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Janky Smooth Top 10 ALBUMS of 2019 Rated by Contributors

2019 was a year full of fresh faces releasing undeniable breakout albums and veterans making their returns to grace. Even though it may seem like singles are the logical way to release music in 2019, it would turn out that people want full and cohesive artistic statements with emotional twists and turns. Don’t believe the hype, all the devices we’ve surrounded ourselves with and all the information flooding our minds, we’re still human, the nature of our hearts has not changed much. Artists like Lingua Ignota with Caligula and FKA Twigs with Magdelene bore their souls onto record and the reception reciprocated their love and passion because this was their year.

As much as our current culture emphasizes the importance of youth and the irrelevance of the old, a few veterans showed they had so much more fuel left in the tank. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds came back with a vengeance with Ghosteen, a return to the mournfulness that made him a goth God in the first place. Leonard Cohen released Thanks For The Dance posthumously, haunting us from the grave as if he can’t rest until we’ve really, truly learned everything we can form the old poet. If 2019 taught us anything it’s that the young might be brash enough to think they know everything but in reality, they have so much left to learn from their elders.

Punk has never shown more signs of immortality because in 2019 every subgenre shows no possibility of ever slowing down. Young pop punk bands like PUP taught an old dog new tricks making the most vicious, melody driven music on Morbid Stuff. Amyl and the Sniffers released their self-titled album and gave punks of every stripe something to listen and aspire to. Veterans like Bad Religion and Blink 182 kept their flames burning into the new decade. Otoboke Beaver released a compilation album that finally gave a bigger audience a taste of their fast-paced, fun-time sound.

Psych rock saw women grab the torch and run with it, making stellar albums and bringing their acts to the forefront of the genre. Jessica Pratt‘s Quiet Signs and Crumb‘s Jinx gave them the push they needed to sell out shows on tour and draw some of the biggest crowds at Desert Daze. Meanwhile, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard didn’t slow down their output, releasing two albums, Infest the Rats Nest and Fishing For Fishies. They weren’t the only Australians to create the year’s psych standards though, Tropical Fuck Storm‘s Braindrops and Psychedelic Porn CrumpetsAnd Now For The Whatchamacallit were game changers.

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The world of hardcore saw many great new albums, many of which by bands that had the chance to play that new material at heavy music’s greatest West Coast showcase: Sound and Fury. Division of Mind, Wild Side, and Ekulu are only a few examples of bands that came out with work that shot them to new levels of popularity and credibility. Let us also not forget Knocked Loose, who might’ve released the genre’s most savage work with A Different Shade of Blue. And these are just the more traditional bands, Show Me The Body‘s Dog Whistle is NYHC at its hardest but at its heart, it’s also a return to the darker, noisier regions of punk that haven’t been prodded so hard since Big Black.

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Every incarnation of heavy metal saw new blood rise up to the surface to impress even the most elitist fans but at the same time, it was a super group made of the genre’s veterans that stole the year with VltimasSomething Wicked Marches In. Both versions of Batushka put out cool albums, doom metal savants Crypt Sermon wrought slow burning death upon the lands with The Ruins of the Fading LightDevin Townsend released his most forward thinking and avant-garde album with the operatic and cinematic Empath. The next death metal band to transcend into legend status, at least for this generation, Gatecreeper released Deserted, their 2nd monumental effort. Sunn O))) released Life Metal but then Liturgy released the very first transcendental black metal album with H.A.Q.Q.

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Hip hop had just as much to mourn as to celebrate in 2019. The death of Juice WRLD was another sign that the culture needs to change for the sake of their young. Meanwhile, new blood like DaBaby skyrocketed to the royal suite in the house of hip hop with Baby on Baby and KIRK. Tyler, the Creator‘s Igor broke every convention and ultimately changed how rappers make artistic statements. Then you had Lil Nas X release his debut, Panini, featuring the world’s most popular song in history, “Old Town Road”. Post Malone followed up Beerbongs and Bentlys with Hollywood’s Bleeding but wasn’t able to find the same success as his last effort, even after tapping Ozzy Osbourne for an incredible comeback track. And finally, the genre’s biggest outlier, Kanye West, went gospel with Jesus is King. In doing so, he alienated a lot of fans but hell, at least he got Clipse back together.

