The 100 Best Albums of 2019, #80-61

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#80: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies

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Album #1 from the absurdly prolific Aussie psych band takes a dive back into the feel-good post-psych of the Seventies and reinvents the band’s sound for the umpteenth time in order to be a feel-good prog-funk band. What if Chilliwack was actually good? Gizzard answers the question no one was asking.

Also, uh, that album cover.

#79: Titus Andronicus – An Obelisk

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After taking a trip around long-winded classic rock on A Productive Cough, the New Jersey punk band gets back to basics, taking the sound that made them big on albums like The Most Lamentable Tragedy Of and Most-Prescient-Album-Of-The-Decade winner The Monitor and adding constraints. Instead of 9-minute epics or three-disc concept records, it’s a straightforward, peculiarly American set of punk rock songs.

 

#78: Wilco – Ode To Joy

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Phillip Gallagher once referred to Wilco as music for balding dads and I feel extremely seen.

 

#77: Orville Peck – Pony

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Have you ever wondered what a Smiths country album would sound like? Here you go. You sick son of a bitch. I don’t think Amanda has ever heard this album (that I know of) but she would hate it. HATE it.

 

#76: The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All The Time

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Ten plus years later and the Glasgow mope-rockers can hit all the right notes to make me yearning and wistful and completely triste.

 

#75: Megan Thee Stallion – Fever

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Some honest to god gangsta ass shit. It’s not subtle. At all. Well, it’s less subtle than Denzel Curry this year. But it’s still not subtle at all. It’s crass, sexual, hood af.

 

#74: Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Dance

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Typically I’m wary of posthumous projects that take bits and pieces left behind by the dead artist and try to make something new out of them. The things they’ve done to people like Biggie and Jimi Hendrix have been horrifying, drawing blood from stones in order to fatten the estate incomes of wealthy beneficiaries. Thanks For The Dance is the rare album that manages to avoid this entirely, using the man’s own son and some long-time admirers as musicians to fill out the parts that Cohen hadn’t finished by his death. A rare post-death record, in that it doesn’t make you feel dirty for having listened to it.

 

#73: Girl Band – The Talkies

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Album #2 of noisy post-punk finds the band continuing to double down on their confrontational, punishing sound that is a lot like if liars found themselves at a Birthday Party.

 

#72: Swans – Leaving Meaning

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It’s creepy, atmospheric, disturbing, and more than a little insane. Which is a long-winded way to say that it’s a Swans record.

 

#71: Jay Som – Anak Ko

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Slinky, powerful indie dream pop with a haunting lilt. The album was written in the space of a week during a weeklong exile to Joshua Tree National Park, and has the quality of something produced during a burst of white heat.

 

#70: Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber

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John Dwyer’s sweat-soaked San Fran collective rarely covered the same territory twice over the past fifteen years, so it’s interesting that in the last two years Thee Oh Sees have sort of doubled down on a certain niche of the punk rock milieu – frenetic, feedback-drenched, and filled to the brim with squiggly proto-metal leads. It sort of goes without saying that if you liked Orc and Smote Reverser, you’ll be into Face Stabber.

 

#69: Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race

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It’s absolutely shocking that thirty-some-odd years after Hell Awaits death metal is still capable of surprising you.

 

#68 – Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance 

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Sometimes you don’t want surprises from your death metal, though. Sometimes you just want it to punch you in the face repeatedly.

 

#67: Richard Dawson – 2020

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Fey weirdo English folkie Richard Dawson – a man whose last album was based on the tales of English peasantry in the Middle Ages – decided to go in a more hard rock direction on 2019’s 2020 (JFC). It’s unpredictable and that’s the point – life in the modern world is increasingly unpredictable and it’s hard to understand it or even cope with it. Lesser beings have concept records – Dawson has a concept career.

 

#66: The Hold Steady – Thrashing Thru The Passion

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A comeback, of sorts. The past two albums the Brooklyn classic rock revivalists put out committed the sin of treading water, but Thrashing Through The Passion manages to cut through that bullshit to refresh the band’s sound. Let’s be serious, though: it’s because Franz Nicolay is back in the band. It’s also a bizarrely back-loaded album; the back half of the record is comprised of (most of) the singles the band spent the past two years releasing in a relaxed fashion, and they’re the best songs.

 

#65: Jenny Hval – The Practice Of Love

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Her last one was inspired by VHS horror nightmares; this one is inspired more by Nineties Euro-trance and functions much like a soundtrack to her forthcoming book Girls Against God. Either way it’s subtle, complicated, and capable of creating a sense of mounting unease.

 

#64: Inter Arma – Sulphur English

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The fate of all things, the soundtrack to the hastening apocalypse, a prescient take on things to come, a killer blend of death and doom metal. All of the above.

 

#63: Blood Orange – Angel’s Pulse

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Impressionist by design, a fever dream of sorts, Angel’s Pulse is like a nostalgia trip to an old era of radio, the kind of stuff that might have been playing on the car stereo while you lost your virginity (Xennials), while you were on car trips with your parents (Millenials), or that your parents try to embarass you with (Zoomers). It occupies that one niche of music that begins with Boys 2 Men and buries itself lovingly in KC and Jo-Jo.

 

#62: Mannequin Pussy – Patience

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That burning globe on the cover of Patience may now seem morbidly prescient but it’s a metaphor for burning one’s life down and just getting the hell out – out of toxic relationships, out of toxic mindsets, out of the goddamn patriarchy altogether. One of the strongest punk rock records of the year, and one of the rare such records that ends on a blissful happy note despite the carnage that comes before it.

 

#61: Thom Yorke – ANIMA 

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Regardless of the format, an album that Thom Yorke is on will be uneasy, paranoid, and restless, filled with a deep distrust of the modern world and taking on its trappings in order to better detail this distrust. Here the medium is soundtrack work, sprawling electronic soundscapes that were edited into loops and thereby forcibly crafted into songs. There’s something Rancieresque in there if you look for it.

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