2019 — An Accounting of My Year in Music

Broken Social Scene with Maggie Rogers

2019 marks the end of a decade of deliberate listening, intense tracking of my listening, and better perspective on my relationship with music.

Laura Gibson at Cactus Cafe (Dana Falconberry opening)

Jeff Tweedy at Paramount Theater (Buck Meek opening)

illuminati hotties at Beerland (SXSW)

Tamino at The Bungalow (SXSW)

Broken Social Scene performing You Forgot It In People at The Bungalow (SXSW)

Japanese Breakfast at Mohawk (SXSW)

Hand Habits at Mohawk

Molly Burch came out and they did a Fleetwood Mac song

Will Johnson at Cactus Cafe (Little Mazarn opening)

Lucy Dacus at Moody Theater (ACL taping)

Bill Callahan at Scholz Garden (Jake Xerxes Fussell opening)

The National at Austin 360 Amphitheater (Alvvays opening)

Sharon Van Etten at Moody Theater (ACL taping)

Idles at Mohawk (Sailor Poon opening)

King Princess at Stubbs

(Sandy) Alex G at Mohawk

Wilco at Moody Theater (Molly Sarlé opening)

Big Thief at Stubbs

100 gecs at Moody Theater

These are the albums that didn’t quite crack my top ten but are great in their own regards and deserve attention.

RWANDA, you should be loved by The Good Ones (try Young People Are The Future)

Immunity by Clairo (try Bags)

Cheap Queen by King Princess (try Prophet)

1000 gecs by 100 gecs (try ringtone)

Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest by Bill Callahan (try The Ballad of the Hulk)

The Big Day by Chance the Rapper (try 5 Year Plan)

Young Enough by Charly Bliss (try Blown To Bits)

Remind Me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten (try Seventeen)

These are the ten that stuck with me and define my year in music.

1. Miss Universe by Nilüfer Yanya

A friend recommended this and said “if this isn’t your favorite album of the year, I’m not sure we can be friends.” That got me to listen, but the quality of the songs, the writing, the cohesion of the album drove its placement on the list. Favorite song: Heavyweight Champion of the World

2. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? by Billie Eilish

If Billie Eilish is the future of pop music, everything will be just fine. These songs sound like nothing else out there. Which makes sense because it’s some of the only pop music not written by Max Martin. Favorite song: bad guy

3. U.F.O.F. and Two Hands by Big Thief

Getting two albums in one year by a great musician used to be common place. Now it’s rare. And when it does happen, too often one of the albums can feel like a throw away. Neither of these are a throw away. In fact, I had a hard time deciding which album was better. Both are emotional, profound, and push the band in two different directions. What a run this band is on since 2016’s Masterpiece. Favorite songs: Cattails (U.F.O.F), Not (Two Hands)

4. Cuz I Love You by Lizzo

In March, prior to the release of this album and during SXSW 2019, Lizzo was closing down a showcase at Stubbs. I walked past in the middle of her set, saw a small crowd and kept walking. Having seen Lizzo perform before, I was more interested in finding a new act to see. In October, during Austin City Limits festival, Lizzo’s set was broadcast to stages around the festival to accommodate all the people trying to see her set. In those six months between, Lizzo took the world by storm, including me. The album was undeniable from the first song I heard. Favorite song: Cuz I Love You

5. When I Get Home by Solange

I was late to A Seat At The Table. I promised myself I wouldn’t miss the next Solange album. I gave this the time and attention it deserved and I was rewarded with one of the most musically deep and interesting albums of the decade. Favorite song: Stay Flo

6. House of Sugar by (Sandy) Alex G

I put this album on for the first time on the day it came out. I started from the top with Walk Away. In the first 20 seconds I was thinking “what is this?” and not in a good way. The at 25 seconds, the beat comes in. And by 45 seconds in, I was texting and messaging friends to tell them to listen. As the record went on, I realized why it was so accessible while also being a bit strange. It’s a melting pot of nostalgic music from my youth. Favorite song: Walk Away

7. placeholder by Hand Habits

can’t calm down is the anthem of our times. Tense, dissonant, and building anxiety as the beat drives forward. Thinking back to simpler times, desperately looking for a release. Then a beautiful chorus kicks in and it there’s assurance that it will all be okay, if only for a chorus. And that’s not even my top song from the album. The guitar solo during their live show converted me to jessica. Favorite song: jessica

8. I Am Easy To Find by The National

I fell in and out of love with this album as the year went on. Each time I fell back in love with it, there were a couple songs that stood out in a new way. Pretty soon, the entire album had grown on me. The last such example was during their live show when they played Where Is Her Head. It was refreshing to see the band led by Hannah Georgas and Kate Stables as the lone vocalists on stage for the first 2 plus minutes, Matt Berninger nowhere to be seen. The National completely reinvented themselves with this album. Favorite song: Not In Kansas

9. Athena by Sudan Archives

Sudan Archives was my favorite new artist of 2018. I was obsessed with the self titled EP. I loved the follow up EP Sink. I was thrilled when a full length album dropped late in the year, and it delivered. They took the sounds I loved so much from the EPs, pushed them further and built great songs on top of them. Favorite song: Confessions

10. Thrashing Thru The Passion by The Hold Steady

I thought the Hold Steady were done as a recording act. Craig Finn was well into his 3rd solo album, with a 4th on the way and the band was playing what could be considered nostalgia shows a couple times a year. Then they started dripping out two song singles and all of the sudden this album hit. The first song, Denver Haircut, has a line that encapsulates this record. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, just sort of has to be worth it.” It’s classic Hold Steady. Great riffs and lyrics that stick with you way longer than they should. Favorite song: Confusion in the Marketplace

Here’s a playlist of all the songs mentioned above: 2019 Year End Songs

Catch up on my top ten lists from previous years here: 2016, 2017, 2018. Additionally, my data + music work is compiled here: www.ericboam.com.

Music, Data, and #musicdata | www.ericboam.com