Now for my top albums of the year…
MY TOP 5 ALBUMS 2019
5. Floating Points – Crush
This year, I began diving deeper into the electronic world. Floating Points is one of those legends who can teach you a lot about all of the different crevices of this endless universe of music. Knowing how meticulous Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points, has been with his work over the past decade, it is incredible that he created Crush in a matter of five weeks. You can really hear how everything just flowed from his fingers to his intricate machine experiments. The stripped-down, melodic sounds put you at ease as the first track exquisitely prepares you for an album full of purely electronic music. Sometimes you think it is going in the direction of something chaotic and hard to understand. Suddenly, a beautiful melody slowly starts to swim toward you. It is in that moment where you find yourself drifting with chaos and beauty all at once.
After a big tour with The xx, he decided to create a world of “aggressive, obtuse music.” An album that reflects stress and urgency that we haven’t heard in his past work – music “born in a realm of improvised live performance.” This is an album of Sam Sheperd truly letting loose on his favorite machines. He decided to forget about his exacting craft for a moment and genuinely connect with his world of synthesizers, drum machines, and sequencers.
4. Octo Octa – Resonant Body
This year, there’s been a beautiful nature theme I’ve seen in lots of electronic albums and EPs. Boreal Massif and Octo Octa being two of my favorites. I admire Octo Octa because she is an incredible producer and DJ that focuses on calling the dancers to move their bodies to a message of love. After a year of touring, she recorded the tracks at her cabin in New Hampshire, where she could truly connect with the surrounding nature. I love when producers intertwine such a simple yet intricate theme like nature. There’s a blissful moment when a DJ plays it on the thumping dancefloor. You close your eyes, take a step back into the ethereal sounds, and truly feel the glimmering vibrations of nature resonate through your body. You can definitely hear a 1990s sound echo throughout the album, playing with breakbeats and ambient styles that showcase just how talented she is.
When I listen to Resonant Body, messages of self-empowerment, intimacy, and comfort are sent through my veins. The different tracks gifted me with warmth on lonely days and self-love when I thought I didn’t have anymore. It makes me want to dance all night long, jump onto some decks to DJ, and learn to produce meaningful electronic tunes. Not only does this album connect with you through your headphones as you bike to the other side of the city, but it also has loads of crowd-pleasing bangers for any DJ to spin at their next set.
Resonant Body was released on Octo Octa and Eris Drew’s label, T4T LUV NRG. They are all about putting out music for “DJing, dancing, kissing, and crying,” and that truly resonates on this album. Click the link below to buy her album! 50% of the profits from the album will be donated to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP). This project works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence.
3. Little Simz – GREY Area
For anyone going through a quarter-life crisis like myself, listen to Little Simz’s GREY Area. Made during a confusing time in her life, she raps about anxiety, reminiscing about old times, self-care, writer’s block, and so much more. The punchy hooks, funky bass, and admirable vulnerability shine bright throughout the album. Her unapologetic lyrics coincide perfectly with clever melodies that make you feel invincible by the end of the record. She’s powerful, honest, and confident.
People don’t prepare you for your 20s. All you know is that it is supposed to be the best time of your life where you figure everything out. What you don’t expect are the super highs and the super lows that no one seems to mention before you hit 25. For me, Little Simz successfully brings you on this journey of self-confusion. GREY Area has free-flowing energy that goes up, down, and then back up, shifting through different feelings of self-realization. As I think about the uncertainty that the mid-20s brings me, Little Simz’s smooth songwriting takes my hand. It validates all of the roller coaster feelings many of us are feeling at 25. GREY Area has so many corners to praise, therefore making it my favorite hip hop album of the year.
2. Faye Webster – Atlanta Millionaires Club
Faye Webster’s third album, Atlanta Millionaires Club, sounds like a golden shimmer reflecting off your rearview mirror. Tracks from the first part of the album wrap around your eardrums like a warm summer’s day – driving down your favorite highway with the windows down while the sounds of her swooning guitars, sleepy vocals, and mingling percussions turn into your soundtrack of the day. As you make your way to the end of the album, different styles start to seep in. Suddenly, the tracks are your soundtrack to heartbreak. For those moments where you catch yourself in slow motion at your favorite bar, longing for that one lover who has always grasped your heart. These familiar sounds of R&B and melancholic soul speak to those late-night summer blues.
Faye Webster nonchalantly intermixes a contradiction of styles that stole my heart the first listen through. She transitions from genres such as country, indie folk, pop-folk, R&B, and soul. She sings about real, self-deprecating themes but doesn’t reveal any signs of feeling sorry for herself. Instead, her steel pedal, dreamy keys, and breathy saxophone replace the empathy you might feel. As Faye Webster ends the album with the beautiful “Johnny (Reprise),” it’s as if she’s speaking into your ear, waking you up from a glistening dream of heartbreak and sorrow.
1. Clairo – Immunity
The only thing that I will condemn the Spotify algorithms for is my unhealthy relationship with Clairo’s debut album, Immunity. For me, Immunity was the type of record that had me crying on the first listen. The lyrics instantly spoke to me, and the flow from each track had me hooked. After hearing its entirety for the first time, I unconsciously played it again from the beginning. I continued this habit for about a month straight. In the summer, my finger would numbly navigate over my phone screen to Immunity every time I put my headphones on and walked out my front door. At one point, I caught myself making these automatic motions and thought to myself, “Sav, don’t press play. Don’t do it. Pick something different. Come on, you’ve got this. You’re going to overplay it, come on.” But consistently, I would go against these thoughts and listen to Clairo’s soothing voice once more. Maybe it was the timing of the album that made me so addicted to hearing her songs instead of my own thoughts. Or perhaps it was because I have a weak spot for pop music, and she just about pulls at every heartstring. Whatever the case may be, Clairo’s debut album shines with thoughtful productions, honest lyrics, and unique details hidden amongst her angelic voice.
Even months after its release, I’m still finding new parts that I didn’t know existed. With the help of Rostam, this album is definitely my number one because of its production. From a Danielle Haim cameo on drums in two of the tracks to the subtle choir of children, then back to the sparkling piano breaks, cleverly placed synths, etc.; it all ties together into an endless journey of discovery.
Her authentic yet straightforward lyrics hit somewhere deep, causing me to sing the songs loud and proud. Clairo’s breathless delivery, honest ballads, and mature soft-rock birthed an ethereal album that stole so many people’s hearts.
On the first page you will find my Top 5 tracks from 2019, on the next page you can check out my Spotify playlist for all of my top albums and songs of the year plus some honorable mention here you can find this year’s annual list and others from the past years.