Kevin Morby's year-end favorite albums lists for us have become something we look forward to every year. He's such a passionate music fan and that really comes through in his writing. This year's list is no different, and includes records from Courtney Barnett, Mount Eerie, Snail Mail, Bonny Doon, and Damien Jurado, as well as a few that are preceded by Best Friend/Girlfriend alerts (Waxahatchee, Anna St. Louis, Night Shop), and more. This year, Kevin picked 15 albums and you can read all about them, complete with commentary and choice lyrics, below.
While he didn't release an album himself this year, Kevin did continue to tour in support of 2017's City Music. He'll be on the road again in 2019 playing bigger venues than he's played before, like NYC's Town Hall. Those dates aren't till May, so maybe we'll have a new album, or news of one, by then. (Kevin hints as much in his list.) All dates are listed below.
KEVIN MORBY'S FAVORITE ALBUMS OF 2018
Snail Mail - Lush
I've had the pleasure of getting to know Lindsey Jordan (usually via FaceTime) over the past year. She is hilarious, charming and incredibly talented. It's good to know the future of rock n roll is in good hands, and I can't wait to see what's next. She invented the red Fender Jaguar and is the reason I ever wanted to play one in the first place, I just didn't know it til years later. She is already in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.
Fav track: "Golden Dream"
“Head below the surface of a frozen lake, let in the black water”
SHY BOYS - Bell House
When you die, if you were wise with your time here on earth, the Shy Boys will sing you into heaven. They are making Kansas City proud and i'm honored to be from the same place as them. Not much more to say other than you really should do yourself a favor and listen to this thing. It’s the best harmonies you’ll hear this year, no question.
Fav track: Evil Sin
“Gave you money, you were supposed to return with something”
Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
I did a long drive by myself earlier this year from Nelsonville to Kansas City a day after this album came out. I had an amazing moment of listening to this for the first time while the sun was setting over the Mississippi. Courtney's music has always been the best road trip companion, and every time you listen to it, it feels like you're getting to have an intimate conversation with one of your favorite artists. Felt like she was there sitting shotgun, telling me her every thought.
Fav track: City Looks Pretty
"your friends treat you like a stranger and strangers treat you like their best friend, oh well"
King Tuff - The Other
Best Friend Alert - I got to see this thing in many forms before it's release this past summer. I remember Kyle bringing me into his studio telling me he had started making a new record and lying on his studio floor and crying when he played me both "The Other" and :Through The Cracks." Try it. Lay down on the floor and play those songs and see what happens. This is Kyle at his best yet.
Fav tracks: "The Other," "Through The Cracks"
“You know you have such a beautiful brain but no one understood you. You only saw one way to escape but I wish you didn’t have to. But through the cracks a light came shining like the biggest brightest diamond and through the cracks you dispersed and became the whole universe”
Night Shop - In The Break
BFA - Justin and I have logged tens of thousands of miles on the road over the past decade, and just about as many hours in the studio. He has always been and forever will be who I bounce ideas off of when they are in their purest form. He understands music and he understands songwriting, and this is his moment. After 15 years of seeing the world from behind a drum kit he's stepped out into the spotlight and it's so fucking good. Try "The One I Love": the song will loop endlessly in your mind and you’ll find yourself humming it for days.
Fav track: "The One I Love"
“Well you talk about love like you’re headed into battle, ooh little baby, don’t forget your rattle”
Anna St. Louis - If Only There Was A River
BFA - Anna and I have known each other since we were young teenagers in Kansas City playing in punk bands. Then last year we had that cinematic movie moment that you later see in a biopic where she was like "oh hey, I wrote some songs, wanna hear them?" and they blew me away so I put them out on a tape. So then - earlier this year we went into Kyle's (King Tuff) home studio and recorded this thing. It was such a pleasure to be a part of something so beautiful. These are songs that will stand the test of time, and the sky's the limit for my dear friend Anna.
Fav track: "If Only There Was A River"
“If only there were a river, to drown out my weeping cries”
Waxahatchee - Great Thunder EP
GFA - I’ve seen Katie play a lot of these songs live for some time and they’ve been some of my favorite Waxahatchee songs. Katie is so powerful when performing alone and it’s so great to have an EP that really showcases her incredible voice and amazing songwriting all by itself. She is and continues to be one of our generations musical leaders.
