Our contributors wrote a little bit about some (but not all) of their favorite albums and EPs of the year. Here’s 19 of our top picks of 2019, in no particular order!
Gossamer 2 by Fashion Jackson
2019 has been quite an eventful year for Fashion Jackson. From releasing their single “Shiloh,” to opening for the 1975—all while writing, recording and releasing their first full-length album—they’ve been building their portfolio as one of the most exciting bands of 2019. Gossamer 2, titled as an ode to their first EP, is a rollercoaster of emotions. This album has everything; heartbreak, fire tracks, a general sense of where the mood is going, then you’re jolted into a pit of anxiety and fear, and a giant snake (not unlike experiencing the Disneyland attraction Indiana Jones). Every song has a particular emotion that anyone can relate to. Looking for groovy bops? “Disco Junction” and “iDon’t” might be the songs for you. Interested in crying yourself to sleep? Try “Blanket” and “Vitamin”. Maybe you’re looking for songs to release every single frustration you have in your body by screaming along and dancing. I’d recommend “Wallace”, “Donuts”, or “6 Foot Cobra”. The range that this album has is truly astounding and I cannot wait for what the future holds for Fashion Jackson.
– Sarah Ramirez
Feeder by Blivet
Blivet’s debut album Feeder, released on Burger Records, is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year and the reason why Blivet is one of my new favorite bands. If you like punk rock with moody yet intense lyricism—this album is for you. Some of my favorite songs on the album are “Anathema,” “Exfoliater,” and “Down and to the Left.” Blivet’s live show is exactly what you would want from a young punk band—rowdy and filled with energy—just like almost every track on Feeder.
– Donna Borges
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. by HUNNY
HUNNY’s debut album Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. was released this year, and I was so excited because I have loved HUNNY for years and it was great to see them finally release an album. Every song is a true banger and my favorite song on the album is “Change Ur Mind.” I was lucky enough to see them perform at their album release show, and they were incredible live as always.
– Hanna Borges
Perfectly Sane by Sitting on Stacy
Sitting On Stacy dropped their sophomore album Perfectly Sane on August 16, 2019 and delivered a sound true to the band’s spirit but with a new sense of maturity within their style. The LP is all-in-all energetic, playful, and a little bit reflective. The band follows a particular formula in their song structure that emphasizes their ability to write a phenomenal hook. The guitar riffs are intoxicating and the choruses practically beg for an audience to scream the words back at them. The band takes time to reflect on each member’s ability throughout their songs, allowing time to shine a spotlight on catchy bass lines and charged drums. The LP echoes the cries of the 90s punk rock scene: breaking away from conformity, embracing the outcast, and feeling disenfranchised as a youth. The band, however, isn’t afraid to lean into softer, dreamier songs to balance out the energy in the album. On those tracks, Sitting On Stacy explores some self-reflection and allow themselves to be vulnerable in their songwriting. The band is able to achieve a duality both in their sound and themes but the one thing this album solidifies through each and every song is Sitting On Stacy’s pure joy of making music solely to connect with their audience.
– Natalie Spina
Dogpile by Alms
Alms is one of my new favorite bands and lately I cannot stop listening to their debut album Dogpile, which was released this summer. Although I barely started listening to the album at the end of the year, the quality of the recording and the attention to detail in each song easily makes Dogpile one of my favorites of the year. Each song fills your headphones with full and pristine sound. Alms is going places, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in 2020.
– Donna Borges
We’re Starting to Get Along by Ultra Q
Formerly known as Mt. Eddy, the band disappeared for about 7 months and re-emerged in May 2019 as the brand new “Ultra Q.” Though it’s the same line-up, the band has a fresh dynamic as they explore this new era and leave behind the sound of Mt. Eddy. In September, Ultra Q released their debut EP, We’re Starting To Get Along. The EP plays with themes of nostalgia, sampling the Power Rangers theme song in the track “Redwood,” and emulating a video-game like aura in all the songs. The songs, “We’re Starting to Get Along” and “Wild,” are slow and wistful. They don’t demand attention but an attentive listener can feel every emotion poured into the lyrics. In between these two tracks, the listener is punched in the face—in a good way—with the chaotic and anxiety-inducing “What D’You Call It.” This song adds another level to the spectrum of existentialism that runs through EP. To balance out these extremes, “Redwood,” and “Gool,” sit towards the middle, carrying the energy of the EP—but not letting everything unravel just yet. In 2018, we ended the year saying goodbye to Mt. Eddy, but we start 2020 with a resounding hello to the growth of Ultra Q and anything they’ve got in the works.
