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50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

10. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

“A lot’s gonna change in your lifetime / try to leave it all behind / in your lifetime / let me change my words / show me where it hurts.” If there’s a thesis statement for Titanic Rising, this closing sentiment to opener “A Lot’s Gonna Change” is surely it. Or, wait: maybe it was “Waiting for the call from beyond / waiting for something with meaning / to come through soon”, the brutally searching coda of “Picture Me Better.” “Don’t cry, it’s a wild time to be alive?” “No one’s ever going to give you a trophy for all the pain and the things you’ve been through / no one knows but you?” That’s the problem with Natalie Mering’s fourth album as Weyes Blood; there’s a wealth of options to choose from in what represents a stunning crescendo for this steadily rising artist, a peculiarly out-of-time musical capsule that is still very much of 2019 in its anxieties and hopes. What I keep coming back to is something more fundamental, the crux of Titanic Rising‘s struggles with modernity and its dissection of all-American tropes then – “when no good thing could be taken away” – and now, where Natalie Mering’s crisis is so much more simpler: “I’m so scared of being alone, it’s true, it’s true.”

For its time, Titanic Rising is an anomaly, a singular expression of its artist’s retro ’70s sensibilities, an immersive dive into decades’ worth of sounds and production that envelops you like a warm bath, and just as comfortable to sink into. Given a looser leash from a label confident in Mering’s abilities after 2016’s superb Front Row Seat to Earth, Titanic Rising fulfilled all of the grand promises and bittersweet emotions thrumming below the surface of her prior work. It’s the rare album that breathed life into the husk of clichés like “a headphones record” or “an album’s album,” the kind one needed to hear in one full sitting. Mering’s world-building talents and her bold, saturated instrumental choices make diving into her headspace a joy, despite how exhausting it should be given the topics Mering explores. Her rich, elastic alto wanders through a litany of issues familiar to anyone who’s grown up in this millennium: the tension between what’s real and what’s fake; the illusory comforts of modern life going up against the almost painful weight of nostalgia; a search for connection and meaning in an era where it seems everything is on the verge of (literally) ending up underwater or on fire (with these themes, Mering’s closest cousin this year was almost certainly Lana Del Rey’s deconstruction of Americana myths in Norman Fucking Rockwell!).

Yet Titanic Rising never felt hopeless – that would be hard to do with a record so unremittingly pretty as this. No, in inviting us into her world, Mering created a respite from all that outside shit, an escape you can come back from feeling renewed and maybe, hopefully, improved. It’s telling that, after scouring galaxies and seemingly resigning herself to a hunt that may never end, Mering concludes “Andromeda” with an appeal and a command to seize the unknown: “Love is calling / it’s time to give to you / something you can hold onto / I dare you to try.” Perhaps that’s Titanic Rising‘s best thesis statement yet. –klap

9. Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

Love, specifically as it is understood in practice as a heteronormative romantic ideal, is such a well-trodden topic in popular music that Jenny Hval has already spent a decade dissecting its relation to, and influence on, other desires that beset the body and mind in a world where sexuality, gender, autonomy and feminism remain controversial and vulnerable topics. Considering the four albums that precede it, and Hval’s fascination with pop music and stardom, a Hval album titled The Practice of Love feels like an inevitability, the culmination of a decade evolving her experimental trip-hop trappings into arch hooks and choruses caught in the shattered light of discotheques.

But if Hval has maintained a constant in her music, it is her altered perspective, not just a deviation from the norm but that of her own. The Practice of Love reveals itself as a rumination on love’s capacity to fail us within its standardized parameters, in art’s way of compartmentalizing trauma and healing as a closed loop of suffering and process, and in the peculiar way pop stars come to be defined by the universe they create (or rather, the corpse they suck dry). On “Ashes to Ashes,” Hval’s most effervescent pop concoction yet, romantic entanglements and narrative fodder derived from heartbreak are self-fulfilling prophecies, divine inspiration capable of becoming as binary an experience as Tinder’s algorithms; or toxic as a long night of chain-smoking.

What truly sets The Practice of Love apart in a storied discography is how it doubles down on the elements that have come to define Hval’s output while further developing her arsenal of pop songwriting tropes. “Accident” and “Thumbsucker” are earworms littered with synthetic horns and mutating trance beds, and Hval’s delicate voice stylings slice with great impression through the industrial mélange. The employment of a number of her peers (including Vivian Wang and Felicia Atkinson) for whole spoken word verses throughout the album lifts the practice out of art-pop interlude purgatory, strengthening themes of companionship and inspiration reflected in Hval’s evocation of her pioneering and oft-misunderstood predecessors (“But I was seeing them / Red cannas in the sky / Like they were tearing up their heavens / Opening the zipper”). The Practice of Love solidifies Jenny Hval’s placement in the lineage of progressive songwriters challenging the status quo while infiltrating it, another fascinating portrait of a woman as a new kind of pop artist. –Lewis

8. Cult of Luna – A Dawn to Fear

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

Coming off of a career high (the 2016 collaboration with Julie Christmas, Mariner), Cult of Luna favored experimentation over comfort. Avoiding repetition or drops in quality, they shifted directions and crafted a massive album that can be compared to a cinematic experience. A Dawn to Fear offers multiple build-ups, twists and climaxes that beautifully intertwine during its 79-minute run. Displaying a wide array of sounds and variations, crafted with incredible attention to details and most importantly, flow, the LP could pass off as a soundtrack to a thriller/horror movie with its lyrics signaling the end of civilization where Mother Nature regains control of Earth. From the bludgeoning groove of “The Silent Man”, a suspenseful atmosphere kicks in and things get darker, stranger and eerier with each passing cut. The powerful guitars boast that muddy, sludgy tone, the drums are often pounding, whereas the chunky bass and keyboard leads sew the instrumental together tight. When you think you have figured everything out, the band switches tempos, entering various clean, elegiac segments, only to return to cathartic riffage later. Raging mammoth songs such as “Lights on the Hill”, “The Fall”, and “Nightwalkers” heavily contrast the subdued, but brooding moments like “We Feel the End” or the title track. The vocals are very effective as well, mostly punctuating, rarely taking the lead. Plus, the pessimistic tone of the clean lines work great over the music’s dispirited vibe.

