RVA Playlist’s Favorite Albums of 2018 (Redux)

The Hell Yeah Babies – All The Things That You Believe
I discovered rock and roll outfit the Hell Yeah Babies during a trip to New York City in December 2017. I wandered into my favorite venue Arlene’s Grocery and these guys were playing. I had never heard of them before that night and they put on one of the best shows ever. So much energy and fun to be had during the holiday season and I still fondly remember this night. Needless to say, when “All The Things That You Believe” was released in January 2018, I immediately snatched it up and had it on constant rotation throughout the year.

Standout Tracks: “Grenadine Nosebleeds,” “Attababy,” “Everybody Knows (That You’re in Love)”

Natalie Prass- The Future and the PastNatalie Prass – The Future and the Past
I loved Natalie Prass’ 2016 debut record, so when I learned that a new record was in the works, I knew to keep an eye on this. As soon as I heard “Short Court Style,” I was all in. I pre-ordered this record faster than frenzied grocery shoppers before a snowstorm. Everything about this album is just perfect.

Standout Tracks: “Short Court Style,” “Sisters,” “Lost”

Bright Light Bright Light – Tough Love EP / Choreography
Shoutout to my pal Aiden James for introducing me to this artist (Aiden also released some great music this year).  He shared that he would be opening for Welsh pop artist Bright Light Bright Light (real name Rod Thomas), who had just released his “Tough Love” EP.  Bright Light Bright Light drew me in with his fun, upbeat, synth and saxophone-fueled, 80s inspired songs. After falling in love with this EP, I naturally perused his back catalog and was introduced to his 2016 record “Choreography,” which along with “Tough Love” was on repeat for months. I don’t care if “Choreography” came out in 2016. There’s no way I could talk about music in 2018 without it.

Standout Tracks: “How I Feel,” “Tough Love,” (Tough Love EP) / “Symmetry of Two Hearts,” “Running Back To You” (Choreography)

Brian Fallon – Sleepwalkers
Internet advertising works. I learned about Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon’s new record from a promoted tweet. I hate everything about that, but it’s true. But without said promoted tweet, I wouldn’t have been introduced to this incredible collection of upbeat rock anthems.

Standout Tracks: “If Your Prayers Don’t Get to Heaven,” “Her Majesty’s Service”

Frank Turner – Be More Kind
I believe 99% of the world’s problems could be solved by people being nicer and better to each other. While sometimes the world feels like dumpster fire, it’s nice to know that music is there to comfort and inform people that they can, in fact, be better people. That’s what Frank Turner’s latest did for me. It brought me comfort when I wanted to smash things and let me know that the little things can make all the difference.

Standout Tracks: “Little Changes,” “1933,” “Make America Great Again”

Joshua Hedley – Mr. Jukebox
I’ve been immersed in bluegrass and old-time country music since 2014 through helping to promote Virginia’s music scene (Side note: Visit the Crooked Road Music Heritage Trail in Southwest Virginia for all the bluegrass music you could ever want). Joshua Hedley’s blend of classic 1960’s country reiterates what makes this style of music so fun.

Standout Tracks: “Mr. Jukebox,” “Counting All My Tears”

flor – come out. you’re hiding
Hey, look! It’s another album on this list that didn’t come out in 2018! Dream pop indie outfit flor (all in lowercase as I’ve come to find) released “come out. you’re hiding” mid-2017, but thanks Spotify’s New Releases playlist, I was introduced to the haunting melodies of this group and haven’t stopped listening.

Standout Tracks: “hold on,” “where do you go,” “rely”

Ruston Kelly – Dying Star
When your artist bio describes you as “a bastard disciple of Kurt Cobain and Townes Van Zandt,” you better believe I’m going to check this out. Ruston Kelly took me by surprise with this country-infused rock album that I had trouble putting down. He performed at the Camel a few months back and I’m still kicking myself for not going.

Standout Tracks: “Mockingbird,” “Faceplant,” “Blackout”

Partner – In Search of Lost Time
When I was planning a trip to Philadelphia back in November, I was informed that MilkBoy was one of the best venues for checking out live music. I took my friend up on his word and headed there to catch indie punk duo Partner, who quickly won my heart with their songs of teenage affection, wanting to drop out of college, and not caring what the world thinks about you. Even though “In Search of Lost Time” was technically released in September 2017, it’s close enough that I’m counting it for this year.

