From the grand returns of Janelle Monáe and Neko Case to the compelling storytelling of Mitski and Alejandro Escovedo to the exuberance of Kids See Ghosts and Low Cut Connie, 2018 gave us a tremendous amount of attention-worthy music to explore. We begin with our overall best-of list, and will explore a different genre each weekday until the new year.

The Crossing

Alejandro Escovedo

The Crossing

The singer/songwriter teams with Italian rockers Don Antonio for a song cycle of two young men chasing a dream of America.

Blueprint

Alice Bag

Blueprint

The L.A. punk pioneer's second solo album is intelligent, eclectic, and impassioned music by a gifted songwriter and vocalist.

Sweetener

Ariana Grande

Sweetener

Ariana Grande matures on the focused and fine Sweetener.

Sparrow

Ashley Monroe

Sparrow

A sumptuous, string-laden semi-autobiographical song cycle.

NTS Sessions

Autechre

NTS Sessions

Sprawling, eight-hour set of material Autechre recorded for NTS Radio, ranging from intense hyper-glitch to tranquil yet abrasive drone.

The Big Bad Blues

Billy Gibbons

The Big Bad Blues

A down and dirty blues album that's looser than the average ZZ Top platter.

Negro Swan

Blood Orange

Negro Swan

Dev Hynes' most touching and individual work, despite a large supporting cast including Georgia Anne Muldrow, Project Pat, and Diddy.

Port Saint Joe

Brothers Osborne

Port Saint Joe

Brothers Osborne get funky and funny on this assured sophomore set.

A Soprano's Schubertiade

Carolyn Sampson / Joseph Middleton

A Soprano's Schubertiade

Superb interpretations of Schubert, technically flawless, intimate, and deeply felt.

Chris

Christine and the Queens

Chris

The singer/songwriter's triumphant second album borrows from '80s R&B and questions gender roles, engaging minds, hearts, and bodies along the way.

The Horizon Just Laughed

Damien Jurado

The Horizon Just Laughed

The singer/songwriter's first entirely self-produced album blends Rockwellian portraiture and personal remembrances for a deeply affecting set.

Monte Sagrado

Draco Rosa

Monte Sagrado

After two prolonged battles with cancer, the artist returns with his first studio album in nine years and it's a rocker.

Open Here

Field Music

Open Here

The Brewis brothers show no signs of running out of ideas, crafting (yet) another brilliant album of smart and shiny pop.

Aftering

Fred Thomas

Aftering

Fred Thomas vividly describes his life experiences through energetic rock songs as well as sprawling experimental pieces.

Prequelle

Ghost

Prequelle

After a tumultuous 2017, the Swedish ghouls emerge with new personnel, a new fictional frontman, and the best music of their career thus far.

Gilbert O'Sullivan

Gilbert O'Sullivan

Gilbert O'Sullivan

Working with producer Ethan Johns, Gilbert O'Sullivan delivers one of his very best records.

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Funeral Song; Game of Cards; Concerto in D

Gustavo Gimeno

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring; Funeral Song; Game of Cards; Concerto in D "Basel"; Agon

Gustavo Gimeno and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg present key works from Stravinsky's Russian, neoclassical, and serial periods.

See You Around

I'm with Her

See You Around

The folk supergroup delivers an exquisitely shaded debut.

Dirty Computer

Janelle Monáe

Dirty Computer

Artful resistance and pop music aren't mutually exclusive on the multihyphenate's first album in five years.

The Tree of Forgiveness

John Prine

The Tree of Forgiveness

The venerable songwriter sounds like a smart and rascally old man on this album, and it suits him perfectly.

Singularity

Jon Hopkins

Singularity

The proper follow-up to Jon Hopkins' 2013 breakthrough Immunity is more intense, reflecting a deeper spiritual quest.

Aviary

Julia Holter

Aviary

The multifaceted artist's sixth album responds to the chaos of 21st century life with some of her most challenging and beguiling music.

Golden Hour

Kacey Musgraves

Golden Hour

An emotionally candid, blissfully soft blend of classic country composition and modern pop.

Childqueen

Kadhja Bonet

Childqueen

Enchanting and exceptional folk-soul from the multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, and producer, only her second release.

Isolation

Kali Uchis

Isolation

The singer and songwriter's wonderful debut fulfills the promise of (and continues) her shrewd collaborative work with Tyler, The Creator, Gorillaz, and Bootsy Collins.

Heaven & Earth

Kamasi Washington

Heaven & Earth

On his sophomore full-length, the Los Angeles-based saxophonist, arranger, and bandleader retains his maximalist aesthetic to excellent effect.

Kids See Ghosts

Kid Cudi / Kids See Ghosts / Kanye West

Kids See Ghosts

This eponymous debut from Kanye West and Kid Cudi is a compact, lushly produced, and thrilling collaboration.

Power

Lotic

Power

The Berlin-based artist's long-awaited debut album confronts racism and gender conformity while standing strong and fearless.

Dirty Pictures, Pt. 2

Low Cut Connie

Dirty Pictures, Pt. 2

Deepening their attack without abandoning their signature, Low Cut Connie deliver their most complete album to date.

