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The most overlooked albums of 2019

This year was a huge year for music, so you probably missed a few under the radar records.

With release after release, 2019 was stacked, but there were some smaller albums that didn’t quite get the attention they deserved. From Big Thief’s powerfully intimate album Two Hands to MUNA’s expansive, yet vulnerable indie pop record Saves The World, we’ve put together a list of some of the most overlooked albums of 2019.

Check out the most overlooked albums of 2019 below.

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.” – Chelsea Brimstin

MUNA – Saves The World

Californian indie pop trio Muna have made their return with their expansive, vulnerable new indie pop record, Saves The World. The new record serves as the perfect sophomore record, as the trio let their dynamic, dreamy instrumentals weave through tales of heartbreak and trauma. Opening with “Grow,” the album launches into a desolate, sparse vocal landscape, making for a powerfully emotional entry into the 12-track record. From Robyn-style sad pop bangers like “Number One Fan” to the warping sounds of “Navy Blue,” this album is a forceful, driven record you’re sure to be playing on repeat. – CB

Greys – Age Hasn’t Spoiled You

Toronto-based punk outfit Greys continued to flex their ability to remain caustically inventive with their first new record in three years, Age Hasn’t Spoiled You. From the album’s brain-scrambling opening tones, to its ultimately accessible closer “Static Beach,” Greys’ 2019 effort is fearless exercise in abandoning punk conventions. – Scott Lewis


Aurora – A Different Kind of Human (Step II)

Aurora released a dynamic, conceptual art-pop record this year called A Different Kind Of Human (Step II). The record is diverse and inspired, as the Norwegian pop star has truly grown into a dynamic, intriguing artist, with this new record brings a focus on tribal percussion and choral-like vocal techniques. As the tracks build, the album sees Aurora exploring elaborate issues about the ecological crisis and the dangers of capitalism, while Aurora sings punchy lyrics like, “There is a flaw in man-made matters/ But you are pure and we have to get you out of here.” – CB

Pile – Green and Gray

Pile’s 2019 album Green and Gray confronts change out of the gate as frontman Rick Maguire sings “No longer burdened by youth / Not burning and open and raw like a wound,” on opener “Firewood.” The band moved its home base from Boston to Nashville in between 2017’s A Hairshirt of Purpose and its latest, while also undergoing some lineup changes with the departure of members Matt Becker and Matt Connery. Enter Music City, U.S.A., guitarist Chappy Hull, and bassist Alex Molini. The result is Maguire and Co.’s most political effort to date, and one of the year’s best. – SL


Eamon McGrath – Guts

Toronto-based singer-songwriter Eamon McGrath followed up 2018’s Tantramar with perhaps his best studio effort yet. Guts sees McGrath hit his stride a storyteller and songwriter, flat-out belting on the album’s title track and opener, then following it up with “City by the Lake,” which immediately stands among his best work. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with one of this country’s best songwriters yet, Guts is the entry point you can’t afford to ignore. – SL


Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe

London-based artist Nilüfer Yanya’s genre-bending debut album Miss Universesees 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. – CB

Pip Blom – Boat

Oddly enough, one of the year’s best Brit-pop inspired albums comes from Amsterdam-based quartet Pip Blom. Named after frontwoman Pip Blom, this sibling-led outfit makes simplistic guitar-driven alt-rock that recalls some of the 90s most iconic influences. – SL


Tim Baker – Forever Overhead

Former Hey Rosetta! frontman Tim Baker dropped his debut full-length solo album Forever Overhead, which is a delicate blend of piano-based ballads and empowering folk-pop anthems. With lively, dynamic instrumentals that will drive right into your bones, this album is the perfect spring record. Baker’s lyricism really takes the lead on Forever Overhead, as he sings poetic lines about nature and human connection like, “Slide like a spirit down the same old roads/ You’ve been haunting these hills since the morning you were born,” and “But the mainland calls to take me away/ Can take my life, but when I die/ I’m only going back to those valley black nights.” – CB

Heart Attack Kids – Bad Luck Like Gold

If you ever wondered what music made by kids who grew up listening to the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Cancer Bats, and Billy Talent would sound like, Heart Attack Kids is your answer. The sophomore release from guitarist/vocalist Jared Ellul and drummer Nathan Stock was recorded with Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier manning production duties, and it shows. Don’t sleep on this duo who churned out one of 2019’s most punishing punk rock albums. – SL

Prince Daddy & the Hyena – Cosmic Thrill Seekers

It was a big year for pop-punk and emo, and the latest from Albany, New York-based outfit Prince Daddy & the Hyena easily sits near the top of 2019’s best in genre. Cosmic Thrill Seekers is a concept album of sorts, flush with themes of busted relationships, drug trips, and the daily grind to find motivation. Recommended if you like PUP and Jeff Rosenstock. – SL


Jade Bird – Jade Bird

English musician Jade Bird dropped her highly-anticipated self-titled debut album this year. The dynamic, rowdy record is packed with a balance of punching, rambunctious rock tracks like “Going Gone” and impactful, vulnerable stripped-back ballads like “Does Anybody Know.” Bird truly knows the perfect way to use her powerhouse vocals, fluctuating between soft, sweet melodies and gritty, raspy, belt-your-heart-out wails, never overdoing her sudden blasts of powerful vocal finesse. – CB