A Dawn to Fear may seem like a brick wall initially; still, it slowly cracks upon repeated listens. It’s not an album to leave playing in the background. Under the dense layers lies a deeply emotional experience that requires attention to be understood and truly enjoyed. Nevertheless, very few bands have managed to deliver such a long record that’s gripping all the way. Cult of Luna remain unrivaled in the post-metal genre and this collection of songs is definitely one of their finest. –Raul Stanciu

7. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains

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[Bandcamp] // [Spotify]

If you were to look up in a dictionary the meaning of the term “tortured soul,” there would be a fairly decent chance you’d find a portrait of the late David Berman occupying the page. For a man who had been through quite a lot in his life, Berman somehow kept fighting, no matter how unbearable it must’ve become for him; from shouldering the burden of being the son of a lobbyist (who, in part, was a cause for Berman’s initial retreat from music a decade ago) to his own personal demons, which had continued to haunt and ultimately consumed him.

Purple Mountains, an album that was Berman’s melancholic return, became his tragic farewell — a record that, like others of its ilk (Bowie’s Blackstar, Joy Division’s Closer, and Jacques Brel’s Brel to name a few), had either vaguely hinted at their creator’s imminent demise or had laid it out for all to see. Purple Mountains opts for the latter with “All My Happiness is Gone”, with Berman bluntly stating, “All my happiness is gone / It’s all gone somewhere beyond.” When he sings that chorus, you have no choice but to believe it, as tragic as it seems. Purple Mountains is a testament to the struggle Berman faced within himself and with life itself in musical form, perhaps the only real way he could attempt to cope with how at odds he was with where he was headed, no matter what direction he’d head in. In a way, there’s nothing more I could really say to even comprehend the great tragedy that was the loss of David Berman, who was and will always be one of the greatest American songwriters. As the old saying goes, let the music do the talking. –Frippertronics

6. State Faults – Clairvoyant

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[Bandcamp] // [Spotify]

What strikes me about Clairvoyant, 6 months after its release, is the continuous warmth of its core — heart pumping hot blood, often pulsating with anger or indignation but always striving for an impossible ideal of universal love. One dimension of Clairvoyant draws from reincarnation and the cyclical nature of love and violence, leaving open the idea that the processes of mourning and growing political awareness are doomed to eventual corruption, but also endless rebirth; the addition of a more atmospheric, shoegaze-tinged side to State Faults’ fiery screamo complements the dreamier, abstract qualities of the album. Another dimension more explicitly targets contemporary issues, e.g. “Sacrament” and its condemnation of apathy towards gun violence: “Stop this incision / Semiautomatic / Exasperation infinite / Blood in the sacrament / Pours on the cold cement / Prayers said with violence / Arms crossed in silence.”

Far from being sanctimonious, the album is often deliciously vicious and vengeful, from the simmering slow-burn of the title track to the joyful obstinance of “Olive Tree”: “I offered a branch / But you wanted the whole tree / Burned to never bloom again / I promise to never bloom again.” Indeed, there’s no doubt that Clairvoyant is emotionally and morally turbulent, imperfect, messy; it’s also all the more sympathetic and cathartic for it. Sometimes it feels like a reflex, an instinctive response to the world it perceives — one full of bloodshed, hypocrisy, and misguided righteousness. The anthemic chants of “I don’t know / I don’t know / Where my spirit goes” on “Sleeplessness” depict a state of dissociation and disbelief that abruptly transforms into the title track’s cold-blooded vengeance; “Contaminature”, meanwhile, is almost jaded in its mid-tempo groove, but segues into optimistic closing track “Cemetery Lights”.

“Let true love reign free,” a line present on “Baptism”, is effectively Clairvoyant‘s motto, but I personally find the treatment of violence and vengeance to be the most interesting aspect of the album; their utility and ethical status are ambiguous, they’re clearly liable to falling into the wrong hands, but as rhetorical tools they resonate powerfully and represent on the part of State Faults an unwillingness to capitulate to injustices, to sugarcoat the narrative. –Claire Q.

5. American Football – American Football (LP3)

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

For the first time ever, American Football are leaving “the house.” If their debut was an earnest portrait of disenchanted youth, and American Football (LP2) was a wistful and aged revisitation, then American Football (LP3) fits somewhere in-between: mature and self-assured but filled with vitality.

It arrives at a time where emo has moved on, closing out a decade which saw the genre erupt, cool, then evaporate from public consciousness. But American Football (LP3), with its strikingly modern take on “twinkly emo”, feels like the album American Football would have made immediately after their debut. The classic sad-boy aesthetic pervades the album’s DNA, but songs like “Silhouettes” weave those hammy moments into something viscerally emotive. “Heir Apparent” and “Doom In Full Bloom” by comparison offer more daring moments; stylistic transitions move boldly and assuredly, with post-rock like catharsis. It’s the most full-fat version of the band’s sound so far and a victorious look at their future. –Xenophanes

4. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

On Push the Sky Away‘s title track, Nick Cave sculpted a plea for perseverance, compassion and love out of three repeating lines. “You got it, just keep on pushing, and push the sky away.” Then, it was a shockingly warm sentiment from Australia’s callous, sardonic, black-hearted rocker thirty years into his career. Now, it feels like a blueprint he’s been following for his greatest decade of releases; a sentiment that’s weathered the tragic death of his son, the amicable departure of Mick Harvey, the sad loss of Conway Savage, and another complete overhaul of his style. The Bad Seeds traded in frenzied, gnarled garage-blues for music that plays like the blips on a heart monitor, where a brush stroke can transform the geography of the world and Warren Ellis’ shattered drones break like waves on a shoreline. Nearly a whole decade later, I feel like it’s all in service of those words of gentle encouragement, still assuring me we can all push the sky away for a little longer.

It helps, naturally, that Ghosteen is the most peaceful of the Bad Seeds’ albums, even if that peace comes hard-won – don’t mistake the quiet for ease. Ghosteen bled and bruised for its air of tranquillity, so when Cave addresses his life post-Arthur’s death, whether through poetry (the recurring image of children climbing into the sun), fairytale allegory (“Ghosteen”‘s portrait of a family of three bears living inside their loss) or even Cave addressing himself through the eyes of his son (the likely interpretation of “Ghosteen Speaks”), it’s hard to remain unaffected. Cave, one of music’s most considered writers even when sketching madcap tales of murder, a man who never lets a line go until he’s completely satisfied, isn’t merely well-equipped to guide us through an album like this, an album of the tender, brutal process of moving on from the things you cannot move on from. He’s perhaps the only man in music who could.

