What a huge year for new music.
With unbelievable release after unbelievable release, it was tough to sift through all the new albums from this year, so we’ve put together a list of some of the top records in case you missed any! From Alex Lahey to Wintersleep, we’ve covered it all.
Check out the best albums of 2019 below.
Alex Lahey – The Best of Luck Club
Australian pop-punker Alex Lahey built upon her outstanding debut album with 2019’s The Best of Luck Club, a sophomore effort that recalls some of slacker rock’s finer moments. Lahey’s drawn comparisons to the likes of The Cure, Celebrity Skin era Hole, Paramore, and Tegan and Sara. While those comparisons are mostly apt, Lahey’s songwriting and direct approach to lyricism help The Best of Luck Club showcase what makes her one of the best up-and-coming indie artists out there.
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Angel Olsen has just released her fourth album All Mirrors in full. The album is a two-part project, of which All Mirrors is the first half. “In every way – from the making of it, to the words, to how I feel moving forward, this record is about owning up to your darkest side, finding the capacity for new love, and trusting change even when you feel like a stranger,” Olsen explained of the album on Facebook.
Amyl and The Sniffers – Amyl and The Sniffers
Melbourne punk quartet Amyl and the Sniffers released their self-titled record this year, which comes packed with killer rock riffs and ’70s grunge instrumentals. From fuzzed-out riffs to rowdy hooks, this raucous album is a must-listen for grungy punk lovers.
Ariana Grande – thank u, next
Ariana Grande’s thank u, next made huge waves this year with hit single after hit single. The 12-track album features fan favourites like “7 rings,” “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” and, of course, the record’s title track. thank u, next is the perfect pop album, filled with energetic instrumental lines, finessed vocals, and catchy hooks that are sure to get stuck in your head.
Beck – Hyperspace
Beck has released a dynamic, reflective new album called Hyperspace. The 11-track album features seven tunes that were co-written and co-produced by Pharrell Williams, and Hyperspace also sees guest features like Sky Ferreira, Terrell Hines, and Chris Martin. Serving as the follow-up to 2017’s Colors, this new record is more of a retro effort, packed with funk-driven beats, electric keys, and silky vocal lines.
Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
After Better Oblivion Community Center appeared online out of nowhere, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst have dropped a surprise self-titled album under the moniker. The album is delightfully dreary, with Bridgers’ and Oberst’s distinct melancholic vocals and confessional story telling taking the lead as they sing about desolation, devastation and, of course, death. “We get pegged as being emo and death-obsessed,” Conor Oberst explained to Billboard. “Things that we are,” Bridgers remarks in response.
Beyoncé – Homecoming: The Live Album
Beyoncé dropped her Netflix concert film this year, which came accompanied by Homecoming: The Live Album. The 40-track compilation was recorded at her headlining sets from Coachella, and it sees Beyoncé at her peak, truly shining and adding fun-loving twists to her renowned work. Homecoming: The Live Album varies from old hits like “Crazy In Love” to Lemonade tracks to the occasional deep cut.
Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
Billie Eilish has finally dropped her groundbreaking and spooky debut album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?. Eilish’s distinctive and unique genre of horror pop really takes the lead on the young singer-songwriter’s debut record, with eerie scary-movie-style beats and transient, intense vocal lines. Eilish may be only 17-years-old, but she knows who she wants to be and the kind of music she wants to make, as she has really honed her darkly complex, bewitching, angst-filled sound throughout these fourteen tracks. Although she’s really locked her persona in, there’s still a perfect balance of variation on the album, offering up a couple of slower, yet still moody tracks like “xanny” and “when the party’s over.”
Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
Brooklyn-based folk band Big Thief dropped U.F.O.F. this year, which is an expansive album backed by blood-curdling wails, complex layers of wandering instrumentals, and eerie lyrics. The band’s third record sees the silky, haunting voice of Adrianne Lenker backed by folk noir-style instrumentals as she sings prolific, peculiar, and spiritual tales that feel almost transcendent.
