Here it is after careful consideration and many many rewrites. These are my top ten albums of 2018. This year my list features a lot of EPs so that’s a big difference than previous years. So without further ado and of course in sequential order from the number one on …

1. BASTILLE // Other People Heartache Part 4

“Other People’s Heartache Part 4” caught me off guard in the most fantastic way. The EP opens onto one of the most beautiful covers of the Cat Stevens classic “Wild World”. It ties a thread between the last Bastille record “Wild World” to next one “Doom Days”. We then segue into the next cover of a somewhat obscure song “Would I Lie To You?”. To which Bastille gave it a much-needed update leaning towards a more RnB and Trap music sound. The next song is “Grip” which is a fun and straightforward EDM track. My only criticism is it just seems a bit out of place on an EP filled with RnB, Hip-Hop and Trap-Pop jams. But the song is so good though. The two stunners for me are the En Vogue cover of “Don’t Let Go (Love) and “Flowers” where the music and vocals by everyone (in particularly Dan Smith) are so on point oozing just enough sex appeal to not overdo it. The EP ends on “The Descent” which is just such a badass track and has the most heart aching surprise towards the end. We rightly close out on the “Warmth (Outro)”. The fact that Bastille uses these “Other People’s Heartache” mixtapes as a thread between records is so brilliant. I love that they also wanted to feature new British talent as well. The artist on the opening track is Kianja and her vocals blend so well with Dan’s. She’s featured prominently on this EP, along with the likes of Jacob Banks, Moss Kena, Lily Moore, Charlie Barnes, S-X, Craig David, SEEB, Swarmz, Rationale, and James Arthur. All in all Dan’s vocals, the production, and Bastille as a band have never been better on this very diverse and very unique mixtape style EP. That is why it’s still ‘On Repeat’ for me.

Standout tracks: “Would I Lie To You?” , “Don’t Let Go (Love)”, “Flowers”, and “The Descent”.

2. Bishop Briggs // Church Of Scars

I don’t think there has been a more inspiring album for me this year. “Church Of Scars” has a vulnerability to it that’s raw and Bishop Briggs vocals pack so much emotion throughout each and every track. For a debut album, this is a stunner, one that hits you in the heart lyrically and melodically. Having seen her twice this year; where I heard this album live in both a quiet acoustic setting and full throttle live show; just adds another dimension to “Church Of Scars”. Therefore making Bishop Briggs not only of one of my favorite new voices and artists currently, but “Church Of Scars” my number two pick for favorite albums of 2018.

Standout Tracks: “Tempt My Trouble”, “River”, “Hi-Lo (Hollow)”, and “Wild Horses”.

3. The Wombats // Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life

The Wombats “Turn” ended up being one of my absolutely favorite songs this year. “Turn” is also track number three from “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life” which has landed at the number three spot on my songs list. The Wombats are a trio hailing from Liverpool, their 2018 release is a fresh and lively rock number with guitars reminiscent of 90s Brit Rock and Pop. It’s chock full of quirky and fun lyrics relating to the aches and pains of love that just scream The Wombats. The numerous danceable melodies and catchy hooks populate songs like “Cheetah Tongue”, “Lemon to A Knife Fight” and “Lethal Combination” from start to finish. On the extended version release, we got new songs like “Bee-Sting” (which is fantastic live) and “Oceans”. By the end of “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life,” The Wombats had me fully converted. This is an album worth hearing and also a band you should definitely see live if only to hear this record.

Standout tracks: “Turn”, “Cheetah Tongue”, “Bee-Sting”, “Lemon to a Knife Fight”, “Out Of My Head”.

4. Shawn Mendes // Shawn Mendes

Though I had been following his musical career since I heard “Stitches”, I thought the song was catchy but I never thought that same guy would come to create this Soulful Pop Rock gem. From the massive stadium rocker and first single “In My Blood” which speaks to the frustrations of anxiety and social pressures of being young. To the funky and come hither “Nervous”, and the acoustic ballad “Like to be You” which features Julia Michaels. But the super funky smash “Lost In Japan” is the stellar standout. The song has a super cool “Lost In Translation” inspired video to go with it and an EDM remix from Zedd. Overall, this was my favorite “Pop” album this year featuring, great hooks and choruses, fantastic production, and Shawn’s guitar and songwriting skills amped up several notches. We should also take into account Shawn’s creative and business savvy in choosing to continue to work with the perfect people on this album, most notably his longtime songwriting partner, Teddy Geiger.

Standout tracks: “Fallin’ All In You”, “Lost In Japan”, “Nervous”, “Particular Taste”, “Why”, and “Mutual”.

5. MAY // Phantom [EP]

MAY is someone that truly only comes around once in a blue moon. I used this phrasing because she evokes that type of nostalgia and so does her absolutely mesmerizing EP, “Phantom”. Harkening back to days of Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack and when jazz standards were the Pop hits. MAY and her Phantom EP brought some of those ghosts forward in the most heartbreaking and beautiful manner. With elements of gothic charm strewn throughout, the “Phantom” EP was not dated whatsoever. Her voice was a siren call to anyone who has ever felt any type of loss or heartbreak. The personal interludes from her life interspersed on the EP were a lovely and thoughtful touch. The only other thing I would tell you to do besides listening to MAY is too see her live, as that is a special experience all on its own.

Standout tracks: Falling, Last September, Northern Lights, and Baby Save Me Tonight.

6. James Bay // Electric Light

James Bay is the third artist of three on this list I saw twice this year live (the other two being Bishop Briggs and Bastille). Electric Light really was all over the place but in the best way possible. We saw James dip his musical toes into so many other genres such as RnB, Pop, Soul, Electronic, and even a bit of edgier Rock on “Electric Light” and for what it’s worth it made a solid effort that grew on me as the year wore on. Seeing him play these songs live from the record and hearing how hard he worked on these tracks gave me a new perspective on the album. Edgier cuts like “Pink Lemonade”, with its punk leanings, “Fade Out” with soul and RnB swagger, “Us” and “Wild Love” in there soft beauty stand out the most for me. “Slide” and “Wanderlust” and “Stand Up” are all also great moments. The album despite its confusing genre blending moments turned out to be a favorite of mine because of the talent behind all of it. Something that is still quite hard to find.

Standout tracks: “Wild Love”, “Pink Lemonade”, “Us”, “Fade Out”, “Slide” and “Wanderlust”.

7. Saint Clair // D2 [EP]

This soulful EP by Childcare bassist and newcomer Emma Topolski truly came out of nowhere for me. If you follow this blog you know I have previously reviewed it but as the months wore on and after repeated listens it just stayed with me. The overall haunting and forlorn vibes flow throughout the EP. Although the genre leans towards Electro and Indie you can very much hear other elements and genres that Saint Clair found inspiration in. The EP opens up with the groovy electro-pop jam “Human Touch” and Saint Clair’s smoky sexy timbre sets the tone for the rest of EP. On the utterly tragic “I’ll Stay” you can hear echoes of nightclubs and smoky jazz clubs amidst the track. The pumping 80s like synth beat you hear dropping in and out only adds to the dark mystery of the song. “D2” for being something that came out of nowhere was certainly a welcome and beautiful surprise.

Standout tracks: “I’ll Stay”, “I’m Still Standing”, and “Human Touch”.

8. Rationale // High Hopes

From the opening notes on “Explosions”, I can tell that the “High Hopes” EP has Rationale in a much different head space and form. His influences have gone far beyond his home base which is London and cultural influences of Africa (in particularly Zimbabwe). The opening track opens with sounds that any touring musician is familiar with, sounds from an audience before transitioning into a throbbing bass line. A sound that is more familiar in Hip-Hop and RnB songs in America. The rest of the EP unfolds at a lovely pace with Rationale digging in quite well to what he’s great at …creating heartfelt and emotional songs with lyrics that can be felt amongst a cross-section of people. On the title track “High Hopes” his voice is strongest I’ve heard and “One by One” we see him fuse London, African drums and beats as well as the influences gained from touring to create an absolute banger. No wonder this EP stood out for me garnering repeated listens.

Standout tracks: “Explosions”, “High Hopes, and “One By One”.

