tectactoe
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Reviews 3
Approval 92%

Soundoffs 51
Album Ratings 1909
Objectivity 93%

Last Active 12-19-19 2:55 pm
Joined 09-24-05

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 Lists
07.07.20 Top 25 of 2020: So Far! (Aug.)06.11.20 Favorite Metal of 2020 (So Far)
05.27.20 FILM: tectac's Hayao Miyazaki, Ranked 05.12.20 MUSIC: tectac's Swans, Ranked
03.15.20 FILM: tectac's Tsai Ming-liang, Ranked02.25.20 FILM: tectac's Robert Bresson, Ranked
01.21.20 MUSIC: tec's Top 50 of 2019 12.18.19 FILM: tec's Noah Baumbach, Ranked
12.09.19 MUSIC: tec's Top 100 Songs of 2019 11.25.19 FILM: tectac's Sergio Leone, Ranked
10.30.19 FILM: tectac's Darren Aronofsky, Ranked10.24.19 FILM: tectac's Top 10(0) Films of the D
10.17.19 MUSIC: tectac's Top 20 Metal Albums of 10.15.19 FILM: tectac's Gus Van Sant, Ranked
10.09.19 FILM: tectac's David Fincher, Ranked09.27.19 14 Years on Sput/mx: Top Albums of the
09.09.19 FILM: tectac's Christopher Nolan, Ranke08.28.19 FILM: tectac's Coen Brothers, Ranked
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MUSIC: tec's Top 100 Songs of 2019

Yes, I occasionally listen to music, too. Here are my picks for Top 100 tracks of 2019 (not just “singles,” but any track from any album released in 2019 is eligible). Limit is one track per release, singles notwithstanding (unless said single was later released on a full-length LP). I’m going to release it over the course of FOUR DAYS - revealing 25 new choices each day. (So this’ll be filled out by Thursday.) Let me know where I fucked up, please! Tried to be as comprehensive as possible while also staying true to my gut feeling and my last.fm data, which is indisputable at this point. Since Sput does not carry a full database of Singles, any cases where a song was not subsequently released on an EP or LP, I will chose a random album and denote that the song was released as a single in 2019.
100Lambchop
This (is what I wanted to tell you)


>> "CROSSWORDS, OR WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU"

Haven't been too big on previous Lambchop releases - e.g. the slowcare musings of IS A WOMAN or the drawn-out alt-country vibes of DAMAGED (though I do enjoy NIXON) - but this new quasi-electronica vibe is thrilling, if somewhat strange after being so used to Wagner's usual acoustic crooning. I don't know if I could listen to this album (or even this song) ad infinitum, but it's the first time I've found myself actively returning to a Lambchop track.
99Deerhunter
Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?


>> “WHAT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE?”

Have gotten slight KAPUTT vibes from this album—this song in particular—but with a more minimalistic, pared-down atmosphere, resulting in a lovely track that’s not quite as transformative as e.g. “Chinatown,” but is sufficiently catchy in its own, half-empty ballroom kinda way.
98JPEGMAFIA
All My Heroes Are Cornballs


>> “JESUS FORGIVE ME, I AM A THOT”

My overall feeling of ALL MY HEROES ARE CORNBALLS is more disappointment than elation, especially given the hype surrounding its release. It’s more of a sketchbook than a fully realized piece of work (and some will argue that’s precisely *the point*), but regardless: I always find myself coming back to this track. Short, simple, sweet, and just raunchy enough to scare your grandparents.
97Lucy Dacus
2019


>> “FOOL’S GOLD” (released on Fool's Gold Single)

Generally averse to these readymade, quasi-acoustic, indie-singer/songwriter trappings, and Dacus’s voice even carries a lot of the same intonations we’ve been conditioned to expect from this sub-subgenre. But fuck it, this is doing *something* right; something different enough that it tickles the boundaries of what I despite but never, ever crosses over. When that “He’ll blame the alcohol” hits, I fully submit.
96Matt Maltese
Krystal


>> “TOKYO”

KRYSTAL was another album that I enjoyed well enough when I first heard it but felt very homogenous in retrospect. Rarely do I revisit it in whole. Actually, rarely do I revisit it aside from “Tokyo”—funny, because it’s not like this track is drastically different than the rest, but the melody and the dual-layered vocal track strikes precisely the right nerve, and is the only song to have left a lasting impression. (And when that guitar interlude hits alongside the ride cymbal - swoon.)
95Jenny Hval
The Practice of Love


>> “ASHES TO ASHES”

There’s something about Jenny Hval’s voice I find actively off-putting, preventing me from really falling in love with anything she’s ever done, capping my interest at “tolerance.” Especially when she started doing more spoken word stuff with this recent outing. “Ashes to Ashes,” however, finds her at her most confident and compelling (and thus least annoying). Shame, this song deserved a better album surrounding it.
94Liturgy
H.A.Q.Q.


>> “GOD OF LOVE”

Liturgy drama and genre-transcending wankery aside, H.A.Q.Q. quickly became one of my favorite metal releases of the year in all its burst beat, glitch-wave, ivory-tickling glory. Hard to pick a favorite from it—it’s an album that works infinitely better as a complete piece of work—but I think this is most representative of what you’re getting yourself into.
93Julia Jacklin
Crushing


>> “DON’T KNOW HOW TO KEEP LOVING YOU”

I deflected on this album for a long time, and still never totally came around to it, despite holding a soft spot for both “Head Alone” and “Pressure to Party.” A month or so ago, I’d have contemplated which of those songs to add to this list. But “Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You” has recently been growing in my estimation, opting for a softer, less-abrasive surface texture. The mellowness feels earnest; another showcase of lovely restraint.
92Tennis
Yours Conditionally


>> “RUNNER” (released on Runner Single)

Lovely dream pop jam. This is what Beach House might sound like if they did cocaine and had a female singer. Wait, what? Beach House *does* have a female singer?? [Checks notecard.] Uh…well, you know what I mean. This single was released too late—I wanna jam this in the warm goddamn weather. Looks like I’m gonna have to wait ‘til next year to make that dream a reality.
91Matana Roberts
COIN COIN Chapter Four: Memphis


>> “RAISE YOURSELF UP”

Love this album, had a difficult time selecting a song to include on this list, and almost omitted it completely. It’s not merely beneficial but basically required that you listen to the album in its totality, otherwise you dilute its power and its overall effect. In the end, I decided to include “Raise Yourself Up,” though, because it’s not only the most accessible track, but the one that functions best independently. Seriously, though—you shouldn’t listen to it out of context too often.
90Hayden Thorpe
Diviner


>> “ANYWHEN”

Something about that opening piano lick and the way it sounds like you can hear fleshy fingers mashing into the keys and the padded hammers gently striking the strings inside the body. Not big on Hayden Thorpe, admittedly, but the genteel affection of this track is undeniable, and I could listen to it on repeat for eternity. Probably.
89Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties
Routine Maintenance


>> “JUST SIGN THE PAPERS”

Even as a fan of The Wonder Years, Dan Campbell’s solo project(s) have typically struck me as over-exerted and unnecessary adjuncts to something far more capable and compelling. His latest Aaron West album was fine, nothing spectacular (par for the course, I guess), but this track immediately stood out to me as the cornerstone, the piece de resistance, and might be one of the most heartbreaking, legitimately emotional things he’s written, full stop.
88Sego
Sego Sucks


>> “ANVIL HANDS”

Sego picks up where Beck (should’ve) left off, for better or for worse (sometimes both), and I almost included “Neon Me Out” in this space because I think it embodies that notion perfectly. But “Anvil Hands” is the superior song. With an opening lyric as cryptic yet commiserative as “slide down the razorblade into a sea of lemonade,” I mean, how could I *not* choose it?
87La Dispute
Panorama


>> “ANXIETY PANORAMA”

This brand of post-hardcore, heavily modulated, spoken-word-evolving-into-screaming is normally not my thing at all, but I find myself returning to La Dispute’s latest album often enough to question what exactly they’re doing differently to sidestep my knee-jerk repulsion. Tough choice between this and “Fulton Street I,” but something about this one never gets old to me.
86Common Holly
When I say to you Black Lightning


>> “CRAZY OK”

This is as subversively twee as things can get before I retract and hurl, and while the opening melody is charming enough in a short-set-acoustic-act-at-a-rundown-VFW-hall kinda way, the unexpected eruption of amplification and distortion just past the halfway mark is precisely the jolt of energy necessary to catapult the track from “Just OK” to “Crazy OK.”
85Vivian Girls
Memory


>> “I’M FAR AWAY”

It’s like…what if Sonic Youth and Joy Division fused together and produced music that was actually enjoyable? (Please don’t hate me, disciples of either—I’m simply not a fan.) Not quite post-punk, not quite shoegaze, not quite dream pop, not quite indie rock, and often these genre dodgers are capable of scratching itches you didn’t even know existed.
84Strand of Oaks
Eraserland


>> “WEIRD WAYS”

My heartland rock experience is depressingly limited, so I’m not going to pretend there’s anything I can accurately compare this to without sounding like a grade-A plebeian. But Showalter’s voice is uncanny, his melody classic, his rhythm familiar, and the retrograde quality that some might look down upon is exactly what I love about it. It’s a contemporary song that reminds me why I still listen to Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young and Tom Petty.
83Avey Tare
Cows On Hourglass Pond


>> “K.C. YOURS”

“K.C. Yours” might be my favorite track among all of the Animal Collective side and solo projects, and the one that most reminds me of Animal Collective’s heyday. Not to say that a band’s members’ solo projects should resemble the tree from which they branched—quite the contrary—but Animal Collective’s golden years were so goddamn good that I’ll unabashedly gobble up anything that’s even vaguely reminiscent.
82Beach Bunny
Prom Queen


>> “DREAM BOY” (released on Dream Boy Single)

The latest addition to the list, and a song that took all of ten seconds to adequately grown on me. Made me think of Jetty Bones when I first heard it, but there’s more confidence here, a robustness that Jetty just doesn’t have. Cautiously optimistic of Beach Bunny’s upcoming album. If this is any indication, they can sure write a catchy pop hit. An album full of ‘em might get a bit enervating, though. We’ll see.
81Faye Webster
Atlanta Millionaires Club


>> “RIGHT SIDE OF MY NECK”

Baffles me that “Jonny” and “Kingston” have become this album’s ubiquitous highlights. They’re fine, and perhaps if you tend toward the slower, more subdued side of modern alt-country that’s an understandable stance. But “Right Side of My Neck” is a perfect genre blender, and evidence that you really only need one great hook on repeat to craft an exquisite and eminently listenable song.
80Tindersticks
No Treasure but Hope


>> “PINKY IN THE DAYLIGHT”

I have trouble with Tindersticks—I often fall in love with their melody, their atmosphere, and their composition, only to wince at Stuart Staples’s blubbering vocals. This finds him at his most tolerable—dare I say actively enjoyable—and the soundscape is pristine. Transforms me on a gondola in the middle of Italy, people playing music from balconies of nearby flats. Why can’t I enjoy other Tindersticks tracks this much, goddamnit?
79The Appleseed Cast
The Fleeting Light of Impermanence


>> “CHAOTIC WAVES”

The track most reminiscent of their turn-of-the-century masterpiece, MARE VITALIS. Having leapt somewhat headfirst into their post-rock influences, their latest album finds them return to their Midwest emo roots just enough to be noticeable, but not so much that you can call it a regression. (TWO CONVERSATIONS was close, I guess.) Stunning opener from an album that I honestly didn’t expect much out of. Shame on me, though—The Appleseed Cast rarely disappoints.
78Lightning Bolt
Sonic Citadel


>> “BLOW TO THE HEAD”

When I listen to any track from SONIC CITADEL (or any individual track from any Lightning Bolt album, for that matter), I wonder why my rating isn’t higher? When I listen to all the tracks in succession, though, I remember why. There’s a highly wearisome quality to their gritty noise-rock that makes most albums fizzle out shortly after the halfway point for me. But parsed piece by piece, I’m always mightily impressed. This song e.g. is incredible. If it were to be the last track on the album instead of the first, however, I’m not sure I’d feel the same way.
77Injury Reserve
Injury Reserve


>> “RAP SONG TUTORIAL”

Probably not the “best” song on Injury Reserve’s self-titled LP (okay, *definitely* not the best)—that’d be “Jailbreak the Tesla.” I love the conceit, though, even if it’s nothing more than a silly little gimmick. It’s neat, it’s unique, and once the song comes to fruition, it’s actually damn good. Makes me wish it were longer, but maybe that would threaten to destroy some of the magic.
76Charli XCX
Charli


>> “OFFICIAL”

Can’t stand this album, can’t stand Charli XCX, think “Gone” and “1999” are two of the worst songs ever created (the latter of which was essentially on repeat at my local gym for the better part of a year…maybe that’s why). But I can’t deny the masterful simplicity of “Official”—the *only* song to remind with me after my one and only listen of Charli’s latest album. No coincidence that this finds her at her least forcefully edgy.
75Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Ghosteen


>> “BRIGHT HORSES”

Found myself less enamored with Nick Cave’s latest album than most—unlike much of his previous work, listening to GHOSTEEN start-to-finish feels strangely…daunting (?). Paradoxically, it’s great in piecemeal, though, and while the closer, “Hollywood,” is the album’s greatest achievement, “Bright Horses” is the track I keep on spinning. Those opening four chords are enough to send me into a frisson frenzy.
74Jungstotter
Love Is


>> “LOVE IS”

