Quinn Brown’s Top 25 Albums of 2019

If you don’t know many of these, you’re probably over the age of 25.

The year 2019 capped off a truly fantastic decade for recorded music. The rise of new technologies in making and distributing music culminated with some truly bizarre and frequently nostalgic new sounds.

With the torch passing from Millennials to Zoomers, from Hot Topic to Urban Outfitters, from MySpace to Instagram, from Troll Dolls and Tamogatchi to Fidget Spinners and Slime, 2019 signified a revolution in music, and it leaves me even more excited for what’s coming in 2020. 

Out of all of the masterpieces released this year, I’ve narrowed it down to 25 of my personal favorites.

25. Lingua Ignota: Caligula

In an era of seemingly endless music aimed to be “haunting,” “bone-chilling” and “disturbing,” Lingua Ignota’s latest album balances abrasion and beauty. The distorted instruments and ear-piercing screams are balanced perfectly by Ignota’s beautiful, ranged vocals. Caligula is an album that knows how to make you cry in both fear and amazement.

24. CHANCE デラソウル: All Together Now

Future funk is one of my favorite genres. It’s often written off as a substanceless guilty pleasure—and to some degree, it is—but All Together Now is a bona fide work of art. Influence from The Avalanches, Saint Pepsi and even a little bit of Madvillain can be heard in what I would consider one of the best future funk albums of all time.

23. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel

Sonic Citadel seems to be the fully realized vision of what the Rhode Island noise rock duo has been trying to perfect on their last two albums. It’s far more straightforward and accessible than any of their 2000s heyday releases, while still packing a heavy, blood-pumping punch that’s just as energetic as classics like Wonderful Rainbow, but in a much different way.

22. Tyler, the Creator: IGOR {Review}

Up until Scum Fuck Flower Boy I was not, by any means, a Tyler fan. With his last album, he showed off his technical skills in all aspects, and with this album, he uses those refined chops to create something that sounds intentionally scrappy and cheap. On IGOR, the use of cheap MIDI instruments and off-pitch vocals gives it a warm heart his music once lacked.

21. Quelle Chris: Guns

While it’s not as mind-bending as his 2017 opus, Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often, Quelle Chris’ latest is still a solid album from the criminally underrated rapper and producer. Guns bounces effortlessly from barn-burning bangers with witty lyrics to politically charged, melancholic tracks featuring impressive sung vocals over lush beats.

20. Otoboke Beaver: Itekoma Hits

This partially original, partially compiled release from Japanese punks Otoboke Beaver is a creative riot. Crisp production, tight playing, and energetic vocals allow the band’s raw aggression to shine through, commenting on the oppressive forces of today’s society in a way that’s both catchy as hell and punk as fuck.

19. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Fishing for Fishies {Review}

One of two projects this year from everybody’s favorite garage-punk-psychedelic-electronic-jazz-prog-pop-folk-rock band, Fishing for Fishies is a fun, neatly structured commentary on our mistreatment of the environment, mixing southern rock, electronic and folk into a quaint but potent release.

18. Malibu Ken: Malibu Ken {Review}

Aesop Rock and Tobacco join forces to create my favorite release from both of them. Tobacco’s unique yet tiring style receives a breath of fresh air from Aesop Rock’s bizarre yet hard-hitting lyrics and delivery on a number of topics, from the occult to eagles to being gross. Probably the most fun conscious rap album of the year, Malibu Ken is bursting with personality.

17. glass beach: the first glass beach album

Emo might see its newest revival with the first glass beach album. An hour-long pop-rock odyssey, this release is depressing yet danceable, and spins some of the more tired modern rock tropes into something that feels familiar and yet wholly original. It’s a promising debut filled with forward-thinking ideas that breathe new life into emo and pop rock.

16. Ana Frango Eletrico: Little Electric Chicken Heart

Some will write Little Electric Chicken Heart off as a throwback, but it’s more so a reinterpretation. The breakout release from Ana Frango Eletrico melds MPB, Lounge and other forgotten styles of the ‘60s and ‘70s to create a concise and loveable rock album that brings a new spice to old sounds. Stereolab fans (like myself) should take note of this one!

15. Weatherday: Come In {Review}

Lo-fi indie’s best album since the original Twin Fantasy, Come In is a true masterpiece. Weatherday’s ambitious fusions of art-rock, emo and noise pop are brought to fruition by their impressive chops, as well as wonderful guest vocals. Come In feels like its own world—a world of heartbreak and anguish, buried under a thick cloud of distortion (after all, this album was recorded on a headset microphone.)

14. Show Me The Body: Dog Whistle

Show Me The Body proves that definition isn’t limitation on their newest album. This is an album that purists of the New York Hardcore scene will appreciate as much as newcomers to punk will. Wonky rhythms, thumping synths and a fucking banjo set this release apart from the generic trash populating today’s near-dead NYHC scene. This is an album that is brimming with disdain and disgust for society. In other words, it’s a punk classic.

13. Dos Monos: Dos City

The second I heard this album, I knew it would be one of my favorite rap albums of the year, especially since it comes from one of my favorite labels: Deathbomb Arc. Dos Monos are a Japanese boom-bap group that stitches zany and borderline atonal jazz samples into off-kilter bangers. Dos City is filled with cartoony and colorful flows, weird but groovy beats and at least one Frank Zappa sample.

12. Injury Reserve: Injury Reserve {Review}

Injury Reserve has long been one of the most exciting underground rap groups in the past few years, and on their commercial debut they almost completely ditch their jazz rap sound for something a lot more industrial and noisy. The beats here are cold with sharp snares, fat bass and lo-fi leads that border on early IDM music. The group’s lyrics are as sharp as ever, proving themselves a force to be reckoned with in the coming decade.

