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The Top Albums of 2019 (So Far)

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    It’s crazy to think another mid-year list is in the books – the first six months of 2019 have flown by. Thankfully, there has been plenty of music for us to discuss, debate, love, and share. Once again, the is an unique list – a diverse one that beautifully shows off the collective, eclectic taste of our staff and contributors. So without further ado here is our favorite twenty albums of 2019 thus far – we’re excited to see what the next six months have to offer.

    Note: You can share your own lists in the forums and clicking the artist name and album title will take you to the album’s streaming page featuring quick links for all streaming services.

    The Top Albums of 2019 (So Far)

    1. The Maine — You Are OK

    Part of the genius of The Maine is that they continue to evolve with each new record: seldom if ever on 2019 effort You are OK does a new track pay that feels like they’ve done it before. To create that feeling of newness without alienating a longtime listener is no small feat, and it’s perhaps a large part of the reason that this Arizona quintet has continued to flourish where so many of their peers have floundered since the late 2000’s scene kid revival.

    For this listener, singles from YAO didn’t exactly click – which is okay, because they didn’t for me on 2017’s Lovely Little Lonely, which only missed being my AOTY that year because of Kesha’s stunning offering, Rainbow. It’s just something I’ve grown accustomed to with this band, despite knowing I’m in the minority for whom the singles don’t work.

    I also didn’t quite get this record upon my first listen. I knew others were loving it, so I kept pressing play. I was determined to “get” it. And sure enough, somewhere around my third listen something finally clicked and I found myself really listening to the lyrics, sobbing into my steering wheel. YAO may just be their most ambitious effort yet, including a swathe of orchestral sounds and ambitious harmonies on tracks like lead single, “Numb Without You”, album opener “Slip the Noose” and the reverent “Heaven, We’re Already Here”. All the while, this record is unapologetically rock and roll in a way that feels like a departure from the previous two stunning efforts. Rhythm paired with the band’s signature lyrical gift for inescapable hooks is a star of tracks like “My Best Habit”, “Tears Won’t Cry” (which manages to feel like a non-pandering late 90’s throwback) and my personal favorite track “I Feel It All Over”. “Forevermore” is a stripped back acoustic track that almost feels like an homage to the band’s beginnings – “Whoever She Is” grew all the way up. The quiet contemplative nature of the final two tracks, “Broken Parts” and the breathtaking closer “Flowers on the Grave” is the perfect send off for a record that tries to grapple with the good, the bad, the ugly – and the acceptance of what it means to really be a human being. [AA]

    2. PUP – Morbid Stuff

    ”I was bored as fuck/Sitting around and thinking all this morbid stuff/Like if anyone I’ve slept with is dead…”

    Thus opens PUP’s third unbelievable full-length, Morbid Stuff, and it’s a hell of a thesis statement. The strength in PUP lies in the band’s duality, churning out unhinged rippers like “DVP” one moment, and heartfelt torch songs like “Sleep in the Heat” just a couple tracks later. So for the world’s fastest moving punk band, Morbid Stuff is more than just a cool album title; it’s a promise of what’s to come.

    Just like the kids/I’ve been navigating my way through the mind-numbing reality of a godless existence/Which, at this point in my hollow and vapid life/Has what little ambition I’ve got left,” sings frontman Stefan Babcock on lead single “Kids.” And that’s not even the darkest moment here; later, on “Scorpion Hill,” Babcock tells the story of a family struggling to feed themselves. “And if the world is gonna burn, everyone should get a turn to light it up,” he quips before the band launches into a monstrous chorus.

    It’s an album about depression, and the occasional need to hit absolute rock bottom before springing forward. But just like the records that came before, PUP has much more to offer than emotional punches. “Sibling Rivalry” details Babock’s touching, albeit frustrating, relationship with his sister via an ill-fated camping tale. These are the kinds of anthems PUP excel at; morbid at times, sure, but with just enough optimism that their love for music and each other eclipses all the bullshit. It’s a band dynamic that’s been chonicled in videos for songs like “Guilt Trip,” “Sleep in the Heat,” and most recently, “Kids,” and as long as it continues to fuel the band’s work ethic, PUP are destined to inspire the next generation of eager pop-punkers.

    I still dream about you time and time again/While I’ve been sleeping in somebody else’s bed/And as my body aged, the feeling, it never did.[AM]

    3. The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature

    Don’t worry, ‘cause I will be fine,” AJ Perdomo sang on the title track of The Dangerous Summer’s debut Reach for the Sun. A decade later, it sounds like he was right. Mother Nature, the band’s fifth LP and second since their reunion, finds Perdomo and company at their loosest and most comfortable yet — acknowledging that, sometimes, you’ve got to be comfortable embracing the unknown. The band does that throughout Mother Nature, stretching their sound in some pretty incredible ways. It’s hard to imagine The Dangerous Summer of 2009 writing a song like the two-part “Starting Over / Slow Down,” which shifts from an intimate piano-led alt-rock song to a jittery synth banger, or “Better Light,” a sparse vocoder-drenched ballad. But other cuts like “Virginia” and “Violent Red” have the energy that marked the band’s most beloved records, proof that the trio haven’t lost their knack for crafting the most thoughtful pop-rock around.

