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Allmusic 2019

Year In Review

As another year draws to a close, it's time to reflect on the albums that surprised us, the albums that got their hooks in, and the albums we continue to revisit. Newcomers Billie Eilish and Megan Thee Stallion made waves with their debuts, reliable artists Mark Ronson, Andrew Bird, and Angel Olsen proved why they remain top-notch, and Tool, Vampire Weekend, and that dog. made long-awaited returns.

440 / Juan Luis Guerra / Juan Luis Guerra y 440

Literal

The godfather of bachata delivers an unabashedly romantic summertime record filled with a panoramic assortment of rhythms.

A-Wa

Bayti Fi Rasi

The Israeli sisters' sophomore set is a rhythmic wonder of empowered global pop with nods to the past and eyes firmly on the horizon.

Aldous Harding

Designer

The New Zealand singer/songwriter's third effort eschews the last-call darkness of 2017's Party for something a bit sunnier, though no less peculiar.

Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom / Allison Miller

Glitter Wolf

An exuberant road trip of an album cross-pollinated with Latin and New Orleans grooves, klezmer harmonies, and far-eyed jazz modalism.

Altin G¨¹n

Gece

The second album of lovingly updated Turkish psych from ex-members of Jacco Gardner's band.

Andrew Bird

My Finest Work Yet

The celebrated songwriter, singer, and whistler refuses to give in to cynicism and rancor in a world full of chaos.

Angel Olsen

All Mirrors

Risks pay off on a highly stylized album with lavish orchestral arrangements that only elevate the singer's trademark vulnerability.

Ariana Grande

thank u, next

A swiftly delivered Sweetener sequel that confirms Ariana Grande's place as 2019's pre-eminent pop star.

Baroness

Gold & Grey

With new guitarist Gina Gleason, the band deliver their most diverse, kaleidoscopic, intricate release to date.

Bibio

Ribbons

Stephen Wilkinson celebrates his tenth year on Warp with a masterful mix of pastoral reveries and surprising tangents.

Big Thief

U.F.O.F.

The indie folk-rockers' impressionistic third album is a foray into artful album rock that incorporates improvisation and samples.

Billie Eilish

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

A promising debut from the genre-blurring anti-pop star of the disaffected Gen Z masses.

Bobby Krlic

Midsommar [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

Bobby Krlic's score to Ari Aster's Nordic folk-horror film is a striking balance of sunshine and shadows.

Bremer/McCoy

Utopia

Enveloping Luaka Bop debut from the Danish instrumental duo that begs to be listened to in one sitting.

Brooklyn Rider / Joshua Redman

Sun on Sand

Composer Patrick Zimmerli's engaging, hybridized jazz and classical suite features saxophonist Joshua and chamber ensemble Brooklyn Rider.

Carly Rae Jepsen

Dedicated

On her fourth album, the Canadian pop star adds sophistication and ambition to her always-relatable songs.

Cate Le Bon

Reward

The fifth album from this Welsh songwriter trades guitar rock for risky, open-ended songs, resulting in some of her best work.

Christian Scott

Ancestral Recall

A culturally aware, musically expansive dreamscape of an album from the New Orleans-born trumpeter.

Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

Kingfish

The debut album by the 20-year-old Clarksdale, Mississippi native more than lives up to the hype.

Coldplay

Everyday Life

This globe-trotting double album finds the band confronting society's ills with optimism and hope.

Comet Gain

Fireraisers Forever!

The long-running band have never sounded punker, sadder, or more alive than on this excellent album.

Cupertinos / Lu¨ªs Toscano

Manuel Cardoso: Requiem, Lamentations, Magnificat & Motets

The Requiem and other sacred works of Portuguese composer Manuel Cardoso are performed by the eight-member vocal ensemble, Cupertinos.

Danger Mouse / Karen O

Lux Prima

The singer/songwriter's first album in five years is a sophisticated, sonically adventurous collaboration with Danger Mouse.

Danish String Quartet

Prism II: Beethoven, Schnittke, Bach

Awe-inspiring performances reflect on the fugue and its continuing significance, with a blistering performance of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge.

Denzel Curry

Zuu

Celebrating family, his predecessors, and Carol City, the Florida rapper delivers a bold set of bass-heavy anthems.

El Le¨®n de Oro / Peter Phillips

Amarae Morti

Sacred music of the high Renaissance is offered by early music authority Peter Phillips and the 33-voice chamber choir El Le¨®n de Oro.

Ex Hex

It's Real

The trio's second album is a shiny love letter to rock & roll's transporting magic.

FKA twigs

Magdalene

Musically wide-ranging and emotionally naked, Tahliah Barnett's breathtaking second album focuses on wounded yet resilient feminine energy.

Floating Points

Crush

Sam Shepherd's engrossing second album veers from motionless ambient interludes to bracing techno tracks.

Fly Pan Am

C'est ?a

The Montreal-based group return from an extended hiatus with a dense, unpredictable noise-pop suite.

