|Posted on December 30, 2019 at 10:05 AM|
Again we find ourselves at the end of a year and the annual Listing of the Things. And like every year, it feels like we just did this five minutes ago.
First up: Music.
These tunes are somewhat vaguely listed in order of great to outstanding, so keep reading. The one and only rule: This is a selection of albums and singles I discovered in 2019, without any regard for release date.
Whether yours are truly new or new-to-you, what tunes made your Best-Of list?
I also created a Spotify playlist so you can listen to the entire bag in one go. Does anyone else miss making mix tapes as much as I do?***
Speaking of which...keep an eye on this page for more details. I'm hatching a scheme.
21. My husband Captain H was watching...something...and this started playing. I stopped what I was doing and didn't move, lest I miss a word.
Richie Havens' "Handsome Johnny" from Mixed Bag. Folk.
20. I'm picky about jazz,but I loved Maceo Parker's Roots Revisited.
19. I'm not a huge fan of Dolly Parton's voice, but she's a badass, and this song has stayed firmly in my head. Title track from this year's release: Little Sparrow. Bluegrass.
Also wasn't expecting this...! Pretty impressive cover of Collective Soul's "Shine".
18. Okay, the whole world loves Lizzo. But she's hilarious and can seriously belt 'em out, like a bawdy Etta James. R&B.
17. I'm probably the only person who hadn't heard Gil Scott-Heron's album The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, so I quickly remedied that. R&B/Soul.
16. Can't believe it took me this long to really listen to Big Mama Thornton. She originated "Hound Dog", but unlike Elvis', her version (on Ball n' Chain) makes sense. Blues.
15. I love a song that can tell a story, like Laura Marling's "What He Wrote" on the album I Speak Because I Can. Indie rock.
14. You like Foo Fighters? You might like Minus the Bear, who I discovered simply because I liked the cover of this disc.
"Zeros" from Infinity Overhead. Indie rock.
13. I was blown away by the very first note and dropped beat of Jacob Banks' "Chainsmoking". From Village. R&B.
12. Lyle Lovett's country is good, but his blues is outstanding. From Pontiac, here's "She's No Lady".
11. We saw the Mekons live this summer, and this one immediately grabbed me. If you can catch them in person, do; their banter is some of the best.
"How Many Stars" from Deserted. Indie rock.
10. Shakey Graves' "Dearly Departed" gives me chills, thanks in no small part to Esmé Patterson. Rock.
9. Speaking of dead things, though I might not be the biggest Billie Eilish fan, "Bury a Friend" is a masterpiece. EDM(?)
8. I was putzing around with Captain H and our buddy Curt in Rolling Stones Records—it hasn't changed a bit since 1971—and stumbled on Kingfish loaded in the preview player. From the first few notes of "Outside of this Town", I was hooked.
7. Levon Helm's last album, Electric Dirt, made me want to hear what else members of The Band released. Sadly, there isn't much, and some members seem to have only recorded with the group. Check out "When I Go Away", a fantastic gospel tune that owes a tip of the hat to Gil Scott-Heron, which I realized while putting this list together.
6. I couldn't tear myself away from Cyn's debut single "Holy Roller", or this video. Pop.
5. I also love an album that doesn't overstay it's welcome, like Superchunk's What a Time to Be Alive. Turn this title track to 11 or you're not really living. Indie rock.
4. It amazes me how Brittany Howard can sound so much like Al Green. "Goat Head" from Jaime is the most powerful song I've heard all year. R&B.
3. We discovered Ian Noe opening for Colter Wall. As much as I adore Wall, we were especially taken with Noe. You dig Dylan? Here's a coherent new talent in that same vein.
Title track from Between the Country
2. Not sure how I came upon Crooked Fingers, but I'm in love with this album. There simply is no bad track. Captain H thinks Eric Bachmann sounds like a more tuneful Tom Waits; I hear a little Springsteen influence. Indie Rock.
1. Thanks to some untaggable friends, I learned about The Mahogany Sessions. While clicking randomly on their Best Of 2019 selections, I discovered Hamzaa, who was only 19 when she recorded "Hard to Love". Pick your jaw up off the floor and and enjoy. R&B/Soul.
Scott Walker wins the year, but he needs a separate post. Trust me.
***Unfortunately, Dolly Parton is not included on the Spotify playlist. The album Little Sparrow isn't available, and although the live version of the song is, it's not a patch on the studio version.
The Spotify playlist does, however, include my niece's debut single, "To Break a Habit." She's not included above since I don't rank my family and friends, but she does deserve a shout-out. Take a bow, Kyriae!