• emily marshman

2019 WRAPPED: a few contributors’ (and my) records of the year

in order of release, here are some of our contributors’ albums of the year, alongside my extremely extensive list of my favorite LPs released in the past 365 days.

1. january 18, heard it in a past life by maggie rogers

this album, without a doubt, shaped this entire year for me, but whenever i’m asked to explain how, or why, i get choked up. at the time of its release, i was in such a strange place mentally that i couldn’t listen to “light on” - one of the most popular songs on the album - without sobbing uncontrollably, even if that meant excusing myself to cry in the restroom when it came on at work. i am so grateful to have had hiiapl to grow with this year. maggie rogers is one of the most influential artists in the world right now, and i know this album is a lot of people’s record of the year.  recommendations: light on, burning, on + off, the knife

2. january 25, amo by bring me the horizon

the return of british metalcore band bring me the horizon was such a heavily anticipated one, given the fact that their last LP release was in 2015, but i don’t think anyone could have expected the record they were going to release, or how different it would be from anything they’d ever made. bring me the horizon made a really impressive leap into something of an unknown; there has been, both unfortunately and understandably, some backlash regarding exactly what genres the band had decided to experiment with and whether they’d lost their roots in deathcore. but they’ve promised that despite this jump, they’ll still be as rowdy as ever in their live shows. amo is one of my favorite records of the year because of its genre-bending, and because of its desperation and emotion. it’s turned bring me the horizon from a band i never really cared for into one i now seek out when i’m thinking of what to listen to on drives. recommendations: mantra, in the dark, sugar honey ice + tea, mother tongue

3. february 1, midnight by set it off

my favorite record of 2019 is midnight by set it off. not only did the band completely reinvent their aesthetic, they also showcase a more mature and cohesive sound. cody (the lead singer) is a classically trained clarinetist and I think his knowledge of music really shows on this record. each song has little surprises here and there, and shows the work of musicians who understand rhythm and texture. there’s a little something for everyone, from the angsty undertones of “killer in the mirror” and “dancing with the devil,” to the raw, beautiful emotion of the ballad “unopened windows.” hands down best record of 2019!  -gabriela (twitter || instagram)

4. march 1, wasteland, baby! by hozier

I wish I could do my dissertation on the various ways Wasteland, Baby! is a masterpiece but unfortunately I’m in a museum studies program and I don’t think my professors would accept that proposal. Hozier was somehow able to fit every emotion a human being is capable of feeling in a mere 57 minutes (and 21 seconds of course) and, by the end, has made the listener feel warm and hopeful despite a large theme being, y'know, the literal ending of everything. Don’t even get me started on his referencing and imagery we could be here FOREVER talking about Shrike alone! Even Spotify was like “Hey this is literally all you listened to this year, you good?”. Hozier and Wasteland, Baby! have been through one of the toughest years of my life with me - including the transition into a new country - and they will forever have a place in my heart.  -alissa (instagram)

5. march 22, mystic truth by bad suns

up until this year - and this release - bad suns were always a background artist in my life. i’ve been listening to them since they first released “cardiac arrest” and it was a single of the week on itunes, but only casually. this was, however, the year i saw them live, on their mystic truth tour in late spring.  recommendations: away we go, the world and i, love by mistake

6. march 29, you are ok by the maine

the maine are the most dramatic band in the world, and i love them to death for it. after staging a funeral for their 2017 release, lovely little lonely, in october 2018 to signify their departure from social media, they spent nearly six months in silence to write and record before releasing their seventh record, you are ok, this past march. this record makes me more - for lack of a better word - emo than any of their previous work, in spite and as a consequence of its blatant deviation from the loneliness of anything they’ve released pretty much since black & white. you are ok is, from its very first breath, evolved. recommendations: slip the noose, my best habit, tears won’t cry (shinju), heaven we’re already here

7. march 29, when we all fall asleep, where do we go? by billie eilish

the debut full-length from music prodigy billie eilish was long-awaited by dedicated fans and the general public alike, and when it finally dropped in march of this year, not a single person on this planet was disappointed (probably a hyperbole and consequently bad journalism, but who cares, i never claimed to tell the whole entire truth). when we all fall asleep is a genre-defying masterpiece; the tracks don’t feel as if they should be played on the radio, but because of eilish’s more mainstream previous releases, she’d essentially earned a permanent slot in most popular stations’ rotations. i also had the privilege of watching her play to one of the biggest crowds that reading festival’s main stage had ever seen, and she blew myself (and everyone else there) away.  recommendations: xanny, all the good girls go to hell, when the party’s over, my strange addiction, bury a friend

9. april 26, the balance by catfish and the bottlemen

despite criticisms that they’ve been making the same album for five years, i genuinely believe that with every new release, catfish and the bottlemen produce more emotionally coherent and intelligent music. i finally got to see them this year, on their tour supporting the balance, too, after years of casual listening. the balance turned me into a ravenous catfish fan; i spent two months after the show devouring all of the content surrounding them i could find, listening to all three of their albums on repeat, and crying endlessly over how beautiful van mccann is. this album absolutely defined the back half of my 2019, and i’m always shocked to learn that there are people who don’t love it as fiercely as i do. i have such an overflowing fountain of feelings about this album that i’m still not entirely sure how to write about, but all i have to say is that, if you haven’t yet, please please please give this album a spin.  recommendations: fluctuate, conversation, intermission, overlap

