Top 10 albums of 2019

 

 

So we are fast approaching the end of the year and end of the decade. And it’s list season. Would be easy to give up following new music, which many people have and I’m keeping it to a bare minimum next year. 
You can still find the occasional strong, ambitious album which is worth buying. I know for a fact Weyes Blood was given a budget and that definitely helped her reach her full potential with Titanic Rising. But it’s harder than ever for artists to get financing for their projects when music is free for the consumers. When there’s no budget we get homespun laptop-created albums, and while good music can come from a home environment and there’s no gatekeeper on creativity, you usually need money to get together the right musicians, instruments, and proper recording studio.
Quick shout-out to Graham/Aphoristical who convinced me to listen to Vampire Weekend. The band’s previous albums hadn’t clicked with me (aside from the odd song here and there) but the friendly prodding worked as you can see below. I’m not ranking the ten picks as the order changes from week to week!

 

 

 

 

Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood
Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood
Lovely vocal performance by 31-year-old Natalie Mering. The first 5-6 tracks of her ten song album are especially beautiful, creating an ethereal atmosphere that exudes a calm yet introspective mood. Lyrics that feel both personal and universal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norman Fucking Rockwell (2019)
Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey
Her lyrics have improved and Lana seems more mature as a songwriter. Gorgeous production with lots of piano and beautiful instrumental details. The album is a bit long although there’s hardly any filler despite a 67 minute running time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nick cave ghosteen
Ghosteen by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Arguably too much to soak up in one sitting so you may find yourself dividing the project into smaller pieces. At this point, Cave is not interested in pop singles but instead creating deeply personal, therapeutic music. As with Skeleton Tree (2016), the theme of loss and suffering is not self-indulgent, but with a bigger scope. The Bad Seeds have mellowed with age, the anger from their earlier work has gone, maybe never to return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing Other People.jpg
Seeing Other People by Foxygen
In contrast to Ghosteen, this LP has some tasty pop hooks. A glam rock revival album although could also be described as danceable. Some parts are reminiscent of Bowie or The Rolling Stones. Foxygen aren’t able to top their heroes, but a very enjoyable listen, especially if you are a fan of 70s music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Mirrors by Angel Olsen.jpg
All Mirrors by Angel Olsen
A post break-up album. Olsen’s most sonically ambitious, featuring orchestral flourishes and a chamber pop sound. Lyrics about getting older(Spring), about taking the easy road(What Is It), and needing space away from other people(Tonight). She gives Elizabeth Fraser a run for her money with the haunting title track. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Thief.jpg
U.F.O.F. by Big Thief
As far as contemporary folk goes, this is special. Adrianne Lenker’s whispering fused with the expressive guitars is a killer combination. Her gentle delivery reminds me of Marissa Nadler, on several tracks Buck Meek and James Krivchenia step in and add vocals. Might be too low-key for some listeners. A sweet, soothing listen that grew on me. Highlights: UFOF, Cattails, Open Desert, Strange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

father of the bride vampire weekend
Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend
Features a few of the best songs of their career, Harmony Hall, This Life, and Unbearably White. Stranger is pretty catchy as well. A little too long and a few tracks could have been trimmed but still an easy album to appreciate with much replay value. The lyrics veer into marital conflict yet the music is often upbeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen
Western Stars by Bruce Springsteen
A lush, cinematic, nostalgic album. Nice to hear Springsteen experiment with his sound at this late stage in his career and the songs fit his age. Certain moments are sappy but overall, while doesn’t reach the heights of his 70s and 80s prime, I consider Western Stars among his best post 80s efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dedicated carly rae jepsen album
Dedicated by Carly Rae Jepsen
Continues the 80s pop vibe from 2015’s E•MO•TION but with a few tweaks. Probably her most consistent effort from start to finish, in comparison to the filler on her previous albums. Catchy choruses, on tracks such as Now That I Found You, Julien, and The Sound. Happy Not Knowing could be a leftover from the E·MO·TION sessions. The tribal chant on For Sure deserved to be on the tracklist. Same applies for self-love anthem Party for One.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On_the_Line.jpg
On the Line by Jenny Lewis
The opening five tracks have distinctive melodies, good songwriting and fine vocal performances by Jenny Lewis. She has spared no expense and is supported by a range of collaborators including Beck, Ringo Starr, under fire musician Ryan Adams, and Benmont Tench (keyboardist of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honorable mentions 11-20:
ANIMA by Thom Yorke
Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery by The Comet Is Coming
The Book of Traps and Lessons by Kate Tempest
The Secret of Letting Go by Lamb
In the End by The Cranberries
Originals by Prince
Ladytron by Ladytron
Thanks for the Dance by Leonard Cohen
Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka
Office Politics by The Divine Comedy

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Have you heard any of these? As always, comments are welcome

12 thoughts on “Top 10 albums of 2019

  1. I don’t know Foxygen, and I haven’t really kept up with Cave and Springsteen’s latest stuff, but most of the rest are in or around my top 10 for the year, if I ever make one. Definitely UFOF, Father of the Bride, and Titanic Rising, probably All Mirrors, and maybe On The Line and Dedicated.

    Other records that make my top ten for me this year are Tyler the Creator’s IGOR and Big Thief’s Two Hands, and probably the new ones by FKA Twigs and Caroline Polachek.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Aphoristical: Foxygen impressed me with their most recent albums Hang (2017) and Seeing Other People (2019) which both made my top 10 of each year. Just forgive them for attempting to rhyme “winner” and “dinner”

      I prefer U.F.O.F. (2019) for its emotive qualities. Two Hands (2019) didn’t have the same ability to get under my skin (except the excellent singles Not and Forgotten Eyes). I’ve made a note of Caroline Polachek.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice list. I love the Cave and Vampire Weekend albums (as you know, I’ve always been a big fan of VW as well; glad this one won you over), and the Springsteen was a wonderful surprise – his best in ages. Looking forward to checking out “Titanic Rising” and I need to catch up with the Jenny Lewis and Carly Rae Jepsen albums. I’ll have to spend more time with the Lana del Rey which I only listened to once so far. The language put me off right away, but I know there are some good songs there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Alex Ramon: Thanks, glad you loved the Cave and VW. Two very different ways for musicians to use music to tackle issues on the home front.
      Titanic Rising is especially good this year. Lana Del Rey will never be the best lyricist in the world but I think she improved and might be her most mature writing to date.

      Like

    1. @Brittani: Vampire Weekend struck a chord with me this year too.

      In 2020, I have few I’m anticipating by The Cure, Lana Del Rey, Garbage, Fiona Apple, Destroyer, and the announced new ABBA songs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A bit of an eclectic list with some I’ve heard and some I haven’t.

    I’ll need to check out Foxygen, as they’re new to me. Western Stars is among my favourite ten; easily his best since Devils & Dust. I still need to give the Lana Del Rey album a bit of time and Jenny tails off a bit too much to make my own list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @J: Western Stars was a strong comeback by The Boss. I agree the Jenny Lewis record tails off in the second half which is why it’s in 10th spot and in the future could be replaced by one of the honourable mentions 11-20.

      Liked by 1 person

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