Now that 2019 is upon us, it’s time for our annual tradition of taking a look back at some of our favorite releases over the past year. Overall, it was a pretty solid year for many genres, especially rock. With a handful of major releases, and a lot of surprises, it was definitely a good year for both heavy hitters in rock, and DIY fusion artist.
Along with our winners in various categories, you will also find our top 20 list as well. With albums and EPs we feel belong in the upper tier of releases for 2018. You can listen to some selections of all the artist that appear on Folk N’ Rocks list by visiting our “Best of 2018” Spotify playlist here
Album of the Year: Andrew W.K. – You’re Not Alone
Not only did the king of partying and cult icon Andrew W.K. drop one of the best albums of the year, it was also one of the most needed. Especially given the current political climate. The album is a mix of fun and energetic tracks with some ballads thrown in, and also features several brief motivational spoken word tracks from Andrew. On “You’re Not Alone,” Andrew set out to revisit his signature blend of extreme music, alternative rock, and pop, relying on pleasant orchestral arrangements and gigantic production aesthetics with a pristine, modern feel. A must have for any fan of rock, metal, and partying.
Best Debut Album: Northward – Northward
When we first heard about the new project from Floor Jansen and Jørn Viggo Lofstad, we were immediately intrigued. Seeing as they’re both fantastic musicians, we had set our expectations for this release to the moon. What was delivered to us, was VY Canis Majoris. This record has exceeded our already high expectations and became one of our favorite releases of the year. You’re definitely going to want to pick up this album, as well as keep a close eye on what their future plans are.
Best Rock Album: Halestorm – Vicious
As we had mentioned, rock definitely had an interesting year with a lot of solid releases, but selecting Vicious was pretty much a no-brainer. This feels like a multifaceted album for Halestorm, and what very well could be their best release to date in an already superb discography. The album is filled with catchy, and powerful songs, and a lot of variety for both old and new fans, as well as fans of hard rock and even metal. Actually, this is a record that could even fit in well on Folk N’ Metals top list.
Best Folk Punk Album: Frank Turner – Be More Kind
Again, this is another release which seems the world needed in 2018 given the ever-growing political division. This is still the same Frank Turner we all know and love, but with a slightly different approach and his sound. It has a great message, with a lot of tracks that will be seeing your repeat button quite often.
Best Punk Album: The Interrupters – Fight The Good Fight
The Los Angeles-based ska acts has easily made our list for the best punk release of 2018 with “Fight the Good Fight.” The record was released on June 29 and is loaded with catchy songs from start to finish. Six months later and it’s still getting some daily spins with a sound that continues to grow on us, and still giving off that feeling of a fresh release.
Best Celtic Album: Auri – Auri
Not only has Nightwish had an amazing year with a great compilation release and one of the most epic world tour we’ve seen, but several members have given us a couple top-notch side projects. Auri, featuring Tuomas Holopainen, Troy Donockley, and along with
Finnish singer Johanna Kurkela, is one of those projects. The band self-titled debut is a perfect mix of Celtic sounds with a variety of other influences. This was a release that caught us off guard and was one of the years “pleasant surprises,” as it was not at all what we were expecting.
Best Folk Album: The Trials of Cato – Hide and Hair
It seems that this is the year debut albums are taking over our top list. Hide and Hair by trio Tomos Williams, Will Addison, and Robin Jones is one of the most exciting releases in folk this year. The album has a wide range of influences. It features one of the best instrumentals we’ve heard all year, with some of your everyday garden-variety toetapping folk song, and then a track that hits you with a punk rock vibe. Actually, I I think up folk punk album from these guys would be pretty interesting. Either way, we’ve got a sneaking suspicion this is going to be an act that makes some noise on a number of scenes.
Best Celtic Punk Album: Firkin – We Are The Ones
Hungarian Celtic punk collective, Firkin, put out a monster of an album this year in “We Are The Ones.” although overall Celtic punk had a fantastic year and this category was by far the most difficult choice for us, “We Are The Ones” would rack up the most spins and Spotify hours from us. It’s a very accomplish record, that you will enjoy whether you are a discerning Celtic Punk fan, or a casual music listener looking for something new and fun.
Best EP: Heathen Apostles – The Fall
We’ve heard a lot of EP’s in 2018, but the one that really made us do a double take, followed up with an endless amount of takes, was the EP from Gothic Americana band Heathen Apostles, in the release “The Fall.” The dark and haunting tones sets a mood that suits the lyrics and while s display an inner sense of melancholia, it is far from being sad and depressive music. It’s a release that you need to check out, and if you’re not already familiar with their band, you’ll also want to be taking a look at their entire discography.
Best Blues Or Roots Album: The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Poor Until Payday
I don’t think it’s possible to be disappointed by anything the Rev. puts out. The bands latest album is a collection of old school blues and roots that’s filled to the brim with high energy. You can still rock out, while feeling the emotion on even some of the more somber song. It’s kind of amazing how they consistently put out records with unskippable tracks. An absolute must have for any blues, country or roots fan.
Best Folk Rock Album: mmhmm- mmhmm
Though they can certainly fit into more than just one category ( Americana, Country Rock, Pop,) we feel as though mmhmm’s self-titled debut, is the best folk rock album that we’ve heard this year. Hannah and Raelyn both have an established history as great musicians, and when they came together, they put out something that wasn’t your average Nashville record. The songs are meaningful, yet don’t always take themselves too seriously. It seems like they were having a lot of fun with this project, and that shows through the music, which of course can also make for some great albums.
Folk N’ Rocks Top 20 Albums of 2018
Here is our list of 20 more albums that we felt were some of the best releases of 2018. We strongly recommend checking out them out. (Albums are listed in no particular order)