KEXP is counting down the Top 90.3 Albums of 2018, as voted on by our listeners! Follow along from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Pacific Time, and see if your favorites made the list. And check out what KEXP DJs picked for their favorites here.
This Australian artist's second regular solo album is a sharply crafted blend of grungy garage-pop, hazy psych-rock and buoyant power-pop, combining a raw, hook-filled sound with her conversational vocals and often-wry lyrics ranging from personal issues of anxiety and depression to the ills of sexism.
This British band’s second album is an excellent set of intense punk combining raw, buzzing guitars and pounding rhythms with Joe Talbot’s gruff vocals and often-politically charged lyrics railing against injustice, inequality, xenophobia and toxic masculinity while celebrating love, tolerance and community.
This Baltimore duo's seventh album is another masterful set of atmospheric dream-pop with a hazy sound combining fuzzy guitars, shimmering keyboards and hypnotic rhythms with Victoria Legrand's haunting vocals and bittersweet lyrics exploring the dark side of glamour and the duality of love and loss.
This Atlanta-based artist sets aside the sci-fi concepts of her first couple albums for her third and finest full-length to date. It's a much more personal set, with frank lyrics revolving around sexuality, identity, freedom and oppression, while a strong Prince influence also runs through the album's bright, hook-filled blend of funk, R&B, hip hop, synth-pop and more.
This Brooklyn-via-Denton, TX band's excellent sixth album brings a more expansive, beat-oriented approach to their jagged post-punk by adding elements of hip hop, funk, reggae and more. Produced by Danger Mouse, the album combines a more propulsive sound and more insistent hooks with often-politically charged lyrics aimed at gun violence, police brutality, climate change, corruption and other ills.
The latest album from this Seattle-based project spearheaded by Will Toledo finds him re-rerecording his 2011 bandcamp-released album of the same name, discarding the skeletal lo-fi sound of the original in favor of full-band arrangements that bring plenty of rock heft to a dramatically reworked set of sharply crafted songs revolving around a youthful relationship and evolving identity.
The fifth album from this New York-based artist (aka Mitski Miyawaki) is an impressive, sharply crafted set of 14 concise songs ranging from disco-inflected dance-pop and rumbling indie-rock to wistful folk-rock and cinematic torch-pop, combining a diverse, richly detailed sound with her simmering vocals and bracingly honest, often wry and self-deprecating lyrics about desire, frustration and love falling apart.
This Philiadelphia artist’s seventh album is a potent set of rambling, psych-tinged folk-rock combining Vile’s masterful guitar work ranging from delicate acoustic fingerpicking to electric shredding with his drawling vocals and lyrics that blend gentle humor with philosophical reflections.
The latest St. Vincent release is a dramatically stripped-down reworking of her previous album (2017’s synth-laden Masseduction). Featuring just Thomas Bartlett accompanying her on piano, the album puts the focus more squarely on her often-dark lyrics of lost love.
The debut EP from this indie supergroup comprised of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus is an excellent six-song set of intimate folk-pop featuring a mostly stark sound, alternating lead vocals, warm harmonies and unflinching, sharply crafted lyrics of heartache and loss.
This Tacoma-bred, Vermont-based artist's seventh studio album is another masterful set of brooding folk-pop fleshed out with the help of an impressive guest lineup including Mark Lanegan, Eric Bachmann, k.d. lang, Laura Veirs, Kelly Hogan, Nora O'Connor, Beth Ditto, A.C. Newman, Rachel Flotard, Joey Burns, Robert Forster, Doug Gillard and other notables.
Josh Tillman's fourth album as Father John Misty is a strong set of reflective folk-pop combining an often-somber sound with some of his most personal and emotionally direct lyrics to date on songs revolving around a troubled relationship and a life falling apart.
This Seattle band’s 9th studio album (and first since the departure of founding guitarist/producer Chris Walla) is an often-moving set of wistful indie-pop, with a more atmospheric, synth-heavy sound than usual helping flesh out a variety of brooding and bittersweet songs.