Big Thief – Two Hands
After releasing U.F.O.F. in May, Big Thief released their second album of 2019 with Two Hands. The new album was recorded almost entirely live in a studio in the desert. “Two Hands has the songs that I’m the most proud of; I can imagine myself singing them when I’m old,” frontwoman Adrianne Lenker explains in a statement. “Musically and lyrically, you can’t break it down much further than this. It’s already bare-bones.”
Bon Iver – i, i
Bon Iver’s fourth album i, i was released this year, and it sees Justin Vernon at his most raw, allowing his vocals to truly shine. The album marks the final record in a quadrilogy that sees For Emma, Forever Ago as winter, Bon Iver, Bon Iver as spring, and 22, A Million as summer. “It feels very much like the most adult record, the most complete,” Vernon explains in a statement. “It feels like when you get through all this life, when the sun starts to set, and what happens is you start gaining perspective. And then you can put that perspective into more honest, generous work.”
Brittany Howard – Jaime
Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard has dropped her debut solo album Jaime. The album is named after her late sister, who died of cancer when they were still teens. Jaime taught Howard to play piano and write poetry, and Howard states that “she definitely did shape me as a human being, but the record it not about her. It’s about me. I’m pretty candid about myself and who I am and what I believe. Which is why I needed to do it on my own.”
BROCKHAMPTON – Ginger
The latest from boy band BROCKHAMPTON lacks the presence of immediate club bangers like the group’s previous effort, but it makes up for it with a sense of cohesion. Ginger is the sound of a group treading into new territory. It’s not without dance-friendly tracks, as evidenced by the album’s third track “Boy Bye,” but overall it’s a more mature approach this time around, with themes of mental health awareness and navigating the band’s rapidly growing fame that stand out on their fifth full-length.
Cage The Elephant – Social Cues
Cage The Elephant dropped their expansive new album Social Cues, which varies from deep cut grooves to stripped-back hits, this year. The record, which was recorded in a variety of studios in Nashville and Los Angeles, explores the heartbreaking conclusion of a personal relationship as frontman Matt Shultz toys with the idea of self-examination. The record ranges from raucous, gritty bangers like “Broken Boy” and “House of Glass” to painstaking, raw ballads like “Love’s The Only Way” and “Goodbye.” Every track is jam packed with dynamic, elaborate instrumentals as Shultz sings inquisitive lyrics with his grainy, crooning vocals.
Daniel Caesar – CASE STUDY 01
Daniel Caesar made his return with aCASE STUDY 01, and it features Pharrell, Brandy, Sean Leon, and more. The 10-track collection marks Caesar’s first lengthy release since 2017’s Freudian, and according to a statement, it comes after a time in Caesar’s life where he was deeply struggling with depression, and was forced to confront his own mortality. “Everything dies, everything changes – I had to embrace that,” Caesar explains. “To not be so scared of failure.” Listening to CASE STUDY 01 feels like a cathartic experience, with vulnerable, analytical lyrics that explore spirituality, life, and death atop killer instrumental lines that are sure to get you grooving.
Danny Brown – uknowwhatimsayin?
Nothing stays the same in the world of Danny Brown. Where Atrocity Exhibition exhibited Brown’s penchant for getting dark and freaky, uknowwhatimsayin? is almost psychedelic in the Detroit rapper’s approach. The record was produced by A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, who helps Brown flex his signature quirkiness without interrupting his distinct flow.
Earl Sweatshirt – FEET OF CLAY
Earl Sweatshirt has found a formula. One of the year’s best hip hop records also happens to be one of its shortest, clocking in at just 15 minutes. Like 2018’s Some Rap Songs, Earl Sweatshirt opts to shelve filler for a straight-ahead approach that’s as unrelenting as you can get in such a short amount of time. Few rappers can wander this deep into their own shit while still sounding like they’re moving forward.
