WBRU presents the 20 best Alternative albums of 2018. We’ve also included our 30 favorite songs from this year. See if any of your favorite albums made the list!
Songs of Praise
Kicking off our 2018 list is an instant post-punk classic from across the pond. On their debut, the British quintet combine biting vocal deliveries with searing guitar lines.
A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
The 1975’s third full-length is unapologetic alt-pop, equally influenced by Joy Division, Duran Duran, and Fall Out Boy. “Love It If We Made It” is one of the year’s most wide-eyed songs, while “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” captures a certain kind of sincerity that’s hard to come by.
Love in the Time of E-Mail
Continuing with the trend of digitally-minded album titles, Antarctigo Vespucci crafted the year’s best pop-punk record. The duo have a knack for writing hooks, as seen on “Kimmy” and “Freakin’ U Out,” while “So Vivid!” builds to a satisfying climax.
Chrome Neon Jesus
If you wanted your 2018 to be soaked in angst-laden rock, Teenage Wrist had you covered. The coupling of dreamy clean vocals and rumbling distorted guitars isn’t a new one, but Chrome Neon Jesus pulls it off oh, so well with hits like “Shallow” and “Stoned, Alone.”
Million Dollars to Kill Me
2018 was a good year for the emo revival, as the above two records and Joyce Manor’s new one proved. Million Dollars to Kill Me is full of brief, catchy sprints to the finish line – but you won’t want the race to be over.
Bottle It In
Kurt Vile’s stretched-out brand of folksy rock was on full display on 2018’s Bottle It In. From the radio-friendly “Loading Zones” to the ten-minute epic stroll “Bassackwards,” Vile made sure we had music to lounge around to this year.
“Leave It In My Dreams” was the smash-hit single on BRU, but The Voidz’ sophomore album has plenty of other great tracks, too. “QYURRYUS,” “Pointlessness,” and “Lazy Boy” all contain hints of Julian Casablancas’ other band, The Strokes, but bring a strange and exciting artistic approach to the indie legend’s songwriting.
These Australian alt-rockers cranked out the hits in 2018; “Mistake,” “Edge of Town,” and “On My Knees” all earned quite a bit of airtime on the BRU alt stream this year. Considering this is Middle Kids’ first album, we think you’re going to be hearing more from them for a long time.
Christine and the Queens
This French group brought 80’s new wave into the modern age with their new album Chris. “5 dollars” was a WBRU favorite, and we were grooving to “Doesn’t matter” all summer, too.
You can always count on Parquet Courts to deliver. Their brand of tightly wound DIY indie never gets old, as new tracks like “Total Football” and “Almost Had to Start A Fight/In and Out of Patience” showed. This new album adds a bit of dance-punk to their format; the twisted “Wide Awake” makes you want to jump all around.
Soccer Mommy came into 2018 with a lot of hype, and her full-length debut didn’t let us down. From “Cool” to “Still Clean” to “Your Dog,” the singer-songwriter cranked out a number of emotive folk-rock tunes in 2018; we can’t wait for the next batch.
Tell Me How You Really Feel
Courtney Barnett continued her rise to stardom in 2018 with Tell Me How You Really Feel. Lead single “Nameless, Faceless” may well be WBRU’s most-played song of 2018, and it’s not the only noteworthy track here. Barnett’s lyrics are as sharp and witty as ever; she’s one of the few in the business who can make you laugh, cry, and rock out all on the same record.
Be the Cowboy
Mitski took a more polished, pop-friendly approach to her latest effort. While the rough edges of Puberty 2 will be missed, Be the Cowboy still brought the oomph with the jazzy “Nobody” and stunning closer “Two Slow Dancers.”
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Every year needs a driving album, the kind of music you can just plug in to your car radio in the heat of July and cruise to. Hope Downs is exactly that, with a blistering pace and pulsating, jagged guitar riffs. We guarantee you’ll be humming the chorus to “Talking Straight” for weeks, and you won’t be complaining about it either.
Some have doubted Interpol’s late-career output, especially in comparison to their breakout 2002 debut Turn On the Bright Lights. Marauder should have silenced those critics, as the rough-around-the-edges production suits Interpol’s sound nicely. “The Rover” and “Flight of Fancy” will get your blood pumping, while “If You Really Love Nothing” kicks the album off in style.
High As Hope
Florence + the Machine
You can always count on Florence Welch and company to crank out an album that is equal parts beautiful and powerful. “Sky Full of Song” is a delicate dream, “Patricia” packs a punch, and “Hunger” recalls classic Florence vibes with ease.
Usually, you know what you’re getting with Beach House: floaty, gorgeous dream pop driven by a wave of synths and Victoria Legrand’s amazing vocal talents. 7 added a new twist in the injection of shoegaze-influenced guitars, and man, oh, man, did it pay off. “Dark Spring” sprang, “Pay No Mind” lurched, and “Dive” exploded, all with stunning poise and elegance.
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Arctic Monkeys might be the biggest rock band in the world right now, and Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino only solidified their status. Jazzier and more experimental than anything they’ve done before, this new record maintains a James Bond-like sense of cool throughout. Maybe Alex Turner should be the new Bond…
Little Dark Age
MGMT had 2018’s biggest redemption with Little Dark Age. They recaptured their indie-electro magic by tapping into the 80’s goth scene and coming out with a bevy of strong choruses. “Hand It Over” is the warmest track you’ll hear all year, and “Little Dark Age” dominated WBRU airtime early this year thanks to its delectable keyboards and infectious melodies.
Of every artist on this list, Snail Mail received the most play time on WBRU this year, and with good reason. “Pristine” and “Heat Wave” both entered heavy rotation on the backs of tight energy, indie sensibilities, and Lindsey Jordan’s remarkable songwriting; “Let’s Find An Out,” “Speaking Terms,” and the cathartic “Stick” all stuck around on stream as well. Lush is Snail Mail’s first album, and it’s hard to believe Jordan is still only 19 years old. Lush was our favorite alt record of 2018, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Snail Mail showed up near the top of our list again one day.