The Glide 20 – Glide’s 20 Best Albums of 2018

Colter Wall

With 2018 just about wrapped up, it’s never too early to round up Glide’s calls for best of the year. The year didn’t spell for any significant trend or sound but instead was influenced by the artistic growth of many a female songstress including Becky Warren, Courtney Marie Andrews and Erika Wennerstrom- making her solo debut apart from Heartless Bastards. Colter Wall (above), brought in an old weary voice in a young body with his stellar LP Songs of the Plains, while jazz took on some riveting components from both R + R = Now and Wayne Shorter- who at 84 made one of this most daring achievements yet. Shannon and The Clams made an authentically chill 60s’s dive bar LP and James Hunter Six created another bonafide vintage soul recording. Those are just some of the choice sounds of the past year and as we make our way through even more shaky times, we’ll only continue to see how music will prevail and be even more persevering.

So without further to do – here is the 2018 edition of The Glide 20 – Best Albums of 2018…..

Becky Warren – Undesirable

On her Sophomore album, Becky Warren uses her platform to share the untold stories of Nashville’s homeless and formerly homeless population. With inspiration from the city’s street paper The Contributor, she strikes up conversations with street corner vendors about their lives, work, families and struggles. Warren’s clear contemporary connection is Jason Isbell, as both are artists manage to rise above the typical Nashville sound, taking a twangy approach to rock and infusing the whole countries heartache, despair and concerns into palpable tales that can devastate or elevate.


Caroline Rose- Loner

Caroline Rose boasts a quirky kind of persona. Where once she would have been branded as New Wave, now her sound fits firmly in the echelons of modern pop. Loner suggests she’s not as withdrawn as the title suggests; expressive, outgoing and obviously engaging, she casts a bold persona that’s flush with catchy, spunky songs that beg for commercial acceptance.


Colter Wall – Songs of the Plains

A 23-year-old who sounds like a 63-year-old aint necessarily a bad thing for an album titled Songs of the Plains. This young Canadian effortlessly uses the sounds of country’s grandest voices from generations past to make a soundtrack for the lonesome landscaped prairies of Canada – a google earth of pedal steel and harmonica and a throwback voice that makes you wonder just how scary good this youngster will become once he turns 30.


Courtney Marie Andrew- May Your Kindness Remain

Combine Andrews’ remarkable twangy expressive vocals with insightful songwriting and top-notch production from Mark Howard and the result is her stunning sixth album. Andrews who tapped into a soul-like approach by consciously stretching her vocals, reflecting her recent listening habits of Motown and soul as well as Little Feat.  Andrews is a powerhouse throughout but especially on the organ-driven “Border” and “Took You Up.” Ironically, she becomes almost a female Luther Vandross (who had a similarly titled song) on “This House.”


Erika Wennerstrom – Sweet Unknown

The solo debut from the Heartless Bastards frontwoman Wennerstrom. Sweet Unknown is a bold and assertive outing, one that that rages, rails and emotes with a heavenly thrust not entirely different from some of the grand oversized anthems offered by Bono and U2. Wennerstrom is not only plotting new creative ground here, but also seems to be suggesting that her ambitions can no longer be constrained. An emotive singer, she’s clearly aiming to scale higher ground and create a sound that’s eloquent and impassioned all at the same time.


Frank Turner – Be More Kind

Turner’s latest album, Be More Kind, reads almost like a manifesto for compassion in an age of rising hatreds. It’s an album full of raw frustration at the state of the world, and the actions of the people who inhabit it. A hefty balance between the personal and the political, there’s plenty more evidence here that Frank remains in the path of a young Joe Strummer – inventive thought-provoking folk with shades of pop and melodies to rally behind.

Ghost – Prequelle

Frontman Tobias Forge succeeds in turning the album into something that Ghost has never done before. It is easily the poppiest and most accessible from the Swedes and although the album is about the dark ages and the plague, it doesn’t feel as dark, musically or lyrically, as their previous output. It’s a full embrace of the poppy elements of the band, and a swing at creating an entire album of catchy choruses with heavy music and dark imagery – plus we get our first glimpse of Forge as official “band dictator” and Cardinal Copia.

Glorietta – Glorietta

Whatever you do don’t call em a “Supergroup” even if this band features a cast of Austin heavy-hitters including Delta Spirit’s Matthew Logan Vasquez, David Ramirez, Wild Child’s Kelsey Wilson, Noah Gundersen, Adrian Quesada and Jason Robert Blum. Together they make their own style of loose and rowdy Texas music that rocks but also showcases the Americana credentials of the songwriters in the group. Their debut album is nothing short of 12 golden greats all with distinct creds and harmonies.

Israel Nash – Lifted

Compared to 2015’s Silver Season, which explored darker territory in the Neil Young-meets-Pink Floyd-in-a-western sound that Nash has honed over the years, Lifted is strikingly positive and brimming with a smorgasbord of sounds that could only be possible if the artist has plenty of time and an array of instruments to experiment with. In a time when it’s easy to get caught up on the negative and channel that into your art,


James Hunter Six – Whatever It Takes

Hunter has found a perfect fit on Daptone Records as the label caters to the band’s soulful strengths. Their second effort with the label was recorded directly to tape by producer Bosco Mann capturing the music and singing which traces its roots directly back to the heyday of soul. Just as the label has done for Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones and others, Hunter steps directly into Daptone’s sweet production formula and delivers the smooth soulful quality.


