2019 was a pretty great year personally and for music. This year, I revisited the genres I ignored for a while and delved back into the things that I love.
Also, I’ve been doing this damn list for like 11 years now. Can you believe it? The older I get, the harder it is to “stay with the times.” So, if there’s anything you think I missed, please let me know. This year, I’m going to be lazy and write one sentence reviews.
Folks, we made it through another decade together. How ’bout that? It’s been a hell of a ride. Before I write an Instagram influencer caption’s worth of whatever I think makes me interesting, I’m just going to say I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’m happier than I was in 2010. Much happier.
Let’s chat about the music, huh?
These are my favorite albums of the 2010s. Note that I’m saying best. These are just the albums that got me through a whole bunch.
Note: Click on the pictures for a surprise.
20 | oso oso Basking in the Glow (2019)
This album is probably this low because it came out in 2019. It’s been non-stop in my rotation this year. I love the subject matter, the musicianship is wonderful, and it feels like something your buddy was working on in his dorm room all freshman year and is actually good.
19 | Young Thug Slime Season 3 (2016)
I’m an unabashed Young Thug apologist. He can do no wrong in my eyes. This album cemented his place in my top 10 favorite rappers. Some of his hardest lines are on this thing.
18 | The Hotelier Home, Like NoPlace Is There (2014)
I was in a low place in my life, and this album hit like a ton of bricks.
17 | Vein Errorzone (2018)
This is the band and album that fueled my foray back into hardcore this year. Those who I’ve spoken to about my affinity for ’90s and ’00s hardcore will be happy to know that I’m back babyyyy. There’s a ton of great bands right now trying new and interesting things in hardcore, and I’m glad we’re all here to enjoy it.
16 | Mom Jeans. Puppy Love (2018)
I’m not the type to put a big emphasis on lyrics, but this album hit me really hard when I was going through a tough, tough time. They said everything I wanted to say but didn’t have the words to do so.
15 | A$AP Rocky LiveLoveASAP (2011)
Borrowing HEAVILY from Houston probably made me fall in love with this album quickly. But, after listening to this mixtape a few times you realized that Rocky was a really unique individual trying to create his own space and perspective in a, (this might be controversial) at the time, stagnant rap genre. What happened to Rocky?
14 | Joie De Vivre The North End (2010)
The “emo revival” of the early 2010s was truly a gift, and I look back at it fondly. Joie De Vivre was one of my favorite bands around the beginning of the decade, and when they released The North End, it felt like someone made an album for me. I got to see them a bunch of times this decade, and I’m glad I got to meet some of these really wonderful chaps.
13 | Drake Nothing Was the Same (2013)
It’s just the best Drake album. I’m sorry.
12 |Adventures Adventures EP (2012)
Okay. I get it. Code Orange is great. Adventures was just more my speed in the 2010s. Reba’s voice is so powerful whichever way she uses it. I love to feel, and you can F E E L this EP.
11 | Foxing The Albatross (2014)
WHERE MY SOFTBOIS AT! I know Foxing have been widdling their own little interesting niche in indie music for the past few years, but this album is their finest work in my opinion.
10 | Beyoncé Beyoncé (2014)
I think Lemonade will be higher on people’s lists because of its context and the statement it made. For me, this album was much more fun and got listened to a whole lot more. It clearly laid the musical and thematic groundwork for Lemonade.
09 | Kacey Musgraves Pageant Material (2015)
Kacey Musgraves made me rethink my entire position on country music. Kacey, that band, and this album are that powerful. She won a Grammy for album of the year for Golden Hour, but in my heart, it was for Pageant Material.
08 | Beach Bunny Prom Queen EP (2018)
Not a lot of people know Beach Bunny save a short little blip on TikTok as a meme. I haven’t connected with a band like I have with Beach Bunny in a long time. Lili’s youthful and wistful songs really vibed with my soul last summer.
07 | The World Is A Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid To Die Whenever, If Ever (2013)
When I first heard TWIABP’s first EP, I was like what in the hell is this? I felt like they were just trying to do everything at once, but it somehow made sense, and I really liked it????? 2013’s Whenever, If Ever is ambitious and hardly misses. Listen to the first few tracks and ask yourself, “Why does this work?” You’ll have a hard time explaining it.
