|MUSIC: tec's Top 50 of 2019|
I've caught up on everything I think I need from last year, so here are my Top Fifty Albums from 2019, plus five honorable mentions. Descriptions are going to be much shorter than usual, because I've already spent way too much time just compiling this damn thing. Willing to discuss any head-scratching choices (or omissions) in the comments, though!
American Football (LP3)
> HONORABLE MENTION: Knee-jerk tendency is to compare this to LP1, which is totally unfair because it's one of the greatest albums of all time. But this is a great release, and a huge step up from the disappointing LP2.
> HONORABLE MENTION: After loving 1989 and aboslutely loathing REPUTATION, this was a welcome return to form. Or at least the form I most prefer her in. Bloated - you could cut about five tracks from this and make it truly great.
The Furnaces of Palingenesia
> HONORABLE MENTION: These guys continue to remain consistent and solid. Not as boundary-pushing as I'd like, but you can always count on them for a good release.
> HONORABLE MENTION: Messy and all over the place, loaded with lots of simple sounds, slightly rough around the edges...Just as shoegaze should be.
> HONORABLE MENTION: Could do without some of the spoken-word parts, but when this jams, it *jams*. Excited to see where these guys go next.
> Borderline experimental at times. Catchy but never too sweet. Love the unusual vocal register.
|49||Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds|
> One of Nick’s darker records (believe it or not) but incredible cathartic because of it.
Basking in the glow
> Surface level pleasures are all over the place. Sometimes you don’t need depth to be enjoyable.
Mirror In Darkness
> Probably the most brutal album on this list.
We Are A Team
> Another album loaded with pleasurable ear-worms of the Midwest emo-offshoot variety. I’m okay with that.
> Like KID A, KID OF LIMBS, and A MOON SHAPED POOL had a threesome. Yorke’s best solo album so far.
> Short song length works in its favor; great album to toss on and jam for a little while without committing to much.
> Icy cold riffs for days, a bit traditional for these guys but wonderful nonetheless.
> Surprisingly ethereal and more genuinely touching than I would’ve anticipated from these guys. Well done.
|41||Epic Beard Men|
This Was Supposed To Be Fun
> And it was fun indeed. Most joyous album on the list, I think.
Remove Your Skin Please
> Daughters + The Jesus Lizard + ?????? = this bizarrely transfixing pile of abrasive noise. Muah.
> Some truly great songwriting here; rest in peace Berman, you magnificent bastard.
> Favorite shoegaze release of the year, wonderful stuff that even approaches slowcore a few times.
> Once you get past the stupid band name, you’ll find that they actually make really good music with lots of aggression!
> Listening to this is like living inside of a dream cloud.
> Has grown on me a lot in the past few months. Great, subtle beats and flows. ‘Obamacare’ is quality.
> Never before has the inclusion of melancholy, bellowing strings complimented doom metal so incredibly well. Unique and tasty.
> Nothing will ever beat ATROCITY EXHIBITION for me, but *gasp* I do prefer this to XXX. Blasphemous?
> Goddamn, you go girl. Fierce and jazzy as fuck.
> Biggest turnaround of the year. Wasn’t a fan on first listen, absolutely adore it now. Beautiful stuff.
|30||The Comet Is Coming|
Trust in the Lifeforce of Deep Mystery
> The soundtrack to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY if it were made today.
|29||The Appleseed Cast|
The Fleeting Light of Impermanence
> Harks back to the LOW LEVEL OWL days, which I’m totally okay with. Nice blend of emo and post-rock soundscaping.
Birth of Violence
> Somewhere between HISS SPUN and ABYSS, with a bit more folky tendencies. A stunner either way.
|27||The Great Old Ones|
> This came out of nowhere, but my god it’s great if you enjoy being crushed by sludge. (I do.)
|26||Durand Jones and The Indications|
American Love Call
> Funky and catchy and groovy in all the right ways; instantly jammable.
|25||Carly Rae Jepsen|
> Underrated release from Ms. Jepsen. Sure, it’s no E•MO•TION, but what is? Love the synthy/80s vibe this has. ‘Real Love’ is a Year-best track.
|24||Cult of Luna|
A Dawn to Fear
> These guys are so consistent it’s scary. If you tend to enjoy Cult of Luna, you’re gonna love this.