    As ever, Perdomo’s lyrics are honest and biting, but carry, fittingly alongside the band’s newfound experimentality, a sense of almost unreserved optimism. The world may be tough, but, as Perdomo declares on the title track, “you have to let that change you.” It seems after ten years he really isn’t afraid to let himself be changed. [ZD]

    4. Charly Bliss — Young Enough

    We’re young enough to believe it should hurt this much.” Eva Hendricks, frontwoman for Charly Bliss, sings those words as the centerpiece to “Young Enough,” the big emotive title track from the band’s second album. It’s the ethos of the record in 10 words, a mission statement of sorts for an album that lets all the hurt, heartbreak, and euphoria of young love flourish and burn like a house on fire. It’s an album about not being able to quit a dysfunctional relationship, even though everything about it has withered on the vine and turned toxic. You could miss the darkness if you just listened to the hooks, which are propulsive and shiny enough to make Young Enough sound like a bona-fide summer driving soundtrack. But the songwriting itself gives the subject the complexity and emotional honesty it deserves. Fond memories of good times intermingle with harrowing anecdotes and the tears they caused, and Hendricks oversees it all with the wry commentary of a narrator watching the flames from the safe distance that time affords. “And I’m still alive, best year of my life,” she sings in the opening track, before adding the punchline; “It’s gonna break my heart to see it blown to bits.” [CM]

    5. Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

    On the eve of releasing his sixth album IGOR, Tyler, The Creator tweeted out a sort of instruction manual on how best to enjoy his latest full length. “Don’t go into this expecting a rap album. Don’t go into this expecting any album. Just go. Jump into it” explained the Odd Future leader, insinuating that this album is best experienced with zero distractions while fully indulging the young auteur’s latest soundscapes. Tyler is usually on the verge of giddiness when discussing even the most nuanced production moments on IGOR. Whether it’s how the synths rise and fall during the vibrant crescendo on “NEW MAGIC WAND” or the impact of “WHAT’S GOOD” bass drop, there is no detail too small for Tyler, The Creator to obsess over. But even beyond IGOR’s immaculate production is the pathos behind each of the record’s twelve tracks.

    Beneath each dazzling beat is a young man going through his first heartbreak. The vulnerability heard on “EARFQUAKE” as Tyler pleads “Don’t leave/it’s my fault” channels a level of emotion unheard of in his prior discography, while IGOR’s final three tracks showcase how confusing and tumultuous losing the love of your life can be (that one-two punch of “I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE” and “ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?” is devastatingly relatable to anyone). Culturally, IGOR occupies the same space that recent albums from Frank Ocean and Solange exist in – a complex stream-of-conscious record that moves freely within the constant sonic-evolutions and mutations. While Tyler, The Creator will never fully abandon his fuck-all attitude (he closed that same Twitter letter with “I’m not tryna have an Oprah episode. Stank you smelly mucho.”), the maturing we heard on Flower Boy is here to stay, as IGOR continues to invite us into the most private moments of Tyler, The Creator’s life. [DB]

    6. Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life

    Maggie Rogers had the kind of break that most musicians will only ever dream of. Surfacing to the public eye in 2016 via a viral video of her Masterclass with Pharrell Williams, her single “Alaska” spread like wildfire, and sparked a debut major label EP just a few months later. Capitalizing on the buzz by rushing along an album would be the next logical move for most rising stars — but as we’ve come now to find out with 2019’s Heard It In A Past Life, Rogers isn’t interested in sacrificing her fingerprints for the sake of making haste. It’d be easy to go on about how the hooks on this record will play endlessly in your head after being introduced to them, or how the roomy texture of the production feels like a breath of fresh air for the normally hyper compressed, air tight qualities of most modern pop. But what makes this album so special is the palpable identity attached to it, the tangible piece of Rogers’ soul found in every line she sings. On single “Light On”, she opens up about the fragility found within her sudden exposure, and her desire to remain grounded and present. “Oh, I couldn’t stop it / tried to slow it down / crying in the bathroom / had to figure it out / with everyone around me saying / you must be so happy now”. This is music that is as danceable and massive as it is in its pop elements as it is delicate and vulnerable in its folk elements, and if the success of Heard It In A Past Life is any indication, the future for 25 year old Maggie Rogers is looking brighter than ever. [TG]

    7. The Japanese House – Good at Falling

    Debut records shouldn’t be this immediately infectious, yet this band’s debut sounds incredibly polished, professional, and poised for world domination. The Japanese House is comprised of multi-instrumentalist Amber Bain, and she produced many of the tracks on Good at Falling alongside The 1975’s George Daniel and BJ Burton (Bon Iver, James Blake). With emotions ranging from heartbreak to euphoric joy, Bain’s journey throughout this record is thrilling. Songs such as “Maybe You’re The Reason” and “We Talk All The Time” feature some great pop hooks, meaningful and well-placed synths, and the trademark vocal delivery from Bain.

