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CHIRP Radio writesCHIRP Radio’s Top 10 Albums of 2018!

CHIRP Radio Best of 2018

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2018.

All month we've been getting lists of our volunteers' favorite music for this year. They submitted over 200 albums for consideration - here are the 10 that were cited the most often. The top spot on the list goes to an artist who's been makiing records since 2007 and whose brilliant style speaks to inner and outer worlds that's very much of its time while pointing the way to the future.

From all of us at CHIRP Radio, thanks for your listenership and support, and here's to 2019!


#1   Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe (Wondaland)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Janelle Monáe Dirty ComputerAfter years of dazzling listeners with tales of Art Deco android androgyny, Janelle Monáe spent 2018 making a proud, joyous splash in a more wholly human world. Called an "homage to women and the spectrum of sexual identities" by Monáe herself, Dirty Computer tackles these and other topics of identity and acceptance with a pop poetry that's as unsparing in its intimacy as it is bombastic in its delivery. Along the way, the record becomes a valuable artifact from our turbulent American moment; instant classics like "Pynk" and "Crazy, Classic, Life" feel destined to endure as anthems of inclusivity and self-love long past the turmoil that inspired them, and long enough to offer comfort and inspiration to whatever hardships face the generations that come after. –Tyler Clark




#2   Tell Me How You Really Feel by Courtney Barnett (Mom + Pop Music)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Courtney Barnett Tell Me How You Really FeelThe first time I saw Courtney Barnett was in 2014 when she played at the Empty Bottle in support of The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Emusic had just recommended the album to me a week prior and it blew me away. When she played to that crowd of around 30 people at the 'Bottle, I knew that she was going to blow up and considered myself lucky to have discovered her early. On this album she continues to do what she does best- perfecting her brand of deadpan folk rock with light grunge and classic rock touches. –Eric Wiersema




#3   Heaven and Earth by Kamasi Washington (Young Turks/XL)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Kamasi Washington Heaven and EarthKamasi has been gradually clawing his way into the mainstream, which is pretty damn impressive for a jazz musician in 2018. A mix of transcendental Afrofuturistic paeans and revival tent rallying cries, Kamasi Washington's fifth full-length album and first since 2015's The Epic is crammed full of references to the old masters (Davis, Mingus, the inevitable Sun Ra), while also drawing from the heart-stirring rhythm and language of civil rights marches and the musical motifs of traditional hymns and gospel. –Jenny West




#4   Room 25 by Noname (Self-Released)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Noname Room 25Chicago poet/singer/rapper NoName’s velvety voice is a perfect pairing to the funky, jazzy, neo-soul arrangements (D’Angelo gets name-checked, naturally) on Room 25, a stunner of a debut full-length if there ever was one. Her delivery marries rapid-fire syllable eruptions with political, incisive observations that are content to provide more questions than answers. Swooping strings and in-the-pocket drumming with these rhymes are the best marriage of hip-hop and R&B this year. –Austin B. Harvey




#5   Historian by Lucy Dacus (Matador)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Lucy Dacus HistorianFine Lucy, you made me sad this year. And maybe I cried a bit to this record. You win. It's beautiful, fun, fierce and satisfyingly direct. Thank you, I guess. –Danielle Sines




#6   What a Time to Be Alive by Superchunk (Merge)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Superchunk What a Time to Be AliveThis is the third album since Superchunk reactivated, and as terrific as the prior two were, this album uses the fuel of the current presidential administration for an inspired collection. The songs are classic Superchunk, with a bashing rhythm section, biting lead guitars, and strong melodies and hooks. These are songs that channel anger and frustration into something hopeful and inspiring. 21st century punk rock tailor made to fuel protest marches. –Mike Bennett




#7   Be the Cowboy by Mitski (Dead Oceans)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Mitski Be the CowboyEven though I didn't love Be the Cowboy as much as I did Puberty 2, I admire the fact that Mitski is taking chances and expanding her musical palette rather than resting on her laurels. She also is one of the most compelling live performers I've seen in the last decade. –Shawn Campbell




#8   LONER by Caroline Rose (New West)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

Caroline Rose LONERTerrific, pithy, smartass pop. –Al Gabor




#9   boygenius EP by boygenius (Matador)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

boygenius boygenius EPSix songs that are the perfect example of how magical collaboration can be. A release from the supergroup Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, who are superb musicians in their own right, have come together to create a sound much grander than any one could make on her own. The record continues to give me goosebumps in its short 20 minute duration and their live performance at Thalia Hall had me in tears for their whole set. –Allison Parssi




#10   Semiciricle by The Go! Team (Memphis Industries)
BUY: Reckless / Amazon

The Go! Team SemiciricleThe Go! Team’s patented blend of samples and genre hopping feel good music hasn’t deviated much since their 2004 debut album, and album number five brings more of the same. And in a world where a chiseling reality show charlatan has the nuclear codes, there is something reassuring about that. –DJ Stranger Waves







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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2018

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