Oisín Quinn dev, music, etc

My favourite albums from 2019

I have a bit of a Twitter tradition of posting a chart of my favourite albums of each year. I repeated that tradition for 2019, picking out 24 albums that I really liked that came out this year. I thought I’d change things up this year with a bit of a write-up about these albums, what I liked about them and hopefully I’ll be able to introduce you to something you haven’t heard before.

I’m splitting these up into vague tiers to make it clearer how much I liked a specific album. I’m going for “Favourites”, “Great albums”, “Good albums” and “Good albums I didn’t listen to enough”. Inside each section, they’re listed alphabetically by artist. Enjoy!


Favourites

The albums I loved the most this year.

100 gecs - 1000 gecs

I think I discovered 100 gecs in early October when Popcast dedicated an episode to their debut album. I don’t know how to describe them, apart from as exactly my cup of tea. It’s a weird mesh of genres that shouldn’t be combined (probably best described as experimental pop), but it always works.

It’s only 23 mins long, with two of the ten tracks being weird filler, but each song has its own distinct identity, while maintaining a signature overblown sound across the whole project. I really love this and can’t wait to see what they do next.

Highlights:

  • money machine
  • stupid horse
  • ringtone

Blood Orange - Angel’s Pulse

Blood Orange is an artist that I’ve never been able to get into (last year’s Negro Swan did nothing for me), but this mixtape is when it finally clicked for me. All of the collaborations work well. Gold Teeth is the perfect mid-project twist and took me by surprise. I was a fan of the lo-fi feel of the project as a whole, and I love how everything just flows together as it should. Also it’s a short enough listen, which I’m always a fan of.

Highlights:

  • Dark & Handsome
  • Good For You
  • Gold Teeth

Flume - Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape)

I didn’t have the highest expectations going into this project, but I loved Flume’s latest mixtape. It’s experimental but still pretty accessible. This isn’t the most serious project in the world (calling it a mixtape is a tell-tale sign of that), but I think that’s why it’s so great. The features and collaborations work well, with JPEGMAFIA’s being my favourite.

This was probably the first release of 2019 that I loved. I haven’t gone back to it much since then, but it’s still a very enjoyable listen.

Highlights:

  • How To Build A Relationship
  • Jewel
  • High Beams

Jai Paul - Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)

I know, this is kinda cheating, but it needs to be mentioned. This was by far my favourite album I discovered this year, and /technically/ it first released in 2019, so I think that counts. This album is a beautiful mess, with a million things happening at once and vocals dropping out at random points. It’s mayhem but it’s also perfect. It was my most listened-to album from 2019, which is 100% deserved. This is the only album I listened to this year where I knew I’d love it straight away, and I know I’m going to still be listening to it in 2030.

Highlights:

  • Genevieve
  • jasmine
  • Str8 Outta Mumbai

Thom Yorke - Anima

I saw Anima described as an “anxious” album, and I think that fits it pretty perfectly. Listening to it makes me feel uneasy and a bit scared. This doesn’t feel like a Radiohead album; it feels like something unique in its own right, the polar opposite to A Moon Shaped Pool. I haven’t been the biggest fan of Thom Yorke’s solo work before this, but I really enjoyed Anima more than I expected.

Recently I was in a really stressful place, and not able to think straight. I decided to close my eyes and put on this album, and somehow the terrifying anxiousness of this album calmed me down. I’m not sure what that says about it, but it really is a unique album that is one of my favourites of the year.

Highlights:

  • Dawn Chorus
  • Traffic
  • Not The News

Great albums

Albums that I really liked this year.

Ariana Grande - Thank U, Next

I liked Dangerous Woman and Sweetener, but Ariana Grande’s album is her best yet. It’s a kind of victory lap, solidifying her place as one of the biggest pop artists in the world. When I saw she was releasing a second album so soon after Sweetener, I was a bit concerned, but this album doesn’t have a bad song. “NASA” is one of the best pop songs of the year, and the honestly of “fake smile” is really refreshing.

Highlights:

  • NASA
  • fake smile
  • needy

Craic Boi Mental - Cork City Anthems/Cork City Anthems 2

Craic Boi had a great 2019, exploding onto the Irish scene with my favourite Irish projects of 2019. His hooks are infectious and the rough-around-the-edges sound just adds to the appeal. Cork City Anthems 2 is my favourite by Craic Boi mixtape yet, and I tell that to everyone I meet. I don’t love everything he puts out, but when he gets it right, he hits gold. Not for everyone, but this is definitely for me.

If you want to listen to these, YouTube has the best versions of each mixtape. Here’s Cork City Anthems and Cork City Anthems 2.

Highlights:

  • Ná Caitheamh Tobac
  • Bandz
  • Langer

Kevin Abstract - ARIZONA BABY

I still think this album’s really underrated. I’m not sure if it’s better than GINGER, but I think it’s more interesting. Looking forward to seeing more inevitable Brockhampton solo albums in the future.

