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The most overlooked albums of 2018

There are only so many slots on a Best Albums of 2018 list, but there are still tons of great records that really flew under the radar this year.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite albums that you definitely should have paid more attention to, or records that didn’t quite get the love that they deserved. Check out our list of the most overlooked albums of 2018 below.

Tash Sultana – Flow State

Tash Sultana released her debut album Flow State in August, and with it she gave us a new definition of do it yourself. The Aussie-born multi-instrumental and vocal artist highly anticipated album is so self-made that every sound, whether it’s guitars, flutes, saxophones, strings, loops, or vocals, was created by Sultana herself. The groovy, eclectically soulful tunes break genres with reggae, R&B, and calypso influences while simultaneously accessing a sort of guitar-driven rock. – Chelsea Brimstin

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Something Else

The only thing Anton Newcombe’s released more of than albums in the past 23 years is band members. Unpredictability is about the only constant in the history of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, but the group’s 2018 effort Something Else stands among their best work in years. – Scott Lewis

Lucy Dacus – Historian

Lucy Dacus, one member of indie supergroup Boygenius with Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, released her sophomore album Historian earlier this year. Her warm, throaty vocals drive the lulling, yet powerful tracks as she sings about theme of love, loss, and death. Her lyrically clever and sonically unique tracks fell under the radar this year, but are definitely worth a listen. A standout track on the album is “Night Shifts,” as Dacus fills the elaborate and ever-changing tune with gut punching lines like “Am I a masochist/ resisting urges to punch you in the teeth?” or “I feel no need to forgive/ but I might as well.” – Chelsea

Nap Eyes – I’m Bad Now

Halifax-based indie rockers Nap Eyes really found their stride with their third album. The band made good on those comparisons to 90s indie heavyweights like Yo La Tengo and Pavement once again, while proving there is so much more at work behind those Terror Twilight-esque arrangements. Frontman Nigel Chapman is truly one of the most underrated lyricists making music today. – Scott

Adrianne Lenker – abysskiss

Big Thief singer-songwriter Adrianne Lenker released one of the year’s most-intimate albums with her solo effort, abysskiss. Lenker’s soft vocals and gentle arrangements are the focus of the record, which can be best described as an beautifully executed exercise in warm, lo-fi production. – Scott

Art d’Ecco – Trespasser

Art d’Ecco released his debut full-length, Trespasser, via Paper Bag Records this year. Much of the album came about when d’Ecco holed in a cabin he had lived in as a child, barricading himself with copies of Deerhunter’s Cryptograms, Bowie’s Low, “and choice krautrock records.” Trespasser is steeped in inclusivity, while perfectly encapsulating d’Ecco’s wall of glam-inspired sound and the mysteriousness of his stage persona. – Scott

Matt Corby – Rainbow Valley

This year, Matt Corby released his sophomore album, Rainbow Valley, which is more refined and shows Corby really growing into his own skin after 2016’s Telluric. The album is full of soul, and the racks range from low-key ballads to sprawling, majestic power tunes. Rainbow Valley, which is named after the property Corby and his family live in, will lead you on a sort of psychedelic, yet intimate journey with the groovy vibes of “No Ordinary Life” and the lush layers of “All That I See.” – Chelsea

Jorja Smith – Lost & Found

20-year-old British singer Jorja Smith released her intensively vulnerable and personal debut album in June. The record seeks a sort of self-knowledge as Smith takes the youthful restlessness of early adulthood and makes it sound refined, yet gritty. The smooth R&B tracks are timeless and reflect an unrivalled independence full of bold statements and uniquely driven instrumentals. Her lyrics are emotional and intimate as she sings lines like “I’m constantly finding myself” and “I’m not trynna let you in/ even if I found the one.” – Chelsea

Matt Mays – Twice Upon a Hell of a Time

Matt Mays quietly released a follow-up to 2017’s Once Upon a Hell of a Time, with the arrival of an acoustic reimagining of that record in the form of Twice Upon a Hell of a Time. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Mays writes most of his songs on an acoustic guitar, that he can pull off stripping-back songs like the spacious rocker “Station Out of Range” and the barroom ripper “NYC Girls” for an acoustic album. – Scott

Camp Cope – How To Socialise and Make Friends

The sheer volume of outstanding music coming out of Melbourne, Australia right now is almost too much to keep up with. If Camp Cope’s sophomore LP passed you by, then you best correct that oversight right now. Georgia Maq’s lyrics are as earnest as it gets, but she pulls it off without treading into cheesiness thanks to her often sarcastic delivery. – Scott

Cat Power – Wanderer

This year, Cat Power frontwoman Chan Marshall released Wanderer, her first album in six years, back in October, and it seems to revisit themes from each of her previous nine albums to wrap it neatly into a career spanning tenth. Marshall has reached new levels on her lyrical endeavours with this one, driving home feelings of resentment and affection simultaneously toward a mysterious “you.” “In Your Face” is a big stand out on this album, with its hand-slapped percussion and eerily sultry vocals as Marshall’s voice seems to carry you through a haunted memory. – Chelsea

Culture Abuse – Bay Dream

Culture Abuse’s sophomore effort, and first record under Epitaph, dials back the raw garage-punk and ups the melodic approach. The result is 32 minutes of pure pop-punk perfection. – Scott

Slothrust – The Pact

Slothrust’s The Pact opens with a perfectly empowering line as frontwoman Leah Wellbaum asserts “I do what I want” on the first track, “Double Down.” The album encapsulates Slothrust’s forceful, out-of-the-box, and unapologetically weird sound into a unique, flawless record. The ’90s grunge-inspired band has tracks full of clean, crisp techniques with a static gritty twist. – Chelsea