Sculptor

Luluc

Sculptor

The Australian folk duo turn a bold corner on their more cinematic and neatly crafted third album.

Ravel, Duparc: Aimer et mourir - Danses et mélodies

Magdalena Kožená / Robin Ticciati

Ravel, Duparc: Aimer et mourir - Danses et mélodies

This exquisite album of music by Ravel and Duparc features Magdalena Kozena with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester, conducted by Robin Ticciati.

Universal Beings

Makaya McCraven

Universal Beings

The drummer's "organic beat music" is articulated brilliantly by editing the music of four different ensembles improvising live in four cities.

Songs of Resistance 1942-2018

Marc Ribot

Songs of Resistance 1942-2018

With an all-star cast of vocalists, the guitarist delivers an album of angry, inspired topical songs to inspire political unity in a dark, difficult era.

Bon Voyage

Melody's Echo Chamber

Bon Voyage

Free-flowing prog-psych made under the imaginative direction of Melody Prochet with help from members of Dungen and the Amazing.

Be the Cowboy

Mitski

Be the Cowboy

The follow-up to Puberty 2 switches to a fictional perspective with equally compelling results.

Now Only

Mount Eerie

Now Only

Written shortly after the heartbreaking A Crow Looked at Me, Phil Elverum explores the inevitably changing nature of loss.

Third

Nathan Salsburg

Third

The Louisville guitarist's gorgeous and earthy third outing features nothing but a solo acoustic guitar.

Hell-On

Neko Case

Hell-On

Lush but intimate, the Canadian vocalist and songwriter delivers a grand-scale triumph with her first solo effort in five years.

Room 25

Noname

Room 25

Remarkable debut album from Chicagoan rapper/poet Noname, effortlessly blending introspection with humor over lush, jazzy arrangements.

Volunteer

Old Crow Medicine Show

Volunteer

Working with producer Dave Cobb, Old Crow Medicine Show expand their sonic horizons and sharpen their focus.

Age Of

Oneohtrix Point Never

Age Of

The producer's fascinating ninth album scorns existing musical genres and invents android folk, mutant R&B, and futuristic opera along the way.

Tru

Ovlov

Tru

The re-formed band overload the speakers with guitar noise and pluck heartstrings with melancholy songs on this instant classic indie rock album

Interstate Gospel

Pistol Annies

Interstate Gospel

Pistol Annies return from a hiatus with a fully realized, resonant record that's their best to date.

Honey

Robyn

Honey

Returning from years of grief and healing, the pop mastermind delivers some of her most satisfying and innovative music.

Hope Downs

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Hope Downs

The band's debut album surpasses the jangle pop potential of their previous EPs to become an instant, hit-packed classic of the genre.

El Mal Querer

Rosalía

El Mal Querer

The Barcelona-based singer, songwriter, and actress delivers her sophomore outing that weds flamenco and copla to R&B and urban pop.

The Official Body

Shopping

The Official Body

The trio's frequently dazzling third album is a joyous celebration of post-punk's outsider status.

Midnight Marker

Shy Layers

Midnight Marker

The Atlanta-based musician's follow-up is a mesmerizing oddity of organic/electronic grooves and quirky composition.

Your Queen Is a Reptile

Sons of Kemet

Your Queen Is a Reptile

The ensemble led by Shabaka Hutchings debuts on Impulse! with a political album that sounds like a street party in the making.

Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

SOPHIE

Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides

The producer's debut album is a bold and affecting exploration of imagination and reinvention.

What a Time to Be Alive

Superchunk

What a Time to Be Alive

Written and recorded in a burst of passion after the 2016 elections, the album is full of fire and powerful, political punk-pop anthems.

Superorganism

Superorganism

Superorganism

Fresh and fun sample-heavy pop jams from a London collective that sounds like the house band on a Pee-wee's Playhouse reboot.

The Midnight Hour

The Midnight Hour / Ali Shaheed Muhammad / Adrian Younge

The Midnight Hour

Double shot of vivid orchestral soul and jazz from Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and a cast including Raphael Saadiq and Marsha Ambrosius.

Silver Dollar Moment

The Orielles

Silver Dollar Moment

Stunning debut by a young U.K. trio that gives the baggy indie dance sound of the early '90s a serious upgrade.

Astroworld

Travis Scott

Astroworld

The Houstonian's third solo album, titled after his hometown's demolished theme park, contains some of his most vivid and vulnerable material.

Arvo Pärt

Viktoria Mullova / Paavo Järvi

Arvo Pärt

A superb fresh take on Pärt from Russian violinist Mullova, approved by the composer.

FM!

Vince Staples

FM!

Brisk third LP from the Long Beach emcee that overflows with addictive beats and thrilling bars.

Ecstatic Arrow

Virginia Wing

Ecstatic Arrow

The duo's heartfelt, innovative third album is its finest work yet.

Dirt

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Dirt

The third effort from the Canadian-Asian collective whips myth and sci-fi with psych and prog metal in a thrilling sonic squall.

Our Raw Heart

YOB

Our Raw Heart

After guitarist Mike Scheidt suffered a life-threatening illness and surgery, YOB emerged with the most innovative, poetic album in their career.

Virginia Wing