Best Albums of 2019

The hardest part about getting older is pretending that you’re not biased by exerting a false open-mindedness to the world around you. I mean that in all honesty.  By objectively looking at myself as a 34 year old man, I do not want to sound like a typical old guy by saying such cliches as “new music sucks”, “social media is obnoxious” and “where the hell did all these warts come from?!” – you know, the typical things everybody says.

The way we consume music has drastically changed over the last 20 years. Most music consumers listened to whatever was dictated to them by either local radio stations or MTV as we only had two main outlets. In all honesty, I am pretty happy that MTV is dying a slow, horrible death. By 1993, MTV had given its audience a clear indication of what the future held for its viewers: reality tv starring bratty, untalented 20 somethings. I remember having to sit through Daisy Fuente’s pointless babble to get to a Soundgarden video. At least we had 120 Minutes, the “alternative” show that was available at the convenient time slot of 1:00 am on Monday mornings. Matt Pinfield was the kryptonite to the other VJs you saw on MTV.  He was the bald troll MTV kept locked in the dungeon until 1:00 am on Monday mornings when they unleashed him to a mostly sleeping America, hoping no-one would see him. Unlike all of the other veejays, Matt Pinfield was probably the only one who actually knew music and therefore the only one who deserved his job.

MTV had an all-star cast of Gen-Xers that could even annoy the 12 year old viewers who they tried to trick into thinking they were “cool”. MTV was also to blame for reality tv if you think about it… remember “The Real World” and “Road Rules”? These shows were the precursors to modern-day reality TV shows. Come to the current year of 2019 – with no MTV, and all local radio stations playing the same white-trash rock n roll for the last 30 years, How do you find new music? While radio and MTV are rarely the source to acquire new music nowadays, the alternatives have multiplied. From “shazamming” (which is a verb) a song off a commercial or some shit hole bar, to streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora to scouring review sites like Pitchfork (ugh) Metacritic and the integral Moron Reviews, we have even more outlets than we could ever ask for. Which has resulted in much more fragmented music taste. Think about it, in the 1990s you could say “Nirvana, Ace of Bass, Snoop Dogg, Nine Inch Nails and Whitney Houston” and while not everyone would have the same opinion on those artists – they at least would have recognized all of those names. And yes, all of those groups were considered “new” in the 1990s. What’s my point? Music has become so de-centralized due to the internet that nothing becomes a household name anymore. Well other than crap pop artists, but it will always be that way.

You can also listen to a 34-year-old man’s interpretation of the best music by listening to Moron Review’s Top Songs of 2018 on Spotify as well as most of the albums listed:

https://open.spotify.com/album/6AOaqWipm2Zk0oBp0uUey2

40. Artic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Casino Hotel

Artic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Casino Hotel

The Artic Monkeys have come a long way since 2006’s acclaimed Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Gone is the riff rock of “Do I Wanna Know” from 2013’s AM. Tranquility Base Casino Hotel takes the band in a blatantly Vegas, almost show-tune like direction. Imagine Elvis Presley during his “Fat Elvis” era doing a 12 song residency in Las Vegas and you will get a clearer grasp of this album. The reviews have been split on this album, but you gotta hand it to The Artic Monkeys for drastically changing their sound on each album – the true sign of a real artist.

Notable Tracks:

Four out of Five

Tranquility Base Casino Hotel

 

39. Jonathan Wilson – Rare Birds

Jonathon Wilson - Rare Birds

Jonathan Wilson penned Rare Birds as an existential journey of one’s heartbreak. While “Living with Myself” (featuring a cameo from Lana Del Rey) “49 Hairflips” seems to steal the show on this 2018 release.

 

Notable Tracks:

49 Hairflips

Living with Myself

 

 

 

38. Imagine Dragons – Origins

Imagine Dragons - OriginsThe album was produced by the band members themselves, frequent collaborator Alex da Kid, Mattman & Robin, John Hill, Joel Little, Tim Randolph, and Jayson DeZuzio, who produced a majority of the band’s previous effort, Evolve (2017), as well as Jorgen Odegard. Frontman Dan Reynolds described Origins as a “sister album” to Evolve, and that it would complete a cycle of their music.

Notable Tracks:

Put Your Money On Me

Electric Blue

 

 

 

 

37. Esperanza Spalding – 12 Little Spells

Esperanza Spalding - 12 Little SpellsReleased on October 19, 2018, by Concord Records, the seventh studio album by bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding shows a lot of growth from 2017’s Exposure. Each song was released individually from October 7–18, 2018 and each track also contains a music video. Interestingly, each song corresponds to the human anatomy.