9. Akine // Don’t Foster Fear [EP]

This is such a heavy set of songs lyrically that you would not expect it to come from someone so young, 16 to be exact. Akine is a wise artist and old soul, something you find out quite quickly as the EP plays out. The use of electronic instruments is not drastically overdone so Akine’ slightly raspy and haunting vocals are not drowned out. Songs like “Money In Your Mouth” can speak to anyone having to deal with a certain type of guy that uses his fame (or power) and wealth to show off. The track also has a slight disco feel to it. My favorite tracks “No Gold” and “Pray for the Prey” stays with you long after you’ve heard it. The vocals have a pleading feeling to them, making the messaging behind those lyrics all the more urgent and Akine well aware.

Standout tracks: “Pray for the Prey”, “No Gold”, and “Money In Your Mouth”.

10. Lauv // I met you when I was 18

Technically a playlist/album but I think one of the most cohesive yet underrated albums this year. Lauv had a banner year with his mega-hit “I Like Me Better” that seemed like it came out of nowhere. That song is also how this album playlist opens up, introducing you to Lauv“Blue World”. So through beautifully layered vocals, melodies, electronic elements combined with live instruments and lovelorn lyrics, Most notably in songs like “Reforget” and “Paris In The Rain”. Lauv creates a world with this album, that not only has encapsulated young love and heartbreak for this era but beautifully tells his story. It’s no wonder people have been flocking to his shows.

Standout Tracks: “I Like Me Better”, “Paris In The Rain”, “Reforget”, “Comfortable”, and “Easy Love”.

So there it is a little late then normal but done with care. Let me know you thoughts in the comment section or on social media! 🙂

Until then,

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! 🙂

Brittney W.

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As I stated before it’s that time of the year again. Yes, it’s definitely Christmastime but also that lovely time of the year where all of us music bloggers and journalists reminisce via online media, about all of the fantastic music that has been released this past year. So yesterday I posted part one of my 50 and as promised here’s part two of my top 50. Please enjoy and I hope you came across some songs you never heard of as 2018 gave us some pretty fun, innovative, creative, unique and just all around great music if you looked or listened hard enough. So without further ado here is The Reclusive Blogger’s Top 50 Songs Of 2018 …. Part Two

P.S. This list is in sequential order! 

25. Troye Sivan // My! My! My!

24. Blinky Bill // Showdown

23. Marian Hill // Subtle Thing

22. Eliza Shaddad // My Body

21. Olivia O’Brien // Care Less More

20. Lauv // Paris in the Rain

19. Saint Clair // I’ll Stay

18. King Princess // 1950

17. St. Vincent // Fast Slow Disco

16. Avonlea // Cars And Boys

15. Florence + The Machine // Big God

14. Ariana Grande // No Tears Left To Cry

13. Arctic Monkeys // Four Out Of Five

12. AFI // Get Dark

11. Kendrick Lamar + SZA // All The Stars

10. The 1975 // Sincerity Is Scary

9.  MAY // Falling

8. Twenty One Pilots // Chlorine

7. Khalid & Normani // Love Lies

6. Rationale // One By One

5. Shawn Mendes // Lost In Japan

4. Amy Shark // Don’t Turn Around

3. James Bay // Pink Lemonade

2. The Wombats // Turn

1. Bastille // Quarter Past Midnight

[Special shout out to Don’t Let Go (Love) from Bastille’s Other People’s Heartache EP for being so darn good and an absolute favorite of mine but … a Quarter Past Midnight just blew me away from the beginning and is my most played song this year! Thanks Spotify!]

And that’s it for this the list for 2018. Thank you for reading, watching, listening and please comments below and Tweet me back your faves from this year or faves from my list. Just get involved with me here and on my socials! Click that follow blog button. I want to make this upcoming new year bigger and better. Also, of course, listen to all of these artists as many of them are fairly new and indie and would very much appreciate it. Plus stay tuned for my top ten albums of 2018 list which is coming very very soon!

Until then,

Brittney W.

It’s that time of the year again. Yes, it’s time for me to reminisce via blog post all of the fantastic music that was released and that I listened to this past year. Trying to narrow down and figure out which tunes stayed with me and stuck out the most has proven to be quite the challenge but I finally completed it. I also ended up supersizing the list to 50 songs (posted in two segments) since 2018 had so much fun, innovative, creative, unique and just great music. So without further ado here is The Reclusive Blogger’s Top 50 Songs Of 2018 …. Part One 

P.S. The list is in sequential order! Also be on the lookout for my Top 10 Albums Of 2018.

