Rock is the New Roll: The Top 100 Albums of 2019 (90-81)

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 Balck 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.

90. Jeremy Ivey – The Dream and the Dreamer

Mostly known for his work with Buffalo Clover as well as his role as Mr. Margo Price, Jeremy Ivey is stepping out on his own in fine fashion. Here, his 60’s County-Pop flag is flying as he carries his Laurel Canyon vibe to what should be the start of a terrific solo career. “Diamonds back to Coal” is the cream of a stellar crop.

89. Black Pumas – Black Pumas

Hard to classify this group of Austin musicians. Rock, Soul, R&B with a hint of Tex Mex? Yep, Yes, and sure. The best we can come up with is that if Marvin Gaye fronted The Black Keys, and was based out of Tijuana, they would sound like these guys. Check them out for yourself.

88. Camila Meza – Ambar

A bonafide triple threat Camila Meza Sings plays exquisite guitar and writes most of the songs on her latest release, Ambar. Singing in both her native Chilean tongue as well as English, her George Benson, and Pat Methany influenced soundscapes with full orchestral accompaniment are delicately nuanced wonders.

87. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger

And speaking of Jack White, The Raconteurs are back. This is notable mostly in that we get a Halleys Comet type appearance from the Power Pop genius Brendan Benson who inexplicably only shows up in Jack Whites’ side-piece band. The Ying to White’s Dirty Blues Yang. If you haven’t heard Benson’s 1996 album One Mississippi search it out.

86. Josh Ritter – Fever Breaks

Superbly backed by Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit, this record just might be Ritter’s best yet, easily his best in several releases. Every song is a cracker with Josh easing into each song like a hand in a glove.

85. Cody Jinks – After The Fire

With each successive record he releases Cody Jinks seems to channel Chris Stapleton more and more, and that is a very good thing. Now that he is back to being independent after a brief dance with Rounder Records, Cody delivers a solid set of Outlaw Country complete with Honky Tonk blazers and mellow ballads. Jinks blends the darkness with the light with a nimble touch and his Randy Travis Meets Garth Brooks croon is wearing very well on him.

84. BAILEN – Thrilled To Be Here

If you are a fan of the Laurel Canyon multiple harmony sound and groups like The Milk Carton Kids or the new Cactus Blossoms record then Thrilled To Be Here will be your new jam. Featuring fraternal twins Daniel and David Bailen along with their younger sister Julia, there is a First Aid Kit meets Dawes aura going on here with this impeccably produced record. There is even a dusting of Fleetwood Mac on “I Was Wrong.”

83. Janiva Magness – Janiva Magness Sings John Fogerty

As big fans of Janiva Magness when she plays it straight, and here where she covers some of our favorite John Fogerty songs we are all in as well. Thankfully no “Centerfield” here, but with such afternoon delights as “Lodi” with Sam Morrow, Rock is the New Roll favorite “A Hundred and Ten in the Shade,” and a sublime version of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain, this one is a stone-cold winner.

82. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes – Cypress

Another stellar and eclectic release from the Nashville based Dan Auerbach studio, Easy Eye Sound, the outfit that brought you Yola, Dee White, and Shannon Shaw just to name a few. Now, with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, we are introduced to one of the last living bluesmen. Mixing a fuller sound than you would expect, drawing in a full band that includes Marcus King on a couple of songs with just Jimmy and his guitar on others, the essence of a real Mississippi juke joint is on full display with every guttural vocal and every greasy guitar lick.

81. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

This band hot fuzzes ferocious Post-Punk with a literate sensibility with a Clash, Meets The Waterboys, Meets The Pogues bombardier approach to their music. Dogrel is entirely listenable and firmly aligns itself in the Irish tradition that would make the Drop Kick Murphys proud.

 

Five Cool Ones: Five Cool Jazz Albums Released In 2019

Here in the office halls of Rock is the New Roll we appreciate Jazz and enjoy listening to a great Jazz recording whether it be Chick Corea, Charles Brown, Herbie Mann or Oscar Peterson. With the sudden realization that we were a bit behind on listening to the Jazz albums released this year with the help of our Jazz writer Barnaby Lark we set out to right this wrong.

Cochemea – All My Relations

Cochemea has spent much of his diverse musical career as a soloist, musical director, composer, and ensemble player. Known mostly for his work with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings as a saxophone player. With his latest long player, All My Relations, he combines his roots in Jazz, Latin, Funk, and Rock into a polyrhythmic blend of indigenous and spiritual splendor.

Veronica Swift – Confessions

Having guested for Chris Botti, Wynton Marsalis, and many more, Veronica Swift is one of the sparkling new voices on the Jazz scene today. With Confessions, despite her tender age of 24 she is poised to enter the pantheon of modern day torch singers.

Camila Meza – Ambar

A bonafide triple threat Camila Meza Sings, plays exquisite guitar, and writes most of the songs on her latest release,Ambar. Singing in both her native Chilean tongue as well as English, her George Benson and Pat Methany influenced soundscapes with full orchestral accompaniment are delicately nuanced wonders.

Chick Corea, Christian McBride, Brian Blade – Trilogy 2 (Live)

This follow up to the Grammy winning 2013 album, Trilogy, that featured a collaboration between pianist Chick Corea, bass player Christian McBride, and drummer Brian Blade, All virtuoso players in their own right. Highlights abound on these live sessions, but the searing rendition of Corea’s Latin fusion opus “500 Miles High” is ear popping.

Wallace Roney – Blue Dawn – Blue Nights

With this eclectic ensemble of stellar Jazz musicians including Lenny White, who plays on four tracks here, Trumpeter Wallace Roney both leads and stands in the shadows on this set of energetic tracks. On “Why Should There Be Stars” the pin-drop of the trumpet, piano and upright bass engages the listener, and even the inclusion of Toto’s “Can’t Stop Me Now” shows that in the hands of master musicians like this, the sky is the limit.