Logo for Byte Magazine at Ball State University

The Year in Review: Byte’s top-reviewed albums of 2018

by Jack Gillespie, Brandon Carson, Blake Chapman, Baylie Clevenger, Olivia Weinzapfel

This past year proved to be one of redefinition for many artists. There was a certain trend of bands and individuals across all genres releasing new albums with a revamped sound, usually leaning more towards synthetic and contemporary vibes. In some cases, these experiments were a great success, but others couldn’t quite produce anything revolutionary. Some of these ventures into unknown territory unveiled only mediocrity, which is best exemplified with Mumford & Sons’ release of Delta and Arctic Monkeys with Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

Other artists were more successful in reinventing themselves and their respective genres. In the realm of indie music, Houndmouth transformed from an indie blues rock band to new wave alternative on their record Golden Age. On the poppier side of indie music, Borns released his second studio album, Blue Madonna, which includes a wide array of instruments and is tastefully unique from start to finish. Both of these albums serve as extraordinary feats in originality. They go underrated but they truly speak for the progressive movement in creativity for the music industry this year. Artists new and old went beyond limitations within their genres, and these new beautifully refined styles are featured in many of our top-rated albums of the year.

Noname - Room 25

Image from DJBooth

by Jack Gillespie

Of all of the amazing albums that came out this year, very few records make the listening feel as if they are having a face-to-face conversation with the creator as much as Noname’s Room 25. On almost every track, from the short but sweet into, “Self,” or the in-depth, personal look into why Noname is “Noname” on the closer, the listener gets a look at many angles of the personality and mindset of the artist, Fatimah Nyeema Warner. Fit that to immaculately performed and mixed instrumentals and a lusher sound, and Room 25 is a worthy studio album debut after fans saw the immense potential Noname showed on her 2016 mixtape, Telefone.

Click here to read our original review of Room 25

Guerilla Toss - Twisted Crystal

Image from Bandcamp

by Brandon Carson

Twisted Crystal from Guerilla Toss continues to be one of the most original albums of the year. Every song stands on its own and can be listened to countless times while always finding something new in the mix. The album never loses its groove through countless listens and continues to be entertaining and interesting. Guerilla Toss left fans wanting for more with this release.

Click here to read our original review of Twisted Crystal

Joji - Ballads 1

Image from The Gateway

by Blake Chapman

After the release of the fantastic Ballads 1 in October, the only limit Joji can break now seems to be the sky. Even though this was his first attempt at a studio album in his somewhat short musical career, the whole project sounds closer to a veteran than a newcomer. The unexpected instrumentation and experimental portions of different tracks do an amazing effort at making the whole LP sound unique. Not only that, but the lyrical genius Joji weaves into what seems to be every song make an impact on any audience. This impact on the heart and soul is the centerpiece of Ballads 1. Joji’s commitment to his craft allows anyone who listens to his music, fan or not, to flaunt their deepest emotions through the most personal examples you can imagine.

Click here to read our original review of Ballads 1

Lauren Sanderson - Don’t Panic

Image from Billboard

by Baylie Clevenger

At the end of August, Indiana native Lauren Sanderson released her 4th EP titled Don’t Panic. It is still a stellar EP and one of my favorites to this day. All of the songs ended up on my Spotify top 100 playlist for 2018. In my book, it will always live up to the 9.5 rating I gave it when it came out, and it is some of her most solid work in the way of both lyrics and beats.

Click here to read our original review of Don’t Panic

MGMT - Little Dark Age

Image from American Songwriter

by Olivia Weinzapfel

After their self-titled third studio album, which was short of a huge success, MGMT’s fanbase wasn’t expecting the band’s career to continue on anywhere fast. With the members growing older and struggling to connect to their young fans with the same influence, it was almost as if their regime was slowing down. However their latest album release, Little Dark Age, proved to be one of the biggest comebacks of the year in the realm of psychedelic indie pop music. Little Dark Age is distinguished as their weirdest album to date, which is a statement regarding the fact that MGMT is notorious for eccentric hooks and wonderfully offbeat vibrations. This album showcases experimental melodies, which are paired with satirical, yet personal lyricism and themes. These aspects come together to make a rhythmically well-rounded, invigorating album that truly stands out among all others.

Click here to read our original review of ‘Little Dark Age’

Images: DJBooth, The Gateway, Bandcamp, Billboard, American Songwriter

Featured image: Tt Shinkan