|Top 100 Albums of 2019|
Albums 1-10: Five sentence description
Albums 11-20: Three sentence description
Albums 21-25: One sentence description
|101||Stuck Out Here|
Until We're Each Someone Else
Correction, because I'm an idiot: This should fall around number 11, right before Tallest Man On Earth. Somehow I missed an album that almost broke into my top ten. Anyway, here are it's three sentences:
Stuck Out Here has potentially the most honest lyrics of the year, which is saying something for a year that was so strong in both punk and country (this being the former). While it's full of Americana-Pop Punk anthems a la The Menzingers, it is the midtempo "Saint and Sinners Wine" that is not only an album highlight, but a highlight for the decade. For honest punk, you can't do better than Stuck Out Here.
Angels on the Slope
You Could Own An American Home
|96||Sufjan Stevens & Timo Andres|
|95||The Western Den|
A Light Left On
|94||Horse Jumper of Love|
|93||Meg and Dia|
Basking in the glow
|91||The Japanese House|
Good At Falling
|90||Joshua Ray Walker|
Wish You Were Here
Closer to Grey
|83||Tiny Moving Parts|
No Man's Land
|79||Emily Jane White|
|78||Better Oblivion Community Center|
Better Oblivion Community Center
The Gloaming 3
|76||From Indian Lakes|
|74||Mike Mains and The Branches|
When We Were In Love
|73||Rex Orange County|
|72||Tyler, the Creator|
TURN OFF THE LIGHT
|68||(Sandy) Alex G|
House Of Sugar
|67||Sharon Van Etten|
Remind Me Tomorrow
|66||Yes We Mystic|
Ten Seated Figures
Between The Country
I Am Easy to Find
You Know What They Mean
|61||Prince Daddy and The Hyena|
Cosmic Thrill Seekers
|59||Thank You Scientist|
The First Glass Beach Album
|54||Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle|
Stranger in the Alps
OK, I’M SICK
Birth of Violence
|51||The Appleseed Cast|
The Fleeting Light of Impermanence
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
The Big Freeze
|44||Penny and Sparrow|
Walk Through Fire
American Football (LP3)
Sound and Fury
|38||The Dangerous Summer|
You Are OK
Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
|33||Mike Adams at His Honest Weight|
There Is No Feeling Better
|32||In Her Own Words|
|31||Jimmy Eat World|
Beware Of The Dogs
You Swear It's Getting Better Every Day
The spirit of outlaw country is alive and thriving.
This Wild Willing
An evolution in sound for a folk artist that has been with me through all ages of my music taste.
Four of Arrows
I never thought I’d be so nostalgic for lives that weren’t my own.
Screamo so beautiful that even those who don’t like screamo can like it.
Oh Uncertainty! A Universe Despairs
This is an album created for someone to be able to jam to, and it’s pretty damn jammable.
A number of artists on this album broke away from their typical styling in a way that disappointed me and that I then eventually found fulfilling. Keaton Henson definitely took a risk, but the result was never disappointing. He created six neoclassical orchestral suites that are immediate in their beauty.
While I was initially very disappointed that Kishi Bashi had moved away from even further his fun and eclectic pop sound, sometimes a concept cannot be denied. Kishi Bashi talks about internment camps in our country in a beautiful and blunt way, and a way that reminds us that we cannot ignore our past, even though we desperately try to. The intimacy of the album works in its favor and makes these concepts hit even harder.
When I say to you Black Lightning
Common Holly takes a genre that is all too familiar (hushed singer-songwriter folk) and makes it unfamiliar. Her lyrics are dark, but not the typical dark, her guitar work is glittery, but not the typical glittery, and her other instruments are weird, but not typical weird. She really should be typical, but is anything but.
The Practice of Love
I still have no idea how to describe ‘The Practice of Love’. It’s weird fairy-robot sounding pop music with some poetry intervals or something. But I do know it captivates me upon every listen.
‘Interrobang’ is no fluff, straight rock music with the heart of pop punk. Every song has a singable and unforgettable chorus. It makes you want to headbang and sing along, and sometimes that’s really all you need.
As expected, La Dispute delivers another album of emotional and intense reality. Lyrically they have fallen somewhere in between the vast expanse of other people’s stories featured in ‘Wildlife” and the intimacy of the topics in ‘Rooms of the House’. Taking on a more lush soundscape, Panorama sees that band hit the sweet spots in all of their formulas.
‘i,i’ realizes Bon Iver’s full growth from a folk artist to an art collective. This is a full departure from the sound that catapulted him to folk-lore and sometimes a departure from music that could be called a fully realized song. But in his transformation to the sonic embodiment of a california hippie compound has been fully realized.
Expansive experimental post jazz is the best basic descriptor I can give of ‘Arrival’. This horribly undersells the album while also overselling. It somehow manages to be beautiful, unique, strange, but also incredibly accessible and listenable to those who have no idea what it really is (such as myself).
How We Got By
The loss of a child being put to music is not necessarily a new concept, but the loss of a foster child due to bureaucratic mistakes is a new take. Air Review recruits the use of synth pop to tell this all to telling story. The result is a sound of childlike innocence with the dark subtext creating a moving record.
|11||The Tallest Man on Earth|
I Love You. It's a Fever Dream.
The best vocals Kristian Mattson has ever recorded, mixed with some of his most moving lyrics. For an album that is all about real depiction of loneliness, it is also the most successful he’s ever been in filling out his sound. Combine all of these facts and you have the best album out of an extremely consistent artist.
