2019 has been an amazing year for music. So much so, that I had a difficult time making this list. Throughout the year I kept a running list of nominees for top album that grew to more than 70 titles. In previous years, I had made this list a top 10, but there was just so much good music this year that I had to expand it to 25. Even so, many really quality albums didn’t make the cut. In addition to this list below make sure and listen to Flume, Tyler the Creator, Ratso, Olivia Jean, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, Scientists, Dandy Warhols, Pere Ubu, Starcrawler, Megan Thee Stallion, Le Bucherettes, Neurotic Mirage, Warmduscher, Oh Sees, Asia, Pharmakon, Patio, Holly Herndon, Priests, Tropical F Storm, Cherry Glazerr, and SebastiAn
25. Keep Drinking!! Drinking Boys and Girls Choir. I never knew South Korean punk rock was a thing, but this trio knocks out 18 songs in 43 minutes with power and energy.
24. Everyday Life, Coldplay. I have always been amazed how The Beatles transitioned from a pop boy band to become psychedelic pioneers. Quietly, it seems Coldplay has evolved in the same way from the simplicity of songs like “Yellow” to the depths of Everyday Life. Chris Martin and friends have done grown up on us.
23. South of Realty, The Claypool Lennon Delirium. What would happen if The Beatles’ White Album and Primus had a baby? South of Reality. This album is creative and driving and strange and wonderful.
22. How Do You Love? The Regrettes: I remember when LA punk rock was a testerone-centric genre, no one had a voice like Lydia Night. But don’t mistake her pipes for weakness, she sings with as much power and conviction as anyone and can equally take on subjects from politics to love.
21. No Home Record, Kim Gordon. After 38 years in music, most as the lead of Sonic Youth, Gordon puts out her first solo album. Reaching beyond expectation, the album is creative, exploratory, and just wonderful.
20. Help Us Stranger, The Raconteurs: This album is even better if you play the second side first. Either way, Jack White is the patron saint of modern rock and roll and playing off Brendan Benson brings out the best in him. If you get a chance to see them live go and witness a virtuoso at his craft.
19. Everything Not Lost Will Be Saved , Part 1 and 2, Foals. In March, Foals put our their best album yet. Six months later, they released the second part that was even better. I would follow them into a joyful dystopian future anywhere.
18. Wasteland, Baby! Hozier. Hozier is a soulful singer, a powerful storyteller, and one heck of a guitar player. It has taken five years for him to follow up his huge debut album, but this was worth the wait.
17. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie Eilsh. It is ridiculous how talented young people are these days, they just have so much game. There are many examples of this, but none more obvious than Billie Eilish who at age 17 sings with the soul of a 71 year old.
16. Cuz I Love You, Lizzo. 2019 was the year of Lizzo. She was everywhere culminating in six Grammy nominations. This album starts with her big voice filling all of the space around her and it doesn’t stop. The world has fallen in love with Lizzo.
15. Internationally Unknown, Rat Boy. A lot of albums on this list are heavy and take on deep subjects. This one is just fun. If you want to run hard, drive fast, or love life, give this one a listen.
14. Not the Past, Can’t Be the Future, Bench Press: D. Boon might’ve died in 1985, but it sounds like he has been reincarnated in an Australian punk band. Bench Press hits with as much relentless force as the Minutemen. Stand back.
13. Highway Hypnosis, Sneaks. Defying definition, Sneaks mixes her own amalgamation of DC-based post-punk and hip hop. She even creates her own words as a strong bass line provides the beat for her to stand tall.
12. Nothing Great About Britian, slowthai. British rap with a punk attitude takes on Brexit, social disparities, the queen, and the world.
11. Dogrel, Fontaines D.C. Idles is not only the best punk band of the century, they brought Fontaines D.C. on tour and made the world a better place with their Irish post-punk. It’s starting to feel like 1977 around here.
10. King’s Mouth, The Flaming Lips. I am a sucker for a good concept album, especially one narrated by Mick Jones about a mythical giant king who sacrifices himself to save a village. The decapitated king’s head is put on display and becomes an inspiration for people to live lives of love and kindness.
9. Ghosteen, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Continuing where the album “Skeleton Tree” left off, Cave continues to grieve the tragic death of his son. It may have been three years, and the black album cover replaced by a living garden, but the emptiness is ever present which gives all of us permission to grieve.
8. Caligula, Lingua Ignota: This is the rawest, bravest, must vulnerable album I have ever heard. Imagine someone opening their soul and showing the darkest places no one speaks of. This not an easy listen, but it is hard to find a more powerful one.
7. Heavy is the Head, Stormzy. Stormzy takes the powerful grime he rocked on “Gang Signs and Prayer” and broadens his art. Who knew Stormzy had such a sweet singing voice? This album has power and soul.
6. This Land, Gary Clark Jr. Paranoid and pissed off! The opening words of this album launch in to the protest song of the year, “This Land.” The album goes on to feature blues, rock, and hip hop from a guitar prodigy whose voice and lyrics have caught up to his fingers.
5. Jamie, Brittany Howard.Best known as the lead singer of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard offers a solo album of blues and soul. While this album fills the four-year void since Alabama Shakes’ “Sound & Color,” it is also a deeply personal call to healing, named after her sister who died from childhood cancer.
4. Grey Area, Little Simz. In a year when British grime ruled the rap world (at least in my unpeofessional opinion) it is appropriate that a woman from London, born to Nigerian parents, puts out the best rap album of the year, filled with confidence and empowerment.
3. Norman F’ing Rockwell! Lana Del Ray. Lana is the best songwriter/storyteller on the planet. Couple that with her mesmerizing voice and you’ll be hooked.
2. The Queen Who Stole The Sky, Sarah Mary Chadwick. What happens when a former punk rock singer bears her soul accompanied by one of the largest organs in the world? An album that is striking, stark, and honest.
1. Love Hates What You Become, Lost Under Heaven. From pillar to post, this was my undisputed favorite album of 2019. Ebony and Ellery create a unique sound in which they vocally play off each other with emotional rawness. Lost Under Heaven may not be the music industry flavor of the day, and might be the best band you have never heard of, but you should check them out and change that.