This year marks the first time that some end-of-year favorite albums were enjoyed on streaming platforms only. That probably tells you all you need to know about my old-man embrace of the contemporary listening experience.


Cate Le BonReward

The daffy “it girl” from Wales finally recorded an album with deep emotional resonance, and the effect was as impressive as I could have hoped for.


Helado NegroThis is How You Smile

In the brutal year of 2019, it was very, very hard to resist the easy-listening charms of this 1.5-gen musician.


Waste of Space OrchestraSyntheosis

This Tampere, Finland supergroup created an album that teases a musical future that, in its finest moments, extreme metal has always promised.


Hand HabitsPlaceholder

Lonesome, country-flecked indie rock need never die.


The Dream SyndicateThese Times

I’m stunned that this is the best album these Paisley Underground legends have recorded since 1985.


Sturgill SimpsonSound & Fury

The sound of 1970s boogie-rockers exploring 1980s synth-and-gated-drums production values has always intrigued me. Throw in Simpson’s thick drawl and album-length anime video, and I’m in.


Raphael SaadiqJimmy Lee

Another fantastic solo album from the former Tony! Toni! Toné! Frontman. (Now reunite Lucy Pearl!)


Big ‡ BraveA Gaze Among Them

Montreal always holds the flag for dramatic, goth-y rock. This minimalist trio upholds the city’s tradition with a pounding, cavernous sound.


Purple MountainsPurple Mountains

R.I.P. David Berman.


Steve GunnThe Unseen In Between

Because I’m a sad dad, right?


Blacks’ MythsII

Scratched an itch I didn’t know I had. Experimental album of the year.

Blacks’ Myths II by Blacks’ Myths


Kim GordonNo Home Record

But of course, we should’ve known she’d turn out the best post-Sonic Youth album.


LizzoCuz I Love You

Yeah, I gave in.


Weyes BloodTitanic Rising

Far her left-field beginnings, Natalie Mering finally honed her soft-rock aesthetic to perfection.


Oceans of the MoonOceans of the Moon

Dude from Six Finger Satellite formed a new group and successfully revived their deathless synth-punk sound.



90s electronica that swipes that Swinging London vibe need never die.


Black MountainDestroyer

I miss Amber Webber and Joshua Wells (whose latest album as Lightning Dust was quite worthy), but the reconstituted Black Mountain hardly missed a sinister boogie-rock beat.




At age 51, I listened to more metal than ever before. Some world, huh? I’d sound ridiculous if I tried to parse all the sub-genre classifications here.


Blut Aus NordHallucinogen




GygaxHigh Fantasy


High CommandBeyond the Wall of Desolation


ObsequiaeThe Palms of Sorrowed Kings


SUNN 0)))Life Metal


TeitanbloodThe Baneful Choir


Toxic HolocaustPrimal Future: 2019