The Top Albums of 2019

81 Albums That Moved Me and Defined My Year

In 2019, I listened to a whopping 303 newly released albums, which is, without a doubt, the most I’ve ever listened to in a year. (I counted a “listen” as meaning at least 75% of the tracks in full, and in the vast majority of cases it was truly 100% of the tracks in full.) In the process of creating this list, I determined that I liked 144 of those 303 albums, which means I listened to about 159 that I thought were meh or awful. And let me tell you — I do not recommend spending your time that way! In 2020, I will listen to less new music. Instead, I’ll spend that time investing in relationships, or taking care of myself, or, yes, listening to albums I already know I love.

The other thing is, unsurprisingly, 144 albums is far too many to create a real relationship with, even if I liked all of them. So, this year, rather than giving you my Top 150, or even my top 100, I decided to adopt my hero Hanif Abdurraqib’s tradition of ignoring the idea of round-numbered lists and let my feelings lead the length.

With that in mind, below are the 81 albums released in 2019 that I feel like I have a real (positive) relationship with. If I wrote (or tweeted) about it, I included a link to that as well.

81. tobi lou — tobi lou Live on Ice

80. Slowthai — Nothing Great About Britain

79. Kedr Livanskiy — Your Need

78. Bat for Lashes — Lost Girls

77. Japanese Wallpaper — Glow

76. Lady Lamb — Even in the Tremor

75. Bohan Phoenix — The Prince EP

74. Y La Bamba — Entre los Dos EP

73. Gabriel Birnbaum — Not Alone

I wrote about the Not Alone track “Mistakes” in December for Wild Honey Pie.

72. Taylor Swift — Lover

71. Action Bronson — Lamb over Rice

70. Whitney — Forever Turned Around

I tweeted my review of Forever Turned Around in June.

69. Beyoncé — The Lion King: The Gift

68. Beirut — Gallipoli

67. Jade Bird — Jade Bird

66. Rapsody — EVE

65. Lucy Dacus — 2019 EP

64. Octo Octa — Resonant Body

63. Mallrat — Driving Music

62. Tegan and Sara — Hey, I’m Just Like You

61. Tyler Ramsey — For the Morning

I got to put together an interview feature with Tyler Ramsey about For the Morning for FRONTRUNNER Music.

60. NOIA — Crisàlida EP

I wrote about NOIA’s track “Ciudad del Humo” for a FRONTRUNNER playlist.

59. Caroline Polachek — Pang

58. Charli XCX — Charli

57. Solange — When I Get Home

56. Burna Boy — African Giant

55. Shura — forevher

54. KAINA — Next to the Sun

53. Another Sky — Life Was Coming in Through the Blinds

52. DaBaby — KIRK

51. Bedouine — Birdsongs of a Killjoy

50. Stef Chura — Midnight

49. Girlpool — What Chaos Is Imaginary

48. Cantrell — Devil Never Even Lived

47. Palehound — Black Friday

46. Hot Chip — A Bath Full of Ecstasy

45. Offset — Father of 4

44. Florist — Emily Alone

43. Emily Reo — Only You Can See It

I featured Emily Reo’s track “Strawberry” in a playlist for FRONTRUNNER Music.

42. Broken Social Scene — Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 & 2

41. King Princess — Cheap Queen

40. Calexico / Iron & Wine — Years to Burn

39. DIIV — Deceiver

38. Jay Som — Anak Ko

37. Polo G — Die a Legend

36. The New Pornographers — In the Morse Code of Brake Lights

35. Future — Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD

34. MorMor — Some Place Else EP

I wrote about Some Place Else in my Second Quarter Review.

33. Molly Sarlé — Karaoke Angel

32. Madison McFerrin — You + I

31. Sharon Van Etten — Remind Me Tomorrow

30. Black Belt Eagle Scout — At the Party with My Brown Friends

I tweeted about one of my favorite lyrics on At the Party in October.

29. 2 Chainz — Rap or Go to the League

I wrote about Rap or Go to the League and what makes 2 Chainz so dang special in my First Quarter Review.

28. Shredders — Great Hits

(ICYMI, Shredders is a Doomtree side-project comprised of P.O.S., Sims, Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak.)

27. Angel Olsen — All Mirrors

26. Great Grandpa — Four of Arrows

25. (Sandy) Alex G — House of Sugar

24. Jenny Lewis — On the Line

23. Carly Rae Jepsen — Dedicated

22. Bill Callahan — Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

I tweeted to document my first Bill Callahan moment in July.

21. Anderson .Paak — Ventura

20. Young Thug — So Much Fun

19. Oso Oso — Basking in the Glow

18. Big Thief — U.F.O.F.

17. Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride

16. Kishi Bashi — Omoiyari

I wrote about Omoiyari in my Second Quarter Review.

15. The National — I Am Easy to Find

I peaked on Twitter in June with a tweet involving Matt Berninger, and only 6 people noticed.

14. Clairo — Immunity

I tweeted about my seasonal love for Immunity in October.

13. Big Thief — Two Hands

12. BROCKHAMPTON — GINGER

11. Little Simz — GREY Area

I wrote about GREY Area in my First Quarter Review.

10. Denzel Curry — ZUU

I wrote about ZUU in my Second Quarter Review.

9. Vagabon — Vagabon

8. Bon Iver — i,i

I tweeted about my favorite i,i lyric in September. Then I tweeted about my other favorite in November.

7. Thom Yorke — ANIMA

I wrote about ANIMA in my Second Quarter Review.

6. Better Oblivion Community Center — Better Oblivion Community Center

I wrote about Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s joint album, Better Oblivion Community Center, in my First Quarter Review.

5. Hikes — Mahal Kita

I wrote some nice things about my newest favorite band, Hikes, in the intro to my Final Quarter Review.

4. Nilüfer Yanya — Miss Universe

I wrote a little about Miss Universe in my First Quarter Review. Even more excitingly, I also had the opportunity to talk to Nilüfer, which turned into an interview feature for FRONTRUNNER Music.

3. Lana Del Rey — Norman Fucking Rockwell

I wrote about what makes Norman Fucking Rockwell so fucking powerful in my Third Quarter Review.

2. Jamila Woods — LEGACY! LEGACY!

I wrote about LEGACY! LEGACY! and some things that Jamila has taught me in my Second Quarter Review.

1. Bellows — The Rose Gardener

I wrote about The Rose Gardener in my First Quarter Review. It is an immensely special album that reminded me how to be strong but tender all year long.

Music moves us through our lives in productive and spiritually significant ways. I write about that. More writing on The Wild Honey Pie, FRONTRUNNER, & Patreon.