The Five Albums That Came Out This Year

Photo Credits: Columbia Records

Photo Credits: Columbia Records

James Lepinsky

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2019 kinda sucked for music. Not many good records came out, but these records were the best of the best and I listened to them a lot throughout the year. I have no hope that any records coming within the next two months will be any better than the ones I mention now, also for me i’m just really ready for the new decade bcause it’s about fucking time. So without further ado, here are the five albums I wanted to listen to, and logically, the best albums of the year.

Solange – When I Get Home 

Verdict: Solange, thank you for being unique. I wish more people listened to you instead of your sister, but I digress.

There’s something so addicting about Solange’s music in general, ever since I fell in love with her music on 2016’s A Seat at the Table.Her music has proven to be intimate, artful, quaint, and focused on celebrating black beauty and femininity; there is a saccharine quality to her latest efforts that is hypnotizing and intoxicating, and When I Get Home is no exception. Sonically, When I Get Home does not make any distinct deviations from her previous albums, yet this album is dedicated to her hometown of Houston, TX. There are some references to Houston culture, from references to candy paint on “Way to the Show” and the chopped-and-screwed feel of “Almeda” and “Not Screwed!”

Solange’s music still feels like a psychedelic trip like her previous album did, and her spiritual quality is still omnipresent throughout this album. What I love most about the album is how effortlessly fun it sounds – whether she’s spitting a petite rhyme on “Binz,” trading bars with Gucci Mane on “My Skin My Logo,” or celebrating black culture on “Almeda.” She also displays an impressive array of producers and features to help deliver her vision, from Tyler, the Creator and Playboi Carti to Animal Collective’s Panda Bear, among others. These songs are great for playing at a party or bumping really loudly in your car or home stereo, but When I Get Home also thrives in its more sultry, jazzy moments, with songs like “Dreams,” “Time (Is),” or the album’s intro, “Things I Imagined.” My love for When I Get Home grows by the second, with every single listen after another. My only gripe is that I wish it was longer, because Solange sings really well and writes really good songs. She sings better than most people. I hate singers, they can be so conceited, like we get it you know how to sing stop singing everywhere you go this isn’t the Sound of Music. But Solange can sing and I’d let her narrate my upcoming film about my life but she can only sing it.

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana

Verdict: Freddie raps amazing and Madlib makes great beats and together they make illegally good music that you can put in any situation.

Five years ago, Gary, IN native Freddie Gibbs and the Beat Konducta Madlib collaborated on an album that felt more like a film rather than a hip-hop album. Madlib’s idiosyncratic approach to hip-hop beatmaking and soul sampling and Freddie Gibbs’ no-BS rhymes were an unlikely match made in heaven. And I, like so many others, were waiting, even begging for a second release to come sooner or later. If not, I’m sure all of us were completely satisfied with replaying Piñata ad nauseum. And yet, we are graced with Bandana.

If Piñata was a lost low-budget blaxploitation film from the 1970s, Bandanais golden-age Hollywood, as evidence by the album’s cover as Quasimoto on zebra-back overlooks a scorched Los Angeles. There is a good amount of experimentation throughout this new album, with Madlib delivering a trap beat on “Half Manne Half Cocaine” that must have definitely confused Madlib disciples the first time they listened to this cut. Lyrically, Freddie Gibbs’ verses come through with their grave and palpable aggression, and this juxtaposes nicely with Madlib’s soul chops, especially on songs like “Crime Pays” and “Palmolive.” This is really good rap music.

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

Verdict: I know what you mean. It can be very difficult to find love but also whoever rejects you or dumps you is literally an idiot because you are an amazing songwriter and super duper talented. It’s their loss, not yours.

Since the beginning of the year, one of the albums I was anticipating the most was this one. I have always been impressed by Weyes Blood, or her government name, Natalie Mering. She soars with an grandiose sound that is steeped in folk rock and baroque pop. Here, she switched labels to the highly esteemed Sub Pop, and that always calls for excitement and new-found fame for the indie masses. And I would not be surprised if this album propels her to well-deserved popularity (which it kinda has, not popularity is not always super important. It’s just cool she is getting recognized because she is cool and I like cool people).

Jonathan Rado of Foxygen handles the production throughout this album, with the Lemon Twigs providing instrumentation on each track. The result is very vintage-sounding and ornate. “Everyday” sounds like a forgotten Motown relic, with apt lyrics as Mering longs for committed love. The Jean-Michel Jarre-esque “Movies” laments on how Hollywood, film, and TV deliver an unrealistic potrayal of love and relationships. There are many highlights on this short but dense album, and it just goes to show that Weyes Blood is slowly but surely becoming a folk-rock superstar. Hell yeah, Natalie. Let’s get that cheese.

Danny Brown – uknowhatimsaying¿

Verdict: I’m glad you’re doing well, Danny Brown. It’s always good to hear people being happy.

There’s something about hearing Detroit-bred rapper Danny Brown say the lines, “cause ain’t no next life, so now I’m tryna live my best life, I’m living my best life,” that makes me genuinely happy. Especially considering what we know about the rapper and what he has talked about in previous albums like the heavy and manic Atrocity Exhibitionthat came out in 2016. I love that album for its abrasiveness, but this year, it seems as though our favorite rapper has a brand new lease on life.

I saw a statistic somewhere on Instagram that says that this new album contains the least amount of drug references than any of his albums, at 12.4 percent. It’s honestly wild that anyone took the time to calculate this, but it just goes to show how contagious Danny Brown’s positivity is throughout this album. It’s also his shortest album to date, with a star-studded array of features from Blood Orange, Run the Jewels, and JPEGMAFIA. Production-wise, the songs have more of a boom-bap, old-school hip hop feel which makes sense considering Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest produced a majority of the album. The result is a bouncy, fun, yet incredibly mature album from one of hip hop’s greatest rappers right now.

Cate Le Bon – Reward 

Verdict: This is pretty cool.

I didn’t listen to this album up until a couple weeks ago, and I’ve always heard about this Welsh singer-songwriter but never listened to her stuff until very recently. I listened to her 2013 album, Mug Museum, first, and I found myself coming back to it. It sounded like if Nico fronted the Strokes, but I also found her whispery voice extremely unique.

Reward came out this year, so I listened to it as soon as I was done with Mug Museum. This one is a little less rock-oriented, but that’s okay, because the arrangements are a lot cleaner and sophisticated – especially with her use of glockenspiel, horns, and synths. So sonically, she is definitely taking some risks; I would have been delighted to hear some more crunchy indie rock anthems, but this left turn ends up becoming a successful decision once you finish listening to the record. Reward is a very melodically rich album with some very experimental songwriting techniques sprinkled throughout. It’s a good album and I like it, and that’s why I mentioned it. It’s not amazing or mind-blowing, but I do enjoy listening to it. It’s pretty cool. Yeah if this was playing at a party, I’d ask the host, “hey what is this?” and then be like “cool.”

Not every album has to be amazing, because if every album was, then none of them would be, if that makes sense.  But I still appreciate Cate Le Bon for being cool, because she is very cool and talented. She also looks like she could beat me up or at least beat me in chess, which is not very hard because chess can be very difficult because I have ADHD so it’s hard to concentrate because I don’t care enough about the rules of chess it’s a weird game but I’d rather play that than fortnite.

2020, i’ll see you soon. I hope you put out good music. What if you didn’t, that’d be kinda funny too. Like every artist just gives up. That’d low-key be a good idea because my wallet is on its last dying breath. I hope you enjoyed reading this, I’ll see you next week thank you for reading i really appreciate it thank you.