Notable Tracks:

Until The Next Fall

 

 

 

 

36. The Go! Team – Semicircle

The Go! Team - SemicircleThe fifth studio album by English band The Go! Team. Released on 19 January 2018 by Memphis Industries. Vocals on the album were provided by band members Ninja and Maki, with guest vocals from the Detroit Youth Choir, Julie Margat, Darenda Weaver, and Amber Arcades. Brass was provided by the Neon Saints Brass Band.

 

Notable Tracks:

Semicircle Song

Mayday

 

 

35. Ghost Note – Swagism

Ghost Note - SwagismGhost-Note’s sound has evolved to a state that can best be described as ‘conscious funk’ – an elaborate and sonically powerful surge of the tremendous talents that each of the players provides, with the bandleaders leaning back and letting the band go. The core lineup is a rotating cast of serious cats – all stretching to meet the expanding nature of the band.

 

Notable Tracks:

Put Your Money On Me

Electric Blue

 

 

34. Awolnation -Here Comes The Runts

Awolnation - Here Comes The RuntsHere Come the Runts is the third studio album by American rock band Awolnation, released on February 2, 2018, through Red Bull Records. The album has spawned several singles “Passion”,”Handyman”,”Seven Sticks of Dynamite” and “Miracle Man”.

 

Notable Tracks:

Passion

Handyman

 

 

33. Bastille – Other Peoples Heartache (Vol. 4)

Bastille - Other Peoples Heartache (Vol. 4)Bastille releases their fourth mixtape with Other People’s Heartache (Pt 4). Breaking onto the scene with 2014’s “Pompei” (a song that sounded like something would play in The Lion King while the baboon, Rafiki held Simba towards the sky) Bastille has been quite since 2013’s Bad Blood.

 

Notable Tracks:

Wild World

Would I Lie To You?

 

 

 

FYI: a real baboon has finally “Simba-ed” one of its own:

 

 

32. The Neighbourhood –  The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood - Hard To Imagine The Neighbourhood Ever ChangingThe lead single, “Scary Love” was premiered as December 4, 2017’s Zane Lowe’s World Record and properly released on digital platforms the next day. To promote the track, the band performed it at The Late Late Show with James Corden on February 20, 2018 and premiered its official music video starring Tommy Wiseau the album’s release day, on March 9, 2018.

Notable Tracks:

Put Your Money On Me

Electric Blue

 

 

 

31. Jack White – Boarding House Reach

Boarding House ReachJack White has made a career of taking trends that have long been out-of-style and making them fresh again. He (and former partner Meg White) created a garage-rock revival that spawned countless two-piece imitations (The Black Keys, Royal Blood) in the late 1990’s. Just look at the re-emergence of the handle-bar mustache, suspenders and bowler hats. Looking like a 1930’s hobo wasn’t cool back then, but it is in 2019. Let’s be honest, mens’ fashions haven’t changed much in 100 years. Jack White channels his inner Rolling Stones/Martin Scorcese soundtrack with lead off track, “Connected By Love”, boasting soulful, female blues singers.

Notable Tracks:

Connected By Love

 

30. David Byrne – American Utopia

David Byrne - American UtopiaWhile The Talking Heads have been dormant for more 17 years, former lead singer, guitarist (and visionary) David Byrne has released his first album in 14 years: American Utopia.

 

Notable Tracks:

I Dance Like This

 

 

 

 

29. Kamasi Washington – Heaven & Earth

Kamasi Washington - Heaven and EarthSax anyone? Kamasi Washington returns hot off of the acclaimed 2017 album,  Harmony of Difference. While Heaven & Earth seems like a decent title, it has nothing on titles such as Sax on the beach.

 

Notable Tracks:

Fists of Fury

Connections

 

 

 

 

28. Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest

Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest

I Loved You At Your Darkest is the 11th studio album from Gdańsk, Poland blackened death metal band, Behemoth. While I am not in Satan myself and I am down for some badass riffs and Behemoth brings it.

 

Notable Tracks:

Wolves ov Siberia

Solve

 

 

 

27. Pronoun – Run

Pronoun - Run

“Nothing creepier than a guy in his 30s who listens to Lorde” I thought to myself as I drove to work one morning while listening to Melodrama. Lorde’s long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s Pure Heroine arrived this summer after a five-year wait. The problem is that like many sophomore albums – it doesn’t live up to her debut.  The saying is “You have your whole life to write your first record and about 8 months to write your second one.” Pretty true. That’s not much time to a craft an album of the same quality. Especially if you’re the soul songwriter.

