It was, by nearly all accounts, a tremendous year for Pop. Of course, given the nearly limitless ways new music can be offered out and streamed, this is true for any given year. There are never bad years for music, just as there are never bad years for movies, the only difficulty is perhaps the opposite; the extreme over-abundance of riches and the difficulty to stream all, or even a reasonable percentage of it. Meaning, I’m presenting a huge list this year because I listened to a lot, being blessed to work at a job where hours are spent working with headphones affixed in my ears for long passages. Thus, I got to well over 250 new releases this year, and sampled dozens more enough that I could make judgement. But still I know there are masterpieces that I haven’t even heard of, and probably never will. Such is life, but I do hope I offer enough of an argument to prompt listens to new music that a reader here wasn’t previously aware. I remain, as ever, a devoted follower in the Church of the Sonic Guitar.
1. Lightning Bolt – Sonic Citadel
Here, on their first album in years, we find the boys in great spirits. Much has been said about the approachability of the tunes here, almost appearing as something of a Lightning Bolt Pop record. That’s contextual of course, as when you drop the needle the tunes anyone expecting Taylor Swift or Britney Spears is gonna be thoroughly disappointed, this is still the band who do some of the best noise chaos the world has ever bore witness to. Meaning, this is accessibility only on their terms, and the terms they’ve set are thunderous. Perhaps best of all is ‘Air Conditioning’, on the short list for one of my songs of the year; a staccato digital vocal glitch braces the listener for a humongous distorted bass riff, before the song gallops through several movements. Its title implies cooling out, but who can keep the windows shut in the face of this heat?
2. Mick Trouble – It’s the Mick Trouble LP
In some circles Mick Trouble’s long awaited debut was eagerly anticipated, the same circles who still spin Nick Lowe and Television Personalities LPs with great regularity. In other words, yours truly, and Mick Trouble more than delivers on the singles and EPs that preceded it, making it perhaps the greatest straight-ahead guitar Pop album of the year. That was a genre that we’d see a lot more of in years past, but here’s to those that say rock can’t play on the radio—an album chock full of potential singles and anthems without a bad one amongst ‘em, but you do have to make some specific call outs: ‘Tales of Hank Marvin’ if for no other reason than name checking Hank freakin’ Marvin, ‘A Council Boy’, which sounds like a great Mummy Your Not Watching Me inclusion that got inexplicably left off (ahem, it’s only the best Television Personalities LP), and ‘Similar Kicks’. That’s unlike anything I’ve heard in quite awhile, a joyous blast that sounds even happier musically then the lyric purports (which is similarly ecstatic). It was enough to thoroughly shake me from my December doldrums. Jed Smith played on that great Jeanines self-titled release this year too, so he had himself quite a time in 2019!
3. Orville Peck – Pony
I’d first heard this by mere chance, probably a testament to being released under the relatively large umbrella of influence Sub Pop has existed with for the last few decades. Their releases, if good, are bound to find enough traction in the litany of blogs anyone a part of the rock n’ roll cult frequents week to week. But this isn’t just good, it’s great, a brooding collection of dreamy, cowboy tunes set in something akin to Lynch’s universe of Twin Peaks. You’ll see Peck, the stage name of an anonymous character who wears a leather fringe draped mask below a red cowboy mask onstage, described as a modern Roy Orbison but with the additional gay subtext, strikes a decidedly 21st century stance. Wonderful, I’m not sure I listened to a record as much this year as this one.
4. Du Blonde – Lung Bread For Daddy
Du Blonde, the new working moniker for Beth Jeans Houghton, debuted the name for 2015’s very good Welcome Back to Milk, finally returning this Spring with Lung Bread For Daddy, a contemplative set of moving tunes. Welcome Back to Milk was often described as a raucous, sonically raw affair, an artist laid bare looking over the corpses of past entanglements. Lung Bread For Daddy I’d argue is both smoother and rougher, she amps up the anxious contemplation while smoothing over the garage noise for a more folky pysch vibrato. It pulls everything into a tight focus; ‘Baby Talk’ is a Horror movie organ and little else, while ‘Heaven Knows’ is brooding like those great early Scott Walker records, but if I had to pick I’d say that if I had a buck for every time I’ve spun ‘RBY’ this year I could fund this poor little blog that no one reads for a decade. It makes me so incredibly sad, like listening to the grave, past loved ones singing only to me with a specificity that’s equally chilling and thrilling.
5. Rema-Rema – Fond Reflections (reissue/compilation)
Rema-Rema, when thought of today, is mostly as a curious afterthought attached to guitarist Marco Pirroni between his much more notorious stints helping start Siouxie’s Banshee’s and Adam Ant’s Ants. It’s somewhat understandable—they only managed an EP, and then appeared on a compilation just as the band was breaking up. But, they’ve grown in cult circles to a degree (noteworthy for their EP being one of 4ADs first releases), enough for this compilation to appear this year, collecting what could have been something of a debut. It’s still sparse, there are a few live tracks here at from that EP, but this rights all into one full statement, finally positing the band as true originals. Something of a mix between early American noise rock and icy, cool English Post-Punk, the songs, hell just take the first two tracks (‘Feedback Song’ and ‘Rema-Rema’), blow from your speakers, bludgeoning all the way from 1980. I hope I sound and move this good when I turn 40.
6. Yak – Pursuit of Momentary Happiness
Listening to some of the lyrics on Wolverhampton bred Yak’s second record, Pursuit of Momentary Happiness you can almost think they’re uniquely positioned to see the current state of messy affairs as something resembling a glass half full. “He’s got the whole wide world in his hands” repeated numerous times on the albums standout track would lead one to this optimism, but of course the album is titled …Momentary Happiness and the song in question is called ‘White Male Carnivore’ so you understand a more predatory pitch. It’s as if the contemplation of last years remarkable duo LPs by Idles met Iceage’s here, a considerable feat when you get right down to it and it’s packed with tunes; ‘Pay off vs the Struggle’ is melodic and urgent, the title track laconic and dazed before washing itself in noise, while ‘Bellyache’ is all confrontational swagger, seeing these Englishman exhibit arrogance previously embodied by Liam Gallagher or Ian Brown, but by the time closer ‘This House Has No Living Room’ ends, you know they not only talk the talk, but they more than walk the walk.
7. Black Midi – Schlagenheim
One of the more heatedly anticipated LPs of the year, London’s Black Midi has teased listeners with a series of singles and one offs, culminating with ‘bmbmbm’, an anxious, bubbling track that snapped anxiety at several points with a ferocious barrage of math rock leaning noise. After this the buzz reached crazy levels, a mark their debut (which included ‘bmbmbm’) plus a whole slew of other tremendous freakouts, more than exceeded. I love ‘em, they’re like No Wavers DNA, but they jam out, a near perfect outfit for our summer festivals that they used to start to make inroads in America this year. In time, this might slowly become the most landmark rock release of 2019.
