Sorry, but I have to start with the death of Scott Hutchison, even though I posted about it at the time. There was no 2018 album that hit me like Midnight Organ Fight, the masterpiece from Scott’s band Frightened Rabbit.
Among the albums I enjoyed were Lucy Dacus’ debut Historian and Mitski’s Be the Cowboy. Here’s a sample from each: Night Shift and Nobody respectively (links to YouTube).
But my two heartiest recommendations are videos of old guys. My favorite musician Richard Thompson was on tour with his electric trio (which at times had three members, but often had more).
I love this video of the set at Shrewsbury–particularly the song selection, with material from the new album, from Fairport Convention 50 years ago, and many points on the timeline in between. The performance is great, as is the sound quality.
The other video is Tower of Power’s Tiny Desk show. ToP started 50 years ago, but are currently fronted by a powerful young singer. Everyone in the band can really play, and play together.
The reasons to be happy about music in 2018 are many and diverse. It’s a long way from Lucy Dacus to Tower of Power, and a very good journey indeed.