2019 was a pretty great year for music.
It was especially significant for new artists with debut albums such as 100 gecs, black midi, Billie Eilish, Brittany Howard, Fontaines D.C, Offset, Mavi, & slowthai. With this being the final batch of albums of this past decade, there were so many fresh sounds that make me look forward to hearing what the upcoming decade of music will sound like. As you’ll see from this list, this year was all over the place. I reviewed 70+ albums this past year, and these are 50 of my favorite releases. I hope you’ll find something new in this that you like as much as I do.
50. Tinashe – Songs For You
Songs For You is, without a doubt, my favorite LP from Tinashe. It’s amazing what a pop album can sound like when it’s released independently.
49. Mannequin Pussy – Patience
Patience is the major-label debut for Mannequin Pussy. It is a very dynamic record that ranges from furious hardcore punk to heartfelt indie rock. It’s wild how creative Patience is.
48. Ithaca – The Language of Injury
The Language of Injury is, at times, a pretty meat and potatoes metalcore album. It’s an acceptable album in the genre and not quite innovative, but that’s far from a complaint. This album is packed with energy and passion, and as a debut LP, it makes me look forward to how this band could sound in the future as they develop their sound.
47. Tropical Fuck Storm – Braindrops
Braindrops can be a challenging listen at times. It is a whacky, ferocious, and politically-charged record. It’s not quite as catchy as their previous record, but it stands up in other ways.
46. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
You know the artist, and you’ve heard her singles. There was no escaping Lizzo in 2019, and that was for a good reason. Despite her incredible singles Truth Hurts, Juice, and the TikTok hit Boys that didn’t grow on me until the memes poured in, there were quite a few low points on the full-length LP. Even with those low points, though, the highs on this album landed it on this list.
45. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
Ghosteen was extremely hyped up after release. It’s a new Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds album, so of course, it got a lot of attention, but I was surprised by the vast amount of praise this album got. On many reputable publications in 2019, you will find this album in at least their top 10. Ghosteen is a tremendous and intensely personal record. It’s worth hearing, but I admit that if I’m not in the mood, it can be hard to get through the primarily ambient chamber pop instrumentals. Still, if you’re in the mood for such a thing, this is a fantastic album.
44. Maxo Kream – Brandon Banks
Around the time of the release of Brandon Banks, I was enjoying this album a whole lot. It’s a very hard hip-hop record, but that’s about it. After a while, this album went from great to mostly just decent to me. It didn’t fall entirely off my list after many listens, but it did start to get a little old. If you haven’t heard this, you will probably feel the same way I did at the beginning, but don’t expect something that you will come back to a lot in the future.
43. Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
No matter how much I enjoy this record, and I do enjoy this record very much, I can’t escape mentioning the fact that it is a significant step down from Sturgill Simpson’s previous LP. If you haven’t heard Sound & Fury, take a look at the album cover. That’s what it sounds like. Previously releasing very personal and excellent outlaw country music, Sound & Fury is more of a bluesy hard rock album. If you’re familiar with Sturgill Simpson, you’ll know that this is a drastic shift in his sound. I can’t blame him, though, since his previous album was pretty slow, and I’m sure he wanted to secure the bag with some radio hits. But with the significant style change, this is still an entertaining album that has a place and time.
42. BROCKHAMPTON – GINGER
What a ride BROCKHAMPTON has been on. From dropping a trilogy of albums in 2017 that were all a huge success, to releasing their first major-label debut in 2018 that I thought was a straight-up lousy record, to now releasing a matured and progressed album. There are still some low points that I don’t think their original trilogy had, but there are still some great songs on GINGER.
41. Ariana Grande – thank u, next
Thank u, next was a serious relief. Much like the Lizzo record, there was no escaping the songs on Ariana Grande’s 5th LP. Her 2018 record Sweetener was a very annoying and unnecessary album. I thought that Sweetener would be the drop off in Ariana Grande’s quality of music. Sweetener was the follow up to her 2016 record, Dangerous Woman, which I believe is one of the best pop albums of the 2010s, but that was no excuse for the insane drop in quality between albums. Thankfully, this new record is a great return to form and another excellent pop release from Ariana Grande.
40. clipping. – There Existed an Addiction to Blood
There Existed an Addiction to Blood is the definition of experimental hip-hop in 2019. If you could combine Death Grips and Merzbow, you would have this record. It’s abrasive and intensely psychotic. There’s not much I can say here; it’s just a strange album.
39. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
Remind Me Tomorrow is an impressive synthpop album with endless replay value. This LP was my introduction to Sharon Van Etten, so I can’t say anything about how different it sounds in comparison to her previous albums. Still, after hearing this record, I will for sure be checking out the rest of her discography.