Titus Andronicus – An Obelisk

Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles described his band’s 2018 album A Productive Cough as an attempt to “extricate Titus Andronicus from the punk scene” during their October date at the Mod Club in Toronto. That album was unlike anything the band had done before, subbing out raucous and anxious punk anthems for a decidedly more lounge room approach. Some people got mad, probably the ones Stickles and Co. were hoping to ruffle. An Obelisk is a return to the band’s punk roots, albeit with twist of classic rock. The Bob Mould-produced record is certainly a crowd pleaser for the band’s faithful, at least those who felt in on on the A Productive Cough exercise. – SL


Stef Chura – Midnight

If making 90s-inspired alt-rock is en vogue, then Stef Chura should sit near the forefront of the movement. The Detroit-based singer-songwriter enlisted Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest to work on the project as a producer and contributor, which is realized in some of the album’s sudden shifts from hushed moments to garage-inspired vocal explosions. Chura’s first release under Saddle Creek Records is a standout performance from one to keep an eye on for years to come. – SL


Operators – Radiant Dawn

Synth-pop trio Operators dropped a cinematic, immersive new album in 2019 called Radiant Dawn. The record 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.” – CB

Luke LaLonde – The Perpetual Optimist

Born Ruffians frontman Luke LaLonde has shared his sophomore solo album, The Perpetual Optimist. When chatting about the album, LaLonde explains that he frequently finds himself ending up in cemeteries, finding inspiration to write lyrics and poems. “So as I sit surrounded by decaying corpses and summer skies, waiting for a muse, I’ve realized, that’s what the record is about, more or less,” LaLonde explains in a statement. “I sense we’re all bound for that eternal rest. My pen hovers above the page and I think about humanity in the 21st century, suspended on a wire in a hurricane.” – CB

Ice Cream – Fed Up

Toronto duo Ice Cream, made up of Amanda Crist and Carlyn Bezic, released their vibrant, catchy sophomore album, FED UP. The 8-track effort comes packed with catchy beats, elaborate melodies, and killer rock-and-roll riffs as the pair sing about what it’s like “living under late capitalism and the male gaze,” according to a press release. From the silky, retro vibes of “Dove’s Cry” to the anthemic, grungy melodies on “Peanut Butter,” this album is a perfect exploration of modern dilemmas and broken systems. – CB

Origami Angel – Somewhere City

The 2019 emo revival received a late boost from D.C.-based duo Origami Angel’s November release, Somewhere City. For a band that’s released a Pokemon-inspired album, Somewhere City effectively functions as one of the genre’s most lyrically mature efforts from the past year. Instrumentally, Origami Angel have been ready for a while, living comfortably between math-rock and 2000s emo-inspired fare. If Ryland Heagy and Pat Doherty aspired to be something bigger, they’ve accomplished that feat, both sonically and emotionally. – SL


The Drew Thomson Foundation – The Drew Thomson Foundation

Single Mothers’ founder and frontman Drew Thomson released his self-titled album as The Drew Thomson Foundation via Dine Alone Records this year. The vulnerable new album sees Thomson putting his feelings at the forefront, as his lyrics explore sobriety, the death of a loved one, and pushing away the people close to him. “Where Single Mothers songs can come from the perspective of a character that I play and put on, this band is more about who I am in my day-to-day life,” Thomson explains. “It’s a lot more revealing of who I am now. I started playing music 10 years ago as a lost early 20s alcoholic. I’m now 33, sober, and still a mess but not quite a disaster.” – CB

Ada Lea – What We Say In Private

From Montreal, Quebec, musician Ada Lea released her debut album what we say in private this year. Ada Lea’s work on the album arose from a need to chronicle the end of a significant romantic relationship. Ada Lea also works as a painter and visual artist, and cites inspiration from artists in a variety of media, including Sylvia Plath, Frida Kahlo, Karen Dalton and Nina Simone. Over the course of six months she channeled emotional turmoil into painting and music, and ultimately found herself reborn with a new sense of freedom in her music. – CB

Fidlar – Almost Free

FIDLAR dropped their new album Almost Free this year. The album is raucous and playful, marking a big change for the California-based quartet, as they add unique flourishes and layered beats to their distinctive fun-loving lyrical bluntness. With standout tracks like “Can’t You See,” this album is full of a balance of catchy tunes and rowdy anthems. – CB

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary

Girlpool released their third album What Chaos Is Imaginary, and it comes packed with multi-faceted tunes ranging from powerful shoegaze ballads to experimental standouts. The band’s Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker have been making music together since they were teens, and this album really shows their transformation. What Chaos Is Imaginary is a complex, multidimensional collection of work, with bluntly vulnerable and introspective lyrics atop shoegaze and experimental instrumental tracks. – CB

Mappe Of – The Isle of Ailynn

Whitby, Ontario native Tom Meikle released a follow up to his Mappe Of project’s outstanding 2017 debut A Northern Star, A Perfect Stone. The multi-instrumentalist unveiled The Isle of Ailynn on Friday via Paper Bag Records. Mappe Of’s sophomore effort features nine tracks of conceptual experimental avant-folk music. Meikle’s voice is at the centre of most of the record, backed by imaginative and ethereal arrangements that evoke equal feelings of doom and hope. – CB

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