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Here's what City Pages writers were listening to in 2019

Lana Del Rey, David Berman

Lana Del Rey, David Berman Courtesy of Universal, courtesy of Drag City

As we always do this time of year, we asked some City Pages staffers, contributors, and pals to offer up some top 5 lists of their choosing.

Below you’ll see lists of albums and songs, both local and non-, from this year and from the whole decade, as well as a few novelty lists. And you might just find something good that you haven’t heard yet, which is the whole point of this exercise.

 

Jay Boller
Web Editor

2019 Albums

1. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
RIP to indie rock's heart-wrenching, hilarious poet laureate; read our interview with David Berman, which occurred one day before his death, here.

2. Charly Bliss, Young Enough
Eva Hendricks went from fun to fun and profound on LP No. 2, a danceable blast of glossy-yet-emotional synth rock.

3. Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride
Following the tightly orchestrated majesty of 2013's Modern Vampires of the City, Ezra Koenig & Co. let their hair down on this sprawling and frequently spectacular sampler platter of VW’s various vibes.

4. Big Thief, Two Hands 
Something approximating literal magic emanates from Adrianne Lenker, who recently moved back to Minneapolis. Our new neighbor’s band released two strong LPs in ’19 -- U.F.O.F. and Two Hands – but the latter’s moments of dazzling fury give it the edge.

5. Better Oblivion Community Center, Better Oblivion Community Center
Heavyweight songwriters Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers joined forces for a (surprise!) lyrically rich rock ‘n’ roll record.

Honorable mentions to two musical comedy albums that will make you "laugh out loud": Alex Cameron's Miami Memory and the Sloppy Boys' Dancing on the Wind.

2010s Albums

1. Titus Andronicus, The Monitor 
Yes, as all the press clippings lead with at the time, it’s a loose U.S. Civil War allegory about coming-of-age rage and isolation. It’s also a toweringly ambitious rock album, one continuous eruption of Patrick Stickles’ smirkingly brilliant songwriting and his band’s punk firestorming. Self-loathing, humor, nihilism, solidarity, contempt, acceptance, a triumphant Scooby Doo allusion -- it’s all there, and it’s perfect.

2. Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt 
Katie Crutchfield began her Waxahatchee career with scratchy, lo-fi bedroom recordings that obscured her effortless lyrical grace. The singer-songwriter got the platform she deserved on Cerulean Salt, where the guitars vacillate between swirling distortion to acoustic swipes but always yield to Crutchfield’s voice.

3. Lorde, Melodrama
Look, I’m way late getting these blurbs to the music editor, so let’s just say this snapshot of young adulthood is endlessly listenable and a seismic leap forward from Lorde’s debut.

4. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
He’s a MAGA guy now, but he once made a maximalist masterpiece that included Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” verse. Never had a man simultaneously hated and loved himself this much.

5. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
I greatly enjoy this album. Go Packers.


Lucas Fagen

Contributor

 

1. 100 Gecs, 1000 Gecs
2. Faye Webster, Atlanta Millionaires Club
3. Clairo, Immunity
4. Twice, Fancy You
5. Megan Thee Stallion, Fever


Jerard Fagerberg

Contributor

2019 Albums (Local)

1. Niiice., Never Better
2. Lunch Duchess, Crying for Fun
3. Dua Saleh, Nūr
4. Unturned, Sunk
5. Graveyard Club, Goodnight Paradise

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. PUP, Morbid Stuff
2. Sir Babygirl, Crush on Me
3. Charly Bliss, Young Enough
4. Slipknot, We Are Not Your Kind
5. Cheekface, Therapy Island

2019 Tracks

1. Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus, "Old Town Road (Remix)"
2. Cheekface, "Dry Heat/Nice Town"
3. Slipknot, "Solway Firth"
4. Sir Babygirl, "Haunted House"
5. Charly Bliss, "Young Enough"


James Figy

Contributor

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
2. Better Oblivion Community Center, Better Oblivion Community Center
3. Big Thief, U.F.O.F.
4. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You
5. Marika Hackman, Any Human Friend

2019 Covers

1. Lucy Dacus, "Dancing in the Dark" (Bruce Springsteen)
2. Phoebe Bridgers, "Georgia Lee" (Tom Waits)
3. Benjamin Gibbard, "Keep Yourself Warm" (Frightened Rabbit)
4. Snail Mail, "The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World" (Courtney Love)
5. Tie: First Aid Kit, "Random Rules" & Stef Chura, "How to Rent a Room" (both Silver Jews)


Austin Gerth

Contributor

2010s Albums (Non-Local)

1. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
2. Oneohtrix Point Never, Replica
3. Jai Paul, Jai Paul (leak)
4. Beach House, Bloom
5. Twin Shadow, Forget

