WXOU’s Top 50 Albums of 2018

Curated by WXOU music director Nick Marinelli, with special thanks to station DJ Roosevelt Belton, WXOU events coordinator Wade Panizzoli, and all of WXOU’s DJ’s who had a part in creating this list.

Here at WXOU, we aim to provide Oakland University students all encompassing alternatives to top 40 radio. We don’t just focus in on a few genres with our music programming, instead we look to provide our listeners with hour to hour opportunities to hear the latest music from a variety of genres and backgrounds. Without further ado, the music team at WXOU has compiled a list of the top 50 albums of 2018, in no particular order. We hope to introduce readers of this article to something new.

Anna Burch – Quit The Curse

“A very strong and diverse debut record. A nine song LP that is packed with catchy choruses of indie rock and ballads.” – Wade Panizzoli

Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

“An infectious album that borrows from a number of genres but ultimately commits to none and absolutely makes it work.” – Roosevelt Belton

  The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

“The most ambitious genre hopping record of the year. From Bon Iver-esqe vocal manipulation, Joy Division guitar sampling, Drake inspired pop, Jazz… and a emotionally stirring Brit-Pop throwback conclusion. Extremely socially aware. There is literally something for everyone on this record. And surprise surprise, it’s actually all done very well.” – Nick Marinelli

Antarctigo Vespucci – Love In the Time of E-Mail

“Every song on this record has hooks that make you want to start singing at the top of your lungs. If Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren aren’t talented songwriters enough on their own, they come together on a whole different level in Love In the Time of E-Mail.” – Wade Panizzoli

Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo

“Khruangbin operates with a level of chemistry and confidence that not only shines in their live performances but this album as well. Con Todo El Mundo is an album that speaks few words but manages to be touching all the same.” – Roosevelt Belton

Basement – Beside Myself

“A record where every song could’ve been the single. With their fourth LP, Basement still has hints of 90s rock and grunge, but is still somehow different in each record.” – Wade Panizzoli

Christine and the Queens – Chris

“Christine departs from her previously self proclaimed ‘soft feminine’ persona in favor of the masculine Chris. What results is a dazzling array of androgynous pop. Wide ranging topically, from gender to domestic abuse. Note: There’s also a French version of this album which is just as good.” – Nick Marinelli

Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino

“Perhaps the most focused conceptual album of the year. A casino with a taqueria on the moon… combined with Alex Turner’s most colorful lyricism to date; it somehow all works. Arctic Monkeys weed out the bandwagon of casual fans that hopped aboard following the release of AM in 2013. Their future is now one of limitless possibilities.” – Nick Marinelli

Blood Orange – Negro Swan

At face value, it’s an extremely well produced album that’s accessible to both long time fans and first time listeners. As you dig deeper though, it weaves in complex themes about identity, love, and ultimately what it means to be yourself.” – Roosevelt Belton

Tanukichan – Sundays

“One of those albums that strikes a chord in you and just gets better with each listen. A certain kind of musical haze is present throughout the album but  it’s balanced with lyrics that are honest and reflective about life and coming of age.” – Roosevelt Belton

        Beach House – 7

“If a late night drive in your car had a soundtrack, it would be this record. Dreamy, atmospheric, and shoegaze influences is what this record is composed of. This record received the love it deserved.” – Wade Panizzoli

Candy – Good to Feel

“Metallic hardcore punk. 18 minutes that the user is in a realm of terror. Makes you want to be violent, even though you’re not a violent person.” – Wade Panizzoli

Liza Anne – Fine But Dying

“I don’t know if it’s a late 90’s rock vibe I’m getting from this record, or my ears are just imagining it. Liza kills it on this album regardless. Her voice consistently captures her dissatisfaction with the narrator’s current place in life. Nowhere is this better executed than ‘Panic Attack’, a mature, bare, alternative rock song. Keep your ears tuned to the clever production utilized at the end of the track. An insight into what it is like to have a panic attack.” – Nick Marinelli

Kamaal Williams – The Return

“A cornerstone album from an artist that keeps evolving with everything he does. There’s enough here for both serious jazz heads and casual listeners.” – Roosevelt Belton

