Well here we are. Another year finished, another year born anew for us to navigate. When you get down to it, the start of a new year is just another day beginning like every other day, but it’s nice to take a step back and look at what’s all happened on a macro sense. Patterns emerge and the shape of our culture as a whole is easier to see, even though it’s hard to notice in daily life. Not to mention, the end of 2019 marks the end of another decade, which provides an even bigger opportunity to reflect on the passage of time (although “best of decade” stuff will have to be saved for later).
It’s kind of funny to me how individual moments can often seem very small until you see them stacked together at the end of the year. I listened to a great number of records in 2019 and many of them were fine, good or even VERY good…but perhaps didn’t melt my face off. I would, of course, occasionally hit ‘play’ and be immediately blown away. But I remember thinking at some point this past year “I’ve listened to some great stuff, but maybe this year was a little lighter than usual”. I am happy to say this thought existed in my brain for only a brief moment because when it came time to put together this top 50 list, I had a really, really hard time narrowing it down. There are AMAZING albums that would’ve made #51 or #52, BELIEVE ME.
The passage of time is a very odd thing for us humans, no? It can stretch, it can collapse, it can even lose all meaning. It can warp our perception of events and of those around us. Nevertheless, we are a part of it – and it a part of us. Which is why I’m glad we have art in this world to help map time. I don’t think it’s unusual for us to mark points in our lives based on which artist was popular during a certain year or which song was stuck on repeat in your car. The best part for me is having those moments shared with others around you. I remember dancing in the kitchen with a friend to Holy Ghost!’s “Anxious” while making sandwiches. I remember watching Thom York’s “Anima” short musical film with two buds, our jaws practically touching the floor while taking it in. I remember the collective shock of the music community after we all listened to the Purple Mountains album and then heard the devasting news that came after.
It’s one thing to create memories based around decades-old songs, classics revered by multiple generations. But there’s something special about sharing in memories that are brought to life by new, fresh works of art. There’s a raw unpredictability to it coupled with the sense of discovery. It’s exciting! This sense of exploration is what fuels me to constantly seek out new music.
These songs are mirrors, created by brilliant minds and held up to the world so we can see its reflection. Sometimes what we see is great beauty, sometimes we see the bad things that can be hard to talk about. But more often than not, we catch a reflection of ourselves, at this moment, at this time, that we’re sharing together. That’s kinda cool, right?
Here are my favorite albums of 2019.
50.) Big Thief – Two Hands
49.) Bon Iver – i,i
48.) Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared
47.) Tegan and Sara – Hey, I’m Just Like You
46.) Foxygen – Seeing Other People
45.) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
44.) Pond – Tasmania
43.) Vivian Girls – Memory
42.) Baroness – Gold & Grey
41.) Taylor Swift – Lover
40.) Avey Tare – Cows on Hourglass Pond
39.) Ariana Grande – thank u, next
38.) Chai – PUNK
37.) Banks – III
36.) The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
35.) White Reaper – You Deserve Love
34.) Kokoko! – Fongola
33.) BABYMETAL – Metal Galaxy
32.) Bibio – Ribbons
31.) American Football – LP3
30.) Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
29.) Cage The Elephant – Social Cues
28.) Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
27.) Anamanaguchi – [USA]
26.) Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
25.) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
24.) Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1
23.) Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY
22.) Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings
21.) Flume – Hi This Is Flume
20.) Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
19.) Jenny Lewis – On the Line
18.) The Black Keys – “Let’s Rock”
17.) Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
16.) Fennesz – Agora
15.) Brittany Howard – Jaime
14.) Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy
13.) Mannequin Pussy – Patience
12.) Big Thief – U.F.O.F
11.) Charli XCX – Charli
10.) Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
09.) Local Natives – Violet Street
08.) Holy Ghost! – Work
07.) Broken Social Scene – Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 & 2
06.) Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild
05.) M83 – DSVII
04.) Thom Yorke – ANIMA
03.) The Flaming Lips – King’s Mouth
02.) Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
01.) Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
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