 

Here we go with part one numbers 50-26 …

 

50. Childcare // Man Down

49. Leon Bridges // Bet Ain’t Worth Hand

48. Moss Kena // Square One

47. Loom:gs // Fault Line

46. Kiiara // Gloe

45. Bebe Rexha // I’m A Mess

44. Meg Myers // Numb

42. Robert DeLong + K.Flay // Favorite Color Is Blue

41. Tsar B // Rattlesnake

40. Ella Mai // Trip

39. Akine // No Gold

38. Virginia Wing // Glorious Idea

37. The Regrettes // Come Through

36. Kilo Kish // Elegance

36. Hozier // Nina Cried Power

35. Haux // Heartbeat

34. Charlie Barnes // Will & Testament

33. Jacob Banks + Seinbo Sey // Be Good to Me

32. CHVRCHES // Miracle

31. Kacey Musgraves // Slow Burn

30. Jorja Smith // Blue Lights

29. Bishop Briggs // Tempt My Trouble

28. NAO // Another Lifetime

27. Imagine Dragons // Natural

26. S-X, Nevve // Stay

And that’s it for part one stay tuned for part two coming up tomorrow! Comment below and Tweet me back your faves from this year or from my list. Just get involved with me on my socials! Also stay tuned for my top ten albums of 2018 list coming very very soon!

Until then,

Brittney W.

Hey friends! It’s me Britt aka ‘The Reclusive Blogger’ back with my yearly special. My favorite albums of the year. This was a brilliant year in music which made narrowing down the list to ten difficult but I did it. I did name other albums I loved as well though. Great right? So let’s get started …

Also remember the list is not in order so no hurt feelings.

Alrighty then, my first pick is.

1. Niall Horan – Flicker
Going way back to when his first single “This Town” was released I was still unsure about the direction Niall was taking his solo work. It was a nice enough song but I loved the video more as it drove home the song for me more. When Niall released “Slow Hands” I could start to see the direction of where I think Flicker where could go. Niall loves 70s and 80s Rock. Bands like Fleetwood Mac & The Eagles. So upon hearing the entirety of Flicker I caught those influences immediately, especially on songs like “On The Loose” and “Seeing Blind” which a beautiful duet with Country artist Maren Morris. Flicker has combined the best of both worlds from “This Town” and “Slow Hands”. My favorite influence though is that of his home Country (Ireland) in songs like “On My Own”. But softer songs like “Paper Houses” and the title track are the crowd faves. Which leads me to say that Niall is definitely one to see live. Overall it’s a great road trip record and beautiful ode to rock of the 60s and 70s without being dated.

2. Mondo Cozmo – Plastic Soul
What’s a Mondo Cozmo? Well, it’s really an artist by the name of Joshua Ostrander he’s had previous bands but this incarnation is gold. After discovering him on Bastille’s tour earlier this year. I was anxious to hear his debut “Plastic Soul”. To describe the album is hard but it’s rock at its core, soulful with its vibe and intention with many unique samples interspersed throughout the album. Namely on the title track, “Come With Me” and “Chemical Dream”. Mondo had a radio hit with “Shine” which is a beautiful song about never giving up on ones’ dreams. But Josh’s voice is what really pushes it over the edge, it’s raw and different than a lot out there. If you like Rock this is a great bet.

3. AFI – The Blood Album aka Self-Titled
Having been a fan for a long time now (since the tail end of DECEMBERUNDERGROUND). I can safely the band has put out several releases each completely unlike the other it might make your head spin. But my point is that’s art, that’s creativity, that’s AFI and what I love most about AFI. Each record is so different while still keeping the core elements of AFI. The Blood Album is no different besides the fact that it’s the bands best work to date. It’s dark and foreboding. Something that hangs about throughout the album though not overwhelming as it was on Burials. Davey’s vocals are peak especially on tracks like “Still A Stranger”, “White Offerings” & “Dumb Kids” (both songs bring back to mind their early punk days so well) & “Dark Snow”. “Feed from the Floor” has got a great New Wave 80’s vibe and the lyrics are a great juxtaposition to it. But for me the track “Aurelia” is the standout beautiful, haunting, calming with all of AFI’s core rock values. The video is beautiful as well.

4. Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues
Yes, I said. Maroon 5’s Red Pill Blues is there most musically diverse album. It’s the album to me that most bridges the gap between the Songs About Jane fans and the fans that discovered them via Pop radio. It’s truly a fun listen with lots of cool collabs and many vibey lyrics that reference late nights in Hollywood, cool party girls, mistakes in love and out of love and of course “The One”. For me when you become the band that puts out a song like “Closure” which is an all-out jazzy, R&B, rock jam session that clocks in at 10 minutes long. You’re doing something right. The record is full of Soulful Pop gems, “Wait” is a departure for the band but it works, “What Lovers Do” is infectiously happy with the best collab on the record featuring SZA. Other highlights for me include “Plastic Rose”, “Lips On You” which reminds of “Shiver” but way sexier and “Girls Like You”. But the best thing about “Red Pill Blues” is that the band is more tight and cohesive then ever and Adam’s vocals are better than ever. And speaking of ones’ vocals being better ever my next pick is anything but just a slow burn …

5. St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION
Ah yes, Annie Clark aka St. Vincent on “MASSEDUCTION” definitely took a left turn then veered onto a new course for this one. It worked. It’s a refreshing and surprising change from her. Whereas she’s only given hints to this side of her on previous albums with such songs as “Chloe In The Afternoon” and “Birth In Reverse” among others. This album and all of the visuals for it are very overt in its sexuality, rawness, and those emotions. She’s just in your face with it. All with the added gloss and sheen of Pop Art colors. While still very St. Vincent as the lyrics are a dead giveaway. The album led by the melancholic single “New York” is a beautiful slow burner anchored by one lyric yes THAT lyric. “Where you the only Motherf**ker in the city, Who can handle me.” With most of the record being high energy along with Annie’s dreamy vocals defined by her signature guitar sound. Tracks like “Masseduction” and “Sugar Boy” showcase the theme well without going over. Then there are quieter moments too. On “Happy Birthday, Johnny”. Annie is at her most reflective singing what has to be one her most melancholy songs she’s written. But she really sunk her teeth into my fave “Los Ageless”. The wordplay is so her and best she’s done. It’s biting and it’s beautiful. It’s good songwriting. In fact, that’s how I would describe the entire album.

6. Rationale – Rationale
If you don’t know well now you know. I kind of have a thing for Synth-Pop and Dance-Pop but only when it’s at it’s finest. And well Rationale’s debut is. This is another artist I found through the band Bastille as they were one of the bands’ tour openers. And Rationale (the stage name of musician Tinashe Fazakerley) is one of the artists Dan Smith of Bastille has on his Best Laid Plans record label. Rationale’s uniqueness purely lies in voice and vocal ability. In his ability to connect with the listener emotionally. From start to finish it runs the gamut of highs and lows of being a new artist and one touring constantly. All the while taking you on this ride via the dancefloor. The album is fantastic from start to finish. Songs like “Oil And Water” & “Into the Blue”, “Fuel to the Fire” are such stone cold jams and the three songs where you can hear Rationale’s African influences the most (he was born in Zimbabwe). But it’s all 90s R&B vibes, heavy drum beats and good Synth-Pop dripping in British cool. Even quieter more romantic songs like “Re-Up” & “Tethered”. Throughout all of the songs Rationale’s songwriting is so vivid you can almost feel what he singing about. The trials and tribulations of being an adult, being in and out of love, never giving up on one’s dreams, etc. On second thought I can feel it because it’s that relatable. Speaking of very relatable lyrics along with dance music my next artist and album pick has that down as well …

7. Allie X – CollXtion II
If you haven’t heard of her. You need to. She’s a Dance-Pop Musician & Songstress from Canada. But the fact that she’s a bit weird, unusual and different (that good different). It’s loud and clear in her visuals and lyrics. It’s what makes Allie and this album “CollXtion II” stand out so much for me this year. Earlier in the year, I had become obsessed with “Paper Love”. I loved the vulnerability in the lyrics, loved that weird Wild West whistle at the beginning of the song. It was just a bop. I also knew I had to check out the album from which “Paper Love”. Lucky for me “CollXtion II” was more than a pleasant surprised. It was thrilling. Softer songs like “Need You” & “True Love Is Violent” show off her incredible penchant for being caustic and vulnerable at the same time. Her vocals and delivery are fantastic and clear as a bell floating along each song. She’s at her most devious in “Casanova” and “Downtown”. With “That’s So Us” being the perfect love song for millennials. Allie’s album is fun and filled with heavy 80’s analog beats and bass inspiring her synth-pop bops. Perfect music to dance your heartache or blues away. Which brings me to my next artist …