11. Ecco2k: E

The snobbier music fans reading this will most likely be appalled by this placement, but that’s exactly what makes E such a magical album. The Swedish rapper-producer’s first full-length rejects the mind-numbing simplicity of the Drain Gang scene with artsy instrumentals and beautiful androgynous vocals, but it never fully detaches from the hypnotic cloud rap style Ecco2k and his contemporaries are known for. It’s intricate, futuristic and overall much better than anything to ever come out of the DG scene.

10. clipping.: There Existed An Addiction To Blood

clipping. made a horrorcore album. And though not as game-changing as their 2014 debut, this album is by far the L.A. hip-hop trio’s best work. The lyrics are their most interesting, the beats are easily their strongest, and Daveed sounds better than he ever has. This is a masterclass in creating ear-shattering noise.

9. Dorian Electra: Flamboyant

Dorian Electra signifies a change in the music landscape. No, they’re not the first person to this style, and no, they’re not the most experimental in this style, but that’s exactly what makes Flamboyant an instant classic. These bubblegum bass tracks would fit perfectly well at a basement rave or a school dance. Dorian’s bubbly personality combines with stellar production from masterminds like Dylan Brady to create an album that is geniusly accessible.

8. JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs {Review}

JPEGMAFIA must’ve known following up 2018’s groundbreaking glitch hop album Veteran would be tough; he even told his fans they’d be disappointed. But Peggy manages to create a project just as good in a completely different way. Cornballs shows true artistic progression, with soft autotune vocals, subtle, indirect beats and the Baltimore MC’s most vulnerable lyrics to date. Cornballs cements JPEGMAFIA as one of the greatest musical minds of his generation.

7. Flume: Hi This Is Flume

It may be earmarked as a mixtape, but this project is one of the most cohesive album experiences you’ll hear all year. Hi This Is Flume is further proof that the metallic, deconstructed club sounds of the 2010s are gearing up to dominate the mainstream. This is Flume’s craziest project in a while, and yet it remains melodic enough to land on the average Spotify playlist of the youth of today. It’s a showcase of incredible talent, and incredible taste.

6. Richard Dawson: 2020

Released a few months before the titular year, 2020 is the natural follow up to Richard Dawson’s brilliant neo-medieval project Peasant. The instrumentals here are a departure from his minimalist guitarwork, 2020 showcasing tighter performances and plenty of electronic instrumentation. The controlled nature of 2020 only enhances Dawson’s dismal lyrics describing the brutal industry of modern life.

5. TNGHT: II

Few could’ve predicted that TNGHT would come back six years after their last EP, and nobody could’ve predicted that they’d come back with something so fucking good. TNGHT feel as fresh as ever, taking on deconstructed club with their ear for strange percussion and odd samples. TNGHT has done for EDM what they did for it back in 2012, releasing a project that’s as experimental as it is ecstatic. I can only hope that we’ll hear TNGHT reinvent the electronic genre once more in the 2020s.

4. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Infest The Rats Nest {Review}

That’s right, they’re on here twice! The boys have added thrash metal to their genre count, and it signifies a turning point for both the band and the genre. Stu pens what might be his best narrative yet, where, after an environmental apocalypse, society’s elite flee to Mars, leaving the downtrodden to toil on a ruined planet. I won’t spoil anything else, but lyrics aside, this is one of the best thrash albums in a long time. The searing garage-rock production, unconventional rhythms and subtle stoner metal influences make for my metal AOTY.

3. Black Dresses: LOVE AND AFFECTION FOR STUPID LITTLE BITCHES {Review}

Pop music had one of its best years in a long time, and Black Dresses are a big reason why. Black Dresses are pushing the boundaries of pop in a way unlike any other group. The half-spoken, half-shouted, heavily-autotuned vocals are some of the most abrasive performances I’ve ever heard on a pop record, and the grimy industrial beats are wholly their own. Black Dresses don’t conform to the mainstream, but they don’t conform to the rebellion either. This is a deeply personal experience that finds beauty in its flaws.

2. black midi: Schlagenheim {Review}

Ever since their captivating single, “bmbmbm,” black midi has cemented themselves as one of the most enigmatic new bands in rock music. After signing to Rough Trade records off of nothing but a few singles and some amazing live performances, the London quartet delivers on their promise with Schlagenheim, a noise rock project like no other. The vocals and lyrics are some of the weirdest I’ve heard all year, the playing (especially the drumming) is tight as hell, and each track is nothing short of genius. Schlagenheim may be the future of rock music.

[Before I speak on my favorite album of the year, some honorable mentions go to: Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You, Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats’ Anger Management, Puzzle’s X Hail, Fire! Orchestra’s Arrival, and BROCKHAMPTON’s Ginger.]

1. 100 gecs: 1000 gecs {Review}

In the beginning of this article, I talked about the significance of 2019 as a year for change. A year that signified the passing of the torch from generation to generation. As soon as I heard 1000 gecs, the debut album from Dylan Brady and Laura Les, I knew it would be my album of the year. 

1000 gecs is a pop album for the future of music, and the generation of the future. It’s an encyclopedia of cultural knowledge from the past few decades, fusing every genre I can remember growing up with, including oddballs like emo trap, brostep, autocroon and ska. Each song feels like a different phase of my formative years. It’s an album that’s clearly the byproduct of the overstimulated youth of today, which is perhaps why I’ve never met anybody over 25 who enjoys it. 

1000 gecs is the perfect embodiment of what growing up in the 2000s and 2010s feels like; the distillation of a generation of music into an emotionally moving yet addictively fun twenty-minute project. It’s the best album of the year, one of the best albums of the decade, and it has quickly become one of my favorite albums of all time. 1000 gecs isn’t just an album. It’s a fucking revolution.