Not the kind of chamber pop I typically clamor for, though there’s a specific restraint to much of LOVE IS that makes it more approachable, more digestible, and more down-to-earth than many of its eloquent and overly grandiose contemporaries. When those female vocals join in for the chorus of “Love Is,” my heart melts.
73Oso Oso
Basking in the glow


>> “THE VIEW”

So good that it ensures you’ll find the rest of BASKING IN THE GLOW disappointing in comparison; that’s the inevitable death knell of putting your best song first (or second, behind the “intro”). Nothing fancy here, and it doesn’t even stray far from your typical indie pop-punk formulaic song structure, but the familiarity is warm, the melody is catchy, the chorus is anthematic, and I’ve never made it through the entire track without singing along at some point.
72Weeping Sores
False Confession


>> “SCARS WHISPERING SECRET TONGUES”

A significantly undervalued and strangely unnoticed metal release of 2019; perhaps with a name like Weeping Sores, people have trouble taking you seriously? The blend of atmospheric, trudging doom elements and shapeshifting death metal time signatures alongside an onslaught of dissonant orchestration is unlike any other metal album I’ve heard this year. And while the shtick doesn’t *quite* sustain for the entire duration, it succeeds more often than not: Here’s Exhibit A.
71American Football
American Football (LP3)


>> “SILHOUETTES”

No, American Football will never again capture the magic of their late-90s counterparts, they’ll never craft another album as perfect as LP1, and they’ll never write a song as immaculate as “Never Meant.” Those are facts. But comparing everything new they create to their maiden release is narrow-sighted at best and naively counterproductive at worst. LP3 presented a more confident fusion of their atmospheric sensibilities with the pop intonations they accrued during LP2 and the result is quite good. “Silhouettes” is the highlight.
70Mount Eerie
Lost Wisdom, Pt. 2


>> “WIDOWS”

In its entirety, LOST WISDOM PT. 2 is simply too much disheartening slowcore to inhale in a single sitting; not without merit, but also not something I find particularly enjoyable or even beneficial. Among the lethargic pickings sits “Widows,” a breath of unbelievably fresh air, a resuscitative jolt—it’s still loaded with crushingly depressing lyrics, but there’s finally a worthy tone to go along with it.
69Chat Pile
Remove Your Skin Please


>> “DALLAS BELTWAY”

Who the fuck are these guys? This is like some three-headed, monstrous amalgam of Daughters, Joy Division, and pre-reunion Swans. I also hear a bit of Lightning Bolt, Sonic Youth, and Have a Nice Life. And, despite these influences, worn somewhat proudly on the sleeve of this energetic EP, it feels shockingly singular. The most terrifying four-track release of 2019, without a doubt; excited to see what these guys come up with next.
68Cigarettes After Sex
Cry


>> “HEAVENLY”

After falling heading over heals for Cigarettes After Sex’s self-titled 2017 release, my initial reaction to their follow up, CRY, was crushing disappointment. Not to say it’s *bad*—it’s not. But it feels like nothing more than a collection of self-conscious b-sides and cutting room sinew leftover from its far-superior predecessor. “Heavenly” is the one song that could (and would) fit snuggly into the CIGARETTES AFTER SEX tracklist with no issue. Just above every other song would threaten to be a notable low-point.
67Orville Peck
Pony


>> “DEAD OF NIGHT”

Took me a while to listen to this—I put off the album for a long while on the basis that [1] I’m not a huge alt-country fan, and [2] the cover is ridiculous. Imagine my shock (and regret, for having waiting so long) when I finally fire it up and almost immediately get chills down my spine, the chorus’s overstretched “seeeeeee” sending me into a metaphysical orgasm.
66The Soft Cavalry
The Soft Cavalry


>> “BULLETPROOF”

Dream pop without the dream. So…just pop? No, not really. (What I’m trying to say: this embodies “pop” in a way that’s both unique and evasive. It’s not exactly what I think of when I hear the term “dream pop”, but it’s not just generic “pop”, either, so clearly they’ve found the line and straddled it admirably.) Anyway, this song won’t make you float or drift among the clouds or lose you in a wall of sound, but sometimes that’s perfectly OK, because it slaps regardless.
65Schammasch
Hearts of No Light


>> “EGO SUM OMEGA”

I’ve tried several times to parse what exactly it is about HEARTS OF NO LIGHT that keeps drawing me back more than almost any other metal release this year (save for a few) and usually come up empty handed. Black, semi-melodic, avant-garde, heavy, quasi-ritualistic—it’s all those things, and somehow the resulting cocktail is headier and more intoxicating that I could’ve imagined. “Ego Sum Omega” is the centerpiece.
64Laura Stevenson
The Big Freeze


>> “LIVING ROOM, NY”

Didn’t care for this album and don’t much care for Laura Stevenson on the whole, if I’m being honest. Something about her voice lacks conviction and when she sings, all I get is a decent-sounding but largely artificial collection of wannabe heartfelt ballads. “Living Room, NY” is the one exception, and of the other nine tracks on THE BIG FREEZE had even half the confidence of this one track, it’d be 2019’s masterpiece without a doubt.
63Thom Yorke
Anima


>> “DAWN CHORUS”

Briefly thought about being a somewhat subversive prick and going with “Twist” as my ANIMA pick, but alas, I cannot allow my penchant for singularity to trump what I know in my heart to be true, and that means recognizing “Dawn Chorus” as truly the best song on ANIMA, and possibly the greatest release of Thom Yorke’s entire solo career.
62Chelsea Wolfe
Birth of Violence


>> “THE MOTHER ROAD”

Admittedly, I love the more doom/industrial influences Wolfe showed on HISS SPUN and was a bit salty when she returned to her more subdued, gothic-rock roots with BIRTH OF VIOLENCE. But successive spins have allowed the album to really grow on me and blossom in its own way; something I appreciate just the same, but for different reasons. Had a hard time choosing between, like, four tracks here, which is a good sign. “The Mother Road” is lights out, though.
61clairo
Immunity


>> “BAGS”

I liked IMMUNITY well enough—gave it a 3.0 and would occasionally revisit some tracks from it here and there. Though “Bags” always struck me as head and shoulders above the rest, and I was legitimately excited to add it to my Top 100 Tracks of 2019 list, thinking I’d picked a lovely pop dark horse. But mulling over a few online publications and their lists, I’m noticing that “Bags” appears on almost all of them, sometimes even in the Top 10. So there goes that. Anyway, it’s a damn fine song.
60Destroyer
Have We Met


>> “CRIMSON TIDE” (released on Crimson Tide Single)

I tend to be very hit-or-miss with Destroyer, and while I love KAPUTT as much as the next audiophile, almost every other album has tracks I love and tracks I hate. If “Crimson Tide” is any indication of the type of music and songwriting he’ll be filling his new album with, however, consider me optimistic. This is the most reminiscent of KAPUTT that he’s been since…well, KAPUTT. Maybe I should stop living in the past, but fuck it—would anybody really be opposed to a KAPUTT PART II?
59Wilco
Ode to Joy