– Natalie Spina
oh, how perfect by Role Model
My repeat of the year for sure had to be oh, how perfect by ROLE MODEL. The EP consisted of six songs, one with a feature by BENEE. It is such a good EP and I feel like I could listen to it anywhere—with friends or just while driving alone in the car. Role Model talks about the lust in some relationships, which is really relatable for people in our generation and is what made me feel like I could connect with him as an artist. One of my favorite tracks had to be “Notice Me” which featured BENEE. The song talks about how one can be interested in someone who they thought didn’t even know they existed, and that person noticing them in a club. That resonated oddly well with me. Overall, I suggest oh, how perfect because it’s really relatable and Role Model is a really talented and raw artist.
– Kalin Pham-Nguyen
The Haunts EP by The Haunts
Honestly The Haunts EP was one of my favorite things to come out this year. I’m obsessed with all four songs and have been listening to them non-stop. The lead singer Max Collier’s voice is absolutely amazing and they put on a hell of a live show. I love the EP and I’m excited to see what they’re going to put out next.
– Sophia Nino
So You’re Mad About The Cups by Sarah and the Sundays
Sarah and the Sundays’ second album So You’re Mad About the Cups is one of my favorites of the year because you can sing along to every song, even when the songs are deep and sometimes dark. I’ve listened to “Moving On” as a single for a while before the album came out, and it’s probably one of my favorite songs ever. Some of the other songs I like from the album are “Ghost” and “Chin Up.”
– Hanna Borges
Oncle Jazz by Men I Trust
The third studio album Oncle Jazz from the Canadian trio created a turning point for new and long-term fans of Men I Trust. With the modern use of smooth electronic beats, snug guitar melodies, and somber vocals, the group laid out the 24-track record—which was something completely new and redefined by the group from past albums. The record had its release in September of this year, which played a pivotal role in my life due to a rocky summer and an eye-opening transition I was personally going through during the Fall season. Oncle Jazz showed me the beauty of being able to experience change while also understanding how change. Within melodic r&b beats and jazz-bass undertones, the album shared a more compelling life lesson for me, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Being a deep-rooted fan has allowed me to witness the change of seasons within each record and that itself has been truly memorable. I’m thrilled to see what Men I Trust has in store for us in the new year.
– Holly Alvarado
Wishful Thinking (At Its Best) by Ignant Benches
Wishful Thinking (At Its Best) by Ignant Benches truly lives up to its name. It is one of the most pleasantly nostalgic albums of the year. Reminiscent of everything there is to love about the Strokes and Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not era Arctic Monkeys, this album is perfect from track one—“Angry Lizard Noise”—to track twelve—“Television.” One of my favorite aspects of this album is the consistency of the band’s sound and the cohesion of the tracks. It’s music that begs to be listened to all the way through on vinyl. This album resonates with me most, because it brings me back to—what was in my opinion—the best music of the 2000s and 2010s. As we move into the next decade, I’m relieved to have an emerging band capable of carrying on the tradition of fun yet well written and well performed music that can be listened to again and again. Ignant Benches have managed to make songs that feel ready-made to become my favorite tracks without imitation or flattery of my favorite bands. Instead they have used their own talent, careful study, creativity, and respect to create a brilliant new album that harkens to the past while facing towards the future.
– Megan Loreto
Heaven Surrounds You by Surf Curse
This year was full of amazing albums and funky singles from our favorite indie artists. My top pick for this year was Surf Curse’s Heaven Surrounds You, that dropped early this September. The full album was released this year following releases of various songs as singles throughout the summer. Along with a captivating music video shot by Stumble on Tapes, Surf Curse first released the tune “Disco” that is now one of their most played songs. Once the rest of the album finally dropped, it was everything we could have asked for—from their signature surf tunes to slow romantic jams. The songs of Heaven Surrounds You became my summer and back to school playlist. I could play Heaven Surrounds You until the ‘Hour of the Wolf.’
