This week at Paste, we looked back at the year’s very best albums— so far. From Soccer Mommy to Lucy Dacus to Parquet Courts, check out which 2018 albums made our list. Plus, features on Nashville singer-songwriter Erin Rae, radio host Chris Thile, and more. Read them all and check out all our coverage from the past week below.
Michael Rault: It’s a New Day Tonight
Despite its sparkling sound, however, It’s A New Day Tonight is threaded with references to darkness, dreams, sleep and so on. In fact, the first words uttered on the album are “I don’t mind if the sun don’t shine,” kicking off “I’ll Be There,” a confident rocker with a psychedelic chorus and a squirrelly guitar solo. As if to hammer home the point, Rault starts off track two, “New Day Tonight,” with the line “Start to feel alright just after midnight, with you.” —Ben Salmon
Olivia Chaney: Shelter
Chaney posses a pristine vocal, delicate to the point that it demands one lean in and listen. Shelter, her latest album, and second for Nonesuch, is tender in tone with arrangements that rarely rise above a whisper, not surprising considering the fact that her accompaniment consists of little more than scant traces of piano, guitar, violin and occasional mellotron. The lyrics are precious and precise as well (“I spied a dragonfly/The size of my fist/Like the one I’d drawn/Carefully as a child”), but it’s posturing, not pretense, that proves so enticing. —Lee Zimmerman
Dirty Projectors: ‘That’s a Lifestyle’
Dirty Projectors aren’t known for sticking to one sound, and “That’s A Lifestyle” even plays with aspects of stomp and holler. But Dirty Projectors’ signature fusing skills chime in at full blast, incorporating elements of electronica into the 12-string acoustic fare. The song is a playful, yet irresistible romp. —Ellen Johnson
Wilder Maker: ‘Impossible Summer’
Self-proclaimed “cosmic American” band Wilder Maker are set to release their new record, Zion, July 13 via Northern Spy Records. Latest single “Impossible Summer” is swirling and soothing, like the cool breeze that cuts the oppressive feeling of an August afternoon in New York City. Frontman Gabriel Birnbaum wrote the song about a time when he was losing touch with reality. —Loren DiBlasi
Death Cab for Cutie: ‘Gold Rush’
Ben Gibbard laments the changing nature of his beloved hometown of Seattle in Death Cab for Cutie’s latest single, “Gold Rush.” The single has been released ahead of the band’s newly announced album, Thank You for Today. Gibbard confronts the feeling of alienation that comes from watching the physical places to which our memories are connected being torn down or remodeled. “Now that our hearts have taken flight,” he sings, “and been replaced with construction sites / how I feel like a stranger here / searching for something that’s disappeared.” —Noemi Griffin
Asheville, North Carolina folk band River Whyless returned to Paste to perform songs from their new album, Kindness, A Rebel.
Singer-songwriter Emily Barker visited Paste to perform three songs, including two from her most recent record, Sweet Kind of Blue.
Buzzy new country band King Leg also visited this week, with songs in tow from their debut album, Meet King Leg.
The 20 Best Albums of 2018 (So Far)
We’re not sure when it happened, but 2018 is almost halfway through. Thanks in part to a steady stream of incredible new albums, the year has been a total blur. Here at Paste, we’ve enjoyed hotly-anticipated debuts, the return of beloved veterans, career-best achievements, and pretty much everything in between. Recently, the Paste Music staff got together and voted on our absolute favorites. Our opinions are bound to change by the end of the year, but we hoped sharing these would help you discover some great new music. —Paste Staff
The Beautiful and Cathartic Words of Erin Rae
That’s what new albumPutting On Airs accomplishes best: Maintaining the delicate balancing act of catharsis with awareness of how others may respond to that catharsis. “There’s an option whether you want to just listen to the music, and that’s just nice and fun, and hopefully everyone thinks that it’s beautiful like I do,” Erin Rae says, “or you can just dive into the words.” But you should dive into Rae’s words. —Andy Crump
Chris Thile: Life Is a Variety Show
Ultimately what convinced Thile to take the job was partly due to the opportunity and partly what it would mean for his family. “That blank canvas?” he remembers. “The idea of a two-hour kind of meeting with the country? It’s available to you if you have a radio—not that everyone’s tuning in, but you know, it’s certainly more people than I would ever get to commune with on a regular basis as a touring musician.” —Josh Jackson
The Curmudgeon: A City Helps Out a Musician, and Vice Versa
Wilmington, Del., may have named its festival after him, but David Bromberg’s friendships in the music world pulled in performers who might otherwise have skipped this relatively small event. Saturday’s line-up included strong sets by Los Lobos, Bettye LaVette and Amy Helm, all of whom have personal connections to the headliner. The city helped him, and he helped the city. —Geoffrey Himes