Welcome to Substream Magazine’s Favorite Albums of 2018 lists! That’s right, “lists” as in more than one. We don’t think just one list is enough to do either our team or all the great music that came out this year justice. Each person who writes for Substream has their own unique tastes, interests, and ideas about what makes an album shine. It’s what makes our coverage and our team so special. In order to showcase that wide range of writing talent and taste, we let each member of the Substream team come up with their own Top 10 list. We asked everyone to go deep on their favorite album of the year to present alongside their full list. Throughout the week you’ll read about releases across all genres, and see how each member of the Substream family saw the year in music. We hope this coverage compels you to revisit your favorite releases from 2018 or listen to albums you may have missed. Without further ado, we present Substream Magazine’s Favorite Albums of 2018.
Staff Writer Molly Hudelson’s Favorite Album: San Holo – album1
I never feel like I have to “choose” my album of the year; the top spot almost always comes naturally to me. However, I will say that it may come as a surprise to my former self that my favorite album of 2018 is an electronic one. I never had much of an interest in EDM until a year and a half ago because I never knew it could make me feel anything, but my journey into electronic music has taught me just how much it’s capable of making me feel. In a way it caught me off guard that San Holo’s album1 hit me so hard, because I didn’t expect it to, but maybe that’s what makes it so beautiful.
All of the collaborations on album1 were recorded in-person at an Airbnb in Los Angeles’s Echo Park (“vestal avenue” takes its name from the address), which makes it feel incredibly human. In some senses, album1 will take you on an emotional journey from start to finish, but rather than forcing a certain emotion at any point, it feels incredibly cathartic. Whether you’ve been busy with school or work, stressed out by family troubles, or overwhelmed by whatever difficult life circumstances you’re facing at the moment, what we all crave in those moments is a relief. That doesn’t mean to forget about what’s troubling us, but to let it all out – to scream, to cry, to shout, to do whatever we need to do to get our emotions out in to the open. album1 will gently guide you along in letting it all out.
I grew up listening to rock and alternative music, and felt like dance music would be too abrasive, too harsh, too unwelcoming to ever make sense to me. With album1, San Holo has created a sound that feels soft in its gentleness, and while the lyrics really aren’t central here, the themes – wanting to be free and explore what’s out there (“show me”), wondering if you’re enough for someone (“worthy”), trying to figure out what love really is and means (“love (wip)”) – are ones that are universally relatable. You may not think electronic music is for you, but I encourage you to take a listen to album1 and see what it makes you feel.