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Post punk saw Ceremony finally make the full transition into its ranks with In The Spirit World Now, their most unique effort to date. She Past Away cemented themselves as the genre’s purists with Belirdi Gece, introducing goths to Middle-Eastern poetry and culture. Dais Records had numerous releases that all ought to be mentioned, Drab Majesty‘s Modern Mirror, Body of Light‘s Time to Kill, Xeno & Oaklander‘s Hypnos to name only a few. Perhaps the most notable release and ascension of any band was Boy Harsher‘s Careful which saw them move up the ranks from club act to bonafide stars, underground be damned.

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Our contributors range in taste and expertise but one thing’s for sure, the albums they picked for the best of the year should all be given a listen to by anyone that considers themselves interested in what direction music is going. Without further ado, here are our best albums of 2019:

Rob Shepyer, Editor at Janky Smooth
  1. FKA Twigs – Magdalene
  2. Better Oblivion Community Center – Self Titled
  3. Angel Du$t – Pretty Buff
  4. Division of Mind – Self Titled
  5. Ceremony – In The Spirit World Now
  6. Tool – Fear Inoculum
  7. Devin Townsend – Empath
  8. Wild Side – Who The Hell Is Wild Side?
  9. Kirin J. Calinan – Return to Center
  10. Wicca Phase Springs Eternal – Suffer On
related content: Boston Calling: Sound and Fury 2019
FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs at Camp Flog Gnaw 2019

Wild Side shot by Veronika Reinert

Wild Side at Sound and Fury 2019 shot by Veronika Reinert

Audrey Kemp, Author at Janky Smooth
  1. Chromatics – Closer to Grey
  2. Omni – Networker
  3. Have a Nice Life – Sea of Worry
  4. Swans – Leaving Meaning
  5. Show Me The Body – Dog Whistle
  6. DIIV – Deceiver
  7. The Telescopes – Exploding Head Syndrome
  8. She Past Away – Belirdi Gece
  9. Xeno & Oaklander – Hypnos
  10. Body of Light – Time to Kill
related content: Becoming The Night: Substance 2019
Show Me The Body

Show Me The Body at Redbull Presents Illegal Civ at the Pink Motel shot by Rodney Campos

Xeno + Oaklander

Xeno & Oaklander at Substance LA shot by Jessica Moncrief

Rodney Campos, Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Tyler, The Creator – Igor
  2. Dreamville – Revenge of the Dreamers III
  3. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
  4. Sir- Chasing Summer
  5. Daniel Caesar – CASE STUDY 01
  6. Schoolboy Q – Crash Talk
  7. Kyle Dion – Suga
  8. Koffee – Rapture EP
  9. Inner Wave – WYA EP
  10. DaBaby – Kirk
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Schoolboy Q

Schoolboy Q at Day N’ Vegas shot by Rodney Campos

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib at Adult Swim Festival shot by Rodney Campos

Anthony Mehlhaff, Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Skullcrack – Turn to Dust
  2. Cunts – Self-Titled
  3. The Manx – Malibu Slime
  4. Amyl and the Sniffers – Self-Titled
  5. Ho99o9 – Cyber Warfare
  6. Wacko – demoRalization
  7. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade of Blue
  8. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rat’s Nest
  9. Gulch – Burning Desire to Draw Last Breath
  10. Tie: Rammstein – Self-Titled/Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
related content: Amyl and the Sniffers at the Teragram Ballroom
The Manx

The Manx at the Hi Hat shot by Anthony Mehlhaff

Amyl and the Sniffers shot by Anthony Mehlhaff

Amyl and the Sniffers at the Teragram Ballroom shot by Anthony Mehlhaff

Veronika Reinert, Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade of Blue
  2. Maria Taylor – Self-Titled
  3. SECT – Blood of the Beasts
  4. Gatecreeper – Deserted 
  5. Better Oblivion Community Center – Self-Titled
  6. Nuvolascura – Self-Titled
  7. Amygdala – Our Voices Will Soar Forever
  8. Bad Books – III
  9. La Dispute – Panorama
  10. Taylor Swift – Lover
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Knocked Loose

