They are often breezy and uncomplicated in arrangement, but Donnelly remains a compelling narrator: On Beware of the Dogs, the songwriter roasts an obnoxious date (“Tricks”), takes inventory of the indignities of the touring life (“Lunch”), stresses about mortality (“Die), and turns in a sober and knowing protest of rape culture. It’s easy to re-write a Thin Lizzy song, but it’s not as easy to bring just enough originality to the table that the dueling guitar lines feel genuinely exciting, making You Deserve Love one of 2019’s most impressive rock albums.–Zac Gelfand, Another artist who toured her last album for years, Jessica Pratt finally followed up her excellent 2015 album On Your Own Love Again with this year’s cinematic and stunning Quiet Signs. But many of our favorite records of the year, like Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors and The National’s I Am Easy To Find, fell somewhere in the middle, as each of those benefitted from swelling strings and grand arrangements. Now three LPs deep, modern punk legends Pup delivered yet another collection of excellent finger-pointing jams with Morbid Stuff. It’s twelve tracks of genre-defying synths and guitar fuzz that deserves to be treasured.–Z.G. The record’s late-night, slightly frayed quality communicates a level of experience that makes Lewis’ intolerance for B.S. Trey Songz Is Bringing Love ‘Back Home’ To R&B, Blackstarkids Are Ready To Take Charge On ‘Whatever, Man’, On ‘The L.I.B.R.A.,’ T.I. This is an emotionally multi-faceted album to luxuriate in. Australian pop-punker Alex Lahey built upon her outstanding debut album with 2019’s The Best of Luck Club, a sophomore effort that recalls some of slacker rock’s finer moments.Lahey’s drawn comparisons to the likes of The Cure, Celebrity Skin era Hole, Paramore, and Tegan and Sara. One of this year’s highlights arrived early in 2019 in the form of Sundara Karma’s sophomore album Ulfilas’ Alphabet. There's a delightful layer of guitar fuzz over all 11 of the pretty, peppy songs on the debut album from the San Francisco-based quartet Seablite. whose second album Bird Songs Of A Killjoy is one of the best folk albums of 2019. —C.W. He sounds like himself, an endlessly thoughtful and unnervingly honest master arranger of words. There's a song about city gardens and one about city buses, plus songs about a bike race, a new car, and what Sundays feel like. On her own, Howard whips up a heady mix of funk, blues, and psychedelia, retaining the overpowering thunder of her blues-rock vocals while venturing into dramatically more adventurous sonic terrain. What are your favorite indie albums of 2019? If you’re still skeptical, just listen to it outside, maybe while eating a popsicle. In her previous work, the Welsh musician has purveyed left-of-center, dreamy yet slightly discordant psych-folk. —Z.G. 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Most of their music couldn’t rightfully be described as easily digestible, but listeners able to get past the chaotic edges will find a core that’s, well, just as chaotic, but also infinitely listenable, and filled with dextrous songwriting and performances.–D.R. The best lyric on the album just might be the first on hearty pop-rocker “Bloom”: “I get anxious on the weekends / When I feel I’m wasting time / But then I think about Tom Petty / And how he wrote his best songs when he was 39.” And the chorus that follows is even better—and more to the point that growing up yields beauty: “And let your spirit bloom / Step into whatever you want to.” Now there’s a command we can get behind. On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Oh My God has a ramshackle energy to it, as well as a distinctly vintage instrumental ambience, that’s likely to encourage such comparisons. Een krachttoer van jewelste, want enkel Bon Ivers ‘i,i’ en het grootse ‘Remind me tomorrow’ van Sharon Van Etten hielden de band van een dubbele topnotering. Featuring some of the best indie songs of 2019, this list of recent indie albums includes the latest music from relatively unknown artists, like Jade Bird and Sasami, to bigger indie acts, like Vampire Weekend and Catfish and the Bottlemen. Or it can leave you feeling high on independence. Thankfully, this year brought us Means To Me, another collection of bedroom night-pop that offers shimmering lyrical insights, velvety melodies, and enough swirling psychedelics to lure you away from your anxiety, up and out, and into your own dreams. Jacklin clearly had to sort through mountains of wreckage to arrive here, but the album’s autobiographical nature is what makes it so affecting. Marrying spectral piano with her own quavering, honeyed vocals, Pratt writes with the kind of wisdom that only experience can instill, but never loses her sense of innocence, either.—Caitlin White. None are content with replicating those inspirations wholesale; there's a pervasive sense of gleeful messing-about along with the reverence for the magic spark they felt when they heard their own favorite music the first time. Somehow, none of this scans as ironic or overtly hokey: When Morby sings lines like “Dear God, please forgive me” three times with a children’s choir accompanying him on “Congratulations”—and then caps that off with a searing guitar solo worthy of a Springsteen climax—it’s hard to believe he is a nonbeliever. On their 16-song, under-30-minute debut album, the duo of Alicia Jeanine and Jed Smith remind us again that sometimes all we need are simple, heartfelt sentiments, sung sweetly to catchy melodies over minimalist guitars and drums. The UK group Black Midi started as a mystery and have since become an alternative math-rock phenomenon.
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