After spending 2019 listening to a broad variety of artists and genres, I’m happy to say that the past year has been a fantastic one for music in my opinion. I heard new albums from longtime favourite artists and I heard many wonderful artists for the very first time, and I’m excited to be sharing twenty-five of my favourite albums of 2019. I’ve included both full-length albums and EPs in this list, with some links (Youtube and Spotify) for your convenience. This list is far from a comprehensive one, and even being based on my own tastes won’t prevent it from missing some of my own favourites, which means I’m sure to be missing some of yours. Drop a comment to share some of your favourite albums if I missed them.
(TW for a brief mention of a death by suicide)
FKA twigs – Magdalene
FKA twigs is an English singer-songwriter known for her genre-bending art pop music. Magdalene is her second full-length album (and she has previously released three EPs as well), released a full five years after her debut LP. The album features powerful and meaningful lyrics to a broad variety of sounds, ranging from intense melancholy to chaotic energy and everything in between. This is FKA twigs at her absolute best, and I say this as a long-time fan.
Youtube: Holy Terrain (feat. Future)
Snotty Nose Rez Kids – Trapline
Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a Canadian hip-hop duo of two Haisla rappers, Young D and Yung Trybez. Trapline is their third full-length album, and some of the best work they’ve ever done. The beats are endlessly interesting and catchy, they have an impressive list of guests including some of my own personal favourites, and the lyrics range in how they speak to every day indigeneity and to intense political anger and turmoil.
Youtube: I Can’t Remember My Name (feat. Shanks Sioux)
beabadoobee – Space Cadet
beabadoobee is a Filipino-British singer-songwriter. Her music blends bedroom pop, space rock, and indie pop-rock. Between 2018 and 2019, she released six EPs, and Space Cadet is my personal favourite of her EPs. The mood feels melancholic and angsty in a way that reminds me of the best early works of artists like Sleater-Kinney and Heavens to Betsy. It’s impossible not to bop along to.
Youtube: I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus
King Princess – Cheap Queen
King Princess is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and guitarist. She is genderqueer (she/her pronouns) and gay, which often plays an important part in her lyrics, which range from powerful and moving to funny and fun. Cheap Queen is her first full-length album, and it is loaded with delightfully queer pop-rock anthems from start to finish, the kind that are great to hear on the radio for everyone, or blasted through your speakers or headphones at home, or in a live venue.
Youtube: Cheap Queen & Useless Phrases
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
Lizzo is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and flutist. Cuz I Love You is Lizzos’ third full-length album, and it has truly been the breakout album that brought her to the world’s attention (and as a longtime fan, I love seeing her get the success she deserves). The album is filled with pop, R&B, soul, and hip-hop influences, with Lizzo’s powerhouse vocals and flute solos galore to liven things up even more.
Youtube: Like A Girl
Blackpink – Kill This Love
Blackpink is a South Korean girl group of four members. Two of their number were born in South Korea (Jennie and Jisoo), one of them was born in New Zealand (Rose), and one was born in Thailand (Lisa). Not only are they wildly popular in Korea, but they are one of the most successful K-pop groups to break out in North America. Kill This Love is their most recent EP, featuring intensely fun pop songs.
Youtube: Kick It
Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence
Chelsea Wolfe is a USAmerican singer-songwriter, guitarist, and pianist. Her music is wildly eclectic and intensely dark, featuring elements of neofolk, doom metal, goth rock, and subtle electronic styles. While Birth of Violence is definitely folk-leaning, it features many of the eclectic elements that she is known for. This new album gives us many intense, dark songs that are completely Wolfe’s own style.
Youtube: Deranged for Rock & Roll
Sudan Archives – Athena
Sudan Archives is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and violinist. She blends her own violin playing with electronic pop music into a unique and fresh style. After two EPs, Athena is her first full-length album, and it is phenomenal and unique. It manages to be completely unexpected, while also being exactly what I hope for from Sudan Archives. The songs range from light and airy to dark and intense, sometimes incredibly quickly, with her vocals and violin always managing to deliver.
Caroline Polachek – Pang
Caroline Polachek is a USAmerican singer-songwriter. She previously worked in the band Chairlift and doing solo projects under various names, but Pang is her first solo album under her own name. The album blends art-pop and electronic styles to create a unique blend that is supported by her soprano vocals. The album ranges from upbeat pop tunes with catchy melodies and lyrics to sedately ethereal songs that lean on the simplicity of her vocals, creating a beautifully balanced album.
Youtube: So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings
Rosalie Cunningham – Rosalie Cunningham
Rosalie Cunningham is an English singer-songwriter. She previously performed with the groups Ipso Facto and Purson, and this eponymous album is her solo debut. The album has influences of psychedelic rock and metal, classic progressive rock, and a taste of goth. With a powerful voice and a unique style, Cunningham has released one of the best and most fun psychedelic rock albums I’ve heard in years.
Youtube: Ride On My Bike
Tanya Tagaq – Toothsayer
Tanya Tagaq is an Inuk throat singer from Nunavut, Canada. Tagaq blends elements of folk and electronic music into an eclectic style that centres her traditional throat singing style. This EP is her fifth album, and it goes back to her earlier styles. Toothsayer makes use of those folk and electronic styles to evoke the imagery of a windswept tundra, much like what is featured on the album’s cover. The style centres her phenomenal vocals to the best effect.