Foxes in Fiction

Trillium Killer

Lush electro-acoustic production and complex songwriting make the third album from this dream pop project a genre standout.

Franz Hal¨¢sz

J.S. Bach: The Lute Suites

Superb, highly dramatic readings of Bach's lute suites on guitar.

Freddie Gibbs / Madlib

Bandana

Five years after the Top 40 LP Pi?ata, the Gary, IN-Oxnard, CA alliance resumes with more ingeniously coarse rhymes and heady productions.

Garrick Ohlsson

Brahms: Clavierst¨¹cke; Fantasias; Intermezzos

Magisterial Brahms from a giant of American pianism.

Gary Clark, Jr.

This Land

A wildly adventurous blues, funk, R&B, hip-hop, and hard rock hybrid that speaks of America in 2019 with raw passion and wisdom.

Helado Negro

This Is How You Smile

The project's sixth album offers gently powerful songs that sustain a sense of identity, family, and love through difficult times.

HTRK

Venus in Leo

Australian duo HTRK's excellent fourth album contains their most romantic, sensuous material yet.

Intocable

Percepci¨®n

Working with producer Don Was, the premiere Tejano/Norte?o fusion outfit hits another level with ballads, rockers and dances.

Jamila Woods

LEGACY! LEGACY!

A galvanizing declaration of pride, support, and discontent from the poet and modern R&B singer/songwriter.

Jazzmeia Horn

Love and Liberation

The award-winning jazz vocalist offers an ebullient, deeply soulful sophomore album.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Tracing Back the Radiance

The ambient artist makes a sharp turn from warped shoegaze pop to minimal electro-acoustic beauty.

Jessica Pratt

Quiet Signs

Third album from the understated singer/songwriter is her most complex without losing any of the subtlety or intimacy of her earlier work.

Jimmie Vaughan

Baby, Please Come Home

The Texas guitar man returns with a swinging set of unlikely covers of vintage jump blues, R&B, doo wop, and more showcasing his inimitable style.

Jimmy "Duck" Holmes

Cypress Grove

The Delta blues singer collaborates with Black Key Dan Auerbach on his richest-sounding album.

Joan Shelley

Like the River Loves the Sea

Recorded in Iceland, the songwriter's fifth album is quiet but never fragile, and all the more powerful for its modesty.

Joe Lovano

Trio Tapestry

A richly atmospheric set featuring the saxophonist's trio with pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi.

Julia Jacklin

Crushing

The sophomore LP's raw performances, complex emotional honesty, and themes of female autonomy set it apart from other breakup albums.

Kim Lenz

Slowly Speeding

The rockabilly queen's empowering fifth album is rife with backwoods menace, pulpy romanticism, and rootsy swagger.

Lana Del Rey

Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Sixth album from this icon of sad pop is her most subtle and majestic yet.

Lankum

Livelong Day

The Irish band's second album for Rough Trade is a vigorously played, smartly arranged long game that manipulates and celebrates its traditional folk roots.

Latvian Radio Choir / Sigvards Klava

Tchaikovsky: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom; Nine Sacred Choruses

Splendid performances of Tchaikovsky's relatively rare sacred music, in a spirit the composer would have loved.

Lila Downs

Al Chile

Teaming with producer Camilo Lara and 180 musicians, the Mexican-American singer and songwriter delivers her most innovative recording.

Little Simz

Grey Area

An honest and impassioned record that brings Simz's wealth of talent into sharp focus.

Lizzo

Cuz I Love You

The boundary-breaking artist's major-label debut is a triumphant showcase for every part of her talent, physicality, and sexuality.

Loraine James

For You and I

James' boundary-shattering Hyperdub debut is a powerful expression of the London-based artist's identity.

Loscil

Equivalents

Inspired by the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz, the producer/composer's beautiful 12th album is a fascinating meditation on artistic interpretation.

Lost Under Heaven

Love Hates What You Become

The Manchester duo deliver a cathartic, emotionally raw sophomore album that's as moving as it is artful.

Luis Fonsi

Vida

First album in nearly five years from the romantic pop king balances strutting dance-pop, ballads, reggaeton, cumbia, and vallenato.

Maluma

11:11

Following the success of F.A.M.E., the Colombian artist unabashedly swings for the crossover fences, mastering every pop style he tries on.

Marc Anthony

Opus

On his first studio outing in six years, the singer and producer Sergio George adds innovative depth and dimension to salsa's lineage.

Mark Ronson

Late Night Feelings

The Grammy-winning producer's fifth album offers one dejected pop-R&B delight after another.

Matana Roberts

Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis

Utilizing a new band, the artist digs further into her family's history, and American and cultural mythology, delivering a necessary entry in her large project.

Matthias Goerne / Leif Ove Andsnes

Robert Schumann: Liederkreis Op. 24; Kerner-Lieder

Superb Schumann from a vocalist at the very top of his powers.

Megan Thee Stallion

Fever

Debut studio album from the unfiltered Houston rapper finds her at near-peerless levels of bold lyricism and personality.