    I first discovered The Japanese House while looking through my Apple Music recommends list and a song called “Cool Blue” in particular stood out to me. While this earlier cut was only featured on an earlier EP and not the full-length record, I made a point to keep an eye out for when new music came from the group. Little did I realize, The Japanese House would release one of my favorite records of 2019, and I’m thrilled that my colleagues also see the magic in this debut. [AG]

    8. The National – I Am Easy to Find

    If you’ve followed The National if even just a little bit over the past two decades, you already know that vocalist Matt Berninger’s bellowing baritone is central to the sprawling universe crafted by the brotherly duos of guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner and the rhythm section containing Bryan and Scott Devendorf. But on the band’s eighth album I Am Easy To Find the quintet flip their own script on its head, introducing new perspectives in their worldview by featuring female vocals on fourteen of the album’s tracks. The National sound reinvigorated throughout – from the knee-buckling vocals from longtime Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey on “You Had Your Soul with You,” the striking call-and-return synchronized vocals from Berninger, Sharon Van Etten, and Lisa Hannigan on “The Pull of You,” the stirring “Quiet Light,” and anthemic “Rylan” showcase a band at it’s creative peak. And that’s before you dive into songs like “Not in Kansas” and “Light Years” – the record’s emotional centerpiece and finale. The National have delivered perhaps their most diverse record yet, as indie rock’s most consistent band welcomes new challenges – making I Am Easy To Find their most unpredictable and thrilling record in years. [DB]

    9. Sigrid – Sucker Punch

    It’s somewhat perfect that the mid-year coincides with summer because there may not be a single other album released so far this year that’s better suited for the sunny weather. Sigrid’s debut full-length is pure pop perfection. It’s immaculately produced, packed with hooks, and yet it’s the songwriting and unique details that push it into the next level for me. Lots of people can write catchy music, but can you pair those choruses with creativity to make something special? I think that’s where Sigrid’s Sucker Punch stands out. Let’s look at a moment in “Strangers,” where the song has built into a pulsating locomotive, and in the bridge she starts picking up the vocal pace before throwing in the most perfectly timed “woo” I’ve heard in years. Then the chorus comes back in over the top, and both parts mesh together perfectly. It’s little moments like that, little extra details, that make me smile every time I hear them. And it’s moments like that have turned this not only into my most played album so far in 2019, but my favorite as well. [JT]

    10. Big Thief – U.F.O.F

    U.F.O.F. refers to the “UFO friend” Adrianne Lenker references in the title track: “To my UFO friend / Goodbye, goodbye / Like a seed in the wind / She’s taking up root in the sky.” That impermanence feels integral to the craft of the record; the songs feel transient and not quite solid, almost as if the musical parts have simply drifted together and, through some mystical force, fit together perfectly. The album’s standouts tend to be just moments – the understated guitar solo in “Century,” the free-ranging bassline in “Strange,” the chorus melody of “Jenni.” Parts that feel fleeting, pulled from some higher consciousness and sticking around for only so long before escaping any human’s grasp.

    That it was crafted by human hands despite its otherworldliness is a reminder of the songwriting and musical talent this band possesses. That much has always been clear, which is why there has been such a close critical eye to Big Thief from the start. But U.F.O.F. is different from anything they have created thus far; more layered, complex, less easily familiar. It’s an accomplishment that proves they’re more than just the critical darlings of the moment – they will leave a legacy far more impacting. [MH]

    11. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center

    I’m not one to join a cult, but if Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst are leading it then please show me where I can sign up. The initiation begins with the duo’s debut collaboration Better Oblivion Community Center – a record following up Oberst’s most personal solo albums and Bridgers’ stellar run of incredible records the past three years (her solo LP Stranger in the Alps and Boygenius – the supergroup featuring Bridgers alongside Julian Baker and Lucy Dacus). Bridgers and Oberst display a rapport as if they’ve been doing this rock & roll thing together for ten years. The two’s back-and-forth on “Dylan Thomas” flow seamlessly along with the cutting guitar work. Or take “Chesapeake” – a beautifully constructed acoustic number the emphasizes both artist’s strengths as songwriters. What sets this apart from other similar projects is that this doesn’t sound like 10 Conor Oberst songs featuring Phoebe Bridgers or vice versa – instead Better Oblivion Community Center is radiant debut collection and the rare one between two incredible musicians that doesn’t undercut the unique qualities each bring to the studio. [DB]

    12. Copeland – Blushing

    Copeland feel like the quintessential band for fans of this website. They’re a band that may have started in the music scene often covered by but throughout the years have grown into so much more. Now, with their latest offering, Blushing, they’ve pushed the their own boundaries even further to create, arguably, the best record of their career. The album is full of lush layers, haunting sounds, and unique flourishes that take you on a journey through your headphones. They’re the kind of band that maybe always flies a little but under the radar, but every time they pop their heads up it’s with music that feels like it’s plucked from the night skyline. [JT]

    13. Fury – Failed Entertainment

    Run For Cover have an eye for quality that isn’t matched by many, so their signing of Fury already had this record poised to be the year’s hardcore breakout. Yet still it exceeded expectations. With Failed Entertainment, Fury have delivered the best hardcore record in recent memory – no small feat considering the strength of the genre’s showings over the past few years. Musically it’s heavy, angry stuff, uncompromising in its commitment to the genre. Yet it sheds the knuckleheaded tendencies that generally accompany riff-heavy, vein-popping hardcore like this, in favor of an intellectual plane more in line with DC’s experimental and intelligent Revolution Summer era.

