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.

The Hodgepodge: 2015 CMA Awards Reactions & Thoughts

Chris Stapleton Traveller

Last night the 49th annual CMA Awards took place where all kinds of awards and performances took place. There were certainly a fair share of ups and downs throughout the night. So let’s get to what I thought of each part of the show. We have to start though with the biggest and best of the show…

Chris Stapleton Shines Bright & Wins Big

Without a doubt the biggest story of the 2015 CMA Awards was Chris Stapleton. Going into it many of us critics and his fans didn’t give him much of a chance to win a single award. We just thought it was neat he was even nominated. One of the first awards given out is New Artist of the Year. Lo and behold Chris Stapleton wins it, beating out the likes of Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Maddie & Tae and Kelsea Ballerini. This was an amazing feat. Then they get to Album of the Year, the one award everyone thought Stapleton had an outside chance at winning. He wins this too (with a Dave Cobb appearance too). This is turning into a euphoric show for Stapleton, his fans and fans of traditional country everywhere. He was nominated for one more award, Male Vocalist of the Year, going against the likes of Blake Shelton and Eric Church. And he wins again! A year ago many never even heard of Chris Stapleton, unless you were country music insider or songwriter. Now he’s beating out the biggest and hottest names of the genre and winning three major award on national television.

This wasn’t all that happened with Chris Stapleton on this show. Stapleton and Justin Timberlake delivered the undisputed best performance of the night when they sang Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away” together. The entire place erupted after the performance and social media was ablaze. Both Miranda Lambert and Luke Bryan mentioned Stapleton in their acceptance speeches for their wins. As of this writing Stapleton has the #1 selling album on all of iTunes and “Tennessee Whiskey” is #2 on the all-genre chart, only trailing the record-breaking Adele song “Hello.” This night and this show was all about Chris Stapleton. It was a historic night not only in the career of Stapleton, but perhaps all of country music. Think about it. Stapleton walked away with three awards, while Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett walked away with nothing. We could be looking back on this night as one of the biggest moments in country music history and could signify a drastic shift in mainstream country and country radio.

This couldn’t happen to a better person in Chris Stapleton, who was in tears when he accepted his third award of the night. I know I was teary eyed with several others watching too. He’s such a humble and hard-working guy who puts his heart and soul into all of his music. The 2015 CMA Awards was the Chris Stapleton show and he was deserving of every bit of adulation he has received.

Little Big Town Wins Awards for Song of the Year, Single of the Year & Group of the Year

If it wasn’t for Chris Stapleton, this night would have been about Little Big Town, who took home three awards themselves. This wasn’t a big surprise at all, considering “Girl Crush” was one of the biggest hits in all of music this year. I didn’t see it winning all of these awards, but I probably should have seen it coming. I don’t mind it winning at all, as it’s better than 90% of the other stuff on country radio. Little Big Town needs to savor this though because I don’t see them ever having this big of a hit ever again (similar to Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now”). Their performance of the song was also one of the better ones of the night.

Hank Williams Jr. & Eric Church Open With “Are You Ready For The Country”

The show kicked off with Hank Jr. and Eric Church singing the Neil Young-penned “Are You Ready For The Country” and it wasn’t a bad performance. It wasn’t either’s best performance ever, but they were in-synch and they delivered for the most part. It’s the first single for Williams under the NASH Icon label and with Church being a part of the song might give it a good chance of getting radio play. Out of everyone in the mainstream to re-do this song with, Church was probably the best pick for Williams. And hey it’s definitely country music, which is a step in the right direction. This wasn’t the only big moment for Church of the night…

Eric Church Surprises The World With Brand New Album

In addition Church caught all of us off-guard and released a brand new album titled Mr. Misunderstood. His fan club had all received copies of it in the mail on Tuesday afternoon, which was the first inkling of it even coming out. Maybe he was inspired by Strait? Regardless this is an album many will be listening to and discussing in the coming week, including yours truly. Church may have only walked away with one award for the night, but this surprise album will surely be one of the buzzing stories in country music.

Blake Shelton Becomes The Most Hated Artist in Country Music

One of the biggest secondary stories of the night was Blake Shelton’s publicist announcing to the world 20 minutes before the show that he was dating fellow judge on The Voice and pop artist Gwen Stefani. It seems like a douche move to do this right before attending a show where your ex-wife is also attending. This screams Shelton wanting to “win” the breakup and basically rubbing it in Miranda Lambert’s face. It was a disgusting scene to watch and no doubt he pissed off several fans watching. Also if I were him I would avoid the Miranda fans because they were ready to throw daggers on social media.

