It's hard to believe how fast 2019 has gone by, and with the end of the year comes my annual end-of year lists. So many fantastic albums were released this year, from impressive debuts to solid sophomore records to ones later on in a band's catalogue. Without further ado, here are my top 20 albums of 2019.
20. EMAROSA "PEACH CLUB"
At the beginning of the year, Emarosa released their latest (and undoubtedly most experimental) album to date, "Peach Club." The album contains a lot of uptempo and energetic tracks ("Givin' Up," "Hell Of It," "So Bad"), but also has some slower and/or softer ones ("xo," "Comfortable," "Wait, Stay") that still bring a similar amount of emotion and passion in the performances. "Peach Club" is certainly a very different record for Emarosa, but this sound fits them really well and led to a memorable and overall very fun release.
19. DEAN LEWIS "A PLACE WE KNEW"
Following a series of hit singles, Australian musician Dean Lewis released his debut full-length this year, titled "A Place We Knew." The album is full of many upbeat tracks that have been stuck in my head for so much of this year ("Stay Awake," "7 Minutes," "Straight Back Down," "Hold Of Me"), as well as a handful of slower tracks ("Be Alright," "A Place We Knew," " Time To Go," "Don't Hold Me") that are just as memorable. All of these tracks show so much emotion and Dean's talent as an artist.
18. HAVE MERcy "THE LOVE LIFE"
While I admittedly never really got into Have Mercy in the past, their latest (and unfortunately final) album "The Love Life" completely surprised me and won me over. The album shows them going in a softer and much more ambient direction (especially in songs like "Dressed Down," "40oz," and "8006 Hedgeway Ct"), and a few moments on here ("Clair," "So Like You," "Just Fine") combine that with the emo and alternative influences from previous material through some very impressive and emotional performances. Have Mercy's final record is one of the most unique and overall best in their career.
17. THE MAINE "YOU ARE OK"
The Maine continue to show off their undeniable talent at writing incredibly catchy hooks and choruses ("My Best Habit," "Tears Won't Cry (ShinjŪ)") and also bring some powerful performances ("Numb Without You," "Heaven, We're Already Here," "Flowers On The Grave") that show off their vocal and instrumental talents. "You Are OK" as a whole is a pretty memorable and overall another really solid release from The Maine.
16. CAPSTAN "RESTLESS HEART, KEEP RUNNING"
Capstan's debut LP, "Restless Heart, Keep Running," is one of the releases that both surprised and impressed me the most this year. The band shows their unique take on the post-hardcore genre, sometimes by showing their more aggressive influences ("The Agentic Statement," "Terminal"), sometimes by showing their more melodic influences through beautiful ballads ("There Is No Answer," "The Love That Remains"), and also by creating powerful tracks that mix everything together and really encompass everything that this album as a whole has to offer ("Stars Before The Sun," "Abstracted," "We'll Always Have Paris"). Capstan have released a very powerful debut LP that never fails to impress me with each listen.
15. DAYSEEKER "SLEEPTALK"
Dayseeker continued to impress me with their latest album, "Sleeptalk." The band's heavier elements are shown quite a bit throughout the album ("Gates Of Ivory," "The Color Black," "Crooked Soul"), and several other tracks lean way more towards the more melodic side ("Drunk," "Starving To Be Empty," "Already Numb"). This record brings some of the band's most memorable choruses and impressive performances that blew me away on first listen and had me constantly coming back for repeated listens throughout the rest of the year.
14. commonwealth "everyone around me"
I've known of CommonWealth since they released their debut single in 2017, but their debut album "Everyone Around Me" really got my attention. There's a lot of upbeat moments on here ("Lost," "Happy") with catchy melodies that have made me return to them, as well as some slower ones that bring a ton of emotion to the record ("Fear," "Wilt," "Unbalanced")."Everyone Around Me" is a really captivating record overall and I knew from the moment I first heard it back in mid-January that it would land a spot somewhere on this list.
13. HOLD CLOSE "TIME"
Hold Close shift gears a little bit with their debut LP, "Time." The band did incorporate some of their rock and pop punk influences here and there ("Hang Tight," "Absent To Reality," "Cast Me Away"), but for the mos)t part, they went in a softer direction ("Tropical Depression," "Aura,", "Cloud9") which I think worked really well and the overall vibe and tone of the record allows the emotion to shine through even more. This is a very poignant and powerful record that delivers so much emotion through the meaningful and relatable lyrics and passionate performances, and it's a brilliant debut from Hold Close.
12. SET IT OFF "MIDNIGHT"
Set It Off released their latest album "Midnight" pretty early on in the year. A lot of these songs show the band return to the pop rock sound found on "Duality" ("Killer In The Mirror," "Midnight Thoughts," "Dancing With The Devil") while others focus a bit more on the pop aspects of that pop rock sound ("Criminal Minds," "Stitch Me Up," "Go To Bed Angry"), and others include different instruments and other various musical elements, styles and genres that the band have incorporated into their sound over the years ("I Want You (Gone)," "Happy All The Time"). "Midnight" combines many of Set It Off's different influences and shows their musical evolution over the years.
11. CORY WELLS "THE WAY WE ARE"
Cory Wells is a musician I've heard a lot about over the years, and his debut album "The Way We Are" absolutely blew me away. Some of these tracks show off the softer and slower side of Cory's music ("Lost," "Cement," "Fall Apart"), while others are on the slightly more upbeat side ("Keiko," "Wildfire," "Waiting"), and as a whole, it shows some very impressive and powerful performances that show Cory's talent as a musician.
