Andrew Stewart Poop 2019

BEST: 2019

Buy Fontaines D.C. / Dogrel New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
1. Fontaines D.C. / Dogrel: Brash and smashing, these Irish rockers come out of the gate confident and polished on this ass-kicking debut. With powerful performances amplifying surprisingly sophisticated songwriting, this is instantly appealing stuff. (And the cocky, snarling brogue just makes it better.) Big things lie ahead. (playlist: ”Boys in the Better Land”)

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2. Helado Negro / This Is How You Smile: After a few beautiful but unformed albums, here Roberto Lange has put it all together. I just wanted to saturate myself in these lovely, thoughtful songs all year. Feels like the right energy for right now. (playlist: ”Seen My Aura”)

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3. Laura Stevenson / The Big Freeze: Why do certain albums sink in their teeth so deeply? These are gorgeous, spare, melancholy songs that feel like they actually mean something, sung in a pure, lonesome style. Magical, and underappreciated. (playlist: ”Living Room, NY”)

Buy Purple Mountains by Purple Mountains New or Used via Amazon       Buy New or Used via Amazon      Rent via iTunes [?]
4. Purple Mountains / Purple Mountains: “Songs build little rooms in time / And housed within the song’s design / Is the ghost the host has left behind / To greet and sweep the guest inside / Stoke the fire and sing his lines.” A beautiful, tragic coda. (playlist: ”Storyline Fever”)

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5. Faye Webster / Atlanta Millionaires Club: She’s young, but she’s got style. Though these are straight-ahead missing-you songs with a country-rock flavor, she does a late-70’s chanteuse thing with her vocals that’s a bit of a magic trick, and it’s great. (playlist: ”Kingston”)

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6. PUP / Morbid Stuff: In a year full of music that was quiet and contemplative, this one stood out in contrast. With angry, bombastic songs ignoring big themes and focusing on the small stuff, this explosion of feverish pop-punk energy is simple, but effective. (playlist: ”Closure”)

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7. Kevin Morby / Oh My God: With a style starkly different from his earlier stuff, this was initially puzzling. A thematic song cycle about spirituality and interconnectedness, this is a big, ambitious bite that he almost pulls off. The songs themselves are gorgeous, soulful and timeless hymns, spun from the flax of his airplane dreams. (playlist: ”I Want To Be Clean”)

Buy All Mirrors by Angel Olsen New or Used via Amazon       Buy New or Used via Amazon     Rent via iTunes [?]
8. Angel Olsen / All Mirrors: With utter commitment and total vulnerability, a big sound and a full orchestra, Angel’s finally ready for her star turn, confessing and then reconciling with her fears. Rich, moving and intermittently astonishing. Wake up, Neko! (playlist: ”Spring”)

Buy Big Thief / U.F.O.F. New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
9. Big Thief / U.F.O.F.: Of the two exceptional albums they put out this year, this one is better, quieter but meticulously crafted with beautiful details, the lyrics like illuminated poems that resonate and amplify as they turn over in your mind. (playlist: ”Century”)

Buy Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ / Live The Love Beautiful New or Used via Amazon    Buy New or Used via Amazon    Rent via iTunes [?]
10. Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ / Live The Love Beautiful: This simply sounds like a lost Tom Petty album, and I couldn’t get enough. For some reason this one flew under the radar, but – crackling with energy and rocking hard, it’s worth a spin. (playlist: ”I Used To Live Around Here”)

11. (Sandy) Alex G / House of Sugar: A set of beautiful, emotional pop songs that at times evoke Elliot Smith, layered with psychedelic meditations. Rewards repeat listens. (playlist: “Crime”)
12. Tyler, The Creator / IGOR: What hip-hop sounds like right now, full of joy and with an intensely soulful feel, it’s like a Stevie Wonder mashup. (playlist: “Running Out of Time”)
13. Stef Chura / Midnight: Grungy Detroit rocker, this time produced by Will Toledo, and here she’s finally found her slot: Joan Jett meets Sleater Kinney. (playlist: “Sweet Sweet Midnight”)
14. Better Oblivion Community Center / Better Oblivion Community Center: Conor Oberst is back and as good as ever, but possibly outshined by Phoebe Bridgers. (playlist: “My City”)
15. Patio / Essentials: Yes, they may be literal Violent Femmes, but listen carefully: there’s sadness here, and more vicious honesty than you think, and it’s powerful. (playlist: “Split”)
16. Peaer / A Healthy Earth: Labeled as slowcore and delivering the loud-quiet-loud, they’re doing more of White Denim thing here, maybe with a touch of Zappa. (playlist: “Multiverse”)
17. Clairo / Immunity: Hate if you must, but she’s got an absolutely unbelievable voice, and Rostam’s production is over-the-top amazing. Lana del who? (playlist: “Softly”)
18. Toro Y Moi / Outer Peace: “James Murphy is spinning at my house.” He’s got one of the broadest palettes of anyone in music and here it’s beats, all night. (playlist: “Monte Carlo”)
19. Brockhampton / GINGER: A comedown from their last few albums, this didn’t get the love it deserved. Maybe they’re complacent, but this is full of great moments. (playlist: “Boy Bye”)
20. Fruit Bats / Past Gold Life: A perennial favorite, Eric Johnson just writes great songs. This album’s got a little Bee Gee’s 70’s-sidestep action built in, for fun. (playlist: “Cazadera”)
21. Sam Cohen / The Future’s Still Ringing in My Ears: Morby’s guy plays, guitar fans go gaga
22. Tiny Ruins / Olympic Girls: this New Zealand band is special, playing literate, complex pop
23. Mannequin Pussy / Patience: “And everyone says to me / Missy, how do you stand?” Fuck yes.
24. Girlfriend Material / Cool Car: complete unknowns do a great Fountains of Wayne homage
25. GoldLink / Diaspora: full of manic energy and hard-edged beats, this wins on every level