    The overarching lyrical theme on Failed Entertainment is one of searching for meaning and purpose. Over the course of the record, beginning with “Angels Over Berlin” in which he questions the point of continuing at all, vocalist Jeremy Stith lays out a series of complex and brutally honest philosophies on navigating life’s trials. The penultimate track is “New Years Eve (Melbourne),” a recitation of a poem that a friend of the band’s had heard at a New Years party. The poem is a vow to face the beginning of an unknown new year without fear, and when that transitions into closing track “Crazy Horses Run Free,” Stith echoes its resolve: “A life’s work ahead of me / The evil and the good / Now find ways beyond the ties that bind.” [MH]

    14. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

    Major label debut Cuz I Love You from rapper/singer Lizzo – her first release since 2016’s Coconut Oil EP – is the sonic equivalent of a giant middle finger dancing joyously as it reads you to hell and back, and I’m here for it. It’s an album that pays sonic homage to decades worth of different genres, and does so with aplomb; the singles from the record could not be more different. The delightfully bouncy “Juice” has become inescapable, while the Missy-Elliot-featured “Tempo” dares you not to get sweaty at the club, even if said club is an imaginary one in the privacy of your own home.

    This is a quintessential summertime record. On the title track which opens things up, Lizzo’s characteristic dramatic vocals let you know this album isn’t here to play any games – she sings the way being bewildered by being in love feels. “Like A Girl” is a love letter to womanhood, with the absolute earworm “Soulmate” further driving the point home. Tracks like “Jerome” and “Lingerie” feel more sensual, and on tracks like “Exactly How I Feel”, “Juice”, you can’t help but want to dance your cares away. The intimate honesty on “Heaven Help Me” and “Lingerie”, the album’s closer, are here to slow things down and remind you that people are complex. The overall effect is a great success. With CILY, Lizzo demonstrates that she has mastered intentional authenticity: it’s as brilliant as it’s fun.

    To characterize this kind of unbridled joy as anything less is naive at best. In a world where so many facets of certain human identities are endlessly policed, shamed or subjugated, Lizzo’s love letter to herself in turn gives us all permission to take ourselves exactly as we are. And for so many, this kind of unapologetic self-acceptance, this kind of pure fun, is a declaration in and of itself. It’s defiant, it’s freeing – it’s nothing short of revolutionary. At the end of the day, Cuz I Love You is a delightfully fun celebration of humanity in a time where one is sorely needed, delivered the way only Lizzo could.

    Cuz I Love You is a triumph of spirit, and a feel-good record from start to finish. Meanwhile, I’ll be laughing about the lyric “Can’t let a pretty face distract me from business/And God as my witness, your ugly ass won’t either” for the foreseeable future. [AA]

    14. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow

    Sharon Van Etten wasn’t on my radar prior to the release of her fifth album, Remind Me Tomorrow. Her previous output, while showcasing undoubtedly great songwriting and musicianship, just hadn’t clicked for me. That all changed the moment I heard “Jupiter 4” – named after the Roland synthesizer it incorporates throughout –its eerie synth melody and heavy drums mask that the song is, in fact, a love song. Accompanied by stunning ghostly vocals from Van Etten, I was instantly won over. I then heard “Memorial Day”; a darkly mystifying track that recalls Portishead and took shape once Van Etten found out she was pregnant. The experiences of the five years between albums shaped Remind Me Tomorrow.

    Since 2014’s Are We There, Sharon Van Etten has become a mother, attended university to obtain an undergraduate degree in psychology, and joined the cast of Netflix exclusive The OA, as well as making a cameo in Twin Peaks. Van Etten introduced new influences for her fifth album, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Portishead to Nick Cave. Teaming up with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Baroness, Debbie Harry, Manchester Orchestra, Thrice),Van Etten displays a newfound assurance that she can do whatever she wants, and it’ll be phenomenal.

    The endlessly catchy “Seventeen” instils Springsteen influence and savors the importance to reflect. In other hands, “Seventeen” might come across as cheesy. In Van Etten’s hands, however, contemplating if her teenage self is proud of her adult achievements has a devastating weight. If the electronic elements sprinkled throughout the record scare off long-time fans, not to worry, Van Etten remains one of rock music’s strongest songwriters. Allow Sharon Van Etten to guide you through this journey and her future adventures. As Remind Me Tomorrow comes to a close, Sharon Van Etten makes an unconditional promise to her child and to us: she won’t let you go astray. [MV]

