No time like the present to start compiling the best albums of the year. Stay tuned to this space as this list will be constantly updating.
001. The Delines – The Imperial
Every song could be an episode of True Detective on this one. The songwriting is living on the edge middle America Noir with every character seemingly living on the razor’s edge. Brooding Country-Soul courtesy of Willy Vlautin and his muse Amy Boone.
002. Trapper Schoepp – Primetime Illusion
When you listen to Trapper Schoepp for the first time you will reminisce back to the first time you heard Whiskeytown, Wilco, or The Old ’97s in their prime. Enough gloss to keep the toes tapping but just enough ramshackle to keep things interesting. The Gram Parsons comparisons might not be exactly on the mark, but not far off either. There is a bit of a replacements vibe in the mix as well.
003. Red Rum Club – Matador
With Matador, as debut albums go, Liverpool sextet The Rum Club has delivered a record that is sure to be on most of the Best-Of lists once the end of the year rolls around. With a distinct gumbo of a sound that is part 80’s Brit-Rock, part Psychedelic Rock, Part 60’s Surf-Garage, part Tarantino-Noir, and all cool, the texture of the album changes from track to track with even more influences filtering through the ears upon multiple listens.
004. The Twilight Sad – It Won’t Be Like This All the Time
Given the dark often gloomy tenor of this record it should come as no surprise that Robert Smith of the Cure is a big fan of this Scottish four-piece band. In fact, he was sort of a musical muse on this record. A grower of an album, after a few listens of this you will definitely feel alive.
005. Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life
It is her singing voice that carries the day here as Maggie Rogers moves effortlessly between singer-songwriter fare and electronic pop. Fully prepared not to enjoy this album, the jaunty 80’s Olivia Newton-John vibe of “Give a Little” and the more folk-centric jam of her debut single “Alaska” made a believer out of these ears.
006. The Steel Woods – Old Woods
This Americana and Outlaw Country by way of Southern Rock band is the real deal. An opening couple of riffs on the lead off song, “All of These Years” will have you digging out your old Lynyrd Skynyrd records, and if that’s not enough, their cover versions of “Whipping Post” along with Petty’s ” Southern Accents” will direct your attention to the music that these guys discovered when they were growing up.
007. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
The consistent tone and perspective change on this, Sharon Van Etten’s fifth album, makes this one an extremely enjoyable listen. “Seventeen” is likely to be on many best songs of the year listings.
008. Rival Sons – Feral Roots
Before Greta Van Fleet stole a lot of the buzz Rival Sons were the latest band that was going to save Rock and Roll. Our money is on these guys. With a lead singer that soars somewhere between Jim Morrison and Paul Rodgers and a rhythm section that is Double Trouble worthy, this is the Rock and Roll record of the year. We are calling our shot now.
009. Liz Brasher – Painted Image
This one is likely to be on the list of best debut albums of the year. With vintage Dusty Springfield old school grooves mixed with contemporary Blues swirling throughout there is a definite new age feel to the record to complement the vintage sounds. “Cold” baby sounds like Otis Redding’s long lost sister.
010. Rosie Carney – Bare
This one goes from a really pleasant listening to stunning with multiple listens. With a voice that brings to mind the late Eva Cassidy and songs that will make you forget that she is barely 20, this one is headed to chart-topping territory come to the end of the year. Just let this one envelope your soul.
011. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
You probably know these guys better by their real names, Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers. Oberst’s boyish croon meets Phoebe’s anguished ethereal vocals for a listen that will bring you back to the Bright Eyes Days. Bridgers is pretty much everywhere these days with her Boygenius record with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker having been released only a few months ago. Coming a bit out of the blue the band announced themselves on the late show with Stephen Colbert.
012. Frances Cone – Late Riser
Another one of those great Nashville bands, the duo that is Frances Cone come across like a dreamy slice of Fleetwood Mac.
013. Night Beats – Myth Of A Man
It comes as no surprise that the mentor for Night Beats Danny Lee Blackwell is Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys and Easy Eye Sound. Almost every song on Myth of a Man could is Tarantino soundtrack worthy with the best of the lot, “Eyes on Me” laying down a vintage surf guitar groove.
014. Neyla Pekarek – Rattlesnake
Formally the cellist and the classically with the Lumineers the first solo effort from Neyla Pekarek is an intoxicating mix of Americana, Blues, with even some Doo-Wop sprinkled in.There is a fierceness in the record that demands your attention.
015. Yola – Walk Through The Fire
Not only does it seem that major-domo producer Dan Auerbach is everywhere these days, but each record that he produces is better than the last, and Yola’s Walk Through the Fire is certainly no exception. Here, with Yola’s debut he puts a contemporary spin on the 60’s girl group Soul palate.
016. Fat Cops – Fat Cops
If Suede were to intersect with The Dave Clark Five they just might sound like Fat Cops. Sort of an Indie-Glam band with a bit of a Foster the People vibe, this thunderous debut album is full of catchy choruses, greasy organs, and Underground Garage worthy anthems.
017. Watermelon Slim – Church of the Blues
There is something in his fiery side licks and homespun vocal delivery that makes the songs of Watermelon Slim quite pleasing to the ear, and when he is grumbling about everyday working class problems like paying the taxman he becomes even more endearing.
018. Walter Trout – Survivor Blues
The lead-off track, “Me, My Guitar and the Blues” is worth the price of admission alone on this record that in all likelihood will be in the running for Blues album of the year. For a guy that has more Houdini-like escapes from death than the law should allow his guitar chops are impeccable and his growling vocal prowess is in fine form most notably on “Woman Don’t Lie.”
019. The Picturebooks – The Hands of Time
Full of Garage Rock Riffs filtered through a Western cinema prism, The Picturebooks set themselves apart from their Blues Rock duo peers with their attention to detail in the studio and their dusty desert vibe. The Chrissie Hynde guest spot on “You Can’t Let Go” in itself makes this record a must listen.
020. The Riven – The Riven
The Riven is good old school whiskey soaked 70’s influenced Rock and Roll in it’s finest vintage form. With a singer that soars to the back of the bar and a voice that is somewhere between Janis Joplin and Patti Smith this band certainly wears their influences on their collective sleeves. Think Black Sabbath meets Uriah Heep especially on the more tempered “I Remember” where lead singer Totta Ekebergh really shines.
021. Luther Dickinson and Sisters of the Strawberry Moon: Solstice
The template here was to get 6 female roots-based musicians into a studio together in a loose jam inspired atmosphere and wait to see what happens. With Amy Elm, Amy LaVere, The Birds of Chicago’s Allison Russell and The Como Mama’s all injecting their own heart and soul into the project the resulting album will likely stand up as one of the best collaborations of 2019.
022. Strand of Oaks – Eraserland
023. The Wild Reeds – Cheers
024. David Gray – Gold In A Brass Age
025. Lauren Jenkins – No Saint
026. Bad Suns – Mystic Truth
The third full-length from this L.A. band. With its majestic piano melodies, and fiery guitar tones this one is full of Indie Rock anthems for the new era. From the opening track “Away We Go,” you just might find your new favorite band.
027. Orville Peck – Pony
With a Roy Orbison meets Chris Isaak vibe Orville Peck is a man of mystery. His songs seem to be heavily influenced by the country crooners of the ’50s and ’60s with a distinct Sergio Leone spaghetti western theme, but that is about all we know abought thus enigmatic singer. He performs wearing elaborate masks to hide his identity and has almost no online presence. All of that being said, despite the fact that this record could easily have come out in 1956 instead of 2019, this one is more than lives up to the gimmick with the quality of the songwriting and the old school production that will completely envelope your senses.