06 | Joyce Manor Never Hungover Again (2014)
All killer, no filler. Like every Joyce Manor album, it’s too short and you have to listen to it, like, three times in a row to get everything you want out of it. Always leave them wanting more, I guess.
05 | Title Fight Shed (2011)
These boys ruined my life by being so good and so young when Shed was released. Their release before was great — aggressive and tight. On Shed they held back a little and focused on crafting songs that played to their strengths as musicians and connected lyrically. It was nostalgic while feeling new and fresh.
The next three albums were there for me in some of the hardest years of my life. Through breakups, family and personal health issues, loneliness, Lucy Dacus, Future, and Pinegrove helped validate my feelings and helped me find the courage to build back up. That’s all I’ll say because these three albums have been talked about ad nauseum for the last 4 years.
04 | Lucy Dacus Historian (2018)
Thank you, Lucy.
03 | Future DS2 (2015)
He made the Disney Corporation release a song that had the lyric “laddie daddy da slob on me knob.” On the strength of that alone, Future is a top 5 MC.
02 | Pinegrove Cardinal (2016)
SADBOI VIBE CHECK 2
01 | Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012)
This album still gives me chills listening to this day. There are no skippable tracks. The story is powerful. The lyrics are immaculate. The delivery is from another time. This album changed rap because it showed us what was possible when production, lyricism, and vision perfectly align. Another album that has been dissected to the moon and back.
2018 has been a year of change and heartache. Really awesome, totally not devastating! In all seriousness, things are really turning around for me despite the hard year. One of the only constants of my life have been these lists that I started making in 2009. Obviously, I’ve been neglecting the rest of this space for a bunch of years. But, hey, here’s to scrounging up the energy to put together this list every year for ten years, and here’s to ten more(?).
A’ight. Here is a list of my favorite albums of the year. I usually mix up the order between ranked and date of release or alphabetical or whatever. This year, I’m ranking them. Why the hell not add more difficult decisions to my life?
At the end of this post, there’s a Spotify playlist of selections from these albums and more music that I loved from 2018.
Let me just get this out there. 2018 has been a great year for woman-led punk/emo/indie bands. This is just one of the many entries of that variety you’ll find on my list. Remember Sports started off as one of the 600 bands named “Sports” or some kinda sports-y thing. They set themselves apart with great energy and a dynamic style that comes through in their studio recordings. I need to see these guys live.
Gonna be real, fam. When it comes to Joyce Manor albums, this ain’t my fave, chief. I think they’ve packed a lot more quality over the course of these usually 30-minute or less albums in the past. HOWEVER, THERE ARE SOME STAND OUT TUNES. There are just some songs that I can’t get out of my head on this album. So, good job, y’all. Do better.
Kali Uchis is probably one of the most exciting and creative artists in her space in a long time. I was really blown away by the production and songwriting on this record, and I’m excited to see what she has in store for all of us whom are unworthy.
Lily Mastrodimos has a haunting voice and the power she generates on this record comes through real loud and clear. That’s not to say this album doesn’t have its incredibly tender moments, but Lily can freaking rip.
Emo rap is finally here, and Juice WRLD might be the most successful artist you can stuff into this category in 2018. The themes and angst in this thing would give early New Found Glory a run for their money. He also put out an absolutely dog shit collab with Future that I’m going to erase from my memory. A podcast I listened to came up with an elaborate scenario where Donald Trump loved Juice WRLD and would sing “All Girls Are the Same” to the American public. I can’t get that out of my brain. Please help.
Lil homie just turned 19, y’all. Lindsey Jordan has such a powerful voice and a way of communicating sadness and emotion clearer than just about anyone. This album really hit me hard, especially after this summer.
Lil Baby is also really great at communicating emotion. Like, the emotion of being so fuckin drippy that all of your contemporaries hate on you but they can’t do anything about it because they’re really bad at trappin or other ways of getting rich. We’ve all felt this.
Full disclosure: I wasn’t the biggest fan of Mom Jeans. as a band. As a fashion item, I love ’em. Y’all, keep it up. I think this album just hit me at the right time and quickly climbed up my list. I love relating to people who feel like they ruin everything good for themselves. WOW!