Miranda Lambert Performs “Bathroom Sink” & Wins Female Vocalist of the Year

Lambert didn’t look too good up there performing “Bathroom Sink.” She definitely isn’t having the best year and you almost wanted to hug her. You can see why the anger for Blake was so high. Lambert was pretty short in her acceptance speech and just looked like she wanted to get off the stage quickly. But she accepted the award wearing a Chris Stapleton shirt and praised him for his big night. Look out for her next record because it could be her best yet.

Zac Brown Band Performs “Beautiful Drug”

This was such a godawful performance and I let everyone on Twitter know it. This song is bad enough at it is and what made it even worse was how flat Brown sounded throughout it. In fact he missed some big notes. The Zac Brown Band fanboys ate it right up, but the rest of us were waiting for it to just end. The good news though is that this song is at a snail’s crawl at country radio right now and we can only hope it flops to slap some sense back into Zac Brown. In my mind it was tied for the worst performance of the night. Speaking of…

Sam Hunt Performs “Take Your Time”

It speaks volumes that Hunt performed his mega-hit from months ago instead of his current single “Break Up In A Small Town.” Just like “Beautiful Drug,” this song is not gaining at all right now at radio. This of course a good sign that maybe country radio is considering dumping this un-country stuff and getting back to actual country music. We can only hope. This was tied for worst performance of the night.

Kacey Musgraves Performs “Dime Store Cowgirl”

This was without a doubt one of the top five performances of the night. Kacey sounded and looked absolutely stunning on the stage and I’m glad they gave her a full performance. Apparently her label has re-sent this song to radio in hopes that it gets a second chance from radio programmers. It’s one of her best songs off of Pageant Material and arguably the best single she has ever released. It deserves a chance, but I’m not confident.

Florida Georgia Line Performs “Confession” 

These two followed Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake’s mind-blowing performance with their blandest song yet. It was the most hilarious moment of the night. This is probably going to be their next single, which is a curious choice. They previously said they were taking a break after “Anything Goes” was done at radio, but that song didn’t perform nearly as well as they thought. It’s perhaps a sign that we’ve reached the Nickelback level with them? “Confession” will say a lot about this group’s standing moving forward. They might not be winning anymore Vocal Duo of the Year awards anymore. Also tied for worst performance of the night.

Fall Out Boy & Thomas Rhett Perform Together

Well this happened and I wish it hadn’t. I even enjoy “Uma Thurman,” but it has no business being performed on country awards show. This also tied for worst performance of the night. This is starting to turn into The Pulse.

The Rest

  • Keith Urban performed “Ain’t That America” with John Mellencamp and it was good thanks to Mellencamp mostly. Urban’s performance of “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” was pretty forgettable, especially after following Church and Williams.
  • The Little Jimmy Dickens tribute was touching and appropriate. Kudos to everyone involved for making that happen.
  • Kenny Chesney performed “Save It For A Rainy Day,” which has dominated country radio recently. It was an okay performance and it did nothing to chance my thoughts about it.
  • I enjoy Carrie Underwood’s “Smoke Break.” But her performance was pretty stilted thanks to the audio. This on the production crew because Carrie’s voice sounded fine as always. It didn’t help she had to follow the absolute euphoria that erupted over Stapleton winning New Artist of the Year.
  • Kelsea Ballerini followed Stapleton winning Album of the Year and it was the most unintentionally comical thing I’ve seen at an awards show.
  • Brad Paisley performed “Country Nation” and it just made me long for his early days when he was singing “Too Country” with George Jones and Whisperin’ Bill Anderson. Bring back the old Brad!
  • Maddie & Tae did not get a full performance, which was a big bummer. But their short, stripped-down performance of “Girl In A Country Song” was really great. Plus they won Music Video of the Year, so they weren’t completely ignored. I’m sure they will be featured more in the future on these shows. Keep the faith in these two.
  • Pentatonix, one of my favorite pop groups, did a short a cappella performance of the Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira.” A lot of country folks were making snarky comments about them, but hey it’s their loss if they aren’t familiar with this group.
  • Jason Aldean sounded terrible performing “Gonna Know We Were Here.” I’ve dubbed him the Kim Kardashian of country music.
  • Reba performed with Brooks & Dunn and they still sound pretty good. Bring them back to radio I say.
  • Dierks Bentley performed “Riser” with Lindsey Stirling on violin. Dierks didn’t sound 100% tonight and it wasn’t his best performance. I always enjoy hearing this song though and Stirling getting to perform on the national stage was nice to see too.
  • Luke Bryan won Entertainer of the Year and the world pretty much yawned. But I applaud him for his classy acceptance speech and giving a shout out to Stapleton. This gives you a good idea though how big of a night Stapleton had when nobody cared about Bryan winning this award.