    16. Carly Rae Jepsen — Dedicated

    Carly Rae Jepsen was staring down an impossible task only a few months ago. After she had recorded upwards of 200 songs for her upcoming fourth album, the Canadian singer-songwriter was faced with whittling that down to some sort of track list consisting of 13-15 songs. The result is Dedicated – Carly Rae Jepsen’s most accomplished record yet. Created under a working title of Music to Clean Your House To, this 15-track collection definitely flows within that mindset. Dedicated never reaches the highs of 2015’s E-MO-TION (a daunting task when considering that “Run Away With Me,” the title track, and “I Really Like You” exist from that collection) but it showcases a consistency previously missing from her work. Singles like “Party of One,” “Too Much,” and “Now That I Found You” channel house music and disco effortlessly, as Jepsen chronicles the past few years of heartbreak, friendship, and finding new love. It’s not as overtly romantic as her past albums but Dedicated anchors itself in more realism than ever before, as tracks like “Real Love” and the Electric Guest-featuring “Feels Right” have sleeper hits written all over them. Sure, it’s kind of weird to declare a Carly Rae Jepsen album as an acquired taste, but Dedicated is the type of pop record that continually rewards the listener with each subsequent listen. [DB]

    16. Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties – Routine Maintenance

    Aaron West was in rough shape last we heard from him. A fictional persona adopted by Dan Campbell (The Wonder Years) for his Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties songwriting project, Aaron ends the 2016 EP Bittersweet staring out out at the ocean at Rockaway Beach, questioning which will come first — the end of his seemingly –insurmountable grief, or sea levels rising to the point that New York City settles underwater. Routine Maintenance, the new Aaron West record, opens at a different beach. In “Lead Paint & Salt Air,” Aaron West has a new job in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He paints houses now, and makes enough money to put cash in his pocket, rent a sublet to himself. He reflects on his relative good luck as he scrapes old, lead paint from a house on the beachfront. As he looks out at the families and children on the boardwalk, the first verse ends with a moment of acknowledged possibility: “I smile for the first time this year.” This is the promise of Routine Maintenance: happiness, however fleeting, exists alongside the work of fixing. Aaron scrapes lead paint from an old porch and pays his rent; he packs a school lunch for his nephew; he changes the oil in his mother’s car. Throughout the record, Aaron is constantly working, constantly tightening screws, constantly getting things in order for himself and the people he cares most about. It’s a change in pace for a narrator whose defining trait thus far in the Aaron West discography has been morbid misery, a narrator whose primary action verb in releases past has mostly been “run away.” Following The Wonder Years’ Sister Cities last year, Routine Maintenance proves that Dan Campbell has grown past his transition phase and evolved steadfast into one of contemporary rock music’s most accomplished and talented storytellers. While the title track, which ends the record, seems to put the Aaron West persona to bed for a while, Campbell’s future is as exciting as it’s ever been. [JB]

    18. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

    Taking six years between their third and fourth records could have been the momentum breaker for Vampire Weekend. This album was the band’s first without multi-instrumentalist and producer Rostam Batmanglij, which made their fans cautiously nervous about what the band would cook up. However, this calculated approach of never rushing out a product that they didn’t fully believe in paid major dividends, as Father of the Bride provides some great tracks and a steady flow of ear candy. Their first album on a major label came with some added pressure, yet Ezra Koenig and company were more than up to the task as they debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 on its first week on the charts.

    The roll-out of the tracks came quickly, as they front-loaded their radio singles “Harmony Hall,” “Sunflower,” and “This Life” all for radio distribution at similar times. The songs themselves teetered on the edge of indie folk, and at times power pop, yet they were all unmistakably well thought out and lived up the hype surrounding Vampire Weekend’s legacy. This record also features several collaborations such as Danielle Haim, Steve Lacy, and Mark Ronson, which only enhanced the options and stylistic choices that the band were able to deliver.

    The 18-track album is expansive, filled with rich emotion and yet each song in the collection belongs perfectly in this chapter for the band. One can only hope that we don’t have to wait another six years to see what Vampire Weekend have up their sleeves next. [AG]

    18. Bastille – Doom Days

    With three albums under their belt, Bastille has shown that they have a propensity for writing extremely catchy albums. Their latest album, Doom Days, continues that trend. A concept album, described by the band as an “apocalyptic house party,” Doom Days is comprised of eleven tracks chronicling the ups and downs of a final night out before the world ends. The night begins with the boppy “Quarter Past Midnight,” which finds the band traversing the city streets and hoping to make the most of the 24 hours before the end of the world. “Help me piece it all together darling,” frontman Dan Smith pleads in the track’s chorus, “before it falls apart.” This desperation continues through the first half of the album, from the reflective anthem “Bad Decisions” (“You said that maybe this is where it ends/Take a bow for the bad decisions that we made”) to the in-your-face title track (“There must be something in the Kool-Aid/Cruising through the doom days.”)

    Never a band to let us become too consumed by melancholy, Bastille uses the second half of the album to flip the focus from catastrophe to celebration. As the house party winds down, the band reminds us that, at the end of the day, we are all united by our need for human connection. Even the seemingly sad “Those Nights” turns the chronicle of a late-night hookup into a rallying cry for common ground, asking “aren’t we all just looking for a bit of hope these days?” In the album’s final track, that hope becomes reality. In “Joy,” we are reminded that even the bleakest of situations can be transformed by a call from someone who cares. With each track, Doom Days delivers a timely message: When we aren’t sure what lies ahead of us, we should reach out to the people beside us. This is how we will survive. [EL]

