We’re already at the half of 2019, the final year of the 10s. Can you believe it? I’ve listened to over 250 albums of 2019 already. Out of those, I selected 25 of my favorites and ranked them. In the past I haven’t ranked my So Far lists, but I think it’s fun to watch how my favor shifts as the year progresses. I’ve also posted 40 songs of 2019 that I’ve been enjoying below that, along with all the albums I’ve listened to this year.
With how things are going right now though, 2019 has been absolutely consumed by my Best of the Decade plans. I’m constantly, feverishly, maniacally, overwhelmingly occupied by checking and double checking any and every album released from 2010 to 2019 that even semi-piques my interest. I have the google docs to prove it. I’ve been barely able to keep up with the output from this year (despite the 250+ albums thing haha), and have been comparing almost everything from this year to the all-decade greats as soon as they splash into my consciousness. It’s no fault of their own – I’m just insane.
Despite this, I have been able to find some great value from a handful of albums this year. Most of my top favorites are from folks I was already familiar with, but there are a few surprises and newcomers in there. I have to wonder, though: would I have digested music differently the same exact music came out in say, 2014 instead of 2019 and I wasn’t consumed by 2010s plans? Maybe? But that means we’re getting into alternate realities here and I save that for my album descriptions only, so I’m keeping that can of worms closed until that segment. Obviously experience informs interpretation, so the deluge of comparison logic is constantly flooding my system. EITHER WAY: we have 25 albums and 40 songs. Let’s check them out.
TOP 25 ALBUMS of 2019 SO FAR:
- ALDOUS HARDING – DESIGNER [4AD]
Having an existential crisis after meeting an ersatz version of yourself on vacation.
So predictable! Aldous Harding, the artist with the honor of creating my favorite album of 2017, hasn’t ALSO made my favorite album of 2019 too, right? Well it’s true. While I don’t like it as much as Party, Harding’s cadence and lyrics are still so devastating, with each word carrying an immense weight, especially on the latter half of the album. She is still able to embody so many different personas and voices on each song, with most attributes floating in the realm of paranoid, lost, bitter, yet still romantic. Find me an artist that can make a lightweight summer song come off as so lonely and unnerving. Maybe I’m reading into it too much, but there is still nothing else like Harding out there.
- BIG THIEF – U.F.O.F. [4AD]
Climbing a tall tree outside your childhood home and watching the new family living inside create their own new memories.
Although it’s not as rockin’ as their previous two albums, it’s still as intoxicating, with Adrianne Lenker’s lead vocals painting smoky portraits over fragile, interlocking folk backgrounds. When it does get rocking (“Jenni”, end of “Contact”) it’s incredibly cathartic. A release for the quiet rage built from observing and experiencing injustices from the quiet songs. This is also a very American sounding album in the best way possible. Somehow channels the feelings and sounds of small towns across the country. Anxious songs with aching limbs, ready to break free from the bindings of their surroundings, only finding comfort in the natural world that surrounds them.
- JESSICA PRATT – QUIET SIGNS [MEXICAN SUMMER]
Sitting in a corner booth of a 24-hour diner watching waitresses and clientele mingle at 2am, steam rising out of the kitchen window, woman smoking on the curb outside.
A gauzy, late-night vision of beauty. A solitary evening alone spent people watching and silent introspection. “This Time Around” is one of the best songs in existence. “Crossing” is the most dramatic Pratt song and it throws me into a whirlwind of emotion. Just pure, late night, comfy, removed-from-self-but-within-one’s-self energy kind of album. Very much a night spent looking out the window of a vintage motel room in the # Essential Oil Dimension.
- LITTLE SIMZ – GREY AREA [AGE 101 / AWAL]
An in-depth profile of a local clique boss that’s beloved in their community, showing off their harsh edges but also their tender sides hidden behind closed doors.
Honestly who can legitimately hate on this album? No one. The bars? Immaculate. The melodies? Simple and catchy and easy to sing along to (as evidenced by the audience at her live show). The lyrics? Sensitive, braggadocious, personal, thoughtful, smooth, TOUGH. Beats? Extremely varied and engaging. Guest features? Excellent additions that help build each song. Just a masterful record, I hope I make you feel at least a little foolish for not listening to it yet.