>> “LOVE IS EVERYWHERE (BEWARE)”

Sure, ODE TO JOY is no YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT, but what is? Shocked to see how this has been casually written off as trifling and inconsequential by so many people, Wilco diehards included. It’s an immensely honest and heartfelt album, and it lacks the standout punches of previous Wilco releases, maybe, but every track works so cohesively toward the whole that it’d be difficult to consider that an actual fault.
58Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow


>> “SEVENTEEN”

Another lauded pop release of 2019 that was entertaining to listen to but evaporated from my mind mere moments after the final song concluded. And like other albums of that ilk (see also: Clairo’s IMMUNITY), there’s usually one song that wades casually atop the rest, worthy of future playlists and repeats while the rest of the album gets tucked away into the annuls of obscurity forever. On REMIND ME TOMORROW, that song is “Seventeen.”
57Perfume Genius
No Shape


>> “POP SONG” (released on Pop Song Single)

Call it whatever you want—art pop, ambient pop, dream pop, neo-psychedelia. Either way, it’s fucking gorgeous, it’s lush, it’s soft, it’s warm, it’s something I’d like to wrap around myself on those cold winter mornings when you wake up and somehow the covers are all on the floor and the thermostat is set way too low because you’re broke and trying to consciously save energy (and money). Beautiful.
56Flying Lotus
Flamagra


>> “BLACK BALLOONS REPRISE”

I just love everything about this—the beat, the flows, the lyrics, twinkling wind chimes that occasionally peak in the background, the piercing violins, even the slightly choral refrain during the chorus. Still haven’t made it through Flying Lotus’s album in its entirety; the few songs I’ve heard outside of this have been disappointing. But make no mistake, this is a fantastic hip hop single.
55Mortiferum
Disgorged From Psychotic Depths


>> “ARCHAIC VISION OF DESPAIR”

DISGORGED FROM PSYCHOTIC DEPTHS quickly became one of my favorite releases of the year, embodying the slow, methodic trepidation of traditional doom metal and incising it with excerpts of quick, tightly-paced death metal blast beats and tempo variations. It’s at once looming and manic, but it always carries with it a sense of heft and dread, as any good doom metal album should. Opening track is the best (by a nose), and my favorite part comes during the final thirty seconds, when that double-time ride cymbal comes clanking in.
54Radiohead
MINIDISCS [HACKED]


>> “ILL WIND” (released on Ill Wind Single)

Very lounge act-y, and the next closest thing they’ve created to a potential James Bond theme song behind, obviously, “Spectre.” (Yes, this is significantly more suited to a Bond film than “Man of War,” to my mind.) If I had to place this on an existing Radiohead album…I don’t think I could. I hear snippets of almost everything from OK COMPUTER to A MOON SHAPED POOL and trust me when I say that’s assuredly a good thing. A great thing, even.
53Alex Cameron
Miami Memory


>> “DIVORCE”

Never has marital separation and the dissolution of a holy union seemed so carefree and uplifting. I jest—Cameron’s outlook on the subject is no so much “happy” is it is “optimistic,” smugly so, trying to make the best of a bad situation by showing unconcern and disaffection. I get it. As heartbreaking as it is, it’s impossible not to belt along with him: “I got friends in Kansas City with a motherfuckin’ futon couch if that’s how you wanna play it!”
52Tomb Mold
Planetary Clairvoyance


>> “BEG FOR LIFE”

Took me two spins to fully appreciate PLANETARY CLAIRVOYANCE—dunno why my initial listen didn’t impress me much, but the subsequent one (and each one thereafter) has blown me away. Sludgy and doomy and just a *tiny bit* spacey, never dampening its edge but also never afraid to take the occasional atmospheric detour, either. I dunno, maybe it’s a right place, right time type of deal, but this is creeping up my list of favorite metal releases for the year. Opening track is a stunner.
51Tyler, the Creator
IGOR


>> “EARFQUAKE”

I was initially upset that IGOR wasn’t anything like FLOWER BOY, but when I relisten to tracks like “EARFQUAKE” or “NEW MAGIC WAND” or “A BOY IS A GUN,” etc., that disappointment quickly turns to gratitude. I’ve grown to love the more R&B, contemporary synth-soul (or whatever you wanna call it) approach. We have plenty of West Coast hip hop to keep us busy. We don’t have too many IGORs, though.
50Denzel Curry
Zuu


>> “RICKY”

I only have the capacity to truly enjoy one Southern/trap hip hop record every year, and this year that honor goes to Curry’s ZUU. Really, this spot could’ve gone to any of the other first four tracks—“ZUU,” “WISH,” “BIRDZ.” This seems to be the consensus pick, though, and I’m inclined to agree, if only slightly: It absolutely thrums. The pulse is through the roof, energetic as hell, and catchy in that way that even on your first-ever listen, you’ll be singing the chorus by the end.
49Lana Del Rey
Norman Fucking Rockwell!


>> “VENICE BITCH”

I’m firmly in the optimistic middle-ground re Lana’s latest album: I don’t hate it (at all), but I also don’t think it’s an unequivocal pop masterpiece. I think it’s really, really good. Occasionally great. “Venice Bitch” is one example of its occasional greatness. A somewhat recursive, sprawling, self-deprecating ballad that just wafts by and lingers forever in the best way possible. When those Pink Floyd synths come in, I lose it.
48FKA Twigs
Magdalene


>> “SAD DAY”

Why is “cellophane” getting all the love? As ambivalent as I was toward MAGDALENE, this track is undeniable fire, some ethereal blend of synth-pop, glitch-pop, art-pop, and…spacey slowcore? I dunno. Hard to define, but not anywhere as self-conscious or elaborately strained as nearly every other track on the album. Sometimes simplicity is what hits the spot, ya know?
47Copeland
Blushing


>> “LAY HERE”

I’ve been a very arm’s-length “fan” of Copeland since BENEATH THE MEDICINE TREE, casually cherry-picking a few favorites from each album to carry with me evermore, usually leaving the rest behind to wisp away in the deepest pockets of my memory. I’ll likely continue that relationship with BLUSHING—easily their most ambition album to date, but one that still doesn’t send me into a euphoric frenzy of emotional release (like it should). This track, however, will remain in my personal rotation forever.
46Cult of Luna
A Dawn to Fear


>> “LAY YOUR HEAD TO REST”

You were expecting “Lights on the Hill” or “The Silent Man.” Maybe even “Nightwalkers” or “The Fall.” Anything but this, though, right? I get the strange impression that this is the album’s weak spot for a majority of people, especially diehard Cult of Luna fans. (Is that true?) Dunno what to say, but this song just makes me wanna fucking jam. The marching drum beat, the sludgy guitars draped atop it, the stilted bursts of screaming—not quite as atmospheric as the rest of A DAWN TO FEAR, but with post-metal tendencies this delicious…who cares?
45The Harmaleighs
She Won't Make Sense