Knocked Loose at 1720 shot by Veronika Reinert

Better Oblivion Community Center

Better Oblivion Community Center at the Wiltern shot by Veronika Reinert

Maggie St. Thomas, Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
  2. X -Delta 88 Nightmare/ Cyrano De Berger’s Back
  3. Flying Lotus – Flamagra
  4. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
  5. Highly Suspect – MCID 
  6. Lil Tracy – Anarchy
  7. AJR – Neotheater
  8. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
  9. Corey Feldman and Mickey Thomas – Dream a Little Dream
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Lil Tracy

Lil Tracy at the Constellation Room shot by Maggie St. Thomas

Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man at the Troubadour shot by Maggie St. Thomas

David Fearn (Shitshow Dave), Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Mizmor – Cairn
  2. Pinch Points – Moving Parts
  3. Lingua Ignota – Caligula
  4. Sabrina Is Not In This Chat – Not Recommended For Sensitive Skin
  5. Amyl and the Sniffers – Self-Titled
  6. Freakees – Lives Freakee, Die Freakee EP
  7. Panther Modern – Los Angeles 2020
  8. Institute – Readjusting The Locks
  9. Moss! – Primal Vessel Fickle Mind
  10. Acrylics – Sinking In
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Amyl and the Sniffers shot by David Fearn

Panther Modern

Panther Modern shot by David Fearn

Dillon Vaughn, Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Jai Paul – Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)
  2. Baroness – Gold and Grey
  3. Shintaro Sakamoto w/Eddie Corman – Boat/Dear Future Person
  4. Boris – Love and Evol
  5. Mdou Moctar – Ilana (The Creator)
  6. Woundvac – The Road Ahead
  7. Gatecreeper – Deserted
  8. American Sharks – 11:11
  9. Endon – Boy Meets Girl
  10. Crypt Sermon – Ruins of Fading Light
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Boris

Boris at Echoplex shot by Dillon Vaughn

Gatecreeper

Gatecreeper at the Regent shot by Dillon Vaughn

Albert Licano, Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Iconoclast – Domination or Destruction 83-85
  2. Subhumans – Crisis Point
  3. Wolfbrigade – The Enemy: Reality
  4. Victims – The Horse and Sparrow Theory
  5. Gatecreeper – Deserted
  6. Amyl and the Sniffers – Self-Titled
  7. Baroness – Gold and Grey
  8. The Muffs – No Holiday
  9. Skullcrack – Turn to Dust
  10. Leonard Cohen – Thanks for the Dance
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Wolfbrigade

Wolfbrigade at 1720 shot by Albert Licano

Skullcrack

Skullcrack at the Resident shot by Albert Licano

Paige Vreede, Author at Janky Smooth
  1. Orville Peck – Pony
  2. Angel Olson – All Mirrors
  3. The National – I am Easy to Find
  4. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rat’s Nest
  5. Billie Eilish – When we all Fall Asleep Where do we go?
  6. Diiv – Deceiver
  7. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka
  8. DZ Deathrays – Positive Rising part 1
  9. Wilco – Ode to Joy
  10. Fontaines DC – Dogrel
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Orville Peck

Orville Peck at the Observatory OC shot by Jessica Moncrief

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard at the Greek Theatre shot by Audrey Kemp

Taylor Wong, Photographer at Janky Smooth
  1. Plague Vendor – By Night
  2. Refused – War Music
  3. PUP – Morbid Stuff
  4. Ho99o9 – Cyber Warfare
  5. No Parents – Middle Ground
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Plague Vendor

Plague Vendor at Five Point Amphitheatre shot by Taylor Wong

Refused

Refused at Fox Theater Pomona shot by Taylor Wong

Dave Smith, Author at Janky Smooth
  1. Shock Therapy – Planet Pink
  2. Japanese Breakfast – Essential/Soft Sounds From Another Planet
  3. Alex G – House of Sugar
  4. Glitterer – Self-Titled
  5. Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
Lizzo

Lizzo at Music Tastes Good shot by Jessica Moncrief

 

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