Best of 2018: Staff Picks

As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve compiled our favorite musical moments from this year. Check out our staff favorite music videos, singles, albums, and more! Here’s the accompanying playlist: Best of 2018 Playlist 

Music Videos

The Video: Nothing Could Be Better

The Artist: Homeshake

Why We Love It: Through the magic of motion capture, various bizarre 3D objects are made to dance in the manner of a suburban dad—somehow a perfect accompaniment to Peter Sagar’s newest groovy tune. Every time one of these amorphous blobs points at me, I feel wanted. What more can you ask for in a music video? - Ethan Green

The Video: Whack World

The Artist: Tierra Whack

Why We Love It: Tierra Whack’s surreal music video “Whack World” is made up of 15 minute-long vignettes in which Whack shifts between colorful wordplay and soulful R&B numbers. The audiovisual album feels like a series of daydreams, ranging from fantastic to unsettling, and overflowing with imagination. - Julia Silbert

The Video: Three First Names

Artist: HaleyJane Rose

Why We Love It: This video is pastel purple, glittery guitar, spunky fun. HaleyJane Rose takes us back to classic 2000’s vibes and plenty of good times as she sings about her three first names, the struggles of being a young upstart, and the realities of being a musician. - Tati Becerra

The Video: What is Love?

The Artist: TWICE

Why We Love It:  Making up for the removal of music videos from channels like MTV and VH1,

YouTube has reinvigorated public demands for fun, interesting music videos. As an industry/genre that champions beauty, aesthetic, and perfection above all else, k-pop is continually pushing the limits of music videos. TWICE’s “What is Love?” combines dynamic camera work with crisp, charming visuals that totally immerse the viewer. The camera work and near-perfection of TWICE’s costumes and dancing culminate in a viewing experience that parallels virtual reality. TWICE’s “What is Love?” questions the future of music videos and viewer engagement. Barring all Black-Mirror-esque questions about the future of entertainment consumption, “What is Love?” is a wholesome, beautiful, gay, and fun music video. - Xana Pierone

The Video: still feel

The Artist: Half Alive

Why We Love It: A spectrum of colored lights, cool choreography, props, and sweet beats propel this artfully shot music video along. I stumbled across it about a month ago and was instantly infatuated. - Tati Becerra



The Album: Time ‘n’ Place

The Artist: Kero Kero Bonito

Why We Love It: Time ‘n’ Place is one of the first albums I had heard in a long time that actually felt magical. The power-pop jams and noisy interludes of Kero Kero Bonito’s first guitar-focused full album are interspersed with moments of genuine wonder, flashes of the extraordinary that give it an intangible “it” and make it one of my favorite albums of 2018. - Ethan Green

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The Album: Insecure Men

The Artist: Insecure Men

Why We Love It: A YouTube comment on a song from this album fittingly describes it as “[m]usic for watching Rome burn.” Woozy pop tunes that one can easily get lost in mask lyrics dealing with genuinely disturbing subject matter. It’s as if someone put the gradual desensitization we feel towards the morbid, obscene, and horrible on vinyl—and it’s quite catchy stuff, too. - Ethan Green

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The Album: Lush

The Artist: Snail Mail

Why We Love It: Snail Mail’s indie rock album “Lush” is filled with adolescent shame, hope, and ennui. Singer and guitarist Lindsay Jordan’s voice soars, while her lyrics confront topics of unrequited love and friendship. - Julia Silbert

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The Album: Mother of My Children

The Artist: Black Belt Eagle Scout

Why We Love It: Black Belt Eagle Scout’s debut album Mother of My Children finds a way to seamlessly mix rock guitar riffs with dreamy vocals all while the lyrics share personal and enduring feelings. According to the Black Belt Eagle Scout Bandcamp, Katherine Paul of the band identifies as a “radical indigenous queer feminist” and makes it crucial to share her experiences through her music. Mother of My Children is a triumph coming out of the turmoil of 2018. - Paulette Arnold

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The Album: Vyva Melinkolya

The Artist: Vyva Melinkolya

Why We Love It: Vyva Melinkolya’s self-titled is equally heart-breaking, lonely, warm, and comforting like all great shoegraze albums should be. Instruments and vocals blend into a pure wall of sound, reminding of us how powerful it is to just get lost in reverb and fuzz. If you’ve ever missed someone, I’m sure you’ll find something in this album. Favorite Track: Soft Red Lights - Tim Vallancourt