>> “SORRY, I’M BUSY”

Part of me loved SHE WON’T MAKE SENSE when it first came out, and yet each time I listen to it, it seems to grow off me just a *little* more. I fear that one day I’ll have no feelings for it anymore, but “Sorry, I’m Busy” is one track whose staying power hasn’t waned a bit, still as catchy and poppy and casually harmonious as the first time I heard it; the whispering repetition of the chorus after the bridge gives me full body chills every time.
44Ceres
We Are A Team


>> “COLLARBONE, 2011”

Tough choice between this and “Marriage”—the one-two punch to open up WE ARE A TEAM is simply fantastic, and I’d venture to say that even if mashed-up indie-rock/Midwest emo-pop isn’t normally part of your listening repertoire, you can find something to love (or, at the very least, enjoy) between the duo. While “Marriage” is more heartfelt and striking and emotional, “Collarbone, 2011” is infectious beyond measure, a much more delectable quality when making a single-track mixtape.
43Strange Ranger
Remembering the Rockets


>> “LEONA”

I was lucky enough to be recommended this fantastic album by a friend with whom I typically discuss movies. And thank god, because I’d have never heard of it otherwise. A bit of dream pop, a bit of indie rock, a hint of gaze, a dash of jangle, a skosh of emo—tons of familiar touchpoints, but able to blend them into an identity of its own. “Leona” is probably the best and most comprehensive summation of what the record has to offer. If you don’t dig this, don’t bother with the rest of it. (But there’s no way you won’t dig this.)
42PUP
Morbid Stuff


>> “MORBID STUFF”

It’s possible that I overrated MORBID STUFF after falling into a cyclic slump of crappy pop-punk recommendations, coupled with my indifference toward PUP’s previous release, THE DREAM IS OVER (which most people seem to prefer???). But every time I toss it on with the intention of listening to a song or two, I end up listening to the whole damn thing. Could’ve picked nearly any song from it, honestly, but the opener is perfect—short, sweet, energetic, and oddly funny: “I was bored as fuck / sitting around and thinking all this morbid stuff / like if anyone I’ve slept with is dead.”
41Palehound
Black Friday


>> “AARON”

I heard both “Aaron” and “Killer”—two songs I absolutely adore—entirely out of context, which lead to utter disenchantment upon finally spinning BLACK FRIDAY and finding that no other song was even half as great as those two. (Many of them leaning toward actively grating, if anything.) But fuck it—I’m thankful for “Killer” (which could almost be swapped in for this at a moment’s notice) and “Aaron,” their echoey, hum-drum vibe, and the aching falsetto that traverses them.
40Caroline Polachek
Pang


>> “DOOR”

As you can see, this list is full of albums to which my overall feelings are totally lukewarm aside from a clear standout that sweeps me elegantly off my feet and carries me over the threshold with confidence and glee. PANG was remarkably fine and nothing more. I wish I could tell you I enjoyed every track on it as much as I enjoy “Door,” but that’s simply not the case. This is a contemporary art-indie electropop triumph, and that chorus—which is little more than the word “door” repeated in excess under heavy intonation—will haunt my dreams for eternity. In a good way.
39Chromatics
Closer to Grey


>> “ON THE WALL”

The hardest decision of this entire list might’ve been whether to include “On the Wall” or “You’re No Good” as my CLOSER TO GREY pick. Two amazing synth/dream-pop tracks that succeed for two completely different reasons. I went with the former, not because I am a faux-arty wanker who prefers longer tracks, but the ambient qualities are astounding, mesmerizing, and when the droning drops out in the last two minutes and regains steam under a slightly new, softer melody, it drives me wild.
38Jay Som
Anak Ko


>> “SUPERBIKE”

There’s something about the way Duterte sings “somebody tell meeeeee” during the first two verses that makes me melt in such a way that the rest of the song could suck ass and I’d still love it anyway, solely based on that one miniscule detail. Fortunately, the rest of the song doesn’t suck. At all. Lovely dreamy/jangle melodies cascaded front-to-back and supplemented with an awesome back-end guitar solo. The kind that warrants momentary catharsis. What a track.
37Michael Kiwanuka
Kiwanuka


>> “HERO”

Jesus Christ, this is so fucking nasty, so fucking groovy, so slick, sleek, cool, leathery, buttery, silky—whatever other succulent adjectives you can think of. I wanna pull it toward me and take a bite out of it. That flanged, high-neck guitar riff tickles me pink, and Kiwankua’s soulful repetition of, “am I hero, am I a hero now?” is something I could listen to on repeat for days. Maybe months.
36Freddie Gibbs and Madlib
Bandana


>> “CATARACTS”

I’m one of the (few) weirdos who thinks PIÑATA is merely “okay” and severely overrated, so I was pleasantly surprised by BANDANA (and yes, I think it’s superior in just about every way). Lots of tracks to pick from here, but I think “Cataracts” has the smoothest beat, the best flow, and the chorus that’s easiest to latch onto. If I didn’t know any better, you could convince me that this was from the early 00s. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not…but I think it is?
35Nilufer Yanya
Miss Universe


>> “HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE YEAR”

I just love love love the build-up of this entire song. It teems with untapped energy, right from the beginning, that staccato chord picking and stilted singing/moaning merely a harbinger of what’s to come. The song ramps up and cool down several times before finally exploding with just under a minute left - full drums, amplified guitars, backing vocals, synthesizers - and that final fifty-some seconds is pure, unfiltered bliss. Even once it settles down again to close things out.
34Have a Nice Life
Sea of Worry


>> “TRESSPASSERS W”

Apparently Fantano just gave this album a 3/10—is he fucking nuts? Yeah, it’s no DEATHCONSCIOUSNESS, and it lacks the industrial experimentalism of THE UNNATURAL WORLD…but “straightforward” Have a Nice Life (which is the best way I can describe SEA OF WORRY in layman’s terms) is still pretty fucking good, and “Trespassers W” is an amazing example of that. Almost post-punk, somewhat gazey, with a lingering post-rock tendency behind it; I get a hint of R.E.M., too, mostly in the vocal delivery and the unraveling of the “choruses.” I dunno. I love this album and I love this track. (“Dracula Bells” and “Science Beat” would probably be my next picks.)
33Big Thief
U.F.O.F.


