I deleted all 125 of my lists and am now archiving my favorite albums from each year of the previous decade. Just my way of trimming my profile and making it a bit leaner/meaner. List is straightforward; these are my 20 favorite releases from 2019.
Breathtakingly sad. The pianos and electronics intertwine beautifully here to create Patrick Watson's best and most poignant album to date.
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 2
One of my favorite "rock" albums of 2019, this second installment in their Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost series corrects the overly ambitious pop of Part 1 and gives it an electric edge. Powerful, eerie, and insanely infectious.
I Need a New War
This is all about the storytelling ability of Finn. Each song depicts people stuck in a rut somewhere in "Nowhere, America", and the depressing overtones become oddly uplifting once you find yourself relating to each character.
|17||Jimmy Eat World|
Further proving that Jimmy Eat World can do no wrong, Surviving takes a more straightforward approach here after the atmospheric Integrity Blues and still knocks it out of the park.
Ode to Joy
Very underrated late-career gem. Ode to Joy has a lo-fi, crunchy alt-rock feel to it that occasionally shimmers. "Quiet Amplifier" and "Hold Me Anyway" are the highlights if you are thinking about checking this one out.
Angels on the Slope
Experimental art-pop with burgeoning classical elements. I feel like this album is a little bit ahead of its time; definitely did not get the reception I'd hoped. I still come back to this often and it transports me every time.
This album satisfies my ridiculous appetite for strings and all things lush/orchestral-leaning. Olsen has a gorgeous voice that alternates between powerful and meek. One of 2019's strongest art-pop offerings.
A summer love album about a same-sex relationship? That features lush art-pop and electronic accents? Sign me the hell up. "BRKLYNLDN" and "Side Effects" are perfect pop moments, but there are really no subpar or boring tracks here. It's one of those records you can just press play on and let it sweep you away in its entirety.
This trimmed some of the fat from their renowned magnum opus, 0, and while it's not quite as impressive musically, it's an easier listen. This is just pure indie-folk class; be sure to listen to "The Machine".
I used to write these guys off as mwY-lite, but this album changed my mind. It's incredibly consistent (no weak songs), and the screamed/shouted/spoken vocal style really resonates on this one. Lyrics are also top-tier.
|10||Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds|
This actually grew off me considerably from when I initially considered this an AOTY contender; it's still great, and "Bright Horses" reduces me to tears, but a lot of it is just a bit too hazy/ethereal to take hold. Regardless, a jaw-dropping album from an aesthetic angle, and always a pleasure to spin in the moment.
Love the slow, drawling atmospheres and oceanic hues. Weyes Blood has crafted an absolute beauty in this one, with "Everyday" serving as a surefire decade top-100 song.
|8||Tyler, the Creator|
Tyler's greatest work. This thing absolutely bangs, and it's got sweaty, summer dance grooves and themes of love/relationships throughout. This is one of the most purely enjoyable hip-hop albums that I've ever heard.
Suddenly Everyone Explodes
This one I did not expect to land a top-10 spot, but here we are. These guys sound like an MGMT/Flaming Lips hybrid; catchy, upbeat, and artistically interesting all at once. I also love how unpredictable they are (example: the tempo swing in "1996"). This is a grower, so give it time and you'll be rewarded, I promise.
The culmination of FKA Twigs' greatest traits. This has the tune sense and catchiness of her earlier material and the artfully glitchy production of her M3LL155X EP. "Fallen Alien" remains a top-10 song for 2019, although every song here is varying degrees of excellence.
"Simon and Gafunkel in space" has been the analogy that stuck with me for this album, and it rings just as true now as it did when it was released. This is easily the strongest output from this Manchester Orchestra/Kevin Devine side project - simple, acoustic beauty that hits you right in the feels.
This Wild Willing
Even though the slower second half falls off a tad for me, this is still a brilliant cut of post-folk that starts with a set of sweepingly powerful tracks and gradually softens into a pool of beautiful, crystalline acoustic troubadour songs. This makes Damien Rice feel like a lightweight, and that's tough to do.
Spellbindingly romantic and heartbreaking all at once, this album is one of the most emotionally affecting concept albums I've ever encountered. The lyrics here are brilliantly poetic; I'd recommend settling down with a good pair of headphones and a copy of the lyrics to experience this at its fullest.
Imagine if Sufjan Stevens' Carrie and Lowell wasn't such a damn depressing listen, and you have Omoiyari. The pristine acoustic folk is all there, and despite hefty topics about Japanese internment in America during WWII, this rings out with warm summer vibes. This continued to grow and has become better over time than many of the LPs I initially had ranked above it.
|1||Lana Del Rey|
Norman Fucking Rockwell!
This one hasn't changed. Despite several superb releases, LDR is still the queen of 2019, crafting a hauntingly elegiac piece that draws the curtain on everything from the decade to the world as we know it. There's an aching sadness here that can't be feigned, and a nostalgic longing for better days. This is Lana's masterwork; all her best traits bolstered by Antonoff's pristine production with very few weak spots. In the past, LDR's career was plagued by inconsistency - NFR! fixes that, and then some.