- BOY HARSHER – CAREFUL [NUDE CLUB]
A dramatic, black-lit car chase sequence between a non-binary, goth dominatrix vampire and the gargoyle raver computer nerd tasked with killing them.
While nothing here completely reinvents the darkwave/synthwave formula, Boy Harsher do it so dang well. I love the cool, smoky lead vocals, the tough instrumentals, and the sense of something eternal laced within the music, headlights blazing ahead in search of someone or something in the dead of night.
- ERIKA DE CASIER – ESSENTIALS [INDEPENDENT JEEP MUSIC]
Taking an aromatic bubble bath after a night at the club and sending texts to your exes that you’re having fun without them.
A cool-as-ice throwback to late 90s / early 00s R&B & Timbaland production. Bright, tinny textures with liquid bass back up featherlight, smooth as silk vocals. Doesn’t feel derivative or biting, but more a legitimate sonic portrait of a style revitalized by a dedicated emcee in Erika de Casier. Honestly makes me want to buy tiny sunglasses even though my head is the size of a distant moon. Lookin’ like a baked potato out here.
- Y LA BAMBA – MUJERES [TENDER LOVING EMPIRE]
Hundreds of gossamer curtains of all different colors blowing in the wind, revealing different, intimate scenes as you make your way through an intricate maze of a soul.
Dreamy, multilayered, bright guitars, buzzy & rattling percussion, a mix of English and Spanish lyrics, and the totally unique vocals (and vocal melodies!) from bandleader Luz Elena Mendoza make Mujeres a record you cannot miss. A “dream pop” album that finally does something to REALLY stand out amongst the bunch.
- BLACK MIDI – SCHLAGENHEIM [ROUGH TRADE]
Falling into a sewer and being thrown through a gauntlet of harrowing, skin-peeling trials of strength and tenacity by a secret mutated subterranean community.
Well-deserving of the hype, the mutant rock boys take hues from the beginnings of post punk in the 70s, synth punk of the 80s, hardcore from the 90s, math rock from the 00s, and post-punk revival of the 10s, and mak it their own with intense, virtuosic performances and compelling, varied songwriting on an album I’m still deciphering.
- ANA ROXANNE – ~~~ [LEAVING RECORDS]
Laying in a sunflower garden & gazing at the sky, at first through a gentle summer rainstorm, until the clouds part and the sunset casts a lavender glow upon your face.
Sometimes going small is best. I’ve returned to the minimal, meditative synth & field recording explorations by Roxanne more than most other projects from this year just to center myself in this world of distraction. Truly sublime energy in a chaotic world.
- WEYES BLOOD – TITANIC RISING [SUB POP]
Actors on soap operas being forced to act minute before the sun explodes rewrite their lines as messages to their loved ones.
Grand, ultra-dramatic ballads of love and death. Incredibly cinematic in scope. Sometimes I wish the hooks were a little bit more straight to the point, but this album is gorgeous with bountiful instrumentation (string arrangements galore!) and its message of climate deterioration is very sobering and not too heavy-handed, despite it being such a lavish sounding album, with every word taking up ample space in a verse.
- JAMILA WOODS – LEGACY! LEGACY! [JAGJAGUWAR]
Words and rhythms physically manifesting out of mouths and instruments forming the rigid backbones, tough spirits and snappy muscles of cities.
A special project full of soul, attitude, ferocity, grace and grooves. Woods proved she had a powerful voice on HEAVN in 2016, and now she’s building upon that with this vastly more focused project that will give you the energy to kick racists in the chest.
- CATE LE BON – REWARD [MEXICAN SUMMER]
A steam powered dirigible conducts a petite symphony from its wooden chimes and brass pipes as it lands atop a garden in the sky.
Very grateful that Cate Le Bon has lowered her UFO down to Earth another time to grant us her broadcast of alien frequencies she’s collected from the galaxy. Like if Pylon was made of up forest nymphs hailing from alpine mountain ranges by the sea.