Michael Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka

On his third long-player, the British singer/songwriter comes into his own in a collection of bracing, affirmative, psychedelic soul tunes.

Mike and the Moonpies

Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold

The Austin band headed to Abbey Road to record this lush collection of neon-lit saloon songs.

Miranda Lambert

Wildcard

Lambert freshens her sound with a playful seventh studio album.

Nick Cave / Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Ghosteen

Eloquent and atmospheric, this song cycle rooted in grief, family, and regret is a spare but remarkable work of art.

Olivier Latry

Bach to the Future

Brilliant organ recording that was the last one made at Notre-Dame cathedral before the fire of 2019.

Opeth

In Cauda Venenum

The Swedish band have left metal completely to pursue their own brand of 21st century progressive rock, and are heavier than ever.

Osmo V?nsk? / Minnesota Orchestra

Mahler 1

Osmo V?nsk? and the Minnesota Orchestra deliver an exceptional performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major.

Patience

Dizzy Spells

After a batch of brilliant synth pop singles, the former Veronica Falls member makes good on a full album of brilliant synth pop.

Purple Mountains

Purple Mountains

Singer/songwriter David Berman's final album is filled with lonely songs that are as warm as a hug from a long-lost friend.

Ralph Alessi / Ravi Coltrane / Mark Ferber / Drew Gress / Andy Milne

Imaginary Friends

Evocative third ECM date from the trumpeter, and first to feature his This Against That group with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane.

Raphael Saadiq

Jimmy Lee

The R&B giant breaks from background work to make the most riveting and autobiographical LP of his career.

Rapsody

Eve

The North Carolinian rapper follows her Grammy-nominated second album with a riveting set paying tribute to black womanhood.

Rhiannon Giddens

There Is No Other

Collaborating with Francesco Turrisi, Rhiannon Giddens finds common ground between different cultures.

Robert Ellis

Texas Piano Man

The singer/songwriter takes a welcome left turn that brings him toward eccentric Nilsson territory.

Rocketship

Thanks to You

The band's third album harkens back to their '90s indie pop glory while adding new tricks, nearly topping their brilliant debut.

Sacred Paws

Run Around the Sun

The duo's second album has all the giddy exuberance and infectious songs of their debut, plus slightly upgraded production values.

Sandrine Piau / Julien Chauvin

Si j'ai Aim¨¦

Sublime recording from Piau of French m¨¦lodies, familiar and new, with period instruments.

Sean Curtis Patrick / Beno?t Pioulard

Avocationals

The longtime friends collaborate on a somberly beautiful set of ambient pieces inspired by 20th century shipwrecks in the Great Lakes.

Sharon Van Etten

Remind Me Tomorrow

Van Etten expands her horizons on this darkly comforting album.

Solange

When I Get Home

The singer and songwriter follows her deeply pained, chart-topping third album with a luxuriant joy ride.

Steve Gunn

The Unseen In Between

On his sophomore Matador outing, the guitarist shifts his focus to a more direct, vocal-centric method of songwriting and delivers a gem.

Sudan Archives

Athena

The Stones Throw violinist, singer, songwriter, and producer follows two EPs with an even richer first album.

Tanya Tucker

While I'm Livin'

Assisted by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings, Tanya Tucker makes a mighty comeback.

Taylor McFerrin

Love's Last Chance

Casually affecting and more song-oriented second album from the R+R=Now member.

that dog.

Old LP

The band's first album in 22 years is a near-flawless blend of experience and exuberance.

The Cash Box Kings

Hail to the Kings!

A raucous, vibrant, funny collection that brings Chicago blues into the modern age.

The Comet Is Coming

Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery

On its Impulse! debut, the the U.K.'s futurist trio create an evolutionary new jazz music from traditions past and present.

The Delines

The Imperial

An evocative, cinematic album, ideal for twilight moments of introspection.

The Highwomen

The Highwomen

The supergroup of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby make a vivid, vital debut.

Theo Croker

Star People Nation

A cosmic fusion of jazz, electronic traditions, hip-hop, and R&B inform the trumpeter's elevated fifth album produced by Karriem Riggins.

Tool

Fear Inoculum

Long-awaited LP finds the enigmatic prog-metal outfit older, wiser, and at the peak of their craft.

Tyler, The Creator

IGOR

The vital, heartsick follow-up to the rapper and producer's Grammy-nominated Flower Boy.

Vampire Weekend

Father of the Bride

The band returns from a six-year hiatus with some of their most eclectic and satisfying music.

Vanishing Twin

The Age of Immunology

The group responds to late-2010s xenophobia with beguiling psychedelic pop that's equally welcoming and unusual.

Weyes Blood

Titanic Rising

Fourth album from this versatile indie-bred songwriter leans into orchestral soft rock touches for some of her most direct and fully formed work.

William Tyler

Goes West

The guitarist imbues his artistry with a breezy West Coast feel on this articulate full-band outing.

Tool