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Top Ten Albums of 2019

Top Ten Albums of 2019

2019 was another great year for music lovers. Vinyl is expected to outsell CDs for the first time in decades, proving there's still a market for the old-school appreciation of analog, even in an era where streaming dominates how consumers listen. If the year had a theme, it was female singer-songwriters of all ages from Los Angeles. Seventeen-year-old Billie Eilish's first full-length record emerged from her bedroom and took over every nook and cranny of pop culture. Thirty-four-year-old Lana Del Rey made her best music yet. And forty-three-year-old Jenny Lewis created timeless classic rock with the help of timeless classic rockers Ringo Starr and Benmont Tench.

Here are my ten favorite releases of 2019 in alpha order:

Big Thief--Two Hands Big Thief released two great albums in the space of five months; May's UFOF was impressive, but October's Two Hands was a tad more rocking and beguiling

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish--When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Eilish's debut LP was an unforgettable alt-pop hybrid that deservedly catapulted her into the mainstream consciousness.

Lana Del Rey--Norman F***ing Rockwell With the help of producer Jack Antonoff, Del Rey elevated her game. "Venice Bitch" was the most chill nine-minute track ever, a musical ocean breeze that blew by seemingly in an instant.

Brittany Howard--Jaime The Alabama Shakes leader took a bold step toward psychedelic funk on her first solo album, a deeply personal story of the racism she faced as a biracial child in the South and the loss of her influential thirteen-year-old older sister to cancer when she was eight.

Michael Kiwanuka--KIWANUKA Evoking the political activism and musical craftmanship of Marvin Gaye, Kiwanuka's third album was his most accessible work to date.

Jenny Lewis--On The Line Lewis adds unforgettable melodies to stories that make each song a mini-novella. My favorite album of the year.

Cass McCombs

Cass McCombs--Tip of the Sphere McCombs creates modern Americana music that evokes the Garcia-Hunter Grateful Dead songbook.

The Specials--Encore The decades may have slowed the rhythm a little, but The Specials haven't lost any of their trademark political cynicism or brutal honesty.

Sharon Van Etten--Remind Me Tomorrow Van Etten's fifth record deservedly found her new fans; "Seventeen" and "Comeback Kid" were Bowie-esque glam-pop, and "Hands" was one of the most haunting songs of the year.

Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend--Father of the Bride Through twenty tracks, Father of the Bride delivered highly infectious pop-rock that mined their usual global rhythms while still allowing Ezra Koenig to expand his musical horizons.

The next five: Better Oblivion Community Center -- Better Oblivion Community Center; Big Thief -- UFOF; The National -- I Am Easy to Find; The Raconteurs -- Help Us Stranger; Wilco -- Ode to Joy

Other lists: Top Ten Albums of the Decade Favorite Shows, Musical Moments and Awards for 2019 My Favorite Concerts of the Decade

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