38. Charli XCX – Charli
My feelings towards this album really change depending on how irritable I am at the time. But when I’m in a good enough mood, I quite like this album.
37. Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
All Mirrors is a fantastic, self-reflective art-pop album. This album had to grow on me in the weeks after it released, but it’s gorgeous vocals, and intimate chords/melodies make it a standout pop album in 2019.
36. Offset – FATHER OF 4
It’s pretty obvious that FATHER OF 4 is the best solo Migos album to date. That’s not to say that if you aren’t already a fan of Migos that you’ll suddenly be a fan of this album, but if you are, then this is an excellent addition to the Migos catalog.
35. Jay Som – Anak Ko
Anak Ko is one of those albums where the artwork really sets the tone for the record. Jay Som crafted a cute, sweet, and chill indie/dream pop album that will not fail to put you in a great mood. Amazing V I B E S.
34. Schoolboy Q – CrasH Talk
2nd Schoolboy album in a row that I forgot about quickly. But also the 2nd Schoolboy album in a row that satisfies me.
33. Denzel Curry – ZUU
It’s probably amongst my least favorite Denzel Curry albums, but you know what they say, it does bump in the whip.
32. MAVI – Let The Sun Talk
Isaiah Rashad vs. Earl Sweatshirt. That’s what Let The Sun Talk is, and it excels at being that.
31. Blood Orange – Angel’s Pulse
A lot of Angel’s Pulse sounds pretty unfinished. But what is here is amazing. While technically a mixtape, there aren’t enough mixtapes these days for me to feel like making a separate list for mixtapes.
30. Doja Cat – Hot Pink
I will forever stand by having Hot Pink so high on my list. This album has fantastic production and really catchy songs. I wasn’t expecting such a pop-sounding record from Doja Cat, but I can’t deny that she is pretty good at making pop music. If this album isn’t fun to you, then you can’t hang.
29. GoldLink – Diaspora
Despite a couple of viral singles, Diaspora is very underappreciated. This record is abundant with collaborations that at times overshadow GoldLink himself, but at the end of the day, they are still great songs that GoldLink orchestrated.
28. Anderson .Paak – Ventura
Ventura came after an album that I was let down by, but it is understandable when you consider Anderson’s incredible release two albums ago, Malibu. While Oxnard was pretty underwhelming, Anderson .Paak came back strong with Ventura.
27. Young Thug – So Much Fun
I go back and forth between thinking that So Much Fun is Young Thug’s best album. Whether it is or isn’t, though, this album, like Thug’s other best projects, is packed with incredible singles.
26. Full of Hell – Weeping Choir
Weeping Choir is a terrifying Grindcore/Sludge Metal/Powerviolence record. The intense brutality can be hard to stomach most of the time, but if you can handle it, this is one of if not the most punishing and exciting metal albums of 2019.
25. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
Surprisingly enough, Slipknot managed to release a great album in 2019. We Are Not Your Kind isn’t only acceptable for a Slipknot album; this is straight-up a good metal album. Five years after their last album, We Are Not Your Kind is significantly better than their previous effort…and better than the album before that…and still better than the album before that. We Are Not Your Kind is Slipknot’s best effort since their 2001 LP, Iowa. Admittedly though, it didn’t hit me on the first listen. The first go around, I was left with a feeling similar to what I had with All Hope Is Gone. I thought it was just a safe but still decent attempt at a comeback. Upon further listens, though, it hit me that this is a very well put together metal release and one of my favorite albums from the overrated and yet underappreciated band, Slipknot.
24. Wiki – OOFIE
Wiki’s newest album, OOFIE, came as a complete surprise as I had no idea this was in the works. I was only whelmed with the existence of it as I wasn’t too thrilled with Wiki’s previous album, but OOFIE was significantly better than what I imagined it would be.
23. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Norman Fucking Rockwell is the first time I thoroughly enjoyed a Lana Del Rey album. I’d always wanted to appreciate her music more, but it never felt that engaging to me. I was looking forward to this new release from Lana, though, and my expectations were well surpassed. If you’ve never seen the appeal for Lana Del Rey before, please give this album a shot.
22. slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
Slowthai was not an artist on my radar until I heard him on the 2019 Flume project. I enjoyed his feature on said Flume project, but what I didn’t imagine while going into his debut album was just how much I would be impressed. I’ve rarely cared about UK hip-hop artists in the past, but Slowthai has just become one of my favorites. Nothing Great About Britain is an extremely creative and well-crafted album that I hope does not fall under the radar of anyone reading this.
