One of the last blog posts I do each year is cover the music I listened to the most, and sharing it with others.
This is a highly subjective post. I prefer some combination of indie rock, electronic, and ambient tracks. I also focus on individual songs, rather than the albums they are on.
I am embedding Youtube videos below, so I apologize in advance for all the really annoying Grammarly ads.
In my 2018 Music Post, I wrote more extensively about why I acquire less music, why I always buy it and refrain from streaming it, and my adventures in vinyl. Its a good read if you want to know more about what motivates me as a musical patron.
Foals – Moonlight
My 2019 In Music definitely starts with the band Foals. Foals actually released two albums this year. This is the opening track from the first. As a lover of the outdoors, this song was marvelous. Its also a short track, which is probably a factor in it being my most played track of 2019. Both Foals albums are excellent.
Runwayaway – Thom Yorke
Thom Yorke’s first solo album has a big departure from his work in Radiohead, but these days it the difference have narrowed. After releasing a very good musical score last year, plus this excellent solo album, will we see a new Radiohead album soon? I hope so.
The Bird – SYML
This was an NPR Music find. The song is very cool. I wasn’t as high on the entire album, but this track was a standout all year long.
What You’re Doing To Me – Duster
This is actually old music. Duster released some old demos and rarities on Bandcamp and I enjoyed it all. I used to love lo-fi bands like Folk Implosion, and this track felt right at home with it.
III. Lento-Cantabile-semplice – Beth Gibbons & The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
My 2019 In Music came with a big surprise. Beth Gibbons will always be Portishead for me, and those records are some of the best Trip-Hop albums ever released. So I was quite stunned when she released an opera performance from a different era. Beth had to learn Polish to sing, a feat in itself. She doesn’t quite hit the notes that a trained opera singer does, but that’s part of the beauty of it. The three movements are laments, and she brings a desperate quality to the performance that will get you. I picked the track of the 3 I enjoyed most.
Gretel – (Sandy) Alex G
Alex G (he added the Sandy in a copyright dispute with another Alex G) always makes songs with strange sounds that somehow mesh. Gretel was my favorite example from this year.
Terraform – The Dandy Warhols
The Dandy Warhols are far from a new band, but this album was quite original and the sounds were unexpected. This was the first release, and I still love the song.
On Deronda Road – Elbow
Elbow has been around a long time and is critically acclaimed. I just love the harmonies on this song. It reminds me a lot of a bad I hope to feature next year, Fleet Foxes.
Slingblade – DJ Shadow
DJ Shadow is back. This was an interesting album, as he split it with a traditional Shadow set on the first half, and guest performers on the second. This track was my favorite by far, although there are (as always) many deep cuts on the album. I still remember purchasing …Endtroducting and wondering how a “sample artist” could have staying-power, yet he keeps releasing great albums and has influenced many of the greatest artists of the last 20 years.
Martyr – Sevdaliza
Love and breakups will never lose its audience. Great song.
Revelación (Candela) – Combo Chimbita
My 2019 in Music finishes up with something I would have never found on my own. This may be the best analog to The Mars Volta one can get these days. I think I heard this on a random KEXP podcast (I can’t listen to them all!) and the track was so cool. The instrumentation is great, and the vocals are arresting. Such an amazing song even if you can’t translate any lyrics.
Apologies Are In Order….
This was the year of Fear Inoculum! Tool is one of my favorite artists of all time. I left them out completely. First, it is hard for me to separate one track from another. The album is great, but it’s also exhausting. After several weeks of playing it non-stop, I play tracks sparingly.
Radiohead came out with music. one was a single that I didn’t include in this list, although its a good song (of course). They also released the MINIDISCS [HACKED] collection, although they weren’t actually hacked. An employee of the company digitizing Thom’s minidiscs for the OKNOTOK release made copies. There is little new ground in these discs, mostly 1 hour long and often having versions of OK Computer tracks that are very close to their original.
Moby released another Long Ambients album. He first had it as an exclusive for the Calm App that you should definitely not pay for. Long Ambients Two is simply not as good as the original.
And then there was all the music I missed. The musical world is beyond the scope of any one person, but perhaps over time I’ll discover some music I missed this year.
The National released a surprise album that featured female vocalists on every track. I thought it was an interesting concept, and we need for women voices in music. I just didn’t listen to the album a lot after the first couple plays.
Thank you for reading my 2019 in music. With that, I wish you a musically pleasing 2020, and please, stop streaming and buy the music.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.