- NIVHEK – AFTER ITS OWN DEATH… [YELLOW ELECTRIC]
A rogue, blinking stimulus tries to resuscitate you from a numb, comfortable stupor.
Haunting and beautiful, a long expanse of sounds and textures to be lead through. Not the best active listen, but more for putting on in bed and floating to another world.
- DENZEL CURRY – ZUU [LOMA VISTA]
Coming back to your hometown with a real nice retro car and an absurd stereo.
This thing goes HARD!! Zel didn’t have to go this hard!! Go crazy! AHHH!! Go stupid!
- MANNEQUIN PUSSY – PATIENCE [EPITAPH]
Finding personal worth in yourself after a series of debilitating events and behaviors through blood, sweat, tears and fire.
This thing ALSO goes HARD!! But it’s very tender at the same time! Certain songs are just MASSIVE homeruns. Others aren’t as sticky, but man, when it hits, it hits. The rage on “Drunk I” is PALPABLE. I feel like screaming along with it most times.
- DIÄT – POSITIVE DISINTEGRATION [IRON LUNG]
Donning your best gator skin to fight cyber nazis in the catacombs of future Berlin.
Dark, dingy post punk that takes the wild Aussie outback energy and shoves it into a regimented Berlin hazmat suit, creating some sort of toxic avenger to prowl the streets.
- DAWN – NEW BREED [LOCAL ACTION]
The flashiest and most fabulous bird of paradise dance known to the natural world.
A stellar vocal pop & R&B album. Haven’t been able to really dig into Dawn Richard albums in the past, but the bold attitudes and flashy instrumentals are hard to dislike. Also “sauce” is the horniest song of the year BY FAR.
- TINY RUINS – OLYMPIC GIRLS [BA DA BING!]
Finding a bottle with an ambiguous, inspiring and oddly specific message written inside makes you think it was made just for you, giving you romantic hope for the future.
A really intriguing and expectation-bucking indie folk album. Has both lyrical and instrumental twists and turns that continue to surprise me.
- ELSA HEWITT – CITRUS PARADISI [ERH MUSIC]
All city lights leave a permanent trail behind them as you skate through the streets, weaving quilts of light on a warm summer evening.
Subtle, elegant micro pop. Its incredibly self-contained electronic blips and bobs act like carbonation for Hewitt’s processed vocals to float upon. Super overlooked record!
- VANISHING TWIN – THE AGE OF IMMUNOLOGY [FIRE RECORDS]
Opening the door to your house leads to an alien room with two doors. The second leads you to a room with four. The sequence continues as doors of varying sizes, shapes and colors line a seemingly never-ending chasm of confusion and distraction.
A warping, disorienting, and immersive world of psychedelic experimental pop very similar to those created by icons Stereolab and Broadcast.
- CARLY RAE JEPSEN – DEDICATED [INTERSCOPE]
The sheer force of a crush turns your pupils heart-shaped and carries you around on a pink cloud that emits various amorous fragrances.
It hasn’t swept me off my feet like E•MO•TION yet, but there are some truly top-tier Carly songs on here and MAN are they a lot more confident about romance. At a certain point a lot of them blend together, especially at the end, but hell yeah. It rules.
- TYLER, THE CREATOR – IGOR [Columbia]
A breakup causes you to go on a self-destructive, blind shopping spree and perform an impromptu musical on a mall escalator.
Wasn’t into this on first few listens. Somehow it kept me coming back. Pretty great record that I’m sure I’ll start to like more as the year progresses. Also some really good samples… Tyler hit my city pop fandom. Nice one, dude.
- DAUGHTER OF SWORDS – DAWNBREAKER [NONESUCH]
The only way to travel to the homes of your friends and family is by horse, and you start your journey across mountains and plains early in the morning.
Refreshing voice in the folk sphere with tender, simple songwriting and a lovely burst of summer country flavor thanks to some additional dobro and harmonica.
- J-E-T-S – ZOOSPA [INNOVATIVE LEISURE]
Merging yourself into a late 90s video game, having a friend spray the console with sugary soda, then plugging it into the bass-boosted sound system of Toyota Tundra.