Vein – Errorzone

“A highly recognized album of the year. ‘Errorzone’ is 28 minutes of metalcore madness. This record has grabbed the attention of almost every metal and hardcore fan. Vein is a new band bringing old sounds and influences from Slipknot, Deftones, Converge, and many more.” – Wade Panizzoli

Denzel Curry – TA13OO

“Full of euphoria, melancholy, and madness.“CLOUT COBAIN” mocks the culture of glorifying depression and suicide, while in “THE BLACKEST BALLOON” Curry details his first hand account of witnessing his brother’s murder by Miami police. Curry not only puts all rappers on notice with this multi-genre influenced record. He puts all artists on notice.” – Nick Marinelli

Black Milk – Fever

“Boundary pushing, virtuoso level production mixed with thoughtful and reflective lyricism. You really can’t ask much more from an artist or an album.” – Roosevelt Belton

Fiddlehead – Springtime and Blind

“A punk record on an emotional level. Not too aggressive, not too passive.” – Wade Panizzoli

Current Joys – A Different Age

“Nick Rattigan has always stirred intense feelings in his listeners. In ‘A Different Age’ he  achieves his most poetic form of expression yet. ‘Fear’ captures him in the throes of life-suffocating anxiety, an anxiety he only recently has been able to talk about publicly. The album’s penultimate track, ‘My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days’ sees Rattigan reach a cathartic acceptance with those he has loved the most, those he has to now leave behind. In terms of his music career. It feels as if it all has been leading to this song, to this album.” – Nick Marinelli

Earl Sweatshirt – Some Rap Songs

“If you thought ‘I Don’t Like S**t, I Don’t Go Outside’ was dark. Earl takes his musical trajectory deeper into the abyss with his latest record. Featuring classic samples distorted beyond any semblance of being recognizable, Earl delivers his bars in a stream-of-consciousness style only he can put forth. Case and point being the standout track ‘The Bends’.” – Nick Marinelli

Tirzah – Devotion

“A wistful, eclectic and experimental debut album from an artist who’s making music like no one else right now.” – Roosevelt Belton

TV Girl – Death of a Party Girl

“Inventive sampling over infectious production mixed with authentic storytelling about the perils of lust and love. An album that can be very fun but also very poignant.” – Roosevelt Belton

Drug Church – Cheer

“A 10 song LP that has no shortage of riffs. An energetic record that will make the listener want to go see the band in concert.” – Wade Panizzoli

Jesus Piece – Only Self

“29 minutes of absolute chaos. I want to bash skulls while listening to this.” – Wade Panizzoli


“The late Jahseh Onfroy left behind a devastating legacy. From being a victim of abuse throughout his childhood and teen years, to inflicting horrific abuse on his loved ones in his early adulthood. Onfroy’s music tapped directly into the nightmare that was his life. A life many Americans cannot dream of living. Beautiful and ugly, ‘?’ stands apart from any other 2018 release. A record that will tear you apart and give you the opportunity to see the world through a less polarizing lense.” – Nick Marinelli

Georgia Anne Muldrow – Overload

“Daring in her blend of hip/hop, jazz, R&B, and neo-soul, Georgia Anne Muldrow takes her experimentalist spirit further on Overload. She’s been in the game a while now and she isn’t slowing down. But gosh I wish ‘Williehook (Skit)’ was longer than it’s propulsive, groovy 54 seconds. Great tune.” – Nick Marinelli

Children of Zeus – Travel Light

“You don’t often get this much quality and focus from a debut album. A soul, hip-hop, and reggae infuse affair that’s a testament to their hard work and desire to create timeless music.” – Roosevelt Belton

Snail Mail – Lush

“I’m not usually a fan of indie records with the same guitar tone throughout (probably being a total hypocrite when I say that), yet this record really soars when it gets it right. Particularly on tracks such as “Golden Dream” and “Deep Sea”. Far from a perfect record, yet it looks like a promising future awaits Lindsey Jordan.” – Nick Marinelli

