This is the last one. It has been a magical ride.
“Great works don’t lie thereGlen Hansard, “Brother’s Keeper”
Grind up and dry there
They wait for impatiently
Your hands to find.”
Shey Baba – Requiem
I took my “create your own reality” viewpoint from last year’s review in a more holistic direction in 2019. This was a two-step process: speaking only of positive reviews and surrounding myself with undeniable beauty.
This album is a form of beauty only obtainable by a handful of bands, one of which being Radiohead – the most gorgeous sound in the Music Kingdom. There is a magic here worth believing in.
Caroline Spence – Mint Condition
This album is precious and personal, anchored by two spectacular songs I would like to highlight.
“Sometimes A Woman Is an Island” – A stunning examination of the shifting kaleidoscope that is the female species: “You’ll need hold your breath/Meet her right where she is/And show her that she’s not alone.”
“Sit Here and Love Me” – A song just as delicate in tone, opening up to a significant other that sometimes the best solution for our problems is just silently being there: “I don’t need you to solve any problem at all/I just need you to sit here and love me.”
STARSET – DIVISIONS
EARTH: GROUND CONTROL TO STARSET – READY TO RETURN HOME. THE EXPEDITION HAS BEEN A RESOUNDING SUCCESS.
STARSET: RETURNING TO EARTH IS NO LONGER OUR MISSION. CHANGING COURSE. WE HAVE NEW RESOURCES – WILL LEAVE YOUR EQUIPMENT HERE FOR NEXT EXPEDITION.
EARTH: THE MISSION WAS ALWAYS TO FIND THE ROCK MUSIC OF THE FUTURE. YOU HAVE SUCCEEDED, SO THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO DO. COME HOME.
STARSET: EARTH IS NO LONGER OUR HOME. WE HAVE SIGHTS ON SOMETHING GREATER.
Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
A modern operatic Eden.
I mentioned magic in the first entry above, and you can feel a similar presence here. Except this one is shrouded in darkness, coaxing you into its rocky shores.
Khalid – Free Spirit
Pop music is in the midst of an identity transition, favoring flawed and true-hearted individuals whose music is a cry for help as opposed to declaration of heartbreak. Khalid is one of the most distinctive voices among them, commanding attention as an artist while his personal life overcomes isolation. If mental health remains at the forefront of our collective conscience, perhaps we can do something about it once and for all.
Two songs on this album – “Hundred” and “Alive” – are firmly among the top songs of this year.
Glen Hansard – This Wild Willing
Every artist must be allowed space in which to play and create, uninhibited by deadlines or barriers. It is in this metaphorical “space” that we are awakened to the fanciful genius within.
This album is born out of spontaneity and improvisation with broad collaboration. The result is a complex and spacious gem that has escaped from the confines of standard sound structures. These songs meander, but boy do they find their way. The song above is a great example.
Karen O and Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
This might be the eighth time out of 10 years that Danger Mouse has cracked my top 10, and that’s just an estimation. His sound just meshes with my ears.
Listening to this album is the equivalent of drifting among the stars. “Nox Lumina,” the closing track, lets you know you are not coming back down.
Brittany Howard – Jaime
I cannot improve upon this remarkable album by writing about it. But Brittany can:
Foals – Everything Lost Not Saved Will Be Lost (1+2)
Those who have seen through the facade now have honed edges. You can tell who has something meaningful to say by the polish and incisiveness of their words.
Foals went for the kneecaps with these two albums – do not let the bombastic beats fool you. There is a way to talk about hot topics such as climate change and political unrest with tact while leaving a lasting mark. Foals accomplished that better than any artist I heard this year.
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
This woman is a supernova. Her aura is unmistakable, her allure is unavoidable.
Lizzo is everything that is right with music: affirmative, strong and focused on bettering the greater good. I have never seen an artist take placid music fans and turn them rabid. She plays the flute. She is who she is and she is perfect: