The 10 Best Albums of June 2018

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The 10 Best Albums of June 2018

Earlier in June we looked back at the last 6 months, counting down the best albums of the year so far. But we haven’t forgotten about all the incredible albums released this month, after our list was finished. From Snail Mail’s stunning debut to the return of Father John Misty, check out our favorite releases of June 2018.

10. gobbinjr: ocala wick
Rating 7.7
Emma Witmer, originally from Wisconsin, uses ocala wick to paint vivid portraits of the New York music scene. She recounts tales of hanging out with friends and avoiding unwelcome sexual advances— scenes with which most young Brooklyn transplants will relate. “I felt you press your dick against my thigh,” she sings on album highlight “fake bitch,” her voice riding a shimmering synth wave. “You’re a fake bitch and you know it.” Throughout the album Witmer longs to escape; on “fake bitch” it’s from creeps at gigs, but sometimes it’s the world at large, or even herself. “I just want to get away,” she says. —Loren DiBlasi


9. Gorillaz: The Now Now
Rating 7.8
The Now Now, the sixth full-length from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s cartoon band Gorillaz, is the spiritual cousin of 2010’s The Fall, an album that was created entirely on the road, recorded directly into an iPad. This one is a little more fleshed out than that, with many of the songs conceived and demoed in hotel rooms during last year’s Humanz tour but then properly recorded in London’s Studio 13 with the help of current band members James Ford and Remi Kabaka. It rolls along like a travelogue of the journey that Albarn and co. undertook in 2017 through a world that was shaken to its core by some serious political upheaval. In contrast to the lightness of the music—a sleek funk that feels like what songwriters and tech geeks from the ‘80s imagined the future would sound like—the lyrics are paranoid and despairing, sorrowful and confused. —Robert Ham


8. Jim James: Uniform Distortion
Rating 7.9
Uniform Distortion, while not quite living up to its title in sound or substance, finds Jim James pulling back on the atmospheric embellishment that characterized his earlier solo work and revving up the energy and intensity. Nearly every offering boasts an elevated level of drive and determination, a fervent exuberance that makes no apologies for lack of restraint. At times James recalls Neil Young in the company of Crazy Horse, even though he lacks Young’s plaintive wail. Even so, there’s no denying that the ardor characterizing such songs as “Better Late Than Never,” “Just a Fool,” and “You Get To Rome” add to the overall mix. Even a playful pop tune like “Over and Over” enhances that compulsive zeal. —Lee Zimmerman


7. Gruff Rhys: Babelsberg
Rating 7.9
Babelsberg amounts to cultural commentary, in the sense that Rhys is literally offering observations about what he sees happening around him. He’s never preachy about it, though some tunes are more barbed than others: through soulful vocals and swelling strings on “Architecture of Amnesia,” for example, Rhys takes aim at how the perpetual news cycle foments partisan hysteria. More often, he prefers to deal in satire and subversive metaphors. “It’s just those drones in the country / Buzz so differently to those in the city,” he sighs on the subdued “Drones in the City,” as if the relative merits make much difference when they’re circling overhead. “Selfies in the Sunset,” a twinkling piano duet with the model and actress Lily Cole, spoofs the impulse to document every element of our lives on social media, an addictive tic that Rhys imagines would continue even during a nuclear holocaust. —Eric R. Danton


6. Father John Misty: God’s Favorite Customer
Rating 8.0
After converting sharply honed cynicism and rampant misanthropy into a collection of witty, often scabrous and somehow deeply soulful songs on Father John Misty’s 2017 release Pure Comedy, Josh Tillman more fully targets himself on the follow-up. God’s Favorite Customer is a self-lacerating piece of work, mostly written during a six-week stretch in 2016 when he was living alone in a hotel room in the midst of an existential crisis. He’s opaque about the cause, but not the effects: The album plays like Tillman is watching himself have an out-of-body experience as he, or his Misty persona, behaves erratically in public, sends alarming texts to his wife in the middle of the night and repeatedly questions whether love is redemptive enough to save him. —Eric R. Danton


5. The Innocence Mission: Sun On The Square
Rating 8.1
The entrancingly beautiful folk-pop that Karen and Don Peris have been releasing for the past three decades under the name The Innocence Mission is a monument to a simpler way. The band’s 11th album, Sun on the Square, starts off lovely and never lets up. Along the way, we get an extended peek into Karen’s evocative wordsmithery, which is heavy with references to the natural world (light of winter, gentle lions, leaves on leaves, darting birds), streaked with color and shot through with an ever-present sense of wonder and exploration. When you scan the lyrics for Sun on the Square, you realize just how often she is posing a question. All told, the album feels like a hand-crafted work of art, put together carefully by its creators, charmingly imperfect but much preferred over a mass-produced piece with no stitch out of place, and no soul to match. —Ben Salmon


4. Angelique Kidjo: Remain in Light
Rating 8.1
There is something supremely satisfying about Angelique Kidjo’s reimagining of Talking Heads’ Remain in Light, both in concept and execution. On the surface, it is simply one great artist—a giant and innovator of Afropop—paying tribute to one of new wave’s foundational bands. But it is also a response, almost 40 years later, from one of African music’s foremost living representatives to a landmark album deeply indebted to Afrobeat rhythms, and it has to be listened to as such. —Beverly Bryan


3. Neko Case: Hell-On
Rating 8.6
Hell-On is well-stocked with catchy tunes and simmering rage. On the title track, Case spends three sparse verses comparing God to a “lusty tire fire” and her own voice to a garotting wire before the song suddenly blossoms into a sprightly interlude. Right at the transition point, she warns: “Don’t you tell me I didn’t warn you that that’s some gravity you ought not to play with.” —Ben Salmon


2. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
Rating 8.9
Hope Downs tumbles out of the chute on “An Air Conditioned Man” and then by barrels through nine more taut pop-rock gems in just over half an hour. The basic components here are pretty simple: driving (often motorik) rhythms courtesy drummer Marcel Tussie, indispensable bouncy-ball bass lines by Joe Russo and a dense tangle of guitars — strummed acoustics and spiky electrics — constructed by Joe’s brother Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney. The three guitarists also trade off lead vocals from song to song.—Ben Salmon


1. Snail Mail: Lush
Rating 9.1
On “Pristine,” Lindsey Jordan seems to be speaking to someone else. “Don’t you like me for me?,” she asks, eliciting the pangs of your high school crush over low-burning, muted guitars with a ‘90s lean. “Stick” is filled with questions that could be for herself as much as they’re for someone else. “And did things work out for you? / Are you still not sure what that means?,” she sings—an arresting inquiry matched only by the skillful build of the music behind it. It swells and recedes beautifully in a way that when she finally lets the wave crash, the force nearly knocks you over. —Madison Desler

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