– Priscilla Hernandez
Happy Scary by Big Fun
Happy Scary is one of the craziest, yet most innovative I’ve heard in a while. To be completely honest, at first I thought it was a little strange, but as I kept listening to each song I found myself noticing the details of each sound. I gotta admit, nothing goes harder than “Freak Machine” and “So Bad.” I can’t help but love Big Fun and how they mix punk and electronic music in such a unique, but perfect way. The music video for “Freak Machine” so accurately visualizes what it feels like to listen to the song. It’s refreshing to see a band that is so raw in their creativity and lack of conformity—both musically and visually.
– Donna Borges
Foam by Divino Nino
Divino Niño’s first LP Foam comes in at one of my top favorites of 2019 because of Chicago-based band’s ability to create an inventive piece of art in a genre so muddled with artist after artist sounding the same. The album boasts a collection of serendipitous, dream-like, and most impressively, cohesive tracks that make for one relaxing, daze-like half hour. The tracks contain dreamy 70s influences while holding their own in the modern age. Also worth noting is the band’s decision to pay homage to their roots through romantic lyricism, diverse influences, and most obviously, the choice to seamlessly switch between Spanish and English, as Camilo Medina (guitar) and Javier Forero (bass) are both from Bogotá, Colombia. For me, Foam proves that in a day and age where everything continues to blend together, the ability to create good art that stands out still exists.
– Mack Brown
Nothing Happens by Wallows
I’m a total sucker for catchy guitar riffs and well-mixed tracks so Nothing Happens by Wallows has to be my album of the year. I judge an album based on the number of songs that I truly enjoy and can listen to on repeat for hours and I loved almost every song on this project. This album was also special because it struck a solid balance between a high production level and the messy, garage rock sound the band has had since its beginning. This project may not challenge the listener too much, but not every album has to do that. At the end of the day, Nothing Happens is just a phenomenal group of tracks that are intensely enjoyable and worth playing over and over again.
– Michael Gibbs
Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough by Bleached
Serving as the literal soundtrack of my summer, this album captures the nostalgia surrounding growing up in LA. Sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin integrate personal experiences into this album to really tell the good and bad stories of growing up. This album tells a cohesive story with lots of groovy rhythms, relatable lyrics, and overall energetic vibe. The tracks “Somebody Dial 911” and “Kiss You Goodbye” are the showstoppers on the album, in my opinion. This album is my album of the year because it is so lively, yet no song sounds the same. It tells a cohesive, relatable story and it’s evident that lots of passion went into making this. album. Go give it a listen, and dance your heart away!
– Emily Sierra
Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend
Father of the Bride was one of the albums I was anticipating most in 2019 and it did not disappoint. With six years between Modern Vampires of the City and their latest album, my expectations were high. When “Harmony Hall” and “2021” were released as singles, I knew I was right to be excited. When “Sunflower” featuring Steve Lacy came out, the album had already earned a metaphorical spot on the top shelf of my 2019 albums. “Bambina,” “This Life,” “How Long?,” “Married in the Gold Rush,” “Flower Moon,” and “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin” have comprised the soundtrack for most of my year. Maintaining their unique sound, the band has managed to create music that is at once relevant and optimistic. With poignant lyricism as usual from Ezra Koenig and his co-writers, Father of the Bride is best described as refreshing. Thematically, it stretches further than beloved albums like Contra dared to reach. Tackling subjects like greed and individual privilege, Vampire Weekend has delivered an excellent album, but also a reminder about the power of music and the individual artist’s ability to stand upright and deliver an stance with ingenious nuance and creativity.
– Megan Loreto
wya by Inner Wave
This year was a good one for Inner Wave, bringing us new singles wrapped up and tied with a bow in their EP wya. Simple and to the point, wya includes their popular single “Why’d You Have to Act Like That Though” along with four other tracks that continue the work they started with the Underwater project. The album brings the chill, lo-fi style we’ve all known and grown to love while experimenting with different devices like autotune and varying beats. If Inner Wave’s next adventures are anything like wya, we’ve got a solid taste of the bops to come in the new year—and that things can only go up from here.
– Raven Yamamoto
When We Were Friends by The Backseat Lovers
The Backstreet Lovers kicked off the year by releasing their debut album in late January. As the new year approaches, it is clearly evident that this album was not forgotten in 2019. Their memorable guitar-prominent songs were absolute staples getting me through the year. “Kilby Girl” is one of the tracks on the album that is absolutely phenomenal and just makes you want to dance. With energizing rhythms and lyrics you can scream at the top of your lungs, this album is one you can listen to for decades to come.
– Emily Sierra