Given that I picked 10 albums for my 2018 end-of-year list, it seemed appropriate to cut that number in half for 2019’s midpoint. That task proved more challenging than anticipated. The fact that my MMC peers have listed 10, even 15, albums should drive the point home: 2019 has been an outstanding year for music (so far).
My first obsession of 2019 was Sharon Van Etten’s Remind Me Tomorrow (#4). After a five-year hiatus, she returned as a tour de force, expanding her sound while maintaining the personal immediacy of her songwriting.
And speaking of personal, how about Orville Peck’s Pony (#5)? The gay, anonymous cowboy sings of despair, isolation and self-reliance in painstaking detail. If only more country music were this effective.
Given my obsession with post-punk as of late, the arrival of Fontaines D.C.’s Dogrel (#2) couldn’t have been more ideal. The Dublin-based quintet writes music specific to their home city. Yet it’s filled with the jadedness, longing and resentful acceptance that’s familiar to anyone seeing the things they love change before their eyes.
Big Thief’s U.F.O.F. (#1) currently holds the spot of favorite album of 2019. I don’t expect this to change. The folk-oriented album is otherworldly yet undoubtedly intimate. My favorite tracks include “Cattails,” “Orange,” and “Strange”. I’ve been contributing to Mini Music Critic for almost a year, and U.F.O.F. is the first album I’ve given a 5-star rating.
Though let’s be honest, perfection is sometimes overrated. Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride (#3) certainly isn’t—and that’s precisely why I love it. It’s loose, scattered, charming and fun. The polished “Harmony Hall” is one of my favorite tracks this year, though it’s quite different from the disjointed “Sympathy” and muted “Big Blue.” And somehow every track has its place.
We’re now entering the final half year of this decade. There’s sure to be some damn good music in the months ahead. I’m particularly stoked for Jay Som and (Sandy) Alex G. But until then, I have these five albums and many more to keep me going into summer (even if it continues to snow here in the Rockies).