8. Shellac – The End of Radio (BBC Sessions 1994/2004 compilation)
Shellac is a band as much about the sonic space it inhabits as it is a traditional one that springs up every few years and releases a new LP. Traditional is a loose term obviously, its members by now all working men, using the band not as a profession to sustain their livelihoods, but one to explore their artistic ideas at their discretion. This is a rare thing for a band to claim, especially within our fractured digital distribution, no-rock-in-the-mainstream world of 2019, but alas, they’ve earned it over decades of tremendous releases. But, let’s not forget the first point on environments; here is a collection of scattershot releases from several BBC performances, juxtaposed showing just how much the band aged into this position of ‘we call the shots’ rock elder statesmen. One, they’re fiery, ornery and nearly unhinged, the other, still packing a wallop, but calculated, decisive and lean. Driving this home is a shout out to (at the time of one recording) the recent death of BBC radioshow host John Peel, where their independence is shown as a mere link in the chain as they dedicate the performance to him: music such as this needs not only banners, but those to carry those banners into high traffic areas. Rock will never die.
9. Meatraffle – Bastard Music
London’s Meatraffle purpose bands should have highly eccentric, but worthwhile names. The meat raffle was a thing in decades ago England, where you could win a slice of prime rib or steak at your local watering hole. It fits, as this music is eccentric, but grounded as well; jazz and hip hop have just as much a place here as a Post-Punk garage vibe drenched in flowery Madchester. This appears on its face a visceral, angry disc, but after a listen or two, you realized it’s all this wonderful groove (‘Meatraffle on the Moon’ even approaches dub reggae). Hooky dance music for the political rock set, and thus, a lot more human than most club hits nowadays. Here’s to hoping they get to make a record with Adrian Sherwood one day.
10. Urochromes – Trope House
Post-punk’s become a pretty chic sub-genre nowadays, most of it sticking pretty closely to a dub-centric, dance approach. Great examples exist, but much fodder does too, an indication that perhaps an over-saturation has happened in indy. It’s worth noting then when a more unique take on the sound happens, and with Trope House, Urochromes eschews typical cliches and instead delivers something occasionally approaching hardcore; ‘Style’ is all high speed metallic riffage, but not too fast, ‘Rumshpringa’ still reminds us that we’re still very much in Post-Punk. The Gate, meanwhile, deliver something akin to what we’d expect, that I’d spoken of earlier, but skip to ‘Dancing in the Dark’ if you think doing that expertly isn’t enough. This is driving, gothic melodrama that only our industrial wastelands like Cleveland or Manchester can produce. For the Gate, that’s Cleveland, and the tunes speak to looking out over Lake Erie, in the winter, not knowing where the horizon ends, instead eying a smooth gradient of grey.
11. Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble – Where Future Unfolds
Here, Chicagoan Damon Locks and the Black Monument Ensemble make an urgent plea to America that is as much an inquiry as it is a defiant stance; some tracks asking if the fissures severing this country can ever be healed or if anyone even cares, to openly stating optimism to these conclusions. I’m not so sure, but hearing these groove laden, expressively joyful tracks—‘Power’ is melodic and soulful, ‘From a Spark to a Fire’ throbbing and scorched, while ‘Statement of Intent’ a distorted attention call. It’s jazz for a new, cohesive age, here’s to hoping they’re right.
12. Modern Technology – Modern Technology
13. Flying Luttenbachers – Shattered Dimension
How many people does it take to create chaotic (and in Modern Technology’s case anarchic, angry) noise? Modern Technology use only 2, while Flying Luttenbachers continue their tremendous output post reforming a few years back. This isn’t to slight either—you don’t get points for making a bigger cacophony with fewer people, rather to point out how much ensemble playing can inspire intertwining tangents of noisy bliss. It’s often savage: the twisting, turning, tweaked out lines in ‘Sleaze Factor’ where the bass gropes and grabs or the building martial march of ‘Goosesteppin’’ (both on Shattered Dimension) or the oozing like distorted digital lava of ‘Modern Technology’ and ‘Project Fear’ that races for just over 2 minutes, banking into the corners, almost smashing itself every time. If you want to hear just how far rock n’ roll is going, as has gone, this pair isn’t a bad place to start.
14. Psychic Lemon – Freak Mammal
15. Big Brave – A Gaze Among Them
Every year I feature a few LPs of humming, blissful noise, and I’m not sure there is a record I experienced this year that better soothes me in a cascading blanket of gale force feedback like these two. Especially the Psychic Lemon, which early on catches the loop, and remains affixed squarely inside it for much of the rest of the record. Similarly, Big Brave’s newest hums and stomps, but also broods, making it the heavier record of the two. I love this stuff—it’s non-obtrusive enough for me to be able to concentrate while it’s on, but also screeching enough to not blend in the background when your mind wanders back to the speakers. Easily, some of the headtrips of the year.
16. Tennis System – Lovesick
It’s obvious that I really like this LP—it is appearing here top 20—but, if I’m totally honest, every time I spin it, it washes over me, and only ‘Cut’ remains. I love it all, but really go bananas for one, seemingly short 3 minute blast that is track 2. Perhaps it’s a long lost lesson of Pop, a form that was founded and sustained on the 45, an idea now long murdered by some pretty foolish people. Rock needs statements made quickly, and it needs fans that understand that 3 glorious minutes can better 50 well composed minutes. Give me ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ or ‘Reflections’ over Sgt. Peppers any day. ‘Cut’ is all you need, but thankfully Lovesick is brimming with real good other ones too, so you might very well pick something different (hell, ‘Alone’ probably works too).
17. Malcría – El Reino Del Lo Falso MLP
It’s not every day you get a hardcore LP this freshly original, but it’s even rarer still to get it from the sweltering smog of Mexico City’s rarified air. It’s a work of absolute genius, memorable tunes pitched in scraping intensity; ‘Si Es Fácil No Vale’ is a pummeling dirge, ‘Consumisimo Libertario’, a speed thrash workout. Best is ‘Nadie Es Especial’ that opens with a Joy Division-like bassline, only at considerable pace, and vocals sounding like they’re coming from a megaphone lobbed over a border wall. One of the songs of the year.
18. Tropical Fuck Storm – Braindrops
The Melbourne quartet (there’s that city again), follow up their magnificent debut with another tremendous record. I liked this one even better—it’s groovier, and the Prog touches are absorbed fuller, but when you check ‘em out live, you seen how much they boogie. In the words of Duff McKagen, “you can dance to this shit”.
