Ah another year-end list, you didn’t ask for it but here’s the new releases we couldn’t stop listening to this year.
As we’re about to end another trip around the sun, we wanted to share some of the records put out this year that we thought were fantastic, each in their own way. No, this isn’t a critical analysis of their musical godliness, or some sort of “you’re not cool if you didn’t listen to these” list – just some music we thought was pretty rad, in alphabetical order, and maybe you’ll give it a listen too if you haven’t already. Let us know what your top releases of 2019 were in the comments!
Blink-182 – NINE
Mark, Travis and Matt released their ninth studio album in September. It was a massive shift from the band’s usual, more joke-heavy approach. With heavy beats and heavy lyrics, the album did admittedly take a few listens to fall in love with but once you found those gems you were never looking for that skip button again. In tracks like Black Rain Hoppus and Co open up about anxiety, depression and societal concerns. So it’s understandable the trio didn’t feel it right to include joke tracks as they had previously. We love every track on it in its own way, so much so we *may* own various vinyl copies if the record…
Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
A new record from the boss? Yes please and thank you! Is it his best yet? Nope. Is it ground-breaking? Maybe not. Do we love it anyway? Yes sir. If you ever wanted Bruce to write a soundtrack to a movie, and since Streets Of PhiladelphiaI we all know we do, this is it. Especially once you watch the concert film with the same title, where the New Jersey icon talks us through each of the tracks, it all comes together and shines a big bright light on the genius and underrated talent that is Bruce Springsteen. Western Stars is a roll-the-window-down, ride-off-into-the-sunset kind of ride-or-die album.
Dave Hause – Kick
2019 was a year where many male musicians really opened up to us about their struggles – something that previously was looked down upon. On Kick, Dave Hause and his brother Tim did exactly that. One of his most personal record yet, Dave talks about finding the love of his life, the birth of his twins but also darker tracks about mental health and societal issues are to be found. While Fireflies is probably one of our favorite ever love songs, Bearing Down is the one that brings us to tears every single time. On top of that, Hause also champions women’s rights and shares the struggle of those being threatened. Warpaint is an anthem for women being afraid to walk home alone at night. Not many male musicians get this balance right – of not man-splaining but being an ally. Hause hit the nail on the head.
Frank Iero & The Future Violents – Barriers
Whatever the latest incarnation of Frank Iero’s band, we’re here for it. But with Barriers, Frank really did not disappoint and delivered one of the best punk records of the year. Yes we’re all *a little* busy with My Chemical Romance reforming, but let’s not forget the stellar solo work Frank has produced since the band broke up. Barriers is, in fact, his best record to date as a solo artist and does exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin.
Frightened Rabbit – Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
It wasn’t meant to be a posthumous tribute as Tiny Changes was recorded before the death of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson, in fact, it was meant to be a celebration of the band’s 2008 album The Midnight Organ Fight. These intensely personal tracks, recorded by friends of the band, including Josh Ritter, Biffy Clyro, Twin Atlantic and more, have become a treasured homage to one of Scotland’s best songwriters Scott Hutchison. We still miss you Scott, and we’ll play your songs to celebrate what you have left for us.
The Highwomen – The Highwomen
There’s supergroups, and there’s supergroups. This one’s our favorite of 2019, possibly of this decade. Composed of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires the band released their self-titled debut record in September this year. The Highwomen is a celebration of country music, family, love and politics. It is smart, it is refined and a true statement on the lack of female representation in the US country radio airplay space.
Holding Absence – Holding Absence
Another debut record to blow us away this year was Welsh post-hardcore quintet Holding Absence with their self-titled release. Two years in the making, the album is packed with huge choruses and emotional lyrics, enough to make us well up every time at certain songs. What stands out with this record is that while you’re blasting it on your speakers or headphones, you just KNOW how good these do and will sound live. And what better way to deliver a debut record than that?!
Jade Bird – Jade Bird
One of our favorite country-americana records is 21-year-old Welsh singer-songwriter Jade Bird and her self-titled release. All twelve tracks were written by Jade herself, recorded with Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers, just like her 2017 debut EP Something American. Her bold vocals are what make this record great, the vulnerable moments in between some of the more twangy tracks are rays of light and make you want to hit repeat.
Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
Our emo icons returned with a brand new record this year and they did not disappoint. The band’s tenth studio album may not be their career-defining best, but it is Jimmy Eat World through and through, and at a time when emo and alternative music are coming back around (rawr-ring ’20s anyone?) the Arizona rockers picked the perfect time for their release.
Maren Morris – GIRL
If ever there was a record in 2019 that championed feminism and girl power, it was Maren Morris’ GIRL. The country singer packs 14 tracks full of relatable stories, empowering lyrics and country-pop melodies to die for. It’s the lines like “I don’t wanna wear your crown, there’s enough to go around” off title track GIRL, she continues to put out positive messages of not only fighting for women’s rights but also for being better amongst themselves, for being kinder to other women, stop comparing yourself to other girls and realize that we’re all fighting the same fight.
The Menzingers – Hello Exile
Not to play favorites, but Hello Exile is hands-down our favorite record of the year. Always a special place in our hearts, The Menzingers have released a solid record with Hello Exile. Now in their 30’s the band have broken away from the messy twenty-something nights out lyrics (which we know and love) and turned to songs about growing up, growing apart and falling in love. And of course, what would a punk record be these days without a dig at society, which The Menzingers do very well on America (You’re Freaking Me Out). But no track has been stuck in our heads more this year than Anna…
Petrol Girls – Cut & Stitch
Feminism and punk go hand in hand, at least they should. Petrol Girls made us believe this is possible with Cut & Stitch and delivered a lyrically and musically powerful record. Since forming in 2012, Petrol Girls have been giving the patriarchy the middle finger, and 2019’s release is no different. Blistering guitars build the background on which the band let out their anger at the state of the world, and we are living for it. It’s uncomfortable, it’s vicious and it is glorious.
Refused – War Music
Fifth studio album by Swedish punk outfit Refused, War Music, is immense. The album kicks off with the line “One more revolution my love / Once more through the fire” and it couldn’t be more poignant. Never-ending energy and killer riffs are at the core of this record and if this is what we’re listening to for the revolution then we say, bring it on.
Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles
Breakthrough artist of the year and one of the few rock up and comers to make it to mainstream, Sam Fender kept our hopes for a return of rock n roll to the big platforms. Hypersonic Missiles is a beautiful mesh of influences of Springsteen, The Killers and more. The Geordie singer-songwriter has connected with so many people through his songwriting, the Springsteen-esque get-me-out-of-this-town lyrics resonate. But Fender goes further, investigating political issues and male suicide – picking topics many Ed Sheeran’s of the world do not touch. Sam Fender is truly an outstanding up and coming talent in rock music.
SWMRS – Berkeley’s On Fire
Punk’s not dead, and SWMRS went and proved that with their sophomore record Berkeley’s On Fire. It’s messy and completely bonkers but it’s so raw it’s genius. The outspoken quartet from California continues to give zero fucks and show the world what they are made of and what they believe in, whether you like it or not. No adjusting to the norms to write massive hits, no adding synths or hiphop to fit in with the mainstream, just bare punk rock. And no band summed up 2019 as much as SWMRS did, in fact on Lose Lose Lose the band sing “2019 was a f*cking disaster” – right on. But at least we have SWMRS. After a tough end to the year where part of the band were involved in a serious car crash, we wish them nothing but the best for 2020 because we cannot wait for what else is to come.