Country Perspective’s Top 10 Albums of 2019

Back in the day, Country Perspective would spend around a month doing end of the year posts, recognizing the best and worst across several categories. While it was fun in a way, it was also quite tiring. And I imagine it had to be quite tiring for the reader too. After all I imagine you read several other music blogs and year-end posts. Speaking also as a reader of many blogs, it gets old after reading so many of these posts when really these things have two major points: 1) Giving proper recognition to the absolute best in music and 2) Giving you the listener a potential new album/artist to listen to. Plus, it’s fun to compare lists.

So with my lack of interest in doing so many year end posts and this blog having it’s major focus on albums, this is going to be the only best of 2019 post, the best albums of the year. It was a pretty good year for albums, as there were so many good ones across multiple genres. While there were some disappointments that stood out for me, pleasant new surprises more than made up for them (you’ll see some of them made the top 10 even). While it certainly didn’t touch the best years of this decade (hello 2014), 2019 is one of the better years of music in the 2010s (I’ll be doing my best of the decade posts in 2020).

But before I get to my top ten albums of 2019, I want to list some honorable mentions that weren’t quite good enough for the top ten, but still good albums that I recommend you check out…

Honorable Mentions

Country Perspective’s Top 10 Albums of 2019

10. Benny The Butcher – The Plugs I Met

Dirty, grimy and nasty is how I would describe the sounds and lyrics of this album. And I love it! The entire Griselda hip-hop collective is fantastic and rightly getting their due now that they’re signed to Eminem’s Shady Records (check out the album they dropped in November). But the star is undoubtedly Benny The Butcher and this album is the proof. All of his work is great, but this is an excellent entry point. When the king of coke rap in Pusha T endorses your coke rap (dropping a great feature on this album too), well you know you’re doing something right.

9. Cody Jinks – The Wanting

While I wouldn’t put the The Wanting as Cody Jinks’ best work, it’s certainly close and features maybe the most badass album cover of 2019. This album offers deep introspection on life, passion and love. The instrumentation is varied, going from slow ballads to rockers. And he did this all while dropping another album the week before that just missed this list. Jinks is undoubtedly one of the hardest working artists in music today and I was impressed by what he accomplished in dropping two great albums within a week of each other. If you’re someone looking to get into country music, Jinks is one of the first you should check out.

8. Dee White – Southern Gentleman

This album was released all the way back in January, but you should not forget about it. Dee White proves himself to be one of the most promising new country artists to watch with his debut album Southern Gentleman. White’s voice evokes memories of Roy Orbison and George Jones and he’s only 19-years-old. And while he feels like a classic artist in every sense, his lyrics are still modern. There are several great storytelling moments on this album and White even holds his own with fantastic vocalists like Ashley McBryde and Alison Krauss. I can’t wait to hear more from Dee White.

7. Tyler Childers – Country Squire

Country Squire is an incredible album and with its perfectly short run time, you’ll find yourself replaying it again and again. While some were disappointed by this follow-up to Purgatory, I was instantly impressed with this album. What’s great is these are old songs that have been played by Childers live for years and with live music being what pays the bills for artists, it only makes sense to record these songs. While we’re still due for Tyler Childers’ absolute best work, this is a pretty damn good album to play while we wait for it.

6. Michaela Anne – Desert Dove

Michaela Anne delivers an amazing album in Desert Dove. It’s full of smooth and breezy songs that only take a couple of listens to truly enjoy. Like my good friend and fellow music writer Zackary Kephart says, this album is quite similar to Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour and that was my top album of 2018. So if you enjoyed that album, this is a must-listen. This also feels like Anne’s breakout moment, as she finds the sound and themes she needed to truly show her full potential and prove herself as an artist that should be on your radar if you love country music or just great music in general.