A ‘ghosteen’, by the way, is a word from an Irish tinker’s book: a benevolent ghost, which takes the form of a small crying child. It’s maybe not rocket science to figure out how the term applies here, but again, it’s the usage of it which marks Ghosteen as a superb, infinitely moving piece of work. Cave does not write in terms of hauntings or supernatural phenomena, not even as metaphor. In the man’s own words, it’s purely a “migrating spirit”. The ghosteen speaks only to assure Cave “I am here beside you” and ponder its own funeral; the writer sees it only as “a glowing circle in my hand / slowly twirling, twirling all around”, before the music on the title track gently washes out and he addresses the tragedy more directly than ever before. It would be remiss not to mention the superb work of the Bad Seeds here and on the entire 2010s trilogy, how they embraced restraint and the silence between notes as tools as powerful as anything; and while Conway Savage is sadly departed, his sweetening touch on the Bad Seeds since 1992’s Henry’s Dream is fully honoured here, in the unbelievable harmonies on “Bright Horses” and “Galleon Ship”‘s tumbling waterfall piano. But in heart and soul this is of course Cave’s album, with musicians he’s had a working relationship with for most of his adult life on his wavelength, attuned to every shift in tone as he wanders up and down the timeline of his grief.

Ghosteen is not an album of solutions or endings, and surely would have rung hollow if it were. Ghosteen offers only the opportunity to sit inside sadness without letting it overwhelm, finding common ground in the shared space we all inhabit: the space between living and dying, peace and unrest, the quiet and the endless crushing noise. –Rowan

3. Big Thief – U.F.O.F.

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

What’s so beautiful, I think, about Adrianne Lenker’s solo material – sparse, welcoming as it is – is that it appears able to absorb whatever environment it comes in contact with, to find comfort wherever the listener might take it. Listening to “from”, for example, from 2018’s abysskiss in a café or pub allows the clinks of mugs and gulps of coffee or beer to percuss or become the percussion behind the song’s gentle arpeggios, the warmth of its vintage-like production. Atop a hill, on the other hand, beside a quarry, the more violent allusions of that album’s “terminal paradise” are brought to some sick forefront, dusty explosions overshadowing Lenker’s attempts at a prettier depiction of death, leaving in its wake the drab reality of a line like “screaming in the field / as I was born.”

Of course, the capacity for — or unavoidable necessity of — an album to be influenced by the context in which it is listened to is true of most, if not all albums; however, U.F.O.F., by leaving no outline uncoloured, provides an interesting counterpoint to abysskiss‘ relative sparseness. On this version of “From”, for example, Lenker sounds far less isolated: her tortured ‘from’s in the chorus are, though no less pained, something far more communal — layered and pigmented by the band beneath or behind or, more to the point, at the foundation of the music. Big Thief’s rendition of “Terminal Paradise”, likewise, allows for a swifter, less strained performance by Lenker than on its abysskissian counterpart, the scattered piano stabs and acoustic sprinklings lifting some of the weight off the frontwoman’s shoulders. Openers “Contact” and “U.F.O.F.” take this newfound holisticness a step further: whereas on previous releases (e.g., at the beginning of Capacity‘s magnificent “Shark Smile”) Big Thief hinted at moments of soft experimentation outside of their otherwise sharp songwriting, distorted screams and vocal samples weave their way into the very fabric of the songs on U.F.O.F., signalling an ostensible shift in sound the band have since refused to follow through with (on the less weird, though equally fantastic Two Hands), in their typical do-what-feels-right fashion.

Nevertheless, what has remained true of Big Thief’s writing since the release of U.F.O.F. is a greater emphasis on world-, or atmosphere-building; and what’s so magical about this, I believe, about the album, is that the atmosphere it creates is all-encompassing. Adrianne Lenker’s songwriting has always – seriously, always; she’s a genius – been mature and holistic enough to spirit you away, but what U.F.O.F. does is establish the band behind her writing as inextricable from the music’s capacity to enthrall. Unlike on abysskiss – and indeed, unlike on any of the the band’s prior releases – Lenker’s strange, spiritual, nevertheless worldy lyrical narratives are given equally strange, spiritual, nevertheless worldy instrumental grounds in which to play and transform into something wholly encompassing, and genuinely riveting. –BlushfulHippocrene

2. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

At the risk of betraying my decrepitude, how’s this for a cultural shift: when Born to Die was released in early 2012, here were the most discussed topics: Rouged lips. Recondite beauty. That SNL performance. Ersatz archaic 1950s Americana flashback. Industry plant. Industry nepotism. Completely detached vocals [true, but purposeful]. Lips (is that collagen or what?). A staggering amount of attention paid to one body. Just like Nancy Sinatra only worse! Manufactured! Women doing clever pop? Must be a man behind it. Red-lipsticked lips, eyes gazing at you like a cadaver. What these comments missed, of course, was an ingenious pop album that in spite (or because) of scorn heaped upon the artist became an authentic cultural moment in a way few albums this decade have. Ironic that the album, heart-rending in inauthenticity, achieved its converse upon reception. Chalk two up to Lana; this year, she released a second cultural touchstone: Norman. Fucking. Rockwell. (!).

What’s remarkable about this isn’t that Lana has changed her ethos particularly; it’s the paradigm that’s been altered. Outside of a much-discussed line in which Lana Del Rey reveals exactly what soft drink her genitalia tastes like (“But does it really? We may never know,” cries a Brooklynite into his I.P.A., snot accruing on his septum piercing), the focus shifted from her body to her body of work, remarkable for how consistent it was. Then “Venice Bitch” and “Hope…” appeared on the scene and, well, y’know that metal band that hadn’t released anything in 5 million years and came back? Among my peers – even the metalhead ones – this one was more feverishly anticipated.

