Looking back at 2019 I realize it has been one intense but amazing year. It was especially good for the music world – this year we saw some extremely well-executed releases by bands and artists that might as well shape the next generations of music.
It has been a ride and I want to conclude the year by talking about the best albums of 2019. It would be blasphemy if I don’t do my annual “year conclusion”* type of post. In a way, this might also demonstrate just how high the bar has been set for the next few years of music.
Musicwise 2019 has been a year of love, deep self-reflection, overcoming fears and anxiety, empowerment, and great comebacks. From soul-infused hip-hop, through classic rock, new wave electronic, all the way to reinvention of metalcore, we have seen it all this year.
There has been an overwhelming (in a good way) amount of new releases from veterans in the mentioned genres as well as breakthrough artists making one hell of an entrance into the industry. I get excited just thinking about all of this and how good things are looking for those artists.
There is a lot to cover, but I will keep it as short as possible and focus on the highlights. There is a big chance I might miss some good albums in the mess of awesomeness and I would love to hear your thoughts – which albums do you think shaped 2019?
Without further ado, let’s get to my personal list.
Amo – Bring Me The Horizon
25th of January; Genre: Alternative Rock
Bring Me The Horizon keep getting hate and negative comments for their bold experimentation.
However, I think this experimentation is one of the main reasons they managed to turn into the most influential rock act of the year. Not to mention they keep producing some of the best music in the scene.
Amo was a great follow up to That’s The Spirit (2015). It is conceptual and extremely well-executed revolving around (the positive and negative aspects of) love. Including a diverse mix of genres, electronic elements, old-schools screams, mesmerizing sound effects, and classic hardcore guitar and drum instrumentals the record is an absolute delight. Not to mention the level-up when it comes to visuals and live performance of the band.
Whether you like the direction BMTH are going or not, you cannot deny the incredible amount of work, creativity, and passion they have put into their music. I actually think this is one of their best works yet, in any case, things are looking bright.
Read my full Amo album review here.
The Great Expanse – Hilltop Hoods
22nd of February; Genre: Hip-hop
One of Aussie hip-hop’s biggest acts came back with a stunning album this year.
Hilltop Hoods took their time after the 2016’s beautiful and extremely emotional Restrung Version album of Drinking From The Sun, Walking Under Stars for a reason and came back in the proper way.
The Great Expanse is an incredible, empowering, and comforting journey of emotion-invoking songs with down-to-earth, eye-opening lyrics in the classic Hilltop Hoods style. They never fail to touch your most delicate and sensitive parts and leave you inspired and motivated to live life to the fullest. A quality I highly look up to.
The great rhythm, nice flow, and high quality beats only add up to the positives of the record – an absolute must-hear.
SO WHAT? – While She Sleeps
1st of March; Genre: Metalcore
While She Sleeps have seen a lot lately but they managed to emerge with their strongest record yet. I keep getting more and more amazed and my love for the band is rapidly growing.
SO WHAT? has an incredibly relevant concept and the typical for the band eye-opening, powerful, and relatable lyrics. The fourth full-length by the British metalcore hurricane is one of great development and evolution. It unites the heavy metalcore sounds with irresistible melodic elements, gentle singing, lots of a cappella and choir elements and even some contemporary electronics.
All of this makes the genre elevate to another level. United with the relevant messages and incredible energy of the band SO WHAT? easily takes the spot of one of the most necessary albums of the year which everyone needs to hear at least once (seriously the topics are beyond relevant).
Read my full article on While She Sleeps + SO WHAT? album review here
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO – Billie Eilish
29th of March; Genre: Indie/Alternative/Pop
It is undeniable Billie Eilish has taken over the world by storm. Her debut album was executed with such satisfying precision and obvious passion it is hard to deny its power and elegance.
WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO depicts the unveiling of Billie’s potential and creativity in a beautiful way. It consists of songs with deep emotion and powerful claim of ground which shift moods between tear-jerking and badass in a way only Eilish and her team are able to pull off. And I am quite sure this is just the start for the rising music icon.
Read my full WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO album review here
Ventura – Anderson .Paak
12th of April; Genre: Hip-hop
Anderson .Paak went back to the roots of RnB and soul/jazz-infused hip-hop with his fourth studio album.