Truly bonk electronic music from Machinedrum + Jimmy Edgar. Takes pretty much all the best parts of fun bass music of the 10s and compiles it into one album, complete with satisfying guest verses and all. The KingJet song is mad underrated y’all.
- NILÜFER YANYA – MISS UNIVERSE [ATO]
A personal AI companion becomes your best friend in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Just rockin’. Definitely too long – cut out the interludes y’all! But Yanya has a powerful voice that needs to be heard by people who say “rock is dead”, along with everyone else.
Also wanna shout out Pottery’s No.1 EP, by and far the best EP of the year. Stupid good.
Read more for 40 songs + 2019 listening log –>
40 GR8 SONGS OF 2019 SO FAR::
- Aldous Harding – “Designer”
- Bibio – “Curls”
- Big Thief – “UFOF”
- Black Midi – “bmbmbm”
- Brutus – “War”
- Boy Harsher – “Lost”
- Carly Rae Jepsen – “No Drug Like Me”
- CHAI – “FASHIONISTA”
- DAWN – “sauce”
- Deerhunter – “What Happens To People?”
- Denzel Curry – “RICKY”
- Erika de Casier – “Little Bit”
- Faye Webster – “Kingston”
- FKA Twigs – “Cellophane”
- Flora (Varg + AnnaMelina) – “Crush _ Melt”
- Georgia – “About Work The Dancefloor”
- Hand Habits – “can’t calm down”
- Holly Herndon – “Frontier”
- Injury Reserve – “Jailbreak the Tesla (feat. Aminé)”
- Jai Paul – “He”
- Jessica Pratt – “This Time Around”
- J-E-T-S – “Real Truth (feat. Tkay Maidza)”
- K Á R Y Y N – “EVER”
- Kasper Marott – “Drømmen Om Ø (Forever Mix ’19)”
- Kornél Kovács – “Rocks”
- Little Simz – “101 FM”
- Mannequin Pussy – “Drunk II”
- Molly Sarlé – “Human”
- Otoboke Beaver – “Akimahenka”
- Pottery – “Worked Up”
- Powder – “New Tribe”
- (Sandy) Alex G – “Gretel”
- Sharon Van Etten – “Seventeen”
- Solange – “Stay Flo”
- Tiny Ruins – “How Much”
- TR/ST – “Unbleached”
- Tyler, the Creator – “EARFQUAKE”
- Vanishing Twin – “KRK (At Home In Strange Places)”
- Weyes Blood – “Wild Time”
- Y La Bamba – “Boca Llena”
LISTENING LOG FOR 2019 SO FAR::
Just because some records listed here aren’t ranked right now, doesn’t mean you’ve seen the last them! There are a good few here I’m still digesting, along with a ton of stuff from June I’m still getting through.
- Adia Victoria – Silences
- Agent Blå – Morning Thoughts
- Ages and Ages – Me You They We
- ALASKALASKA – The Dots
- Aldous Harding – Designer
- Altin Gün – Gece
- Amon Tobin – Fear In A Handful of Dust
- Ana Roxanne – ~~~
- Anderson .Paak – Ventura
- Andrew Bird – My Finest Work Yet
- Anemone – Beat My Distance
- ANGEL-HO – Death Becomes Her
- Angelo De Augustine – Tomb
- Anthony Naples – Fog FM
- Apparat – LP5
- Aura Minimum – Dual Aura
- Ava Luna – Pigments EP
- Avey Tare – Cows on Hourglass Pond
- Barrie – Happy to Be Here
- Be Forest – Knocturne
- Beirut – Gallipoli
- Benny the Butcher – The Plugs I Met
- Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
- Beyoncé – Homecoming
- Bibio – Ribbons
- Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
- Bill Callahan – Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
- Bjarki – Happy Earthday
- black midi – Schlagenheim
- Body San – Midnight
- Body Type – EP2
- Boy Harsher – Careful
- Brutus – Nest
- Buke & Gase – Scholars
- The Caretaker – Everywhere, An Empty Bliss
- The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End of Time – Stage 6
- Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
- Cass McCombs – Tip of the Sphere
- Cate Le Bon – Reward
- CHAI – PUNK
- Charly Bliss – Young Enough
- Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready
- Chris Cohen – Chris Cohen
- Christopher Willits – Sunset
- Claude Fontaine – Claude Fontaine
- Combo Chimbita – Ahomale
- The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
- Control Top – Covert Contracts
- Croatian Amor – Isa
- Crumb – Jinx
- David Vassalotti – Guitar Dream
- DAWN – new breed
- The Day – Midnight Parade
- Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
- Default Genders – main pop girl 2019