    20. Bellows – The Rose Gardener

    Bellows’ Topshelf Records debut The Rose Gardener sees the project stretched to its limits. Its 13 songs seem to touch on every sound Bellows has ever toyed with in the past while expanding outward into completely new territories as well. “Denouement” is a straight-up rock and roll song while the following “What Can I Tell You About the World” is a patient acoustic track, “In Silence” is the closest the band has gotten to radio pop, and the penultimate “The Tower” dabbles a little bit in all of these, playing out like the album in miniature. In the chorus of that song bandleader Oliver Kalb asks, “How beautiful can a sentence sound?” and, if it’s Kalb singing that sentence, the answer is pretty damn beautiful. [ZD]

    Contributor Key

    • [CM]: Craig Manning
    • [JT]: Jason Tate
    • [AM]: Aaron Mook
    • [MV]: Mary Varvaris
    • [ZD]: Zac Djamoos
    • [AA]: Anna Acosta
    • [DB]: Drew Beringer
    • [AG]: Adam Grundy
    • [TG]: Trevor Graham
    • [JB]: John Bazley
    • [EL]: Erik Lutts
    • [MH]: Mia Hughes
    Contributor Lists

    Jason Tate

    1. Sigrid – Sucker Punch
    2. The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
    3. The Japanese House – Good at Falling
    4. Copeland – Blushing
    5. The Maine – You Are OK
    6. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    7. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
    8. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    9. Dave Hause – Kick
    10. La Bouquet – Sad People Dancing
    11. Fidlar – Almost Free
    12. Set It Off – Midnight
    13. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
    14. Alex Lahey – The Best of Luck Club
    15. Pronoun – I’ll Show You Stronger
    16. Josh Ritter – Fever Breaks
    17. Bad Religion – Age of Unreason
    18. Cub Sport – Cub Sport
    19. Simple Creatures – Strange Love
    20. The Damned Things – High Crimes
    Drew Beringer

    1. Baroness – Gold & Grey
    2. PUP – Morbid Stuff
    3. Tyler The Creator – IGOR
    4. Drowse – Light Mirror
    5. The National – I Am Easy To Find
    6. Big Thief – U.F.O.F
    7. Copeland – Blushing
    8. Mannequin Pussy – Patience
    9. Thom Yorke – ANIMA
    10. Fury – Failed Entertainment
    11. Angel Du$t – Pretty Buff
    12. Prince Daddy & The Hyena – Cosmic Thrill Seekers
    13. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
    14. Full of Hell – Weeping Choir
    15. Bellows – The Rose Gardener
    16. Horse Jumper of Love – So Divine
    17. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    18. Elizabeth Colour Wheel – Nocebo
    19. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
    20. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    Trevor Graham

    1. The Japanese House – Good At Falling
    2. Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls
    3. Anderson Paak – Ventura
    4. Julia Jacklin – Crushing
    5. Charlie Collins – Snowpine
    6. Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life
    7. HOMESHAKE – Helium
    8. Lucky Daye – Painted
    9. Barrie – Happy To Be Here
    10. Boogie – Everything’s For Sale
    11. OWEL – Paris
    12. The Maine – You Are OK
    13. La Bouquet – Sad People Dancing
    14. German Error Message – Mend
    15. Unwed Sailor – Heavy Age
    16. LITE – Multiple
    17. Lazerbeak – Luther
    18. Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning
    19. Ceres – We Are A Team
    20. Raveena – Lucid
    Anna Acosta

    1. The Maine – You Are OK
    2. Kehlani – While We Wait
    3. Khalid – Free Spirit
    4. Small Talks – A Conversation Between Us
    5. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
    6. Cassadee Pope – Stages
    7. Megan Thee Stallion – Fever
    8. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    9. Maggie Rogers – Heard It In a Past Life
    10. Sizzy Rocket – Grrrl
    11. Potty Mouth – SNAFU
    12. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    13. Jonas Brothers – Happiness Begins
    14. Hozier – Wasteland, Baby!
    15. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
    16. PUP – Morbid Stuff
    17. Solange – When I Get Home
    Zac Djamoos

    1. Downhaul – Before You Fall Asleep
    2. Sunstained – Quiet My Demons
    3. Small Talks – A Conversation Between Us
    4. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    5. Nonfiction – Same Pain
    6. Cat Geography – Keepsake
    7. Diva Sweetly – In the Living Room
    8. Pronoun – I’ll Show You Stronger
    9. Bellows – The Rose Gardener
    10. I Love Your Lifestyle – The Movie
    11. Caracara – Better EP
    12. Ceres – We Are a Team
    13. Closure. – You’re Only Made of Moonlight EP
    14. Fox Wound – It Could Happen to You
    15. Truth Club – Not an Exit
    16. Blood Command – Return of the Arsonist EP
    17. Mess – Learning How to Talk
    18. The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
    19. Origami Angel – Gen 3 EP
    20. Jetty Bones – (hyphen) EP
    Craig Manning

