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50 Best Albums of 2018 So Far

Including Janelle Monáe, Cardi B, Kacey Musgraves, the ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack and more

50 Best Albums of 2018 So Far

So far, 2018 has given us Janelle Monáe’s android funk, Cardi B’s bloody-shoed boasts, J Balvin’s internationalist reggaeton and an all-star dispatch from Wakanda. Here’s the best of the year’s first five months and change.

Hinds, 'I Don't Run'

Hinds, ‘I Don’t Run’

We Say: Who knows how much Hinds’ off-handed magnificence has to do with their roots as Madrileños, and how much is merely the mystic universal science of group chemistry and spirit? Whatever the proportions, their second LP is a gem of indie-rock-revivalism, making faux-naif surf licks and Mo Tucker drum beats seem new all over again. W.H.

Low Cut Connie, 'Dirty Pictures (Part 2)'

Low Cut Connie, ‘Dirty Pictures (Part 2)’

We Say: Low Cut Connie’s fifth album draws on the same sessions – at Ardent Studios in Memphis – that propelled this Philadelphia band’s 2017 blast of Fifties-infused glam-punk hallelujah, Dirty Pictures (Part 1). But these ten tracks, mostly written by singer-pianist Adam Weiner, are hardly leftovers. … “All These Kids Are Way Too High” is explosive, hilarious censure, a song about every bar band’s worst nightmare – an audience that just stands and stares – detonated like the New York Dolls produced by Sam Phillips. “Beverly,” in turn, is steeped in Philly soul – a mid-tempo charge of desperate need that Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff could have written for Teddy Pendergrass – then seared with slide guitar and dotted with Weiner’s chiming piano, as if Elton John had joined the Replacements in time for Pleased to Meet Me. D.F.

Turnstile, 'Time & Space'

Turnstile, ‘Time & Space’

Renowned for their anarchic live shows, Baltimore hardcore punks Turnstile open the pit to a broader range of sounds and collaborators on their refreshingly free-form major-label debut. The band borrows from the Nirvana playbook on garage-rock shredder “Moon” and shyly flashes a freak flag on slinky jazz interludes “Bomb” and “Disco.” Longtime fan Diplo makes an understated cameo on “Right to Be,” his synths splashing neon onto Turnstile’s concrete political protest. Hardcore purists may bristle, but Time & Space offers fans new and old some room to breathe. S.E.

A.A.L. (Against All Logic), '2012-2017'

A.A.L. (Against All Logic), ‘2012-2017’

In February, experimental electronic artist Nicolas Jaar casually released a dance album under his A.A.L. moniker without any sort of promotion: The LP just appeared on his label’s website, and the media didn’t figure out that the project was linked to Jaar until six days later. 2012-2017 is dense, with alluring samples cherrypicked from shimmering Seventies soul and full-throated gospel. Jaar cuts and pastes this source material into loose, walloping, jubilant tracks. “Cityfade” has the club-igniting potential of classic Moby, “Now U Got Me Hooked” relies on a striking snippet of the Dramatics to create strutting, triumphant disco, and even the most steadfast wallflowers will be unable to resist the nearly 10-minute-long closing track, “Rave on U.” E.L.

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