Ventura is a tap into a different side of hip-hop from what Paak usually operates in but it is equally stunning. Beautiful, sensual, emotional, and honest the album is a great mix of hip-hop with various well-working influences and heartfelt lyrics which will touch your soul. It shows a different side of the rapper I hope we will see more of.
The artist has been a solid hard-worker producing incredible music since day one but I definitely think Ventura is a strong step ahead and another conquered achievement. It just fills you up with a specific feeling which is hard to describe in words.
Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow – YONAKA
31st of May; Genre: Alternative Rock
One of my favorite discoveries this year is a formation from Brighton, UK which once again proves the unstoppable might of British rock music.
Their alluring style, empowering messages, and obvious passion for music are impossible to miss. A great combination of old-school rock and modern sounds the band is taking rock to the next level and making small but confident steps towards building a long-lasting legacy.
Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow is an incredible start of their career packed with high-quality rock and uplifting messages presented in the best possible way. Don’t miss out.
Read my full Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow album review here
Hotel Diablo – Machine Gun Kelly
5th of July; Genre: Hip-hop
I think 2019 has been the year when many artists and bands emerged with some of their best albums yet. The situation is not different with the Cleveland Rap Devil.
Hotel Diablo was highly anticipated and it proved to be an exceptionally well-done record. MGK dived deep into his personal traumas, fears, and self-reflection while also reminding listeners that he will not bow down to anyone.
The album also featured effective collaborations which took it to the next level and represented a concept worth look into in detail.
Read my full Hotel Diablo album review here
How Do You Love? – The Regrettes
18th of July; Genre: Punk-Rock
We saw a lot of albums revolving around love this year. However, there is one which is completely and undividedly focused on the concept of love and its various representations and side-effects.
How Do You Love? takes a close look at each aspect of the feeling of love, the risks, the joy, the consequence, the pain – all emphasized by nitpicky details from the everyday life of vocalist Lydia Night. This makes the album even more emotionally impactful and it is unavoidable to take a trip down the memory lane when you listen to it.
Executed to perfection the album is a well-working combination of old-school punk-rock, ballad-like elements, and modern beats and instrumentals enhancing the experience for each track in the right way. Combined with Lydia’s unique voice this makes the album an absolute must-hear.
Read my full How Do You Love? album review here
The Search – NF
26th of July; Genre: Hip-hop
Back to the hip-hop masterpieces – The Search easily takes one of the top spots. Being a conceptual album once again focused on highly in-depth self-reflection, facing the past, and overcoming fears it represents hip-hop of highest quality.
NF is an artist who I often refer to as one of the most underrated acts in the scene. His distinguishable style, incredibly effective way of delivery, and absolutely honest and open lyrics are an example of what hip-hop in modern days should sound like.
As you would expect from the artist he goes into the darkest corners of his mind (or rooms of his mansion as he likes to say) and faces regret, trauma, anxiety, and depression extracting touching emotions and personal stories to make his point. All of this during a delightful 20 songs tracklist.
His lyrics are top-notch, his flow is flawless, and The Search is (saying it once again for a 2019 release) probably his best work yet. Witty references to past songs and events are included in a subtle way to make hardcore fans jump in excitement and make the album complete.
Read my full The Search album review here
A Modern Tragedy Vol 3 – Grandson
13th of September; Genre: Alternative Rock
It wouldn’t feel right not to put one of the most relevant releases of the year in this post. Ruthlessly exposing society’s self-destructive behavior and corrupted mindset the third volume of Grandson’s Modern Tragedy takes another set of urgent issues that need to be talked about.
Grandson quickly turned into one of the most important artists of our time. His music is fueled by his anger, disappointment, and will to open people’s eyes about how stupid we are acting as a society and how we keep stacking and hiding dangerous issues instead of trying to solve them as one unit.
His music is exposing negative human characteristics and self-destructive behavior (on a personal and global level) with razor-sharp lyrics and revolutionary mix of modern rock, alternative, punk, and hip-hop.
The artist strongly reminds me of the British punk-rock tornado Yungblud with his provocative and unfiltered stunts and music. Both of them are quickly turning into representations of a disturbed, undervalued, and oppressed generation. And I think we really need that.
