Another year is over and the jury is in. It’s a jury of one, but, you get the picture.
Readers have been clamouring to know; What were the best alternative albums of the year? How do I decide which albums are worth my time? What does ‘alternative’ even mean in this day and age? Well, fear not, I’ve done all the leg work (or ear-work, as the case may be). Here are the Top Ten Alternative Albums of 2018.
10. Always Ascending, Franz Ferdinand
This band is pretty much the father of alternative pop-rock, as far as I am concerned. As an angsty pre-teen in the mid-2000s, their music spoke to me. Now, with the release of their 5th studio album, Franz Ferdinand has finally returned to form. Is it their best album? No. Am I a little biased? Absolutely. But it is worth a listen and certainly deserves a place on this list. Alt fans will most definitely be pleased.
9. Laughing into the Void, Tiny Stills
Tiny Still’s sophomore effort has all the easy listening you could want without losing the edge the band is known for. The band calls their sound “power pop”. I have no idea what that means, but it must be what Laughing into the Void sounds like. Tiny Stills’ wacky, quirky lyrics make their music stand out in the best way. They have a song that mentions ‘Space Mountian’! That’s just straight up cool.
8. A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, The 1975
Come on, that has to be the most British-sounding album title you’ve ever heard. The 1975 exploded in popularity this year with their album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. Alt Brit-pop has needed a reboot for a while, and The 1975 has delivered in spades. Their sound is more electronic than their predecessors, but they have updated their sound for modern audiences. They are very ‘now’ and have been nominated for all sorts of awards across the pond. Their star is rising and I can’t wait to see how high it goes.
7. My Mind Makes Noises, Pale Waves
Yet another entry from across the pond; Pale Waves had one of the best-reviewed albums this year. They veer more towards pop than rock, but their sound is cohesive and their lead singer is massively talented. Look for a cross-over hit in the new year, this is the kind of band just waiting for the perfect opportunity.
6. Youngblood, 5 Seconds of Summer
This album is arguably the band’s strongest to date and had massive cross-over appeal with its title track, Youngblood.
You would be hard pressed to find a better cross section of listenable pop music with a definite alternative tilt. This band has always been on the pinnacle of massive success, with Youngblood, they have finally put themselves on the map. 5 Seconds of Summer has arrived; the world should take notice.
5. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, The Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys returned to the alternative charts with one of the most interesting concept albums of the year. It was a major deviation from the band’s guitar-heavy roots and polarized fans and critics alike. The album was chalked full of collaborative tracks and featured artists, yet another deviation from the band’s usual format. The concept included various characters at a luxury resort on the moon as they talked about themselves and explored topics like science fiction, film, consumerism, politics, religion, and technology. It’s trippy, sometimes heavy stuff and is definitely not for everyone. But if you want different, I give you Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Trust me. It’s wild.
4. Capture the Flag, War on Women
Here’s to the most controversial album on this list. War on Women is not a band that shies away from political messaging. Capture the Flag is the kind of album that is looking for a fight. Not only is it musically sound, but it’s unapologetic. They are not looking for consensus. In these fraught times, it’s nice to listen to music that unabashedly expresses a viewpoint.
3. Strangers, The Ramona Flowers
This synth-heavy band knows how to write a dance track. It also happens to have one of the best band names in the history of ever. Want to dance? Listen to Strangers. Want to have a nice evening in? Listen to Strangers. In the car? Listen to-well, you get the idea. It’s great.
2. I Don’t Run, Hinds
This band is indie. And I love it. Hinds is made up of a group of girls that just look like they are having the best time. It’s awesome to watch. It doesn’t hurt that their music is incredibly listenable and clever. There is some excellent guitar work to enjoy as you bounce along to the preppy, sarcastic lyrics. Their unique sound will make a lasting impression.
1. Here Comes the Runts, Awolnation
Awolnation makes music that is meant to either be enjoyed in a large stadium or a dirty, underground New York Club. I can never decide which is more appropriate. I’ve loved them ever since I heard “Sail” and they never disappoint. Here Comes the Runts keeps up the excellence I have come to expect. The drum work, in particular, is utterly on-point. When you listen to this album you just have to rock out. It is the best album of the year by any measure. Do yourself a favor: pick up this album and enjoy.
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