10. SLEEP ON IT "PRIDE AND DISASTER"
Another one of my most highly anticipated releases of this year was Sleep On It’s sophomore record, titled “Pride And Disaster.” The album is filled with so many energetic and extremely catchy songs (“Racing Towards A Red Light,” “After Tonight,” “Logan Square”), as well as some more midtempo numbers (“Babe Ruth,” “Under The Moment,”) and a couple of ballads (“Take Me Back,” “Lost And Found”). “Pride And Disaster” shows a more polished and mature sound from Sleep On It and is a very strong sophomore album from them.
9. WATERPARKS "FANDOM"
Waterparks continue to incorporate a wide variety of elements from different genres and subgenres, from poppier leaning tracks ("Dream Boy," "High Definition,") to ones that are reminiscent of their pop rock and pop punk roots ("Watch What Happens Next," "Easy To Hate," "I Felt Younger When We Met") and more experimental ones ("War Crimes," "REBOOT,"). "FANDOM" shows that Waterparks can blend all of these musical elements together and just how good of a job they do at it.
8. IN HER OWN WORDS "STEADY GLOW"
In Her Own Words return with a more mature and polished sound on their sophomore LP, "Steady Glow." From more upbeat and catchy numbers ("Serotonin," "Alone With You," "Delicate") to some harder hitting ballads ("Steady Glow," "Rose By The Ocean," "Wonder") that are just as memorable, the band have created a record filled with emotion and passion. I initially described this record as "passion filled pop punk with a whole lot of heart" and I still stand by that statement, as I feel it's the perfect description of this release as a whole.
7. LAST NIGHT SAVED MY LIFE "CHERRY"
Last Night Saved My Life released their debut LP "Cherry" over the summer, and it's one of the catchiest records I've heard all year. Some records show off the band's pop rock influences ("Dead Ends And Promises," "Undone"), while others show off their pop punk tendencies ("Nightmares And A Suitcase," "Would You Go Back"), and others show a perfect mix of the two ("Waterfall," "On The Ropes"). Last Night Saved My Life fuse together these two genres so excellently and have created an incredibly memorable record.
6. GRAYSCALE "NELLA VITA"
Grayscale experimented with their sound quite a bit on their latest album, "Nella Vita." Some of the songs on here lean a lot more towards the pop side and fully embrace the experimentation ("In My Arms," "YOUNG," "Old Friends") while others (especially the lead singles) combine that sound with elements of the band's previous material to create perfect pop rock tracks ("In Violet," "Painkiller Weather," "Baby Blue"). "Nella Vita" shows a brand new side to Grayscale's music and is yet another very memorable release from them.
5. YOUTH FOUNTAIN "LETTERS TO OUR FORMER SELVES"
I enjoyed Youth Fountain's EP last year, and their debut LP "Letters To Our Former Selves" really impressed me and only got better and better with repeated listens. This band puts their own twist on the pop punk genre, and whether the song is a bit more aggressive ("Grinding Teeth," "Blooms"), melodic ("Lucid," "Ache"), or somewhere in between ("Deadlocked," "Complacent," "Worried"), they bring raw performances that are full of so much emotion and really show why this record and this band as a whole stands out so much.
4. WAGE WAR "PRESSURE"
Wage War's latest record sees them continuing to evolve their sound. There are some heavy tracks ("Fury," "Ghost") that trace back to their much heavier roots, some tracks that fully embrace the more melodic aspects of their sound ("Me Against Myself," "The Line," "Forget My Name"), and some that provide more of a balance ("Prison," "Low," "Who I Am") and encompass everything this album has to offer. The band incorporate their heavier tendencies and combine that with some of the catchiest material that they've written in their entire career to create a very memorable record.
3. I PREVAIL "TRAUMA"
Post-hardcore band I Prevail released their sophomore (and recently Grammy nominated) LP "Trauma." The band still stayed true to their post-hardcore and metalcore roots for some of these tracks ("Gasoline," "Deadweight"), but also show off their more melodic side ("Every Time You Leave," "Low," "Hurricane") and even mix in elements of rap and hip hop ("Rise Above It," "Goodbye," "Paranoid") from time to time as well. This is a more experimental record for I Prevail, but the experimentation worked really well for them, and "Trauma" as a whole is a great record from them.
2. NOAH KAHAN "BUSYHEAD"
After discovering Noah Kahan's music earlier in the year, "Busyhead" quickly became one of my most highly anticipated releases of 2019 and definitely delivered. The meaningful lyrics on this album discuss a wide variety of topics, from mental health ("Tidal," "Busyhead") to life in the music industry ("Cynic," "Mess,") to love and relationships ("Hurt Somebody") and growing up, figuring out who you are, and staying true to that ("Young Blood," "False Confidence"). The lyrics are very well-written, the performances get the emotion and important messages across perfectly, and "Busyhead" overall is a thoughtful and powerful record.
1. TELLTALE "TIMELESS YOUTH"
Telltale absolutely blew me away with the release of their debut album, "Timeless Youth." From the moment I first heard it, I was instantly captivated. The record is filled with so many upbeat and extremely catchy songs ("Rose," "Bouquet," "What We Live For") and includes some harder hitting moments with even more passionate performances ("Letting Go," "Hereditary") and is an unforgettable listen from front to back that I've come back to countless times since my first initial listen.