It's time to look back on the year that was in 2019 and check out my picks for top albums of the year. 2019 was an exceptional year for music, with career defining efforts from Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema Club, sophomore albums from Grayscale and Roam, and exceptional debuts from newcomers such as Henry McIntyre and Pretoria. What each of these albums have in common is that they all had a deep impact one way or the other on me and countless music listeners who found a common bond and link between the songs that made those experiences with the ones they cared about that much more special. And without further ado, here are my picks for top albums of 2019:
Two Door Cinema Club - False Alarm
Acclaimed Irish indie rockers Two Door Cinema Club released their 5th studio album this year called "False Alarm". The effort cements the trio as one of the driving forces in indie music today with their high energy dance rhythms and insatiable hooks driving deep into the synapses of listeners. This effort is one of their most balanced ever, and picks up elements from their prior effort "Gameshow", and shows remarkable growth in the process also. Lead singer Alex Tremble is on the top of his game with his trademark vocals billowing its way into your consciousness, and leaves you wanting more by the time the effort has concluded.
Key Tracks: "Talk", "Once", "Satisfaction Guaranteed"
Vampire Weekend - Father of The Bride
NYC indie superstars Vampire Weekend returned with their indelible masterpiece and their best album to date, "Father of The Bride". The effort is leaps and bounds better than their last effort, 2013's "Modern Vampires of The City", and returns the band to more familiar and grounded territory with their music have much more emotional depth than ever before. Lead singer Ezra Koenig cuts to the emotional core with deep and impactful tunes that will resonate with you long after the effort has concluded.
Key Tracks: "Harmony Hall", "This Life", "Sympathy", "Hold You Now"
Henry McIntyre - Box on The Ear
Haverhill, MA based singer-songwriter Henry McIntyre released his full length debut effort this year titled "Box on The Ear". Henry's warm, mellow, and inviting vocals greet you lovingly upon first listen, and really make you feel at ease direct from the first note. What Henry does best is making the listener the focal point of each and every song, and makes it feel like Henry is singing directly to them. Each and every song acts as an autobiographical snapshot into Henry's beautiful and carefree personality that shines through brightly in his music and his real life qualities.
Key Tracks: "Ordinary Men", "Elegy", "Give Me Life"
The Royal Concept - The Man Without Qualities
Stockholm, Sweden's finest export The Royal Concept returned with a bang with their latest effort "The Man Without Qualities". The effort mixes in some psychedelic elements to the group's repertoire, and infuses it with the already existing dance rock melodies that have made the group such an indelible treat. Frontman Daniel Larson invokes a sense of calm and carefree spirit throughout his music, and really knows how to connect well with the listeners and evolve along with them too. The album really shows the group's diversity, and how they're able to channel that into a true sonic masterpiece.
Key Tracks: "Need To Know", "Up All Night", "Kick It"
Grayscale - Nella Vita
Philadelphia, PA emo rockers Grayscale released their much anticipated sophomore album this year titled "Nella Vita". The effort deviates greatly from the theme of their debut "Adornment", and puts a far more greater explosive emotional charge in their arsenal that makes them that much more potent to the willing listener. Frontman Collin Walsh makes the tracks stand out with its deeply autobiographical lyrics, and the instrumentation from Nick Ventimiglia, Nick Veno, and Dallas Molster evolve the group into a true, multi-faceted outlet.
Key Tracks: "In Violet", "Baby Blue", "Twilight"
Harbour - Thoughts on Letting Go
Cincinnati based indie quartet Harbour released their stunning new album this year titled "Thoughts on Letting Go". The marvelous effort aims to introduce the band to a whole slew of music listeners who will easily gravitate towards the band's sun soaked, vivacious rhythms that are omnipresent the minute you first begin to listen to. The quartet of Ryan Green, Ryan Sulken, Jarett Lewis, and Marshall Sallee have a way of injecting earworms into the collective consciousness of fans, and who have a magnetic charm that is evident from their swooning good looks as well.
Key Tracks: "Radiate (Like You Do)", "Can't Repeat It", "The Middle"
Luke De-Sciscio - Good Bye Folk Boy
Bath, UK based singer-songwriter Luke De-Scisico released his debut solo EP to the world this year titled "Good Bye Folk Boy". Luke's beautiful and swooning voice really percolates your attention from first contact, and will have you on guard and wanting to know everything that there is to know about him. It's almost as if Luke is right in the room with you, whispering in his hair and feeling his skin up against your body. That's how realistic and potent his music is, and Luke has that ability to undress different facets of our personality to come into ourselves and become more comfortable towards him.
Key Tracks: "Winsome", "New Skin", "R.O.B.Y.N."
Roam - Smile Wide
Eastbourne, UK's finest Roam made a big return with their latest effort this year titled "Smile Wide". The five piece made an effort that is leaps and bounds ahead of their prior material, and seeks to put the collective on a higher pedestal that will most certainly gain them a whole new legion of fans in the process. Frontman Alex Costello's vocals have that youthful vibe that younger fans can relate to, coupled with the band's blissfully aware pop-punk rhythms that strike out from the page that are destined to make the group a hot ticket from here on out.
Key Tracks: "I Don't Think I Live There Anymore", "The Fire on The Ceiling", "Pirahna"
Pretoria - Cape Town EP
From the outskirts of Grand Rapids, MI comes the delightful indie foursome Pretoria and their marvelous debut EP out this year called "Cape Town". If you don't know what true love is, you'll certainly find it after coming in contact with these boys as they define the indie spirit with their insatiable hooks, marvelous instrumentation, and their swooning good looks that anyone will fall head over heels for. Your heart will definitely be beating fast long after the effort has concluded, and Rob Gullett, Ben DeWitt, Josh Bilisko, and Matt Burdick are the preeminent posterboys and heartthrobs of the indie scene right at the moment.
Key Tracks: "Cody Maverick", "You Can't Explain It", "Laundry"
Somerset - self-titled
Boston based indie newcomers Somerset released their incredible, self-titled album to the world this past year. The band features Nick Aikens fronting, whom you may remember from Jack Romanov and this new outlet goes in a more darker direction than his previous band, and really shows off some flash and grit with tunes that definitely grab your attention from the outset. David, Bobby, Jake, Connor, and Sean round up the rest of the outfit, and it's evidently clear how much fun they have playing together, and how close and bonded they are as musical brothers who will be making big waves in the future for sure.
Key Tracks: "Revere Street", "Cardinal Sin", "Phoenix"