2018 Staff Picks: Music

By Skokie Staff Bibliocommons Adult Services

Our expert staff take a look back at the year and share their favorite titles.

  • 7

    2018 by Beach House (Musical group)

    Ethereal, at times downright melancholy, and others full-on effervescent, I loved playing this album on a long drive and marveling at the way it enticed me to run away with whatever visions they had. The layered sounds and the ever wistful burn of Victoria Legrande's voice are not to be missed. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • Girl Going Nowhere

    2018 by McBryde, Ashley

    In late October, I had the pleasure of seeing Ashley McBryde in concert. Her live show cemented in my mind that this is the best country album of 2018. From the autobiographical titular song (which should be the theme song for anyone who has been told they weren't good enough) to a feisty song to an ex, "Tired of being Happy," ("if you ever get tired of bein' happy/give me a call/I've never wrecked a home, but don't put it past me") to the haunting "Southern Babylon", her debut album is as self-assured, rebellious, and country as she is. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Black Coffee

    2018 by Hart, Beth

    The soul-delight vocals of Beth Hart and the rhythmic pyrotechnics of Joe Bonamassa make for a dynamite duo captured perfectly on this CD released in early January of 2018. Their renditions of Edgar Winter's, "Give it Everything You Got," Etta James', "Damn Your Eyes," and Ike & Tina Turner's, "Black Coffee" take on new shapes and interpretations—all rousing and delicious. Recommended by Mary.

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  • The Mountain

    2018 by Bentley, Dierks

    While he has found greater commercial success with fun party songs like Drunk on a Plane, Dierks has not been afraid to stick to traditional country sounds and songs. As someone who loves country music but hates a lot of the current male country stars, Dierks for me is a fresh breath of mountain air. Since it has come out, I find myself listening to this one on repeat, enjoying the mix of country, bluegrass, rock, and love songs. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Head Over Heels


    Chromeo may not be the most revolutionary sounding band but their funk, disco, R&B mashup is so fun and hearkens back to early '90s hip hop. There's even a shout out from DJ Quik! Recommended by Kathy.

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  • Port Saint Joe

    2018 by Brothers Osborne (Musical group)

    Outlaw country at its very best, the Brothers Osbourne push the envelope with each new CD they put out—the first single released to radio was a 6-minute song filled with an extended guitar solo by John. I enjoy their smart, funny, and sensitive lyrics along with brother T.J.'s deep baritone voice. I've been glad to see this duo win awards and think this album will win them many more. Recommended by Lynnanne.

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  • Ruins

    2018 by First Aid Kit (Musical group)

    This latest album from Swedish indie folk sister duo has lovely tandem vocals and affecting lyrics that are often sad; however, in a good way. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • The Now Now

    2018 by Gorillaz (Musical group)

    Gorillaz newest album is so cool that even I, who am categorically not cool, feel super cool when listening to it. Recommended by Kathy.

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  • Dirty Computer

    2018 by Monáe, Janelle

    Rhythmic, joyful, defiant, artful, suggestive. It's an album that will get you talking visibility politics with your friends or dancing—or maybe both. Recommended by Megan.

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  • Heaven and Earth

    2018 by Washington, Kamasi

    What a talent! This album combines the genius of Coltrane, Davis, and other "traditionalists" with the modernity of today's contemporary jazz influences to bring one outstanding recording. Recommended by Mary.

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  • Kids See Ghosts

    2018 by Kids See Ghosts (Musical group)

    A long-awaited collaboration between two of the most influential artists of modern hip hop. This is Ye at his production best and Cudi at his psychedelic best. I feel these artists have amazing chemistry, where the whole is more than the sum of its parts. And that’s saying a lot. Recommended by Miguel.

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  • Golden Hour

    2018 by Musgraves, Kacey

    I love this country, genre-bending work. It is captivating, thoughtful, and refreshing. Kudos to Kacey! Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Free Yourself up

    2018 by Lake Street Dive (Musical group)

    A bluesy pop/rock CD that I have come back to listen to several times since its release. Lead singer Rachel Price is awesome, her performance enhanced by the wonderful bandmates, great production, and energetic compositions. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • Double Negative

    2018 by Low (Musical group)

    This is an album to sit with over time. Each new listen unveils new sounds, new aspects that I missed on my first, second, or third listen. Quiet and noisy at the same time, I'm so thankful for Low's continued brilliance. Recommended by Leah.

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  • Magic Ship

    2018 by Mountain Man (Musical group)

    This quiet indie folk album is my perfect background music for a slow Sunday. Considering this is the trio's first album in eight years, I had high expectations and they absolutely met them. Often sung a capella, this album celebrates the female voice and its ability to be quietly powerful. Recommended by Leah.

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  • Hell-on

    2018 by Case, Neko

    I am always super excited when former Chicagoan, Neko Case, releases a new album. Hell-on is poetic, gut-wrenching, folk-noir, political, pretty, and I've been happily listening to on a repeat. Hell-on is beautiful and angry and everything I want to listen to when I'm driving in my car with the windows rolled down. For fans of k.d. Lang, Aimee Man, Mazzy Star. Recommended by Leah and Megan.

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  • C'est La Vie

    2018 by Phosphorescent

    As a new parent, this album strikes such a chord with me. This is Matthew Houck's first album since having a child and every song and beat is impacted by this major life change. Songs like My Beautiful Boy and New Birth in New England standout but the album as a whole is a must-listen for the year. Recommended by Leah.

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  • Daytona

    2018 by Pusha T.

    Irreverent and deadly serious at the same time, with a wicked flow and a rap beef backstory that's surprisingly made it through a few news cycles, this album by Pusha-T is filled with barbs and grim tales of life on the edges. I kept listening to this again and again on my headphones like a fool—a sign of its excellent production. Recommended by Mimosa.

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  • The Royal Wedding: The Official Album


    Brilliant selections for the Royal Wedding of Meghan and Harry. It's great to relive the moment through the music but the music has inspired and uplifted us for centuries. The selections reflect the couple's sensitivity to lost family members, the heritage of the Crown, and the depth of the British spirit. Truly memorable. And best of all, the singers of the Kingdom Choir, who performed “Stand By Me” at the wedding have a new album, and they’re going on tour. Recommended by Mary.

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  • Black Panther: The Album : Music From and Inspired by


    This is my favorite soundtrack of all time. Perhaps because it’s not so much a soundtrack as a stand-alone album produced by one of the most talented hip hop artists of all time. Although it’s not avant-garde by K Dot standards, it’s vibrant, lively, and blends pop and some serious bars ever so smoothly. Recommended by Miguel.

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  • Little Dark Age

    2018 by MGMT (Musical group)

    MGMT's refreshing return to alt.pop after their foray into experimentation. The album brings back the sweet hooks and electronic beats reminiscent of Kids or Electric Feel, with a strong dose of the classic MGMT psychedelic vibe. Recommended by Miguel.

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