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The Album: Born Again in the Voltage

The Artist: Caterina Barbieri

Why We Love It: Modular synthesizers, cello, and vocals come together for thirty-seven minutes of heavy, involved drone music. The first three tracks form dense soundscapes that one could get lost in for hours and hours on repeat. The final song, “We Access Only a Fraction” throws out the ambiance for an intense tirade of arpeggios from Barbieri. Easily the finest modular synth album of the year. - Tim Vallancourt

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The Album: Crumbling

The Artist: Mid-Air Thief

Why We Love It: South Korean group Mid-Air Thief’s Crumbling finds a perfect way to combine elements of folk, electronic, and dream pop to create a collection of songs sounding unlike anything else. Warm, atmospheric vocals are layered in between an assortment of acoustic guitars and psychedelic synths to take you on a dynamic journey that you have no idea where it will take you. From the complex opener “Why?” to the breathy closing track “No Answer,” Crumbling will keep you captivated for all 44 minutes of its genre-bending incredibility. - Ramisa Murshed

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The Album: Twin Fantasy

The Artist: Car Seat Headrest

Why We Love It: Car Seat Headrest’s Twin Fantasy, a remake of the band’s 2011 Bandcamp classic, reflects on the confusion and anxiety of young adulthood through lo-fi instrumentals that wax and wane with the lyrics’ emotional arc. The album’s witty, reflective writing and raw emotional presence may resonate with anyone that has experienced love, heartbreak, longing, or just general uncertainty concerning who they are and who they will be. “Bodys,” a highlight, stands as a danceable track that reflects on the temporary joy and lightness found in company and movement. - Beatrice Shlansky

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The Album: Nearsighted

The Artist: Speak Low If You Speak Love

Why We Love It: The sophomore release is often highly anticipated, but also most likely one of the most criticized works a band or artist will put out. After establishing a certain “sound” or “vibe” that fans grow to love and find comfort in on a debut release, the sophomore release can either be a continuation of this comfortable style or it can evolve into something else entirely. Nearsighted, the sophomore release by Ryan Scott Graham’s (also of State Champs) project Speak Low If You Speak Love, is an evolution from the “sad acoustic emo songs” of his first full-length Everything But What You Need to an ethereal, calculated, melancholy, soundscape. Tracks like “Contrasting Colors” and “Cannot Have It All” ease the transition from purely acoustic tracks to the novel sounds of synths and bright quips on Nearsighted. - Tati Becerra

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The Album: V1

The Artist: The Ready Set

Why We Love It: Electro-indie-pop wizard, The Ready Set, put out his first longer release since 2016, V1, and it’s layered with plenty of bubbly beats, steely synths, and crooned lyrics that wrap up into one rose-colored experience.  - Tati Becerra

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The Album: In My Room 자취방에서

The Artist: Yun Ddan Ddan

Why We Love It: If you’ve watched “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?”, you’ve probably heard Yun Ddan Ddan. His song “In the End” follows the usual fashion of sentimental, romantic K-drama songs, which makes it beautiful, but ultimately forgettable; however, Yun Ddan Ddan’s album In My Room 자취방에서  truly stands out as a profound, sincere album. Yun Ddan Ddan’s album reflects on what it’s like to be twenty-something with no direction in life or real accomplishments (aka it’s too real). While a song like “In the End” produces a clear somber melody, songs like “In My Room” deliver an almost cheery tune that conflicts with its lyrics. The combination of painfully candid lyrics with a catchy chord progression demonstrates the confusing nature of being lost in your twenties: there’s hope for the future, but so much disappointment to reflect upon. Needless to say, this is the album I’ve cried the most to this year. Cheers! - Xana Pierone

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The Album: Clean

The Artist: Soccer Mommy

Why We Love It: Sophie Allison (performing as Soccer Mommy) creates a debut album full of haunting melodies and repeating musical motifs that center the work around the theme of a longing for love.  Featuring an equal blend of ballads calling out for mercy and defiant tracks that beg to be screamed out, Allison perfectly captures the insecurities of love in all forms, whether it be the desire for popularity and friendship in “Cool” or pervasive insecurities in “Last Girl”. While the album is rather brief at 34 minutes total time, it packs an emotional punch that lingers long after its last chords fade. - Bri Schmidt