While it’s tempting to attribute this to the two gorgeous songs, Venice Beach a contender for best song of 2018 AND 2019 (see also American Football’s “Silhouettes”), a lazy lolling trip downstream where the water is crystalline, opaque, luminescent – but to drink from it would be to drink from the river of Forgetting), we must also consider long-overdue rectified attitudes towards gender (hey, where did this soapbox come from?) but also the other side of the coin. We, as a generation of listeners, have changed. Once, when Lana’s grasps for something authentic and real – even honest – in a world where everything is mediated by forces outside our control and everything has been said before, even about, yes, Love, that most precious of things, a self-conscious anachronism and platitudinous lyrics and the safe, warm hot toddie of irony, it didn’t seem apposite to us – they were her coping mechanisms, her howls. We have finally caught up to her cynicism, even if only subconsciously; we know media gets parsed for palatability and profitability rather than any moral or quality concern; we know we can’t say to others what hasn’t been said before and that our words aren’t tossaway but an endless reticulation that weaves unto a recursion; are straight white women most acutely aware of their obsolescence in a movement they foregrounded and which Lana eschewed, other artists doubling down with limited results, and does that matter when gender dynamics are still so fucked?

If you’re still with me, consider the following, open it and let it breathe: Norman Fucking Rockwell! isn’t just a superb album – I’m sure I don’t need to wax lyrical about “The Greatest”, for example, other than to say, well, I mean, it might be – but an epochal one. It captures so much of what being alive in 2019 is like in desolate ballads and sweeping orchestral flourish, the sense of confusion and loss, “Bartender”‘s twinkling glissando piano auguring a late night and last call. This is territory well-trod, as mentioned, but here’s what’s miraculous about Norman Fucking Rockwell! – under Jack Antinoff’s pristine production and musical enforcement of lyrics (consider the fluttering coda complementing “If you hold me without hurting me / You’ll be the first who ever did”). “Love Song” sounds so intimate one feels they’re sharing a pillow with her, confessing pasts in hopes for a shared future. For the first time, Lana is, if not being ingenuous, at least being honest: and as honest conversations are happening right now, Normal Fucking Rockwell! feels eerily relevant. Hope is a dangerous thing for our generation to have — but we have it. Unlike other albums, a la Pet Sounds and Forever Changes, only recognised as timely in hindsight, we’re in a position to enjoy the redolence and resonance of our times soundtrack. Norman Fucking Rockwell! will be intermeshed with 2019 forever: I’m grateful we were around to experience it. –Winesburgohio

1. Laura Stevenson – The Big Freeze

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[Official Site] // [Spotify]

It’s one of the first true chilling mornings of New York’s 2019 winter and I’m at my desk with my headphones on, listening to Laura Stevenson’s The Big Freeze. In front of me is a skyline barely lit up by the peripheral light of a sun that has not yet risen — like myself, today’s sun seems to be locked in a moment, thinking about all the shit it has to get done today (and really wishing it could just get back under the covers). Behind me, a girl I have been seeing who (a) “doesn’t really like concerts,” and (b) I am pretty sure still has feelings for her ex, delicately snores under 4 (maybe 5) blankets, unaware that I have slinked away to share this moment with an album that churns my heart in the way that really only good music can. In a few days, I will take her (or, more accurately, she will take me, since she is the one with the car) to see Stevenson play some of these very same songs in what will likely be the final show I attend in 2019.

My 30+ years of life experience assure me that there are many more icy mornings to look forward to in the coming months, but I’ve always maintained that the ones that come in December (or occasionally November) have a certain sweetness. My 10+ years on this website assure me that a decade of music can yield entire discographies of all-time fucking greats, and Laura’s run since 2010 has prompted four (!) such entries. As this decade closes, it seems only fitting that we crown Stevenson’s the best LP of 2019 because it is the one that most boldly grabs the moments upon which it was forged and celebrates them with the sentimentality of a frosty early-morning retrospective. Only Stevenson could strip away so much of the instrumentation that characterized her earlier releases and come back with a sound that is somehow more layered, and more evocative of her own consistent celebration of the beautiful things that we can hold onto as a life decays, naturally, in the face of time. I hope she plays “Rattle at Will”, but even if she doesn’t, I’ll be good as hell in that crowd. See you guys on the decade list (most likely 4 times). –theacademy

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List of participating writers (alphabetical order): 204409, Arcade, Atari, AtomicWaste, BlushfulHippocrene, clavier, Deviant., DrGonzo1937, Frippertronics, Greg., insomniac15, Jom, klap, manosg, mynameischan, Observer, plane, Rowan5215, SowingSeason, TalonsOfFire, theacademy, Trebor., Willie, Winesburgohio, Xenophanes





SowingSeason
12.20.19
Last one of the decade. Thanks to everyone who poured so much time into this (writing, organizing, etc).

JWT155
12.20.19
Great read boys.

rabidfish
12.20.19
who tf is laura stevenson lol you played everyone, well done.

GhandhiLion
12.20.19
lol

EoinCofa
12.20.19
1 is 1. Hell yeah Laura!!!!!!!

DDDeftoneDDD
12.20.19
This year I m not pissed at this. Gonna actually check a few.

luci
12.20.19
and the Zooey Deschanel Award for Convincing Scores of Lovesick Post-Adolescents that They Have a Chance With Her and Should Therefore Overrate Her goes to...

alamo
12.20.19
thumbs up

GhandhiLion
12.20.19
Lana Del Rey!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
12.20.19
unavoidably predictable save for 7, where the fuck did that come from

DDDeftoneDDD
12.20.19
Its only predictable because you are very smart pots

WatchItExplode
12.20.19
Lana is not #1...this list is to be celebrated.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
12.20.19
well thank you i am very smart indeed but i think this just has more to do with the fact that we all get to spend the entire year watching all the staff review, rate, discuss things so it becomes pretty obvious whats gonna be at the top just based on what stays in the discussion circuit etc

Lord(e)Po)))ts
12.20.19
im curious how many votes stevenson beat lana out by

plane
12.20.19
Pretty cool how Ali gets to be sexist on the most woman-forward top 10 in sput history! Great job, boys

Lord(e)Po)))ts
12.20.19
get over yourself

Lucman
12.20.19
I could not be happier with the no.1 pick. Well done all around fellas!

AmericanFlagAsh
12.20.19
So many women!