Fatima – And Yet It’s All Love

“An album four years in the making that was well worth the wait. It’s a warm and intimate effort that pairs an artist with an amazing voice over immaculate production.” – Roosevelt Belton

Regulate – In The Promise Of Another Tomorrow

“New York hardcore. Another record that will be a classic in that scene. ‘11:13’ makes me want to dance.” – Wade Panizzoli

illuminati hotties – Kiss Yr Enemies

“Not your typical indie rock record. I was pleasantly surprised by the lo-fi aspects of this record, an example being ‘The Cuff’, and the beautiful reverb drenched guitars, bordered by distortion, that sink into a cleansing shoegazey swirl in ‘For Cheez (My Friend, Not the Food)’. An impressive achievement on an underrated album.” – Nick Marinelli

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food

“The latest and greatest effort from a band that’s increasingly showing it can do no wrong.” – Roosevelt Belton

Noname – Room 25

“It comes as no surprise Fatimah Warner grew up participating in open mics and slam poetry competitions. Her delivery is one of a true poet, and it’s hard to think of another musical artist that displays this as evidently in their music. Immediately when I press play on this record I know I am going to enter a rich literary world accompanied by neo-soul flourishes and innovative R&B.” – Nick Marinelli

Waajeed – From the Dirt

“A love letter to Detroit electronic music from an artist who knows how to get every bit of talent out of not only himself but others as well.” – Roosevelt Belton

Caroline Rose – Loner

“Boisterous, hip, and fun. ‘More Of The Same’ is a relatively calm beginning to this record, where Rose critiques the entertainment industry, particularly emphasizing the feeling of being sexually objectified. This theme becomes more animated throughout the record as Rose ups the aggressiveness in ‘Money’ and ‘Bikini’.” – Nick Marinelli

Louis Cole – Time

“This album is different in all the best ways. Genius level production and experimentation that flirts with the absurd but hits all the right notes.” – Roosevelt Belton

Mitski – Be The Cowboy

“This alt./indie record is jammed with 14 stellar tracks within this 32 minute album. This is another record that has something for all indie/alternative lovers. This is a fact, as Mitski sold out the Magic Stick in support of this record earlier this year.” – Wade Panizzoli

Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

“This is a multi-sub genre indie album that has something for all indie music fans. From surf, rock, punk and lofi, this record has it all. You can sense a Dinosaur Jr. influence in a handful of these songs, especially ‘Walkin’ On Eggshells’. I definitely slept on this record, but am glad I took a listen sooner than later.” – Wade Panizzoli

Hippo Campus – Bambi

“Every song is different on this album. You get to hear some super instrumental stuff and their more usual dance-y stuff. Jake Luppen’s vocals are absolutely killer on every song. It seems like they stepped out of their comfort zone and tried new things, and it worked.” – Emily Henley

Anderson .Paak – Oxnard

“You could argue that each album Anderson Paak has released to date are unique peeks into not only his place as an artist but also as a person. Whereas 2016’s Malibu was the tale of a young man on the cusp of success after years of struggle, Oxnard is the progression of that same person realizing that the world is now at their fingertips. As a result, everything we’ve come to know from Paak is dialed to 10, the music, the personality, and especially the unabashed tales of success and debauchery. Some might find this a turn-off, but these stories are told over such a fine layer of musical substance that it ultimately keeps the project from feeling vapid or hollow. This may not be Paak’s best work to date but it certainly is his most ambitious, and with an artist of his caliber that is more than enough to make this required listening.” – Roosevelt Belton

Grapetooth – Grapetooth

“A wildly uneven album, that somehow impresses. ‘Red Wine’ is one of the best feel good songs with melancholic lyrics this year. “Hallelujah’ and ‘Blood’ provide an unbelievable one-two punch that resurrect this record in its final 3rd. There is a reason this group has gained such a rabid following in Chicago; they bring something to the underground music world that is rare, true charisma. This record reminds a lot of the acid house/dance rock defining album – ‘Technique’ by New Order. Although the 80’s influences are prevalent on this record, they don’t overcome the group and dilute their message. I am very intrigued to see where Grapetooth go from here. An exciting debut to say the least.” – Nick Marinelli