This LA saxophonist's fifth album is an impressive set of spiritual jazz inflected at times with R&B, funk, Latin jazz and more. Like his last album (2015's The Epic), this one's a lengthy affair with a mammoth sound featuring an orchestra and choir along with some of his longtime LA jazz collaborators. Masterfully arranged and beautifully played, the album is a powerful statement on the relationship between consciousness and collective action.
This Seattle band's debut album is a potent set of '70s-steeped hard rock with crunchy guitars, pummeling rhythms and wailing vocals, though the band occasionally slows down for some fine reflective ballads.
This former Carissa's Wierd member previously recorded under the name of S. Her first full-length under the name of Jenn Champion continues her evolution towards more electronic, dance-oriented sounds with a strong set of moody, '80s-steeped electro-pop combining sparkling synths, atmospheric guitars and propulsive beats with her plaintive vocals and confessional lyrics of love, desire and connection.
This Swedish duo's fourth and most accomplished album to date is a beautifully crafted set of emotive folk-pop inflected with shades of country-rock, doo wop and more. Produced by Tucker Martine with accompaniment by guitarist Peter Buck, Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, Midlake drummer McKenzie Smith and other luminaries, the album combines a warm, rootsy sound with acoustic and electric guitars, piano, organ, pedal steel, horns and more accompanying the sisters' gorgeous harmonies and smartly crafted lyrics of lost love.
The debut full-length from Baltimore-bred, Brooklyn-based artist Lindsay Jordan is a masterful set of smartly crafted indie-rock highlighted by her intricate, dreamy guitar work, emotive vocals, wistful melodies and unflinchingly honest lyrics of lost love and resilience.
This Connecticut duo's fourth album finds them returning to a brighter, more melodic and pop-oriented sound for an impressive set of '80s-steeped psych-pop with fuzzy synths, bouncy beats and sunny pop hooks juxtaposed with often-wry lyrics of life during our (hopefully) little dark age.
The sixth album from this virtual band led by Damon Albarn finds them without the usual large assortment of special guests and instead putting the focus squarely on Albarn with this mostly summery set of breezy dance-pop juxtaposing sleek grooves and sun-kissed melodies with often-melancholy lyrics.
This Houston trio's second album is an atmospheric, psych-tinged blend of funk, soul and dub along with various Mediterranean and Middle Eastern styles.
This young Richmond, VA artist's second album is a knockout set ranging from intimate folk-pop to grungy, hook-filled guitar-pop, with buzzing electric guitars along with occasional horns and strings accompanying her warm, serene vocals and sharply crafted lyrics balancing heartache and loss with hope and resilience.
Black Belt Eagle Scout is the pseudonym of Portland-based Native American artist Katherine Paul, who grew up on the Swinomish reservation near La Conner. Her debut full-length is a powerful set of brooding folk-pop, combining an often-spare, atmospheric sound with her personal lyrics of love, loss and identity.
This veteran Seattle artist's 13th studio album is one of his more intimate-sounding recordings, featuring a beautifully crafted and deeply melancholy blend of wistful dream-pop, sparse folk balladry, soul-tinged chamber-pop, moody psych-rock and more.
This LA-based British band's sixth album is easily their strangest release. It's a concept album set in a casino piano bar on the moon, with Alex Turner & co. dishing out ambling, psych-tinged lounge-pop with surreal lyrics of a dystopian future.
This British band's debut album is an impressive set of venomous post-punk with clanging guitars, urgent rhythms, snarling vocals and biting lyrics.
This Edinburgh-based, Liberian/Nigerian/Scottish trio's third album is another masterful, adventurous blend of hip hop with R&B, gospel, post-punk, German prog, psych-rock and more, though with a somewhat more direct, streamlined sound to help drive home their often-surreal, anxiety-fueled lyrics.