Didn't even know Laura had a new album this year lol

klap
12.20.19
7 was unpredictable? Highly rated by a ton of staff (including myself) iirc

theacademy
12.20.19
i predicted 7 and it was one of my easiest predictions ever


Sniff
12.20.19
As long as nerd ray dont take it it's all good

Slex
12.20.19
very happy with 1

Trebor.
12.20.19
Imagine being on sputnik and not knowing Laura

mynameischan
12.20.19
"and the Zooey Deschanel Award for Convincing Scores of Lovesick Post-Adolescents that They Have a Chance With Her and Should Therefore Overrate Her goes to..."

is it slayyyter

Nocte
12.20.19
Well I got Luna. I'm calling it a win haha. Another year down folks.

AmericanFlagAsh
12.20.19
"Imagine being on sputnik and not knowing Laura"

If this was directed toward me, I know her and I know Sput loves her, but I never really cared for her

FadedSun
12.20.19
I don't think I listened to jack shit from 2019. I'm always years behind on music.

GhostB1rd
12.20.19
Is Zooey Deschanel overrated tho? She's pretty fucking hot...

WatchItExplode
12.20.19
Her weeds character is the best ever.

BlazinBlitzer
12.20.19
Jenny Hval doesn't have a single staff vote over 3.8 and it makes top 10 lol what.

Great writeups though.

Slugboiiii
12.20.19
LP3 was pretty meh. New Jimmy Eat World was miles better

JohnnyoftheWell
12.20.19
Just rejammed 1 in celebration of NFR not getting #1 and proud of y'all for this order (given how much was pretty much inevitable). Looking forward to reading through properly

Demon of the Fall
12.20.19
Woooo CoL, going to conveniently ignore the other selections.
Seriously though, well done guys, nice effort.

DANcore
12.20.19
Still think Purple Mountains should have a staff review, but nonetheless happy to see it on here. Great write ups fellas

Minushuman24
12.20.19
hell yeaaaa luara

GhostB1rd
12.21.19
All I remember about Weeds is Nancy Botwin and her stupid straws.

Gyromania
12.21.19
"Pretty cool how Ali gets to be sexist on the most woman-forward top 10 in sput history! Great job, boys"

What he said was sexist? You're delusional

brainmelter
12.21.19
I’m shook that Common Holly didn’t make the top 50. Need to check 1

Dylan620
12.21.19
Neither Glen Hansard nor Thank You Scientist... at least Sowing loved them :,(

Coincidentally 3 is my 3 lol

Great list and great write-ups all around

hogan900
12.21.19
That write up for clairvoyant is spectacular

Rickislost
12.21.19
Surprised All Hail isn’t here but good to see cult if Luna up there

GreyShadow
12.21.19
Gotta relisten to 1. I love Laura to death but haven't come back to it at all for whatever reason.

dmathias52
12.21.19
These write-ups are phenomenal and do the hard work of justifying each spot on this list. It's also convinced me to return to each of these albums, but obviously Laura in particular.

GhostB1rd
12.21.19
Sputnik Staff Requirement #1: Thou must adore white girl singer/songwriters.

Itwasthatwas
12.21.19
bad but expected list

rc239
12.21.19
clairvoyant is hands down my aoty this year. it's literally become my #1 most played album of all time on spotify which is pretty insane

insomniac15
12.21.19
Great job everyone!

neekafat
12.21.19
interesting indeed, haven't heard a lot of these

luci
12.21.19
love the weyes and lana write-ups

Faraudo
12.21.19
LP3 at #5 made me incredibly happy.

Demon of the Fall
12.21.19
When I was predicting Blood Incantation and Falls of Rauros in the top 30, think I was confused about who’s actually staff. How many people voted in total out of curiosity?

Frippertronics
12.21.19
More or less everyone who wrote voted

TheNotrap
12.21.19
The world would be a better place if we had more rockers on staff

XingKing
12.21.19
I know the genres sometimes get mentioned in the writeups, but can we start adding genre tags below the website/spotify links?

Artuma
12.21.19
most predictable #1 of all time lol

Sinternet
12.21.19
even worse than i expected cngrats

luci
12.21.19
#1 is just milquetoast folk by sputnik's dream girlfriend. album is not good

Rowan5215
12.21.19
ok boomer

AsleepInTheBack
12.21.19
Cheers for all the work that must have gone into this - good read

SowingSeason
12.21.19
This is actually one of my favorite top 10's of late, but mostly because I think it's very wholly representative - not because it aligns too closely with my own taste (although I do approve Lana, Nick, and Weyes Blood...so can't complain). My biggest regrets are that Alex G and Glen Hansard missed the cut entirely, but hey, can't win 'em all.

AngryJohnny
12.21.19
Laura!! great stuff

Voivod
12.21.19
Excellent work everybody, hope to find some time to read more. Need to listen to Cult of Luna.

Flugmorph
12.21.19
very representative list for once, thanks staff!

jmh886
12.21.19
good lists. i feel like billy woods and kenny segal was a glaring omission. it's getting rap album of the year all over the place.

PistolPete
12.21.19
Omg I can't believe #1....I am shiocked and yet not even remotely surprised at the same time. Wow, only on sputnik

Gyromania
12.21.19
I'm sorry but "ok boomer" has to be the most generic new insult around. Any time someone has a difference of opinion lately it's "ok boomer"

GhandhiLion
12.21.19
Ok boomer

JohnnyoftheWell
12.21.19
Similarly to chan's review, the Lana write-up is both absolutely on the money and inadvertently captures everything insufferable about that album

IAmScott
12.21.19
Yesssss for 7, AOTY

Pangea
12.21.19
Great list. I loved reading all the write ups. I will make sure to check that state faults album

TheNotrap
12.21.19
I have a feeling the user's top 50 will be significantly more interesting, and more representative of our sput ecosystem.

Jom
12.21.19
Spicy take given that there are more users than staffers.

Slex
12.21.19
lmao owned

JohnnyoftheWell
12.21.19
Rekt

tbf if dull quote-unquote art pop, marginally less dull folk, self-consciously dreary twinkly emo that for some reason people prefer by a hair to twinkly skramz, and a token metal pick aren't a pretty fair representation of this site, I'm not sure what is

Slex
12.21.19
Not everyone is a weeb like you Johnathan

JohnnyoftheWell
12.21.19
hey, I'm not unhappy with most of these picks. just somewhat unsure of what would make this more representative other than I guess more hip-hop and a few phoned-in riffs?