MGMT – Little Dark Age

“For years MGMT tried their hardest to get away from the sound that defined them in the eyes of much of the public. On ‘Little Dark Age’, it’s evident that age has taught them to not care so much about what people think anymore. MGMT is thoroughly making music for themselves now, without a care if it’s too pop, or too experimental. The title track shines with its dark synths and captivating vocal. While ‘Me and Michael’ stakes its claim as one 2018’s most joyful, humorous pop songs.” – Nick Marinelli


“The beginning of this album is awesome. ‘If You Know You Know’ is unapologetically confident. It’s thematic. Kanye’s production is so on point in this track that it wouldn’t matter what lyrics Pusha T raps, it’s all about the delivery. The instrumentals on this record are to be admired all around. ‘Hard Piano’ furthers this point with its rolling, morphing melody. It’s been oft-asserted that this is the record that Pusha T will be remembered by. It’s a hard assertion to argue.” – Nick Marinelli

Porches – The House

“In 37 minutes, Porches piles 14 cuts of indie-pop ballads and janglers into this second record. Everything about the track “Now The Water” hits the listener feels, and when Porches played Detroit back in February, that’s what they started the set with. This is a record that every pop lover should have listened to in 2018.” – Wade Panizzoli

Trippie Redd – Life’s A Trip

“2018 may be remembered as the year emo rap began to receive critical praise. With his debut album, Trippie Redd adds his voice to the chorus. Soundcloud rap can no longer be dismissed when great songs like ‘Taking A Walk’ are being released. An empowering tune about taking back control of your life.” – Nick Marinelli

Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts

“Kanye West and Kid Cudi team up for an experimental, production led album. The third album spawned from West’s ‘Wyoming Sessions’ is a trip that’s for sure, with its incorporation of psychedelic rock elements. You can say a lot of things about Kanye, but one thing you can’t say is that he doesn’t take risks. It pays off here.” – Nick Marinelli

Stimulator Jones – Exotic Worlds and Masterful Treasures

“Stimulator Jones does a great job of capturing the vibe of late 80’s and 90’s r&b without necessarily letting it define his sound entirely. Instead, these influences are used to paint various scenes and textures which produce a consistent mood throughout the album. Rather than coming off as droll or derivative, this allows listeners to appreciate Jones’s unique ability for experimentation and genre blending.” – Roosevelt Belton

Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

“An indie rock record with funk influences. Yet brings the punch with punk rockers such as ‘Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience’. The title track will surely find a place in TV commercials for years to come, and the closing number ‘Tenderness’ is a wonderful mix. Makes me think of walking down a cobbled street.” – Nick Marinelli

BROCKHAMPTON – iridescence

“Since I’ve heard this record, I’ve always loved how it kicks off. ‘NEW ORLEANS’ feels like it’s constantly leaning forward. We see a lot of different sides of Brockhampton with this album, and ‘SAN MARCOS’ sounds as if they are spreading their wings, preparing for the next flight.” – Nick Marinelli

Black Panther: The Album – Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists

“The album that produced the undisputed song of 2018 with ‘All The Stars’ and the arguable top rap team up of 2018 with ‘King’s Dead’. Quite simply, this record rules. It’s far more than an accompanying soundtrack to the film, it is its own statement. For Kendrick Lamar to pull off this feat less than a year after ‘DAMN’ is mind-boggling. Lamar has already thoroughly laid to rest any dispute of who the greatest rapper alive is. With ‘Black Panther’ he has now entered America’s social consciousness. A masterful work of production, and an impressive display of how to lead a team of some of the world’s most talented artists.” – Nick Marinelli

Well that’s a wrap on our top 50 albums of 2018 in no particular order. To hear our top 50 songs of 2018, check out our Spotify playlist on our WXOU Spotify page. Put it to shuffle, go for a drive, and enjoy an eclectic, diverse mix of musical styles. From all of us at WXOU, we wish you a happy (belated) new year, and we hope you continue to tune in to 88.3 throughout 2019!