Well, readers, it’s that time of the year again, the list of my favorite albums (and EPs) that left the biggest impression on me from 2019. My list usual boils down to what struck my ears the most and what got multiple listens so that may not be what other fellow journalists and publications pick. I’m weird like that. So without further and much consideration here are my top ten in order…
1. BILLIE EILISH // WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO
From the stellar production from Billie’s collaborator and Brother Finneas and the storyline, which sought to put the listener in Billies’ Synesthesia. To the “not pop” Pop songs that often featured unique song structures and an amalgamation of multiple genres. Upfront this seems like an album that would not fit the Pop world. Yet, it does conquering both the Pop but Alternative worlds. Making this record one that defined 2019.
2. BASTILLE // DOOM DAYS (This Got Out Of Hand)
Bastille went for it on this album and created was is their strongest and most cohesive piece. The production is clean and slick like that of their Pop contemporaries. Yet, the essence of Bastille is not lost amongst it only enhanced. The band on their third release tackles the concept record. They hone in on more concrete thoughts and ideas, all while not alienating listeners. The story of Doom Days is told through one night (an apocalyptic party night). Weaved throughout this night, subjects like love, heartbreak, politics, societal issues, are discussed. You can hear how Bastille’s songwriting is growing and maturing, through vulnerability. The album is clever and cheeky and most importantly timely.
3. SLIPKNOT // We Are Not Your Kind
For a band that has had the highest of highs and lowest of lows in their career, this record is a new dawn for Slipknot. It is a tough listen but it is spectacular. Corey Taylor’s vocals are at their finest as he gives his all through the entire record. The album speaks of pain, loneliness, and sadness. The trials, and tribulations of not only being in a metal band but of life, and to the struggles of mental illness. We Are Not Your Kind is heavy and dark, but somehow you come out of it feeling hopeful for the future. That there is always something better ahead.
4. GARY CLARK JR. // This Land
This is Gary Clark Jr.’s most personal record, not only a statement on him but a statement from him on America and beyond. The title track is a visceral number and effective in it’s evoking. The music video is simultaneously haunting and beautiful. The rest of the record follows suit, taking the music that’s the soul of America and flipping it on its head. It’s as much a soulful RnB album as it’s a hard rock album. Gary’s guitar playing stays on point and is never overdone. It’s, particularly perfect on my favorite Pearl Cadillac. This Land was the record Gary Clark Jr. was born to make.
5. LIZZO // Cuz I Love You
Lizzo was another fierce and fabulous female that took over 2019. Her stellar Grammy-nominated album had everyone out on the dancefloor with its Pop jams and R&B bops. Lizzo and her music were what we needed to hear. She had everyone celebrating their individuality. That loving yourself as you are is the best thing you can do. In 2019 we were celebrating individuality in music and Pop culture. So there was nothing better than positive body image Pop music, that I and everyone else could vibe too. Lizzo in 2019 was ‘Black Girl Magic’ at its finest.
6. BRYCE VINE // Carnival
First off, Bryce Vine is an artist to watch out for in 2020. His debut album Carnival was the delight of the year and a surprise favorite for me. The album only hints at what’s to come. It was ‘On Repeat’ for me since it’s release. Carnival highlighted Bryce’s brand of California cool. Utilizing his husky rap sing vocal delivery in the best way possible. Carnival was also a very apropos title as the record is full of breezy Pop-leaning Hip-Hop numbers. Many of them perfect for the club or summer parties.
7. BLAQK AUDIO // Only Things We Love
The songwriting has never been sharper and more on point, as it is with this release. The duo honing in on its distinct sound and skills with such precision. Davey and Jade create plenty of dance-ready 80s influenced synth-pop numbers. That got so much play on my Spotify. Many of the tracks are dark and edgy, harkening back to the bands’ roots. The songs lean towards club-ready IDM rather than EDM, with Davey’s vocals being the goth cherry on top.
8. LOVE FAME TRAGEDY // I Don’t Want To Play The Victim, But I’m Really Good At It
This side project of The Wombats frontman’ Matthew Murphy. We find the singer flexing his creative muscles in the best way possible. By using 80s soundscapes, stark movie imagery, and collaboration as the backdrop. This often emotionally wrought yet dance-oriented EP hits hard in its short set.
9. NINA NESBITT // The Sun Will Come up, The Seasons Will Change
This record featured some of my most favorite Pop songs of the year. It also featured some of the best production, honing in on what makes Nina Nesbitt so darn great at Pop music. Yet underrated until now. Nina’s use of soft but believable melodies and harmonies. Which she crafts around her heartfelt and honest lyrics, finds her at her best on this record. This was a clear and easy favorite from the first listen. You could not get a better melodic pop singer-songwriter record this year.
10. FLETCHER // you ruined new york city for me
This boundary-pushing artist had one of my favorite songs from the year If You’re Gonna Lie. That track is one of the highlights of this EP. The EP where she not only poured her heart out in the lyrics but killed it with her vocals. Fletcher created some of the most heartrending yet beautifully emotional music in 2019. Taking us all on a ride.