10. may 24, future dust by the amazons

the amazons are the best band i discovered this year, hands down. according to my spotify year in review, i listened to over 9 hours of their music since seeing them at reading in august (not including all the times i spun this record on vinyl in that time as well).  future dust is a masterpiece; there is not one bad track; every time i listen to it, it gets better. they’ve got rock and roll on lock. no one else has come close since maybe the arctic monkeys, but the amazons have brought it back. i’m having a hard time stringing together words about the way this record makes me feel, but i hope that you’ll see this, listen to it top to bottom six or seven times, and make your own feelings about it.  recommendations: mother, fuzzy tree, black magic, 25, doubt

11. june 14, doom days by bastille

i will probably forever hate myself for falling out of love with bastille after i graduated high school. i’m not entirely sure what happened (actually, i am - i was shoved too far up the maine’s ass to care about anything else) but i know that i loved them more than anything when i was a teenager, and the doom days album cycle - specifically their reading set - reignited that love, so i’ll be forever grateful to it for that. this album is conceptual and amazing, set over the course of one night when the writer - presumably frontman dan smith, whose brain this came out of - attends a party with his friends in an attempt at escapism. the world is fucked - dan’s words, but also mine - and sometimes we really do just need to pull the wool over our own eyes for once and let loose, even if just for a night. it starts at a “quarter past midnight,” when the night has only just begun, endless possibilities stretched out ahead of him, and finishes with “joy,” about waking up on the kitchen floor, your phone going off in your hand, the only person who really matters in your life on the other end of the line. bastille have always released music that makes it clear that they give a fuck what happens to earth and her people, and with doom days, they’ve perfected that sound.  recommendations: quarter past midnight, divide, million pieces, joy

12. august 23, GINGER by brockhampton

after a brief hiatus, my favourite all-american boyband returned with their fifth studio album, GINGER. with a noticeably matured and somewhat mellowed shift within the hip-hop collective, this record explores themes of grief and disconnection to the backdrop of upbeat melodies such as on “boy bye” and sweet love songs such as on “sugar”. though perhaps my favourite sentiment on this record lies within the fact that it opens with the echoed words, “I don’t know where I’m going,” and closes poignantly with the heartfelt statement, “Thank God that I’m built for the distance.” -katy (twitter | instagram)

13. september 13, hypersonic missiles by sam fender

hypersonic missiles, the debut full-length from geordie singer-songwriter-maestro sam fender, was my most anticipated release this year. fender has faced a mess of obstacles this year, mostly health-related, after winning the BRIT awards’ critics’ choice award at the start of it, and as a result has had to cancel a majority of the shows he’d had schedules and push back the release of hypersonic missiles a whole month. it was well worth the wait, though, and i ended up writing an essay-length review of it for highlight magazine when i finally did get to hear it. filled to the brim with emotional ballads and belters alike, hypersonic missiles is a culmination of over five years of songwriting and even longer of sam being fed up - with his government, with his peers, with the misrepresentation of mental health by the media. we’ve only had this record for three months, but i can already tell it’s timeless. i’m only hoping sam’s voice recovers enough that he can continue to tour to promote it before returning to studio (reportedly the electric lady in new york city!) to record his second release.  recommendations: hypersonic missiles, white privilege, you’re not the only one, will we talk?two people

14. september 13, pride & disaster by sleep on it

my favorite record of the year is undoubtedly ‘Pride & Disaster’ by Sleep On It. Pride & Disaster arrived the perfect time for me, as I just transferred out of college. I felt lost and unsure of my future. However, listening to Pride & Disaster gave me a sense of hope and support that I’ll be okay on my new journey. -julie (twitter)

15. october 4, interrobang by bayside

Just like the title, there’s no single form of punctuation that can explain the brilliance of this album. ‘Interrobang’ takes the classic Bayside sound to a new level with heavier riffs, faster time signatures, and iconic lyrics. From “Heaven,” a stand out anthem for aging punks in the scene to “Bury Me,” a melodic metal inspired breakout track, this album is laced together perfectly with both the past and future of Bayside. By tip toeing the line between metal, alt rock, and pop punk, the band has shown that even after almost twenty years as a band, they can still innovate and transform with new music. -katie (twitter | instagram

16. december 13, fine line by harry styles

i wanted to include this in this roundup, considering i haven’t stopped listening to it since it came out (and i saw him live!), but i did also write an entire review of the album. you can read it here!

honorable mentions (aka albums i didn’t feel like writing an essay about - or just didn’t listen to all that much - but still think you should give a chance)

1. swmrs, berkeley’s on fire (february 15, 2019) 2. circa waves, what’s it like over there? (april 4, 2019 -  i wrote a whole review about this record for highlight and not many of my feelings about it have changed since then.) 3. cage the elephant, social cues (april 19, 2019) 4. ten tonnes, ten tonnes (may 3, 2019) 5. palace, life after (july 12, 2019) 6. clairo, immunity (august 2, 2019) 7. the myserines, take control ep (august 8, 2019) 8. muna, saves the day (september 6, 2019) 9. from indian lakes, dimly lit (october 18, 2019)

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