Top 10 Albums-2019 (and then some)

Been away for a while but I’m making a conscious effort to come back to the blog, and the way I have chosen to do so is with the obligatory Top 10 Albums list. All us music geeks do this every year so we can compare, contrast, and argue about the records included (and placement of said records on the lists) with our friends. If you’re not into this sort of thing…sorry. I’ll write something with more universal appeal next time. But maybe check it out anyway, you could find a new favorite for yourself.

A quick note about the list. These are all records/cds I actually purchased. I know, crazy. My tastes lean toward rock music and most subsets thereof, and Americana/outlaw country ( not pop country or bro country or whatever it’s called these days). While I do listen to other miscellaneous genres I don’t tend to actually purchase full records very often in those areas. I just hear a few songs I dig on the radio now and then, but not full albums so you will seldom find that stuff on my list.

Rules: Only new releases count. No compilations or live records. No E.P.s.

PART ONE: THE ALMOST MADE ITS

This is the stuff I really dug but just didn’t quite get on the list. Still very much worth listening to though. Here we go, in no particular order:

STRAY CATS-40 (It’s everything you expect it to be. Lots of fun, but perhaps overlong.)

ELI “PAPERBOY” REED-99 CENT DREAMS (A modern Stax album. R&B soul that is infectious and always makes me smile when I hear it. I will kick myself later for leaving this off the actual list.)

DADDY LONG LEGS-LOWDOWN WAYS (Three guys keeping Delta blues alive. Lots of harmonica,)

ELENI MANDELL-WAKE UP AGAIN (Mandell is a singer/songwriter who uses straightforward arrangements to create electric folk/indie songs that are powerful, sobering and relevant. Inspired by her visits to women’s prisons, teaching songwriting. Good stuff.)

Okay, here it is, 2019 TOP 10

10. KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD-INFEST THE RAT’S NEST                       (METAL!!! This is an interesting take on the Thrash Metal genre by a heavy psych band. Maybe it’s not the metal masterpiece they envisioned, and it’s probably one rewrite away from being an excellent concept album…but the thrash is there-as is a long Sabbath-y jam in the middle. And it reminded me of listening to early Metallica and Anthrax in my room as a teen and discovering this type of music when it was all new. And that’s enough to put it on the list.)

9. THE RUBINOOS-FROM HOME                                                                                                      (Power pop perfection from one of the greats of the genre. This one’s a little sugary-sweet compared to some of their more recent output, but a class record nonetheless.)

8. THE BLACK KEYS-LET’S ROCK                                                                                                     (I am a casual at best fan of this band, but when I like their stuff I really like it. Almost every song here is a good one and a few of them remind me of old T. Rex. it’s a good time.)

7. BOB MOULD-SUNSHINE ROCK                                                                                                    (More punk/alt/hard rock from onetime Husker Du and Sugar member Bob Mould. This is a upbeat record for him and sounds great played loud. I just wish the vocals were louder in the mix, but that’s a minor complaint.)

6. VOLBEAT-REWIND, REPLAY, REBOUND                                                                                  (This is the big rock record you didn’t know you needed. Volbeat are often criticized for having an identity problem as they have touched on lots of different rock genres throughout their career. I say that’s what makes ’em interesting. While there is  a little bit of metal and rockabilly punk mixed in, this record is all big rock riffs and catchy hooks. If you think rock is dead, listen up and think again.)

5. DRESSY BESSY-FAST FASTER DISASTER                                                                                   (My main summer record. It’s a cool mix of indie rock and power pop with a touch of girl power attitude that I dig more and more every time I listen.)

4. THE WHO-WHO                                                                                                                               (I know, I thought it would go higher too. Having The Who back is wonderful, and the fact that the tunes are as good as they are is fantastic. They are my favorite band, and this is their best record since Moon died. The references to their career both musically and lyrically are much appreciated. However…I have issues. This album, good as it is, doesn’t have that song on it. All Who records, even the bad ones, have at least one song that really gets to me and I just don’t hear it here. In fact, a lot of thee tunes sound like unfinished demos to me that Pete just decided to call good and get Rog to sing on. I’m also not a fan of the sequence of the songs. I get why they structured the record as they did, but it explodes out of the gates and limps to the finish line. Now, maybe it came out too late in the year and I will grow to like it more with time. Some albums take a while to get under your skin. As it stands though, I think it’s a very good record, but not a great one.)

3. THE ALARM-SIGMA                                                                                                                        (Okay, so it’s basically part 2 of last year’s Equals, but it’s just as good. Mike Peters faces his wife’s cancer fight, and his own experience with the disease, head on. There are big rock anthems mixed with reflection and introspection, all sung with passion, poetry and honesty. A prime example of an 80’s band that keeps getting better.)

2. THE HIGHWOMEN-THE HIGHWOMEN                                                                                      (Possibly the most important record of the year. This is a well made record that does exactly what good country music should do. It can make you laugh one minute and then punch you in the gut the next. Sure, this is a super group and super groups tend to fall apart after a few years, but these four strong, powerful women have created a record that I believe will stand the test of time. And no, the name isn’t about disrespect, but equality, and acts as an homage to the greats who came before.)

And finally…

1. JOE JACKSON-FOOL                                                                                                                         (I started out this year saying that this was the album to beat and, well, nobody beat it. The songs alternate between humorous and serious, and are all expertly written and performed. This record also features one of the best mixes I have ever heard. If you have dismissed Joe Jackson as a guy who had a few piano pop hits in the 80’s, do yourself a favor and reinvestigate his catalog. This would be an excellent place to start.)

 

Okay, that’s it. Thanks for reading all this nonsense those of you who did. Back soon.