Jonathan Wilson  – Rare Birds

Wilson moves further from the canyon into more psychedelic realms, one he claims to be opting for over the sound of those Southern California environs. That’s true to a great extent; the most propulsive tracks of his new album Rare Birds — “Over the Midnight” and “There’s a Light” — offer a glimmer of a cosmic haze and in the process, send the proceedings skyward. Yet, there’s still a hint of a Pacific sunset lingering on the horizon, referred to directly in the latter:


King Tuff – The Other

Kyle Thomas’ King Tuff character has become a legend in its own right. Adored by college radio and underground scene purists; his brand of hook-driven garage rock that plants its roots deep in the ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll’ soil of the 70s golden age painted him as a welcome throwback to a bygone era – in style and substance. The Other is the result, a self-proclaimed exploration of recovery and the reclamation of creativity and his his most song and hook friendly record to date.

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Marcus King Band- Carolina Confessions

Produced and mixed by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, John Prine, Chris Stapleton), Carolina Confessions is a sonic treat of six artists meshed together. Cobb has transitioned the guitar forward expressions of the previous two records into a more rounded sound that hopefully creates the blueprint for the Marcus King Band moving forward. King meanwhile, continues to set the standard as bandleader, composer and guitar genius- moving towards the ranks of Trucks, Haynes and Clark. with this breakthrough soon to be classic.


Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!

Wide Awake!, is a stark divergence from what is considered Parquet Courts signature, yet slightly hackneyed, sound. Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, serves as a catalyst to change with his production efforts, but it would be a mistake to discount the creative endeavor undertaken by songwriters, A Savage and Austin Brown, who pushed themselves outside of convention for a fresh new sound


Rainbow Kitten Surprise – How to: Friend, Love, Freefall

The Boone NC band makes their major label debut and conjures a mountainous approach to the angular sounds of Modest Mouse and Radiohead. Frontman Sam Melo leads the genre-defying collection of songs with moving, hip-hop invoking lyricism while the band mixes up the elements that give hope to an otherwise increasingly bland alt-pop scene. How to is as good a grower a major label release can offer, with shades of lurking genius behind each composition.


R +R = Now – Collagically Speaking

R+R = NOW is a collective, brought together by Robert Glasper as a genre-smashing outfit that speaks out not as much in a protest mode, but more about expressing resiliency and hope.  Each member is a player, composer, and producer on their own, so they are individually visionary. Combining them makes for an album with many sections and styles, not to mention the influences of fusion jazz, R&B, hip-hop, trip-hop, rap, electronica and spoken word.


Shannon and the Clams – Onion

The fifth album from the Oakland based Shannon & the Clams continues their winning 60’s surf pop on acid style but takes on an extra emotional level as the artists grow and deal with tragedy. The band works through these thirteen short numbers with expertise as new producer Dan Auerbach allowed the band to open up and experiment with the sound more than their past DIY leaning records. Hip-swinging garage rock, 50’s doo-wop and bluesy rumblings take center stage on this kickin’ scallion.


Trampled by Turtles – Life Is Good On The Open Road

Life Is Good on the Open Road (first studio LP in 4 years) demonstrates a freshness and sense of renewal that brings it a new verve and vitality as well. While “genre pushing bluegrass group” sounds so 2002, its clear to state that Trampled truly does have crossover appeal with elastic ballads, upbeat romps, with frontman Dave Simonett’s confident voice leading the way.Persistent string band instrumentals and potent lyrical musicianship up the ante simultaneously.


Wayne Shorter- Emanon

Shorter, now 84, has long been one of the most foremost composers in jazz but the orchestral approach is a new twist for him. Credit the inspiration to his long-time musical partner Miles Davis as he springs forth with a 3CD (and 3LP) set, plus graphic novel. Emanon is the fulfillment of a lifetime vision for Shorter, a chance to not only display his composing skills but storytelling and art as well as his clear signature tone, (especially on soprano) and imaginative soloing.


The Wood Brothers- One Drop of Truth

The Wood Brothers’ One Drop of Truth should have the same wholly positive effect on the fans who hear it as on new listeners to the group. This seventh studio record offers so satisfying an experience, it will whet the appetite to hear the earlier efforts of this now certifiably great band. The trio exhibits an immaculate consistency of sound, while, the Brothers’ naturally sardonic sense of humor, as displayed on  “Happiness Jones,” helps unify their eclectic style.

20 Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order)

Amanda Shires-To The Sunset
Anderson .PaakOxnard
The Breeders –
All Nerve
Charles Bradley –
Black Velvet
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams –
Vanished Gardens
Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore –
Downey to Lubbock
Dawes –
Elle King –
Shake The Spirit
Janelle Monae –
Dirty Computer
John Prine-
The Tree of Forgiveness
Kamasi Washington –
Heaven and Earth
Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers –
Bought to Rot
Low Cut Connie –
Dirty Pictures (Part 2)
Sarah Shook and the Disarmers –
Screaming Females –
All At Once
Sloucher –
Be True
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks-
Sparkle Hard
Superchunk –
What A Time To Be Alive
Unknown Mortal Orchestra-
Sex & Food
Valley Maker –

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One Response

  1. Nice to see some Americana on an end of year list, but the Marissa Nadler, Cat Power, Phosphorescent & Damien Jurado records have been unfairly overlooked here imo, considering what has made the list.

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