I Am Easy to Find
> I am biased, perhaps, because I love these guys. But really, this isn’t nearly as bad as people are acting. Overlong, maybe, but painfully beautiful, too.
> Is it okay to call this a return to form? Not as groundbreaking as their debut, obviously, but it’s safe to say they’re finally making good metal again.
> Oddly haunting and galivanting with a strength that isn’t usually found in folk music. And to thing this isn’t even the best thing they released this year!
Ode to Joy
> People who keep expecting/wanting these guys to re-release YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT year after year are weird. Lovely album.
Hidden History of the Human Race
> Only four songs long and each one of them shreds. The long wait for this was totally worth.
|18||Have a Nice Life|
Sea of Worry
> As with Wilco, people keep hoping for a DEATHCONSCIOUSNESS PART II and I’m not sure why. Look at what else these guys are capable of!
There Existed an Addiction to Blood
> Chilling but well executing concept album (something I normally hate). Some truly nerve-shredding beats and flows and lyrical content here.
> Second-half of the album is great, first-half is otherworldly, and ‘Movies’ (in the middle) is the song of the year.
> Doesn’t assume the droning, monolithic form of their previous trilogy of albums, and that’s surprisingly refreshing (despite how much I love those albums). Lots of influence from The Angels of Light here.
> THE ARK WORK was all over the place. This is all over the place, but in a strangely coherent way. That probably doesn’t make sense, but neither does this album. I thought my speakers broke several times while listening. Awesome.
> Hey, a good pop-punk release?! Unheard of! Catchy and aggressive without being mopey and childish. Tough combo, but PUP pulls it off.
Disgorged From Psychotic Depths
> This is the crustiest, most damning thing I’ve heard in a while. Listen and let it suck you into its black hole of slow, crushing distortion.
> Ever-so-slightly more palpable than U.F.O.F., which gives it the edge for me. More emotionally carving, too, in my opinion. Just listen to ‘Shoulders’ for Christ’s sake.
Age of Excuse
> Pure, unfiltered Mgła at their most Mgła. Some will (and have) complained that they are just releasing the same album over and over. I don’t entirely agree, but said album is fucking fantastic, so maybe I’m just accepting of that fact?
> Don’t even know how to describe this magnificent beast. Just listen to the opening track and that’ll give you a good idea of what you’re in for.
> Like if Cocteau Twins were catchier and more legible, which is actually kind of a good thing?!
No World As Good As Mine
> Undoubtedly the most undefinable album here. Every song sounds like it was taken from somewhere else, and yet nothing feels out of place.
> Some weird hybrid of Portishead and… I dunno, Mazzy Star? No, that’s not quite right. Very nocturnal and dreamy, though, with a gentle touch of trip hop beats and elementals. Fantastic.
|5||(Sandy) Alex G|
House Of Sugar
> All over the place, but in the best way imaginable. Surprisingly refined, given the sprawling nature of the track list. The best album of Alex’s career thus far, and hopefully a precursor of where he’s headed next.
> Imagine if Deafheaven’s SUNBATHER had a baby with any of Mgła’s albums… It’d be something like this, but with a faster, slightly sharper edge. Fell in love with this on first listen and still jam it regularly.
> Not everyone is sold on Kristin’s bloody hollering and occasionally atonal chanting. But I am. There’s nothing about this album that is subtle, but that’s part of what makes it so bracing. It beats you over the head with a hammer, grinds your ribcage into a fine powder, and then blows it back into your face. Apparently I’m a masochist???
Four of Arrows
> The jump in quality from Great Grandpa’s previous album to this is unfathomable. Indie rock without pretension, emo without the sappiness, and alt-country sans the overpowering twang. How they managed such a balance is beyond me.
> I cannot say enough good things about this record. Fire! Orchestra have continued to release great, avant-garde releases, but this is gonna go down as their crowning achievement, I guarantee it. Perfect cocktail of their jazzy breakdowns and a harnessed, more rock-centric focus on tone and texture and structure. Like a liquid that cannot be contained. Not only the best album of the year, but this is probably somewhere among my 50 or so all time favorite albums ever.