5. Kishi Bash – Omoiyari

Omoiyari is a wonderful album full of beautiful lyrics and sounds that cover an important topic in American history that more people show know about. Why Kishi Bashi is not more covered by music journalists I’ll never know, but this music reviewer is telling you that you need to check him out. He’s a multi-instrumentalist who writes his own lyrics and can cover a wide variety of sounds so damn well. On this album he masters the chamber pop/orchestral pop sound while giving you an informative history lesson too. As a music nerd and history nerd, it’s a double win!

4. Mike and The Moonpies – Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold

So I would be remiss if I didn’t point that my top four is clearly ahead of the rest, being that they all received 10/10 ratings, with each at one point or another getting consideration for Country Perspective’s 2019 Album of the Year. And out of all them, this was my biggest surprise of 2019. Mike and the Moonpies deliver something special with Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold. It’s fantastic in both sound and songwriting. The group clearly left their comfort zone. It honors the tried and true, while delivering something that feels new too. This is a band for me that went from releasing two albums I couldn’t get into at all to releasing an album that I can’t find a single fault in.

3. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana 

I found hip-hop in 2019 to be pretty disappointing. But I never find the work of Freddie Gibbs and producer Madlib to be disappointing, as this duo once again delivers big with Bandana. After delivering a classic in Piñata, they manage to nearly match it, which absolutely blows my mind. Gibbs raps his ass off on this album, delivering some of his best bars ever, while finding a great balance of bangers and humor while also offering introspection on more serious topics like when he was falsely accused of rape and systematic racism. Madlib brings some of the best beats in the game, picking some excellent samples as he always does. If there’s one hip-hop album you listen to this year, it’s this one.

2. Sturgill Simpson – SOUND & FURY

SOUND & FURY from start to finish feels like one long song, as it’s both cohesive in sound and lyrics, telling several stories that tie into overarching theme of Simpson being angry at a lot of things in the world, but when it comes down to it he’s most angry at himself and what he let himself become. Each track explores the flawed thoughts and actions of a flawed man. This album sounds like early to mid 70s music and sounds like the eccentric, frenetic sounds of Jeff Lyne and Electric Light Orchestra meets the in-your-face, sneering lyrics of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The amount of care and detail given to every aspect makes this one of the best albums you’ll hear in 2019 and yet another excellent album from Sturgill Simpson.

Country Perspective’s 2019 Album of the Year…

1. Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated

If you still think of Carly Rae Jepsen as just the “Call Me Maybe” girl, well you’re just plain wrong. Because when she released Emotion and Emotion Side B, she showed me that there’s not a better pop artist making music today. Jepsen further proves with Dedicated that she just gets pop music: the over-the-top production, the overwhelming emotions, the catchy hooks, exciting themes and everything in-between. It’s appropriate she has an album named Dedicated considering she writes hundreds of songs for each album and spends months culling down to the final track list. This true dedication to her music shines through on every lyric and sound on this album. It’s a complete album from front to back, touching on the several emotions of love through the many trials and tribulations of a relationship. And it wouldn’t surprise me a bit that the “B cuts” for this album are equally as great in quality. Not only is this the best album of 2019 in my mind, but one of the best of the 2010s.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts on Country Perspective’s Top 10 Albums of 2019 below and feel free to offer your own list. Also feel free to ask me about any music releases/news from 2019 too (think of it as a 2019 music AMA), as my late start didn’t allow me to discuss everything I would have liked to discuss.

Album Review – Run The Jewels’ ‘Run the Jewels 3’

run-the-jewels-3

Run The Jewels is hands down one of the best acts in hip hop music today. I remember coming across the duo pretty much by accident as I saw everyone talking about them and specifically their new album at the time Run the Jewels 2. From the very first listen of that album I was completely hooked to them. Of course I then went back to their first album and loved it too. You won’t find a much better duo in music than Killer Mike and El-P. These two are just a perfect fit for each other’s styles. Both just absolutely attack the music and bring 110% intensity to each second of the song. Not to mention their incorporation of metal, rock and other genres’ influences into their sound really makes them appealing to all music fans. As for the themes they tackle, nothing is off-limits. They can make you laugh (El-P in particular always drops some funny lines), but also offer thoughtful critical commentary that will inspire you to think deeper like on “Early” on RTJ 2. So after the masterpiece that was Run the Jewels 2, I was eager to hear how they would follow it up with Run the Jewels 3. And once again one of the best in hip hop deliver big.

