Best of 2018 - Nick Poyner's Picks (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Best of 2018

Nick Poyner's Picks (2018)

Staff Picks

A few things I learned this year:

  • Turning 30 is the same as turning 29, 28, 27, etc.
  • While Never Gonna Die didn’t place on my top 20, I’m glad that Pennywise still make music.
  • Donald Glover is very talented across every platform.
  • Moby Dick is pretty good. Talking about finishing Moby Dick is better.
  • Sometimes when you draw cartoons of people, they don’t like your interpretation.
  • boygenius can be enjoyed as one or split individually into three glorious people.
  • The Moroccan Lounge is a great spot to see live music in LA.
  • “Talia” by King Princess is the best song of 2018... What’s up?

A few albums I liked this year:

20. Years & Years: Palo Santo


Three years ago, Communication caught me off guard. It was clearly a pop album but Years & Years showed they had an ability to go deeper in a genre infused with surface level intimacy. This year, Olly Alexander and co. return with a concept album focusing on religion, sexuality and guilt. But like any good concept album, the songs also stand on their own.

19. Cupcakke: Ephorize


Cupcakke is a twenty-one-year-old rapper from Chicago. She is graphic, sexual and pure fire. On her first of two albums this year, Cupcakke knows no boundaries and doesn’t care about yours (see “Duck Duck Goose”). She takes control over her sexuality and uses it as power, making music more visual and lyrical than any Soundcloud rappers out there.

18. The Voidz: Virtue

cult records

Anyone expecting The Strokes 2.0 was greatly mistaken. It seems Julian Casablancas has done everything in his power to distance himself from his main band (former main band?) With Virtue he takes it two steps further. He’s trying to make the strangest album he can but has such a natural gift for melody. And hey, if you’re looking for your Strokes fix, there’s always “Think Before You Drink.”

17. Sleep: The Sciences

Third Man

I had never heard of Sleep until this year, so take that as you will. I have no investment in their history or how crazy it is that this album exists. The Sciences is incredible stoner metal done by three guys deeply entrenched in the genre. Super group of not, this album is 53-minutes of killer sludgy jams.

16. Ty Segall: Freedom's Goblin

Drag City

Ty Segall keeps getting better. As of this writing, I’m not sure how many albums, splits or collaborations Segall put out this year. But Freedom’s Goblin is my favorite. Released in January, it remains heavy in my record rotation. It’s rock and roll with a pinch of Captain Beefheart thrown in. Plus, “My Lady’s on Fire” is killer.

15. Screaming Females: All at Once

Don Giovanni Records

Marissa Paternoster has one of the most unique voices in music. On top of that, she’s a phenomenal guitar player and songwriter. All at Once is fifteen songs of that.

14. Alkaline Trio: Is This Thing Cursed?

Epitaph Records

My all-time favorite band finally released their solid ninth album after a five-year break. At this point the band are reliable for delivering giant hooks coated in darkness. There are some real gems here, especially “Demon and Division” and the title track. But it’s acoustic closer “Krystalline” that really delivers. Almost a sequel to “Sorry About That,” Matt Skiba is able to deliver a heartbreaker for old fans without sacrificing the current, slicker sound.

13. Spanish Love Songs: Schmaltz

A-F Records

Schamltz wins the award for album sung at the top of my lungs in traffic the most. Dylan Slocum delivers his words on the verge of crisis like most twenty and thirty-somethings who haven’t quite figured it out yet. The one-two-three of “Sequels, Remakes, and Adaptations,” “Bellyache,” and “Buffalo Buffalo” is the best sing-along you’ll find this year.

12. Self Defense Family: Have You Considered Punk Music

Run For Cover Records

Self Defense Family continues to evolve and change in all the strangest and best ways, both under-appreciated and an acquired taste. Patrick Kindlon is a poet whose words wander and linger as the music follows suit. It’s passionate. It’s intense. And it’s the strongest collection of songs this unit has ever put out. Luckily, with their track record, there should be plenty more to come in the new year.