Fav song: "Singers No Star"
“Mostly all the time will go to you, comin up for air for all the people who recognize the sadness in a stranger with less to lose”
Cut Worms - Hollow Ground
To be honest I wasn't sold on Cut Worms upon first listen. I didn't know if it was for me exactly but then I saw them live and was totally blown away by singer Max Clarke’s voice and demeanor as a front person. Since seeing them live I’ve found myself wanting more, all the time. I had a great moment listening to this album while riding my bike around Kansas City in the autumn while leavings dropped all around me.
Fav track: "Don’t Want To Say Goodbye"
“....our hearts go on breaking, I’ll tell you all about it sometime”
Bonny Doon - Long Wave
Katie listens to this album almost once a day, no joke. She calls it her “Daily Doon” so I’ve become quite familiar with it. It’s an incredible record that never gets old. Even my mom likes it -- she recently told me on a flight she listened to it “three times in a row." They also have that rare thing where they have two singers and they’re both equally as great at writing and singing songs. This is your feel good album of 2018 and beyond.
Fav song: "Long Wave"
“Sky, bathed in crooked light. Water, steady rolling by. I have a feeling, that time is a long wave and it cares about us all the same”
Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt
Another perfect Spiritualized album. Have you heard Spiritualized before? It is perfect music. Though I will say -- this one feels more hopeful than some of the albums that preceded it. I won a test press of this album by entering into a raffle at my local record store Mill Records in KC. And then it sat on my turntable for a month straight, as I played it non stop.
Fav Track: "Damaged"
“And I, I just close my eyes. Feel like I’m living, feeling like I’m alive. Wrapped up in clover, and I’m safe from the tide”
Tierra Whack - Whack World
I love this album that comes with a video companion. It’s short and sweet and really fun and smart. All the important things. The style and transitions are amazing. Tierra Whack is so effortlessly cool. If I were to release an album next year I may have had already been working on a video companion as well, so this release really spoke to me when I stumbled upon it.
Fav song: "4 Wings"
“Salt pepper, ketchup and hot sauce. Fry hard cause I do not like soft.”
Hailu Mergia - Lala Belu
Hailu Mergia makes the most wonder instrumental music you will hear this year. He is an Ethiopian jazz pianist who drives a cab in DC by day and makes and performs unbelievable music by night. This is a comeback record of sorts and it’s truly just one of my favorite things.
Fav track: "Yefikir Engurguro"
Mount Eerie - Now Only
Though I’m a lifelong Phil Elverum fan, I wasn’t able to listen to last years A Crow Looked At Me. The subject matter was simply too heavy for me to sit with, but I’m glad it was probably cathartic for him given his tragic situation. Maybe someday I’ll revisit it but every time I’ve tried I have to turn it off pretty quickly. So this year when Now Only came out I was surprised to make it through so easily. Though it’s still very heavy, it seems some of the sadness has lifted and he’s able to zoom out of his situation a bit more and has begun a new phase in the grieving process. Then as the year went on it seems he remarried and I hope nothing but happiness and peace for Phil Elverum. Like I said, I’m a lifelong fan and his music has been endlessly inspirational to me and he is one of the great artists of our time, in my opinion. His style of playing guitar and singing will never date, will never get old and is completely unique and all his own. These are truly beautiful songs that I listen to over and over. His take on being alive since the passing of his wife on this record is tragic, sweet and at times even hilarious. I first heard it while driving back from SXSW with Katie sitting shotgun. We had just played a few solo shows and were headed home, driving into a sunset somewhere in Oklahoma. During the title track I looked over and saw Katie half smiling with tears rolling down her face. And that pretty much sums up how the record makes me feel. It will always serve as a reminder to take no moment for granted, as all we have is “now only”.