>> “CONTACT”

I had to choose “Contact” because it was the exact moment I fell in love with Big Thief. U.F.O.F. was the first album I’d heard from them. I remember the day—it was, like, 90° outside, I was taking my son for a walk in his stroller around the neighborhood listening to music, and I decided to give U.F.O.F. a shot after it appeared on RYM’s top 2019 charts. I was already jiving heavily with the slow neo-psychedelia of the opening stanzas, but when Lenker’s nerve-shredding scream pierced through toward the end, I was sold on these guys completely.
32Angel Olsen
All Mirrors


>> “LARK”

Problematic for the fact that “Lark” is far superior to every other track on ALL MIRRORS—and yes, I realize how many people here will vehemently disagree with that assessment—such that I’m never able to make it past the opener. I just press “previous track” and end up listening to “Lark” six or seven times before moving on to something else. (No, ALL MIRRORS isn’t bad, I’m being a bit hyperbolic here, but seriously, this track is a godsend among a slew of rather average indie/art pop tracks.)
31Purple Mountains
Purple Mountains


>> “THAT’S JUST THE WAY THAT I FEEL”

It wasn’t until my third (?) listen of PURPLE MOUNTAINS that it finally grabbed me—I mean *really* grabbed me—Berman’s shaky vocals turning into tender confessionals and scattered poeticism across a landscape of mellow barre chords and soft hi-hat taps. The lyricism is too good to ignore, and in retrospect of the subsequent tragedy, almost frighteningly foretelling: “When I try to drown my thoughts in gin, I find my worst ideas know how to swim.”
30Jai Paul
Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)


>> “STR8 OUTTA MUMBAI”

I found the odd (re?)-release of BAIT ONES mostly just annoying, and the unfinished, unpolished tone of the “album” not endearing but silly. It’s not, however, without its share of hidden gems, the brightest of which is “Str8 Outta Mumbai”—something about those opening lap drums, staggered beat, and steely synthesizer tosses me into throes of passion, and it’s like the rest of the world ceases to exist for three minutes as I’m trapped in Jai Paul’s wonky, mamborific, chillwave wall of sound. And those “ooo-oo-oo-oo-oohs”, dear lord help me!
29Black Country, New Road
Sunglasses


>> “SUNGLASSES”

Dunno what else to say about this nearly-nine-minute behemoth other than—*it fucking rules*. Hints of post-punk, trembling verses, almost approaching no wave at some points, then there’s a strangely melodic streamline of trumpets at one point, the lyrics are tragic and hilarious and intelligent and they traverse from spoken word to borderline yelping (and the trumpets follow suit, descending into a blaring wall of noise). By the time the second verse hits, it sounds like a completely different song. Plainly, simply, goddamn awesome.
28Jamila Woods
Legacy! Legacy!


>> “GIOVANNI”

The confidence and undeterred power in Jamila Woods’s voice is unmistakable, and something gives me the feeling it’s not simply “for show.” After listening to LEGACY! LEGACY! I was left with the impression that she’s someone you absolutely don’t wanna fuck with. But she’s capable of veering toward her softer, somewhat sentimental, down-to-earth side on a whim—“GIOVANNI” is perhaps the best balance of those two modes. Softness and badassery all rolled into one. The beat is simply unctuous, too.
27Lingua Ignota
Caligula


>> “FRANGRANT IS MY MANY FLOWER’D CROWN”

From what might be the most divisive album of 2019, I chose those this five-minute piano/vocal duet over any of the steamrolling rage-fests because I think it most adequately captures the teeter between beauty and malformity that exists within the entirety of CALIGULA. Ostensibly elegant but lyrically grotesque, it creates a squirmy juxtaposition between allure and repulsion—one of the things I found so arresting about the album when I first heard it.
26Vampire Weekend
Father Of The Bride


>> “UNBEARABLY WHITE”

To say FATHER OF THE BRIDE was disappointing would be an understatement (depending somewhat on how you felt about Vampire Weekend’s previous releases, I guess): Strangely conventional, overlong, and mostly boring, almost dipping into a strange form of self-parody. But, if nothing else, it gave us “Unbearably White,” easily one of the best songs they’ve conjured up, and for that silver lining we should be at least partially grateful. Nearly an hour of mediocrity for five minutes of bliss—not the best efficiency, but sometimes them’s the breaks.
25Mgla
Age of Excuse


>> “AGE OF EXCUSE III”

The first black metal album I feel in love with this year, and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise—Mgla is nothing if not consistent. So consistent, in fact, that several long-time listeners claim AGE OF EXCUSE to be a rehash of EXERCISES IN FUTILITY, but I have no such complaints. They have a formula that works, they have a very specific sound they’ve garnered and honed, and they operate slyly within the parameters of “black metal,” but they’re so goddamn good at it that the thought of full-blown deviation is scary. I dunno, I’m not even a huge metal-head and I can effortlessly tell the tracks on this apart from any previous Mgla album. “III” is the best of the bunch here, but they all slap. Hard.
24The Comet Is Coming
Trust in the Lifeforce of Deep Mystery


>> “BIRTH OF CREATION”

I love the contemporary 2001: A Space Odyssey aesthetic that these guys have erected, and to say the music is befitting of their galactic pretense would be underselling it. I knew what this album was gonna sound like before I ever listened to it, and yes it is every bit as lovely as I imagined in my head. Part psychedelic, part spiritual, part electronic, and jazzy beyond all measure, the ambience constructed in “Birth of Creation” is nothing short of amazing. I lose myself in this track every time it comes on.
23Mannequin Pussy
Patience


>> “DRUNK II”

Hesitant to listen to this for a while because of the groan-worthy, edge-core name. But I made that same mistake with Cigarettes After Sex, who released one of 2017’s best albums…so I’m glad I eventually gave PATIENCE a shot, because *wow*. Takes the sensibilities of emo records and lyrics and tosses them into a whirlwind of harsh indie rock, wonderfully gruffy belts of angst and pain, and just the slightest undercurrent of melody to tie everything together. It’s the kind of album that’s catchy without being *ostensibly* catchy…If that makes sense. “Drunk II” is the clear winner, but it really does work better in the context of the whole album. Give it a shot.
22Danny Brown
uknowhatimsayin¿


>> “DIRTY LAUNDRY”

After blowing minds with the unconventional experiment called ATROCITY EXHIBITION, Danny dialed it back in 2019 and gave us something a bit more orthodox and traditional, which many have cited as “uninspired” and “boring.” Easy now. While it’s not as avant-garde as its predecessor, with chops like Danny it needn’t be. The man proves that even as he’s rapidly approaching his forties, he’s capable of giving us the best of both hip-hop worlds: The Cubism and The Conservativism. And as long as he isn’t gumming up the works with tailormade radio hits (which he’s not), I’m fine with whatever he gives us.
21Durand Jones and The Indications
American Love Call


>> “MORNING IN AMERICA”

Lost count of the number of times this comes up on shuffle and I end up hitting “previous track” four or five times after it ends before going on about my day. It might be the biggest earworm of everything on this list. My wife hates when I blast Spotify in the house and is often willing to badmouth music just to make a point. This came on the other day and—after she initially complained—she was humming the chorus aloud, hours later as we were eating dinner. After hearing it once. This is contemporary Chicago soul at its finest. Look out for that bluesy, crunch-filled guitar solo at the end - *swoon*.
20Bon Iver
i,i


