Top 20 of 2019
Below is our list of Top 20 albums of New Music released in 2019. Note the excellent Canadian content from Orville Peck, Dumb, and Down The Lees.
#1 - Stunning Luxury
March 1, 2019, 8:00:00 a.m.
"The band’s wild, kinetic post-punk is as much a visual offering as it is an auditory one. They are strange and they are odd, producing frenzied, unsettled krautrock that is somehow danceable, and they’ve developed a reputation for their costumed attire and penchant for putting on brutal live performances. The band’s sophomore record Stunning Luxury, however, is as close as you can get to witnessing the band in person, their latest offering an adventurous effort in mixing everything from dance-punk, dreamy ambience, electro-pop (or rock) and everything imaginable in between." - Cady Serigar (The Line Of Best Fit), 03/06/19
#2 - Pony
March 22, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"As you listen to Orville Peck’s crooning, there’s a sense you’re tapping into a gem that you somehow never got around to hearing. Each track on this record breathes with tones of dark desert rock, classic pop, tones of Roy Orbison and a lyricism that is all Peck." - Owen Maxwell (Northern Transmissions), 03/22/19
#3 - Schlagenheim
June 21, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"Schlagenheim is in turns explosive and subdued (mostly explosive), an energetic, challenging listen start to finish. That improvisation lies at the heart of the group’s songwriting is apparent in the best way possible, their precise chemistry perhaps the most clearly traceable line through the math rock of 953, railing post-punk of Near DT, MI, stop-and-start drone of bmbmbm, and more relaxed portions of Western and Of Schlagenheim." - Sean Lang (Consequence Of Sound), 06/26/19
#4 - Twelve Nudes
August 30, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"I wanted nothing more than to open up and bleed” sings Ezra Furman on Calm Down AKA I Should Not Be Alone, the track that opens his fifth solo album. Well, mission accomplished: he’s spraying the claret around liberally here, dropping the strong narrative drive of his last collection, Transangelic Exodus (a “queer outlaw saga” about a man who falls in love with an angel and has to flee from the oppressive government), in favour of red-raw punk frankness. Twelve Nudes veers madly through distorted, ragged-throated, urgent punk rock, like Jonathan Richman being slowly dissolved in acid, with sludge-metal flourishes on Trauma and a Dead Kennedys-ish stomp on Rated R Crusaders. Just as engaging is Furman’s bracing self-analysis: on Evening Prayer AKA Justice he berates himself for his complacent 20s: “I was rolling over for wealth and power/As if they really cared about me”. On the sweet change of pace of I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend, a sousedly sentimental ballad, meanwhile, he muses: “My responsible friends are applying for jobs/But me I was considering ditching Ezra and going by Esme”. At 11 songs (yes, the title is a trick) and just over 25 minutes, it all makes for a short, sharp, exhilarating blast, closing with the question we’re all asking as things fall apart: What Can You Do But Rock’n’Roll?" - Emily Mackay (The Observer), 08/25/19
#5 - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
March 29, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"When We All Fall Asleep… is a memorable and game-changing debut record, with Billie's disruptive streak front and centre. We'll no doubt see the mainstream scrabbling to replicate it." - Thomas Smith (NME), 03/29/19
#6 - When I Have Fears
August 16, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"When I Have Fears sees The Murder Capital fulfill people’s expectations, a thoroughly insane album which will only open doors for the band. The Murder Capital are seriously a band to keep a close eye on, as with the release of their debut album it’s almost certain that they’re going to gain a ton of support." - Katie Macbeth (Indie Is Not A Genre), 08/12/2019
#7 - Purple Mountains
July 12, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
It doesn't seem appropriate to copy/paste a review of this album. A warning; It's heavy. It was heavy before DB passed. It's a beautiful black hole. It's crushingly hard to think we won't hear any new songs from him anymore. RIP David Berman.
#8 - American Love Call
Durand Jones And The Indications
March 1, 2019, 8:00:00 a.m.
