Saturday, December 28, 2019

My Favorite Albums of 2019

The order is, for the most part, negotiable by day. However, Orville Peck's Pony is absolutely the best and my favorite record of 2019.

Beth Gibbons/Henry Gorecki - Symphony No. 3 - Admittedly, I'm a bit of a rube when it comes to orchestral/classical music. I know what I like, but I don't necessarily know how to find it. Imagine my surprise when I saw Beth Gibbons name attached to this one. Gibbons, along with legendary composer/conductor Krzysztof Penderecki and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra deliver a rendition of Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3 that makes my heart both swell and sing with all the force of a cinematic thunderhead. Also, fantastic writing music.

Sunn O))) - Life Metal - PERFECT writing music, but beyond that, Sunn O)))'s Life Music, produced by Analog hero Steve Albini, contains a lot of rewarding textures that only reveal themselves after in-depth and multiple - and I mean multiple - listens. Easily my favorite record Sunn O))) has put out since 2009's Monoliths and Dimensions.

Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell - A late entry, this album is as calming as it is strange. Of course, at first glance, the strange is less than apparent, buried behind the subtle, acoustic pop sensibilities on display in the making and arranging of this record. But there's some pretty strange choices here when compared to what you get at first glance, and without having much of a history with Ms. Del Rey's earlier works, this one began as a curiosity for me and quickly grew into a calming obsession.

Blut Aus Nord - Hallucinogen - As much as I love Blut Aus Nord, I've come to terms with the fact that I don't love everything they put out. After a couple years of albums I've tried repeatedly to connect with and failed, Hallucinogen hit me from the opening chord and held me all the way through its runtime. My favorite thing they've released since 2012's 777 Cosmosophy.

The Thirsty Crow - Hangman's Noose - Yes, I am good friends with one of the members of The Thirsty Crows. Yes, I co-host two podcasts with him. Yes, I love his band. Do I love it because he's my friend? Yes, but that's not the only reason I love The Thirsty Crows. I also love them because they are A) Awesome live, and B) the only Rockabilly/Psychobilly band I have identified with since I was head over heels in love with The Reverend Horton Heat back in the mid/late 90s. That scene has broadened considerably, and while I dig a lot of it, I don't love any of it like I love the Crows. Their music is catchy AF, and dusty in a way that feels familiar and pleasing, like leaving the Joshua Tree Saloon at two in the morning hammered out of your skull and meeting people with drugs in the parking lot. "Drinking and drugging 'til six in the morning," yeah, I can't live that life anymore, but I can enjoy wicked ass thrashabilly songs about it.

Federale - No Justice - Another sun-drenched album, this one with enough cinematic flourish as to play like a Robert Altman flick from the 70s. No Justice is up there with my most listened to records this year, and it's been an absolute pleasure learning every nook and cranny of these songs.

Oh Baby - The Art of Sleeping Alone - What do you get when you have a band with a terrible name releasing an album with a fantastic name? Apparently, a hell of an album. Poppier than everything else represented here, this one scratched an itch that had lingered the last few years, a good dance/electro record with pop sensibilities and fantastic arranging, eschewing bubble gum for a kind of Neon Noir Dance Floor feeling.

Spotlights - Love and Decay - Beautiful beyond words from start to finish. Epic, haunted, brash, and polished, I absolutely love this album.

Boy Harsher - Careful - Dark LaLaLand electro that feels like old Revolting Cocks did the music for an alternate version of David Lynch's Lost Highway.

A dream, a lover's return, a haunted highway at night. Orbison, Lynch, Williams. Desert, tavern, danger. Pony is a place that I have always wanted to go to and now cannot stay away from for very long.

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