>> “NAEEM”

It wouldn’t be a total stretch to say I’m more appreciative of Vernon’s exploratory tendencies than truly enamored with them, but both 22, A MILLION and I,I have steadily grown on me since their respective releases, and now a handful of cuts—like “Naeem”—I’d rank right alongside the best of FOR EMMA or his self-titled release. This is an instant grabber, right from the opening piano phrase, almost choral, very spiritual—Vernon yelling “I’m having a bad baaaaad toke” might be my single favorite moment in Bon Iver’s discography. The gradual crescendo sneaks up on you until you’re weeping nearly four minutes later.
19The National
I Am Easy to Find


>> “QUIET LIGHT”

I don’t remotely think I AM EASY TO FIND is the steamy chunk of shit that many others do, but it’s my least favorite since SAD SONGS at least—not for lack of quality, but The National have trended toward a very safe homogeneity that, when coupled with the unnecessary interludes and comparatively long runtime, makes the album drag quite a bit. It’s still enjoyable, but it operated better as a random collection of songs than a cohesive entity. All that said, “Quiet Light” is mesmerizing, and one of the two tracks that feels very reminiscent of the splendid transitional period between TROUBLE WILL FIND ME and SLEEP WELL BEAST. Absolutely sublime. (The other track is “Rylan.”)
18Epic Beard Men
This Was Supposed To Be Fun


>> “HOURS & MINUTES”

What a goddamn fun song this is. (No coincidence, then, that the album is titled THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, eh?) Killer bass line, slick beat, well-timed flows, and something about both B. Dolan and Sage Francis’s voices sound like melted butter to my ears. When that trumpet like joins in during the first verse, I can feel my slacks get tighter. Could just as easily included “Pistol Dave” or “Shin Splits” or several others here—this whole album is a good time, and the high energy weaves through every single track.
17Big Thief
Two Hands


>> “SHOULDERS”

I know what you’re thinking—“Not “Not”?” Correct. This is indeed not “Not,” not to say I’m not in love with “Not,” but “Not” is certainly not my favorite track on Big Thief’s second stellar 2019 album. (The superior one, at that.) “Shoulders” may not be as epic and downright gritty as “Not,” but it’s not without its roughened edge—the way Lenker yowls that second chorus - “…and the blood of the man who’s killing our mother with his hands is in me! It’s in me, in my veins.” - will haunt my dreams (and possibly nightmares) as long as I’m alive. The somewhat upbeat melody juxtaposed with dark subject matter makes for a highball of arresting uncertainty. Absolutely stunning track.
16Kai Whiston
No World As Good As Mine


>> “II - BEAUTIFUL LOSERS”

Take this as my personal recommendation for Kai Whiston’s NO WORLD AS GOOD AS MINE—an album I hate recommending to people at whimsy because when rebutted with “what kind of music is it?” I have no idea how to respond. Electronica? UK bass? Part dub, part experimental art rock? Deconstructed club? Symphonic ambient? Post-rock? A Long Island iced tea of all that (and then some), it’s difficult to pick a single track because the record functions so marvelously as a singularity, but I keep coming back to “Beautiful Losers,” for that beautiful opening melody and the way it transforms into something completely different (but equally harmonic…and melancholic) just past the halfway mark.
15Vukari
Aevum


>> “ABRASIVE HALLUCINATIONS (REALITY HEMORRHAGING)”

If you’ve wandered into just about any Sputnik topic I’ve been a part of, there’s a good chance you’ve seen me not-so-casually recommend Vukari’s AEVUM to someone who wasn’t even asking, simply because I think it’s the best metal release of 2019 and, as much as I love SUNBATHER, takes its weakest parts and smooths them over with a piece of sandpaper, a splash of blast beats, and an overarching thread of doom. As with any great album, all the songs could be considered a standout, but I always lean toward the opener—it serves as a comprehensive summation of what awaits, complete with manic, pulsating blast beats; clean, down-tempo guitar sustains; and a whole lot of growling.
14Quelle Chris
Guns


>> “OBAMACARE”

Exquisite from all angles. The trickling piano melody, the occasional xylophone, the slow and method beat, and Chris’s devil-may-care style of rapping. (Am I the only one catching hardcore Mobb Deep vibes from this?) Lyrically clever without sacrificing flow or song structure, GUNS took me by surprise and immediately launched Quelle Chris to the top of my hypothetical “artists to look out for” list. Favorite wordplay: “Ho-shit insured, sucker-proof, no deductible / Good neighbors with state pharmaceuticals by the bucketloads.” Fuuuuuuck me.
13Swans
Leaving Meaning


>> “THE HANGING MAN”

Swans’s latest was met with a ton of deference and ambivalence, not just from the people who’ve always hated Swans and their most recent formula for post-rock, drone-esque, thirty-some minute jam sessions, but even long-time fans…who *love* those post-rock, drone-esque, thirty-some minute jam sessions. But this is a band that’s known for molting and starting anew. Going into this free of any expectation yields a much more rewarding experience: One full of ethereal tones and almost angelic posturing, lacking the crescendos of THE SEER and TO BE KIND but supplementing with layers upon layers of timbers and textures and nooks and little pockets of harmony. It’s the most laid-back Swans album since maybe LOVE OF LIFE, but why’s that a bad thing? “The Hanging Man” is a personal favorite, but “Phantom Limb” and “Sunfucker” are essentially swappable.
12Blood Incantation
Hidden History of the Human Race


>> “GIZA POWER PLANT”

And here’s my favorite metal track of 2019. After not adhering to STARSPAWN the way I’d hoped, I was cautious of the huge hype cloud surrounding HIDDEN HISTORY which, after waiting until the official release to spin, far surpassed any subconscious expectations I might’ve had. The album’s under forty minutes long and should be inhaled all at once for the best possible experience, *but* this list of mine would be incomplete without “Giza Power Plant.” Traditionally gruff and grimy death metal with massive kick drums, reverberated growling, tasty riffing, pinched harmonics, a thudding bass line, and a face-melting guitar solo - all within the first ninety seconds. From there, we’re treated to a neo-psychedelic, outer-spacey interlude that could very well be the catchiest phrase to come out of a metal song in the past few years. This song is a journey. Approach it as such.
11Hatchie
Keepsake


>> “WITHOUT A BLUSH”

KEEPSAKE fucked me up. It was like this delicious menage a trois of Cocteau Twins, Ride, and Mazzy Star that added just a dash of Carly Rae Jepsen’s retro-pop sensibility. A deliriously catchy anthology of dreamy pop that was neither cloying nor abrasive, balancing the walls of sound and its audible harmonies with max adroitness. I’ve often said that the run of four tracks to open the record is one of the best in recent memory—any of those songs could’ve earned this spot, but “Without a Blush” has proven to be the most timeless selection, and the most agreeable juggling act between the mélange of influences happening. That chorus is fucking incredible.
10Yeule
Serotonin II