Florist – Emily Alone
The latest full-length from Brooklyn-based indie outfit Florist sits alongside Big Thief’s Two Hands in terms of just how raw it sounds. Emily Alone is that exactly, singer-songwriter Emily Sprague alone in the studio on this one. The result is one of the year’s most beautiful and personal records, which immediately sits atop the Florist catalogue.
Freddie Gibbs – Bandana
The second collaboration between Freddie Gibbs and producer Madlib sees the former deliver what’s arguably his best effort in a lyrical sense. Gibbs doesn’t necessarily abandon his gangsta rapper roots as he evolves into a more complete rapper. Even with the presence of iconic guests like Black Thought, Killer Mike, Pusha-T, and Yasiin Bey, it’s Gibbs who shines throughout. No best songs of the year list should be without “Flat Tummy Tea.”
FKA twigs – Magdalene
FKA twigs released Magdalene this year, which is a powerful album packed with raw emotion and an unmatched sense of vulnerability. “I never thought heartbreak could be so all-encompassing. I never thought that my body could stop working to the point that I couldn’t express myself physically in the ways that I have always loved and found so much solace,” FKA twigs explains of the record in a statement. “I have always practiced my way into being the best I could be, but I couldn’t do that this time, I was left with no option but to tear every process down.”
Haviah Mighty – 13th Floor
Brampton MC Haviah Mighty made waves with the release of her uncompromising album, 13th Floor, which went on to win the 2019 Polaris Music Prize. Haviah Mighty’s debut album explores the challenges she has faced as a rapper because of her gender and race. Over 13 genre-bending tracks, Mighty pays tribute to her family, who taught her how to persevere despite facing racism growing up.
James Blake – Assume Form
James Blake unveiled his follow-up to 2016’s The Colour in Anything with Assume Form. The dreamy new record is full of a slew of guest features including André 3000, Moses Sumney, Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, and Rosalía. Assume Form maintains Blake’s distinctive moody sound, but in the most accessible way to date. Instead of an album full of confessional break up ballads, he’s moved toward more upbeat, love-filled, pop-infused tunes.
Kim Gordon – No Home Record
Okay, who had the 66-year-old art-rock icon in the pool for best hip-hop record of 2019? So that’s hyperbolic for sure, but former Sonic Youth co-founder Kim Gordon certainly delivered one of the most unique albums of the year. Drawing on indie rock, noise rock, hip-hop, and fuzzed out electronic percussion, Gordon’s first solo effort was worth the nearly 40-year wait.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
Infest The Rats’ Nest marks King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s 15th album to date, and it was released just four months after Fishing For Fishies. “Drawing on the mid/late 1980s golden period of thrash metal – Metallica and Slayer, certainly, but also lesser-cited bands such as Exodus, Kreator, and Overkill – Infest The Rats’ Nest sees a wholly unexpected creative detour into new sonic terrain,” a press release explains.
King Princess – Cheap Queen
Rising pop star King Princess has released her powerful, transgressive debut album Cheap Queen. The full-length album is a glimpse at King Princess’ impressive dynamism, as she weaves in and out of genres with ease while letting her soothing, throaty vocals shine. The refined record is a sophisticated first effort from the young artist, as she leans in to her sexuality and her vulnerability on each and every track.
Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell is a haunting, dynamic record that ranges from the sultry nine-minute epic “Venice Bitch” to the evocative “California.” Del Rey reaches new heights when it comes to her songwriting abilities on this album. While all of the singles that were previously released truly embodied her signature sound, the other tracks on this album are what really shine, with highlights like the stripped back ballad, “Cinnamon Girl.”
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
Reigning pop goddess Lizzo has given us a gift with Cuz I Love You, which ranges from catchy hooks that you’ll be singing on repeat to elaborate tracks that highlight the artist’s vocal finesse. From the power behind the album’s title track to the upbeat energy of “Juice,” Cuz I Love You is a must-listen for all indie lovers.