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. Nilüfer Yanya, Miss Universe
2. Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising
3. Helado Negro, This Is How You Smile
4. Stella Donelly, Beware of the Dogs
5. Tomb Mold, Planetary Clairvoyance


Solomon Gustavo

Contributor

2019 Best Tracks from the Best Albums

1. Solange feat. Playboi Carti, “Almeda” (When I Get Home)
2. Steve Lacy, “N Side” (Apollo XII)
3. Tyler, the Creator, “EARFQUAKE” (IGOR)
4. Jai Paul, “Genevieve” (Leak 04-13 [Bait Ones]}
5. Beyoncé, the horns in “Everybody Mad/Diva” (Homecoming: The Live Album)


Keith Harris

Music editor

2019 Albums (Local)

1. Dua Saleh, Nūr
2. Lady Midnight, Death Before Mourning
3. Velvet Negroni, Neon Brown
4. Nur-D, Songs About Stuff
5. Niiice., Never Better

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. Sir Babygirl, Crush on Me
2. Julia Jacklin, Crushing
3. Adia Victoria, Silences
4. DaBaby, Baby on Baby
5. 100 Gecs, 1000 Gecs

2019 Singles

1. Ciara, “Thinkin Bout You”
2. Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards”
3. Doja Cat feat. Rico Nasty, “Tia Tamara”
4. Big Thief, “Not”
5. PUP, “Free at Last”

2010s Albums (Local)

1. Dessa, A Badly Broken Code
2. Dylan Hicks, Ad Out
3. Dua Saleh, Nūr
4. Haley Bonar, Last War
5. P.O.S, We Don't Even Live Here

2010s Albums (Non-Local)

1. Pistol Annies, Interstate Gospel
2. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
3. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service
4. Jlin, Black Origami
5. tUnE-yArDs: w h o k i l l

2010s Singles

1. Robyn, “Dancing on My Own”
2. Miguel, “Adorn”
3. Azealia Banks, “212”
4. Taio Cruz, “Dynamite”
5. The Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band, “Do You Know Who I Am? I'm %$&in' Snooki!!”


Andrew Mannix
Friend of City Pages

2010s Albums

1. Cibo Matto, Hotel Valentine
The most underrated album of the decade came from the reunion of these Japanese expatriate trip-hop weirdos. If you don’t know Cibo Matto’s early work, which includes hits like “Sugar Water” (and a video directed by Michel Gondry) and an appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you might know singer Miho Hatori as the original Noodle of the Gorillaz. Hotel Valentine is a concept album about throwing oysters at ghosts, the secret lives of hotel maids, and motherfucking nature. And it’s very fun.

2. Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Kendrick gave us a lot of great music this decade, but nothing tops this epic storyform of life and death in Compton. Remember when it lost the Grammy for Album of the Year to Macklemore? What a world.

3. Big Thief, Masterpiece
From bangers (“Masterpiece”) to understated lovesick rock (“Paul”), the debut album from the (sorta kinda) local(ish) band introduced us to the versatility and heart of a new voice, and the singular talent of frontwoman Adrianne Lenker.

4. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
What a lovely surprise it was to get the gift of new music from David Berman. And what a tragedy it was when it all turned out to be a suicide note. Berman broke our hearts twice this year, but at least we have this final work to help us along.

5. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

Speaking of surprise returns: Tribe’s spectacular reunion record, after an 18-year hiatus, showed us how much we’ve been missing them.

Honorable mentions: Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs, all the other Big Thief albums, Skelethon by Aesop Rock, This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem.

2019 Albums

1. Big Thief, U.F.O.F. and Two Hands
The only thing better than waking up to a new Big Thief album was getting to do it twice. Instead of choosing one, I’m lazily giving my top spot to both. It’s not like Keith is paying me for this anyway. Hey Keith, why don’t you write up some true crime shit for me and send it on over this afternoon?

2. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
It’s tough that the year we got David Berman back is also the year we lost him for good. Purple Mountains is what he gave us to remember him by. The album sets heartbreaking lyrics (“The light of my life is going out tonight/As the sun sinks in the west/The light of my life is going out tonight/With someone she just met”) to slap-happy music that feels like Berman’s final bit of dark humor. It would be funnier if he were here to laugh with us.

3. Townes Van Zandt, Sky Blue
These long-lost recordings from the late, great outlaw country singer are a gift. From previously unreleased originals (“All I Need”) to new demos of the hits (“Pancho & Lefty” and “Rex’s Blues”) and chilling covers of folk murder stories (“The Hills of Roane County”), Van Zandt’s raw talent is on full display here. There will never be another one quite like him.

