Most Appointing Albums of 2018

Inspired by @donkey83 (Most Disappointing albums of 2018) but with a positive spin, what have been the most pleasant surprises for you this year? Not necessarily your AOTY but albums or bands who have caught you off guard.

For me, I’d say Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer. Always loved her voice and love her as a performer, but this was the first full album of hers that chimed with me for some reason.

Alkaline Trio’s arguable return to form on Is This Thing Cursed? following 13 years of fine-to-awful releases (and especially surprising considering how much time Skiba is spending on Blink-182)

Discovering Spanish Love Songs, an also-ran LA punk band on a tiny label with no budget who came out of nowhere with my favourite album of the year, Schmaltz. The best parts of contemporary menzingers and The Greatest Generation-era Wonder Years mashed up into a flaweless record of upbeat, catchy self-loathing.

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image Kacey Musgraves- Golden Hour. My entire history with country music could be documented in a particularly short and uninteresting pamphlet, however, this is really good. And for those that fear experimenting with such a substance may lead to harder usage eg buying cowboy boots or going line dancing, rest assured, 8 months on and I’m still living entirely Stetson-free existence.


Now, you see, Pageant Material is one of my favourites of whatever year that was, but the limited bits of this I’ve heard so far seem to have moved away from the country feel of that record. Were you a fan of her previous stuff, and if so, does this hold up to it?

Anna Calvi made a record pretty close to the one I’ve been hoping she would make since hearing Jezebel as her first single. Her first two albums felt a bit safe but Hunter rips. Also finally got round to seeing her live and she was incredible so that probably helped.



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Began the year being very excited about the new Nils Frahm release but wasn’t really fussed with his more minimal house direction (and found it a bit of a mess tbh). However this void was filled by Olafur Arnolds - re:member, which is sublime. I haven’t always connected with his stuff so have found this very appointing.


To be honest, it’s Low. I went into Double Negative really not expecting anything at all. The last 3 or so albums hadn’t really done much for me, so I just stuck it on almost out of duty.

It totally floored me, and is now my AOTY. I never expected to love a Low album like that ever again, so it was a massive surprise.


Arctic Monkeys and their lunar shenanigans.

What the hell?! I’ve always hated this band, but they did the unthinkable and produced a fascinating (if entirely mad) record.

Runs out of steam a bit in the last third but for the most part it’s a real accomplishment.


Wasn’t expecting a lot from the new Joy Formidable album, given the last one. Wasn’t even really planning to listen to it until @TAFH33 mentioned it.

Really glad I did give it a go, because it’s a real return to form.


Thanks for the reminder that I have to return to it, I’ve been so overwhelmed with trying out albums I’ve missed / defending Billy Corgan that I completely forgot.

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This is the only album of hers i’ve listened to, so i’m afraid I couldn’t say.

Understandable. It’s important work that needs to be done.

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That’s a really tough question because I think over 20 of my top 30 albums are by artists who were new to me. I’m not 100% sure yet, but my top ten might consist solely of bands I’ve never listened to before. This was an amazing year for discovering new bands.

Treating this thread as the opposite of the other one though - albums you had little to no expectations for that really delivered - I might have to vote for Yo La Tengo. I only discovered the Painful - Electr-o-Pura - I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One trio within the past few years and hadn’t moved onto their more recent stuff. I gave the new one a shot out of boredom expecting a typical late-period legacy band album, but instead got a classic. It somehow perfectly captures the atmosphere of those awful hyper-realistic dreams where something is just off or someone has gone away and you can’t find them. Those two ambient songs in the middle of the album (Dream Dream Away and Shortwave) are incredible and go right for your brain chemistry. And of course “For You Too” is one of the best songs of the year.


Let’s Eat Grandma - I’m All Ears
I’d largely set them aside as an amusing/charming novelty act with more ideas than their actual musical skills/bontempi organs could handle. Then I’m All Ears came along like a drop-kick out of nowhere that not only brimmed over with said ideas but had the music to match it. A lot’s made of SOPHIE and Farris’s production spots, but they’re not even the strongest tracks on the album. It’s still full of a breathless naïvety that I hope doesn’t leave them anytime soon, but they showed that they were more capable of sprawling, sophisticated pop epics than almost anyone else this year. And almost no rapping to be heard.


Seconded! I had very low expectations for this. Astounding.

Yeah. Didn’t think too much of her previous stuff but the new one is a 9/10 album. It was my top pick in the AOTM thread.

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Probably Daughters. Did not see that coming at all


I came across salad boys 2nd album ‘this is glue’ on Spotify, it’s incredibly generic, derivative and the production leaves a lot to be desired but it’s surprisingly fun and full of singalong tunes

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Cat Power. Such an incredible album and I don’t think at this stage in her life there is any real reason to expect much.

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Half man half biscuit - No one cares about your creative hub so get your fuckin’ hedge cut

Honestly, I only bought it because of the title. I’d always meant to get into HMHB but never got round to it, then I saw it on the shelves the week it came out and I was in a record buying mood, so I took a punt… and it’s the best thing I’ve heard all year. Been thinking of starting a Lyric of the Year thread just so I can nominate Terminus. It’s not for everyone (some of the lyrics are so esoteric it’s barely for anyone), but I like that kind of thing. Having to hold back from saying how much I actually love it to stop from looking like a frothing loon.