Lucy Dacus – 2019
Lucy Dacus truly celebrated the holidays this year with her holiday series, 2019. The album sees Dacus delivering both covers and originals in celebration of everything from Valentine’s Day to Bruce Springsteen’s Birthday to Taurus Season. “Holidays are tough and I often write music to try to understand them, or listen to music to buoy myself through,” Dacus wrote on Facebook. “Over the past two years, I’ve been recording some holiday related songs that have been collecting dust, until now.”
Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life
After releasing a handful of singles and covers, Maggie Rogers has finally released her debut album, Heard It In A Past Life. The rolling, genre-bending album features previously released singles “Light On,” “Fallingwater,” “Alaska,” and “On and Off,” with each track on the album showcasing Rogers’ energetic, upbeat, and kind personality. The record explores vulnerability in the spotlight, and the push and pull an artist feels with staying true to themselves while being forced to live such a public life.
Mannequin Pussy – Patience
Since their 2013 debut album GP, Mannequin Pussy have treaded a fine line between relentless punk and more emo-inspired fare. Patience is a confluence of the band’s dynamic influences, and the band at its best. Vocalist Marisa Dabice turns in the band’s most playlist-friendly number yet with “Drunk II,” while balancing some of the band’s more aggressive roots throughout the album.
MUNA – Saves The World
Californian indie pop trio Muna have made their return with their expansive, vulnerable new indie pop record, Saves The World. Muna’s honest, conversational lyricism truly takes the forefront on Saves The World, with the cyclical narrative of “Stayaway” serving as a standout. The track, which allows the warping instrumentals to echo the track’s spiraling vocal lines, sees Muna weaving the story of a breakup with lines like, “If I go driving then I’ll put on music/ If I put on music then I’ll play your song/ If I play your song then I think I’ll lost it/ End up pulled up at the front of your lawn.”
The National – I Am Easy To Find
The National released a lengthy, dynamic album called I Am Easy To Find earlier this year alongside an accompanying short film. I Am Easy To Find recalls the likes of 2017’s Sleep Well Beast as the band continue to pursue their search for meaning in today’s peculiar landscape. What makes this album so refreshing is that Berninger’s distinctive crooning baritone comes accompanied by a variety of female voices on the new album, with Gail Ann Dorsey, Kate Stables, Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan, Eve Owen, Pauline de Lassus, and the Brooklyn Youth Choir lending their vocals to the timely tracks.
Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe
Miss Universe sees Yanya’s gritty, versatile vocal lines intertwining with killer, fuzzy guitar riffs and refined, shimmery synths. This is an album you’re going to want to play again and again, as each play will allow you to dive deeper past the elaborate instrumentals and into Yanya’s lyrical depth as she sings lines like, “Deep underwater I breathe/ Let me soak/ Chasing the shades of the love that we made, of the love that we broke.” The tracks have a straightforward textural intensity, with layers and layers of stacked grooves that make for a perfectly bluesy pop hybrid. From clicky synths to easygoing saxophones, this album’s got something for everybody, making for a powerful sense of accessible complexity.
Operators – Radiant Dawn
Synth-pop trio Operators delivered a cinematic, immersive record with Radiant Dawn. The album comes packed with nine tracks that combine a synthy interstellar instrumental with frontman Dan Boeckner’s crooning, emphatic vocal lines, making for a 70s dystopian-style album. Radiant Dawn is a perfect balance between ambient, retro bangers and bop-worthy futuristic anthems as Boeckner sings lyrics like, “I feel so disconnected/ Tossed upon the stormy seas again/ I spend days and nights in nowhere places/ but everywhere is a nowhere place it seems.”
Oso Oso – basking in the glow
It was a big year for the emo revival, and Oso Oso churned out one of the best full-lengths of the movement. Long Island singer-songwriter Jade Lilitri sheds a large share of the sadness and gloom that pervaded earlier efforts, which helps his third album reach new heights. basking in the glow is the result of an artist finding a balance between the pop sensibilities of influences like Jimmy Eat World and the accessible sombreness of say Death Cab For Cutie.