Read my full thoughts on A Modern Tragedy Vol 1-3 here
MCID – Highly Suspect
1st of November; Genre: Alternative Rock
The return of Highly Suspect was one done well. The band came back with an album that blended genres and created a unity of hip-hop, metalcore, alternative, and 2000’s rock in the most effective way possible.
The album fits into the category of deep self-reflection and features incredible collabs with the likes of Gojira, Young Thug, and my personal dream – one with Nothing But Thieves.
The songs don’t fail to invoke emotion and make you stop and think about your own life for a while. However, the strongest point of MCID for me is the bold experimentation, clear maturing, and promising evolution of style.
A confident step ahead for the career of the band and a ground-shaking return MCID definitely is one of the most interesting releases of the year.
Read my full MCID album review here
MAGDALENE – FKA Twigs
8th of November; Genre: FKA Twigs
I was blown away by FKA Twigs’ latest release. The thing with the artist is you never really know what to expect from her but you can be sure it is going to be a refined piece of art.
MAGDALENE is exactly that – unpredictable but highly impactful display of art. It goes beyond music and taps into the mind state of the artist with haunting precision.
Fragmented lyrical content mixed in with a cappella, choir elements, modern electronic, and distorted beats create a beautiful mess which represents the topics explored quite well. FKA Twigs shows maturity and dwells into her recent experiences embracing pain, loneliness, and suffering in a way that makes it weirdly comforting.
The artist sends inspiring messages of encouragement and mixes in elements of women empowerment and relationship-focused themes. All the diverse segments fit into the concept of the album in a surprisingly well-working way.
The album is packed with unexpected twists and futuristic sonic elements and transmits the mood and feelings of the artist painfully well. United with a stunning video choreography MAGDALENE is definitely an album with perfect execution which you will find either disturbing or elevating, there is no in-between.
Read my full MAGDALENE album review here
Those 12 albums make up my list of the music that defines 2019 and I think they really deserve the attention.
However, I cannot help myself to include some other records that I think you should hear. All of them have made a significant difference in the music scene and deserve all the love.
Now, Not Yet by Half-Alive (Alternative/Indie) – Released on the 9th of August
Half-Alive also made their debut full-length with a stunning album. It is a great hint about the future of pop-rock innovation and has tracks that will make you fully alive.
Norman F*cking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey (Indie) – Released on the 30th of August
We should all be aware of Lana’s genius and compelling charm by now. She is one of the most recognized voices of our generation and her music is melting (and breaking) hearts worldwide. Norman F*cking Rockwell! is another polished addition to her already stunning discography.
The Underrated Youth by Yungblud (Punk-rock) – Released on the 18th of October
I already said it but Yungblud is one of the most relevant artists nowadays.
He is doing his best to accomplish his mission and make outcasts and misfits feel comfortable in their skin and love each other for who they are. And he is damn successful with it – from public stunts to incredible live shows which feel more like a family meeting to his spot-on songs representing an entire generation. The Underrated Youth gives hope and reminds listeners they are NEVER alone in their struggles.
Hallucinations by PVRIS (Pop-rock/Indie) – Released on the 25th of October
PVRIS is a band with charm, style, and personality. They go to the darkest places in their minds and bring out the emotions which most of us try to hide instead of embrace.
Hallucinations is a short but worthwhile EP showing the band’s experimentation and capabilities quite well.
Special Occasion by Merkules (Hip-hop) – Released on the 1st of November
I discovered Merkules years ago and wrote about his potential and undeniable ability to get to the top. He has been proving me right all this time and this year he released another great album with original songs displaying his rap game skills and dwelling on self-reflection and probable future.
Mind The Moon by Milky Chance (Indie/Alternative) – Released on the 15th of November
Milky Chance is another one of those bands with strong and recognizable styles. They create a certain mood and use it to produce deep yet uplifting tunes accompanied by great lyrics.
Mind The Moon is the latest masterpiece of the German duo and it once again proves they have a lot more to give to listeners.
With 18 albums in total, I still feel I am missing something. And I probably am, this year has been mindblowing in all possible aspects.
I would love to hear your thoughts on which albums and artists shaped 2019, you can reach out to me in social media and let me know.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let’s see what 2020 brings on the table, I am looking forward.
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