Another year has ended, and once again all the music critics gave their assessment of the year's best releases and retreated to their dens, where they will sleep until the blossoming of new albums and songs in the spring. We at WBCR were a little late in putting out our lists of the year's best, but we think the strength of our picks will make up for it.
Yeule, Serotonin II Pixel Grip, Heavy Handed SadGirl, Water The Growlers, Natural Affair (Sandy) Alex G, House of Sugar
Serotonin II was the first album released by Yeule and shows a lot of potential for her future work. Her sound is unique and refreshing and female electronic artists are kick-ass. The album is dreamy and haunting at the same time and Yeule's vocals are fantastic.
Geof Bradfeld, Our Roots
Mild High Club, Skiptracing
Mild High Club, Timeline
Marquis Hill, Modern Flows, Vol. 2
Bridges, Kiefer’s 2019 release was such a happy and uplifting album from the L.A. pianist. Fresh out of a tour with Mndsgn, it slides away from Kiefer’s remarkable be-bop/hip-hop piano sound and starts his true emergence as an artist. With songs like “Cute,” and “Green Crayon,” Kiefer reveals his talent for electronic composition, featuring gorgeous synth tones and harmonies that add to the “hi-fi” hip-hop groove. These contemplative bangers fit a lot of my moods this past year, and his music on this project did more to my humanity than simply scratching the musical itch.
JPEGMAFIA, All My Heroes Are Cornballs Girlpool, What Chaos Is Imaginary Clairo, Immunity Blood Orange, Angel’s Pulse Nilüfer Yanya, Miss Universe
Cornballs is inventive, dynamic, and intimate. Sprinkled with conversation and commentary, listening to the album feels as if you’re with Peggy while he’s creating it.
Dreamville, Revenge of the Dreamers III
Pivot Gang, You Can’t Sit With Us
Burna Boy, African Giant
Steve Lacy, Apollo XXI
Ari Lennox, Shea Butter Baby
Revenge of The Dreamers III included the best and brightest rappers 2019 had to offer. The album begins with “Under The Sun,” a shoutout to North Carolina that is truly pure gold. The singles “Down Bad,” “Middle Child,” and “Sacrifice” featuring Earthgang, Smino, Saba, and J. Cole and others really set this album apart. The latter is the most reflective song on the album. It immediately softens your heart and opens your mind.
Vulfpeck, Live at Madison Square Garden
The Beatles, Abbey Road (Super Deluxe Edition)
Hall and Oates, The Complete Atlantic Albums
Orville Peck, Pony
Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride
Vulfpeck is a phenomenal band, but most people who love them, like me, were skeptical if they would be as amazing live, but the album they released this year put all the rumors to rest.
Cate Le Bon, Reward
black midi, Schlagenheim
King Gizzard, Infest the Rat's Nest
DEHD are a Chicago-based indie rock group who put out their second album, Water, in 2019. It's a super catchy, listenable album filled with songs about love and happiness and heartbreak. I definitely listened to it like a million times this year.
Haley Heynderickx, I Need To Start A Garden
Blood Orange, Angel’s Pulse
Lola Kirke, Heart Head West
All of these albums capture the distinctive sounds I look for in music - very cathartic melodies, transitions, heavy bass. The lyrics and overall narratives of each album reminds me how music is healing and helps process things we would otherwise not be aware of.
Orville Peck, Pony
Mattiel, Satis Factory
FKA Twigs, MAGDALENE
Hana Vu, Nicole Kidman/Anne Hathaway
Lizzo, Cuz I Love You
I think Orville Peck is a national treasure! I find that I rarely love every song on an album but I can listen to Pony all the way through. He’s truly changing the game with his voice and his aesthetic. There’s so many gay emotions on this album and who doesn’t love that.
Caroline Polachek, Pang
Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising
Chief Keef, GloToven
Lingua Ignota, Caligula
Oneohtrix Point Never, Uncut Gems (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2019 was a banner year for female pop artists with a rabid fanbase and consistent critical approval but limited commercial success—both Carly Rae Jepsen and her fellow perpetual never-was Charli XCX released great albums—but my favorite of them was Pang, the newest release by former Chairlift frontwoman Caroline Polachek. The songs carry the polish and craftsmanship of an earlier class of professional songwriter, and are furnished with bouncy slick dance-pop arrangements, which glide along like the summer of 1985, when Madonna and Scritti Politti were still the most cutting-edge artists in the top 40, never ended. She's a multicolored daydream diva for aging millennials falling asleep at 11 PM after two episodes of GLOW and a warm glass of kratom.