19. Lindow Moss – Thirsting
Landmark blackened punk from Nottingham, Lindow Moss sound grimier then ever on Thirsting, where vocals sound more like rabid attack dogs than sung human voices. It won’t be for everyone, but it’ll surprise those that think rock n’ roll is gone. No, it just keeps going farther and farther than anyone probably imagined. Best is ‘Psychic Violence’ where a guitar burrows into your brain and the rest of the band snarls with a blood-thirsty croon.
20. The Body/Uniform – Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back
While the pairing has already yielding great offerings, their most recent is, for my grimy dollars, the best. When it first arrived, I compared it to what The Downward Spiral meant in the 1990s, ushering in all those wild, underground sounds right onto the mainstream porch. So, while the mainstream doesn’t really exist anymore for beautiful odes like these noisy ones, I’m glad the tunes still do.
21. Dehd – Water
Chicago’s Dehd made a bit of noise on their self-titled debut of 2016 (it sounded like a great lost relic from the 1960s), but here they go even farther by doing more of everything. It’s hazy, lo-fi guitar bristle, balancing somewhere out on the Western Range and urbanity, like jangle made next to a six-shooter. Oh, sometimes it’s just literally more, 4 additional tracks compared to Dehd, add new avenues to explore; ‘Baby’ is touching and childlike, ‘Happy Again’ upbeat and harmonious, ‘Water’ comes sounding soaking wet and lilting. Best of all is ‘Wild’, which might have been recorded in a basement for all I know but sounds so expansive, singing out to the heavens. You try to stay youthful and wild, and this would be your anthem (here’s to hoping a real terrible independent film doesn’t use it and ruin its memory).
22. Mekons – Deserted
Here’s a crazy thought—the greatest band of the 2010’s was an English band (now Chicago) that got their start in punk’s grand year of 1977. Most would ruffle their feathers at such a stance, but most haven’t properly kept up with the Mekons either, a band that just turns out a great, slightly different (sometimes wildly so) LP every year. Sometimes they manage two! This year, it’s Deserted, a beautiful gem of a record harkening back to their run of LPs where they helped birth the idea of alternative country, with 1985’s Fear and Whiskey. Here, that starts on ‘Into the Sun/the galaxy explodes’ and weaves in and out, including a run of several songs on the middle of the record. Best of all is the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘How Many Stars?’ which pits our band in the wilderness, staring up under a blanket of stars. You don’t see ‘em in the city, there’s so much smog, but in the sticks—where the Mekons have been relegated for most—they sparkle and gleam bright. You can even find your way with ‘em.
23. Cherubs – Immaculada High
24. Florida Man – Tropical Depression
Heavy music for those, like myself, that think Amphetamine Reptile was just about the best label for a few years there in the 90s when pudgy, throbbing heavy music was mistakenly called ‘Grunge’. Cherubs are one of the titans from that era, so, after a few records in from the reunion of a few years back, they’re now in mighty form (this is easily their best since Heroin Man, their masterpiece). Meanwhile, Florida Man are the new kids on the block, taking the torch and, while not reinventing the wheel, dishing out some stomping slabs of dense ooze (‘Weeded’ is a great introduction). Hell, their label itself—Sparta—is making a case as the best place to find such blasts nowadays.
25. Straight Arrows – On Top!
First a disclaimer: this may be a 2018 LP, as I’ve seen it stated as both a 2018 and a 2019 one. A small caveat, quickly deemed slightly irrelevant when you start spinning the thing. Essentially Mod freakbeat for Millennials, I hope they understand how rare something this good is, just ‘21st Century’ alone warrants its inclusion here (surely one of the tracks of this or any year), but you’re not even a quarter of the way through when that ends; ‘Headache’ destroys, ‘The One’ simmers, while ‘Turpentine’ rumbles and bounces in an echo chamber. Essential.
26. Orchestra of Constant Distress – Cognitive Dissonance
UK’s Riot Season has become one of the greatest labels on the planet, and with Cognitive Dissonance, Orchestra of Constant Distress has released one of their standout efforts. It’s grinding menace, pitched as something like modern classical within a Rock template. It makes sense, I can’t think of a better idea for the modern age than the endless drone that provides much of the backbone to this LP, where the track names (‘Shame’, ‘Guilt’, ‘Hopelessness’) provide a context. Best might be ‘Discomfort’ that approaches that for the listener, snapping you from the monotony and doldrums with a tantalizing lead riff. Even if for only 6 minutes, you thank ‘em.
27. the Ad Libs – Presenting the Ad Libs
Here a borderline cheat, the Ad Libs are only really remembered for their sole smash, 1964’s ‘Boy From New York City’, but the band was great, and could’ve done more. Here, on a Sun Entertainment reissue (that is either a 2018 or 2019 record depending on where you look), the band is presented with something like a ‘lost debut album’, a proposed collection of their work up to that era (meaning, late 1964 since they never got to do a proper full length). Thus much of this is from singles or B-sides, but the previously unreleased stuff (well, that’s only been on comps up to now) fills out their aesthetic even further, arguing, for the first time, that they were probably one of the best vocal groups of their era. Which means, simply, they were one of the greatest vocal groups of all time.
28. Mark Stewart / Mark Stewart and the Maffia – Learning to Cope with the Cowardice/The Lost Tapes (reissue/compilation)
Best known for fronting the Pop Group, his work with the Maffia and Adrian Sherwood is similar in spirit to anyone enraptured with the former group’s exploits. Meaning, this is their earliest efforts (Learning to Cope with Cowardice was their 1983 debut) and they are nightmare dub, leftist politics careen against staccato, echoed keyboards and multi-tracked drums. It’s all a howling examination of Thatcher’s England (that isn’t that different from today’s) set against a bubbling bass rumble. It was quite revolutionary back then, and I’m not sure we’ve caught up yet, certainly not in the mainstream, so by the time you get to ‘The Weight’, the depth of the bass rattles your very insides.
29. Heavy Bleeding – Heavy Bleeding
This was the collaboration between two titans of the Sheffield Noise scene—Blood Sport and Heavy Lifting—recording in the fall of 2017. They didn’t last long, these scant 7 tracks spread over about 28 minutes is the totality to the partnership. But, you don’t disparage, instead you sit wishing it was even more, and stretched over years, growing more and more powerful as they eased into familiarity. Still, what’s here is almost like demonic tribal music, scraping and clawing industrial for the jungle. It makes a great record to put on with all the Uniform/the Body collaborations of the past few years.
