My Top 20 Albums of 2019 So Far

MMC’s Editor-in-Chief lists his favorite records of the past six months.

20. Jade Bird: Jade Bird {Review}

With delicacy, power and grit, the British singer’s debut is a master thesis on anthemic pop Americana.

19. Crumb: Jinx

On their hypnotic first full-length, the Boston band fully realizes their jazzy psychedelic shoegaze sound.

18. Robert Ellis: Texas Piano Man

Hybridizing alt-county with classic piano-driven pop, the singer-songwriter channels the likes of Harry Nilsson, Leon Russell and Randy Newman to make his most witty and sophisticated album yet.

17. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken {Review}

Wonky wordsmith Aesop Rock links up with trippy electronic beatmaker TOBACCO for a surrealistic hip-hop sideshow that brings out the best in both talents.

16. Kevin Morby: Oh My God {Review}

Styled off the gospel of Bob Dylan’s Saved period, the idiosyncratic singer-songwriter makes an earnest come-to-Jesus record without getting bogged down by fire and brimstone.

15. Mavis Staples: We Get By

Produced and written by Ben Harper, this bluesy 11-track set is as graceful, hopeful and expressive as anything the 80-year-old gospel-soul legend done in her prolific late-career sprint.

14. Drugdealer: Raw Honey {Review}

If you have a weak spot for the smooth, corny stylings of ’70s soft rock, Drugdealer’s second full-length goes down like champagne and caviar on a yacht.

13. Orville Peck: Pony {Review}

Sitting somewhere between Hank Williams, Joy Division, Mazzy Star and Elvis Presley, the queer, leather-masked cowboy’s mysterious debut is endlessly listenable.

12. The Comet Is Coming: Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

Synthesizing jazz, funk, psych, hip-hop, electronic and improvisation into their hand-bottled elixir of “apocalyptic space funk,” the South London trio takes us on an acid-soaked space trip that would blow Sun Ra’s hair back.

11. Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow {Review}

With some new sonic weapons in her arsenal, the indie heartbreaker is just as vulnerable as ever, and even more powerful.

10. Flying Lotus: Flamagra {Review}

On this sprawling 27-track jazz/hip-hop/electronic epic, FlyLo continues making some of the most vibrant and engaging experimentalism around.

9. Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel

On their dark horse debut, the Dublin five-piece makes some of the most catchy, melodic post-punk I’ve heard in a long time.

8. Karen O & Danger Mouse: Lux Prima {Review}

Two veterans of indie rock join forces to create a cinematic masterclass in songwriting, production and swagger.

7. Bill Callahan: Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest

The enigmatic indie-folk bard returns with a sparse and honest double album of poetic and personal meditations delivered in a stream of consciousness.

6. Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? {Review}

In pop music especially, effortless originality is the mightiest, most elusive quality of all. Billie Eilish bleeds it from her nose.

5. James Blake: Assume Form {Review}

I’ve always found James Blake’s sad-boy minimalist electronic-R&B a little boring and overrated. That changed with this record.

4. Phoebe Bridgers & Connor Oberst: Better Oblivion Community Center {Review}

First Boygenius, and now this? Phoebe Bridgers is on a roll with super collabs, and her chemistry with Connor Oberst, helps draw out his most exciting work in years.

3. Big Thief: U.F.O.F. {Review}

Refining and complexifying their mysterious brand of folk, Big Thief on their most mesmerizing album yet.

2. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy! {Review}

Paying tribute to the iconic artists that inspire her (“MUDDY,” “MILES,” “ZORA,” “BETTY,” “BASQUIAT,” “SUN RA”…), the Chicago poet crafts a circular concept record distilling a century of black art into one powerful statement.

1. The National: I Am Easy To Find {Review}

Even I thought I must be off my rocker when I called The National’s latest their best album ever. But I haven’t changed my mind yet. Twenty years into their story, I Am Easy To Find is another masterpiece from a band that has cracked the code for getting better with each record.