Top Albums of 2019
Dreaminess, flawless voices, sexy beats and so much more…
I’m a fan of Pee Wee. I know this makes me a bit of a weirdo, but so are my sisters and father…and countless others. I tell you this because I was compelled to pick up a pen and paper to write this as I sit here with my kids as they watch him for the first time. A big reason for my intrigue of him has been rooted in his clear love of music. Do yourself a favor and watch his Christmas special and you’ll see what I mean. Furthermore, consider the composer that he and fellow king of quirk, Tim Burton unearthed in Danny Elfman. Even if you don’t know Elfman by name, you know his work. Look up his Wikipedia and prepare to be amazed.
Top Albums & EPs - 2019, a playlist by jvandevelde on Spotify
From a young age I’ve made all types of music a cornerstone of my life. I’ve never been one to do a recap or playlist for the year, but I was asked by two friends if I’d weigh in with my opinion on the matter.
Also, 2019 was a year of vulnerability, adventure and exploration for me, which is wild considering this is coincidentally my fortieth year. And, to say I’ve had some extra alone-in-my-head time to enjoy a broader variety of music, is grossly understated.
So here goes. I chose to select a handful of my favorite albums of 2019. I would have spent too long focusing on top songs which were crazy plentiful this year! With the rise of Spotify, the power of the single is back on the level of the golden era of radio and so, albums it is. I’m not going to recap every album or get super deep and philosophical, but rather, point out some themes that rose to the surface:
Women are amazing!!! Naturally, I know this, but I don’t know that everyone always does. If you didn’t get behind Beyonce’s Homecoming album and documentary, Sharon Van Etten’s exploration of her new sound or Lizzo’s long road to stardom, what the eff are you waiting for? Overall, you’ll see my list is heavily weighted with a variety of powerful, unique women.
Gorgeous, flawless voices. Lana Del Rey, Andrew Bird, Weyes Blood & Caroline Polachek. If you go by the number of times I’ve played the album than these are my 1–2–3 line-up as listed above and Caroline Polachek sneaks in there as a bit of an Imogen Heap 2.0. I’m a sucker for a mezzo who knows her way around her emotions. Fun fact: When Del Rey’s album came out, I was living in a 100-year old cottage in the hills of Laguna Beach for 10 days. Her California-girl lyrics and dramatic sound was perfect for this magical hiatus from reality.
Genre-bending sounds. Maggie Rogers, Modern Vices, Vampire Weekend & Sturgill Simpson. Country outlaw meets rock n’ roll. Folk singer + beats = something special. Vampire Weekend meets Paul Simon. And Modern Vices…a ringer from Chicago. I just loved this throwback, not-sure-how-to-define-it album.
Dreaminess. Cigarettes After Sex, Helado Negro, Octavio Mai & Angel Olsen. Ethereal sounds are always a favorite of mine — mix in some Spanish or French and whoa. You might want to consider staying in for the evening, turning the lights down, lighting the fire, pouring some wine and putting these four albums on shuffle…you are most welcome.
R&B x Hip Hop x Electronic mash-ups. Anderson .Paak, KAYTRANADA & Hemlock Ernst. If you aren’t straying from the rap and hip hop found on the radio these days, you are missing out — the talent in these genres absolutely crushed it with the singles this year! While these artists are a bit tough to classify, they all feel a bit nostalgic to me — a bit of my fav R&B of the 90s and a bit of my time abroad in Europe. As a fun aside, the last two artists were only brought to my attention by friends in the last few weeks. It was like a well-timed movie release to get considered for an Oscar.
Folk-inspired. Better Oblivion Community Center (aka Conor Oberst & Phoebe Bridgers), Calexico/Iron & Wine. What can I say, I lived in Madison for 13 years and on the eastside no less. These solid, collaborative albums are perfectly fitting for a backyard hangout while discussing the latest crunchy/snarky comments in the Willy Street Co-op Reader or a new addition to the Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurant scene.
BONUS: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Soundtrack. The soundtrack serves as one of the best characters in his movie. I highly recommend it because Quentin Tarintino is a big-time music nerd with serious taste, classic rock and the 50/60s never ever go out of style and the movie is great!
This was such a great exercise for me! When people ask me, “what kind of music do you listen to?” I usually say “all of it.” So to identify these themes, it really helps sum up what I love best every year.
I’d love to hear what you were into for 2019. And based on my vibe, who am I missing in my life?