TalonsOfFire
12.21.19
Really great work all around on these blog posts and the blurbs. I'm happy to see 4 and 5 on here, those are the only two I listened to and voted for that made it to the top 10.

rafalafa
12.21.19
Disappointed Norma Jean didn't make the top 50, surprised Lana didn't win it all, perplexed by Purple Mountain, but overall a good list. Congrats to Laura, and congrats to the staff for continuing a great presentation that keeps getting better!

foxblood
12.21.19
Laura Stevenson lol ok sure

Wildcardbitchesss
12.21.19
Am I missing something, did Deathspell not make this list at all?

Gyromania
12.21.19
That Purple Mountains album is awesome

luci
12.21.19
"did Deathspell not make this list at all?"
why would they put a nazi record lol

anatelier
12.21.19
Not sure what was achieved by over sharpening the banners

JohnnyoftheWell
12.21.19
when will peopl lrn to split art from teh Artist lmao

Relinquished
12.21.19
very representative of staff’s sowingcore taste

ShadowRemains
12.21.19
laura butthole

WhiteNoise
12.21.19
I’ll be sure to check out the albums I haven’t heard but I’m pretty sure I don’t even like music anymore because most of these do nothing for me.

Chambered79
12.21.19
Where's house of sugar?

luci
12.21.19
def the most glaring omission

SowingSeason
12.21.19
Glen Hansard's absence is slightly more noticeable to me

Chambered79
12.21.19
It's bizarre to me that there hasn't been an album in 5 years that's going to make my top 20

Darius The Imposter
12.22.19
is 5 really that good
i know 6 probably isnt

Demon of the Fall
12.22.19
6 is good, not that good, but enjoyable.
4 is painstakingly dull.
2 is mostly the same, but has a couple of highlights at least.
I didn’t like 10 but can see why people might, it wasn’t terrible.

Have no opinion on anything else apart from 8, not rushing to hear any of them either.


EoinCofa
12.22.19
8 has some moments of real brilliance but my garbage disposal has better sounding vocals

Clumseee
12.22.19
Where’s Sturgill!?

DANcore
12.22.19
On the 2016 list

DadKungFu
12.22.19
Yeah wtf, no Glen Hansard.

BlackTaxi2d
12.22.19
reading that blurb under the LDR album really has me questioning life at this point. it's simultaneously one of the worst things ive ever read, but also just fascinating how long someone must have taken to write something just pretentious enough to not burst out in laughter. its definitely on 2019's top 10-1 worst things ever hit a keyboard

5 and 6 were pretty good tho

Conmaniac
12.22.19
Pretty ew imo none of these albums resonated with me this year

Conmaniac
12.22.19
State faults prob the only non p4k wanna be choice

Conmaniac
12.22.19
That being said blurbs are actually really nicely done despite how bland I think the choices are. Wines' n blush keep it up

Project
12.23.19
Very surprised at no Glen, dumbfounded that State Faults isn't in the top 5 (let alone _below American Football_)

Brostep
12.23.19
benefits of maintaining near-complete anonymity for 10+ (!!!) years here: being able to publicly worry about your future w the girl you're currently seeing on a post that will have something like thousands of eyeballs on it and not worry about repercussions. immense power

great writing all around here esp #1 and #2

neekafat
12.23.19
"Yeah wtf, no Glen Hansard." [1234567890-]

Dewinged
12.23.19
Surprised and stoked that Hval sneaked into the top 10. Rescued that album from oblivion months after it was released with a mediocre review and still only had a few ratings. Hopefully this gives it more exposure, cause it sits among her best.

Can't say I saw Stevenson snatching that number 1, my money was on Hansard or Lana del Rey.

Also, Wines please, possess me so I can finish writing my blurbs for my aoty list.

neekafat
12.23.19
I haven't even started ):

Dewinged
12.23.19
me neither lol

neekafat
12.23.19
*cries*

Demon of the Fall
12.23.19
All the cool kids are releasing theirs early Jan, or so I’ve heard.

Nrap
12.23.19
number 7

Piglet
12.23.19
i couldn't think of a more staff top 10 if i tried

SowingSeason
12.23.19
I thought 7 was a surprise, and 5 simply because of how high it is.

luci
12.23.19
silly staffers thinking they’d avoid controversy by putting lana at #2 ;)
a more timid comments section than previous years tho

SowingSeason
12.23.19
If I had my way Lana would be #1 so count your lucky stars that I don't get the final say!

EoinCofa
12.23.19
I would take Lana everyday over last year’s #1. I’ve tried Kacey’s music a bunch and don’t understand what just about everyone else was gushing about last year at this time

EoinCofa
12.23.19
Apparently apostrophes morph into petroglyphs on this thread

EoinCofa
12.23.19
Apparently apostrophes morph into petroglyphs on this thread

JohnnyoftheWell
12.23.19
Kacey getting #1 was hilarious but at least her sound is an outgoing posi-vibes brand of vanilla. Lana is self-absorbed tedium for self-absorbed times.

AmericanFlagAsh
12.23.19
Where do we vote for users lists?

JohnnyoftheWell
12.23.19
On the forum page that was advertised a quadrillion times on the news tab and has now closed :]

IAmScott
12.23.19
Yeah Kacey >>>>>> Lana Del Rey

Cormano
12.23.19
I truly am really happy for #1 but damn no Alex G and no Joliette while including garbage Bon Iver lmao

AmericanFlagAsh
12.23.19
Lol Johnny I came back to Sput this year and don't check enough SORRY

JohnnyoftheWell
12.23.19
This sparks no joy :[ #reopensubmission #justiceforflagash

DadKungFu
12.23.19
Laura Stevenson is nice and all but I've never understood the boner that this site continually has for her.