This Seattle artist's sixth album features some powerfully personal songs of expansive folk-pop, and while they're occasionally undermined by bombastic production and vocals aimed at the rafters, the high points hit hard.
The seventh Phosphorescent album (and first in five years) from the now Nashville-based Matthew Houck is another masterful set of psych-tinged roots-rock with an atmospheric sound featuring guitars, organ, piano, synths and more accompanying his frayed vocals, wistful melodies and well-crafted lyrics of love, life, struggle and maturation.
This prolific LA-based artist's 10th full-length is an excellent 19-song, 75-minute double album that brings together the many sides of Segall's music, from blistering garage-punk, driving psych-rock and chugging glam to wistful folk-rock, Beatlesque psych-pop and even a woozy barroom sing-along.
This prolific Melbourne, Australia band promised five albums in 2017, and the fifth one arrived just under the wire on New Year's Eve. While the four previous albums each focused on particular aspects of the band's adventurous psych-rock sound, this diverse set acts more as a musical overview of the band's bountiful 2017 output, with the sound ranging from whimsical psych-pop and motorik prog to thundering stoner-rock.
This young Nashville-based artist (aka Sophie Allison) follows up a string of Bandcamp EPs and a compilation of re-recorded highlights (2017's Collection) with her official debut album. It's an impressive set of intimate, '90s-steeped indie-pop combining smartly crafted lyrics of love, vulnerability and identity with sparkling song hooks.
The 10th studio album (and first in six years) from Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) is a strong set of minimalist folk-pop. Produced by Marshall, the album features a spare, intimate sound with acoustic guitar and piano accompanying her smoky vocals and often-desolate lyrics blending the political and the personal.
The fifth album from this New York artist (aka Damon McMahon) is an excellent set of expansive, psych-tinged rock with ringing guitars, atmospheric synths, driving rhythms and well-crafted often-deeply personal lyrics revolving around growing up, toxic masculinity, loss and mortality.
The fourth Blood Orange from the New York-based British artist Dev Hynes is a powerful set of atmospheric R&B and ‘80s-tinged electro-pop inflected with smoky jazz, funk, hip hop and more, combining a languorous, mostly melancholy sound with Hynes’ silky vocals and poignant lyrics offering love and hope as balms for depression, anxiety, bigotry and racism.
This Melbourne, Australia band's debut full-length is an excellent set of jangly post-punk with multiple electric and acoustic guitars and driving, often-motorik rhythms accompanying an alternating trio of lead vocalists on hook-filled songs with lyrics ranging from personal heartache to white privilege.
This Portland band's eighth album finds them injecting some glam-rock and New Wave influences into their majestic folk-pop with a more densely produced, synth-heavy sound, though there are also a few more questionable novelty songs than usual.
This Fort Worth, TX-bred artist's second album finds him moving beyond the breezy '60s-influenced soul of his debut and embracing a wider variety of sounds (along with more modern and polished production) to mixed effect, though the high points are worth checking out.
Vancouver B.C. outfit led by songwriter/producer Jason Corbett have installed heavy pop hooks against an array of post-punk and fuzzy new wave. — Abbie Gobeli
The fourth album from this British band led by Florence Welch is more stripped-down at times than previous releases, though too many of the songs start off spare before eventually drowning in production and vocal bombast. Most of the best bring a more welcome, intimate tone to her wide-screen, anthemic pop.
This Baltimore-bred, Durham, NC/Marfa, TX-based duo's fifth album is a strong set of densely produced avant-pop with intricate arrangements combining edgy synths, bursts of squalling guitar, occasional piano and strings and inventive rhythms accompanying Jenn Wasner's gentle alto and sharply crafted lyrics of anxiety and resilience.