21. Gatecreeper – Deserted
Deserted is another relatively meat and potatoes metal album to end up on this list, but I can’t deny that this is a very catchy death metal record. Full of the most exciting riffs of 2019, Gatecreeper’s Deserted is the most fun metal release this year.
20. Richard Dawson – 2020
Richard Dawson is another well-established artist that I hadn’t even heard of until 2019. I went into this album with no expectations, and what I got was a whacky, unpredictable, and pleasant experience.
19. Brittany Howard – Jaime
I’m going to go ahead and admit that Jaime is an album that, in a couple of years, will be the most forgettable album to me out of my top 20. As this album stands now, though, Brittany Howard’s Jaime is an enjoyable folky soul record. The debut solo album from the vocalist of the band Alabama Shakes, I found this to be more memorable than the full band’s efforts at making an LP.
18. 100 gecs – 1000 gecs
GEC GEC GEC GEC GEC GEC GEC
17. Little Simz – GREY Area
GREY Area, another incredible UK hip-hop album in 2019. This album could very well be a part of why you won’t (spoiler alert) see Solange’s newest record anywhere on this list. I listened to this new Little Simz record before hearing the Solange album, and it set my bar for the night extremely high. So if you’re upset that the new underwhelming and lackluster Solange album isn’t on this list, the incredible GREY Area is why (not really though, it was just a boring album).
Everything about GREY area is both hard-hitting and smooth as butter if that could make any sense. Even while lacking many memorable hooks outside of the song Selfish, every other aspect of this album boasts it’s quality. GREY Area is Little Simz’ best album to date.
16. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
Checked these Irish boys out after how into Idles I was in 2018. If you’re looking for a new post-punk/indie band, this is the one.
15. Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
I slept on this Jamila Woods album for most of the year, and damn I regret it. LEGACY LEGACY is a very consistent and essential neo-soul album that is a significant step up from her previous album.
14. Julia Jacklin – Crushing
Crushing came very early in 2019 and remained my favorite album of the year for quite a while. I didn’t think that anything would surpass this album on my year-end list, but that should be a testament to how I great I thought 2019 was. Full of pop acoustic ballads that are very catchy and personal. Crushing is much more than a typical break-up album.
13. black midi – schlagenheim
Best rock album of 2019 right here. Black Midi also made the weirdest album of 2019. Schlagenheim is the debut album from the English rock band, Black Midi, and it has some of the whackiest and exhilarating songs I’ve heard in a while.
12. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
Bandana might not be as good as the previous Freddie Gibbs & Madlib LP, Pinata, but it sure did live up to my hype. Not much to say here other than Bandana is an excellent hip-hop album.
11. Griselda – WWCD
WWCD came as a huge surprise to me. I’ve been familiar with all of the members of Griselda’s previous work, but as a group album, this far surpassed what I expected from them. Packed with your typical Griselda member adlibs and Griselda’s gritty lyrics, this is another amazing hip-hop album in 2019.
10. Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿
I swear it’s a coincidence that my three favorite hip-hop albums are on this list back-to-back-to-back. But with that said, we are now at my favorite hip-hop release of 2019. Uknowwhatimsayin is the newest album from Danny Brown and one that comes right after his extremely experimental and abrasive album, Atrocity Exhibition. Atrocity Exhibition was, and in my opinion still is, Danny Brown’s best album to date. The extent of how good AE was caused me to be slightly let down by this new LP from Danny Brown, at least on the first listen. It’s clear here that Danny wanted/needed to go for a more accessible and commercial route with his newest album, and I can’t hate him for that. If any artist deserves to be making more money than they are currently, it’s Danny. But with all that said, even though this new album is a bit of step down creatively, this is still one of Danny Brown’s best albums and my favorite hip-hop album of 2019.
9. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest
Infest The Rats’ Nest is my first time digging deep into King Gizzard. I’ve been very aware of them for some time now, but their music never clicked with me. After hearing about their new direction on this new LP, diving into thrash metal, I knew I had to check this out. Typically known for their psychedelic blues-rock that they have played on many, many albums before this one, Infest The Rats’ Nest is a brutal 34 minute LP that has many great and memorable moments on it. I’m very thankful for this album because despite it’s different sound that it has to their previous work, it got me to go back to their records before this new one and start to appreciate them far more.
8. Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
I don’t have to tell you who this artist is. I don’t have to mention anything about him; you know everything you need to know already. I do, however, need to tell you that this is Tyler, the Creator’s best and most concept-heavy album yet. Flower Boy was my favorite Tyler album before this one, and now that IGOR has sunk in, I’ve realized that Flower Boy was merely the stepping stone to this amazing and well-crafted LP.
7. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
Sadly I didn’t know about Purple Mountains/David Berman before this release. Immediately after hearing this album, which I thought was very fun and a lighthearted listen, I Googled the artist only to learn of his passing just a week before I heard it. After going back to listen to it a second time, it mostly lost that fun and lighthearted feel that I had the first time. I didn’t notice all of the very emotional and quite possible cries for help in the lyrics. I’ll never hear this album again the way I did for the first time, but I will never stop going back to this fantastic album.
6. James Blake – Assume Form
I’m amazed that Assume Form didn’t end up being my #1 album in 2019. Assume Form is honestly the first time that I REALLY enjoyed James Blake. I’ve liked a few of his songs here and there, but I couldn’t get enough of this album. Longtime James Blake fans might not enjoy this album as much as I did as it is a very different sound than the typical James Blake albums that we’ve gotten in the past. But this is the sound that I wanted to hear from James Blake the most. Every single feature on the LP was a massive surprise to me, and it even introduced me to the artists Rosalía & Moses Sumney. Just about every song on this album ended up being my most listened to songs in 2019.
5. Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Here we go with another artist that was impossible to escape in 2019. While you may have gotten tired of hearing Bad Guy and Bury a Friend, those two songs alone could have landed this album high on my list. This album didn’t stop at those two songs, though. Every single song on this album is damn near perfect, and all of them are the most refreshing pop songs I’ve heard in a good while.
4. FKA twigs – MAGDALENE
Five years after FKA Twigs’ previous album, this sophomore release is her best album. MAGDALENE has the most creative and engaging production in a pop album in years, which should be no surprise at all considering its insane production credits. Even though it’s a year early, this could be the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy of the 2020s in terms of production and writing collaboration. With production from Nicolas Jaar, Noah Goldstein, Koreless, Skrillex, Benny Blanco, Michael Uzowuru, Cashmere Cat, Jack Antonoff, Soundwave, & Kenny Beats, this is easily the best-produced album of 2019 and amongst the best in all of the 2010s. With the wild production that MAGDALENE has aside, this record has some of the best vocal performances and intimate lyrics of any album this year.
3. Flume – Hi This Is Flume
Finally, the Flume album I’ve waited seven years to hear. Seven years ago, Flume released a perfect record and one of the best albums of the 2010s. He followed that up four years later with a lackluster and disappointing album that was so bland it made me assume he lost all creative ability in terms of crafting a full-length project. After that 2016 album, Flume remained mostly quiet, only releasing a small handful of decent singles and underwhelming EP’s. Three years after that sophomore LP, however, Flume suddenly came back with the freshest, wonkiest, and hardest hitting electronic album in 2019. HI, THIS IS FLUME is a real return to form even while being quite different sonically from his debut self-titled perfection that was released back in 2012. Amongst the endless excitement in this project was my introduction to UK hip-hop artist, Slowthai, who also ended up releasing one of my favorite albums in 2019. Flume even decided to introduce experimental hip-hop artist, JPEGMAFIA, to the masses in the incredible banger, How to Build a Relationship. This newest Flume album is back-to-back with it’s seamless transitions to one heavy hitter after another.
2. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Hidden History of the Human Race is the most creative metal album I heard in 2019. This record is all centered around a neat sci-fi concept, and aliens are cool as fuck, so this album is cool as fuck. This LP might be one of the best metal albums released in all of the 2010s. If you’ve ever wanted to get into death metal, mainly modern death metal, this is the album to start with. This album is very progressive, atmospheric, and full of immensely heavy riffs. With only four tracks, Hidden History of the Human Race wraps up with an 18-minute long epic that contains some of the most intriguing moments on this record. Any death metal fan should check this album.
1. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
Titanic Rising is #1 on my list for 2019, so I feel like I should be able to get away with not saying anything because clearly, I love this album more than anything else this year. Like many artists on my list this year, I was not aware of Weyes Blood before 2019. I can’t remember why I checked this album out as soon as it came out, maybe it was the hype that it got online, but I’m incredibly glad that I did. This album is nearly perfect and hit me with an immense amount of emotion. Titanic Rising rivals the vocal performance in another record on this list, FKA Twigs’ MAGDALENE, and it’s hard to say which is better in that department definitively. An album can rarely convey such an incredible amount of intimacy, and it will only take your first listen of this album to feel it. It’s a weird feeling to have my favorite album at the end of the 2010s to have such an old-timey analog sound to it, but Titanic Rising nails that sound and uses it very effectively. In the top 100 songs of 2019 list I made, it was not very easy to not have the first five all be songs from Titanic Rising.