Cimnele
12.23.19
this is miserable tbh. not because any of the albums are particularly bad but because I thought Sputnik might stand opposed to music press disneyfication. this is just another "indie folk is the only acceptable indie" list, glaringly uninclusive, a major audition for getting bought out by some bigger media company

plane
12.23.19
We actually have the power to vote negatively and it was the direct influence of myself and four of my peers that Lana lost 237 points to come in at #2

Chambered79
12.23.19
This list is do bad I can't even

Chambered79
12.23.19
So*

Chambered79
12.23.19
Only 10 is worthy here

Chambered79
12.23.19
Sowingseason has ruined the music industry

SowingSeason
12.23.19
The entire music industry? That's actually badass and I'm gonna take that as a compliment.

theacademy
12.23.19
did a guy say this:

"this is miserable tbh. not because any of the albums are particularly bad but because I thought Sputnik might stand opposed to music press disneyfication. this is just another "indie folk is the only acceptable indie" list, glaringly uninclusive, a major audition for getting bought out by some bigger media company"

or am i dreaming? would like to spend a bit more time in celebration of this comment over the others (if you guys would oblige...)

AmericanFlagAsh
12.23.19
Sowing ruined the academy

plane
12.23.19
Imagine not getting paid to do this and then getting accused of being a shill

Relinquished
12.23.19
so far you're the only one who used the word, plane

Winesburgohio
12.24.19
we gave you all Hval are u not entertained

no *behind the scenes making of bonus feature* paradoxically when you have STAFF that have such disparate taste even low mentions of albums others loved form bottlenecks. it doesn't look like mine but i'm not wholly dissatisfied with it and not displeased with those write-ups either!!!

Rowan5215
12.24.19
tfw u just wanna jam some esoteric nu-jazzwave for Christmas but then: music press disneyfication :c

Slex
12.24.19
lmao truly stunning comment

alamo
12.24.19
this is miserable tbh. not because any of the albums are particularly bad but because I have a preference for high levels of tonal musicality, creativity and experimentation. I enjoy strong and meaningful lyrics, but the music itself can override bad or average lyrics. I also value transitional flow between songs and a unique and creative theme that can be derived from the album as a whole.

Dewinged
12.24.19
Pls staff, stop disneyfying this site.

Slex
12.24.19
tl;dr lolbutts

klap
12.24.19
this is miserable tbh. not because any of the albums are particularly bad but because I have a preference for high levels of tonal musicality, creativity and experimentation. I enjoy strong and meaningful lyrics, but the music itself can override bad or average lyrics. I also value transitional flow between songs and a unique and creative theme that can be derived from the album as a whole.

shadows is that u??

Winesburgohio
12.24.19
this is miserable tbh. not because any of the albums are particularly bad but because I have a preference for high levels of tonal musicality, creativity and experimentation. I enjoy strong and meaningful lyrics, but the music itself can override bad or average lyrics. I also value transitional flow between songs and a unique and creative theme that can be derived from the album as a whole.

Trebor.
12.24.19
this is the film Misery tbh. not because it stars James Caan and Kathy Bates but because I thought Sputnik might stand opposed to music press Stephen-Kingification. this is just another "Kingesque horror is the only acceptable horror" list, glaringly uninclusive, a major audition for getting bought out by Castle Rock

Nocte
12.24.19
Not one mention of the Frozen II soundtrack. Sput confirming a lack of Disneyfication.

Dewinged
12.24.19
this is meaningful tbh. not because any of the high levels are particularly transitional but because I have a bad flow for unique average of transitional musicality, lyrics and high levels. I enjoy average and derived lyrics, but the override itself can value whole or transitional high levels. I also flow tonal value between meaningful and a music and tonal lyrics that can be average from the value as a creativity.

Rowan5215
12.24.19
treb that variation on the copypasta is a work of art ty

Nocte
12.24.19
Willie dropping some late 2019 venom. Love it

Willie
12.24.19
--Not sure what was achieved by over sharpening the banners--

Nothing was achieved. Honestly, I've always used Photoshop (I've had the subscription since it came available), but I canceled it in order to try Affinity Photo on the off-chance I could have an app that I only have to pay for once. Affinity Photo seems to really sharpen the image whenever there is any kind of resizing of the dimensions or even cropping. I'm sure it's just user error (I have to be missing something), but I couldn't figure it out before the deadline. I'm sure you were just talking shit and not actually looking for an answer, but there you go.

As for everyone else. Thanks for the cool and constuctive comments, as usual. Your diappointment that we couldn't manage to mirror your personal lists makes us lose sleep every year. We'll do better next time.

Edit: Tried editing the comment, but it crammed everything together and wouldn't let me re-add spaces.

@ Nocte: Ha ha. No venom. It is what it is, and entirely predictable. This list is only supposed to represent the staff, and it barely does that actually due to the diverse tastes of the staff. Even the members that like metal don't seem to like the same metal which is why we can't get anything on the list without 'help' from another staff member that just happened to like a random metal release.

Nocte
12.24.19
Which is all fair enough to be honest. I mean imagine whinging about someone not having the exact 100% same opinion as another individual. That's going to get pretty boring, pretty quickly.

Maybe some new blood next year will see a different skewering of the staff rating dynamic. Again, maybe it takes it further the other way.

Willie
12.24.19
I almost prefer end of year lists that deviate from my personal favorites. I'm not looking for confirmation of my tastes in other people's lists, I'm looking for things I haven't heard and even different takes on things I might have heard, but didn't like. Every once in a while, one of those different takes will prompt me to make more effort to really listen to an album I didn't like and it will actually click.

THISISMYWAR
12.24.19
what better e-tangible proof that 2019 was a baron musical wasteland rather than this?

Voltimand
12.24.19
Good top-10 list. Sad Thank You Scientist didn't make the whole 50, but I guess that album was a little harder to swallow for some; plus their previous effort made that year's list so it's all good.

I think I only heard some of Laura Stevenson's LP, need to revisit.

Winesburgohio
12.25.19
weirdly our 51-60 list featured albums some of us were more passionate about than some of the forerunners but as stated it's hard to get *everything* over the line and 50's as good an arbitrary number as any

Chambered79
12.25.19
"Your diappointment that we couldn't manage to mirror your personal lists makes us lose sleep every year. We'll do better next time"

You're completely missing the point

alamo
12.25.19
"this is the film Misery tbh. not because it stars James Caan and Kathy Bates but because I thought Sputnik might stand opposed to music press Stephen-Kingification. this is just another "Kingesque horror is the only acceptable horror" list, glaringly uninclusive, a major audition for getting bought out by Castle Rock"

hahHHAHUBFDBYU8FGDESB7Y89EFGS7H89FDNMP,C.Ç~;V]489156023

Nocte
12.25.19
"You're completely missing the point"

No U?