30. $hit and $hine – Doing Drugs, Selling Drugs and No No No No
Nothing short of two great releases from the London via Texas pranksters. No No No No is their more collage, dub style, while Doing Drugs, Selling Drugs thier sleazy, noisy take on grimy psych, this time around USA/Mexico provide much of the backing (themselves presented here with the great Matamoros) on the later. ‘Kentucky Cellphone’ (Featuring Tropical Trash) is a particular highlight, a slow descent into chaos with a traveling bass drum pummel as escort, itself clearing up the sonic unifier between the two releases: that low-end groove when you realize you can probably make a pretty great dance cut if you mix it with No No No No’s ‘57 youyoidrinkin’.
31. Control Top – Covert Contracts
Bracing, anarchic hardcore from Philadelphia, with a real chaotic bent, Control Top’s debut is one of the best Punk releases in recent years. Out front is vocalist Ali Carter, giving many of the prescient tunes their biting edge; they’re a virtual checklist warning of our society on the brink with tunes like ‘Office Rage’ and the title cut ‘Covert Contracts’. I wonder how much higher this record would’ve placed if I’d been in town when they played here as this is the stuff of performance anger and power.
32. White Ward – Love Exchange Failure
As my lists show every year, I like Noise and I like Metal and select them consistently in an attempt to continually refute the ever charging call that rock n’ roll is a dead form as the years tick by. These are genres that show constant shift and year-to-year growth, an expanse clearly defining the ever fresh textures and legions that are still very much in the rock n’ roll camp. I bring this up to describe the new White Ward LP as it’s an artfully abrasive Metal record, showing a virtual cornucopia of forms and experimentation over its 7 tracks. It’s been described as Jazz Metal, and while I wouldn’t go that far—that’s something like Krokofant in my estimation—this is more akin to the records Isis used to make before they split with a few jazzy interludes interspersed throughout (the difference in semantics I suppose; Jazz inflected Metal versus a full on Jazz Metal hybrid). Not a bad thing obviously, but just not totally merged either. You don’t really mind of course, as when the jazz stops, White Ward really blows it out in a tidal wave of power. Nothing shows this better than ‘No Cure for Pain’: the first 3 and a half minutes a nice piece of lounge orchestration, but the next 9 employ a dizzying array of hard charging riffs and speed tempo drums. One of the rock tracks of the year.
33. Lingua Ignota – Caligula
34. Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild
An interesting pairing; two of the most striking album covers this year adorning two of the most frightful minimalist electronic LPs you’d ever hope to hear. Blanck Mass moves at the speed of light, making its nightmares no doubt dance club ready, and thus appearing on many such lists when you bop around the internet looking for records of the year. The Ignota is something altogether different, with a mesmerizing live show to match. Isolated on stage alone, with minimal shadowy strobe lighting and ample white sheets draped about further obscuring her as TVs flickered, you’d only have that voice by itself, before she’d eventually reveal herself several songs in. It amounts to quite an ominous performance, which, if you know the tunes, is perfectly fitting. I’ve seen her album make ‘Best of Heavy Metal’ releases for this year, pointing to just how scary this is all intended to be, and without heavy riffed guitars this is quite a feat, made all the more so when you feel the beauty lacing through it all. I know I’ve placed it at #33, but it’s no doubt one of the singularly brilliant and moving releases of 2019.
35. USA/Mexico – Matamoros
For some reason on this list, which so much intense, violent Rock, this seems as aggro as anything. I’m not totally sure why, it might really just be because lead track ‘Matamoros’ first few bars. There’s a thickness to the sludgy fuzz distortion—it’s nearly impenetrable–and the vocals are screamed so low in the mix you almost feel as if it’s someone openly drowning in molten lava. Sure, that’s a scary imagine, but it’s the guitar squeal that actual physically hurts you. In the age of headphones, you grasp for the volume nob to turn it down so as not to do lasting damage. Then, you realize, that’s a bridge long since passed, and you listen to the rest, and reveal in the anarchy, volume safely set to 11.
36. Trigger Cut – Buster
Germany’s Trigger Cut dedicate Buster to Jim Kimball, powerhouse drummer and part-time oddball of such seminal bands as Laughing Hyenas, Mule and the Jesus Lizard and that bit of information provides much of the sonic clues to approaching this, their debut. Noisy and abrasive, particular highlights include ‘King of Inks’ a rolling blast punctuated with screaming from the next room and the disorienting hiccup of ‘Westworld’, the sound of noisy math rock attempting an AOR epic, the result is enough riffs and time changes in about 5 minutes than an actual AOR LP would have in 40.
37. Reader – Engrams
I’ve often said in year’s past lists how prevalent the sound the 90’s permeates the indy rock scene of today. There is little wonder why this is, it was the last era where the mainstream was willing to embrace loud, original and often strange rock music. Reader’s newest shows the 90s as much as anything this year; perhaps the sound of emo meets arty Noise Rock, like the lost cousin of Unwound or Slint. Or maybe it was diving back into the discography of U.S. Maple mid-year again (truly, one of the greats) around the same time this came onto my radar that did it. They seemed seamless from ‘Engrams’ simmering low-boil intensity, or ‘Skeleton’s cascading, oozing runs, Reader made it seem like both 1998 and 2019 at once. Brilliant.
38. the Sweet Release of Death – The Blissful Joy of Living (ep)
If you binge through my list, I wonder how much Noise your ears could take, especially for those not previously interesting in music partially made to melt eardrums. But, listen further, for how much nuance Noise can actually have, nowhere better exemplified by Sweet Release of Death’s newest EP. I love the connotation of the band’s name and the EPs title, each working in tandem to cancel the other out; as if the tunes have come to life. Swirling anarchy fuzz, trying to endlessly penetrate your ear canal, just as everything else is sweetly entombing and embracing. ‘Sway’ is a whirlpool of romantic distortion, ’Sick Girl’ a growing, growling spit of a tune, while maybe most memorable and confusing of all is ‘The Weather is Great Today’, an ironic ode you imagine in the age of climate change, where the melody is one of complete destruction.
39. Lust for Youth – Lust for Youth
I’d first wanted to listen to Lust for Youth’s newest based on its stark royal blue and type only cover, and once I’d dug in I was more or less transfixed. There are a lot of acts wanted to be 80s Synth Pop bands, but when you actually get into the classic OMD, Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys (etc) you hear how few, if any stack up. Those bands made Pop seem effortless and abundant, a feat Lust for Youth somehow manage. ‘New Balance Point’, ‘Great Concerns’, and ‘Adrift’ are first rate Pop, sultry and clean in equal measure somehow, not unlike their modern, but nostalgic juxtaposition. A borderline anomaly in Pop today: as elegant as it is quickly disposable.