The latest solo album from the Talking Heads frontman is a typically quirky, sharply crafted set of eclectic avant-pop ranging from funky dance-pop to some haunting ballads, with often-wry lyrics reflecting these uneasy times. The stellar supporting cast includes longtime collaborator Brian Eno along with Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never, Sampha, Ariel Rechtshaid, Jam City, Doveman, the xx producer Rodaidh McDonald and Onyx Collective's Isaiah Barr.
This 8-piece London collective's debut album is a playful set of breezy, psych-tinged electro-pop combining shimmering synths, spoken-word samples and a variety of ambient sounds with sugary harmonies and Oronu Noguchi's deadpan lead vocals.
This New York band’s sixth album was produced by veteran producer Dave Fridmann, and he provides them with a rawer sound for their dark post-punk, while the songs range from driving rockers and some brooding ballads to some flatter-sounding fare.
This Swedish artist’s sixth solo album (and first in eight years) is a darker, more atmospheric take on her propulsive dance-pop, combining woozy synths and hypnotic house rhythms with her pleading vocals and often-poignant lyrics of love, loss, heartache and resilience.
This veteran California band's eighth album is a generally low-key affair ranging from grinding, fuzz-encrusted rockers to a profusion of haunting, atmospheric ballads.
The soundtrack to the new Ryan Coogler film was curated by Kendrick Lamar, and he doesn't disappoint, recruiting an impressive guest lineup including established heavy hitters like Vince Staples, Anderson.Paak, James Blake, SZA and other notables while also shining a spotlight on a variety of more obscure but promising up-and-comers. It all adds up to an adventurous, knockout blend of dark hip hop bangers and brooding R&B.
The second album from this French artist (aka Héloïse Létissier) is a strong set of rhythmic, ‘80s-steeped electro-pop inflected with funk, R&B and other styles, combining a lean, synth-driven sound with supple, dynamic vocals and bilingual lyrics exploring identity, gender fluidity and sexuality.
This Scottish trio's third album finds them working with outside producers for the first time (including mainstream pop types Greg Kurstin and Steve Mac).
The fourth album from this Portland-based project spearheaded by the New Zealand-born Ruban Nielson is a diverse, densely produced blend of heavy, noise-addled psych-rock, dreamy lo-fi soul, buoyant, disco-inflected dance-pop, delicate acoustic folk and more.
The first album in ten years from this legendary Dayton, OH-based band led by Kim Deal features the classic Last Splash-era lineup on a strong set of songs ranging from angular, tension-filled rockers to dreamy, atmospheric ballads.
This veteran Duluth, MN trio’s 12th studio album is the most adventurous of their career, dramatically reworking their atmospheric slowcore into dark, experimental ambient-pop with haunting, fragmented songs featuring murky, unsettling textures, discordant beats and often-processed vocals along with ghostly harmonies, mournful melodies and lyrics of disillusion and alienation for these uneasy times
A variety of producers with help from rappers from around the globe remix songs from this British duo’s previous album (2017’s Relaxer).
This Everett band's fourth album (and first in five years) is a strong set of psych and roots-tinged rock. Produced by Erik Blood, the album combines a jam-heavy classic-rock sound with soaring harmonies and heartfelt lyrics of finding love amidst these unsettled times.
This LA-via-Seattle band's third album is a dreamier and more lushly produced take on the band's psych-tinged surf-pop.
The third album from this LA band led by Ben Schneider is a darker, more atmospheric take on the band's psych-tinged folk-pop. Produced by Dave Fridmann, the songs range from hazy space-pop to driving post-punk, with lyrics revolving around heartache, loss and mortality.
This veteran Swedish artist’s fifth solo album is an impressive, often-dark set of avant electro-pop inflected with R&B, jazz, trip hop and more. Produced by Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet), who also produced her previous album (2014’s Blank Project), the album combines hypnotic, brooding beats and colorful dashes of kora, steel drum, flute, harp and more with her grainy vocals and smartly crafted lyrics blending the political and the personal.