    1. The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
    2. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
    3. Tyler Hilton – City on Fire
    4. Josh Ritter – Fever Breaks
    5. The Maine – You Are OK
    6. Thomas Rhett – Center Point Road
    7. Maren Morris – GIRL
    8. Yola – Walk Through Fire
    9. Austin Jenkes – If You Grew up Like I Did
    10. Rob Thomas – Chip Tooth Smile
    11. Cassadee Pope – Stages
    12. Joy Williams – Front Porch
    13. Lauren Jenkins – No Saint
    14. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    15. Emily Scott Robinson – Traveling Mercies
    16. Caroline Spence – Mint Condition
    17. The National – I Am Easy to Find
    18. Maggie Rogers – Heard It in a Past Life
    19. Canyon City – Bluebird
    20. Iron & Wine and Calexico – Years to Burn
    Tommy Monroe

    1. Labrinth, Sia & Diplo – LSD
    2. Hozier – Wasteland, Baby!
    3. Little Simz – Grey Area
    4. Schoolboy Q – Crash Talk
    5. Dido – Still On My Mind
    6. Gunna – Drip or Drown 2
    7. Future – The WIZRD
    8. Solange – When I Get Home
    9. Flume – Hi This is Flume
    10. Pink – Hurts 2b Human
    11. Tyler, the creator – IGOR
    12. Avicii – Tim
    13. Nav – Bad Habits
    14. Sigrid – Sucker Punch
    15. Denzel Curry – ZUU
    16. The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
    17. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    18. Jonas Brothers – Happiness Bright
    19. Bastille – Doom Days
    20. Anderson Paak – Ventura
    Mary Varvaris

    1. Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
    2. Julia Jacklin – Crushing
    3. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    4. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
    5. Big Thief – U.F.O.F
    6. BATTS – The Grand Tour
    7. Denzel Curry – ZUU
    8. Lust for Youth – Lust for Youth
    9. Hatchie – Keepsake
    10. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
    11. Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls
    12. The National – I Am Easy To Find
    13. Stella Donnelly – Beware Of The Dogs
    14. Palehound – Black Friday
    15. The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All The Time
    16. Solange – When I Get Home
    17. Priests – The Seduction of Kansas
    18. Sigrid – Sucker Punch
    19. Alex Lahey – The Best of Luck Club
    20. Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky – Droneflower
    Adam Grundy

    1. The Maine – You Are OK
    2. Maggie Rogers – Heard it in a Past Life
    3. The Japanese House – Good at Falling
    4. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
    5. JR JR – Invocations / Conversations
    6. The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
    7. The Damned Things – High Crimes
    8. Silverstein – REDUX: The First 10 Years
    9. American Football – LP3
    10. The Bouncing Souls – Crucial Moments (EP)
    11. Bad Suns – Mystic Truth
    12. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
    13. An Horse – Modern Air
    14. LPX – Junk of the Heart (EP)
    15. Middle Kids – New Songs For Old Problems (EP)
    16. PUP – Morbid Stuff
    17. New Found Glory – From the Screen To Your Stereo, Vol. 3
    18. Frank Iero and the Future Violents – Barriers
    19. Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
    20. The Mowgli’s – American Feelings (EP)
    John Bazley

    1. PUP – Morbid Stuff
    2. Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties – Routine Maintenance
    3. Ceres – We Are A Team
    4. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
    5. Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
    6. Bellows – The Rose Gardener
    7. The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
    8. I Love Your Lifestyle – The Movie
    9. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
    10. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    11. American Football – LP3
    12. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
    13. The Maine – You Are OK
    14. Jonas Brothers – Happiness Begins
    15. YG – 4Real 4Real
    16. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
    17. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    18. Megan Thee Stalion – Fever
    19. Jenny Lewis – On The Line
    Eric Wilson

    1. Bastille – Doom Days
    2. Judah & The Lion – Pep Talks
    3. Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life
    4. Ruben – Melancholic EP
    5. Yonaka – Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow
    6. Local Natives – Violet Street
    7. Sigrid – Sucker Punch
    8. Laura Stevenson – The Big Freeze
    9. Marina – Love + Fear
    10. Joy Williams – Front Porch
    11. Jonas Brothers – Happiness Begins
    12. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    13. Cassadee Pope – Stages
    14. Angela Davis, Tony Gould & Sam Anning – Little Did They Know
    15. Hillsong United – People
    16. Lauren Jenkins – No Saint
    17. BTS – Map of the Soul : Persona
    18. New Found Glory – From the Screen to Your Stereo 3
    19. Carousel Kings – Plus Ultra
    20. Blackpink – Kill This Love EP
    Mia Hughes

    1. Fury – Failed Entertainment
    2. Field Medic – fade into the dawn
    3. PUP – Morbid Stuff
    4. Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
    5. Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
    6. American Football – LP3
    7. Angel Du$t – Pretty Buff
    8. Tacocat- This Mess Is A Place
    9. Laura Stevenson – The Big Freeze
    10. Pedro The Lion – Phoenix
    11. Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood
    12. Soul Glo – The N**** In Me Is Me
    13. Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – Routine Maintenance
    14. Palehound – Black Friday
    15. The Get Up Kids – Problems
    16. Bad Books – III
    17. Spencer Radcliffe – Hot Springs
    18. Abuse Of Power – What On Earth Can We Do
    19. Horse Jumper Of Love – So Divine
    20. Big Nothing – Chris
    Aaron Mook