11. Antarctigo Vespucci: Love in the Time of E-Mail

Polyvinyl Records

Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock are incredible on their own and unstoppable together. Antarctigo Vespucci write some of the prettiest, catchiest and honest songs about loneliness without sulking in sadness. The pair (once again joined by Benny Horowtiz on drums) are able to deliver wise words with a spirited youthful energy.

10. The Dirty Nil: Master Volume

Dine Alone Records

This record rocks. The Dirty Nil make straightforward rock and roll with just the right amount of punk thrown in. Seeing them live for the first time this year only makes me love the band more. No matter how you consume music these days, Master Volume delivers on its promise, sounding like you’re listening to the biggest band in the world.

9. Middle Kids: Lost Friends


A good friend recommended Lost Friends to me. Every song is delicate, beautifully crafted and so emotional. The Australian trio have taken a genre stale and overcrowded and blown everyone else out of the water. Big things in their future.

8. Fucked Up: Dose Your Dreams

Merge Records

Dose Your Dreams is a polarizing album, it seems, even within the band. If Glass Boys is your Fucked Up album of choice, there’s a good chance you probably hate this. But Fucked Up have always shined brightest when attempting grandiose artistic statements. Yes, Damian Abraham’s hardcore vocals often take the backseat to cleaner, more melodic ones, but the ambition demands multiple listens.

7. Culture Abuse: Bay Dream

Epitaph Records

What a beautiful punk/surf/emo record Culture Abuse has created with Bay Dream. With its emotional center, the band’s stylistic change really paid off. The album is softer, no doubt, but it never sacrifices anything. These ten songs take tragedy and make it positive, everlasting art.

6. Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer

Bad Boy

Janelle Monae is an art kid able to take popular trends and create something pop adjacent. Dirty Computer is her biggest, best statement yet, tackling sexuality, honesty, and like many other albums this year, politics. When she sings, “I am not America’s nightmare, I am the American dream, just let me live my life” on highlight “Crazy, Classic, Life,” she encompasses everything that makes her and this album so special.

5. Shame: Songs of Praise

Dead oceans

See 4.

4. IDLES: Joy as an Act of Resistance.


IDLES and Shame are two hardcore punk bands making giant statements this year. These albums are so emotional and tough sounding, turning a crystal-clear mirror on masculinity and the way society treats it. IDLES, the elder statesmen of the two, delivers a more mature sounding sophomore album, turning tragedy into life lessons for all of us. Shame, a group of early twenty-something British boys, have clearly taken cues from punk forefathers and found new reasons to get angry. These are far and away the best two punk albums of the year. There are few faults with either. I have a feeling 2019 will only see both bands getting even bigger.

3. Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy


Invasion of Privacy can be added to the list of immediately classic hip-hop debuts. Following the success of “Bodak Yellow,” Cardi B could have easily coasted on singles for the next couple years and eventually become a successful features rapper. Instead she released a tightly-crafted, addictive album. Opener “Get Up 10,” proves her resilience with a four-minute origin story solidifying her as one of the best out there right now.

2. Deafheaven: Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

Anti- Records

This album only gets better with each listen. The guys in Deafheaven are so good at balancing beautiful guitar melodies with brutal screams and double kick drums. I don’t know how many bands are really attempting shoegaze-y black metal but Deafheaven knows no boundaries. That freedom results in Ordinary Corrupt Human Love.

1. Foxing: Nearer My God

Triple Crown Records

I can’t speak highly enough of this album. It’s glitchy and electronic. It’s emotional. It’s political. It’s all over the place yet still so tightly contained. Foxing upended their sound and the results are spectacular. Nearer My God is damn near perfect, every song standing out as its best yet easily fitting into the clear narrative Foxing so carefully crafted. “Slapstick” is one of my favorite songs this year while “Gameshark” is one of 2018’s strangest. Nearer My God is ambitious and exciting and my favorite album of 2018.