Two moms back to back, what am I my search history?!? Folks,, , Soccer Mommy is extremely good. Her video for “Your Dog” is extremely weird, but my kinda weird. It also is the riff of the year to me. The riff is subtle, rich, and emotional, and that’s a good way to describe this dope ass album.
This is by far my favorite Parquet Courts record. IT MOVES. That’s the only word I’ve got for it right now, but it moves moves moves moves. I almost always want to hit play on it again after a single play through. These guys are currently residing in their mf bag.
Hell yeah, baby, you know what time it is. It’s time to drink exactly one beer, put this record on, and dream about becoming the most brutal version of myself. It’s pretty clear that over the years my fascination with newer hardcore or metal has decreased. It started to feel the same, and any bands doing anything interesting were in the extremes. I’m brutal, but not that brutal. Bands like Vein make being brutal fun again even if you’re a little scared while you’re listening to it. I mean, look at this album artwork. YUCKY!
BLOCBOY GAVE US “SHOOT” AND THE SHOOT DANCE. HE GAVE US “ROVER.” HE GAVE US “LOOK ALIVE.” HE GAVE US “NIKE SWOOSH.” HE GAVE US “WAIT.” AN ALBUM FULL OF TAY KEITH PRODUCTION?!?!?!?!?!?!? THIS WAS A BLESSING IN A YEAR OF CURSES. GOD BLESS TENNESSEE.
All right. This is the release that made getting through my breakup a little easier. I know you all wanted to know. It’s only 5-tracks, and four of them hit like a mother fucker if you’ve been broken up with recently. I was lucky enough to see Beach Bunny play with Remo Drive, and it was beautiful to see this scene rally around Lili and support her amazing voice and music.
I had a strong feeling this was going to be my favorite album of the year the second I was done with my first play through. Lucy Dacus is an incredible songwriter, and she really put her elbow into this one. It’s gut-wrenching and relevant to anyone just trying to find their way through life and love. This is probably one of my favorite albums of the last ten years. Period. I’m absolutely mad about Historian.
You’d think after 8 years of making these lists I’d be tired of it. Wrong! WRONG! I WILL NEVER STOP POSTING.
This paragraph was going to be about how messed up this year has been, but honestly, you don’t need the reminder. Things suck for a lot of us, especially the marginalized in this country.
Anyway, this year in music provided an absolutely stellar soundtrack for an absolutely shit year. Be it because of Spotify or the increased inter-connectivity of every day life, I feel much more plugged in to so many different types of music these days. This might be the most diverse end-of-year list I’ve put together. MAYBE!
I did something different with this year’s list. Nic dared me to rank my favorite albums this year. I usually list them by release date, but she called me a cuck or something so now I have to do it. So, here are my favorite albums ranked in my favorite-ness. In the comments or Twitter or Facebook or whatever, let me know your 2017 faves! I love learning about stuff I completely missed out on because I was too busy listening to one of twenty political podcasts that all have the same opinion.
If you want to skip all this and just jam out, there is a Spotify playlist of all of my favorite albums this year, not just the top 20 in the link above and embedded at the bottom of this post.
PS: There are always some albums that I learn about late that I wish I could add to this list after-the-fact. Last year’s is definitely Sturgill Simpson’s record. That shit was rull nice. Okay. ONTO THE LIST.
This kid has it all. I love the tone of his voice, and the beat/musical choices on Freudian just sound rich and neatly put together. This album is just a lot of great choices put together, and it shows. I’m not the biggest R&B fan, but this is definitely up my alley. Definitely give this album a shot if you haven’t yet.
Uhhh… look I try not being that weird guy who tries to convince you to listen to Chinese emo music, but if you’ve spoken to me in the last two years, it’s pretty likely I’ve brought up this band. Please listen to them. I would die if they came to the United States.
Nic discovered this band and knew it would BE MY SHIT. It isn’t higher up the list I think because I got into it later in the year compared to some of the other stuff on this list, but I love her voice, the hooks are SPOT ON, and Charly Bliss can sound so small and so big all in the same tune, which is no easy feat. Perfect band is perfect.