    1. The National – I Am Easy to Find
    2. Tyler, The Creator – IGOR
    3. Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY
    4. Pedro the Lion – Phoenix
    5. Perma – Fight Fair
    6. PUP – Morbid Stuff
    7. Weezer – Weezer (The Black Album)
    8. The Drums – Brutalism
    9. Homeshake – Helium
    10. Copeland – Blushing

    paythetab likes this.
  2. Jake W

    oh my god, I'm back on my bullshit Prestigious

    Only disappointment is CRJ being so low. AOTY for me
  3. ItsAndrew


    No American Football or Jade Bird on any of these lists saddens me.
    DandonTRJ likes this.
  4. tyramail

    Trusted Supporter

    These are some damn good lists.
    trevorshmevor and BoldType like this.
  5. JRGComedy

    Trusted Supporter

    Some good fucking music on this list
    trevorshmevor likes this.
  6. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Kind of an odd music year so far, for me, but I like it!
  7. Jim186


    Couldn’t possibly agree with @Jason Tate more in his review of the Sigrid record. It’s really a pop standout, and my record of the year so far too. I’m equally as impressed with the songwriting as I am with the production, and that’s pretty rare these days. Really looking forward to seeing her live later this year.
    Brent and Jason Tate like this.
  8. disambigujason

    Trusted Supporter

    definitely thought copeland would be higher. looks like i have a lot to check out, there are way more things i hadn't even heard of than usual.
    anonimito likes this.
  9. alexjlow


    So pumped to see TDS at number 3, such an amazing record and return to true form. Look forward to digging further into this list. Great work guys.
    Jason Tate likes this.
  10. RileyWitiw

    more like Supporter

    Been a particularly awesome year wow.
  11. paperlung

    there's no place like my room Supporter

    american football is on 3 of the lists
  12. Honestly surprised not to see La Dispute anywhere but it has been a great year for music and these are all great records!
    fredwordsmith and Ska Senanake like this.
  13. Thanks for checking this out everyone
  14. slickdtc

    Regular Supporter

    Guess I’ll throw my list in here:

    1. Better Off - Reap What You Sow
    2. Sleep in. - The Stars on Your Ceiling
    3. Sleep Talk - Everything in Colour
    4. Eat Your Heart Out - Floresence
    5. Crown Vic - Life Saver
    6. Boundaries - Turning Point
    7. Crafter - Lasting Efforts
    8. Free Throw - What’s Past is Prologue (shocked this didn’t show up on any lists here)
    9. Emarosa - Peach Club
    10. Origami Button - Button Season

    Spent a LOT of time with these albums in a year that I’ve spent a lot of time with music in general. Definitely encourage everyone to check out these bands if you don’t know them.
  15. Fucking Dustin

    Prestigious Prestigious

    The Weyes Blood album changed me, thank you to both @Mary V and Lana Del Rey for posting about it in different places resulting in me listening to it
  16. Brent

    Destroy What You Create Prestigious

    The Maine as #1 overall is hilarious... Something that the Oscars would do.

    Good album, they've paid their dues, but 100000% not the best album of the year so far.
    BelieF and Ska Senanake like this.
  17. [​IMG]
    Anna Acosta, ItsAndrew, FTank and 4 others like this.
  18. Orla Jul 5, 2019
    (Last edited: Jul 6, 2019)

    right on! Prestigious

    Jade Bird is the #2 for my personal mid-year list. Obscenely good. Dunno how it didn’t get much love here.
    ItsAndrew likes this.
  19. halowithascrewloose

    Newbie Supporter

    This year is a stand out year for music across so many different genres. From PUP to CRJ to The Maine to The Japanese House, so many artists have just exponentially grown since their last releases and we are only 6 months in. Can’t wait to see where my mid list holds up come December. Keep up the good work Chorus Crew
    Orla, trevorshmevor and Jason Tate like this.
  20. Yellowcard2006 Jul 5, 2019
    (Last edited: Jul 6, 2019)


    I haven't even listened to 20 albums so here's what I got so far

    8. La Dispute
    7. The Get Up Kids
    6. Ariana Grande
    5. Ceres
    4. PUP
    3. American Football
    2. Aaron West
    1. The Dangerous Summer

    Gonna check out some of those albums above though ,easy way to find great music.
    Mattww likes this.
  21. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Because when I rank albums I like, I think about which artists have "paid their dues."
  22. Jake W

    oh my god, I'm back on my bullshit Prestigious

    I haven't listened to that The Maine album but I know with 100% doubt that it's #1 because the staff loved it. Imagine a The Maine album being #1 in the Absolute Punk days lmao
    Brent, Drew Beringer and tyramail like this.
  23. trevorshmevor Jul 5, 2019
    (Last edited: Jul 5, 2019)
    I mean it’s worth mentioning that most of the contributors don’t even have it on their lists lol, and even out of the ones that do only a couple actually have it at #1. It’s just the way the numbers worked out. It’s a great record anyway though so who cares
    Brent and Mary V like this.
  24. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Yeah, I feel like there’s not a ton of overlap between a lot of our lists. That’s just the album that happened to have the highest amount of consensus approval.
    Mary V, Drew Beringer and Jason Tate like this.
  25. Seeing Bellows place in the Top 20 reminded me to go back and revisit that record though. Really glad I did!
    Mattww and disambigujason like this.