arroyodavid) or email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jenna Minnig's photo

Jenna Minnig

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

Jenna Minnig is a contributor in the Arts Department for CommRadio. Within the department she writes and discusses in depth musical analyses of albums from the past and present. In addition to CommRadio, she is a member of SOMA (Students Organizing the Multiple Arts) and the Asylum music club. After graduation, Jenna hopes to work in the field of Broadcast Journalism and continue working in the entertainment industry. Follow her on Twitter (@jennaminnig) or email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).