Janelle Monae, Kacey Mus­graves, J. Cole head list of top 2018 al­bums

The Tribune (SLO) - - Ticket - BY MES­FIN FEKADU

NEW YORK

The top 10 al­bums of the year by As­so­ci­ated Press Mu­sic Edi­tor Mes­fin Fekadu.

1. Janelle Monae,

“Dirty Com­puter”:

When Janelle Monae re­leased the mas­ter­fully bril­liant “The ArchAn­droid” in 2010, it was hard to imag­ine how this fu­tur­is­tic, al­ready-sea­soned artist could grow, and where that growth would take her. En­ter “Dirty Com­puter,” her third full-length al­bum and an­other work of ge­nius from one of con­tem­po­rary mu­sic’s best en­ter­tain­ers. There are so many ways to de­scribe this stun­ning al­bum: Hon­est. Fun. Sex­ual. Po­lit­i­cal. Thought­pro­vok­ing. Em­pow­er­ing. Lib­er­at­ing. And sim­ply put – it’s just damn good. Songs like “Crazy, Clas­sic, Life,” “Take a Byte,” “Screwed,” “I Got the Juice” and “Pynk” in­ject into your blood­streams and spread a care­free con­fi­dence through­out your body.

2. Kacey Mus­graves, “Golden Hour”:

At its base, Kacey Mus­graves’ fourth al­bum is a coun­try record. And wo­ven into it are sounds like dance, pop, R&B and other gen­res. The re­sult is a pierc­ing, soul­ful al­bum where Mus­graves’ glid­ing vo­cals treat each song like a mini mas­ter­piece. The lyrics are strong and sharp, and each song is touch­ing and beau­ti­ful. “Golden Hour” will put a smile on your face, and live in­side of your heart.

3. J. Cole, “KOD”:

At a time when the en­ter­tain­ment world is ques­tion­ing the rel­e­vance of the Gram­mys, it’s hard to take the or­ga­ni­za­tion se­ri­ously when J. Cole’s “KOD” didn’t garner a nom­i­na­tion for best rap al­bum. His fifth re­lease, which he mainly pro­duced on his own, is pow­er­ful, strik­ing and re­mark­able, and eas­ily the year’s best hip-hop al­bum, and we don’t need a Grammy co-sign to con- firm that.

4. Var­i­ous artists, “In­se­cure: Mu­sic from the HBO Orig­i­nal Se­ries, Sea­son 3”:

There’s not much that can hold you over dur­ing the months and months of wait­ing in be­tween sea­sons of “In­se­cure,” ex­cept for the TV show’s epic sound­track. This com­pi­la­tion is a breezy ef­fort that plays smoother than most of the al­bums re­leased this year. The track list will give a chance to dis­cover some artists you may have never heard be­fore.

5. Chloe x Halle, “The Kids Are Al­right”:

The sis­ter duo Chloe x Halle have beau­ti­fully mas­tered har­mo­niza­tion, and they sound like an­gels through­out “The Kids Are Al­right.” The al­bum in­tro, “Hello Friend,” bril­liantly tran­si­tions into the ti­tle track and the rest of the next-level songs, from “Fake” to “Ev­ery­where” to “Happy With­out Me,” prove there’s more to come from the tal­ented Bey­once mentees.

6. The Carters, “Ev­ery­thing Is Love”:

Bey­once’s de­but rap al­bum was an ad­ven­ture and fur­ther shows that there is prob­a­bly lit­tle she can’t do. She shines, along­side Jay-Z, on their first col­lab­o­ra­tive al­bum that is a mix of Sound­cloud rap, al­ter­na­tive R&B and over­all amaz­ing­ness.

7. Robyn, “Honey”:

Robyn’s al­bum is like a tasty dessert, with just the right amount of sweet­ness.

8. Ari­ana Grande, “Sweet­ener”:

With all her suc­cess­ful sin­gles, Ari­ana Grande may not come across as an al­bum artist, but that’s not ac­cu­rate. “Sweet­ener” is her fourth al­bum and her fourth laud­able ef­fort, which is a great blend of up­beat jams and pop-R&B bal­lads.

9. Chris­tine and the Queens, “Chris”:

French singer Chris­tine and the Queens’ sopho­more al­bum is a pop es­capade, with ad­dic­tive songs like “Comme si,” “Girl­friend,” “Goya Soda” and “Feels so good” worth lis­ten­ing again, again and again.

10. Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear, “The Ra­dio Win­ners”:

Har­mo­niz­ing with fam­ily mem­bers – done cor­rectly – can feel like an out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence. The mother-and-son duo Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear know how to do just that, and their lat­est EP, “The Ra­dio Win­ners,” proves it.

The best al­bums of the year in­clude, top row from left, “Dirty Com­puter” by Janelle Monae, “Golden Hour” by Kacey Mus­graves, “KOD” by J. Cole, “In­se­cure: Mu­sic from the HBO Orig­i­nal Se­ries, Sea­son 3” by var­i­ous artists, “The Kids Are Al­right” by Chloe x Halle, and bot­tom row from left, “Ev­ery­thing Is Love” by The Carters, “Honey” by Robyn, “Sweet­ener” by Ari­ana Grande, “Chris” by Chris­tine and the Queens and “The Ra­dio Win­ners” by Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear.

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