8. Sam Smith – The Thrill Of It All
Speaking of lyrics and music you can have a good cry. For me, no one does it better Sam Smith. His music is in no way morose as people try to claim. But it is soulful and mournful. Mournful of lost times, ideas and circumstances and most importantly on “The Thrill Of It All” lost relationships and love not through death but change and time. Sam captures it all beautifully on here with minimal instrumentation, just his voice sliding up and down full of so many emotions. Highlights for me “Say It First” where Sam is telling his lover (or a lover because Sam did say most songs weren’t about him!) to take initiative and say “I Love You” first. “No Peace” with a stunning assist from YEBBA, “Midnight Train” and well really the entire album. Allie X will make you cry while you dance. Sam will straight up make you sob. We all need a good cry every once in awhile right?

9. Harry Styles – Harry Styles
Sometimes we just need to rock out. Which is what we get on Harry’s solo debut. The opening track “Meet Me in the Hallway” brings to mind the days of 60s psychedelia before launching into the very grandiose lead single “Sign Of The Times” which was a top song for me this year. The song swells just at the perfect time with Harry’s voice soaring. Other standouts “Only Angel” a stomp your feet rock with great 80s rock vibes. With a bit of Bowie and Robert Palmer for good measure. We get more of that on “Woman” where Harry is at his most soulful pining over a lost love with a pretty topical opening to the song. “Two Ghosts” is acoustic rocker filled with melancholia and melody and just absolutely stunning all around. But the closing track “From the Dining Table” is the one that hit me the most. It’s unexpected, it’s lonesome, it’s raw and real. Honestly not what I would expect from anyone from One Direction or any recent boy band for the matter. It so different it doesn’t even sound like Harry. I think it’s his best song on the album. I hope to hear more like this in the near future. And speaking of beautiful acoustic guitar music …

10. Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Everything about this record hit me in the gut unexpectedly. The lyrics, the whole faraway analog feel that is throughout the album, the grungy guitars and the best part Ryan’s gravely country-ish voice lilting along each song with different intensities. All showcasing his panache for capturing love, loss, heartbreak all with meaningful intent. That’s the sign of a great storyteller. That’s what has Prisoner firing on all cylinders. The opener and lead single “Do You Still Love Me?” A swampy garage rocker that’s about coming to terms and the feeling of sadness after a major heartbreak. Other songs like “Haunted House” and “Prisoner” use a lot “held hostage” or “trapped” word imagery to re-emphasize more of those same themes, without feeling cliched. But some of my favorite moments on the record are the more reflective quieter ones like “Shiver and Shake” and “Breakdown”. Pure ‘Gold’.

More albums I loved:
CTRL by SZA – Favorite track: “Love Galore”
Something to Tell You by Haim – Favorite track: “Ready For You”
Evolve by Imagine Dragons – Favorite track: “Dancing In The Dark”
Lust For Life by Lana Del Rey – Favorite track: “Cherry”
How Did We Get So Dark? by Royal Blood – Favorite track: “She’s Creepin”
After Laughter by Paramore – Favorite track: “Fake Happy”
Dua Lipa by Dua Lipa – Favorite track: “New Rules”
DAMN by Kendrick Lamar – Favorite track: “LOVE. FEAT. ZACARI”

Three Artists to Listen for in 2018:

1. Jacob Banks
2. Bruno Major
3. Amy Shark

My playlist:

TRB Creative’s Best Songs Of 2017

Thanks so much for reading this and as always. I want to hear your favorite music from this year and also what you’re looking forward to next year. Leave your comments below or tweet me. Please share let’s get this discussion going!

Much love,
Brittney xx
Twitter: @TRB_creative
Instagram: @trb_creative