4. Julia Jacklin, Crushing
The Australian singer-songwriter has done something truly beautiful with her second album, a somber and simple exploration of body and mind. 

5. Night Moves, Can You Really Find Me
Since their 2012 debut, Colored Emotions, Night Moves have been a local band to watch. It’s exciting to see them reach their potential with Can You Really Find Me, a psychedelic rock album with ’70s vibes.

Honorable mention: Easy Way by Cactus Blossoms, plus, I don’t know, I probably forgot a bunch of albums I’ll regret not listing later.


Marcus Michalik

Contributor

2019 Albums

1. Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell!
2. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains
3. FKA Twigs, Magdalena
4. (Sandy) Alex G, House of Sugar
5. Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising

2019 Songs

1. (Sandy) Alex G, “Hope”
2. FKA Twigs, “Cellophane”
3. Ciara, “Thinkin Bout You”
4. Big Thief, “Not”
5. Madonna, “God Control”


Miguel Otárola

Friend of City Pages

2010s Albums

1. Jam City, Classical Curves
2. DJ Rashad, Double Cup
3. Jon Hopkins, Immunity
4. D’Angelo / The Vanguard, Black Messiah
5. Max Graef & Glenn Astro, The Yard Work Simulator

2019 Albums

1. Helado Negro, This Is How You Smile
2. Solange, When I Get Home
3. Florist, Emily Alone
4. Emily A. Sprague, Water Memory/Mount Vision
5. Floating Points, Crush
 

 

Alex Rice
Contributor

2019 Albums
1. Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars
2. Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride
3. Neil Young, Colorado
4. The Hold Steady, Thrashing Thru the Passion
5. Charly Bliss, Young Enough

2010s Albums
1. Arctic Monkeys, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino
2. Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
3. Wolf Alice, My Love is Cool
4. R.E.M., Collapse into Now
5. Ride, Weather Diaries


Erica Rivera

Contributor

2019 Albums (Local)

1. Lazerbeak, Luther
2. Under Violet, Under Violet
3. J.S. Ondara, Tales of America
4. Frankie Lee, Stillwater
5. Ryan Traster, Choses Obscures

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. Lana del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell!
2. The National, I Am Easy to Find
3. Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1
4. Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow
5. Clairo, Immunity

2019 Songs

1. Lana del Rey, “Norman Fucking Rockwell”
2. Foals, “In Degrees”
3. Billie Eilish, “Bad Guy”
4. Mark Ronson feat. Lykke Li, “Late Night Feelings”
5. Tycho, “Pink & Blue”

 

Danny Sigelman
Contributor

2019 Albums (Local)

1. The Nunnery, We Are the Stars
2. 4th Curtis, Invisible Ax
3. BrassZilla, All Day Music All Night
4. Prince, Originals
5. Mary Bue, The World Is Your Lover

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. Khruangbin, Hasta El Cielo
2. Cherry Glazerr, Stuffed and Read
3. Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow
4. Angel Olsen, All Mirrors
5. Post Malone, Hollywood's Bleeding


Erik Thompson

Clubs Editor

2019 Albums (Local)

1.Graveyard Club, Goodnight Paradise
2. Last Import, Last Import
3. Dua Saleh, Nūr
4. The Cactus Blossoms, Easy Way
5. Maple & Beech, Maple & Beech

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. Sharon Van Etten, Remind Me Tomorrow
2. Michael Kiwanuka, Kiwanuka
3. Fontaines D.C., Dogrel
4. Angel Olsen, All Mirrors
5. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Ghosteen

2010s Albums (Local)

1.Low, Ones and Sixes
2. P.O.S, We Don't Even Live Here
3. Leisure Birds, Tetrahedron
4. Haley Bonar, Last War
5. Two Harbors, The Natural Order of Things

2010s Albums (National)

1. David Bowie, Blackstar
2. Lorde, Melodrama
3. Beyonce, Lemonade
4. PJ Harvey, Let England Shake
5. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly


Youa Vang

Contributor

2019 Albums (Local)

1. JS Ondara, Tales of America
2. Jill Zimmerman, Universes
3. Humbird, Pharmakon
4. Maple & Beech, Maple & Beech
5. Jacob Pavek, Nome

2019 Albums (Non-Local)

1. Maggie Rogers, Heard It in a Past Life
2. Taylor Swift, Lover
3. Lizzo, Cuz I Love You
4. The Avett Brothers, Closer Than Together
5. Hozier, Wasteland, Baby!

2019 Songs (Local)

1. Chris Koza, "Where We Go"
2. Coyote Kid, "Femme Fatale"
3. Waltzing on Waves, "Being Near You, a Love Song for Introverts"
4. Bad Bad Hats, "Wide Right"
5. Gabe Barnett, "Robbinsdale"