Tune in to our annual Sound Waves Top 25 Albums of 2019 on New Years Eve, December 31 10am - 2pm.
2019 will go down as a tumultuous year. From scandals to trials, to whistleblowers to trade wars, the year was loud, divided and confusing. One of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic ravaged the Bahamas for days this summer. Close to us, WFIT lost two long time colleagues this year, Jack Garrison (DJ Sandman) and Bill Carrigan, host of Classics for a Sunday Evening.
Despite this, we discovered that music can heal and be comforting in difficult times. New voices emerged, exciting bands were discovered, and interesting sounds were developed. That is what we heard on Sound Waves this past year. The albums we listened to were personal statements from artists searching to find their place within a chaotic world. Here is our Sound Waves Top 25 Albums of 2019. I hope there is something special here for you to enjoy as we enter a decade.
Sound Waves Top 25 2019
1) Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Creepy beeps and traffic cross-walk warning sounds recorded by Eilish’s brother Finneas become mass sing-alongs of teen angst. Bold and brash. On this album, the weird outsider becomes the coolest kid in school.
2) Lana Del Rey - Norman F****** Rockwell!
Like a California movie, Del Rey sings about surfing, suburban thrills and lost Hollywood glamour. She uses the power of sunshine to conceal her darker themes.
3) Vampire Weekend - Father Of The Bride
The most mature VW album yet. Vampire Weekend uses a lighthearted and airy style to make one of their most authentic albums.
4) Lizzo - Cuz I Love You
Love yourself because Lizzo loves you. A multi-talented artist with enough attitude to make her a major star. Not sure? Check our Lizzo’s amazing performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.
5) Maggie Rogers - Heard It In A Past Life
Her first single “Alaska” caught the attention of Pharrell Williams. Rogers weaves timeless themes with catchy pop hooks.
6) Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow
Van Etten has been busy - touring, acting, film scoring, studying for a degree in Psychology, and becoming a parent. Somehow she found time to make the best album of her career. Emotional songs about love and wanting to do better.
7) Jade Bird - Jade Bird
This British singer/songwriter’s debut full-length album is a joy to hear. Jade shows her love of American roots music.
8) Big Thief - U.F.O.F
2019 held big things for Big Thief with the release of two new albums. U.F.O.F features the hushed vocals of Adrianne Lenker. A fine collection of folky rock songs that bite.
9) Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka
Kiwanuka makes lush political soul music that sounds like a blast from the 70’s. It is a sound that’s never dated and, in fact, we need more of it. Powerful lyrics meant for grooving.
10) Brittany Howard - Jamie
The debut solo album from Alabama Shakes front-woman Howard hits deep. She does not shy away from themes of racism, love and drug-use. A timely album from a powerful force.
11) The National - I Am Easy To Find
Front-man Matt Berninger is always questioning life and his personal struggles. This time, he turns to the women in his life for some advice. The effect is slightly warmer and tender, but Matt still holds some self-doubt. With this album, he proves he’s only getting better.
12) Angel Olsen - All Mirrors
Olsen improves with each album she releases. All Mirrors is Olsen’s grandest one yet, adding a combination of gothic strings and powerful lyrics.
13) Charly Bliss - Young Enough
Full of energy and bigger than the band’s first album, Young Enough shows a love of classic 80’s New Wave, such as Blondie and The Pretenders. Turn it up!
14) Jenny Lewis - On The Line
Lewis knows how to tell a good story, with scenes of break-ups, growing older, and parties. On The Line is always catchy and poppy even when singing about a disgusting cocktail.
15) Clairo - Immunity
After releasing numerous singles on YouTube, Claire Cottrill’s debut album proves she has the chops to rock with the best.
16) Jamila Woods - Legacy! Legacy!
R&B songstress, activist and poet, Wood’s 2nd album draws songs from the works of Black artists such as Miles Davis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Zora Neale Hurston and James Baldwin. It is the definition of soul for our culture.
17) FKA Twigs - Magdalene
Modern art combined with industrial jazz-inspired club beats. In her second album, Twigs overcomes heartbreak and a debilitating illness to become a strong, self-assured woman.
18) Orville Peck - Pony
Stepping into the country music scene, Peck wears a fringed mask to conceal his identity. However, even his anonymity cannot hide his thought-provoking and intriguing artistry.
19) Bon Iver - i,i
Reminiscent of his earlier work, i,i presents a more modern, stripped-back sound with contributions by Bruce Hornsby.
20) Raphael Saadiq - Jimmy Lee
Leaving his past work with Tony! Toni! Toné! behind, Saadiq uses this album to deal with the death of his brother and his own internal struggles.
21) Faye Wester - Atlanta Millionaires Club
Songs of young love and teenage tales. Webster shows her love of country music, indie rock, folk, and southern hip-hop. What’s not to love?
22) J.S. Ondara - Tales Of America
As a child in Nairobi, Kenya, Ondara grew up listening to American rock music. He fell hard for Bob Dylan. You can hear this discovery and more on his debut album, which illustrates the successful side of immigration.
23) Joan Shelly - Like The River Loves The Sea
Nashville-based musician, Shelly takes inspiration from traditional British folk, such as Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny, and combines it with the next generation, like Laura Marling. With an appreciation for the environment, Shelly exquisitely recorded this album in Iceland.
24) Leif Vollebekk - New Ways
Montreal singer/songwriter expands the sound on his 4th album. New Ways features some modern beats, accompanied with keyboards like David Gray. It’s tasteful and subtle.
25) Head And The Heart - Living Mirage
Head and The Heart has broadened their sound ever since their debut album in 2010. Living Mirage features a new, yet perfected pop sound.
Lil Nas X - “Old Town Road”
Hip-hop meets country for the hit.
Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains
David Berman’s painful final album before his death.
Sleater-Kinney - The Center Won’t Hold
A punk veteran’s triumphant return.
Big Thief - Two Hands
The harder edge of the two albums release this year.
John Coltrane - Blue World
A newly-discovered prime Coltrane recordings.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
More death themes from the master.
Karen O and Danger Mouse - Lux Prima
Fun stuff from indie queen and magic producer.