Year-end lists (or “best-of”s as most people term them) are extremely hard for me to compile. I listen to (and buy) a lot of music from day-to-day & despite my best efforts truly cannot keep up with the sheer magnitude of quality recordings coming out each year – and 2019 was a pretty fucking great year for music. So here’s my best shot at compiling a list of my “10 Most-Listened-To” albums from 2019 (plus five honorable mentions). They’re in alphabetical order to avoid any sort of ranking, because honestly ranking something as “best” or assigning a numerical rating seems antiquated & frankly diminishes great art, IMHO. (Trouble In Mind Records releases are excluded, for conflict of interest, but it’s safe to say that anything we’d be investing thousands of dollars releasing is – in our opinion – worth your time). Hope you enjoy & possibly discover something new. Support independent artists & record labels!
If you thought 2018’s Lost and Found was a brilliant pop record, you better get prepared to be blown away by En Attendant Ana‘s follow-up, Juillet. Their opening single alone packs this incredible punch, moving through the various stages of intoxicating pop. You get thirty seconds of this dreamy performance and soaring vocals; the vocals stick around, but the band build in this furious rhythmic pulse accented by little angular guitar plus and machine gun drum rolls. But, the band wouldn’t have landed on such a special label like Trouble in Mind if they weren’t willing to push boundaries and expectations; they spend a good part of the song’s latter half flirting with discord and experimentation, only to bring back the vocals to complete the full pop circle as the song draws to a close. Could your favorite song of the year just now be popping up? Yeah, yeah it could. Juillet will be out on January 24th via TiM.
When watching this new Parsnip video, I honestly was perplexed; I’m still perplexed, which ultimately is the point, I reckon…to leave you thinking after you’ve watched. It’s filled with beautiful scenery, choreographed dance and Victorian-nutcracker attire crafted by Tim Burton. But, while I was mesmerized and trying to figure out what I was watching, my ears were burning with joy. Guitar lines jangle in psychedelic fashion while the rhythm section employs the proper cymbal work to keep this mystical enchantment. The Melbourne quartet will release their debut When the Tree Bears Fruit on August 30th via Trouble in Mind Records.
Everyone raved about Everybody Split when it came out, but it was a super limited release for Possible Humans, barely making its way overseas. Now, however, we’re all getting a chance to get our hands on that heralded LP, thanks of course to Trouble in Mind. Today they’ve shared a video for “Lung of the City,” which mostly features live footage lurking on the horizon why we’re shown footage of a graveyard; it matches the ominous tone of the song’s lyrics…while it’s okay to not be scared to die alone, it’s ultimately an inevitability. I love how this song just sits really open; there’s that vocal hook of the chorus, but most of the track’s about the band’s ability to flex their musical muscles. The reissue of the LP will be out on August 2nd.
Last week I was off adventuring, so please excuse my tardiness to the great new single from Aussie outfit Parsnip, who’ve just recently announced their debut LP via the esteemed Trouble in Mind Records. It’s an interesting track for me; I can hear bits of casual jangle in the way the guitars come across, but they also seem to have this more rolling rhythmic stomp to them. That rhythm allows the natural playfulness to come in via the vocal delivery, and especially in the backing vocals; it’s like a busload of hip teenagers singing their favorite song as they ride back from camp. I dig it, so you can bet I’ll be picking up When the Tree Bears Fruit on August 30th.
Someone reached out the other day to ask me what I’d been listening to a lot, and I had two albums on repeat pretty much the entire week, one being Olden Yolk‘s Living Theatre (the other is that Martha record!). Musically, it’s a magical journey that’s far more diverse than I expected, and I mean that in the best way possible…”Grand Palais” gives you another look at the band’s new LP. There’s these psychedelic elements, though they often end up being disguised beneath these textured layers of sort of Spector-esque pop vibes; it’s disorienting and captivating, and ultimately emphatic with the drumming of Booker Stardrum (what a name!). It even closes with this little spoken word jam journey, further spinning the band and the listener into a pop spiral! Living Theatre is out May 17th via Trouble in Mind Records.
I spent a lot of time with the first Olden Yolk record; my wife and I played it a lot when our daughter was born just because it was both beautiful and quiet. Having spent some time with the band’s new LP, I’m really excited for folks to listen to it; it has the band branching out, expanding their palate. On this new single, Caity Shaffer completely steals the show, stringing her deep, dulcet tones across a sparse musical landscape, filled with this solitary pulse and tinkering piano line. It’s a solemn number, matched by the black and white video work that accompanies the single today. Living Theatre has the group growing into something far more captivating then even I (a fan) expected; it’s out on May 17th via Trouble In Mind.
When I think back to my listening last year, it definitely involved a great bit of Olden Yolk; it was a special favorite when we first had our daughter and needed something light to listen to in her presence. Today Shane and Caity announce their return with Living Theatre, a new effort for Trouble in Mind Records. Once the opening strum of the guitars fades away here, you can tell that there are grander goals in the songwriting with this new album; I love the little notes underneath the surface like the way the keys build gradually or the little hint of a shaker that draws your ear nearer. Somehow, they’ve crafted a sound that still has the intimacy of their first release, yet offers up broader sounds that pervade your listening surroundings. Look for Living Theatre on May 17th.
The ringing guitars that open this new track from FACS don’t really paint the song’s full picture; they almost seem bright and chiming. That feeling is fleeting, as the ominous vocals quickly haunt the track for the following two minutes, all the while, gurgles pop up from beneath the song’s surface. From there on out the song churns and buzzes it’s way through cavernous spaces, creating an anxiousness that ebbs and flows throughout the song’s remaining minutes. A song that moves from dark pop to industrial experimenting? Yep…you’ll love it. Lifelike will debut on March 29th via Trouble In Mind Records.
Resonars seem to have been around since forever, consistently putting out releases for nearly 30 years. Well, there’s good news, as the band have a new LP coming your way via Trouble In Mind Records. Much of the record has the group working in familiar power-pop territory, but that’s not the case in the tune below…which closes out the album. It opens with this huge circling guitar chord, ringing out whilst the vocals let us softly slide into the track. Drum beats drop in, harmonies soar and you’re transported to the highest levels of guitar-pop, where few deign to go. It almost feels like the closing number to some incredible medieval soundtrack where the hero gets carried off into the sunset. No Exit will be out on April 19th!