Best of 2018


By EMMIE Staff

When crafting our Best of 2018 lists, it was hard to find some commonalities: everyone found different projects to be more entertaining, heart wrenching and/or spiritual than others. For purposes of open debate and open thought, this is the best possible outcome. More importantly though, this is indicative of the year that music presented to us; in short order, too much awesome music came out in 2018. While it was difficult to come to our comprehensive lists, we did it. EMMIE is comfortable and proud to present the following information as the year’s best works:


L O C A L    L I G H T 



“Lost Cause,” KennyHoopla: The enigma that is local artist KennyHoopla is undeniable and unshakable. A cool sense of being and raw exposure of self emanates off of everything he does and it goes without saying that his most recent single “Lost Cause” has us captivated and stimulated in a way unlike any other of his contemporaries. His poetic lyrics and soft, lightly muffled voice pulls us into a new space of contemplation, while the catchy, warped beat alone is enough to have us play “Lost Cause” on repeat.” – Geordon Wollner, Art Director

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“Steel Birds,” Slow Pulp: Another local favorite, Slow Pulp has been making a name for themselves in more way than one. A self-declared “dream punk” band, Slow Pulp continuously breaks up the monotonous world of indie-rock with singles “At Home” and, our current favorite, “Steel Birds.” The sweet and gentle croons of Emily Massey paired with a calm melody make for an easy listen. “Only your eyes get to see her/ Take notice of her smallest features/ Why do they still wait for you/ You don’t care if they’re turning blue” wraps us in ourselves and the meaning of our relationships, the relationships of others, how we should feel. To put it plainly, it’s pretty powerful.” – Geordon Wollner, Art Director


H O N O R A B L E    M E N T I O N S


this is my dinner

This Is My Dinner, Sun Kil Moon: “Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek can spin gold out of any mundane topic. This guy could write a moving, poignant and somehow gracefully melancholic requiem on just about anything, and he pretty much does so on This is My Dinner. Sun Kil Moon’s last four unassisted albums might be the best quartet of releases this decade, and those who fail to appreciate that fact are missing out on some incredible depth of feeling and freshness of style. Seriously, go check This is My Dinner out and work your way back as far as Kozelek’s unrealistically, inhumanly gorgeous discography will take you.” – Christian Zimonick, Features Editor

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Whack World, Tierra Whack: “Part visual fantasy and part conceptual album, Whack World reflects the polychromatic inner-workings of Philly’s up-next, Tierra Whack. Self-released on Instagram, the wildly creative debut hones in on and regurgitates Whack’s interest in expressing her genuine aesthetic in a mere fifteen minutes; an oodle of flows and personas narrate flexes of self-designed swag, digs towards an absent father and her experiences living in Silly Sam’s America. Whack World’s whimsical, yet revolutionary presentation reflects a desire to redefine clout and promote DIY achievement through minimalism, trust and self-assurance, all while buckling a format that tells you otherwise.” – Daniel Winogradoff, Albums Editor

jay rock

Redemption, Jay Rock: “In the wake of industrial and personal setbacks, Redemption truly symbolizes a turning point in Jay Rock’s career as the South Central L.A. native re-establishes his territory as one of the game’s fiercest emcees. His craft is organic and tracks about drugs, poverty and the corrupt music industry alternate with versatile club tracks about love, money and “winning.” Prominent artists such as SZA, J-Cole and Kendrick Lamar all make appearances, yet Jay Rock shows that the weight of the album is on him, as he delivers in the limelight. Overall, I believe that this project was one to be recognized in 2018.” – Amanda Rovitz, Staff Writer


The Handbook (THIS IS A COPING MECHANISM FOR A BROKEN HEART), Flint Eastwood: We may be biased when it comes to Flint Eastwood (see: our Fall 2018 issue, “The Divine Issue”), but we can’t let an EP like this go unnoticed. In addition to the recently released, six track EP, THIS IS A COPING MECHANISM FOR A BROKEN HEART, the Detroit-based artist took her art a step further by creating The Handbook, a compilation of all six tracks in a seamless 23 minute, 21 second piece. From beginning to end, each “chapter” smoothly transitions into the next, making The Handbook some of the most compelling 23 minutes we’ve experienced this year. There’s a lot that can be said about the artistry and care put into this EP and we can only hope for more.” – Geordon Wollner, Art Director 


T O P    T E N


bambi10. Bambi, Hippo Campus: “Hippo Campus’ grandiose sophomore effort Bambi draws strength from its complex melodic relationships. Hidden beneath its prominent electronic elements are stunning vocal performances from lead singer Jake Luppen, who constantly fights the album’s supporting sounds, making for a refreshing take on familiar indie pop; Bambi builds from the band’s reputation as nostalgic indie rockers who never follow the usual mold. While previous releases have relied heavily on simplistic melodies, Bambi borrows from their past to create an elevated and infectious project. Songs are fuller and more developed, richer and deeper. In addition, Bambi’s self-reflective lyrics indicate wisdom and artistry beyond the band’s year.” – Morgan Winston, Photographer

courtney barnett

9. Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett: “Courtney Barnett’s second solo album, Tell Me How You Really Feel is a somber, yet strong representation of an artist expressing their depressive mettle and then some. Courtney Barnett is not the typical singer-songwriter; she has a soothing, unconventional voice that flows with her melody instead of fighting to stand out. TMHYRF doesn’t showcase many moments of vocal brilliance, rather her voice strays slightly alongside the musical palate, creating a beautiful symbiosis. “Tell Me How You Really Feel” is a great album that deserves instant recognition; Courtney Barnett is producing music that sounds amazing but, like most great albums, also has a terrific message that ties all the songs together.” Rishabh Kishore – Staff Writer