Fav track: "Now Only"
"This is what my life feels like now, like I got abruptly dropped off on the side of the road in the middle of a long horrible ride in a hot van that was too full of chattering confident dudes, and the sound of tires receding, taking in the night air, I say now only”
Damien Jurado - The Horizon Just Laughed
I listened to this album non stop this summer, no exaggeration. I was very depressed on a six week festival tour through Europe, constantly in an airplane or sprinter with no sleep or sense of time, and I would literally listen to this front to back, and then start it all over again. It was what comforted me the most, and looking back - it brings beautiful images to mind. Flying above Scandinavia, taking ferries, rain storms in Wales, beaches in Portugal....Damien’s music is unlike anything else being made -- especially under the umbrella of indie rock. I don’t even know how to fully categorize it other than 1) it’s beautiful and 2) sometimes when I put it on people mistake it for Sade. This is my album of 2018 without hesitation and I hope you get around to listening to it. Thank you Damien for making it. Come to think of it, it’s raining in LA and I’m going to listen to it right now.
Fav track: literally all of them they are all amazing.
“I’ll see you later Cindy Lee, when we’re done fighting the tide. Storm is a coming and we have nowhere to hide. Give my love to Mary should you see her before we do, send a bolt of lightning to me soon. Jealous is the dark that keeps me from you”.
“The phone is a gossip, the clock is a murderer.”
Richard Swift - The Hex
Swift left us with one last album and just like he was himself, it is dark and light and beautiful and funny. When I worked with Swift he would tell me about how his sister and mom had died recently and suddenly, and how much it affected him. I just so happened to sing the words “Mother, Sister, comfort me I feel so wet and cold” on my song "Downtown Lights" and every time we would work on that song he would get emotional and he always kissed his hand and would touch a photo of his mother when he walked past it in his studio. It brings me some peace thinking maybe Swift is with his mom and sister now. Rest In Peace buddy and thank you for everything. We miss you.
Fav track: "Dirty Jim"
“All my love and all my pain, tried to give you everything, you know I have always been true. Every color now is black and blue.”
Kevin Morby - 2019 Tour Dates
MAR 02 M3F Fest Saturday, 7:00PM Phoenix, AZ
MAY 08 The Theatre at Ace Hotel Wednesday, 7:00PM Los Angeles, CA
MAY 10 The Catalyst Friday, 7:00PM Santa Cruz, CA
MAY 11 The Fillmore Saturday, 7:00PM San Francisco, CA
MAY 13 Crystal Ballroom Monday, 7:00PM Portland, OR
MAY 14 The Showbox Tuesday, 7:00PM Seattle, WA
MAY 15 Imperial Vancouver Wednesday, 7:00PM Vancouver, Canada
MAY 17 The State Room Friday, 7:00PM Salt Lake City, UT
MAY 18 The Bluebird Theater Saturday, 7:00PM Denver, CO
MAY 31 Town Hall Friday, 7:00PM New York, NY
JUN 01 9:30 Club Saturday, 7:00PM Washington, DC
JUN 02 Union Transfer Sunday, 7:00PM Philadelphia, PA
JUN 03 The Sinclair Monday, 7:00PM Cambridge, MA
JUN 05 The Opera House Wednesday, 7:00PM Toronto, Canada
JUN 06 The Ark Thursday, 7:00PM Ann Arbor, MI
JUN 07 Thalia Hall Friday, 7:00PM Chicago, IL
JUN 08 Thalia Hall Saturday, 7:00PM Chicago, IL
JUN 14 AB Friday, 7:00PM Brussels, Belgium
JUN 15 Festsaal Kreuzberg Saturday, 7:00PM Berlin, Germany
JUN 16 Maifield Derby Sunday, 7:00PM Mannheim, Germany
JUN 17 Paradiso Monday, 7:00PM Amsterdam, Netherlands
JUN 19 O2 Sheperds Bush Empire Wednesday, 7:00PM London, United Kingdom
JUN 20 Le Cabaret Sauvage Thursday, 7:00PM Paris, France
JUN 22 Knust Saturday, 7:00PM Hamburg, Germany
JUN 23 Vega Sunday, 7:00PM Copenhagen, Denmark
JUN 24 Voxhall Monday, 7:00PM Aarhus, Denmark
JUN 26 Tavastia Wednesday, 7:00PM Helsinki, Finland