Overall

This was one of the best country awards shows I’ve seen in several years. Stapleton having a big night was a huge reason why. But there were also several good, country performances throughout the show and most of the award winners were of quality. Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton walked away empty-handed. Sure there were some terrible performances too, including all-time awful ones in Zac Brown Band and Thomas Rhett with Fall Out Boy. But this was a night with overwhelming positives. I’ve haven’t been this positive about the future of mainstream country music in a long time. We can only hope this marks a major turning point in the genre returning to its roots and bringing quality artists in Chris Stapleton back to country radio.

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • Eric Church surprised released his new album during the CMA Awards last night and it’s titled Mr. Misunderstood. We’ll have a review on it soon.
  • Tim McGraw will release his new album Damn Country Music tomorrow. We’ll have review on this early next week.
  • Josh Abbott Band will release their new album Front Row Seat tomorrow.
  • Jeff Crosby & The Refugees will release their new album Waking Days tomorrow.
  • Cam announced last week she will release her debut album Untamed on December 11.
  • Hank Williams Jr. announced he will release his first album under the NASH Icon label on January 15, 2016 and it will be called It’s About Time.

Great Music Currently at Country Radio

The very best of country radio right here in a nice playlist. In order for a song to be added to the list, it must currently be in the top 60 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart, so this will be updated weekly.

Throwback Thursday Song

Brandy Clark – “Stripes” – This past week I decided to go back and give a good listen to Brandy Clark’s 2013 album 12 Stories and I enjoyed it thoroughly. The standout from the album and one of the most popular songs on it is “Stripes,” a song about how a woman won’t shoot her husband for cheating on her because she doesn’t like to wear orange or stripes. This wry humor combined with your standard cheating song was a nice touch and definitely recommend giving this album a listen if you haven’t yet.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Rise Against The Machine – “Bulls on Parade” – I’m not a big fan of rap metal, but this song just flat-out rocks.

Tweets of the Week

There were a lot of awesome tweets during the CMA Awards. But this has to be featured. For those unfamiliar, Jimmy Kimmel Live has a popular feature called Mean Tweets in which celebrities, artists and even President Obama read mean tweets about themselves. They’re hilarious and I warn you that they can be addicting to watch. Anyway tonight they came out with a country music edition and it’s very funny. In particular I was pumped to see Reginald Spears get featured twice, who has been featured in this space many times. If you’re on Twitter, he’s a must-follow. Anyway just watch this video.

iTunes Review That Rocks

Sam Hunt Isn't Even Bro Country

This was left under Sam Hunt’s new acoustic mix tape album Between The Pines. Like this reviewer above says it’s not country (you’d think acoustic would mean it would be a little country), not even bro country. We’re to the point where bro country is an upgrade. I’m just going to go back to listening to music on the Americana chart.

Thanks for reading and be sure to weigh in below! 

My Five Favorite Non-Country Albums of 2014

Here at Country Perspective we talk about country music of course. We review it, analyze it, present it and listen to it. Except today we make an exception. I’m going to talk about what I considered the best outside of country music. Contrarian person: “But this is country blog! I don’t care about non-country music!” Okay that’s cool. Don’t read this. If you’re still here thank you. Now let me ask you a question: Do you only eat one type of pie? No you don’t because that’s stupid. I enjoy eating a variety of different pies. Chocolate, apple, cherry you name it. Even though I love country music, I would go insane if I just listened to one type of music. I listen to all types and I’m not exaggerating. Now keep in mind too my “rules” for country music aren’t the same for other genres. For example, vulgarity is a much bigger part of hip-hop than other genres. But one universal rule for all genres in order to have good music: great lyrics with meaning and depth. So without further ado my five favorite non-country albums of 2014.

Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels 2

rtj2

 

Where has this hip-hop duo been all of my life? I never heard their first album and still haven’t. I heard a lot of hype about them on social media, so out of the blue I gave their album a listen. From the first listen I was absolutely blown away. This album hits you in the face from the first song and keeps throwing flurries in your face until the album ends. After all the album starts out with the ear grabbing shout of, “I’m going to bang this bitch the fuck out!” It’s vulgar, offensive, controversial and I absolutely love it. It’s definitely NSFW. El-P and Killer Mike were meant to make music together. My favorite track on the album would have to be “Blockbuster Night Part 1” because everything in this song works perfectly together. The final lyrics of the song really put an exclamation point on it.

This is really an album you have to hear for yourself because there is just so much to breakdown in it. This album tied with two other albums as my favorite of the year (the next album I’m getting ready to talk about and the other one you’ll know on Monday). Not only that, but this is probably my favorite hip-hop album I’ve ever listened to. It’s a damn shame this wasn’t nominated for a Grammy because it’s better than all of the Grammy nominations for Best Rap album.

