Emerald Recommends: the best releases of the year so far

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

We’ve made it. Well, almost. To celebrate the end of the school year, Emerald Arts & Culture writers compiled their favorite releases from the last few months. Celebrate summer and look back at the last year with some of the Emerald’s favorite albums and tracks.

Arctic Monkeys, Kanye West and more: new music, old friends

The first half of 2018 has seen numerous artists release new music, which isn’t out of the norm. But there is an interesting trend emerging through the music released this year: Many popular artists who haven’t released music in years are suddenly back. And they’re owning the scene, too.

For the first time in a long time, Arctic Monkeys, A$AP Rocky, J. Cole, Kanye West, Kid Cudi and Pusha T have new records. Each one of those artists dominated popular music in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but have since been surprisingly quiet — excluding Kanye West, of course. What isn’t surprising, however, is that these music stars are back like they never left. While their music will never be like it once was, there is no significant dip in quality or creativity from each of these artists’ music. It’s always fun to discover new artists and music, but it’s always nice to hear from old friends again, too.

— Zach Price

“The Ooz” — King Krule

“The Ooz” — King Krule

Archy Marshall’s third album, “The Ooz,” occupied the darkest, most sensitive spaces between indie rock and acid jazz in the last year. Released in early October, “The Ooz” offered an immersive album that guided listeners through the sadness and melancholy of grey skies and wet asphalt.

“The Ooz,” regarded by Pitchfork as one of the best records of the year, also fixed King Krule as a world-class musician. Compounding off the success of his first two albums, Krule’s 2017 release was the climax of a visionary talent finding his truest sound. When Oregon’s gloominess inevitably comes back around, “The Ooz” will be waiting.

— Jordan Montero


This album is a hidden gem. “Lemon,” featuring Rihanna, is the most well-known single, but this album has much more to offer. If you enjoy the sounds of rap blended with upbeat tempos, this is the project you should listen to end the school year. In just 11 songs, it manages to give you a variety of choices: you might just find your next favorite head bopper.

— Amira Borders

“KOD” — J Cole

If you are someone who is looking for a message in your playlists, then J Cole’s “KOD” is the right pick. J Cole shows his growth as a successful rapper dealing with fame, money and other temptations. He makes sure the music is digestible and not too overbearing, like a long lecture. Cole arguably released the most top-tier rap album of the year so far.

— Amira Borders

“Invasion of Privacy”  — Cardi B

Summer is coming soon, and with that students will need plenty of anthems to sing aloud in the car, on the beach or at home. Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” is full of tracks for every mood a person could possibly have this summer. Whether dancing at a bar to “Bickenhead” or “I Like It,” everyone who listengs to the album will be hyped.

— Amira Borders

“Now Only” — Mount Eerie

On “Now Only,” songwriter Phil Elverum — who records these days under the moniker Mount Eerie — continued to reflect on the recent passing of his wife, Geneviève Castrée. The album pushed past the minimalism of its 2017 counterpart, “A Crow Looked At Me,” with both defeated pop songs and long, meditative narratives. It may be difficult to subject the record to any type of criticism given its intensely personal nature, but at the same time, it’s hard not to recognize “Now Only” as yet another Mount Eerie masterstroke. His honest lyricism, subtle guitar arrangements and expert self-production help to effectively translate his personal suffering into an emotional work of art.

— Nic Castillon

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