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The Yack’s Top 19 of 2019

The Yack’s Top 19 of 2019

*We at The Sound would like encourage listening to these albums in full, from start to finish. But if you can’t dedicate your time to that — we feel you — and would like to suggest starting with the suggested song from each album. Other required 2019 listening: Orville Peck, Danny Brown, Toro y Moi, Weyes Blood, Maxo Kream, Chai, Blood Incantation, Chastity, slowthai and Sandro Perri.

19. INJURY RESERVE | S.T. – In a world where hip-hop continues to push towards hip-pop, this Arizona-based trio are keeping the genre weird and fresh. With guests galore (Freddie Gibbs, JPEGMAFIA, Aminé) their debut LP shines with wonky production that would make El-P proud. Start with: “Jailbreak the Tesla”

18. MAPPE OF | THE ISLE OF AIYNN – The sophomore album from Toronto’s Tom Meikle takes listeners on an adventure through a magical and make believe world. This is folk at its most conceptual and fantastic. Bon Iver who? Start with “Ailynn”

17. SUN BLOOD STORIES | HAUNT YOURSELF – This Idaho-based trio make high desert psychedelic rock. Crunchy guitars swirl around dreamy duelling male and female vocals. Come to Canada already! Start with “Up Comes the Tunnel”

16. !!! | WALLOP – This is chk-chk-chk’s love letter to the 90s. It’s wild to think !!! have been making dance-punk since 1997 and it’s still never easy to pin down their sound. On their eighth album, they mix club anthems with house, pop and angular indie rock. And yes this one is full of bangers. Start with “Slow Motion”

15. THE MENZINGERS | HELLO EXILE – These Springsteen-loving punk rockers from Scranton, PA have absolutely nothing in common with “The Office.” But if I had to choose, they’d likely be Creed Bratton. Punk rock albums about living in Trumps’ America might be tired already, but Hello Exile is packed with 12 fist-pumping anthems about love, drugs and politics. Start with “High School Friend”

14. PEDRO THE LION | PHOENIX – Pedro the Lion’s first album in 15 years may lack the magic you’d find on It’s Hard to Find A Friend, but boy is great to have this band back. David Bazan’s voice is in top form and he still ranks up there as one of the most underrated living songwriters on the planet. Start with “Yellow Bike”

13. JPEGMAFIA | ALL MY HEROES ARE CORNBALLS – By far the most important MC in the game right now. JPEGMAFIA aka Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks chops, screws and fucks with hip-hop sounds with an experimental, lo-fi filter. Start with: “Grimy Waifu”

12. JENS LEKMAN & ANNIKA NORLIN | CORRESPONDENCE – Remember pen pals? In 2018, Swedish singer-songwriters set out to write a song each month as a letter to the other for the entire year. The result: 12 raw, brilliant, and charming songs that will keep a smile on your face for days. Start with “Showering in Public”

11. THE MOUNTAIN GOATS | IN LEAGUE WITH DRAGONS – The hyper-literate John Darnielle can’t stop and that’s 100% fine by me. On his seventeenth and latest concept album, he takes the listener through a world inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, baseball and Waylon Jennings. For bonus charisma points, listen to season two of I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats. Start with “Cadaver Sniffing Dog”

10. BILL CALLAHAN | SHEPHERD IN A SHEEPSKIN VEST – The sixth album from former Smog frontman comes in at over an hour with 20 tracks. It’s sad, it’s slow, it’s everything you would want from the dad-folk-rock vet and then some. Make sure you have your plaid hankies nearby. Start with “The Ballad of the Hulk”

9. BETTER OBLIVION COMMUNITY CENTER | S.T. – This is what you get when you combine two incredible singers songwriters at different points of their career – 10 touching and catchy folk-rock gems. It won’t matter if Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst never record another album as BOCC, because this is damn near perfect. Start with “Sleepwalkin”

8. OH SEES | FACE STABBER – Face Stabber opens with a loop of a rubber ducky being squeezed over and over again. Shortly after, the kraut-psych rock get aggressively layered over top. It’s weird and wonderful and it works. This is the 22nd album in the catalog for John Dwyer’s Oh Sees and is as epic and crucial as they’ve ever been. Start with the 21 minute album closer “Henchlock”

See Also

7. BIG THIEF | TWO HANDS – Big Thief released two albums in 2019. Both deeply personal and haunting, Two Hands is the louder of the pair, but not necessarily more powerful. Put on some headphones and let this record just take you for a spin. Start with “Two Hands”

6. KING GIZZARD AND THE WIZARD LIZARD | FISHING FOR FISHIES – Australia’s prolific weirdo-garage rockers only released two albums in 2019. They released five in 2017 and sure five is a smaller number than two – but these 2019 albums feel way bigger. Fishing for Fishies is a bold, bluesy, boogie-rock album and I generally hate the harmonica. Go figure. Start with “The Bird Song”

5. KING GIZZARD AND THE WIZARD LIZARD | INFEST THE RATS’ NEST – King Gizz’s second album of 2019 is a pared-down thrash metal masterpiece. Infest the Rats’ Nest works as both a environmentally aware concept album and also as a “turn-it-on-and-crank-it-up” piece of media. I’ve never air-guitared so hard before. Start with “Organ Farmer”

4. BIG THIEF | U.F.O.F. – The first Big Thief album of 2019 is dreamy, introspective and consistently sends shivers down my spine. What’s most unreal about U.F.O.F. is that some songs were written just hours before recording and they sound like they’ve been road tested and perfected for decades. Superfuckingnatural, man. Start with “Cattails”

3. PURPLE MOUNTAINS | S.T. – This is the darkest timeline. In 2019, we lost David Berman. He was one of the most clever single line songwriters ever. He wrote about loneliness, death and trying to accept all those things. Purple Mountains was Berman’s comeback record after 11 years of silence and he died just days before his first tour date. Rest easy David. Start with “That’s Just the Way That I Feel”

2. BLACK BELT EAGLE SCOUT | AT THE PARTY WITH MY BROWN FRIENDS – Black Belt Eagle Scout is the recording project from queer Indigenous artist Katherine Paul. Not only is this record a breath of fresh air in the bedroom pop-rock aspect, but Black Belt Eagle Scout is one to look for as she leads a post-riot grrl movement advocating for more space for Indigenous and queer artists. Start with “Run It To Ya”

  1. PUP | MORBID STUFF – Toronto punks get in and get out in record time on their third release. These 11 songs deal with typical PUP themes of darkness, anxiety and a “mind-numbing reality of a godless existence.” Morbid Stuff proves that you can be an adult and listen to punk rock without feeling like an old person. Listen for the St. Catharines name drop and the one-line feature by Eva Hendricks from Charly Bliss. Start with “Scorpion Hill”

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