Here is a list of my favorite songs and albums that came out this year. I am going to forget a lot and I will likely have to update this list a few times after I post it. A good deal of music I love this year was made by people I know, so that makes me happy. At this end of this list, I’ll post links to the music I made myself. Rating art is evil, so this is in no particular order.
MGMT - Little Dark Age
The entire album is very good, but this title track is a standout. Unstoppable goth electro pop. The chorus is dangerous. Fave song of the year, maybe?
Lys Guillorn - Tinctoria
If you found a 45 with this song on it in the $1 bin at the record store and bought it home, you’d crank this tune up and it would become an essential part of your life because this song feels like a little secret Lys wrote just for you. Her band gallops with pure wonky tonk style. Don’t skip it.
Rae Morris - Do It
This is the best pop song of the year. Period. And I am utterly confused as to why it wasn’t a massive, smash, worldwide, mainstream hit, though I admit my understanding of the corporate music machine is limited. I have watched this video 7861 times and I still find it compelling. It expertly captures NYC at its most tolerable.
Jeff Rosenstock - Yr Throat
This album swings hard for the fences and makes contact A LOT. This is the most concise and best track on the album. Hope to see him play this live soon so I can scream like a lunatic.
Robert Julian Fronzo released one of my favorite records of the year (more on that in the album section of this list). BUY IT. Three incredible songs of note here:
Huge Ford https://robertjulianfronzo.bandcamp.com/track/huge-ford
Burn The Whole World Down https://robertjulianfronzo.bandcamp.com/track/burn-the-whole-world-down
Dream Before You Wake Up https://robertjulianfronzo.bandcamp.com/track/dream-before-you-wake-up
Okkervil River - Pulled Up The Ribbon
I was a tiny bit let down by this record as a whole considering Okkervil’s last album “Away” was a brilliant and wonderful accomplishment. That said, there are a few really good tracks on this record and this song crushes and like all of Okkervil River’s best songs, I wish I wrote it, but that tenacious little bugger Will Sheff beat me to it yet again.
Landing - Nod
America’s longest running space rock band delivers yet again. Best bass riff of the fucking year.
Meshell Ndegeocello - Smooth Operator
This cover of Smooth Operator is good.
Childish Gambino - This Is America
Really great and powerful song (that was probably ripped off?) full of subtle details one could go on about for a long while. The music video is a remarkable achievement and one of the best I have ever seen. It should be studied in schools.
Childish Gambino - Saturday
Not quite sure why he hasn’t officially released this track yet. As I understand it, this is the only version that exists. Excellent performance and should have been the party track of the year.
Broncho - All Choked Up
This is the kind of band that deserves the money required to buy an expensive publicist who will pay for them to be famous. (That’s how it works these days, but you already know that, right?). Killer tune. Moar cowbell. Entire album is very good.
Jeff Tweedy - I Know What It’s Like
Really pretty song. The world could use more of them.
Snoprah - Yank Riddim
American Elm - Long Road To Be Free
It is indeed a long road to be free. Thank you, Christopher Bousquet for your great songs. Keep em coming.
Damien Jurado - The Last Great Washington State
Hell of a good piece of folk songwriting.
Haley Heynderickx - Jo
This is one of my most listened to tracks of the year and another contendor for my flat-out fave. I’m listening to it right now. This is everything a song is supposed to be. I’m so grateful to have been introduced to Haley’s music this year, because she is one of our finest young singers/songwriters/guitarists. This song is her best and it is STUNNING. Get the whole record now.
Mini Mansions - Bored To Death
Look into this band asap if you have not. Each of their albums have at least 3 classic tunes on them. Again, get these guys a publicist who plays golf with the right rich asshole.
Frank Critelli - The Ghost In My House
Frank is one of our very best pure folk singers and here’s one of his songs I will love for my whole life.
Phoebe Bridgers - Funeral
This song broke my heart permanently.
Phosphorescent - New Birth In New England
Fun tune. As my brilliant wife observed: “Jimmy Buffett for bearded New England dads.” Guilty as charged.
Marissa Nadler - Blue Vapor
Marissa does this sort of tune better than anybody. I am goth now.
Mona Lisa - Lil Wayne (feat Kendrick Lamar)
Two rappers rapping like it is the last rap they will ever rap.
Paul McCartney - Hand In Hand
Best track on his OK new album.
Mitski’s new album is excellent, sure. But I have trouble listening to the whole thing, simply because these two tracks are too fantastic and I just keep listening to them over and over.
Old Friend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs3nMPeglk4
Another strong contender for my favorite song of the year.
Me And My Husband https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU_Dbxciei8
When I tell songwriters “Don’t Be Scared” this is what I am talking about. You have to be fearless to write a song like this. Find a video of her playing this live. She can move mountains.