- Dehd – Water
- Denzel Curry – ZUU
- Dexter Story – Bahir
- Diät – Positive Disintegration
- The Dip – The Dip Delivers
- DJ Python – Derretirse
- DJ Seinfeld – Galazy EP
- Drahla – Useless Coordinates
- Drugdealer – Raw Honey
- Dua Saleh – Nür
- Du Blonde – Lung Bread for Daddy
- Dury Dava – Dury Dava
- Elizabeth Colour Wheel – Nocebo
- Elsa Hewitt – Citrus Paradisi
- Emily King – Scenery
- Empath – Active Listening: Night On Earth
- Erika de Casier – Essentials
- Fabrizio Fattori – Mediterranean Africa
- Facs – Lifelike
- Faye Webster – Atlanta Millionaires Club
- Feater – Socialo Blanco
- Fennesz – Agora
- Flying Lotus – Flamagra
- Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
- Frankie & The Witch Fingers – ZAM
- Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
- FRENSHIP – Vacation
- Fury – Failed Entertainment
- Gemma – Feeling’s Not A Tempo
- Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary
- Goldlink – Diaspora
- Gonçalo Penas – Ego Des Espinhos
- Grace Ives – 2nd
- Greys – Age Hasn’t Spoiled You
- Gus Dapperton – Where Polly People Go To Read
- HÆLOS – Any Random Kindness
- Hama – Houmeissa
- Hand Habits – placeholder
- Harriet Brown – Mall of Fortune
- Haruomi Hosono – Hochono House
- Hatchie – Keepsake
- Haviah Mighty – 13th Floor
- HEALTH – Vol. 4 :: Slaves of Fear
- Heather Woods Broderick – Invitation
- Helado Negro – This Is How You Smile
- Helm – Chemical Flowers
- Holly Herndon – PROTO
- Holy Ghost! – Work
- Homeshake – Helium
- Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy
- Hush Pup – Panacea
- Ibibio Sound Machine – Doko Mien
- Image Garden – Sky Maps
- Injury Reserve – Injury Reserve
- Inter Arma – Sulphur English
- JAB – Erg Herbe
- Jackie Cohen – Zagg
- Jackie Mendoza – LuvHz
- James Blake – Assume Form
- Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
- Jay Glass Dubs – Epitaph
- Jayda G – Significant Changes
- Jenny Lewis – On The Line
- Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs
- J-E-T-S – ZOOSPA
- Jio – TFW
- Jordan Rakei – Origin
- Juan Wauters – La Onda de Juan Pablo
- Julia Jacklin – Crushing
- Julian Lynch – Rat’s Spit
- Justus Proffit – L.A.’s Got Me Down
- Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
- K Á R Y Y N – The Quanta Series
- Kedr Livanskiy – Your Need
- Kel Assouf – Black Tenere
- Kelsey Lu – Blood
- Kevin Morby – Oh My God
- Kiran Leonard – Adolescence of Prog
- Kornél Kovács – Stockholm Marathon
- Lady Lamb – Even In The Tremor
- Laura Stevenson – The Big Freeze
- Laurence Guy – Making Music Is Bad For Your Self-Esteem
- Leif – Loom Dream
- Lena Raine – Oneknowing
- Little Simz – GREY Area
- Lip Talk – DAYS
- Living Hour – Softer Faces
- Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
- log(m) & Laraaji – The Onrush of Eternity
- Lomelda – M for Empathy
- Lowly – Hifalutin
- Lucy Rose – No Words Left
- Lust for Youth – Lust for Youth
- Mac DeMarco – Here Comes the Cowboy
- Machinefabriek – With Voices
- Mahitothepeople – Yasashiihonyuurui
- Maja S. K. Ratkje – Sult
- Malibu Ken – Malibu Ken
- Mannequin Pussy – Patience
- Manatee Commune – PDA
- Marble Arch – Children of the Slump
- Maria Somerville – All My People
- Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky – Droneflower
- Matt Kivel – Last Night In America
- Matt Martians – The Last Party
- Maverick Sabre – When I Wake Up
- Mchy i Porosty – The Dead Pterodactyl
- Mdou Moctar – Ilana (The Creator)
- Mega Bog – Dolphine\
- Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited
- Methyl Ethel – Triage
- MIKE – Tears of Joy
- Mikron – Severance
- Morabeza Tobacco – Morabeza Tobacco
- The Mountain Goats – In League With Dragons
- Nathan Micay – Blue Spring
- Neana – Renegade Lakes
- Nicholas Allbrook – wabi sabi bruto bruta
- Nicola Cruz – Siku
- Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe
- Nivhek – After its own death…
- Nkisi – 7 Directions
- NOIA – CRISALIDA
- Nonlocal Forecast – Bubble Universe!