Standout Tracks: “Play the Field,” “Everybody Knows,” “Angels from Ontario”

Passenger – Runaway
I’ve been a fan of British singer-songwriter Passenger since 2007 when Passenger was actually a band and having followed Mike Rosenberg’s career for a long time, I always jump at the chance whenever he releases a new album – which seems to be almost every single year. This year marked the release of his 10th record “Runaway,” where Rosenberg brings his intricate yet eloquent songwriting to a full score. This year gave me the chance to finally see him perform live in the first time in a decade thanks to extending a work trip in New York City to see him perform in Brooklyn, where I was captivated by his one-man-yet-having-the-energy-of-a-full-band performance, where I fell in love with his music all over again.

Standout Tracks: “Hell or High Water,” “He Leaves You Cold,” “Survivors”

Calum Scott – Only Human
I am a sucker for a British crooner, so I was immediately intrigued by Britain’s Got Talent contestant Calum Scott and his single “You Are The Reason,” which I couldn’t stop listening to for months. His somber version of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” – a song that already tugs at my heart – is made even more captivating thanks to his own spin. Thankfully, there’s a lot of upbeat tracks on here too to get you in the dancing spirit.

Standout Tracks: “You Are The Reason,” “Rhythm Inside,” “Dancing On My Own”

Sister Sparrow – Gold
I’ve been aware of soul rock band Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds for some time. But it wasn’t until I heard the first few notes of “Ghost,” off their newest album “Gold” that I was officially hooked. If you see me driving around and dancing like a madman at a stoplight, it’s because I’m listening to this record over and over again.

Standout Tracks: “Ghost,” “Leave Here With Me,” “Can’t Get You Off My Mind”

Jeff Waters – The Beat of the Blue
Damn, did this album hit me right in the feels. I was dealing with some difficult stuff and started perusing the internet for dog pictures to cheer myself up (because that is what the internet is for) when I came across Jeff Waters’ music. “The Beat of the Blue” is a collection of songs that deal with pain and loss, finding your identity, and questioning the unfairness of the world. It managed to hit me in all the right places and I proceeded to listen to it multiple times in a row, which helped me get out of my dark place. The dog pictures helped too.

Standout Tracks: “Glory Days,” “Loose Ends,” “The Things We Left Unsaid”

Pale Waves – My Mind Makes Noises
Before a trip to San Diego, I was looking up what live music shows to go to and was introduced to the music of Pale Waves. I ended seeing another band that night because in California, 20 awesome things have to happen on the same night. But I’ve been listening to this record ever since. Based on this album, I can only imagine how amazing that show would have been.

Standout Tracks: “Noises,” “Eighteen”

Donovan Woods – Both Ways
I was familiar with Donovan Woods through Canadian band Port Cities (whose 2017 self-titled album made my favorites list). “Burn That Bridge” was one of my favorite tracks off that album and I didn’t think I could love it any more until I heard the version on this album. Add to that so many heart-wrenching folk songs like “Next Year” and this album is a must-listen.

Standout Tracks: “Burn That Bridge,” “Truck Full of Money,” “Next Year”

Glen Hansard – Between Two Shores
Once the horns come in during “Roll On Slow,” I was here for this album. Ever since I saw Glen Hansard in “Once,” he’s been able to make me feel so many conflicting emotions at once – to be steadfast and strong one moment during “Roll On Slow” only to be melancholy the next with “Why Woman.” God, this is so good.

Standout Tracks: “Roll On Slow,” “Wreckless Heart,” “Why Woman”

Lucy Dacus- Historian
Lucy Dacus – Historian
It’s been so exciting to see Richmond’s own Lucy Dacus achieve the success and recognition she’s getting. From seeing her live at small clubs to performing on late night talk shows, Dacus took what she does so well and brought it to the national stage with “Historian,” which eloquently shows off her growth as an artist. On top of that, she teamed up with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker for the incredible boygenius project.

Standout Tracks: “Night Shift,” “Addictions”

Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today
In all honesty, I really haven’t really listened to Death Cab for Cutie since 2005’s “Plans,” save for a few singles here and there. But I feel the group recaptured that magic I felt with “Plans” and expanded it into an even greater collection with this record.

Standout Tracks: “Gold Rush,” “Autumn Love”

More of my favorite songs of 2018

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