>> “PRETTY BONES”

The most blissfully celestial track of the year; glitchy, poppy, dreamy, and even euphoric, just enough sugar to register as delicate sweetness without diving into full-blown saccharinity. This song is like walking through a gossamer of cotton candy clouds with fragile forest animals gently nibbling at your ankles. There are nights when I just want to listen to this on repeat and stare up at the sky. A transportive soundscape for the mind, an abstract ticket into the beautiful unknown. If I loved every song on SEROTONIN II as much as I love “Pretty Bones,” I’d be my album of the decade, unquestionably.
9clipping.
There Existed an Addiction to Blood


>> “LA MALA ORDINA”

My favorite hip hop track of the year, from what could very well be my favorite hip hop album of the year. My attraction to this conceptual, borderline-horrorcore rap album was nearly instinctual, and of all its slimy greatness, “La mala ordina” remains the song most capable of giving me goose bumps at a moment’s notice. Just that opening stanza makes my skin crawl: “The bags on the table ain’t for weight, they for body parts / Victim skin stretched across the wall, call it body art / Bodies for the pile, bring ‘em out stacked on a dolly cart / Anyone out there ain’t on drugs yet, they should probably start.” The way it descends into a grueling onslaught of harsh noise is *chef’s kiss* - a perfect end to this haunted house.
8Taylor Swift
Lover


>> “CORNELIA STREET”

Deserving of a spot in the Top 10 because [1] outside of 1989 and about half of RED, I’m not a huge T-Swift fan, and [2] this is the greatest piece of music she’s ever written and likely the greatest thing she’ll *ever* write. It knocked me out from that floaty, opening tremolo and made me melt into a pile of mush during the falsetto-driven chorus. Not sure why Taylor feels it necessary to put up this affront of unforeseen badassery and whatnot; when she embraces her soft side and indulges in her tender-hearted sensibilities, she crafts pop masterpieces like this. Knowing she has the ability to make something *this good* makes everything else she’s done retroactively disappointing to some degree.
7Black Midi
Schlagenheim


>> “953”

Barely had time to catch my breath when I first spun this absolute beast of an album back toward the beginning of the year and “953” pushed me over a cliff without warning. As some others might tell you, SCHLAGENHEIM never approaches the undeterred greatness of its opening track for the rest of its duration (it comes close, though, with both “bmbmbm” and “Ducter”), but there’s almost an album’s worth of tempos, colors, tones, cadences, measures, and rhythms crammed into this one song. Initially wasn’t a huge fan of the vocal approach, but it has won me over with time. Now I kind of adore the sub-David Byrne style of heavily intoned, slightly off-tune, nasally hum-singing.
6Carly Rae Jepsen
Dedicated


>> “REAL LOVE”

I love DEDICATION as much as the next guy, but let’s face it—It’s no E•MO•TION, and we might never get something of such pristine caliber from Jepsen ever again. (Nearly flawless pop masterpieces don’t happen all too often.) But there was always one track on DEDICATED that I thought could sit among E•MO•TION’s tracklist without feeling even slightly out of place. “Real Love” has everything that made Jepsen’s previous album a candy-coated work of art, and I’d sound like a moron if I tried to describe the sense of catharsis that washes over me when the horns start blaring with the chorus alongside her request for “real real real LOVE!” I’m unabashedly a fanatic for this track, and it’s further proof that CRJ is the contemporary queen of pop. (Bjork notwithstanding…her rein is over, anyway.)
5Fire! Orchestra
Arrival


>> “SILVER TREES”

I’ve got Dewi to thank for introducing me to this masterpiece, based solely on his enthusiastic review. Didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I first fired up ARRIVAL, but I had no idea it’d be this post-rock, jazz fusion work of art. I could’ve picked any song here, really—the album is my only 5.0 of the year and I have trouble identifying anything here as a flaw. But “Silver Trees” is probably the most accurate ‘mission statement’, opening with a bit of free jazz noodling, transitioning toward a slow post-rock atmosphere, and eventually collapsing into a cacophonous brigade of instruments and shrieks. Think if AMNESIAC made love with LAUGHING STOCK….and had two female singers.
4Great Grandpa
Four of Arrows


>> “MONO NO AWARE”

A good indication of how awesome this album is: It has been out for only about two months now, and it’s already claimed the top spot on my yearly last.fm albums list. And it will likely remain there for quite some time, because I simply cannot stop listening to this amazing record. Unbelievably solid blend of uplifting emo (yes), indie rock, noisy dream pop, and even alt-country. I’m not sure I’ve ever skipped a track on this album, honestly—even the soft piano interlude, “Endling,” is a gorgeous palate cleanser. But “Mono no Aware” has my heart—the chorus is the most infectious thing I’ve heard all year, and the ending is so tender that it almost brings me to tears.
3Two People
First Body


>> “I’M TIED, TO YOU”

Another Dewi recommendation (maybe I should just run through his 5.0’s someday) that completely bowled me over. Some blend of slowcore, trip hop, house, and dream pop. There’s so much soothing texture to this album that you can almost taste it. Ballsy to open up your experimental, inaugural album with a seven-minute crawl, but holy fuck—the aura that surrounds it is breathtaking, absolutely impeccable. From those opening synths, to the noodling sax, to the hushed vocals, I’m not sure I can name a more hypnotic track of the entire decade. If I could take a bath in any one song, it’d most definitely be this one.
2(Sandy) Alex G
House Of Sugar


>> “HOPE”

Among the sprawling, erratic HOUSE OF SUGAR, the song that continues to knock my teeth out is perhaps the simplest of them all—opening with a simple acoustic guitar lick, joined shortly thereafter by Alex’s whimpering vocals, a clanking drum set, and a blaring synth; an ode to a lost friend, the poignancy of the song didn’t hit me until the ninth or tenth listen, and now it’s difficult to listen to without sinking into a state of forlorn reflection. But as depressing as that sounds, the best songs are the ones that evoke the most emotion, and “Hope” does that in spades. Can’t fault the folks who prefer “Gretel” - that song is also fantastic - but “Hope” tears me to shreds in the best of ways.
1Weyes Blood
Titanic Rising


>> “MOVIES”

Nothing I can possibly write would do this song a modicum of justice. Just listen to it. Easily, easily, eeeeasily the best song of the year, and one of the best songs of the decade, and, fuck it—probably one of my favorite songs of all time. Baroque, aqueous, lush, warm, soothing, ethereal, bittersweet, delicate, powerful—all those vague adjectives cobbled together don’t describe a tenth of what I feel when I listen to this song. This is precisely what I want from music; this makes me ache in ways I can’t verbalize, yet it comforts me at the same time. Makes the rest of the songs on this list seem underwhelming, honestly. It is *that* good, and then some.
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