Not a”top 10″ list… just 11 albums I listened to a lot in 2019 that definitely are not all from 2019. Spending so much time in the studio mastering means I don’t have a lot of studio time to listen to music, but I bought a lot and listened to a lot of music this year. Mostly in the car, or while going to sleep, or on airplanes (Mark Hollis’ solo album still remains my #1 start-an-airplane-flight album). This list is in no particular order:
I discovered Valiska’s music this year. Bought most of it, love it all. This just happened to be the first one I listened to.
M. Grig “Mount Carmel”
I try not to put 12k music on my lists, as I’m a bit biased. But I’m particularly happy to have found a new roster member in Michael Grigoni and what he brings to 12k is decidedly different than anyone else. He plays a beautiful lap steel.
Damien Jurado “In The Shape Of A Storm”
By far my favorite album from Damien. Beautiful, arresting music, through and through.
Great Lake Swimmers “The Waves, The Wake (Acoustic Version)”
Tony Dekker is one of my favorite songwriters. His music as Great Lake Swimmers has deeply touched me over the years. Unfortunately the last couple of albums have left me disappointed as the music has become a bit safer, the lyrics not as deep and the instrumentation and production less vulnerable. I long for what he did with his first three or four albums but also know that artists like to move forwards, not back. With the latest GLS album I didn’t find too much within that resonated with me… that is, until Tony stripped it all away and found the core of the songs with his wonderful voice and acoustic guitar. Then I knew that, at their core, these are Tony’s song and his touch hasn’t gone away… it’s just been buried a bit. I’m very happy that he released these versions and hope he visits his stripped-down roots more often. (oh, and if you read this, tony, bring back Greg the drummer! he was so unique and complimented you and Erik so well)…
The Tallest Man On Earth “Shallow Grave”
I discovered TTMOE this year as well and immediately loved it all. Raw and powerful and often beautiful as well.
Various Artists: Thesis Recurring
My favorite kind of music is music that goes nowhere. I mean that as a highest compliment. Recurring, from the Thesis Label is an adventurous project of 100 seamless, beautiful 1-minute looped compositions from an amazing set of artists. Music that just starts and goes and the beginning and end have no meaning or authority.
Frankie Rose “Seventeen Seconds”
My good friend and collaborator Stephen Vitiello introduced me to this record as his “guilty pleasure”….. maybe feeling a bit cheeky for liking this song-for-song cover album of The Cure’s classic “Seventeen Seconds” album. While not terribly adventurous, mostly sound-for-sound covers, Frankie Rose does an amazing job and gives me an alternate version of one of my favorite albums. Her rendition of “A Forest” was played many, many, many times in my car this year.
Rafael Toral “Constellation In Still Time”
Rafael’s music and style has never stayed in one place too long but it his quiet ambient music that I love the best and this album, released in 2019, is a welcome return to that form. A longform, extended piece, that accompanied my sleep many times in the past months since its release.
Federico Durand “Musica Para Manuel”
I listened to a lot of Federico’s music this year. And I’m honored to be able to call him a friend, labelmate and collaborator. It wasn’t easy picking an album of his for this list, but this one is from a cassette he gave me a few years ago that was put on a shelf and not listened to until this year. While I regret missing out on a couple years of being able to hear this beauty It will certainly accompany for many years to come, as with all of Federico’s music. Which, to me, isn’t just “music” but really his spirit of kindness being given to us in aural form.
Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions “Bavarian Fruit Bread”
Hope Sandoval’s voice accompanies me around the world. Mazzy Star always…. but this year I listened to some of her later work more often and find it just as comforting and captivating.
Corey Fuller & Break Ensemble “Live In Tokyo”
As if Corey Fuller’s Break album weren’t a feat enough somehow he managed to turn the whole thing into a scored live concert for an ensemble in tokyo. Please check out the audio and video of this work, it’s really something. Corey’s heart and soul are in this music and an insane amount of emotion and struggle.