"The Indiana five-piece have created a timeless, optimistic listen – a great American soul record for these times, an homage to giants such as Sam Cooke and Al Green." - Thomas Smith (NME), 03/14/19
#9 - Serf's Up
Fat White Family
April 19, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"As a collaborative effort (one look at the sleeve notes shows the vast array of musicians involved) Serfs Up! is pitch-perfect. It’s no surprise that this was a tough record to make, but from pain and hardship comes great art. Their previous release, Songs for Our Mothers, clearly represented a vile descent into Hades, and was peppered with a violent undercurrent that ran through its veins. With their third album, the band has taken an about-turn, reaching out from the circles of purgatory towards a realm of blissful enlightenment. Yet the uneasy listening and lyrical bite still resonates beneath lush strings and saxophone flourishes. There is a subversive pulse even in its brightest corners, and unexpected moments of silliness and joy throughout. Serfs Up! provides a glistering antidote to the wasteland of Britain in 2019." - Adelle Stripe (The Quietus), 04/18/19
#10 - Nothing Great About Britain
May 17, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"This compelling and provocative record is a haunting echo of a seemingly hopeless vignette of Britain today, where slowthai offers the slightest glimmer of optimism for a potentially brighter future. slowthai is the unexpected hero for the people we didn’t know we needed, but so many, justly deserve." - Yasmin Cowan (Clash Music), 05/16/19
#11 - Tainted Lunch
November 1, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"The masters of madness return, with Iggy Pop and Kool Keith in tow, bringing you Warmduscher’s most hideously brilliant record yet, Tainted Lunch.......The range of this band is intelligent and impressive. They do everything to perfection yet so freely it feels effortless. Tainted Lunch is an irresistible delight; once you taste it you know you can never go without it again. Seductive, inescapable, overpowering, and you might need to take a shower afterwards." - Alice Jenner (The Line Of Best Fit), 10/31/2019
#12 - Bury The Sun
Down The Lees
September 13, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"Caustic and raw, Down the Lees’ dynamic vocals and guitar draw you in, only to strike a blow from the heavy rhythm section. Based in Ghent, Belgium, Down the Lees is Canadian Laura Lee Schultz and Belgians Jonathan Frederix on drums and Kwinten Gluehorse on bass.........recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago. This is a raw album, stripped down to showcase the live, emotional vibe of the power trio. The warm analog production lets the compositions and dynamics take the forefront. Guitarist/vocalist Laura Lee makes her guitar sing soft melodies with harsh contrasts while belting out the most impassioned vocals. Drummer Jonathan mixes math-rock and prog-rock beats with speed, energy and emotion, alongside Kwinten’s powerful and guttural bass riffs inspired by his hardcore roots." - (Cashbox Canada), 09/27/19
#13 - Designer
April 26, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"The third album from the impressionistic New Zealand singer-songwriter eludes easy classification, which makes her delicately built and beautifully rendered songs all the more alluring." - Olivia Horn (Pitchfork), 04/26/19
#14 - Eton Alive
February 22, 2019, 8:00:00 a.m.
"In Eton Alive we hear one of the finest political lyricists of the time turning inwards as he still follows a rich and empathetic way, dealing with highly relatable issues around the terrible behaviour patterns that are imposed on men by the patriarchy as much as they are on anyone else. This is exactly the sort of conversation that we need to hear men having in this day and age as we work on reconfiguring what masculinity is and can be. As Williamson has it, once again in 'Negative Script', "it's hard work being kind"" - Luke Turner (The Quietus), 02/27/19
#15 - Club Nites
June 7, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"Dumb are blasé in their delivery. They're jaded and perpetually annoyed with the absurdity of people and the way they act. And while they're snide and sarcastic, it would be wrong to call them haughty or aloof. These are fun songs, and part of what makes them fun — for them, and for us — is that they can be so gleefully petty.....All throughout, Dumb lace their upbeat songs with jagged dissonance to keep things weird. Club Nites is the work of a band that give a shit, even if it seems like they don't." - Adam Feibel (Exclaim!), 06/05/19
#16 - Sunshine Rock
February 8, 2019, 8:00:00 a.m.
"Sunshine Rock isn’t a ruminative album. Instead, it’s the place where Mould expresses his design for the rest of his life. For creative and personal reasons, Mould distanced himself from the past after Patch the Sky, decamping from San Francisco to Berlin, where he chose to rebuild his life with an eye toward optimism. He made a conscious decision to try happiness, the resolution at the core of Sunshine Rock in both attitude and sound. Using the great ball of fire in the sky as his lyrical lodestar, Mould has written an album that pulsates with positivity, even during occasional moments of melancholy." - Steven Thomas Erlewine (Pitchfork), 02/06/19
#17 - Beneath The Eyrie
September 13, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"They’ll probably always live in the shadow of their impeccable 88-91 purple patch, but ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ is still arguably their most consistent body of work since their 2004 reformation and certainly their most inventive in 28 years. What a spooky surprise – that this incarnation of Pixies would turn out to be such a dark, dark horse." - Andrew Trendell (NME), 09/12/19
#18 - Kind Heaven
June 7, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"Be it his defining run with Jane’s Addiction, his underrated stint with Porno for Pyros, or his enigmatic solo work, the thread that ties all of Perry Farrell's music together is his instantly recognizable voice. And at sixty years young, Farrell sounds flat-out great here. The bottom line is this: regardless of what era of the man’s music you most identify with, odds are there are at least a couple of tracks on Kind Heaven worth adding to your Perry playlist." - James Weiskittel (Soundblab), 06/07/19
#19- Stars Are The Light
September 27, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"In a lot of ways, Stars Are The Light is the most truly psychedelic Moon Duo album, from its bright sci-fi mythology artwork to the entrancing array of synth sounds the band lean on across its eight songs. Johnson’s guitars are still important, but they take a backseat more often than not — languidly rippling or flickering, otherwise becoming one with the groove. Instead, the whole album is dressed up in these lush, Technicolor flourishes. Yamada crafted all of the synth sounds for Stars Are The Light, and they are often stunning — whooshing by, or glimmering like sunlight passing through falling water." - Ryan Leas (Stereogum), 09/24/19
#20 - Groove Denied
March 15, 2019, 7:00:00 a.m.
"The indie-rock icon fires up his laptop and lays down a set of quasi-electronic jams that owe more to late-1970s post-punk than to the Berlin nightlife that supposedly inspired the record.....Groove Denied channels circa-1979 post-punk not just in austere sound but in mindset, harking back to an era when machines represented the sound of the future but no one was quite sure of what do with them yet." - Stuart Berman (Pitchfork), 03/16/19