Best of 2019/Honorable Mention 2019

@@@ The Muslims: Mayo Supreme (Don’t Panic Records, 2019) Three South Asians (two female, one male) tear it out with all the energy and attitude of classic punk. Great playing, outstanding singing and lyrics. As punk as some of my favorite punk shit of all time. Favorite track: The Stew.

@@@ The Good Ones: Rwanda, You Should Be Loved (Anti-, 2019) An acoustic record by survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. It’s hard to put a non-cliche word on this music — heartbreaking is a good place to start. Simple guitar parts and beautiful singing. Start with track 2, Despite it All I Still Love You, My Dear Friend.

@@@ Loscil: Equivalents (kranky, 2019) A super engaging and slow ambient record. Meticulously layered into one giant cloud that pulls you in. The word Equivalent appears in every track title and the record has a pleasing sameness to it sonically. Something at this slow pace in today’s world is super welcome. Pick whatever track and dive right in.

@@@ Canalon de Timbiqui: De Mar Y Rio (Llorona, 2019) Similar in style and beauty (minimalist, acoustic, incredible singing) as the Good Ones record but with female singers and marimbas at the center of the record. Some folks just let the music out of their bodies.

@@@ Kelly Moran: Ultraviolet (Warp, 2019) One of the best records I’ve heard that combines electronic and improvised music. I find the blend of prepared piano and synthesizers mesmerizing to listen to. A lot of electronic music can sound overly processed and sterile and that’s avoided here. At the same time post classical prepared piano records can be a bit uptight and that’s avoided here as well. The idea of this record being a bit John Cage and a bit Tim Hecker is an apt description.

@@@ The Garifuna Collective: Aban (Stonetree, 2019) A cultural mash of Caribbean musics — places like Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The Garifuna are a people in that region and this music is a unique mash of Carribean, Brazilian, and African influences. Rhythmically on fleek for sure with more gorgeous singing. Check out the effortless groove of the third tune Hamala.

@@@ Andre Bratten: Pax American (Smalltown Supersound, 2019) Tight, funky and minimalist techno out of Scandinavia. The distinguishing feature here is the focus of the arrangements. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on but if you listen just below casual beats are shifting and sounds are coming and receding in waves making for a subtly dynamic record. Bears up to repeated listens for sure, I have it on now for the umpteenth and I feel its freshness revealed.

@@@ Nathan Corder/Tom Weeks: Black Mamba (Wolf’s Blood, 2019) Slotted as a hardcore record on Apple Music it is a saxophone and guitar free jazz record that is accurately self-titled in the below track. Trash music in the highest sense of the word. I never really understood or got Cecil Taylor’s music but I get this. The third track, Gripped, is killer.

@@@ Wyxz: Yiy (Self-released, 2018)  Not available on Apple Music (possibly other streaming music stores)  this is both brutal, mental and cerebral.  If this doesn’t get your blood pressure up you might be dead.  Accelerated tempos, manic and jumpy ass guitar sounds, it’s Frank Zappa with a Red Bull shot into its eyeball for a quick hit.

HONORABLE MENTION

@@@ Brittany Howard: Jaime (ATO, 2019) Much more appealing to my ears than her previous work with Alabama Shakes. Interesting sonically and arranged with more daring than 99% of today’s major label music. Just a tiny bit of jazz mind makes this stand out.

@@@ Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka (Polydor, 2019) A soulful re-enactment of classic late ’60s, early ’70s soul music by this British singer. Standard concious lyrics, and groomed sounds. A slight update/upgrade to these classic sounds would have put this on the best of year list.

@@@ Deafkids: Metaprogramacao (Neurot, 2019) A tad slow out of the gate it gets into it’s own definition of a wicked shred by the fourth tune, Mente Bicameral. There’s not a lot of new non-metal rock and this formula could be a way forward.

@@@ clipping.: There Existed an Addiction to Blood (Sub Pop, 2019) clipping. is sharp as a tack on this Seattle hip hop record out on Sub Pop. Sonically it leans a bit away from hip hop and more towards electro and I feel that. Those fresher sounds reframe his music as something more than standard hip hop.

@@@ Danny Brown: uknowwhati’msayin (Warp, 2019) I like Brown’s style– he’s got an odd delivery and his lyrics are most definitely left field. He’s street and quirky ass odd at the same time. I like the track with Run with Jewels and Killer Mike’s turn on the mic is a standout. I found the middle of the record to be hotter than the beginning.

@@@ Bonnie Baxter: Axis (Haisu Mountain, 2019) You have to be able to admit the chopped up nature of our present day digital reality, as well as our shattered attention spans to enter into this organic electronic music which sounds really ancient and super today at the same time. It’s raw and unfiltered like good honey. Highlight: No DICC.

@@@ Toko Telo: Diavola (Daniel Brandt, 2018) This guitar heavy folk music out of Madagascar is my best music pick for corporate stooges. It’s just straight beauty with gorgeous interwoven guitar playing and soaring vocals. Check out the third tune Zaza Samondrara for a taste.

@@@ Kaleta and Super Yamba Band: Medaho (Ubiquity, 2019) One part African blurred and mashed up with one part classic American funk (including old school wah wah guitar shredding. Check out the second song, Mr. Diva and go from there.

@@@ Bug Martin: Gutterball (Pyrrhic Victory, 2019) Starts a bit slow but it’s on the list here due to the fourth song, Hypocrite’s Rag and the fifth, Jim Rodgers’ Blues. Very well executed update/homage to lonesome classic country.

@@@ Saint Abdullah: Mechanical Flirtations (True Aether, 2019) Holding down that space where electronic music meets improvised music. Also the inclusion of Iranian music (this record is a project between two brothers in Brooklyn and Tehran) makes this a unique effort. Outside of that interesting fact the music hits viscerally, just the way I like it.

@@@ Tobe Nwigwe: The Originals (Tobe Nwigwe, 2018) A first generation Nigerian-American MC from Houston that mashes up dancehall and hip hop with an undercover African flavor to it. His microphone work is sharp and combined with his excellent lyrics he is a force to be reckoned with. His sounds are as focused as his lyrics.

@@@ Logistic Slaugher: Corrosive Ethics (Logistic Slaughter, 2016) If I’ve never heard a metal band like this I’m guessing most listeners out there have not either. It’s not about the extreme sounds of the band, it’s that the singers sounds like a pig trying to sing jazz — he bounces up and down on rhythmically over the band, it’s quite mad.

@@@ Buzzherd: Buzzherd EP (Self-released, 2019) 21 minutes of roughness. Remember kiddies it’s not about who is the roughest, it’s about how it’s all put together. I tend to gravitate to the pissed singers rather than the cavemen and that’s what’s happening here.

@@@ Oli XL: Rogue Intruder, Soul Enhancer (Bloom, 2019) I would describe this as sci-fi electro funk with trippy, glitched bits on top. Chopped and delayed vocal samples, slick beats and slightly dubwise sounds in the arrangement constitute the formula here. The fourth track here, Mimetic, is a highlight but the depth and space of this record works for me.

@@@ Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (Ghosteen Ltd., 2019) The sounds contained on this record are mesmerizing and superlative. However, Cave’s transformation into some sort of emotional advisor/New Age philosopher is slightly less welcome to me as an occasional annoying line pulls me out of the sounds.

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