- nthng – Shine
- Nubiyan Twist – Jungle Run
- Octo Octa – For Lovers EP
- Organ Tapes – Hunger In Me Living
- Original Past Life – Inference / Interference
- Orville Peck – Pony
- Otoboke Beaver – Itekoma Hits
- Our Lady of the Flowers – Holiday In Thule
- Pablo’s Eye – Dark Matter
- Palmistry – Afterlife
- Panda Bear – Buoys
- Patience – Dizzy Spells
- Patio – Essentials
- Pile – Green and Gray
- Pinky Pinky – Turkey Dinner
- Plaid – Polymer
- Pottery – No. 1
- Powder – Powder In Space
- Priests – The Seduction of Kansas
- Quantic – Atlantic Oscillations
- Rakta – Falha Comum
- Reptaliens – VALIS
- Rhye – Spirit
- Rose of the West – Rose of the West
- Saba Alizådeh – Scattered Memories
- Sacred Paws – Run Around The Sun
- Sarah Louise – Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars
- Sasami – Sasami
- The Scary Jokes – Burn Pygmalion!!!
- Sessa – Grandeza
- Seahawks – Eyes of the Moon
- Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
- Skinny Pelembe – Dreaming Is Dead Now
- Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury
- Sneaks – Highway Hypnosis
- Soak – Grim Town
- Sofia Kourtesis – Sofia Kourtesis
- Solange – When I Get Home
- Sote – Parallel Persia
- Sourakata Koite – en Hollande (reissue)
- SPELLLING – Mazy Fly
- Stealing Sheep – Big Wows
- Stef Chura – Midnight
- Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs
- Steve Gunn – The Unseen In Between
- Sunn O))) – Life Metal
- Synkro – Images
- Tallies – Tallies
- Tamaryn – Dreaming The Dark
- TENDER – Fear of Falling Asleep
- Thelma – The Only Thing
- Thom Yorke – Anima
- Tiger & Woods – A.O.D.
- Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls
- Tim Hecker – Anoyo
- Toro Y Moi – Outer Peace
- Triad God – Triad
- TR/ST – The Destroyer – 1
- Trudy & the Romance – Sandman
- Truth Club – Not An Exit
- Two People – First Body
- Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
- Unloved – Heartbreak
- vallmo – ruin walls
- Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
- Vanishing Twin – The Age of Immunology
- Varg – Evanescence (a Love Letter)
- Various Artists – Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient…
- Various Artists – Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop…
- Versing – 10000
- Wand – Laughing Matter
- Westkust – Westkust
- Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
- William Tyler – Goes West
- Wizard Apprentice – Dig A Pit
- Xiu Xiu – Girl With Basket of Fruit
- Yann Tiersen – All
- Y La Bamba – Mujeres
- Yohuna – Mirroring
- Yves Jarvis – The Same But By Different Means
- 36 – The Lower Lights
- 100 gecs – 1000 Gecs