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.

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.

Alice Bag


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

Ariana Grande


Ariana Grande matures on the focused and fine Sweetener.

Ashley Monroe


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


NTS Sessions

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

Billy Gibbons

The Big Bad Blues

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

Blood Orange

Negro Swan

Dev Hynes' most touching LP mixes and bounds between bedsit post-punk, desolate dream pop, chillwave-coated quiet storm, and low-profile hip-hop soul.

Brothers Osborne

Port Saint Joe

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

Carolyn Sampson / Joseph Middleton

A Soprano's Schubertiade

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

Christine and the Queens


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

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.

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.

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.

Fred Thomas


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



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

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

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.

I'm with Her

See You Around

The folk supergroup delivers an exquisitely shaded debut.

Janelle Monáe

Dirty Computer

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

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.

Jon Hopkins


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

Julia Holter


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

Kacey Musgraves

Golden Hour

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

Kadhja Bonet


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

Kali Uchis


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.

Kamasi Washington

Heaven & Earth

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

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.



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

Low Cut Connie

Dirty Pictures, Pt. 2

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



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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

Mount Eerie

Now Only

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

Nathan Salsburg


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

Neko Case


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


Room 25

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

Old Crow Medicine Show


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

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.



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

Pistol Annies

Interstate Gospel

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



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

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

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

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

Shy Layers

Midnight Marker

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

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

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


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.



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 / 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.

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.

Travis Scott


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

Viktoria Mullova / Paavo Järvi

Arvo Pärt

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

Vince Staples


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

Virginia Wing

Ecstatic Arrow

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

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan


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

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

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Virginia Wing