Highlights:

  • Baby Boy
  • Peach
  • Joyride

Orville Peck - Pony

Between this and Kacey Musgraves, I went through a country phase towards the end of the year. I don’t have many thoughts on this album, but it’s a really enjoyable listen. I’d recommend it if you want to give some country music with an indie touch a go.

Highlights:

  • Winds Change
  • Dead of Night

PIVOT Gang - You Can’t Sit With Us

2019 was a pretty weak year for hip-hop, or at least hip-hop that I’m interested in. Looking back, Pivot Gang’s album was probably my favourite. I’ve been a fan of Saba and Joseph Chilliams for a bit, and they both show up with great performances on their collective’s album. Surprised that most tracks on this album have less than a million hits, considering how big Saba has gotten. The beats aren’t the most diverse, but it’s an enjoyable listen.

Highlights:

  • Mathematics
  • Hero
  • Mortal Kombat

Skepta - Ignorance Is Bliss

I just realised I left this off my list on Twitter and I had to include it here.

This was a pretty different album from 2016’s Konnichiwa, with less hard-hitting beats and more of a mature sound, but I think I enjoyed Ignorance Is Bliss just as much.

Also I cracked up when I noticed the Murder on the Dancefloor sample.

Highlights:

  • What Do You Mean?
  • Bullet From A Gun
  • Greaze Mode

Tyler, the Creator - Igor

I was cynical going into this album, but in hindsight Tyler succeeded at creating something really different after 2017’s Flower Boy. I didn’t love this album as much as a lot of people seemed to, but I can appreciate it more now looking back outside of the hype it built.

Highlights:

  • A BOY IS A GUN*
  • EARFQUAKE
  • ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?

Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

I loved the singles for this album, but didn’t care for it much when it came out. In hindsight, it’s actually a great comeback album for the band. It’s a subtle album and doesn’t try to do anything crazy, and it’s not the greatest album of all time, but I can respect and enjoy it for exactly what it is: a nice, poppy indie rock album.

Highlights:

  • Unbearably White
  • Harmony Hall
  • This Life

Very good albums

Billie Eilish - when we all fall asleep, where do we go?

I don’t have anything to say about this that hasn’t been said already, but this was a really good debut pop album. I don’t think anyone thought Bad Guy would be as massive as it was when we first heard it on this album. (even though I still think of Crash Bandicoot when I hear the intro).

Bon Iver - i,i

I loved 2016’s 22, A Million, so I was really hyped for this album. I enjoyed it, but I can’t put it on the same level as Bon Iver’s previous albums. It’s fun to listen to and has some really good singles, but it doesn’t hit as hard as their previous work. But when the bar is so high, even coming short results in a really good album, and I enjoyed i,i a lot.

BROCKHAMPTON - GINGER

Just like ARIZONA BABY, I think GINGER is a bit underrated. I really enjoyed the singles, and No Halo is one of their best songs ever. I haven’t gone back to this album much, but I still think it’s an enjoyable one and better than what some hardcore fans like to say it is.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated

Another slightly top-heavy album, with a nearly perfect opening five tracks. It falls off a little after this, but it’s still a good pop album as a whole. It’s a pity none of these tracks took off.

James Blake - Assume Form

I haven’t listened to this much since it came out, but I really enjoyed this. I think it loses steam in the second half, but the first half is really strong.

Lim Kim - GENERASIAN

I was really surprised to see that Lim Kim had come out with an experimental hip-hop EP this year, considering her previous work. But GENERASIAN is a really interesting EP, and a fusion of experimental hip-hop and traditional East Asian sounds. I don’t listen to much music out of Asia, but this project was a really pleasant surprise.

Good albums I didn’t listen to enough

Danny Brown - uknowhatimsayin¿

I guess I was a little disappointed by this after Atrocity Exhibition, but I think you enjoy it better if your leave your preconceptions of what a Danny Brown album is when you listen to this. The Q-Tip production is really good, even if it’s not what I expected to hear Danny on. Dirty Laundry sounds like it’s out of the Rugrats, which is a comparison I never thought I’d make to a Danny Brown song.

Dave - Psychodrama

I really liked this album, and it’s great on every listen. I’m not sure why I didn’t go back to it more.

FKA twigs - MAGDALENE

I finally gave this a listen at the end of 2019, and it was great. The production was class, and it was good to hear some new music from Nicolas Jaar. I haven’t listened to much FKA Twigs, but I need to give this one a few more spins.

Little Simz - Grey Area

I really liked this as well. Offence is such a strong opening song, and this album really showed me what the hype around Little Simz is all about. Again, I just didn’t really go back to it. I’d definitely recommend it though if you want some interesting UK hip-hop.

Loyle Carner - Not Waving, But Drowning

Didn’t fall in love with this, and can’t remember many tracks off the top of my head, but it’s fun and relaxing to listen to, so I can’t really complain.


That was longer than I expected lol

There were a lot of big albums missing from this list. The main reason is that I probably haven’t listened to them, or listened to them enough times for them to click with me. So if anyone has any reccomendations that I missed out on, let me know on Twitter and I’d be happy to check them out.