Jake’s Take’s Favorite Albums of 2018 So Far (January to June 2018)

Jake's Take Bitmoji

Here are some of my favorite albums from the first six months of 2018. (Bitmoji property of Jake’s Take)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

2018 has been an interesting year for music.

Several artists made impeccable comebacks, while other artists dropped surprise albums. There are ten albums that stood out to me so far this year.   This mixture features a combination of new artists and veterans that represent several different musical genres such as alternative, country, hip-hop/rap, pop, and R&B/soul.


Leaving Thomas album

(Album cover property of MDM Recordings, Inc.)

#10-Leaving Thomas by Leaving Thomas

One of country music’s hottest duos kicks off our countdown. Calgary, Canada natives Annika Odegard and Bryton Udy released their band’s self-titled debut album.  Leaving Thomas brilliantly blends pop, soul, R&B, and country music that creates memorable songs. Odegard’s vocals are sweet as honey, while Udy’s impeccable guitar licks are some of the best that I have heard so far this year. I genuinely believe that this duo is something special and they could be this year’s breakout country music group.

Key tracks: “Waiting Kind of Girl,” “Blame It on the Neon,” “Shame on Me,” & “Best Adventure.”


Florence + The Machine High as Hope

(Cover property of Virgin EMI & Universal Music Group)

#9-High as Hope by Florence + The Machine

One of England’s hottest alternative bands is coming in at number nine! The group teamed up with producers Emile Haynie and Brett Shaw to craft 10 superb tracks that made their fans.  Florence Welch continues to showcase her innate ability to be one of her generation’s best singer-songwriters. Fans will connect with her throughout the album, and siren-like vocals continue to hypnotize listeners. High As Hope cements Florence + the Machine as one of the best alternative rock bands to come out of the 2010s.

Key tracks: “Hunger,” “South London Forever,” “Big God,” & “Patricia.”


Dan + Shay album cover

(Album cover property of Warner Music Nashville)

#8-Dan + Shay by Dan + Shay

Dynamic duo Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney continue to take the country music scene by storm. The duo’s self-titled third studio album showcased why both Smyers and Mooney are two of country music’s most talented songwriters and vocalists. Their sound continues to grow with impeccable songs such as “Tequila” and “All to Myself,” and I truly predict that “Keeping Score,” their duet with Kelly Clarkson might be one of 2018’s best collaborations. Dan + Shay is a splendid treat to the ears and shows that Dan + Shay have a bright future as cornerstones to the millennial generation of country music artists.

Key tracks: “Alone Together,” “Tequila,” “All to Myself,” & “Keeping Score.”


Charlie Puth Voicenotes

(Cover property of Warner Music Group and Artist Partner Group)


#7-Voicenotes by Charlie Puth

Charlie Puth’s sophomore album, Voicenotes, was finally released! The “We Don’t Talk Anymore” singer-songwriter went above and beyond with his latest record. He co-wrote the entire album and even produced it as well.  Puth crafted some of the tunes with impeccable collaborators such as Jacob Kasher Hindlin, Hall & Oates, Ross Golan, DJ Frank E, Rami Yacoub, and Savan Kotecha.  Also, he delivered outstanding collaborations with Kehlani (“Done For Me”), James Taylor (“Change”), and Boyz II Men (“If You Leave Me Now”).  Voicenotes is a strong album that creates several potential singles and sets Puth up for a new chapter in his career.

Key tracks: “The Way I Am,” “Done For Me,” “Change,” & “Attention.”


Peter Hollens Legendary Folk Songs

(Album cover property of One Voice Productions)

#6- Legendary Folk Songs by Peter Hollens

A friend of the blog and a cappella artist extraordinaire Peter Hollens released a brand-new cover album that tackled some of the greatest folk songs of all-time. Peter continues to showcase why he one of the best arrangers of his generation as he delivers masterclass renditions of excellent tracks such as “House of the Rising Sun,” “Danny Boy,” and “The Parting Glass.” Also, Peter recruited an extraordinary group of collaborators David Archuleta, Tim Foust, The Hound + The Fox, and Home Free.  Legendary Folk Songs is a fantastic album that will introduce a new generation to these timeless classics.

Key tracks: “The House of the Rising Sun,” “Loch Lomond,” “The Parting Glass,” & “Amazing Grace.”