Blood Orange – Negro Swan

British musician Dev Hynes’ musical project Blood Orange released Negro Swan earlier this year, which is his fourth studio album. Hynes uses this record to look at the comfort and complication of being treated and seen as a sort of ugly beauty, encapsulating the anxiety around feeling like a marginalized person during such a backward political climate. In the hit single “Charcoal Baby,” Hyne belts out emotive, vulnerable lyrics like “No one wants to be the odd one out at times/ No one wants to be the Negro Swan.” – Chelsea

JEFF the Brotherhood – Magick Songs

Nashville two-piece JEFF the Brotherhood returned to their indie roots after a stint with Warner Bros., and the result is what may stands as their most cohesive effort yet. On Magick Songs, the brothers enlisted help from members of Daddy Issues, Bully, Raconteurs/Dead Weather bassist Jack Lawrence, and others. “Camel Swallowed Whole” wins the 2018 award for the most-Pavementy track of the year. – Scott

Aurora – Infections Of A Different Kind (Step I)

Aurora’s Infections Of A Different Kind (Step I) is an empowering, anthemic album full of explosive, genre-bending tracks that you’ll want to have on repeat. The Norwegian singer-songwriter uses music to unite humanity. “Step I is about the first battle you have to make with yourself,” Aurora explains in a statement. “About emotional humans and introverts and building them up so they can rule the world. But first you have to be infected by the fruits of ‘infections of a different kind.’ A way to get a different kind of view.” – Chelsea

Jeff Rosenstock – Post-

Long Island indie hero released one of the first albums of 2018 with Post-. If you’re a fan of pop-punk where the vocals sound like the singer fired his heart out of cannon and then blasted it with a shotgun in mid-air, then this is the album of the year. To top it all off, Rosenstock’s “9/10” is an under-the-radar candidate for video-of-the-year. – Scott

Lowell – Lone Wolf

Toronto pop sensation Lowell released Lone Wolf, the follow up to her debut album, We Loved Her Dearly. This release is the singer-songwriter’s most innovative work yet, with strong, percussion-based tracks and alt-pop dancefloor jams. While her tunes are pretty pop heavy, Lowell pushes the envelope by exploring themes of self-discovery and prominent societal issues. This album steps back from the melody heavy production in her debut record, and relies more on her vocal abilities. – Chelsea

Coeur De Pirate – en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé

Even if you don’t speak French, Coeur De Pirate’s en cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé offers up a universal truth through its delicate melodies and palpable emotion. The title itself translates to “During storms, this garden will be closed,” which represents the major theme of the album: self-preservation. The record is free and raw as she explores unhealthy relationships, turbulent experiences, and self-destructive routines. – Chelsea

Liza Anne – Fine But Dying

Liza Anne’s Fine But Dying is vulnerable and honest, and she’s not afraid to deliver a transparent truth on tracks like “Paranoia.” The album is entrancing as Anne explores themes of and experiences with mental illness, difficult emotions, and a sort of romantic psychosis. Fine But Dying seems to be almost like a self-discovery or self-medication as Anne not only reveals the most difficult moments in her life, but offers them up so the listener can explore their own. – Chelsea

Dizzy – Baby Teeth

Oshawa’s Dizzy released Baby Teeth this year, which is a sort of delicate pop filled with clean guitar lines, dreamy synths, and stripped back beats as frontwoman Katie Munshaw sings in a light, sweeping tone. The album exerts a sort of melancholy while exploring a sort of idealized youth as the band puts forth a series of lush, expansive songs that feel bigger than their suburban town. Dizzy puts forth a sort of escapism with tracks like “Swim,” which feature lyrics like “You are the athlete/ I am the astronaut, for thousands of miles I float/ Still, you carry me home.” – Chelsea

Dead Soft – New Emotion

Four years after the release of their debut album, Dead Soft have returned with a powerful grunge-pop EP called New Emotion. Lyrically, Dead Soft explores dark, unsettling themes of gloom alongside bright, renewing choruses. The record is all about new beginnings, with a tighter, more refined and distilled sound based on strategic harmonies and creative guitar riffs. – Chelsea

Loony – Part I

This year, Scarborough-based artist Loony put out Part I, a four song EP that’s inspired by an expansive variety of musical genres, combining tones from hip-hop, soul, pop, and rock simultaneously. Although the album is short, it brings a large range of tracks to the table with brassy tunes, stripped-down electronic grooves, jazzy trap tracks, and smooth R&B anthems. The chilled out, yet cinematic production of the EP is sure to get you swaying. – Chelsea

Basement Revolver – Heavy Eyes

Hamilton band Basement Revolver released Heavy Eyes this year, which explores the feelings that come with maturing into an adult beneath a shoegaze melody. Frontwoman Chrisy Hurn’s hushed, level vocals wane in and out as she sings vulnerable lyrics like “my friends all tell me to hope for the best but I feel the wost/ I try to get sleep but my body won’t stop shaking/ I’m blue.” – Chelsea

Little Junior – Hi

Toronto’s Little Junior has captured a sense of nostalgia on their 2018 album Hi as they combine powerful guitar lines and raucous drum beats. The record feels like it join the likes of Weezer and Joy Division, soundtracking angsty teen flicks from the 90’s. Despite the wild, upbeat melodies, frontman Rane Elliott-Armstrong recounts elaborate themes like encountering homophobia and struggling to watch others succeed over you. – Chelsea
Lead photo courtesy of @hellomikeamico

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