I wasn’t a big fan of Girlpool’s first record. I thought there was something there, but it never really vibed with me. I went into the new Girlpool album expecting a lot of the same, but I was blown away. They transformed from this twangy, weird two piece band to a group with a big ole sound with a lot of texture. I really love this record. It sounds like a fall day in your friend’s parents’ house.
Every 21 Savage album could double as accompanying material for a Scared Straight program. 21’s real menace is in how calmly he explains how he’s going to murder you or friends if you mess with him or his friends. The beats are always fire. Every 21 punchline should be followed by a nervous chuckle. He also sings a little bit on this record, and I think it’s pretty great. Amber Rose has been good for him.
By far, this is one of the coolest albums on this list. Laid back and funky as hell, this record does a lot of things right. “Crew” is probably my song of the year, even though that track was released in 2016.
Doing anything while listening to this album makes whatever you’re doing like 20 times better. That’s not just math. That’s science. That’s theology. That’s physics. That’s everything. This album GOES. Also, how GREAT is this artwork? You know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you hit play. No jokes.
I usually don’t listen to anything considered “folk” (really?) music, if we’re being 100. It’s usually too slow or just sleepy for me. Something about this Big Thief album captured my interest. I went back through their discography after listening to Capacity for about a month straight. It’s also very good.
I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that if Football Etc. puts out an album, it’s going to end up on my year-end list. I’m a Footie Etc. stan. That’ll never end. Saw them for my birthday this year, and it was amazing. Just go listen.
I’ve been a huge KRIT fan for a long time, and the last couple of releases were really underwhelming for lots of reasons. Now that he’s independent, this might be his strongest “album” if not a close second. I was skeptical about how Big KRIT could keep a 22-song double album cohesive and musically interesting. I really shouldn’t have doubted him. He got some production help this time around, and I think the different perspectives really helped this record be what it is. ALSO SUBENSTEIN IS NOW A HALLOWEEN BANGER DON’T TELL ME DIFFERENT.
I feel like St. Vincent/Annie Clark is on another plane right now. I’ve loved her work for years, but I think all of that hardwork and craftmanship she poured into her earlier works has culminated in MASSEDUCTION. This album sounds rich as hell. Conceptually and in its execution this record has very few bumps in the road and just nails it.
Been a fan of SZA’s since her first EP, and I was really excited for her album to drop. It felt like it never would. When Ctrl finally dropped, it immediately felt like a pretty drastic departure from her earlier stuff. I might have been projecting or mis-remembering, but I didn’t really dig it until about the third listen. Then I GOT IT. This album really takes a hold of you and never lets go. I love it. TDE wins again (despite all of the back and forth and fighting over this album and the frustrating indecision from a lot of people especially SZA).
Y’all, I’m as surprised as y’all are. Paramore’s rebrand was a lot to take in as an avowed Riot era Paramore stan, but DAMN THIS ALBUM KNOCKS.Hayley and co. really outdid themselves on this record with all the smooth ass production and catchy singles. The ’80s vibes are something I never thought I’d get out of this band or ever get into again — it’s 2017, people! The honesty of Hayley’s writing is really refreshing and not cliche at all. That’s really hard to do on pop/rock records imo.
This record was a guilty pleasure for me for a while. I feel like Carti represents a lot of what people think is “wrong” with hip hop. I really shouldn’t care, but Carti’s music just grew on me. Every track on this thing is magic.
Future is a scumbag. There’s no getting around that. BUT… I will always prefer someone who embraces that they’re not shit over someone who denies it. Future’s, non-official double album is full of all out bangers and Future singing about being the worst. Look, if singing Future is good enough for Cher, it’s good enough for me.
I wouldn’t say this album is immaculate, but it’s pretty close. It’s Migos at the peak of their powers. I don’t know if they’re ever going to be able to replicate both the energy of this album and the cultural moments that their tracks/videos created. This album was a perfect storm. Even if you don’t like it, remember that is gave us this video.
I’ll just put it this way. J. Cole isn’t even the best rapper on his label. It’s J.I.D by a large margin. J.I.D’s The Never Story hits me in every part of my soul from the I-HAD-TO-STRUGGLE-ALL-MY-LIFE anthems to the melancholy love songs that really bring this album down to earth. Most importantly, J.I.D can spit. I love this release, and I can’t wait for more J.I.D