PUP – Morbid Stuff
Toronto punk foursome PUP dropped their explosive album Morbid Stuff in 2019, and it comes packed with a dynamic balance of anthemic rock tracks and heavy, raucous bangers. PUP has the ability to write such heavily energetic, powerful tracks that will leave you in a spew of tense emotions as frontman Stefan Babcock wails about elaborate lyrical themes, from the complexity of youth and to the death of a past lover. The raucous quartet have grown up with their audience, while maintaining their killer energy, bringing you some of their best tracks yet.
Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
2019’s most tragic album goes to Purple Mountains, which served as welcomed return to songwriting for Silver Jews frontman David Berman. And like that, he was gone. Berman passed away following the release of Purple Mountains’ debut. It’s a record that deals with themes of loss, divorce, and addiction, all in Berman’s unmistakable tone and often satirical approach to lyricism. Rest in power, David Berman.
(Sandy) Alex G – House of Sugar
(Sandy) Alex G’s House of Sugar revolves around Alex Giannascoli’s enigmatic songwriting. Filled with dreamy violins, existential lyrics, and pitch-shifted vocals, this album comes with the perfect balance of both sweet and sinister. The artist calls the album “the product of extended focus and planning” in a press release, referring to it as his “most meticulous, cohesive album yet.”
Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
Sharon Van Etten’s fifth album Remind Me Tomorrow marks the peak of the artist’s powerful songwriting career. With atmospheric instrumentals, Van Etten’s voice truly takes the lead on each and every track, as she sings of her experience in an abusive relationship, delivering vulnerable lines like, “You said, ‘Holy shit, you almost died.'”
Solange – When I Get Home
Solange’s fourth studio album When I Get Home is truly an exploratory album, ranging from a sort of spiritual jazz to silky R&B hits. The record sees Solange singing commemorating her hometown, Houston, encapsulating the city as a memory. With ephemeral bass-heavy hits and shimmering synthesizers and samples, this elaborate album truly serves as a standout of 2019.
Spielbergs – This Is Not The End
There is so much to like about the debut album from Norwegian trio Spielbergs. On the surface, it’s perfectly executed power-pop that’s as melodic as it is raucous. Lyrically and structurally, This Is Not The End can sit among Japandroids’ most party-ready anthems, while appeasing devotees to the likes of Explosions in the Sky and Fucked Up. This is a band to keep your eye on, who also released a 2019 EP Running All The Way Home that just as easily could have made this list.
Tool – Fear Inoculum
Prog metal outfit Tool released their first album in 13 years with Fear Inoculum. With nothing but interludes clocking in at less than ten minutes, Fear Inoculum is a 10-track effort that features expansive, innovative tunes that truly reinvent the wheel. In distinctive Tool fashion, the album takes what we know and love from the band and adds even more layers, which means this album is definitely going to take you on a wild trip.
Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride
Vampire Weekend’s versatile album Father of the Bride comes packed with jangly indie rock tunes that vary from sunny, celebratory tracks with a mild country twang to gritty, folksy alternative tunes that let the guitar lines take the lead. While previous releases see frontman Ezra Koenig obsessively focusing in on technology and the digital landscape, Father of the Bride expands Koenig’s view as he explores themes of nature and the current political climate. As the album progresses, it weaves in and out of a variety of genres, from the prog rock vibes of “Sunflower (feat. Steve Lacy)” to 70’s-influenced bops like “Stranger.”
Wintersleep – In The Land Of
In The Land Of spans from some upbeat and energetic songs to dark and broody tracks. The album brings forward the feelings of nature, such as the lovely land in Nova Scotia, the bands home. Frontman Paul Murphy explains to The Coast, “I think everyone can connect to it on some level for sure. Some of it’s geographical, but it’s also more psychological land as well, and emotional land. It’s not just about actual, physical land.”