The War on Drugs – Lost In The Dream

War-On-Drugs-Lost-In-The-Dream-608x608

 

The Philadelphia-based band composed of lead singer Adam Granduciel, David Hartley, Robbie Bennett, Charlie Hall, Joe Natchez and Anthony LaMarca have dazzled critics and fans everywhere with this album. Unless your name is Mark Kozelek, then you’ll probably love this album. Granduciel shows that he’s a musical genius with such a deep and complex album like Lost In The Dream. I mean who starts an album off with a nearly nine minute song? Most of the songs on this album are over five minutes long. It’s going to take you a while to listen to it, but trust me it is well worth it. Don’t listen to it in chunks either because this album is a journey and is meant to be listened to in full from start to finish.

As for my favorite track, it would be a toss-up between “Red Eyes” and “An Ocean in Between The Waves.” It really depends on my mood. I will say though my favorite line is in “An Ocean in Between The Waves.” It’s the brilliant line of “In my finest hour, can I be more than just a fool?” It’s such a simple line, yet it means so much. I will admit it can be hard to pay attention to the lyrics at times because the instrumentation is just so damn good. The amount of detail and thought behind each sound is unbelievable. This is the kind of album you put on right before you go for a long drive.

Rival Sons – Great Western Valkyrie 

Rival-Sons-great-western-valkyrie

 

Along with The War on Drugs, Rival Sons proved to me that rock music isn’t dead. Behind country music, I would say rock music is my favorite. But in recent years I drifted away from the genre just like I did with country music. When I came across this group’s album and listened to it, they made me believe in rock music again. They also taught me that you can’t rely on the mainstream to guide you to the best rock music (just like country music). Great Western Valkyrie is the perfect blend of the classic rock throwback sound and modern rock influences. The album opens hot with “Electric Man” and really sets the tone for this album. There are several highlights on this album, from the loud and in your face “Open My Eyes” to the more subdued and tender “Belle Star.”

I was really surprised that very few “best of” albums list didn’t mention this because to me it’s easily one of the best rock albums I’ve heard in the last five years. This album was also shorted by the Grammys, but hey the Grammys suck most years and at least they stayed consistent. I know I appreciate Rival Sons’ Great Western Valkyrie and many other do too. Thank you Rival Sons for also restoring my faith in rock!

Weird Al Yankovic – Mandatory Fun

If you don’t like Weird Al Yankovic, you don’t like to laugh. In a world full of too much political correctness and super serious people, Weird Al is here to remind us it’s okay to laugh while listening to music. I not only got plenty of laughs from Mandatory Fun, but I was impressed by Weird Al’s lyrics and style choices. He also took a unique approach in promoting the album, as he released eight music videos over eight days all in different places the week he released the album. The music videos make the songs even better of course. One song in particular where the video makes it even better is “Foil,” which goes from talking about keeping food fresh to conspiracy theorists and aliens (that reminds me that Sturgill Simpson and Weird Al should make a song together).

My two favorites though on the album are “Word Crimes” and “Jackson Park Express.” The first, “Word Crimes,” is a song the world didn’t know it needed until they heard it. It blows the song it parodies, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” out of the water in terms of lyrics and content. It sends a message that many people need (how to write like a human being) and it also takes a nice little jab at prima donna Prince. “Jackson Park Express” is a nine-minute, bizarre journey on a bus (sounds like an episode of Seinfeld) where a man goes from irrational to just plain creepy with his thoughts about a woman sitting across from him. It’s one of Weird Al’s best original songs ever.

Who would’ve thought when Weird Al started his musical career in 1976 that we would still making music after all these years? Keeping being awesome Weird Al and congrats on your first #1 album!

Pentatonix – PTX, Vol. III

A capella music! I told you I listen to everything. When I discovered Pentatonix last year I was enamored by them. How could they be so damn good while using zero instruments? Keep this in mind when listening to their music. If you had some unknown person off the street who had never heard this group’s music before they would have no idea there is no instrumentation involved because they do such a great job replicating the sounds with their mouths. And when they bring in instruments (usually the great Lindsey Stirling with her violin), they still knock it out of the park.

I usually like their covers of songs even better than the original versions of those songs. That’s the case again with their covers of “La La Latch” and “Rather Be” on PTX, Vol. III. The harmonies on “Rather Be” really blow me away, as you’ll find after listening to their music that harmonies are their biggest strength. Their original music doesn’t impress me as much as their covers yet, but they’re slowing getting there I think. My favorite original song off the album is “Standing By,” which shows off the group’s softer side. I think this A capella group will only get better with time.

Honorable Mentions:

Lindsey Stirling – Shatter Me 

The Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways 

Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron

(12/23) Late Addition: Hozier’s Self-Titled Debut Album