The last year of the decade saw some amazing and diverse music. As I was compiling this list, I was pointedly struck by how many genres were represented. Pop, soul, hard rock, techno, club, classic rock, hip hop, and, of course, Brit rock. A perfect mix of the spectrum.
Without further adieu, here are my picks for the best records of 2019.
20. Lahs by Allah-Las
Los Angeles is still a great place for psychedelic garage bands. The Allah-La's are one such band. Who wants to have a house party and hire them to play?
19. The Balance by Catfish and The Bottlemen
With this release, last Spring, Van and the lads became the Band of the Decade., Another corker from start to finish just like their previous two releases.
18. Cry by Cigarettes After Sex
Texas does everything big and this band is fucking large at being awesome. Their music makes me feel soft and I need a lot more of that in my life.
17. Why Me? Why Not. by Liam Gallagher
The kid from Manchester continues to show us that he is truly an artist capable of doing his own thing. The tracks on this record shine and sparkle from start to finish.
16. Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka
Michael Kiwanuka makes cinematic soul music that makes me feel like I'm in the 1960s. Yet it's 2019. He is absolutely the heir to Marvin Gaye. So, so good...
15. Blue-Eyed Soul by Simply Red
Simply Red has gone from strength to strength for the better part of three decades. Their latest effort is exactly the title, Blue-Eyed Soul. A true gem from these Mancunians.
14. Kind by Stereophonics
The band that keeps me going every single fucking day adds another stellar entry into their discography. The lads from Cwmaman, Wales have returned to sounds and a style heard on their very first record. Kelly's perfect rock and roll whiskey and cigarettes voice is way out front on this one and it's mega.
13. This Is Not A Safe Place by Ride
Ride went away for a little while but now they are back in full force with albums and EP's coming at a very steady clip. This latest effort is very diverse in terms of style. They have their usual dream pop/psychedelic stuff but, as you can hear from the track below, 80's synth-pop is also on the docket.
12. The Soft Calvary by The Soft Calvary
Rachel Goswell's project with husband Steve Clarke is a perfect confection for lovers everywhere. Of all the records on my list this year, this one is the best to shag to. Taste those kisses!
11. Para Mi by Cuco
I feel like large portions of this record could be the soundtrack to a dramatic comedy that was on television in the 1970s. It pleases me greatly that young dudes like Cuco are really plugged into Gen X nostalgia.
10. Feral Roots by Rival Sons
Hard rock is back! Thank God!! I wish I had hair so I could shake it all around to this record. My hope is that between Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet, we see a continued resurgence of hard rock.
9. Outer Piece by Toro Y Moi
Somewhere between hipster DJ and stoner buddy in the basement that worships Jimi Hendrix lies Toro Y Moi. His live act, which I caught this year at First Avenue in the Main Room was extraordinary. This record was a beautiful kiss...
8. Look Alive by Guster
Back in 2009, my friend Julia introduced me to Guster and I have been thankful ever since. Their release this year is nine tracks of dragon level stellar. It's one of those records that takes you on a magical journey from start to finish.
7. Who by The Who
My first reaction to hearing the new album by The Who was...holy crap. Pete and Roger just made yet another classic record that goes right along with all their other amazing albums. Let this be a lesson for bands who can't seem to capture their original glory. You can do it!
Note: I'm going to have a full review of this album up soon as it came out just a few weeks ago
6. Inflorescent by Friendly Fires
Waiting for a new Friendly Fires album is an exercise in patience. Extreme patience. But their third full length, released this year, was well worth the wait. I'm back to wanting to spend every night dancing at 2am at some cool club and wondering if love will find me...
5. Renegade by Dylan LeBlanc
Dylan LeBlanc is an American treasure. His songs reek of star-spangled manifest destiny. His latest effort was written for every lonely person at every bar in America who has ever slowly brought a bottle of beer up to their mouths for a contemplative and sad pull. And yet somehow it's also for all happy lovers too.
4. Fool by Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson has been a hero of mine for five decades. From the moment I first heard, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" on my crappy, old AM radio to Fool, the album he released last January. His music always hits me so personally with each new release instantly becoming a soundtrack for that time period in my life. I think it's the stories that he tells in his songs...so poignant and heartfelt...
3. American Love Call by Durand Jones and the Indications
Classic soul music is alive and well thanks to Durand Jones and the Indications. Their sophomore effort completely blew me away in terms of its pitch-perfect capture of 70's era soul music. They sound vintage but are completely original and recorded in 2019. 12 tracks of sheer beauty!
2. Orion by X Ambassadors
This New York outfit launched itself into the stratosphere with this record. The lyrics are urban poetry at its finest. The recording is flawless. The pop hooks on this album are guaranteed to snare even the most tone-deaf. It's simply impossible to get sick of this record. I've played it so many times that I lost count.
1. Cuz I Love You by Lizzo
My hometown girl has the honor this year's album of the year. Lizzo took 2019 by storm with Cuz I Love You. Showcasing just about every musical style known to people, this record is a tour de force of titania. Every single track is bril. The world is a much better place with Lizzo in it.
A truly great group of artists. Please support them by seeing them on tour and buying their music!