Today, everything changed. In the blink of an eye, I have transitioned to the newest stage of my life, for today I transitioned from husband and dad and have gained a new title “Grandpa.” And, this beautiful, tiny little creature has immediately wrapped her self around my heart. For those of you whom have experienced this, you know that the transition of love from a child to a parent, then to a spouse, then to your children and, now, my first grandchild. So, I would like to welcome Grandchild #1 to the world today. And, like I said to my boys today, “My hope for you guys is that your children are all healthy…and smart asses.” Not that I ever deserved my smart-ass boys, but they have worked hard to deserve the great lives that they have given me.
Well, we are now half way through 2018, and nary a big named artist have released an album, at least until Kanye West dropped his ego-stroking stink bomb on us a couple of weeks ago. Then, a week later, Kanye and Kid Cudi, released a fantastic collaboration under the guise of Kids See Ghosts. And, then, ever so deftly, the first couple of the pop music world, Mr. & Mrs. Carter, aka Jay-Z and Beyoncé, released their long-awaited collaboration. And, it has been slightly compelling to listen to their marital issues being played out on record through her very pissed off Lemonade, his contrite 4:44 and now their reconciliation on Everything Is Love. Usually, the rock statements are one-sided, such as Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Echo. Oh sure, we heard the demise of a couple on Richard & Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out the Lights. But, to have such a prominent couple willing to play out this rough patch in their relationship has been remarkable.
As much as I admire The Carters’ willingness to bare their souls to the world, and this trilogy has been an admirable run of albums, I still prefer a couple other albums so far this year. After gushing about the latest Janelle Monaé joint, as well as the brilliant new power pop album by newcomer Kai Danzberg, we have been blessed with a few more good albums released so far in 2018. So, may I present you with my twenty favorite albums of the first six months. Remember, this list will remain fluid throughout the calendar year.
- Janelle Monaé – Dirty Computer
The heir apparent to the sound of Prince.
- The Carters – Everything Is Love
- Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Hope Downs
So, far, this is the best power pop album…
- Whyte Horses – Empty Words
…expect, lately, this album has been in CD player.
- Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
Could Father John Misty be mining Elton John’s goldmine?
- Leon Bridges – Good Thing
I love this whole retro soul thing. The music takes me back to my youth.
- Kai Danzberg – Pop Up Radio
My favorite German power popper shows off his love of Jellyfish, Queen and ELO.
- The Aces – When My Heart Felt Volcanic
I am such a sucker for great pop/rock bands like The Aces, who have a sound similar to HAIM, and that’s a good thing.
- Kacey Musgrave – Golden Hour
Musgrave is country music’s greatest female singer/songwriter, and continues her high quality streak.
- Hawk – Bomb Pop
If you are like me and can’t get enough great power pop in your life, this new band is able to follow the path blazed by Raspberries.
- Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts
Hip hop’s best collaboration (Kanye West & Kid Cudi) since Kanye joined forces with Jay-z on Watch the Throne. I actually like this album better.
- Thunderpussy – Thunderpussy
Arguably, the best rock album this year.
- Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son
One of my favorite underrated guitarists continues his late-career resurgence with this modern day Americana classic.
- Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
The best current jazz master going continues his creative streak that began with his inspired work on Kendrick Lamar’s recent work.
- Jean Grae & Quelle Chris – Everything’s Fine
If you are like me and enjoy some avant garde hip hop, this album is for you.
- Neko Case – Hell-On
Everyone’s favorite solo act from the New Pornographers may have just released her own masterpiece.
- Various Artists – Black Panther: The Album
Kendrick Lamar curated arguably the most important soundtrack to the year’s most important movie, regardless that the movie is part of Marvel Universe.
- Death by Unga Bunga – So Far, So Good, So Cool
If you love Cheap Trick, this new band’s album is just what the doctor order.
- The Go! Team – Semicircle
The Go! Team is something of a cross between The B-52’s, Devo and Deee-Lite, which means this album is pure fun.
- Pusha T – Daytona
Pusha T has made his finest album this year.
This list is very fluid, as I continue to discover new music that piques my interest. Plus, we still have not seen the first Prince album to be released posthumously.