40. Rakta – Falha Comum
Sure, for anyone who doesn’t follow new music all that closely anymore, my list will contain enough heavy raucous to perhaps leave one put off. But, out of everything here that’s abrasive to the max, Rakta’s newest might just be the most deceptively weird record of the bunch. It’s not exactly off-putting in a noise way, this is at times very tuneful and minimal, but it’s always beating to its own drum, the natural grandchild of the artier Post-Punk bands of yesteryear (This Heat, Swell Maps, Ut, etc), but with a howling glossy, icy sheen overtop.
41. The Souljazz Orchestra – Chaos Theories
This caught me off guard, appearing by chance in one of the new music roundups I sprint about on a weekly basis. I immediately conjured it up as capturing something of that quality I loved in Sandinista! or the best Specials’ and Madness 45s, where the punk attitude was distilled into the best swinging grooves you can imagine. This is rare, as it’s incredibly difficult, and often trends on copy, while this is new and fresh, it deserves to play on Top 40 radio. ‘Boat Rockers’ just shuffles too hard and ‘War Games’ has too much swagger to miss.
42. Ty Segall – First Taste
Ty Segall has always clearly been in love with the 1970s, whether he was embarking on an early Black Sabbath sludgefest, or releasing an EP of T. Rex covers, but here, on First Taste does it really seem to come beyond a nod here and there and instead an LP truly born in 1973 (I mean ‘The Fall’ has a full fledged drum solo but could have still been a Pop single in that era, neatly fitting under 3 minutes!). But, for all the Stray Dog, Budgie, or Road (who did one LP that you don’t care about save ‘Mushroom Man’ which crawls to a heavy death) that I love, that era was ripe with cool instrumentation but truly lackluster songwriting, a trait Segall has an overabundance of (also check out those two killer instrumentals). It’s his best since Manipulator, which means it flies at the absolute highest rank.
43. Low Life – Downer Edn
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as when you name your band Low Life and your newest LP has ‘Downer’ in the title, I can’t be all that surprised that the music inside is a high pitched, drone like whine. It appears like music to soundtrack a depression, and given that shoegaze was a name not only because the musicians spent shows staring at their guitar’s effect foot pedals, but also because it was made by malcontents who didn’t want to look the audience in the eye, this seems appropriate. Perhaps this is the best Shoegaze release of the year, and the truest—where most copy the sound with blooms of psych and flowers, this is music for a dark room.
44. Fun – Death Star (ep)
In the grossly over-satured world of Disney’s near complete media overtaking where us adults all have to pretend to care about a universe made for kiddies, it’s nice to reward something called Death Star and not have be anything to do with Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. You ease into the heavy sludge, there is almost a boogie swagger from the 70s (ah, the decade that birthed Lucas’ opus in the first place, ha!) on some of these tracks, but make no mistake, you spin ‘Rock Heavy’, ‘Death Star’ and ‘At the Center’ for their Math Rock time signatures, loving each herky-jerky stop start. Like a car lurching from the mud in a demolition derby, careening into another; heavy metal thunder.
45. Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury
I’d loved their 2017 release, Come Play the Trees, likening them to Devo for the Prog Rock mindset, and on their second LP they stretch that idea even further. First, and most obviously, you’re struck by their sonic advancements—this is powerful rock music at times (‘Rechargeable’ is simmering dirge, ‘Three Steps to a Development’ is PiL if they eased into something more like New Order)—and the consistency of the set of tracks here. It plays like a real cohesive whole, but still maintains variance across tracks, which for bands as eccentric as this one is, is a whole hell of a lot harder (and rarer) than you’d imagine.
46. Hearts and Rockets – Power
Another Melbourne based band—it’s one of the most fertile areas in rock at the moment—and, again, just a two person act (at some point, people will realize how much the White Stripes made record labels warm to the idea of two people creating huge noise, as though they didn’t invent the idea, they made it positively mainstream). Aided by a well-timed drum-machine, the duo stomp to martial, downbeat tunes like, ‘You Were Right’ that says, yes, you should save for rainy days, but that they’re all rainy so what’s the real point. After, ‘Lies Lies Lies’ you almost lost hope midway through the record (not a bad thing in Pop mind you), but then ‘Dance Off’ roars in, and its power in isolation—dancing alone—takes the album to even new heights.
47. The Gate – Pleasure Leftists (see #10, above)
48. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
Tyler, The Creator has always been one of my favorite of the post 2010 MCs. Starting with 2011’s Goblin, he’s more or less rarely deviated from his template—save a decade long evolution within his lyrical approach, to where he no longer feels the need to boast or demean. This isn’t to say he’s stayed the same, rather, he started high and has remained remarkably consistent, and here, on IGOR he’s offered my favorite yet. Considering how great Flower Boy was previously this is a considerable statement, but then listen to ‘A Boy is a Gun’, you’ll slowly get it.
49. Writhing Squares – Out of the Ether
Without ‘A Whole New Jupiter’, Out of the Ether would be one of the EPs of the year. It’d be 4 wonderfully experimental rock tracks spread just under 20 minutes, all featuring swirling bass and honking noise sax intermingled with roaring punk guitar. But it does have that last track that doubles the length by itself—20 minutes of drug laced jamming, breaking somewhere in the middle for about a minute. It’s a pause to catch your breath if you will, before ramping up for a final lap over the closing 8 or 9 minutes that plays like something akin to sax trance, a tranquil bass comedown at the end of long night. One of my tracks of the year, provided the mood is right. Try 2 am on a Saturday, for instance.
50. Hexdebt – Rule of Four
Gloomy and ethereal in the prickliest way possible, the Melbourne, Australia Post-Punks unleash one of the strongest, most confrontational debuts in recent memory. The gals stomp and simmer in equal measure, offering tracks ranging from the bass driven distortion of ‘Covenant’ to ‘Gemini’, which packs an albums worth of ideas in about 4 minutes as guitars soar and vocals rage. By the time you’re in the kaleidoscopic atmosphere of ‘Flux’, you’ve truly heard a band coming into their own. One to watch.
51. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
There is a riff about 1:28 seconds into ‘The Giza Power Plant’ that rolls for the next half minute or so that goes a long way in describing Blood Incantation’s newest sonic assault. They’re a death metal band, but at their base is a throwback thrash riff band from the 1980s, grounding all the mysticism and atmospheric brooding in a real human element. It’s power that drives Metal you see, and after about 3 minutes of ‘Inner Paths (To Outer Space)’ it’s just this gale force that cuts through the ambient meander.