The sixth studio album from this Chicago-bred, Toronto-based artist (aka Meghan Remy) is a powerful set of groove-driven avant-pop blending elements of electro-pop, New Wave, '60s pop, disco, funk, R&B and more, combining shimmering synths, occasional distorted guitars and horns and propulsive rhythms with often-buoyant pop melodies juxtaposed with dark lyrics of violence, deception, power imbalances and gender inequality.
This young British duo's excellent second album dramatically reinvents their sound with help from producers SOPHIE, David Wrench and The Horrors' Faris Badwan. More synth-oriented with bolder textures, I'm All Ears is an inventive blend of booming electro-pop, cinematic prog, dark psych-pop and more.
The third solo album from the former guitarist for The Smiths is a solid set of moody post-punk with jangly guitars, atmospheric keyboards and driving, at times funk-inflected rhythms accompanying Marr's warm vocals and lyrics revolving around a futuristic alternative society.
The 21st studio album from this LA-based band led by John Dwyer is one of their more eclectic releases, ranging from motorik garage-punk and fiery thrash-metal to prog-tinged psych-rock and more experimental fare.
The third solo album from the former frontman for The White Stripes is easily one of the oddest things he's ever recorded, a crazy-quilt mishmash of blues-rock with hip hop, funk, gospel, country and more, combining a variety of colorful instrumentation with shape-shifting arrangements that place more of a premium on playful quirkiness than song quality.
The eighth Spiritualized album (and first in six years) from veteran British artist Jason Pierce & co. is an excellent set of celestial psych-rock inflected with gospel, soul, blues, free jazz and more, with songs ranging from driving, skronky garage-rockers to soul-steeped road songs and starry-eyed space-rock ballads.
The New York-based Chilean-American producer/composer Nicolas Jaar dusted off an old alias for this excellent soulful, beat-driven collection of previously unreleased house and techno grooves liberally injected with funk and soul samples.
The latest release from Trent Reznor & co. is a solid six-song mini-album of dark, industrial-tinged electro-rock ranging from propulsive, noise-addled industrial to more experimental ambient fare.
This New Zealand band’s debut album is a promising set of summery, hook-filled power-pop with jangly guitars, driving rhythms and buoyant harmonies accompanying Elizabeth Stokes’ warm vocals and dark, often self-deprecating lyrics.
The latest release from this LA-via-Brooklyn artist is a breezy, surprise-release mixtape pairing a variety of dance hall, reggaeton and other Afro-Caribbean grooves with her sunny vocals and sharp lyrics blending the personal and the political.
This Philadelphia band's third album of emotive indie-rock is more expansive, complex and measured than their combustible 2015 album Painted Shut, though it's just as emotionally powerful, combining searing guitars and moody strings with Francis Quinlan's expressive vocals and deeply personal lyrics of power, disappointment and self-discovery.
This LA band's fourth album is another impressive set of breezy, jazz-tinged R&B with a warm, hazy sound featuring shape-shifting arrangements, slow-burning grooves, intimate vocals and lyrics of love and resilience.
This veteran Hoboken, NJ trio's 15th studio album is one of their more low-key releases, featuring a gentle, atmospheric dream-pop sound inflected with shoegazerish psych-rock, prog, bossa nova and other styles.
The second album from this London-based band led by Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland is another impressive blend of ‘70s-steeped soul, funk and disco with modern electronic grooves and textures, though this one’s a bit more melancholy than the debut, with songs revolving around lost love.
Renowned for their fiery live shows, this Tokyo-bred band have toned it down considerably for their fourth album. Produced by Portugese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas, the album is a fine set of breezy, jazz-tinged psych-rock, motorik space-pop and acoustic folk-pop.
The Seattle trio's debut full-length is a potent set of raucous garage-rock incorporating elements of punk, New Wave, prog, grunge, power pop and more, combining an unpredictable, shape-shifting sound with addictive song hooks.
The seventh album from this Portland-based band led by the former Pavement frontman is a diverse, sharply crafted set of wry, sometimes politically charged songs ranging from fuzzy, anthemic grunge-pop and wistful folk-rock to motorik psych-rock and knotty prog-pop.
The Radiohead frontman’s latest release is a soundtrack to the new horror-film remake, and while most of its 80-minute run time is filled with a variety of suitably creepy instrumentals, there are also a few songs with vocals that evoke comparisons to the more experimental side of Radiohead.
This Portland-based artist's second album is an impressive blend of rollicking folk-rock, boisterous glam and more, combining a warm, rich sound featuring electric and acoustic guitars, piano, organ, strings, horns, harmonica and more with his electric vocals and sharply crafted narratives.
The second EP from this Seattle transgender artist (aka Nat Puff) is a strong set ranging from buoyant soul-pop and moody hip hop-infused pop to lo-fi folk-pop with often politically charged lyrics revolving around identity and community.
This young Seattle artist's debut EP is a strong 7-song set of moody R&B combining an often-spacious sound with her elastic vocals and intimate lyrics of love's ups and downs.
This Brooklyn trio's second album is a smartly crafted, hook-filled blend of power-pop, glam, post-punk, psych-pop and more, combining jangly guitars and energetic rhythms with Julia Cumming's supple vocals and often-politically charged lyrics.
The fourth album from the Oakland duo of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner is another excellent set that brings a stronger dance focus to her rhythm-driven avant-pop, combining a propulsive, '80s-steeped sound with often-politically charged lyrics addressing white privilege, environmental devastation and other weighty subjects.
This Toronto band’s seventh album finds them embracing more prominent guitars again after the more synth-oriented sound of their previous album (2015’s Pagans In Vegas) for a solid set of ‘80s-influenced pop-rock ranging from New Wave rockers to propulsive dance-pop.
This Toronto band’s second album is a powerful set of dark ‘90s-steeped rock, with a dynamic sound featuring grungy guitars accompanying Katie Monks’ raspy vocals, dreamy melodies and often-hopeful lyrics revolving around drug abuse, sobriety, self-care and resilience.
This veteran Seattle band’s 11th album is one of their angriest and most politically charged albums, with sardonic, often-darkly humorous lyrics ripping into the politics of fear, gun violence, religious hypocrisy and much more, while the band’s sound remains as primal and vital as ever.
This Melbourne, Australia trio's second album is a strong set of emotive, punk-tinged rock with a dynamic, tension-filled sound combining cathartic song hooks with Georgia Maq's piercing vocals and frank lyrics of identity, inequality and sexism.
This Denver band’s sixth album (and first in seven years) is another beautifully crafted set of dramatic orchestral folk-pop inflected with East European folk, Mariachi, flamenco, cabaret and more, combining a rich, acoustic-oriented sound with Nick Urata’s soaring vocals.
The first album in 23 years (and third overall) from this Rhode Island-bred band led by Throwing Muses member Tanya Donelly is a more mature and reflective take on the band's swirling guitar-pop.
This Nashville-based band’s fifth album is a fine set of heavy psych-rock ranging from driving stoner-rock to atmospheric, blues-tinged ballads.
The veteran British artist’s first album recorded in ten years with his band The Imposters is a smartly crafted set ranging from baroque pop-rock and lush, soul-infused pop to stately, piano-led ballads, with his typically sharply crafted lyrics often reflecting on troubled love and mortality.
This Seattle duo’s second full-length is another masterfully crafted set of brooding electro-pop with swelling synths and massive, mostly downtempo beats accompanying Kristin Henry’s ethereal vocals.
This Danish band's fourth and finest album to date is a powerful set of expansive goth-tinged post-punk ranging from chugging rockers to ritualistic ballads, featuring a more dynamic, densely textured sound combining guitars, keyboards, horns, strings and more with Elias Bender Rønnenfelt's tortured vocals and dark lyrics.
This Seattle band's debut EP is a potent 4-song set of fiery hard-rock.