Allah-Las / LAHS: dropping the surf, keeping the rock, they’ve entered the acid-test jam stage
American Football / American Football (LP3): epic emo that only comes around once in a while
Aaron Beckum / Obsolete: lo-fi sound, hi-concept ideas, he’s a modern wolf in sheep’s clothing
Big Thief / Two Hands: if not for The Other, we’d be talking about this a lot more. But: “Not.”
Black Midi / Schlagenheim: yes, it’s nearly unlistenable – but walking on hot coals has its charms
Bleached / Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough: straight-ahead punk-pop from the valley
Bon Iver / i,i: he’s happy standing just at the edge of the spotlight, messing with the shape of things
Chance The Rapper / The Big Day: this should have been better, a “debut” that felt overstuffed
Charly Bliss / Young Enough: totally compelling synth-heavy pop, like Flasher on helium
Mikal Cronin / Seeker: a homogenized production sound doesn’t dull the joy of Beatles worship
Crumb / Jinx: incredible discipline keeps this calm, quiet set of songs locked in and fascinating
Deerhunter / Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?: less weird, he’s lost his way a bit
Lana Del Rey / Norman Fucking Rockwell: it’s fine, even pleasant – but blandness shouldn’t win
Mac DeMarco / Here Comes The Cowboy: shrinking further into himself, daring us to follow
DIIV / Deceiver: this incredible psych-rock album barely got noticed, but he’s probably great live
Tim Easton / Exposition: our close pal and actual Woody Guthrie acolyte only makes great music
Billie Eilish / When We Fall Asleep…: despite all the anxious baggage, this is really, really good
Jake Xerxes Fussell / Out of Sight: student of history brings lost traditionals to life, with class
Jay Som / Anak Ko: a serviceable follow-up to her last amazing album, she’s playing it safe here
Girlpool / What Chaos is Imaginary: the lead singer’s gender transition adds depth and contrast
Cherry Glazerr / Stuffed & Ready: her latest role, Dusty Springfield covers Heart B-sides, is solid
Steve Gunn / The Unseen In Between: a slow and steady climb to what feels like inevitable fame
Marika Hackman / Any Human Friend: another powerful, sophisticated set of sad, quiet songs
Hand Habits / placeholder: she’s out on her own, after something very specific – and it’s working
Aldous Harding / Designer: Spotify’s algorithm dealt me this card early, and it hit the spot
Julia Jacklin / Crushing: Aussie rocker clearly has a Courtney crush, and it’s a great idea
King Princess / Cheap Queen: there are many reasons to resist this, but the truth is: she’s a star
Michael Kiwanuka / Kiwanuka: modern sounds in long-form British soul, deep and enjoyable
Steve Lacy / Apollo XXI: here, enjoy the only palatable aspect of Vampire Weekend’s latest, solo
Cate LeBon / Reward: this shit is just weird, but I kept listening and it started to make sense
Lizzo / Cuz I Love You: a fantastic album, impossible to resist, and deserving of all the acclaim
Cass McCombs / Tip of the Sphere: Cass gets more familiar and less accessible all at once
The Mountain Goats / In League With Dragons: “Waylon Jennings Live!” answers all queries
The Mystery Lights / Too Much Tension!: sociopathic anthems, sung through cheesecloth
oso oso / basking in the glow: unadulterated emo pleasure; there’s literally no reason not to
Palehound / Black Friday: confessional guitar pop, similar in tone to Jay Som, but better
Pottery / No. 1: for those missing Parquet Courts this year, check out “Hank Williams” et al
Queen of Jeans / if you’re not afraid, I’m not afraid: Philly folk-rock, electric and sad
Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone / Hot Spring: better than Wilco this year, and weirdly off-kilter
Emily Reo / Only You Can See It: if The Bee went solo, leaving the Bird behind? Boom.
Ty Segall / First Taste: Segall fatigue even hits Ty, who dips here despite a solid set of songs
Squid / Town Centre (EP): if Schlagenheim were less difficult, they’d sound more like this
Leeroy Stagger / Strange Path: our pals from Alberta go out on a limb, and get it done
Sharon Van Etten / Remind Me Tomorrow: not what I wanted, and that’s my fault, but notable
Wand / Laughing Matter: concentrate until you relax, and let the wash of sound envelop you
Juan Waters / Introducing Juan Pablo: the English-language twin of two albums this year, sweet
Nilüfer Yanya / Miss Universe: “Heavyweight Champion of the Year” explains everything

Bill Callahan / Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
The National / I Am Easy to Find
Donald J. Trump / Just Die Already (of Natural Causes)
Weyes Blood / Titanic Rising

*In 2018, for the first time ever, I completely missed what turned out to be the best album of the year. Jeff Rosenstock’s “POST-“ is a powerful, profane and inspired tour de force of confessional punk, the songs saturated with alienation and charged with an almost-bemused disgust with the state of the world we’re living in. To quote a friend, on this album, every song is the best song. Mea culpa. Couldn’t let the year pass without putting it on the record.

Andrew Stewart
Rhinebeck, NY