52. White Fence – I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk
53. Francis Lung – A Dream is U
Perhaps my two favorite Pop records of the year. There are maybe others technically higher, but these are Pop as I generally understand it, simple evocations to something lost or desired, in this case most easily understood as moments from Pop’s glorious past. I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk plays like the recollection of England’s bedroom tape era, like Martin Newell’s Cleaners from Venus played with a solemn oath to beautiful acoustics (‘Fog City’). Sometimes the sound seems broader—the opening of ‘I Love You’ or ‘Neighborhood Light’—but I’m not sure that’s not an illusion of how the digital world has improved the clarity for many bedroom analogy mavens. Francis Lung’s dreamy A Dream is U, meanwhile, recalls something Brian Wilson might have conjured up if he didn’t have some of the biggest and best studio muscle at his disposal for nearly a decade to tinker and master (so in other words, something like the Beach Boys’ ‘Be Still’). ‘I Wanna Live in My Dreams’ starts with a ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ drum part (which, of course, came from Ronettes/Spector’s ‘Be My Baby’) in case you didn’t get it, and that’s just the first 5 seconds of the record, you’re awash in melancholy bliss for the remainder to really drive the point home.
54. Duster – Duster
Duster has more or less mastered the slow, spacey aesthetic, a meandering sort of quiet urgency, that nevertheless has provided a sonic template to sustain a career for more than two decades. It’s sort of a misnomer, they’d been cultish at the tale end of the 1990s, but had drifted apart, never fully calling it quits. But it took Numero Group reissues to spark a reunion which finally came to vinyl fruition with this, their new self-titled disc. Almost remarkably it’s as fresh and wonderful as anything they’d released previous, no small feat.
55. Uranium Club – The Cosmo Cleaners
What’s this? Collage based New Wave as delightfully quirky as say, classic Devo? Almost, sure, its kaleidoscopic in its irreverence but it touches in the most offhand ways when you least expect it. Spin, ‘Man is the Loneliest Animal’, and its sense of whimsy touches you amidst all the flurry of notes.
56. Devil Master – Satan Spits on Children of Light
In a year when so much great Metal was blackly experimental or truly boundary pushing, it’s almost a sigh of relief to get something this extreme sound, dare I say, traditional. I guess this just means it’s almost akin to an 80s thrash throwback, but within 10 seconds of ‘Black Flame Candle’ you know any reference to this not being very much a great 2019 record is cast to burn in hell for all eternity.
57. Florist – Emily Alone
Before this year I’d never heard of the forlorn balladeer that calls herself Florist, but amidst a list with such heavy, noisy delirium, her tranquil, soft tunes seems like an absolute oasis. It’s a mirage of coarse, and while she doesn’t drench her sadness in feedback, these are very heavy tunes nonetheless. Opening with ‘As Alone’, you almost can’t bare to get to track 2, but if you do make it to ‘Today I’ll Have You Around’, the brittleness will be worn as a badge of honor.
58. FACS – Lifelike (ep)
It’s quite amazing tracking the evolution from Disappears, the band whose severing led to FACS formation. Only two members remain, but there are echoes in their sound. But make no mistake, to my earlier point, there is always change to a new FACS release, the ever exploring of minimal abstraction. The void has never rocked this hard.
59. Deafkids – Metaprogramação
You could argue, as some have, that the new Deafkids is a good record, that remains more interesting than great because its overt use of repetition. Not repetition in the classic sense when applied to Pop music, but rather a fault of music that is a bit limited in texture. It’s fair, but misses the point: this is psychedelic head music for modern times; it’s all one dark, long trip, and when you’re this gone, it’s all a droning, distorted hum.
60. Psychic Graveyard – Loud As Laughter and The Next World (ep)
While like $hit and $hine, this was quite a year for the Noise Rock quartet releasing a pair of sludgy, distorted laden heavyweights, but unlike the Texas legends, they didn’t have years of cohesion to pull from. Rather, these are their first two releases, a cacophonous set of twins with standouts including ‘These Are My Wires’ and the bubbling ‘The Next World’, a dark tune about being a member of the Heaven’s Gate cult.
61. Altarage – The Approaching Roar
You can just take a glance—a visual (the cover of naked floating bodies in a sea of pitch black water) or an aural (drop the needle anywhere and hear a tidal wave) one—and you have this record in a nutshell, a consistent heavy blast to the senses. Or, take the title at face value: it’s an approaching titanic roar, one of the most intensely black records of the year.
62. PowerSolo – Transfixing Motherfucker (ep; aka Back Stab) and ‘That Pop Song’ (7”)
63. Official Jucifer – Futility (ep)
In what is no doubt my two quickest offerings this year—Futility is but a mere 4 songs clocking in safely under 7 minutes, while Transfixing Motherfucker and ‘That Pop Song’ are just 3 songs totaling about 10 minutes—they nevertheless leave large, lasting impressions. Futility is brutal thrash, the bleak sound the cover—cardboard with a simple piece of duct tape adornment—illustrates completely. You almost welcome the abbreviated length, knowing your inadequate eardrums can barely take anymore. The PowerSolo’s are variations on his retro-punk chic, sometimes garage rave-ups (‘Nedtur’), sometimes gummy guitar Pop (the appropriately titled ‘That Pop Song’). For me though, it’s ‘Back Stab’ I love best, a psycho-billy romp of a ride that shakes the rafters and threatens all those in its wake, ‘you lying sonnuva bitch’.
64. HEALTH – Vol. 4 :: Slaves of Fear
This sounds like what it so often literally is: video game soundtrack music. Depending on your tastes that could be eternal condemnation or extreme validation, but I just like how much it pounds, and some of the prettier moments have real grooves to ‘em. Sometimes, you just like how music sounds. That’s the point is it not?
65. Judiciary – Surface Noise
Such is the overlap of Hardcore and Metal now that records like Judiciary’s latest slab will often fall through the cracks, safe a few blogs specializing in the stuff. Those that do find it are treated with a real rager, brimming with thrash speed and snarled vocals, an apt pummel for our political times, which the records finds glee is shredding apart. When things do slow down (take, for example, ‘7.65mm’), it only emphasizes the heaviness.
66. Amyl and the Sniffers – Amyl and the Sniffers
67. Vivian Girls – Memory
68. The Coathangers – The Devil You Know
A happenstance grouping after I’d sorted my list—three of the best records you’ll hear for the dynamics of feminine rock. Angriest is Amyl and the Sniffers, a snotty mix of punk riffs and snarled vocals, this wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a scuzzy pub as that sound morphed into Punk during the earliest days of 1976. The Vivian Girls, no stranger to distortion, instead spend most of their newest offering beautifully forlorn rock tracks (‘Lonely Girl’). This isn’t to say it doesn’t still cook too, with ‘Something to Do’ and ‘Sludge’ provided links to their previous work. The Coathangers, meanwhile, brood over an albums worth of steady bass rumble, exacting revenge of foes big (‘F the NRA’) and small (those on the other line of ‘Crimson Telephone’, my favorite track).
69. Abdu Ali – FIYAH!!!
The debut LP from the Baltimore MC is a nightmarish one, recounting the dark streets painted so vividly previously in such titanic works like HBO’s The Wire. But, in crafting the tunes, Ali also drew from his love of science fiction, so the album often sounds eccentrically joyous and quirky, even fun. It’s quite a remarkable turn, and we’re left on a scavenger hunt finding all these little treasure in the density of production.
70. Stroppies – Whoosh
After hearing the Parsnip ep Health a few years ago I more or less stalked their bandcamp page awaiting their debut full-length. It came this year, and while I liked it, it’d by then grown in my mind against unrealistic expectations. But, in doing it, I discovered a band treading in their same circles—that’s to say, the Australian independent lo-fi scene—the Stroppies. It was their debut that found me in better spirits, Whoosh, an elastic mix of DIY Pop and clever textures. As sweetly hummable as most of those old LPs you loved from Flying Nun.
71. Stargazer Lillies – Occabot
A blissfully warm record, not unlike their previous three (most recently 2017’s Lost), but this time around everything is purposefully a little murkier, the vocals a little more eschewed to drift in and out of the wilderness of noise. In short, they’ve never been this heavy, nor this willingly obtuse, thus, they’ve made the best record of their career thus far. This is what shoegaze is in 2019: the heavy Foghat chug underneath ‘Foreverless’ that bubbles up into a squeal before descending again. You catch this in concert, you won’t be disappointed.
72. Sault – 5 and 7
The mysterious London based Sault are an enigma. They’ve yet to reveal their identities, or even how many members are in the band, but one thing is for certain: they blazed a remarkable first year, releasing two urgent, bubbling LPs and garnered slew of good press. I’ve seen them described as Portishead, if Portishead made ‘upbeat, sing-song party jams’. I can’t disagree, like ghosts of Liquid Liquid or ESG for the new millennium, I hope they keep this pace up for awhile.
73. Boy Harsher – Careful
I’d first heard the dark wave duo on their bleak Country Girl ep from a few years back, and here, on their second full-length, they really come into their own. It’s reminiscent of the dark club-drenched synth bands of yore, but it’s not a copy, as it’s grimier and the modern adornments not nearly as sleekly European. This is for the clubs with analog VHS and dingy wood-paneling.
74. USA Nails – Life Cinema
I loved their 2017 breakthrough, Shame Spiral, which this seems a noisy, jagged continuation of, only ramped up with a longer run time. This would have made sense on Amphetamine Reptile in the 90s, but now, in our post-rock age were everything blends, its exists in a netherworld where Wire happened not in 1977, but now, with a headful of Cherubs’ Heroin Man or Cows’ Cunning Stunts. Brilliant.
75. Drahla – Useless Coordinates
Minimalist Post-Punk from the Leeds band, becoming more and more adept at exploring the spaces around them as much as their singular instrument. It amounts to a tense listen, closing with ‘Invisible Sex’ that is almost sultry, made all the more so that we had to go through the violent and spectacular ‘Unwound’ to get there.
76. Infant Annihilator – The Battle of Yaldabaoth
I don’t doubt this the most brutal LP on my list, the ultra-tight, thrash of Infant Annihilator’s newest is an intense affair. But, extreme metal nails this often, what’s different here is how crisp it all is, perhaps in time this will just be rock n’ roll, its production making it that accessible for anyone brave enough to care.
77. Torche – Admission
Perhaps this is the zenith of the Torche aesthetic—never before have they nailed their Pop sludge this concisely, but perhaps that’s the point. They’ve done grimier and heavier, and occasionally Poppier, but never both, and from here they can go almost anywhere. ‘Slide’ makes a good argument that Led Zeppelin should have cared more about releasing 45s.
78. Ducks Unlimited – Get Bleak (ep)
One of the jangle releases of the year, Ducks Unlimited’s first release is a tantalizing sugary release. If you drift in and out of consciousness at the delirium of it all you come to and think someone’s switched the stereo to Trashcan Sinatras and it’s 1990 again. In that era they did ‘Circling the Circumference’, one of my favorite songs ever, and this does sound like we’ve come full, err, circle.
79. JPEGMafia – All My Heroes are Cornballs
It’s sorta amazing to think about how the glistening glitch-ridden music of JPEGMAFIA will age. I used to only contemplate this musically—his beats were always near the cusp of Hip Hop’s avant-garde (at least as the mainstream was concerned), apexing with last year’s Veteran. This reins things back, its textures smoother and sometimes approaching softness of touch, but yet I still I wonder how this will all age. Now I’m stuck wondering the finiteness of having an overly internet addled brain, as he drafts illusions to online beefs and people coming at him via twitter, mostly in the vernacular of the social media behemoth. Does the real world really care this much about blue checkmarks, or are we already passed the point of no return?
80. Institute – Readjusting the Locks
2017’s Subordination was one of the punk releases of that year, and Readjusting the Locks is that and more for 2019. This seems more tuneful at times, always a precarious ledge to broach in raucous Punk, but it’s surefooted. A rush to the head.
81. Sleaford Mods – Eton Alive
Almost bordering on autopilot at this point, the lads return with another boastful pile of tunes smelling drenched of stomach bile. It’d all be tough to stomach if you didn’t love this sorta thing as I do, but never have they been this funny and clever, a remarkable statement considered they’ve penned some of the most funny bits of malaise of the Aughts.
82. Giant Swan – Giant Swan
My favorite full-throttled Industrial release of the year, Giant Swan’s self-titled slab of aggro recalls the glitch, power drive of vintage Front 242 mixed with the precision of the digital age. Amazingly, the assured might of ‘Pandaemonium’ or ‘Pan Head’ form the backbone to a debut, I can’t imagine where they go from here.
83. Swervedriver – Future Ruins
84. Bodywash – Comforter
Shoegaze titans Swervedriver continue a late career resurgence with perhaps their best work since their 90’s glory days, while upstarts Bodywash produce a blissfully warm LP. You can listen to the short ‘Reprise’ or that hooky bass part that starts around 3 minutes into ‘Eye to Eye’ and proclaim it one of the best Shoegaze LPs of any year. You’d be on solid, if hazy, ground.
85. CFM (Charles Francis Moothart) – Soundtrack to an Empty Room
I might be over-ranking this—it is good, but if it catches you right, you can just listen to it and breeze through afternoons and evenings. It’s what AOR hard rock of the 70’s would be like if, rather than irony, we unabashedly loved it. I do, especially when it’s as bereft of cheese as this is.
86. Prettiest Eyes – Volume 3
The track names imply political overtures, and that’s clear enough when you dive in, but sorry if I missed much of that, instead mesmerized by the hooky appeal of such a driving set of tunes. My favorite, the one two-punch of ‘It Costs to Be Austere’ and ‘I Don’t Know’, the later of which has a bassline I know I’ve heard before and loved.
87. Shana Cleveland – Night of the Worm Moon
The latest solo offering from the La Luz frontwoman is, as you’d expect, a shimmering set of sun-drenched tunes with touches of surf, echo guitar. It’s also a wonderful piece of Pop subversion, arty as it is accessible.
88. the Stools – When I Left (ep)
Here’s a trashy one, a mere 4 songs clocking in inside 10 minutes. Ho hum, they’re from the Midwest and this came out on Third Man, Jack White’s Detroit label. These facts all point to a certain garage pedigree, the Holy Relic for such releases, where the sound of the great Oblivions meets something approaching the vintage Stooges being played at warp speed. I like ‘Black Fly Stew’ best, it’s all huge riff menace, where the vocals barely strain themselves above the fuzzy din.
89. Queen Zee – Queen Zee
This record probably would have done better if it came out in 1998, and the band was given an opening slot for Manson on this Mechanical Animals tour. But as it stands, ‘Porno’ and ‘Lucy Fur’ sound like a time when alternative rock rocked and people still bought it in droves.
90. Trash Kit – Horizon
Trash Kit is a weird name for a band with a drum kit as hopeful as this one sounds, but nevertheless this bops like something Lizzy Mercier Descloux dreamed up on Zulu almost 35 years ago. Does anyone remember how great she was? Maybe at least Horizon implies a distant, not forward one, a thought that makes me happy in and of itself.
91. Greys – Age Hasn’t Spoiled You
The boys in Greys used to be a Math Rock band, while now it’s just a fuzzy out Pop haze, which helps things unfurl much looser and we feel something’s been overcome. Take ‘Tangerine’, the best Jesus and the Mary Chain decoy I’ve heard in quite some time.
92. Vanishing Twin – The Age of Immunology
What is this? It seems I’ve heard it before, but I know it’s just something I’ve felt before. Like say Stereolab or Portishead, the vibe of a lounge, as chill as it is menacing. You fall asleep in the bass womb, just as you sweatily tell yourself not to let the assorted characters dancing about out of sight.
93. Teeth of the Sea – Wraith
I love the LP cover, and the tunes—distorted, rolling dub that at times evokes mere atmospheric tranquility—inside ain’t bad either.
94. DIÄT – Positive Disintegration
You’d assume Post-Punk from Berlin would be icy to the touch, and while Positive Disintegration is ultra-metallic, there is definitely a human’s touch here; ‘Foreign Policy’ is all speed riff, and ‘Opfer’ is huge and booming.
95. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
This was always destined to be a pretty sad affair as these are heart-breaking tunes, but now that it’s become David Berman’s swan song after his suicide weeks after it’s release. I realize its (relatively) low placement given its supreme quality is only because I haven’t been able to muster many repeat listens. In time, that’ll ease up, and this will surely show itself as one of the LPs of the year.
96. Filthy Friends – Emerald Valley
A who’s who supergroup featuring members of Sleater-Kinney and REM, you’d set the highest of expectations on paper that it more than meets—the arena roar of Corin Tucker (‘Last Chance Country’) winning out over the brittle jangle (‘Break Me’) more often than not.
97. International Teachers of Pop – International Teachers of Pop
The name goes a long way explaining the tunes: experimental excursions into Pop structure and melody, as sleekly modern as they are pulsing and erotic.
98. 75 Dollar Bill – I Was Real
This is a varied record—at times a classic piece of rural, electrified Blues that turns on a dime to meander for 16 minutes workouts of minimal atmosphere. It’s the former that mostly takes over, ‘There’s No Such Thing As a King Bee’ evokes Slim Harpo just enough (he of the great ‘I’m a King Bee’ fame) to ensure that something like my favorite track, ‘Tetuzi Akiyama’, which is little more than a steady, single riff repeated for nearly 4 minutes, becomes the sound of modern Blues.
99. Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Everyone’s favorite, the unlikely-but-oh-so-very-likely Pop star Billie Eilish’s debut is a very good record, throbbing between genuinely moving Pop (‘bury a friend’) to throwaway, off the cuff braggadocio. In short, authentically what it’s like to be 17 and thinking you have the world in the palm of your hand (and then, unexpectedly, do).
100. Haunter – Sacramental Death Qualia
Dripping with the ghosts of Pantera, Haunter’s newest is a groove metal behemoth. Lead track, ‘Dispossessed Phrenic Antiquity’ is an indicative spin; full of riffs and guttural growl, it’s a brutally gleeful way to spend 9-and-a-half minutes.
101. Hey Colossus – Four Bibles
102. Russian Circles – Blood Year
103. The Who – WHO
104. MoE/Mette Rasmussen – Tolerancia Picante
105. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
106. Mdou Moctar – Ilana (The Creator)
107. Aldous Harding – Designer
108. Various Artists (Emotional Response sampler) – Positive x Infinity
109. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
110. Automatic – Signal
111. Temples – Hot Motion
112. Ride – This Is Not A Safe Place
113. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
114. Public Service – I’m Gonna Kill That Man (7”)
115. Tool – Fear Inoculum
116. Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites
117. Slump – Flashback from Black Dust Country
118. Thigh Master – Now For Example
119. Rat Boy – Internationally Unknown
120. Slaves – The Velvet Ditch (ep; if for only ‘One More Day Won’t Hurt’)
121. French Vanilla – How Am I Not Myself?
122. Ithaca – The Language of Injury
123. Goon – Heaven is Humming
124. Ecstatic Vision – For the Masses
125. Car Bomb – Mordial
126. Black Sites – Exile
127. Strange Ranger – Remembering the Rockets
128. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Bryce Dessner, eighth blackbird – When We Are Inhuman
129. Kim Gordon – No Home Record
130. Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold
131. Yellow Eyes – Rare Field Ceiling
132. Druids – Monument (ep)
133. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry – Heavy Rain
134. Marco Fusinato – Spectral Arrows: Auckland
135. Ghold – INPUT>CHAOS
136. Flesh of the Stars – Mercy
137. Ezra Furman – Twelve Nudes
138. Fat White Family – Serfs Up!
139. Kaleidobolt – Bitter
140. Brutus – Nest
141. Motorpsycho – The Crucible
142. Bruised – Rotten Codex
143. Blacker Face – Distinctive Juju
144. MIKE – Tears of Joy
145. Klein – Lifetime
146. Abjects – Never Give Up
147. Witch Vomit – Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave
148. Rottweiler – Rottweiler
149. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
150. Bill Orcutt – Odds Against Tomorrow