Time to look back and take stock of the 459 albums I listened to this year that were released in 2019. This year I’m replacing my traditional “Honourable Mentions” list with something a little different: Totally Meaningless Year-End Awards for Albums I Think Are Neat. None of these albums will be popping up on my best-of list, but I wanted to shout out some unique and interesting albums from the past year. There’s something new or vital about each of these albums and I wanted to take an opportunity to mention them. The categories, like the points in Whose Line Is It Anyway?, are totally meaningless, but I really think there’s something special about each of these albums.
Crunchiest Album: 100 gecs – 1000 gecs
If trap had taken a hard swerve away from pop music instead of EDM, pop, and trap all becoming increasingly inseparable, it would have sounded something like this.
Second Best Album About the Inevitable Heat Death of Our Planet: Allegaeon – Apoptosis
A surprisingly competitive category this year, but this melodic death metal album is just too loud, fast, and captivating to be shaken out of this spot.
Best Metal Album Inspired by Platonic Philosophy and Aliens: Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
This album is a wild ride, the band promises, “a meditative inquiry on the Mystery & Nature of human consciousness,” but if you don’t want to think too hard it’s also a brutal, atmospheric, and punishing metal album.
Strongest Message of Traumatic Defiance and Vengeance Featuring Both Medieval Compositions and Aluminium Utility Lights: Lingua Ignota – CALIGULA
This album is one of the most daring, inventive, and powerful experimental classical albums I have ever heard. It’s not a fun listen, but the way Kristen Hayter has constructed the album to dismantle power, trauma and misogyny from the inside is something that must be heard at least once. Or, as she puts it: “It is wrath unleashed, scathing, a caustic blood-letting.”
Best Over-Wrought Concept Album By a Tony and Grammy-Award Winner: clipping. – There Existed an Addiction to Blood
I mean, the press release for this album describes clipping. as: “flash fiction genre masters in a hip-hop world firmly rooted in memoir. If first person confessionals historically reign, [clipping.] have spent the last half-decade terraforming their own patch of soil, replete with conceptual labyrinths and industrial chaos.” Overwrought? Definitely. Does it still slap? Oh hell yeah.
Best Guy Fieri Cameo: RL Grime – Halloween VIII
“Listen dude, I gotta tell you, that Halloween VIII, spicy mix bro, on fire! […] Remember, love, peace and taco grease!”
Best Listening Party: Tool – Fear Inoculum
While opinions on this album (like all Tool albums) varied wildly, this band brings people together like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered (nor will I encounter) another band that has had a spiritual effect on so many people and getting together with a big group of new and old friends to listen to their first album in nearly 15 years was a highlight of my year.
Best Album That’s Actually Really Good but That People Hate On Because the Kids are Into It: Billie Eilish – WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
At this point, you can be forgiven for being sick to death of “bad guy,” a song which rocketed the teen singer from obscurity to galaxy-wide fame. That being said, this is an amazing debut from a creative new talent, more assured, confident, and fun than a teenager has any right to be. Very reminiscent of Lorde’s meteoric rise to stardom, and I hope she continues to follow in her footsteps.
Best Non-English Hip-Hop Album: XXX – Second Language
My browser history took a major hit trying to look these guys up, but the South Korean duo of Kim Ximya and FRNK are worth it. This album is an excellent mix of rap trends from North America and Korea, Japan, and China. Very exciting production and smooth-sounding vocals. Worth a spin or ten.
Chill Summer Album of the Year Not Released in the Summer: Earthgang – Mirrorland
Released at the start of September, this album should have been the chill summer album of the year. Instead it sound-tracked the descent from summer into brutal Canadian winter. Guaranteed to make you feel at least a couple of degrees warmer.