Here it is, the long-awaited list of the best albums of 2019. It has been a really great year for music. We heard from a couple of deceased legends in Harry Nilsson and Leonard Cohen, were treated with new records from Texas Honky Tonk legends Jack Ingram, Corb Lund, and Dale Watson, and bright lights shone for the first time with a bevy of new artists to discover including the one name wonders Lizzo and Yola.
Rock is not dead with White Reaper, Drugdealer and Black Country Communion all inviting us to a party like it’s 1979. And of course, the singer-songwriter is back. The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, is back and better than ever and Rock is the New Roll favorite Tom Russell gave us a history lesson in 11 songs with October in the Railroad Earth.
This year we will be releasing our top 100 list 10 tasty gems at a time, so sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and enjoy the ear-pleasing top 100 records of the year.
30. The Drunken Hearts – Wheels of the City
With their hardscrabble approach to Americana, The Drunken Hearts lay down an earthy blend of Bluegrass, Outlaw, and Americana that would make Jamey Johnson and Cody Jinks proud. Lead singer Andrew McConathy has a bit of Michael Stipe by way of Hootie and the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker in his voice, particularly on the title track. The band mixes rowdy anthems with broad soundscapes on a record that will capture your ears with subsequent listens.
29. Milk Carton Kids – The Only Ones
Be ready to lay down some chill vibes with the new Milk Carton Kids Record, The Only Ones. If you could create a Frankenstein duo with one member of Simon and Garfunkel and one of the brothers Everly, the resulting spawn would give you The Milk Carton Kids. At a tidy 7 songs, this one is a perfect listen for that spare half-hour in an otherwise hectic day.
28. Durand Jones & The Indications – American Love Call
A vintage 70’s R&B sound with a modern-day political bent. With dual vocals, Durand Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer, Jackie Wilson along with Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions will be an immediate comparison. This a terrific record and would have been made by Marvin Gaye if he was still alive.
27. White Reaper – You Deserve Love
heading towards the head of the pack on our list of 2019’s favorite records, White Reaper with their latest release hits that sweet spot between Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy. From the opening track, “Headwind” that sounds a bit like The Killers in Glam mode, to the twin guitar attack on “Might Be Right” this is an old school Rock and Roll record for the new generation.
26. Orville Peck – Pony
Once you get by the Mystery Man face-veil gimmick there is some real substance here. With a vibe that harkens back to the Glen Campbell glory days, Peck sounds like a voodoo mix of Chris Isaak and Roy Orbison with a Tarantino soundtrack playing in the background.
25. The Mavericks – Play The Hits
News Flash! Raul Malo Can Sing. And here, he does it in exquisite fashion. In places where keeps the arrangements close to the bone like he does on “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” he shines, and things get even cooler when The Mavericks get jiggy with the essence of the songs they are covering as displayed on the John Anderson classic “Swingin'” where mid-song they morph into “Feelin’ Alright.” You likely have never heard anyone cover “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” any better than what is presented here.
24. North Mississippi All-Stars – Up and Rolling
Their debut record for New West, working for a semi-major label hasn’t slowed these Cats one bit, and while the production does seem a bit more glossy and less ramshackle than their previous affairs, the result is no less appealing and their boogie till the break of dawn spirit flag is still waving proudly.
Calling on a gaggle of talented friends to lend a hand in the making of this record in their family studio in the hill country of Mississippi, there is never a dull moment, and every track has a live feel to it especially on their reading of Little Walter Johnson’s “Mean Old World” featuring Duane Betts and Jason Isbell on guitar with Isbell also handling lead vocal duties.
23. Babe Rainbow – Today
Another album with strong Laurel Canyon vibes. “Morning Song” would have been a hit duet for Herbie Mann and Donovan in 1965.
22. Peter Bruntnell – The King of Madrid
Flying just underneath the Americana radar Peter Bruntell really should be better known. His latest The King of Madrid is more of a 60’s psychedelic pop record with a bit of a Byrds essence wafting in the air. The song “Dinosaur” is even a not so distant cousin of “Last Train to Clarksville.” Don’t hold it against him that on “Lucas” he sounds like Steve Miller. Cult status be damned. This guy is seriously good.
21. The Limboos – Baia
The Limboos are pretty much the very definition of a genre-defying band. A bit soul, retro in all the coolest of ways fusing together Soul, Rumba, Jazz, Blues, Funk, and a bunch of others we are probably skipping. On songs like “Till The End Of Town,” you would bet your last dollar this was a Stax single from the ’60s. When the sax kicks in on “Where Did She Go,” the first single from the album, there is a sense that you should be in some sort of Jetsons hipster go-go bar. The vocals are front and center and the production value is first-rate with no single instrument overpowering another. And yes, they have a female drummer, as if they needed anything else to add to their coolness.