Top 50 Tracks of 2018 (40-31)

40. JPEGMAFIA “Baby I’m Bleeding”

Baltimore, Maryland’s JPEGMAFIA (AKA Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks) managed to grab the attention of respected music critics and fans of experimental hip hop this year with his sophomore album, Veteran. Allegedly initially titled “Black Kanye West”, “Baby I’m Bleeding” finds DeVaughn taking aim at SoundCloud rappers, lazy Caucasians, domestic abusers, and the current president. Utilizing an overmodulated hiccup-like vocal sample that runs for almost half of the track’s total running time before Peggy even begins rapping, “Baby I’m Bleeding” builds tension to the point of near explosion, hitting the listener with waggish celebrity jabs like, “I’m the new Beyoncé,” and “Promise I will never go blonde like Kanye.” At a running time of just over two minutes, “Baby I’m Bleeding” is over before you know what hit you, mercilessly taking no prisoners. – Andy Mascola

39. Snail Mail “Heat Wave”

Sitting on the stoop of a Brownstone sweating amid a sweltering summer afternoon in the city and hoping for some sort of relief. Walking up to your room, flopping down on your bed and watching the summer breeze blow the drapes in and then suck them up against your open window with the rhythm of a human breath. Lindsey Jordan’s “Heat Wave” conjures up imagery so vivid it’s hard to imagine anything other than what’s in my head. Of course, then there’s the music video featuring Lindsey playing ice hockey, another pastime I can identify with. Jordan’s idiosyncratic embrace of her role as young gay performer plays a significant role in much of what Lush has come to represent as her debut album and I can only say I am excited for what’s to come from this young phenom. – Greg Scranton

38. Carly Rae Jepsen “Party for One”

While pop hits like “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You” portrayed Carly Rae Jepsen as the love crazed girl to her male counterpart, “Party For One” flips the script on her narrative. Instead of pleading, flirting, or begging, Jepsen finds strength in herself after a break-up. Heartbreaking lines like “Once upon a time, I thought you wanted me/was there no one else to kiss?” are rectified by the simple anthemic chorus “Party for one if you don’t care about me/I’ll just dance for myself, back on my beat.” While Jepsen can rarely do any wrong in my eyes, “Party for One” feels like an important message to her listeners that it’s not all about male approval. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

37. Tanukichan “Natural”

Oakland based Tanukichan captures a hybrid of dream-pop vocals and melodies with shoegaze noisy elements in her debut album Sundays. The track “Natural” showcases this perfectly. Beginning with a stuttering, distorted guitar riff and and clean drum machine, Tanukichan’s breathy voice croons over whiny pitch bends. It’s not specifically lo-fi but there is an at-home studio vibe in the crisp drum beats and her reverb-drenched voice. Producer Chaz Bear of Toro Y Moi has a marked influence in the relaxed nature of the album. – Jacqueline Sun

36. boygenius “Salt in the Wound”

Julien Baker, Pheobe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus, all three known for their brooding, self-effacing writing, formed indie supergroup boygenius earlier this year, releasing a self-tiled EP a few months later. “Salt in the Would”, the penultimate track on the EP, roars where most of the album chooses to whimper. The song introduces a squealing, distorted guitar and the most powerful vocal performance on the album, showing off Dacus’ ability to allow songs to build, slowly but surely, until they’ve reached soaring heights. The song highlights the complementary nature of the trio’s vocals; Baker’s vocal, strained but always on key, lifts the upper register, while Dacus’ warm tone fills the bottom end, and Bridgers’ vocals whisper in the midrange, creating a harmonious unison in which every member can still shine through. – Tom Heubel

35. Caroline Rose “Jeannie Becomes a Mom”

The lyrics to Caroline Rose’s “Jeannie Becomes a Mom” paint a picture of an idyllic suburban life complete with a split level home on a cul-de-sac, a newborn baby…and a deadbeat dad? Composed entirely by Rose on an OP-1 (a portable synth, sampler, and sequencer unit), the result is a perky number that cleverly juxtaposes a utopian dream with the realities of time and age. Caroline’s vocals are in fine form here as she plays rhythmically with the baby’s “coo-coo-coos”, then holds a note as it echoes into oblivion. The result of all this is a danceable dose of reality that ends up being one of her 2018 album Loner’s finest moments. – Andy Mascola

34. Of Montreal “Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia”

When writing about music, you have to seperate your favorite versus the best. Of Montreal‘s “Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia” is without a doubt my favorite song of the year but I recognize it is not the best. The chorus sound a little too close to Weezer‘s “No One Else” and the music has the maniacal sound of the Gremlins soundtrack but it is the type of song that Kevin Barnes has been destined to make. Inspired by the extended dance mixes of the 80s, the song is 7+ minutes of thumping beats, funk bass, and glitchy synths perfect for your pre-apocalypse freak out. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

33. The Marías “Cariño”

“Cariño”, the lead single off of The Marías most recent EP, Super Clean Vol. II is a perfect example of the smooth, atmospheric music that makes the band so appealing. Lead singer María effortlessly floats above the song, flipping back and forth between Spanish and English as she professes her love to her Cariño. The arrangement is indulgently groovy, content to settle into the rhythm of the song without need for flash or dynamics. The band’s brand of easygoing psychedelic-soul is a fit in almost an environment, from a relaxing summer day to a late night alone. That universal nature and relatability make “Cariño” one of the best songs of the year, and The Marías a band watch. – Tom Heubel

32. Gorillaz “Sorcererz”

“Sorcererz” feels like a classically Gorillaz track – slightly morbid and isolating, yet still poppy and funky. 2-D sings “Everybody cool down / Everybody see yourself / Everybody on time, on time” over a smooth and slinky electronic beat. There’s a slight glam-rock flair, which sounds like well-treaded territory for Gorillaz. It’s therapeutic in how repetitive and consistent the beat is. I found myself listening to The Now Now frequently during my summer train trip up the U.S. east coast since it is so soothing and easy to listen to, while still being interesting. It’s an easy, breezy cut from an equally breezy album. – Jacqueline Sun

31. Sarah Mary Chadwick “It’s Never OK”

Sugar Still Melts In The Rain, the fourth solo album by the Australia-by-way-of-New Zealand visual artist and multi-instrumentalist Sarah Mary Chadwick, is a collection of twelve heartbreakingly beautiful minimalist ballads performed mostly as a trio with Chadwick on vocals and keys accompanied by a drummer and bassist. “It’s Never OK” is exquisitely paced, opening with a patient piano and a simple, steady beat. The song builds with each chorus to include increasingly confident percussive chords and progressively looser drum fills. Chadwick’s raw, fragile vocal style is a perfect fit for this torch song about unrequited love. Not only is “It’s Never OK” appropriately the longest song on Sugar Still Melts In The Rain, it’s also the most touching. – Andy Mascola

50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-01

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