Tropical Fuck Storm - You Let My Tyres Down
I am not Australian, but my understanding is Gareth Liddiard is considered one of the country’s all-time best songwriters and that makes sense to me. If you know anything about his last band (The Drones) you know he’s the real thing. Wicked tune. Turn it up loud. Really weird album.
Witch Hair - Cracked Pavement
This song contains some of my favorite musical moments of the year. You must listen to this song as loud as possible and then do it again and then listen to the whole album three times and then go see Witch Hair because they are one of the best bands doing it.
Kacey Musgraves - Slow Burn
If only all mainstream music was this melodically dense and thoughtfully arranged. A good song. Groovy chords.
Parquet Courts - Almost Had To Start a Fight/In And Out Patience
Guided By Voices - Space Gun
The best GBV song of the year! Trust the wizard!
Prince - Nothing Compares 2 U
Sinead forever, but I’m so thankful he left us this.
Shall we call this a transitional year for the album format? That’s the most generous way to put it I’d say. These are rather dark times for our old friend the album. I know this because even my own listening habits have drawn me away from putting on an entire record and listening front-to-back. Streaming analytics and sales don’t lie: the album is nearly dead. That said, we can and should keep it alive. It’s a worthwhile medium and I, along with the majority of my friends, still work with this format and it remains inspiring to us and we hope, dear listener, to you too. In 2019, consider spending some time with new albums. Try to not skip tracks. Those may one day be your favorite. Give yourself the gift of bringing new albums into your life regularly. We all grew up doing so and were richly rewarded. That doesn’t have to end just because 21st century life tells us we don’t have time to devote to a work of art that takes more than 17 seconds to consume. You are in charge. Reclaim your time. Turn it up.
More Klementines - Self Titled
Our pals from No Line North, Rivener (yeeeeeah!), and MYTY KONKEROR bring us a free-flowing, two-part space jam essential for long drives and fat joints.
The Right Offs - Fire In a Theater
An extremely compelling, energetic, fantastically written & performed EP by New Haven’s best rock band.
Alison Cotton - All Is Quiet at the Ancient Theatre
A mesmerizing collection of solo work that sounds like a glorious ensemble. Some of the most beautiful music I heard this year. Ethereal.
Robert Julian Fronzo - Fanboy Non-Fiction
I had the good fortune or releasing some music on the Pale Blue Records label this year and thankfully, this is how I learned about Robert. This album is filled with concise songs, gorgeous melodies, and fascinating production. Each time I listened to this record this year was time well spent. In his wisdom, Robert is not on social media. If you listen and love this record, send him an email and tell him so. Songwriters appreciate that sort of thing.
Laura, Laura! - Tangy
What even is this album? A masterwork of originality and dream-thinking.
David Crosby - Here If You Listen
Look, this is some smooth-rock production here. If you can handle the adult contemporary-ness of the way this album sounds, you’ll find some of the most beautiful music Croz has ever made. Impeccable arrangements and melodies. Let yourself enjoy this special record.
Thom Yorke - Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film)
I like this better than the last Radiohead record. A few of the actual songs on this soundtrack are some of the best he’s written in many years. The title track and “Unmade” are both stunning songs.
Tyshawn Sorey - Pillars
A towering, colossal achievement in modern music. A visionary work in composition and improvisation.
Haley Heynderickx - I Need to Start a Garden
Haley Heynderickx - Max García Conover
Both Haley’s debut album and this collaborative EP with Max García Conover are joyful and inspiring. She is a magnificent guitarist, a compelling vocalist, and a thoughtful songwriter. I look forward to falling in love with many more of her songs.
Nadja - Sonnborner
Gorgeous, crushing, brutal, atmospheric metal and ambiance from the legends.
Tiny Ocean - Sometime You’re Right
I can’t get enough of Kierstin Sieser’s songs so this album is so damn satisfying. A solid collection of songs that rewards on repeated listens.
Low - Double Negative
If someone said, “This is going to be the last album ever. The album format has now reached it’s logical conclusion.” I would say, “okay.”
Witch Hair - Out on Love
The first of what I hope is many great albums from one of the best live bands out there.
DJ Jazzy Jeff - M3
I know, right? You’re welcome.
Clint Heidorn - Pasadena
A modern, dusty, spaghetti western, gothic masterwork.
Yo La Tengo - There’s a Riot Going On
It’s pretty good! Perfect dinner party record! That’s a compliment!
Chris Corsano / Bill Orcutt - Brace Up!
The best improvisational drummer and the best improvisational guitarist going completely nuts for 32 minutes straight. What’s not to like?
OK! Thank you for reading. Sincerest apologies to the music I loved, but forgot to add to this list.
I hope you try some of this music and enjoy!
Here’s what I made:
Keep the faith. - pb