Willie
12.25.19
Ha ha. That's exactly what I thought when i read that. The point, I'd guess, would be some grammatical tap-dance around the fact the list didn't match his personal opinions while not coming right out and saying it. Any post complaining about including/not including band XYZ is essentially saying the same thing.

These lists aren't meant to be comprehensive or all-encompassing. They're a collection of all the staff's Top 25 albums (which are created with whatever criteria the individual list maker decides to use) and whatever albums score the most points become the Top 50. There's no additional discussion on the matter (sometimes there is a little, but nothing major or deep). It just is what it is.

Dewinged
12.25.19
Some people like to give these things way more importance than they actually have.

Voivod
12.25.19
I second Willie and Dewinged comments about the year-end list

Sputnik is not so much about its year-end list, which imho is a fiduciary duty of Sputnik staff, rather it’s about the formation of smaller or bigger clusters of people discussing about music, whenever they feel like it.

Dylan620
12.25.19
Voltimand, I believe you're thinking of the user list for 2016 - TYS missed the staff list that year too, but they did make the user list (#21 if I recall correctly)

Rickislost
12.26.19
Bought State Faults based on this list and absolutely no regrets. Great list

Chambered79
12.27.19
"Any post complaining about including/not including band XYZ is essentially saying the same thing"

Nope, try again. I barely have a year end list this year. I haven't complained about any ommissions because there aren't any worthy albums to even omit.

Chambered79
12.27.19
Look at this top ten next to any top ten in the 2000's or hell, between 2010-2015 and it's completely laughable. And it's not nostalgia.

Relinquished
12.27.19
it kinda is, you're already admitting it

Chambered79
12.27.19
Ironically, my life from 2015-now has been a lot better.

Demon of the Fall
12.27.19
How about looking at your own top 10 and comparing to other years? That makes way more sense than using Sput’s staff list as a barometer (no offence Sput, I love you, we’re just all different).

Willie
12.27.19
--Nope, try again. I barely have a year end list this year. I haven't complained about any ommissions because there aren't any worthy albums to even omit.--

My statement was completely correct. You're not complaining about ommisions, you're complaining about what was included despite admitting to barely even having a personal list, as well as stating there aren't even any worthy albums to omit. Which sounds like you had a problem with the releases this year in general, yet still want to complain about what was included.

Chambered79
12.27.19
Include what you want. Subjectivity and all. I'm just saying music has gone downhill if this is what we're considering the best of the best

Demon of the Fall
12.27.19
Make you’re own mind up, this is a small collective’s opinion, yours may/should differ, don’t take it to seriously/as gospel and do your own research.

Sinternet
12.27.19
cry more pussy

JohnnyoftheWell
12.27.19
Yes, but no-one has ever claimed these are the best of the best
[123] aggregate polling // consensus picks // not a 'statement' list
For what it's worth, this year has been middling as anything and most of the best stuff for various people seems to have been their cult picks or buried treasures, but you can't expect the staff list to take the flack for this, especially when the majority of these writeups are stellar as anything,

Demon of the Fall
12.27.19
I wish I could remember to not use certain characters, but yes what Johnny said as well.

Gyromania
12.27.19
Such a good thread

twlichty
12.28.19
Awesome year of music, thanks to the staff and contibuters that keep this site moving

virpi
12.28.19
#1 was expected after the hype. I still don't get why so many people like Lana del Rey's music. Well, actually I do get it, but I can't enjoy her songs. They well crafted, but so one-dimensional and bland.

Overall, it's an interesting list.

IndieMetal
12.28.19
I was very excited about the Laura Stevenson album after reading the review, so I listened to it a few times and it's . . . fine? Good at best? I can't fathom it being the best album of the year, and judging by year-end lists I've read from a myriad of other publications, nobody else can either.

I am also surprised Norma Jean and Blood Incantation didn't make it. They deserve to be there.

Chambered79
12.28.19
Fine, good at best explains music the last 5 years in a nutshell

butt.
12.28.19
Like how did Blood Incantation not make it?

Thibs
12.29.19
what butt. said

botulist
12.29.19
lame.

Morpha
12.29.19
Horrible list the 20's are looking bleak for music

TheClansman95
12.30.19
Blood Incantation should be in here

Veldin
12.30.19
Cult of Luna, Purple Mountains and Ghosteen are all top tier.

LeisureMuffin
12.30.19
Very funny, now where's the real list

JohnnyoftheWell
12.30.19
1. Blood Incantation
2. Northlane
3. Deathspell Omega
4. Bring Me The Horizon
5. Cattle Decapitation
6. Norma Jean

can y'all go home now?

Nocte
12.30.19
all these whiners in here, wonder how many of them voted for their pick of the litter?

Faraudo
12.30.19
Whiniest thread so far this decade.

jc3494
01.01.20
wrong.

jayz0ned
01.01.20
No Thank You Scientist, no cream :(

loveisamixtape
01.01.20
9 is really good tho

valek
01.01.20
The 1st and 2nd are laughable to say the least, some bullshit in here tbh. Nick Cave, Cult of Luna, Tool, Soen lower than Lana Del Rey just feels wrong. No Chelsea Wolfe or Alcest btw, what is this? I feel robbed haha.

budgie
01.01.20
how did two people not make this list

budgie
01.01.20
i will say i'm fine with #1 in any case
gj laura

Scheumke
01.03.20
Great writeups guys! Sad to not see Glen Hansard on this list, it definitely belonged. Anyone know when the user top50 is coming?

Nocte
01.03.20
there's a user top 50? please tell

Scheumke
01.03.20
Well we all voted for our personal top 10 didn't we? Wondering when that list will show up :)

Scheumke
01.03.20
Or was that meant sarcastically? I'm really autistic with reading written sarcasm lol

Nocte
01.03.20
just assume I'm dripping over the edge with It and you'll be fine.

EyesWideShut
01.04.20
Yall lost me with Tool.. that album fucking sucked broski

McTime50
01.09.20
nice rick roll

FuelTheJet
01.18.20
Yikes lol. Yikes.

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