One of the things you notice right away from the opening song “Down” is Run the Jewels 3 has a distinctive sci-fi, futuristic-like influence throughout it. This is combined with the duo’s usually heavy bass anchored sound. That rapid delivery that made me instantly love this duo is really exemplified on “Talk to Me.” The lyrics come at you like a firing machine gun and the deep bass line really gives the song punch. The album’s third single “Legend Has It” really shows off Run The Jewels’ swagger in both their delivery and lyrics. “Call Ticketron” features a really catchy synthetic beat that won’t be leaving you for a while after you hear it. Another excellent artist and rapper in Danny Brown joins RTJ on “Hey Kids (Bumaye)” and instantly became one of my favorites on the album. The contrast in Browns’ unique delivery and the duo’s heavier delivery play off each other well and I definitely wouldn’t complain about these three doing more songs together. The best moment on the album is when Killer Mike and El-P once again tackle police violence and society’s reactions to them with aplomb and intelligence on “Don’t Get Captured” and “Thieves (Screamed the Ghost).” Specifically on the latter the duo imagines all of the victims of police and system brutality rising from the dead and calling out the injustice committed against them. It’s the injustices of this system that not only cause needless deaths they explain, but riots and protests too.

A dystopian, chaotic future is imagined on “2100,” as Run The Jewels warns us that if the hate in the world continues we’ll all pay the ultimate price and that we need to come together to find peace. Run The Jewels drop one of their best beats I’ve ever heard from them on “Panther Like a Panther.” Electric bongo drums are the main instrumentation giving the song an eerily slick sound. One thing that needs pointed out is this album has some noticeable jazz influences in places, most notably on “Thursday in the Danger Room” where jazz musician Kamasi Washington plays saxophone. This song is about the duo both reflecting on deaths of close friends and not being able to ever really accept it, never letting their memory go. Killer Mike and El-P disappoint their mothers with their life choices on “Oh Mama.” The horn line really gives the song great energy. It should also be noted El-P hilariously blurts out, “Notice me, senpai!” The album really closes out with a bang in “A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters.” The duo takes aim once again at the evils of society, specifically the masters in part two of the song who ruin the lives of everyday people. A special guest also shows up by the end to take the song to an even higher level, but I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t heard it yet.

Run The Jewels delivers to the masses another fantastic record in Run the Jewels 3. I wouldn’t quite put it on the same exact level as Run the Jewels 2, as that album is a future classic in my mind and will be hard to top. But man do they come damn close in equaling it here. I’ll admit I wasn’t completely sold on the whole sci-fi sound at first, but after a couple more listens it really sank in. The production is near flawless and compliments the lyrics perfectly. As always Killer Mike and El-P drop awesome bars that will be sticking with me for a while. It’s really early, but I doubt there will be many hip hop records coming close to equalling or topping Run the Jewels 3 in 2017.

Grade: 9/10

 

Recommend? – Absolutely Yes!

Album Highlights: Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost) [feat. Tunde Adebimpe], Hey Kids (Bumaye) [feat. Danny Brown], A Report to the Shareholders/Kill Your Masters, Panther Like A Panther (Miracle Mix) [feat. Trina], Talk To Me, Legend Has It, 2100 (feat. BOOTS), Thursday in the Danger Room (feat. Kamasi Washington)

Bad Songs: None

Wallpaper: None


As they’ve done with all of their albums, you can download Run The Jewels 3 for free at their official site by clicking here.