Doja Cat – Hot Pink
Doja Cat is a USAmerican singer-songwriter and rapper. Her music blends pop, hip-hop, R&B, and soul. Hot Pink is her second full-length album, and it blends all of her best elements together. The beats range from fun to chill and everything in between, the lyrics range from meaningful to raunchy, and vocals are on point whether she’s singing in her soft and sweet style or rapping.
Youtube: Say So
Youn Sun Nah – Immersion
Youn Sun Nah is a South Korean jazz singer. Immersion is her tenth full-length album. Nah didn’t have any experience with jazz growing up and learned to sing in styles more akin to pop and rock, but she studied jazz in Paris as an adult. Her varied influences are as prevalent as always on Immersion, and you can hear everything from gentle covers to chaotic and vaguely weird (in the best possible way) personal creations.
Youtube: Mystic River
Lolo Zouai – High Highs to Low Lows
Lolo Zouai is a French-born USAmerican singer-songwriter. Although she had released an EP and a number of singles before, High Highs to Low Lows is her debut full-length album. The album is packed with catchy, dreamy, chill pop beats, and Zouai’s soft and surprisingly engaging vocals invite the listeners in to hear her often melancholic lyrics somehow add to the subtle catchiness of so many of the songs.
Youtube: Chevy Impala
Mereba – The Jungle is the Only Way Out
Mereba is a USAmerican singer-songwriter, pianist, guitarist, and producer. After releasing a number of EPs, The Jungle is the Only Way Out is Mereba’s first full-length album. Mereba’s style is heavily influenced by her Ethiopian heritage, R&B, and soul, and all of these influences are apparent in this album. Ranging from softly catchy acoustic sounds to some irresistible 90s R&B vibes, the album is a standout.
Youtube: Sandstorm (Feat JID)
Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
Alcest is a French metal band that blends black metal, shoegazing, post-metal, and alternative metal and rock to great effect. Spiritual Instinct is their sixth full-length album, and it brings all of their best-known elements to the table. It’s reminiscent of their earlier works while still adding the maturity and development you expect from a band after a half dozen albums.
Utkarsh Ambudkar – Petty
Utkarsh Ambudkar is a USAmerican singer, rapper, and actor (including in films like Pitch Perfect and the upcoming Mulan, and TV shows like The Mindy Project). His style leans towards pop, and you can really hear the best of his pop elements in this album, but Petty also includes the best of his rap talent, making for an all-around fun and enjoyable album.
Cartel Madras – Age of the Goonda
Cartel Madras is a Canadian hip hop duo made up of two Indian-born sisters, known as Contra and Eboshi. As queer women of colour, their identity plays a vital role in their music, their lyrics, and their overall style. Age of the Goonda is an EP, their first project after their short debut mixtape, and it is packed with fun and kickass songs.
Youtube: Goonda Gold
Sulli – Goblin
Sulli was a South Korean actress, singer, and model. She was previously a member of the k-pop group f(x), and Goblin was the first EP of her solo career. The songs in this short EP shift away from her more traditional k-pop roots towards an ethereal and dreamy sound that feels profoundly emotional. Sulli died by suicide only a few months after the EP was released.
The HU – The Gereg
The HU is a Mongolian rock band. Their style blends folk metal, rock, and heavy metal styles, while also making use of traditional Mongolian instruments like the morin khuur as well as traditional Mongolian throat singing. The Gereg is their debut album, and it is packed with all of the elements that make their style so unique and enjoyable to listen to.
Youtube: Shireg Shireg
Tinashe – Songs For You
Tinashe is a USAmerican singer-songwriter, dancer, actress, and producer. While her mixtapes have been independently released, she has been with major production companies for her previous albums. Songs for You is her fourth album, but it is her first produced independently, and she has knocked it out of the part. With elements of dark art pop, R&B, electronic, and more, the album is probably the best of her career so far.
Youtube: Stormy Weather
clipping. – There Existed an Addiction to Blood
clipping. is a USAmerican experimental hip-hop group, made up of Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. Their music tends to feature intensely eclectic styles with noise and industrial playing a vital part to their beats, and strong, fast, and powerful lyrics rapped by Diggs. There Existed an Addiction to Blood is their third full-length album, it is perhaps their best so far, and it completely lives up to their own brand of chaotic eccentricity.
Youtube: Blood of the Fang
Chanmina – Never Grow Up
Chanmina is a South Korean-Japanese singer and rapper. Her style blends j- and k-pop, j- and k-hip hop, and modern R&B and soul. She sings and raps in Japanese, Korean, and English. Never Grow Up is her second full-length album, and it is filled with the elements that make her style so unique. Ranging from intense but dancey hip-hop songs to pop ballads, Never Grow Up is an eclectic pop album that isn’t to be missed.
Youtube: I’m a Pop
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Billie Eilish is a USAmerican singer-songwriter. She has released EPs and singles in years passed, but When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is her debut album. Her style ranges from chill indie-pop to danceable electropop, and she shifts between styles seamlessly throughout the album. While some of the tracks have been breakout hits, like Bad Guy, the entire album is worth listening to.
Youtube: You Should See Me in a Crown
Blackbriar – Our Mortal Remains
Blackbriar is a woman-fronted Dutch gothic metal band. They have yet to release a full-length album, and Our Mortal Remains is their third EP. The band puts forward some of the best of what modern gothic metal has to offer, with ethereal vocals, fairytale-like lyrics, and melodies ranging from soft to heavy.
Youtube: Beautiful Delirium