(Album cover property of Clark Beckham)

#5- Year One EP by Clark Beckham

Good things come to those who wait. Three years after Clark Beckham made it to the American Idol’s Season 14 finale, he released his first five-song EP. This five-song mixtape showcases Clark at his finest as a singer-songwriter. The songs are stunning including “I Need,” a spectacular five-minute song that features members of John Mayer’s band: drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Pino Palladino, and guitarist Isaiah Sharkey.  This EP is a vocal master class performance that music aficionados should add to their music library!

Key tracks: “Must Be Hard Being You,” “I Need,” “Sleep,” & “James and Natalie.”


Black Panther The Album

(Album cover property of Aftermath, Interscope, and Top Dawg Entertainment)

#4-Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar & Various Artists

Soundtrack albums have been hit or miss. However, I believe that Top Dawg, Aftermath, and Interscope Records made the right move by handing this album over to Kendrick Lamar.  The Grammy-winning rapper was the album’s co-executive producer and had other responsibilities such as crafting the tracks and performing on the album. Black Panther: the Album featured impeccable collaborations from Lamar as he teamed up with SZA (“All the Stars”), Jay Rock, Future, and James Blake (“King’s Dead”), and The Weeknd (“Pray for Me”).

Key tracks: “All the Stars,” “The Ways,” “King’s Dead,” & “Pray for Me.”


Janelle Monae Dirty Computer

(Album cover property of Bad Boy Records LLC)

#3-Dirty Computer by Janelle Monae

My fellow Kansas City native, Janelle Monae, released the best R&B/Soul album of the year. Dirty Computer features 14 unbelievable tracks that highlight Ms. Monae’s impeccable artistry.  The Hidden Figures actress co-wrote all of the tracks with a perfect group of producers and songwriters such as the supergroup of Justin Tranter, Julia Michaels, and Mattman & Robin (“Make Me Feel”), Pharrell Williams (“I Got the Juice”), and Organized Noise (“I Like That”).  Also, keep an ear out for Williams, Grimes, Zoe Kravitz, and the legendary Brian Wilson as they are featured throughout the album. I predict that Dirty Computer could be a definite contender award shows such as the Grammys and the American Music Awards.

Key tracks: “Crazy, Classic, Life,” “Django Jane,” “Make Me Feel,” “I Got The Juice,” & “I Like That.”


The Carters Everything Is Love

(Album cover property of S.C. Enterprises, Roc Nation LLC, Parkwood Entertainment LLC, & Sony Music Entertainment)

#2-EVERYTHING IS LOVE by The Carters

Over the past two years, Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles-Carter’s personal life flooded the tabloid headlines, and the drama reached both 2016’s Lemonade and 2017’s 4:44.  EVERYTHING IS LOVE is The Carters’ first joint album together. The album features explosive beats from the “Empire State of Mind” rapper and superb vocals from the “Daddy’s Lessons” singer. With the production help of Pharrell Williams and Cool & Dre plus the surprise album drop, it set the dynamic duo up for award nominations and end of year gold.

Key tracks: “Apes**t,” “Boss,” “713,” “Friends,” “Heard About Us,” & “Lovehappy.”


Christina Aguilera Liberation

(Album cover of Sony Music Entertainment)

#1-Liberation by Christina Aguilera

Liberation is probably one of 2018’s best albums. Many Christina Aguilera fans have waited six years for a new studio album from the former Voice coach. While it did not feature tracks from regular Xtina collaborators such as Sia Furler and Linda Perry, Liberation has an all-star group of producers and songwriters such as Kanye West, Anderson. Paak, Mike Dean, Julia Michaels, Ricky Reed, and Teddy Geiger.  Tracks such as “Maria,” “Twice,” and “Unless It’s with You” are some of her best pieces of vocal work this decade. Also, keep an ear out for Demi Lovato, Ty Dolla $ign, 2 Chainz, and GoldLink, who make cameo appearances throughout the album.

Key tracks: “Maria,” “Fall in Line,” “Like I Do,” “Twice,” “Accelerate,” & “Unless It’s with You.”

What were your favorite albums of 2018 that were released so far?

I do not own any of the clips that are featured throughout this article. They belong to the artists and their respective record labels.


Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar