Favorite Albums of 2019
Some of the many albums I loved in 2019
Disclaimer: A lot of the music I listened to this year wasn't made in 2019 or wasn't apart of an album, but they unfortunately won't be featured in this post. Check out my Spotify if you want to know what I listened to this year that didn't make it to this list.
Also, these are just my opinions, which are all subjective, but I'm always down to talk music if you agree or disagree with any of these rankings :-)
I hold Freudian, Caesar's 2017 debut, as one of my favorite albums of all time, so I was definitely very anxious to hear what was next for him. While I don't think Case Study holds up as well as Freudian, I can't help but appreciate the direction he went with this album. While the themes on this album are very similar to his last one, the production took a lot of risks and most paid off very well. The features are on point, songwriting is still catchy as hell. Honestly cannot complain, great R&B album.
Honestly did not think one of my favorite albums of the year would be a hardcore noise rock album, but it absolutely deserves to be here. It's mostly a tried and true formula of instrumentation(besides Julian Pratt's banjo skills), but it's just done extremely well. The album itself is incredibly cohesive and focused with its anti-institutional themes on the many issues facing city dwellers today. The pacing of the album isn't afraid to slow down at times, which I appreciate. The songs themselves are extremely filthy and intense. I'm not sure what I would have asked for out of a punk album in 2019, but this would probably be it.
Yeah so I don't really know how to accurately justify this as one of my favorite albums this year. It's hard to take their music seriously until you have "stupid horse" stuck in your head all day. And thats when you realize this album is absurb in all the right ways. 100 gecs regurgitate all of the dead music trends from the early 2010s and paint a masterpiece with it. Their music breaks all traditional rules of "good" structuring, lyricism, production, etc., and deviates into a style which is truly their own. Don't know why I am, but I'm here for it and can't wait for more.
Speaking from experience, this album was made to be played while grinding away behind a computer for hours at a time (similarly to the album art). It's a very easy listen, which is songs like "Freelance" and "Ordinary Pleasure" are on everyones chill playlists. On a more serious note, Chaz Bear's songwriting is incredibly smart, focusing on many of the side-effects millenials are facing from previous generations. But instead of rioting, these effects are met with an understanding that we just have to adapt to the world around us. The production is refreshing and unique, with many different genres mixed with Chaz Bear's signature indie-house sound. Outer Peace is the definition of a subtly brilliant album.
I think in years past, it was easy to dismiss JPEG as an edgy rapper who gained his following by making extremely provocative music, however All My Heros really shows what he's truly capable of. While that provocation and experimentalism hasn't left his style in lyricism or production, it sounds like the music he's wanted to make this whole time has truly come to fruition. The entire album was writen and produced by JPEG, which assures that the album extremely focused. His percussion and production in general is beyond creative, the way he finds pockets to fill on songs like "Free the Frail" and "PTSD" is an art in itself. As always, his one-liners are still on point, whether it be his political critiques or celebrity shout-outs. It's definitely a nerdy, internet album, but an amazing one at that.
If I had to pick an album from this year which never fails at letting my guard down, it would have to be Good at Falling. This is an overtly personal and revealing debut album from Amber Bain, and even after first listen it's obvious that she held nothing back with this project. The 1975 contributions on this album are definitely not hidden, but I think they only bolster her creative melodies and allow her to unleash her songwriting chops. The laid-back production and stylistic use of autotune create an grueling, yet serene environment, which match her themes of grieving throughout the album. All the great characteristics of this album is exactly why I love singer-songwriter music. No matter where I am or what kind of mood I'm in, I can always listen to this album and be immersed by Bain's storytelling.
Coming out of his extremely acclaimed album, Negro Swan, Dev Heynes had all eyes on him for what his next move would be. It's safe to say that what he came up with is nothing short of another amazing album to add to his discography. Angel's Pulse isn't as cinematic as his past albums, instead it plays as a cohesive mixtape of brilliantly orchestrated songs by Dev and some key contributors such as Toro y Moi and Ian Isiah(whose live performance is fantastic). Dev draws influences from all over, including many 90's sounds, to mix into his distinctive R&B style. There's a level of minimalism to this album which allows you to truly appreciate every element of musicality and lyricism being presented. The power of this album is feeling nostalgic over a time period that you weren't even alive in.
Despite falling into 2019's art-kid stereotype by enjoying Clairo's music, I truly believe her album was a home run for music this year. Clairo became the internet's sweetheart last year after a couple of her bedroom-pop singles went viral. However due to criticism of her career upbringing because of her dad's involvement in the music industry, there was a lot of pressure on Claire Cottrill to prove her spot in the music industry limelight. Despite all of that pressure, her debut album Immunity turned out to be one of the most heartfelt, genuine albums of this year. While Clairo isn't reinventing the wheel by any means here, her combination lo-fi pop and soft rock are incredibly refreshing to say the least. With little outside support besides contributions from Rostam and Danielle Haim, Cottrill is able to tell her melancholy and coming-to-age stories in a very relatable manner. Maybe this album just got to me at the right time, but when I think of 2019 in the future, this album will absolutely be one of the first things to come to mind.
This is an obvious pick for sure, however even with the overwhelming praise that Tyler has gotten for this album, it truly deserves all of it and more. After his 2017 album Flower Boy, I was anxious to see if this new sound of his was just a bookmark in his discography or if he would continue and evolve this new, matured sound of his, and after the release of Igor, I can safely say he chose the latter. The guady and posh persona that is Igor is refreshing for hip-hop and exactly what 2019 was calling for. The album is entirely written and produced by Tyler, which gives him complete artistic freedom, which he takes full advantage of. Saying that this album is cohesive doesn't quite represent how well this album's sound stays within an artistic direction while experimenting and staying engaging from top to bottom. Igor goes beyond being a breakup album, proceeding with themes of self-discovery from his last album. There wasn't a lot of hip-hop albums this year really stuck out to me, but it's safe to say that Tyler took the cake anyways.
Titanic Rising could be a soundtrack of it's own movie. It's so grandiose and dramatic in every way possible, from Merring's incredible singing to the large, orchestral production. Influences from her fellow Sub Pop signees such as FJM and Beach House shine through, as well as many 70's George Harrison-esque instrumentation, but the sound of this album isn't bogged down by her contemporaries. Merring paints a picture of this dystopian version of our world(similarly to what the album art conveys), and cohesively reveals more it as the album continues. The swells on the album are overwhelming emotional and transcendent, but I don't expect any less from a Weyes Blood album at this point. Titanic Rising was a slow burner for me to be #1, but the more I listen the more I can reaffirm the placement. Absolutely recommend giving it a listen.