WICK’S PICKS: Best Albums of 2018

By Matt Wickstrom

LEXINGTON, Ky. — With 2018 nearly in the books, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in music with Wick’s Picks best albums of the year. While the albums below range from Americana to country, southern soul and indie rock, each artist/band performed in Kentucky, namely Lexington, in the past year, with shows coming to The Burl, Best Friend Bar, Manchester Music Hall, Rupp Arena, CD Central and Forecastle Festival, among others.

View all of Wick’s Picks top ten albums of 2018 below, listed in alphabetical order.


The Bottle Rockets “Bit Logic”

The Bottle Rockets trade in their punk and rock infused undertones for a distinctly outlaw country vibe on Bit Logic, keeping the group’s signature matter-of-fact songwriting intact as they once again team up with producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel. Listen to: “Bit Logic,” “Bad Time to be an Outlaw,” “Human Perfection,” “Stovall’s Grove”

Pearl Charles “Sleepless Dreamer”

Rising songbird Pearl Charles wows with this sophomore effort. With a unique blend of soul, pop, rock and sometimes funk, Sleepless Dreamer tells stories of empowerment and past mistakes without an ounce of regret. Listen to: “Beginner’s Luck,” “Sleepless Dreamer,” “Night Tides,” “Blue-Eyed Angel”

Brent Cobb “Providence Canyon”

Songwriter extraordinaire Brent Cobb returns with this follow-up to 2016’s Shine on Rainy Day. Produced by arguably the most sought-after producer in Nashville (and Cobb’s cousin), Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton), this latest effort Providence Canyon features more of his signature storytelling along with a collection of guitar and instrumental riffs that continually top themselves. Listen to: “King of Alabama,” “Sucker for a Good Time,” “If I Don’t See Ya.” “.30-06”

Nick Dittmeier & The Sawdusters “All Damn Day”

Nick Dittmeier follows up 2016’s Midwest Heart / Southern Blues with a new backing band on the much anticipated All Damn Day. While his band has changed, Dittmeier’s authentic, blue-collar songwriting remains as he tells stories of a historic 1937 flood that ravaged Louisville and Southern Indiana (“City of God”) and about how problems, such as difficulty paying the bills, can pile up on themselves (“Trouble Song”), among others. Listen to: “Walking on Water,” “Head to Rest,” “City of God,” “Trouble Song”

Anderson East “Encore”

With commanding and versatile vocals soaked in a mix of R&B, soul and Southern rock, Anderson East captivates on Encore. Listen to: “King for a Day,” “Girlfriend,” “Surrender,” “All My Mind”

Father John Misty “God’s Favorite Customer”

Father John Misty wows again on God’s Favorite Customer, the fourth studio album under the songwriter’s current moniker (he previously put out a handful of albums as J. Tillman and performed with the band Fleet Foxes as well). The album brims with eclectic songwriting and musical arrangements, even featuring a whistling solo on the song “Mr. Tillman,” a nod to the songwriter’s given name. Listen to: “Hangout at the Gallows,” “Mr. Tillman,” “Date Night,” “The Songwriter”

Horse Feathers “Appreciation”

Frontman Justin Ringle enlists the talents of Lexington’s own J. Tom Hnatow and Robby Cosenza on Horse Feathers’ latest effort, Appreciation, an upbeat concoction of soothing indie rock. The album, produced between Lexington’s Shangri-la Productions (Duane Lundy) and Louisville’s La La Land, also includes appearances from Joslyn Hampton of Joslyn & The Sweet Compression, Lee Carroll and Chris Dennison. Listen to: “Without Applause,” “Best to Leave,” “Broken Beak,” “The Hex”

Mt. Joy “Mt. Joy”

Introduced to many in Lexington when they opened for Neko Case at Manchester Music hall last January, Mt. Joy deliver an impressive debut, alternating subtle jams with songs featuring catchy lyrics that’ll quickly get stuck in your head. The end result is a pop-rock collection chock full of soulful harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and excellent musicianship that render it perfect for radio soundscape. Listen to: “Bigfoot,” “Sheep,” “Julia,” “Astrovan”

River Whyless “Kindness, A Rebel”

The Asheville, North Carolina, foursome continue their ongoing journey of experimental indie folk expression with Kindness, A Rebel. Taking the spotlight on the record are the angelic vocals of guitarist Ryan O’Keefe and timely fiddle jams from Halli Anderson. Listen to: “Born in the Right Country,” “Motel 6,” “New Beliefs,” “Darkness in Mind”

Wayne Graham “Joy”

The Eastern Kentucky group led by brothers Kenny and Hayden Miles have done it again, conjuring up a magical blend of honky-tonk and psychedelia that falls in the realm between Dire Straits and The Grateful Dead. Joy! is the group’s second release on the Dresden, Germany-based label Home Caravan. Listen to: “On My Thone,” “Joy,” “Two Blade Razor,” “Wishbone”


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