Notable Tracks:

Run

 

 

26. Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today

deathcab for cutie Thank you for todayI wasn’t the biggest Death Cab fan growing up. I always felt they were more of a band for the ladies. While Thank You For Today is not their crowning jewel it still offers up many reverb-ladden, arpeggio driven songs paired with an upbeat tempo that could only move someone under the age of 30.

Notable Tracks:

Northern Lights

 

 

 

 

25. The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl

The Decemberists - I'll Be Your Girl

I never liked using the term “hipster”, but sometimes that is the only way you can describe something. Well, The Decembrists were definitely the hipster band of 10 years ago. I am even waiting for a “cutting stone” to become something you see in some new posh restaurant.

 

Notable Tracks:

Cutting Stone

Severed

 

 

 

24. Deafheaven – Ordinary Corrupt

Deaftheaven_Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

As I get older, I don’t seem to have as much patience for heavy music as I did whenever I was younger. Being a teenage boy at one point, I burned myself out on heavy rock music so I am less likely to give it a change it my later years. This album struck me by surprise. The only downfall of this band is their singer, I can’t stand Screamo singers. I once had to sit through a Lamb of God setlist in order to see Slayer and it was barely worth it.

 

Notable Tracks:

Yellow Canary

May 1st

 

 

23. Melvins – Pinkus Abortion Technician

Melvins - Pinkus Abortion TechnicianIf The Melvins didn’t already have a strong reputation in the 1990’s, the addition of Butthole Surfer’s bassist and founding member, Jeff Pinkus surely solidified their integrity. Pinkus Abortion Technician is actually a reference to the Butthole’s 1987 album, Locust Abortion Technician. I saw The Melvins in 2015 in a tiny venue that fit about 400 people and I was shoved up into the front row, my head directly in the warpath of Pinkus’ Ampeg bass amp. I had tinnitus for three days. In the words of Def Leopard –  “rock on”. But, not in the music of Def Leopard though. As Kid Rock put it “Def Leopard sucks!” Kid Rock also sucks though. What were we talking about again?

Notable Tracks:

Stop Moving to Florida

 

 

22. Julian Lage – Modern Lore

Julian Lage - Modern Lore

Jazz anyone? The cool trend has always been to say that you are into jazz. Someone of jazz background is always considered of higher integrity than someone who just plays in a rock band. While I like a lot of different types of jazz – some of it does nothing for me as it lacks any melody or repetitive structure that I can follow. Then again, that’s probably cause it is too complicated and I am too stupid to follow it.

Notable Tracks:

General Thunder

 

 

 

21. Windhand – Eternal Return

35. Windhand - Eternal Return

Doom metal returns with Winhand’s fourth full length release, Eternal Return. The album was produced by Jack Endino (Soundgarden Screaming Life anyone?) and is the band’s first without founding guitarist Asechiah Bogdan.

Straddling the line between grunge and pyschedila, Eternal Return gives a heavy dose of throw-back sludge rock.

Notable Tracks:

Halcyon

 

 

 

20. Sigur Ros – Liminal 3

Sigur Ros Luminal 3

It has been nine years since the Progressive-Alt Rock, Swedish outfit’s last studio album of fresh materials (Kvekuir). Sigur Ros finally returns with Liminal 3, a remix of past songs that initially debut as an online stream.

 

Notable Tracks:

Falinn

 

 

 

19. Sleep – The Sciences

Sleep The Sciences

If there was official getaway music to play while fleeing the trailer home you share with your brother due to stealing an ounce of heroin from him right after he found out you were having an affair with his wife – this would be the album. Sleep made a career out of replicating the early Black Sabbath sound and has actually escaped a lot of well deserved criticism. And if the solo on “Marijuanat’s Theme” doesn’t make you feel like putting on a set of Aviators and shooting someone in the crotch, I don’t know what to tell you.

Notable Tracks:

Marijuanat’s Theme

 

 

 

 

18. The Smashing Pumpkins – Shiny And Oh So Bright, Vol 1

Smashing PumpkinsBilly Corgan has publicly criticized bands such as Soundgarden and Pavement for reforming and becoming “nostalgia acts” by touring and reissue releases… so what did Billy Corgan do? He brought back the original Smashing Pumpkins lineup sans D’arcy, reissued his back-catalog and created a tour that shows old videos and even dug up the twins from the Siamese Dream cover to create a video announcing the reformation.

The problem is Billy Corgan has put out albums under the Smashing Pumpkins moniker (without the original lineup) for 17 years.  I even saw the show in Pittsburgh. It was a great show, but it was also the most nostalgic show I’ve ever seen.

For their reunion record, they hired the overpriced yet minimalistic, dynamic range compressing Rick Rubin. “Silvery” reminds me of “Perfect” and has touches of something you would have found off of Machina which was actually one of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins albums. “Solora” really didn’t blow me away for a lead off single, but I must say Jimmy Chamberlain must have set a record for the fastest drum rolls ever on this track. All in all, Shiny feels more like an EP (even though it’s Vol 1) than a full blown record. On the upside, it is the most enjoyable release since Zeitgeist.

Notable Tracks:

Silvery Sometimes

Travels

 

17. Fever Ray – Plunge 

FeverRay_Plunge_albumart

While Plunge technically came out in 2017, it missed last years list by one week. Fever Ray explores musically textures that might remind you of early 1980’s Peter Gabriel tracks from Melt and Security.

 

Notable Tracks:

Mustn’t Hurry

 

 

 

 

16. Kimbra – Primal Heart 

Kimbra - Primal HeartKimbra is like that annoying art school friend you had in college. They hated anything commercial just for the fact of it being commercial and would embrace anything underground even if it was absolutely horrible. They probably had some unique yet horrible haircut that no-one else had, but that’s exactly what they were going for. Eventually, you realized that they didn’t really have sincere taste themselves, but knew it was always a safe play to be fans of artists and films no-one else had heard of. Sooner or later, much like their art school degree, you realized they were both pointless. The ironic part is that Kimbra’s music is extremely accessible and hence why pitchfork only gave it a 5.4. Rock on, Kimbra!

Notable Tracks:

Like They Do On TV

 

 

15. Lo Moon – Lo Moon

Lo Moon

Lo Moon has the that “starving artist”  vibe that somehow persuades you to let him sleep on your couch. You approve the request under the agreement that he will move out once he finds a job. Before you know it, 4 months have passed and you have to catch him while he’s at home due to him dodging you for the last two months in fear of an ultimatum.

Notable Tracks:

The Right Thing

 

 

 

14. Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else

Fickle Friends Someone You Are NotThis is definitely an album for the tweens. It’s pop music from the 1980s recycled all over again. Even the cover is reminiscent of a 1980’s album cover.

Notable Tracks:

Wake Me Up

Paris

 

 

 

 

 

13. Low – Double Negative RECOMMENDED

Low - Double NegativeIf you’re scared of the future like I am and you love terrifying music that sounds like it was created by evil computers than Double Negative is the album for you. Make sure you do not play this music around any elderly relatives as they will surely accuse you of conspiring their fate.

Notable Tracks:

Fly

Dancing and Blood

Quorum

 

 

12. Beach House – 7  RECOMMENDED

Beach House_7This Baltimore based duo first stormed onto the scene with 2012’s Bloom. While 7 doesn’t match the hooks or melodies of Bloom, it is a still a worthy edition to Beach House’s catalogue.

Notable Tracks:

Dark Spring

Last Ride

 

 

 

 

11. Ghost – Prequelle RECOMMENDED

Ghost Prequelle

You ever discover a band that is new to you at the time and you tell people about them cause you think they’re so great? But then they start putting out subpar music and you wish you hadn’t boasted about liking them? That is kind of where I am at with Ghost.

I loved Infessitium, but Prequelle is like Ghost BC meets Saturday Night Fever and I don’t mean that in a cool way. Come on, Ghost you were supposed to be a pop thrash metal band, not a disco band.

Notable Tracks:

Witch Image

 

 

 

10. Interpol – Marauder

Interpol_Marauder
Interpol Marauder

I’ve been a fan Interpol fan since Evil was played on MTV during my dorm days of college. Owning much of their sound to Joy Division and more obscure early 80’s British punk, they have not changed their sound one iota over the years.

The problem is that it appears their best work is now behind them. While you can’t expect another Turn On The Bright Lights or Antics, Interpol deliver a few worthy additions to their now-expansive catalog.

Notable Tracks:

If You Really Love Nothing

Surveillance

 

 

9. Metric – Art of Doubt   RECOMMENDED

Metric - Art of Doubt

Quite possibly the best Metric album since 2012’s Synthetica. I first heard Metric by listening to Fantasies which was their current album when I originally saw them at Lollapalooza 2010. Art of Doubt seems to take a much more experimental, darker path than their previous album, Pagans in Vegas but it is more rewarding than the 2015 release. The only downside of Metric is that they’re from Canada. I know. I was bummed out too when I found out. Unlike Bryan Adams, the Canadian government hasn’t apologized for Metric on several occasions.

