Best Albums of 2018
selected by Ian Urrutia

RH Xanders “Questioning Answers, Answering Questions”

RH Xanders “Questioning Answers, Answering Questions”

It’s been years since we had a hip-hop release that honors the traditions of the genre while redefining the form with one’s own brand of nuanced production and compelling lyricism. “Questioning Answers…” is a confident work of a street poet trying to find meaning in the mundane. It’s Rich Grinner’s best release yet — an album that deserves to be recognized for its wisdom and vulnerability.

♪♫ Listen: “Crazy” + album stream

RH Xanders on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Tide/edit <BR> “All My Friends”

“All My Friends”

For the most part, “All My Friends” is a fascinating update of tide/edit’s mathy instrumental sound. It’s more sophisticated in terms of delivery, more open in exploring the introspective side of music-making. And at the heart of it is a newfound subtlety that tends to appeal with their brand.

♪♫ Listen: “Twelve” + album stream

Tide/edit on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, www.

Pamcy <BR> “Deep Sea Pearls” EP

“Deep Sea Pearls” EP

On “Deep Sea Pearls”, Pamcy brings the party straight from her bedroom. She concocts lo-fi house music for indie kids on headphones, subverting the concept of earworm through and through with moody soundscapes and sparse beats.

♪♫ Listen: “No Way” + album stream

Pamcy on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify.

Unique  <BR> “Grandma”


It’s remarkable to witness artists arrive fully-formed with a debut record that’s strong enough to cause ripple. Unique’s “Grandma” stands out as a gripping statement that represents this generation’s voice. Socially aware, eloquently conceived, and sonically diverse, this record is capable of commanding the spotlight.

♪♫ Listen: “Sino” + album stream

Unique on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Narcloudia <BR> “Day-Blind Stars”

“Day-Blind Stars”

“Day-Blind Stars” plunges into the unknown with songs that are built for introspection. Stripped out of its restrictions, it’s a sonically rich record whose melodies evoke melancholic lullabies and sleepless nights, and whose words carry a brooding quality that touches upon haze and blur.

♪♫ Listen: “Tracy” + album stream

Narcloudia on Facebook, Instagram, www.

Kemikal Ali x Arbie Won <BR> “Bukas Uulan Ng Mga Bara”

Kemikal Ali x Arbie Won
“Bukas Uulan Ng Mga Bara”

On “Bukas Uulan Ng Mga Bara”, two of Filipino hip-hop’s most brilliant forces work together on a 15-track album that’s philosophical and introspective in nature, but wildly entertaining in essence. It’s interesting to see where this collaboration goes next. For now, this record lays out the instant thrill to get you through the bad times, and we hope to hear more from this unlikely team up.

♪♫ Listen: “Palong Palo

Kemikal Ali on Facebook. Arbie Won on Facebook.

Outerhope <BR> “Vacation”


“Vacation” is a collection of dreamy, electronic pop tunes that produce as much melancholy as joy. Outerhope is still in top form, three albums and an EP after.

♪♫ Listen: “Holiday” + album stream

Outerhope on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Nights of Rizal <BR>“summer/salt”

Nights of Rizal

Introverted club music that promises listeners of a soulful cleanse. Somewhere between Robyn’s emotive dance-pop cuts and UK Garage’s percussive rhythms is a banging release that doesn’t stray far from the dominant sounds of our time.

♪♫ Listen: “Keep Moving” + album stream

Nights of Rizal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Bullet Dumas <BR> “Usisa”

Bullet Dumas

It’s true that we’ve come to expect uncompromised vision of artistry from Bullet Dumas. From the start, the acclaimed singer-songwriter has challenged the way we listen to music, writing songs that transcend form and meaning.

“Usisa” exceeds our expectations with a compelling balance of grandeur and intimate moments. It’s an album that channels the complicated uneasiness, danger, and provocative nature of Bullet’s musicality, but reveals layers of emotional truths that masterfully process stories of ache, longing and loneliness as it is, in captivating disarray.

Do yourselves a favor and listen to this opus. Trust me, it’s worth a shot.

♪♫ Listen: “Umpisa” + album stream

Bullet Dumas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify.

The Ringmaster <BR> “Viletin”

The Ringmaster

You could make case of The Ringmaster’s latest record as a masterwork that candidly sings of lost love and betrayal, assertive enough in presenting horrid facts of human life.

In another sense, “Viletin” conjures some alternate universe where great music is capable of making you feel emotionally uncomfortable, and it’s easy to accept why: it’s messy and complicated like the lives we navigate on a daily basis. It lingers long even as the sentiments end.

Whatever your interpretation of the album is, it’s a kind of record that you’ll love more with every listen. It sticks, and puts your nerves on edge.

♪♫ Listen: “Toska” + album stream

The Ringmaster on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify.