Previously I shared ten records that I found impactful or personally important in some way over the last twelve months. Those were my secondary favorites compared to these ten.
Here are what ended up being my favorite ten records of 2019.
10 – Bob Mould
Please forgive me, for I know not what I have been missing. Sunshine Rock is my first taste of Mould and I’m hooked. This really is a perfect showing that old guys can still rock, but if I can’t change your mind then no one will.
Standouts: Lost Faith, Sunshine Rock, & Camp Sunshine
9 – The Devil Makes Three
Live at Red Rocks
I happened to be in Portland, Oregon on a night in December of 2018 that The Devil Makes Three were playing at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom. I eventually found myself at the show alone because I was traveling solo and there was nothing else better to do than seeing a band I was only vaguely familiar. Turned out to be one of my favorite live shows that I’ve ever been to. These songs are bunches of fun, and, truthfully, I’m rather embarrassed that it took a spontaneous whim for me to take notice.
Standouts: Bad Idea, Spinning Like a Top, & Hallelu
8 – Of Monsters and Men
The award for best comeback record for a band that never truly went away goes to Of Monsters and Men. Fever Dream is like if you scrapped an idea you had for yourself nearly ten years in the making and was like “ah, hell.. let’s start over”. I barely even noticed this band until this record, and it is pretty stinkin good. It’s proof that the guy/girl duel vocals are still marketably mainstream.
Standouts: Róróró, Alligator, & Vulture Vulture
7 – blink182
I’m probably gonna catch a lot of heat for this one. Choosing Blink-182 as a top ten is more than slightly cheesy, but I swallowed my own pride with this one and listened to this record with an open mind. After doing so I realized how much depth Matt Skiba has added to the band. If you know me at all then you are aware of my undying Stan for Tom DeLonge, but I’ll say it.. you add Skiba to any band and you‘ll make said band instantly a better one. The future of Blink-182 is finally something more than sex and fart jokes, and I’m more than ok with that.
Standouts: Black Rain, Blame It On My Youth, & Generational Divide
6 – Big Thief
Big Thief was busy this year. UFOF was the first of two records released by them this year as also is the first of two call outs on my favorites list. There’s a whole lotta angst in several of my choices on both of my lists, but none sound so dissimilar to its target audience than this band. Lead singer Adrianne Lenker, and guitarist Buck Meek pair perfectly with James Krivchenia and Max Oleartchik’s drums and bass respectively. Frustration and heartache sung mostly in whispers and soft melodies over melancholic folk love songs, but you won’t notice the resentment unless you look closely because the music is so captivating and beautiful. So many facets of emotion wrapped up neatly in a dozen songs. Now, stay tuned for album 2.
Standouts: Cattails, UFOF, & From
5 – Coldplay
Coldplay was supposed to be the next U2 or something, and I’m not even sure I know what that means. These guys have stuck around long enough for most people to forget that they were able to still make good music. The title track to Everyday Life is probably my pick for song of the year. “How in the world am I going to see you as my brother and not my enemy”, Martin sings over a very typical, but welcomed Coldplay piano melody, “everyone hurts, everyone cries, and everyone sees the color in each other’s eyes.” Controversial issues are front and center in what will probably be labeled Coldplay’s most daring musical effort. I’d much rather have “daring Coldplay” than a “play-it-safe Coldplay” putting out consecutive radio singles for cash grabs. But for real though, could someone get Chris Martin a new T-shirt?!
Standouts: Everyday Life, Trouble In Town, & Guns
4 – Fontaines D.C.
Post punk rock from geographic regions in or around the U.K. is in its prime right now. Idles are currently peaking and there are several others following close behind. Fontaines D.C. is one of those several and I’m sitting here, chin in palms, taking it all in. I don’t really have much to say about this record other than my request that you don’t skip out on it. These guys need to be recognized for what they’ve managed to put out in LP format on their first go at it.
Standouts: Big, Boys in the Better Land, & Too Real
3 – Petrol Girls
Cut & Stitch
When I want to press play and drift off into elsewhere the Petrol Girls are an easy and immediate no-brainer go-to. Falling somewhere between post hardcore and punk rock this band is throwing well-crafted feminist rock songs all the way from England. The amount of intentional controversy and channeled outrage is blatantly obvious on Cut & Stitch and greets me with an ironic welcomed surprise.
Standouts: Big Mouth, No Love For A Nation & Weather Warning
2 – Big Thief
Here it is. The second of two appearances from a band that I currently cannot get enough from. UFOF had the production value that Two Hands was missing, but the songs on this one literally speak for themselves. They are intimate and emotionally corrosive as Lenker sings alongside her band mates. Just as the album before this did, this one also packs a punch in the lyrics disguised well beneath the composition of the song.
Standouts: Forgotten Eyes, Not, & Shoulders
1 – Better Oblivion Community Center
Better Oblivion Community Center
This record came out all the way back in January and it was in my headphones almost daily. I adore this album. Every song on it is beautifully composed and perfectly placed to create a ride through ten vivid stories in song. Phoebe Bridges and Conor Oberst were meant to sing together, and if there are no more collaborations between these two then at least we are aware that it could.
Standouts: all of them