Tag Archives: Albums (2019)

The best albums of 2019 — full list

Here’s the full list. I wish I’d paid enough attention to Philip Bailey’s superb Love Will Find a Way to pitch a review. I’m not seeing Charlotte Adigéry’s debut EP and Reba McEntire’s sturdy comeback on enough lists, but Sleater-Kinney’s omission is sadly expected.

1. Jamila Woods – LEGACY LEGACY!
2. Control Top – Covert Contract
3. Ariana Grande – thank u, next
4. Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿
5. Kehlani – While We Wait
6. Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe
7. Dababy – KIRK
8. Carsie Blanton – Buck Up
9. Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
10. The Highwomen – The Highwomen
11. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
12. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
13. Tinashe – Songs for You
14. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
15. Miranda Lambert – Wildcard
16. The National – I Am Easy to Find
17. 2 Chainz – Rap or Go to the League
18. Sir Babygirl – Crush on Me
19. Rapsody – Eve
20. Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba – Miri
21. Philip Bailey – Love Will Find a Way
22. Ari Lennox – Shea Butter Baby
23. Young Thug – So Much Fun
24. Taylor Swift – LOVER
25. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
26. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
27. Charlotte Adigéry – Zandoli
28. Sleater-Kinney – The Center Can’t Hold
29. Dawn Richard – new breed
30. Bill Callahan – Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
31. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
32. Robert Forster – Inferno
33. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
34. Brooks & Dunn – Reboot
35. Reba McEntire – Stronger Than the Truth

The Janus-faced pleasure of Miranda Lambert’s pretty bitchin’ ‘Wildcard’

To listen to Miranda Lambert is to try, futilely, to comprehend mercurial shifts in registers, emphases, and modes. At its best the boisterousness of Wildcard charms and often overwhelms. Although this isn’t the first time moments of rue share space with rockers about felons and hellions, her seventh album forces listeners to reconcile sides that aren’t so much warring as Janus-faced. Produced by Jay Joyce, responsible for Eric Church and Ashley McBryde’s recent efforts, Wildcard rocks. Call it More Songs About Crazy Ex-Girlfriends and Tequila.

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How to deal with bigness: Angel Olsen and Danny Brown

Angel Olsen — All Mirrors

Having embraced Weyes Blood’s Titanic Rising and Susanne Sundfør’s Music for People in Trouble, two albums with similar approaches to bigness as armor, I thought All Mirrors would be a cinch. After two weeks of dutiful listening, I figured out my problem with this much loved album: the elaborate arrangements don’t quash strong melodies so much as asphyxiate weak ones. Often she’s not up to the good melodies, thanks to a mumble-to-a-scream approach (“Lark”). When Angel Olsen sings at the top of her register and coasts over the buzzing synths (“Too Easy”), or enunciates (“What It Is”), All Mirrors earns its plaudits. If a track like “Impasse” sounds like Scott Walker, then sing like Scott Walker. What remains then is a descendant of Mighty Like a Rose, Elvis Costello’s clotted, cluttered 1991 effort.

Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿

Sacrificing murk for spotlessness hasn’t straightened the Muppet-voiced rapper. On “Belly of the Beast” he throws “you’re a Stevie Wonder blink” and “spittin’ on tracks like an oncoming train.” He’s “on par like Tiger with two white broads” on “Negro Spiritual.” And the tracks! From usual collaborator Paul White’s use of a sampled, manipulated gasp on the former to Flying Lotus and Thundercat’s racing pulse on the latter, this fifth album treats sounds as riotously as Danny Brown treats words. Keeping up with the times is Kamaal Fareed, aka Q-Tip, who contributes three tracks, each faster and denser than its predecessor, peaking on closer “Combat.” Beside the snare, the screech of jazz trumpet, and a sample from 80 Blocks From Tiffany’s Brown’s another element, but what an element. “I die for this shit like Elvis,” he rasps. On 2016’s Atrocity Exhibition, which earned the Ballard and Joy Division allusions, this line might’ve worried his intimates. In 2019 it reflects his commitment to wordplay. To remind listeners that play has its limits, Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike busts through “3 Tearz” with “I don’t really give a fuck about givin’ a fuck/And who feels that black celebrities ain’t givin’ enough.”

On the loud, proud indeterminacy of R.E.M.’s ‘Monster’

Understanding how discretion and secrecy may share a space but aren’t synonymous, R.E.M. issued declarative statements from behind new screens on Monster. A new remix polishes the vocals to middling effect on their 1994 multi-platinum: Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck compete for Sexiest Man Alive when they and bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry had always offered themselves as multifoliate unit. Continue reading