The 2019 Album of the Year

Lana Del Rey, Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Polydor/Interscope) Back in the mid-2010s I attended a panel discussion whose topic was something to the effect of, “Why are there no classic albums anymore, and what makes a true classic album?” There was a lot of good discussion, but the conversation kept drifting away from the crux of […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #2

2. FKA twigs, Magdalene (Young Turks) Although it was completely understandable that it took Tahliah Barnett five years to put out a full-length follow-up to 2014’s LP1 – she experienced a crushing end to her long-term relationship and then underwent surgery to have six fibroid tumours removed from her uterus – the music world was […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #3

3. Opeth, In Cauda Venenum (Nuclear Blast) When Opeth decided to eschew the extreme metal element of their sound after 2008’s Watershed in favor of a more progressive rock-oriented approach, it angered a lot of their obsessive fans. Ten years and four albums later, those fans are still whining that Mikael Åkerfeldt doesn’t growl his […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #4

4. Tool, Fear Inoculum (Tool Dissectional) Back in 2006, a veritable lifetime ago, I reviewed Tool’s sixth album. I wasn’t overly fond of, if I can recall. Coming five years after the triumphant Lateralus, 10,000 Days had its great moments but I found it far too drawn out, too meandering to warrant a full recommendation, […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #5

5. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) Singer-songwriter Natalie Mering had been building toward something big over the course of her first three albums under the Weyes Blood moniker, but in spite of whatever expectations people might have had, nothing could have prepared them for the blindsiding grandeur of Titanic Rising. A combination of […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #6

6. Jenny Hval, The Practice of Love (Sacred Bones) For an artist as daring and non-traditional as Jenny Hval, to see her tackling a theme as banal as love is enough to make one do a double-take. She even addressed the seeming incongruity in a press release. “Love as a theme in art has been […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #7

7. Sleater-Kinney, The Center Won’t Hold (Mom + Pop) One of the most admirable characteristics of venerable Portland trio Sleater-Kinney has been the fearlessness they’ve displayed for more than two decades. They confront, they agitate, and they continually defy expectations, which, ironically, is exactly what shook many in their 40s out of their middle-aged stupor […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #8

8. Charly Bliss, Young Enough (Barsuk) How great was the second half of 2019? Well, back at the end of June, Charly Bliss’s fabulous second album was my favourite of the year so far, and now it’s at number eight. Don’t let that diminish Young Enough, though, but it was easily the biggest surprise of […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #9

9. Rammstein, Rammstein (Universal) Rammstein rivals Tool when it comes to making new music, but like Tool, it is always worth the wait. Still, though, although I was very much looking forward to Rammstein’s seventh album, I was not expecting it to be as strong as it turned out to be. What makes the band […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #10

10. Danko Jones, A Rock Supreme (Rise Above) As I’ve mentioned many times before, I am subjected to an inordinate amount of bro-ey rock music at my place of employment, and as much as I’ve had to tune out the same male rock music from the ’70s through the ’90s, I also have to hear […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #11

11. Black Mountain, Destroyer (Jagjaguwar) Music critics will never admit it, but as much as they publicly deny it, they rely on press kit bios and one-sheets a lot. The trick is to work the little factoids and anecdotes into the piece without making it look like a cut-and-paste job, but there are plenty of […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #12

12. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Infest the Rats’ Nest (Flightless) Metal nerds hate genre tourists. Hate them. The whole “culture”, if you want to call it that, is so afraid of outside influences and musicians who dabble in metal that it’s paranoiac. According to many, you have to be all-in, a lifer, a […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #13

13. Chelsea Wolfe, Birth of Violence (Sargent House) Initially a strange, black metal-referencing curiosity at the beginning of the decade, Chelsea Wolfe has metamorphosed into a genre-bending artist who has been able to attract audiences from a wide spectrum of music. Being such a clingy crowd, the metal scene particularly took an obsessive shine to […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #14

14. Tove Lo, Sunshine Kitty (Universal) It’s been great fun hearing Tove Lo evolve as an artist over the past decade. The highly conceptual Queen of the Clouds remains a near-classic debut, while Lady Wood and Blue Lips headed into considerably darker territory. The sad aspect of sour relationships, which Tove always showed a great […]

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The Best Albums of 2019, #15

15. Pup, Morbid Stuff (Little Dipper) Back in 2016 when I was a member of the Polaris Music Prize Grand Jury, I was required to immerse myself in all ten short list finalists, as well as create a detailed endorsement and defense of one assigned title. At the time the Toronto punk band Pup was […]

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