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The Album: Bark Your Head Off, Dog

The Artist: Hop Along

Why We Love It: Hop Along’s third major studio release marks a return to the freak folk style of lead singer Francis Quinlan’s earlier solo work. Ditching the more traditional indie guitar sound of their first two albums, Bark Your Head Off, Dog isn’t afraid to experiment with seemingly atonal melodic lines and surreal lyrics that prove to be catchy all the same. The uniquely expressive vocals of Frances is joined by her brother Mark on drums and Joe Reinhart on lead guitar, a towering figure in the Philadelphia music scene who previously played in the emo band Algernon Cadwallader and produced the Modern Baseball pop-punk classic, Holy Ghost. Highlight tracks include “How Simple” and “Prior Things.” - Ethan Fenlon

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The Album: The House

The Artist: Porches

Why We Love It: Aaron Maine and co. put a dancier spin on the synthpop excellence of Pool with a “series of diaristic vignettes” that deal with heavy subjects—ego, love, memory—in a way that is both artful and very catchy. The exact moment the guitars come in with “Wobble” (around 1:10, if you were wondering) is my single favorite moment from a song this year. - Ethan Green

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The Song: Elegance

The Artist: Kilo Kish

Why We Love It: Frequent Vince Staples collaborator Kilo Kish put out an EP this year that melded electronic and post-club music with her perfect voice. Elegance is the highlight of this EP - roaring synths, a beat that makes you dance, strings, her smooth whisper: pure electronic pleasure. - Tim Vallancourt

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The Song: get behind this

The Artist: flor

Why We Love It: Los Angeles based quartet, flor, released a reimagined version of fan favorite, and live set staple “get behind this”. Brassy drums, infectious riffs, and funky synths make this energy filled single the perfect addition to any playlist, and will have you dancing through 2019. - Tati Becerra

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The Song: Since The Day I Was Born

The Artist: Lostboycrow

Why We Love It: Our favorite R&B, pop, genre-defying synthy storyteller, Lostboycrow, returns to his acoustic roots on “Since The Day I Was Born”, the first release off of his highly-anticipated LP, Santa Fe. The sweet sounds of guitar pave the road for our lyrical journey as Lostboycrow takes us on his journey home to a place among the trees, where his mom is a hero, and where the river flows. - Tati Becerra

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The Song: Obedient

The Artist: bladee & ECCO2K

Why We Love It: Prolific Swedish R&B warlock bladee works his magic once again on this Whitearmor-produced choon, presenting his self-destructive tendencies with a series of references and metaphors that conspicuously call for a Genius reading. ECCO2K’s perfectly-autotuned verse lends credence to my theory that he is literally a dark angel. - Ethan Green

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The Song: Pain Killer (feat. Sky Ferreira)

The Artist: Iceage

Why We Love It: The lead single to Iceage’s excellent album Beyondless is loud, fast, immensely enjoyable and somehow makes horns in a rock song not seem cheesy. Lead singer Elias Bender Ronnenfelt’s breathily delivered vocals make me feel dangerous in a very good way. - Ethan Green

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The Song: Girlfriend

The Artist: The Bilinda Butchers

Why We Love It: Genuinely sweet and beautiful synthpop that manages to capture the exact melancholy one feels when thinking of a significant other that’s, in the words of lead vocalist Michal Kepsky, “too far to hold on to.” - Ethan Green

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The Song: Long Wave

The Artist: Bonny Doon

Why We Love It: Bonny Doon, on “Long Wave”, sings that “you are who you’re supposed to be” - a sentiment often needed amidst the fast-paced growth, change, and pressures found when settling into adulthood. The track’s relaxed, “guitar pop” sound and summer imagery remind listeners to feel content with themselves and the present moment. - Beatrice Shlansky

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The Song: Pictures of Girls

The Artist: Wallows

Why We Love It: This song, the last off of Wallow’s debut EP, is a bubbly, guitar-fueled track that laments the inability of pictures to make up for the real thing. This is feel-good song, pure and simple, and for a wanna-be cool kid from the suburbs, this song is a dance-party-in-my-room staple. - Bri Schmidt

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From all of us at Rare Candy… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!