The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll is usually the most accurate annual gauge of the music-critic hive mind, and if there was a prevalent trend in 2018, it was the dominance of women. For the first time ever in the paper's 45th (or 46th) edition of the poll, women occupied the first five spots in the albums top 10, with Kacey Musgraves's Golden Hour at #1 and Janell Monáe's Dirty Computer at #2. Childish Gambino's "This Is America" topped the online paper's singles chart, whose top 10 includes releases by Musgraves, Monáe Cardi B, Ariana Grande, Robyn, Mitski, and SZA (with Kendrick Lamar). Those "future is female" predictions have come to pass.
Some impressive showings in the album voting among stuff that I like: Low's Double Negative (Sub Pop) at #8; Kamasi Washington's Heaven and Earth at #21; Makaya McCraven's Universal Beings at #22; Earl Sweatshirt's Some Rap Songs at #32; Sophie's Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides at #33; Sons of Kemet's Your Queen Is a Reptile at #36; Harriet Tubman's The Terror End of Beauty at #61.
If you're looking for another trend in 2018, it seems that there have never been so many jazz LPs in the Pazz & Jop top 100 in years—an encouraging sign that people are starting to absorb and appreciate music outside of the rock/pop/rap/R&B hegemony. As for artists with Seattle connections, Brandi Carlile (#33), Father John Misty (#40), Car Seat Headrest (#75), and Damien Jurado (#81) made appearances.
Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour
Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
(tie) Cardi B, Invasion of Privacy
(tie) Mitski, Be the Cowboy
Pusha T, Daytona
Noname, Room 25
Low, Double Negative
Parquet Courts, Wide Awaaaaaake!
Lucy Dacus, Historian
Childish Gambino, “This Is America”
(tie) Cardi B feat. Bad Bunny and J Balvin, “I Like It”
Janelle Monáe, “Make Me Feel”
Ariana Grande, “Thank U, Next”
Kacey Musgraves, “High Horse”
Kendrick Lamar with SZA, “All the Stars”
(tie) Drake, “Nice for What”
(tie) The 1975, “Love It If We Made It”
As usual, though, I feel out of sync with my colleagues (nearly 400 this year, a steep drop from P&J's peak years when over 1,000 critics participated), as the ballot I submitted attests [see below]. None of my picks cracked the top 100 albums or top 50 singles lists. And that's... okay. It takes all kinds of critics to make the world go 'round (the bend).
01 Yoshinori Hayashi, Ambivalence (Smalltown Supersound)
02 Khalab, Black Noise 2084 (On the Corner)
03 Panchasila, Panchasila (Discrepant)
04 Jon Hassell, Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) (Ndeya)
05 Demdike Stare, Passion (Modern Love)
06 Donato Dozzy, Filo Loves the Acid/Tresor
07 SHXCXCHCXSH, OUFOUFOF (Rösten)
08 Zomes, The First Stone (Near Unison)
09 Cruel Diagonals, Disambiguation (Drawing Room)
10 Booker Stardrum, Temporary etc. (NNA Tapes)
Brian Eno/Kevin Shields, "Only Once Away My Son" (Opal)
Daniel Bachman, "Invocation" (Three Lobed)
Obnox, "War Guitar" (Monofonus Press/Astral Spirits)
Daniel Avery, "Diminuendo" (Mute)
Arp, "Moving Target" (Mexican Summer)
Émanton, "Circleofliez" (Transfusions)
LEYA, "Sister" (NNA Tapes)
Cavern Of Anti-Matter, "Make Out Fade Out" (Duophonic)
Heather Leigh, "Prelude to Goddess" (Editions Mego)
Prostitutes, "Errant Seagull" (Night School)