8. Freedom, Amen Dunes: Freedom, the glossy and romantic project from New Yorker Amen Dunes, never stops reminiscing. “Miki Dora” (my favorite song of 2018) is a masterclass in building and relieving suspense. “Calling Paul the Suffering” is a transfixing blend of folk rock with thrilling notes of experimentation. There’s something about Freedom that makes me want to scream from the rooftops — whether that scream is ecstatic or melancholic, I’m not entirely sure. Either way, this album is one that makes me feel something; it’s a testament to the beauty in the world and the beauty in our minds. Listening to this album, I feel wholly alive.” – Logan Rude, Editor-in-Chief


7. Sex & Food, Unknown Mortal Orchestra: “The fourth record from New Zealander Ruban Nielson is less of what is expected from any album and more of a deep interest in the unknown. UMO has always been looking introspectively, but Sex & Food is one of the group’s largest steps in this direction. An array of spacey guitars and groovy rhythms both lifts you up and drops you deep into the group’s emotional abyss. Sex & Food isn’t pop, alternative, rock or indie; Sex & Food is a lost and found full of surprises.” – Daniel Winogradoff, Albums Editor


6. Room 25, Noname: “Noname churns out smooth-sounding songs like it’s nothing. But Room 25 is more than a collection of feel good, jazz-infused hip hop works; it’s a diary entry of an artist yearning to find their footing in the world. Questions about legacy, family and love all arise throughout the Chicagoan’s debut studio album, and she tackles them with uncertainty and curiosity in real-time. Not many recording artists have the will-power and bravery to admit to their own faults, but Noname does so so exceptionally. Room 25 is Noname’s defining work to date, yet it’s just a stepping stone. It is unimaginable to think that a hallmark work of hers could be on the horizon.” – Daniel Winogradoff, Albums Editor


5. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, The 1975: “Although a 58-minute album cannot entirely cover the complexities of online love in America, The 1975’s latest attempt to do so comes awfully close. Each track on ABIIOR has a grandiloquent way of introducing these problems of our society; jazzy balladries, spacey vibes and electronic sounds accurately portray the relationship between American technology and American love. Standout closer “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” is an affirming and beautiful ending, as listeners are built a bridge between 2018 and the world that The 1975 sees. In the end, The 1975 don’t presume to have all of the answers, but their sincerity and vulnerability speaks volumes of the state that we currently live in.” – Ashley Evers, Staff Writer


4. Veteran, JPEGMAFIA: “Provocative, glitchy, unsettling and political, Veteran, JPEGMAFIA’s fourth solo project, helped Barrington Hendricks breakthrough the fog that is the world of alternative hip-hop. Drawing cosigns from across the music industry, Veteran nods to the Baltimore resident’s experience serving in the United States military while delivering a grim truth about the Post-Obama American milieu; abstracting gentrification, racism and the black experience to a point of no return is the project’s end result. Through disputatious and off-the-cuff production, Veteran is one of the most earnest outlooks of these issues in recent memory, carving out a path for JPEGMAFIA’s presumed exponential growth.” – Nimish Sarin, Contributing Writer


3. 7, Beach House: “On their aptly titled seventh album 7, Beach House found a way to expand on the blissful daydreams they are so good at conjuring. Mixing layers of shoegaze, psych-pop and electronic, Beach House have created a world that is equal parts sonic exploration and quintessential Beach House psych. The songs drip with color and texture that wraps you up in a sense of wonder, taking you deep inside your head while also becoming relentlessly aware of your surroundings. The world around 7 is the coalescence of years of work and a tireless effort to innovate and reinvent themselves.” – Logan Rude, Editor-in-Chief


2. Be the Cowboy, Mitski: “Mitski fucked everyone up during Leo season with the release of her fifth album Be the Cowboy. In thirty-two short minutes, Mitski perfectly encapsulates feelings of love, lust, nostalgia and loneliness. Contrasting her previous works, Mitski sonically experiments with an array of electronic and ambient sounds while straying away from her patented guitar riffs, giving fans an impeccably-produced pop album. The songs are heartbreakingly brief, but this only creates the vulnerability and the feeling of being so, so small that Mitski wanted to. While nobody making music sounds like Mitski, everyone can still relate for as long as Be The Cowboy is alive.” – Mercy Xiong, Social Media Director


1. Negro Swan, Blood Orange: Negro Swan, the fourth project released under the Blood Orange moniker, is English wunderkind Dev Hynes’ most baring work; it is a nonpareil encapsulation of feeling “other” in the face of living and breathing global toxicity. A thorough listen is just as overwrought as it is blissful, as Dev’s attempt to purify the hybrid R&B he has meticulously created over the past years comes into full-bloom. A collection of skits about “doing too much” and about family ring as honest and true as his quivering words about the tandem between black depression and queer anxieties. Enveloping his messages, though, is a fuzzy layer of hope: in the most Dev Hynes way possible, he assures that, in the end, everything will be glorious and excellent.” – Daniel Winogradoff, Albums Editor

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