I Need A New War
There are a lot of people of people that are alive right now. ‘I Need a New War’ tells stories of about twenty of them, give or take a few. All of them are people we know, if we don’t know the exact people that Craig Finn knows and is talking about them. Each story on the album is detailed, unique, and specific. Yet, despite all of this, their universal and, more than anything, they feel like home.
|9||Her Name Is Calla|
Convention is something that Her Name is Calla paid absolutely no attention to with ‘Animal Choir’. Sprawling and epic post-rock, they created a behemoth of an album that never feels overwhelming. The seventy-eight minutes is filled with breathtaking moment after breathtaking moment, with not a second feeling out of place. They created an epic that is able to both hit hard and hold back punches, all while never encroaching on territory that they previously covered. ‘Animal Choir’ is an absolute masterclass in how to create a double album that feels worthy of being a double album.
|8||Lana Del Rey|
Norman Fucking Rockwell!
‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ offered an American Commentary that I normally don’t appreciate in music. It’s apolitical, privileged, and tries to say a whole lot while really saying nothing. Enough listens, as well as Jack Antonoff’s production, have made me realize that’s maybe the point. Whether or not the criticism on disconnect is something I’ve created or not, there’s no doubting that this is the most consistent and coherent Lana has ever sounded. The largely piano-focused atmosphere blends brilliantly with her haunted vocals, creating a pop album that will define a new direction that the genre has been taking in recent years, largely due to Lana’s work. It’s a style that she popularized and now perfected with ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’.
Talking Dogs and Atom Bombs
Darrin Bradbury doesn’t know what’s going on right now, but he’s doing his damndest just to figure out. Like many albums on this list, Bradbury has a lot of commentary on the political landscape of America in 2019. I think in ten, twenty, thirty years, we ‘Talking Dogs & Atom Bombs’ is an album that we’ll be able to look back on in order to remember how we felt as regular, everyday people during anything-but-regular times. Even though he never gave me answers, Bradbury did something that is also very important - Made me laugh and made me recognize my world in context. As someone with goals of entering a turbulent political field, context is something I want to make sure to never lose sight of.
|6||Emily Scott Robinson|
Along with Craig Finn and Darrin Bradbury, Emily Scott Robinson has the best grasp on the stories of Middle America that I think I’ve heard in music this year, or many other years. Unlike Finn, her stories are entirely her own. Every song is fairly barebones, creating the imagery of Emily Scott Robinson travelling the country with her guitar, figuring out things as she goes. ‘Traveling Mercies’ is her attempt at trying to put to music what she found out about both herself and the world around her. Sometimes revelatory, sometimes fun, almost always vulnerable, the album is an accessible masterpiece in Americana-pop.
FKA Twigs has an ability for creating unique song structures in pop songs that you never knew you wanted until you hear them. There’s always a danger for pop albums that focus on production that other aspects can be laid to the side to perfect the production. ‘MAGDALENE’ does not have this issue. Outside of Tahliah Barnett’s perfectly handled vocals, the religious allegories throughout the album are just as provocative as the sound surrounding them. ‘MAGDALENE’ is somehow both accessible and addictingly complex in all of the right ways.
‘Pony’, a non-heteronormative, theatrical, and experimental album, is Orville Peck’s first attempt at making country a more inclusive genre for all. That being said, while his aesthetic may be country, it would be disingenuous to describe his music so simply. “Dead of Night” certainly has more in common with Lana Del Ray than it does with Johnny Cash (vocals aside), but the spirit of outlaw country does not have a better representation in 2019 than Orville Peck. But do not mistake his identity as a gimmick, nor is his music. It is without a best album you’ll hear this year by a Masked-Queer-Indie-Pop-Country-Artist-With-Shoegaze-Tendencies.
|3||Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties|
My love for musical theatre and musical storytelling makes Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties a side project specifically made for me. Combine Americana with Dan Campbell’s dominant brand of pop punk, add a fleshed out character and storyline, add some horns and a bit of hope, and you have what is perhaps Campbell’s defining album. The story of Aaron West, while nothing necessarily unique, is one full of heart. ‘Routine Maintenance’ created the best possible sound that creates enough heart to match it’s subject material. Melodramatic beyond belief, but what person hasn’t seen their own life in that way at some point?
Between Blood and Ocean
Courtney Swain has a lot to share and the talent required to share it. ‘Between Blood and Ocean’ bounces between sweet piano pop, progressive rock, gothic folk, and everything in between, all guided by Swain’s transcendent voice. No matter what idea she decides to tackle, the sound remains undoubtedly one of Swain’s own brilliant making Evoking both the harshness of winter yet the beauty that comes from the gleam of the sun on snow, Swain creates a tonally consistent album full of genre inconsistency. No album in 2019 manages to excite me and give me the goosebumps that ‘Between Blood and Ocean’ does each and every listen.
Somehow ‘Blushing’ manages to be both fear and celebration of love wrapped up in a hazy dream of an album. Without a doubt, it dances the fine line of overdramatic melancholy, a border that I have never come close to. Indeed, much of Aaron Marsh’s crooning and lyrics can make me wonder why I adore it so, as I have never come close even to the apex of emotions that he describes. When combined with the beautiful production of the album, however, it doesn’t matter that I haven’t experienced what he describes. ‘Blushing’ invites me into a truly new and beautiful human experience.