Notable Tracks:

Dark Saturday

Art of Doubt

Electric Blue

Risk

 

8. Wild Nothing – Indigo RECOMMENDED

WildNothing_Indigo_Cover

Dreampop sensations, Wild Nothing return with their follow up to 2015’s “Life of Pause”. While “Life of Pause” was a somewhat weak junior album to the phenomenal Nocturne, Indigo recaptures some of Wild Nothing‘s initial glory. If you haven’t heard Nocturne, check it out as it is probably one of the best albums of the 2000’s.

Notable Tracks:

Letting Go

Canyon on Fire

Shallow Water

 

 

7. The Ramona Flowers –  Strangers RECOMMENDED

romona_flowers_strangersThe first time I heard the opening lyrics of Ramona Flowers’ “Out of Focus” I was positive someone had dug up George Michael’s grave and had re-animated him to put out one last pop album. While I can assure you that George Michael is still dead and buried, I can promise you that his music and inspiration lives on in Strangers.

Notable Tracks:

Out of Focus

 

 

 

 

6. Twenty One Pilots – Trench RECOMMENDED

Twenty One Pilots - Trench

I guess the new hip trend is a two-piece band with a bass player and a drummer. Shit, and I finally got decent at guitar! Guitars are so 1990’s. I am just kidding – I am not decent at guitar. There is rapping on this album so I guess that makes it hip.

 

Notable Tracks:

Jumpsuit

Chlorine

 

 

 

5. Troye Sivan – Bloom RECOMMENDED

Troye Sivan - Bloom

The video for “Bloom” gave me nightmares. It’s like watching Avatar on a bad acid trip. I don’t really know what it likes to be on a bad acid trip as I was too cheap and/or scared to actually ever have been on one. But, I imagine this is what an acid trip would be like. PS:  Fine Young Cannibals called… and they want their snare drum back from “She Drives Me Crazy”.

Notable Tracks:

Bloom

My!My!My!

 

 

 

4. A Perfect Circle – Eat The Elephant RECOMMENDED

A Perfect Circle Eat the Elephant
A Perfect Circle Eat the Elephant

Sorry Tool fans, but the closest you’re getting to a new album this year is Eat The Elephant.  Aenima was one of my favorite albums growing up, but the fact is that by the time Tool’s new album comes out – I probably won’t even be into them. I can’t imagine an 85 year old man waiting in the nursing home to finally hear the new Tool album by quote unquote calling it “balls-out-melt-your-face-off rock.” People move on, people grow up. While Eat The Elephant is A Perfect Circle’s first new album since 2003’s Thirteenth Step, they seem to pick up right where they left out with the addition of some especially pop (and pop-culture reference laden) tunes such as “So Long And Thanks For All The Fish”.

Notable Tracks:

TalkTalk

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

By and Down

 

3. Death Grips – Year of the Snitch RECOMMENDED

Death Grips_Year of the SnitchDeath Grips is probably one of the freshest sounding groups in recent years. Not since Big Black has a group married frantic drum machine loops and visceral shouting that would terrify anyone.

 

Notable Tracks:

Black Paint

HaHaHaHa

 

 

 

2. Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog RECOMMENDED

Alice In Chains "Rainier Fog"
Alice In Chains “Rainier Fog”

I feel like the old guy putting on an Allman’s Brothers record at their 17 year old’s high school graduation party by putting Alice in Chains on here. But, let’s be honest – Jerry Cantrell is and always will be an amazing songwriter.  Unlike past Alice albums, I didn’t immediately like this one after the first few listens, but this is album definitely grows on you. Nothing beats the eerie arpeggios on “All That I Am”.

Notable Tracks:

Maybe

The One You Know

Rainier Fog

All That I Am

 

1. Chvrches – Love is Dead RECOMMENDED

CHVRCHES- Love Is Dead

Ain’t nothing wrong with liking some teen pop music. Not all pop music is bad – sometimes you just want a hooky chorus and a catchy beat and there’s no point in taking yourself too seriously if that is what you’re after.

Notable Tracks:

Deliverance

Forever

Graves

Heaven/Hell

Wonderland

 

Full Time Fool

Full Time Fool has been with Moron Reviews since it's inception in 2015. He reports on music, craft brews and technology.

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