2019 is officially in the books and Con Safos Magazine enters its third year. With interviews and coverage of artists around the globe without borders, we thought it was time Con Safos made its first “Best of” list, and one that showed our music taste and focus on giving artists of every nation, genre, style, and sound some time in the spotlight.
It is unfortunate that there was not enough time to go genre by genre, country by country, or label by label into several lists because narrowing the whole year into only 100 albums was difficult.
100 albums from nearly 20 different countries that range from punk rock from Japan to jazz from Guatemala, these are the albums we felt stood out not just from a technical and musicianship standpoint, but that connected with us on a personal level.
Thanks for reading and here’s to 2020! -The Con Safos Team
The list was compiled, edited, looked over, written, and entirely created by Veronica Martinez, Fandi Zapien, Laura Andrea, Caleb Ortiz, and Antonio Villaseñor-Baca.
1. Good at Falling, The Japanese House
Technically a debut album, Amber Bain aka The Japanese House finally dropped a complete album and the product was this chart topper. Good at Falling is an album that feels like the cathartic conversation you have with a friend about a recent breakup, only glossed over with seemingly-simple-yet-complex beats and melodies. Bain’s vocals break your heart and then glue it right back together.
Favorita Tracks: “Lilo”, “Follow My Girl”, “Maybe You’re the Reason”
2. bi/MENTAL, Le Butcherettes
Con Safos is an El Paso based magazine, and Le Butcherettes can technically be counted as an El Paso band, but this number two spot is far from hometown bias. The Guadalajara originated, Teri Gender Bender led band cemented themselves in the upper echelons of the garage/punk world with this album produced by Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison. Tracks featuring Mon Laferte and Alice Bag, and still the album’s true shining moments come from the dramatic highs and lows of Teri’s voice.
Favorite Tracks: “la/SANDÍA,” “struggle/STRUGGLE,” “dressed/IN A MANNER OF SPEECH”
3. Ribbons, Bibio
Stephen Wilkinson’s experimentation with music has always ranged between two poles: chill folk acoustics and digital quirkiness. With Ribbons, Bibio does not mix electronic songs that contrast with acoustic melodies, but rather reaches a sweet spot in the middle with every song. While the album also features soul and hip-hop beats, at the core, it remains what Bibio’s music has always been: just chill.
Favorite Tracks: “Watch the Flies,” “Old Graffiti”
4. Titanic Rising, Weyes Blood
With calm and catchy cords and an ethereal voice, Weyes Blood released their latest album in April of 2019. Mering’s soft vocals and music evoke a 70s-like sound. This album is perhaps, her most ambitious work yet. The vintage feeling of the record came at no surprise as Titanic Rising was produced by Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado.
Favorite Tracks: “Everyday,” “Picture Me Better”
5. Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend’s long awaited fourth album came out this Spring and the first since 2016 when Rostam Batmanglij’s announcement that he was leaving the band. Singles like “Harmony Hall,” “2021” and “Sunflower” titillated listeners and made a promise of an uplifting sound. The lyrics stay truthful to past Vampire Weekend albums with a little pompousness, but self-awareness as well. FOTB also features multiple collaborations with artists like Danielle Haim, Steve Lacey, Chromeo, Blood Pop, and Mark Ronson.
Favorite Tracks: “Harmony Hall,” “2021”
6. Bandana, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
The second collaborative album between Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, Bandana shined in 2019 with Freddie Gibbs’ masterful rhyming and the sounds consistent in every Madlib work. Contributions from Killer Mike, Pusha T, Anderson .Paak, Black Thought, and YasiinBey also help. Also, don’t forget sleep on the “Half Manne Half Cocaine” video which features Eric Andre.
Favorite Tracks: “Freestyle S**t,” “Giannis,” Gat Damn”
7. Ilana (The Creator), Mdou Moctar
Mdou Moctar is the virtuoso from Niger that, while touring this debut album, saved someone’s life. If that isn’t enough to hook you to this album, the psychadelic riffs that resonate throughout the entirety of Ilana (The Creator). The album is 60’s and 70’s psych rock with influence from Mdou’s home country; it is a true testament to musicianship.
Favorite Tracks: “Asshet Akal,” “Ilana”
8. ITEKOMA HITS, Otoboke Beaver,
The London-based, Kyoto originated punk rockers created a wall-to-wall 14 track punk powerhouse. Itekoma Hits shows the band’s bilingualism and simultaneous punk energy. There’s no breathing time in this album but you might be sore from all the head-banging.
Favorite Tracks: “S’il vous plait,” “Bakuro Book,” “I’m tired of your repeating story”
9. Cadavre exquis, Therapie TAXI
Therapie TAXI, since its inception in 2012, has always been eclectic by nature. The band began when Adélaïde Chabannes posted an ad looking for musicians and thus found Raphaël Faget-Zaoui. Since then the band has found its consistent lineup and made a music that crosses the borders between multiple genres. Their debut album Hit Sale in 2018 and now Cadavre exquis both take from rock, pop, hip-hop, and other genres to create a sound unlike other. This latest album is no exception.
Favorite Tracks: “Vulgaire Animal,” “Tous les autres”
10. Fine Line, Harry Styles
Harry Styles sophomore album came out only 18 days before the end of 2019 but just in time to catch the attention of surprised critics. The album features hints of psychedelic rock, soul, and folk. Songs like “Treat People with Kindness” are reminiscent of early 70’s Rolling Stones. “To Be so Lonely” brings a folkier feeling to the album while “Watermelon Sugar” and “Sunflower, Vol. 6” continue with the upbeat sound.
Favorite Tracks: “Treat People With Kindness,” “To Be So Lonely”
11. This Is How You Smile, Helado Negro
The latest album by Roberto Carlos Lange aka Helado Negro, starts with the song “Please Won’t Please.” The music is soothing like a lullaby but the lyrics are poignant: “Brown won’t go, brown just glows.” Simple but effective. While each song can be held solely by the lyrics, Lange takes the time to produce adequate melodies to accompany them. After Helado Negro’s previous songs that have explored Latinx identity, This is How You Smile, as a whole is the album Lange was meant to produce.
Favorite Tracks: “Please Won’t Please,” “Sabana De Luz”
12. Remind Me Tomorrow, Sharon Van Etten
The follow up to Sharon Van Etten‘s earth-shattering, heart shattering album Are We There took five years. And while there was a reissue of her debut album and we may have needed that time to recover from the previous album, the wait was a difficult one. Sharon was busy with the Netflix show The OA. Also, she was busy becoming a mom! So the time makes sense, and Remind Me Tomorrow was very worth the wait. In this album we get the same personal and slowly insidiously seductive vocals resonating from track to track. This album is in mid conversation and every time you listen you’ll get another snippet of what it’s really about.
Favorite Tracks: “No One’s Easy to Love,” “Seventeen,” Comeback Kid,” “Malibu”
13. Life Was Coming In Through The Blinds, Another Sky
Short but promising is Another Sky’s latest EP. Perhaps, what makes the band stand out at first glance is Catrin Vincent’s androgynous voice. At a closer listen, the meticulous production of each piece achieves them to tangle so subtlety that it almost feels like listening to a 16-minute long song. With this EP, Another Sky is one of the most promising bands to keep on the radar in 2020.
Favorite Tracks: “I Don’t Hate You”
14. Part 1 Everything Not Saved, Foals
Foals came out with two albums this year, or more likely one that was split into two parts. Lead singer, Yannis Philippakis, describes this album as uplifting and urgent. The groove and energetic tone that each song carries is what made the album one of the best of this year. Meanwhile, its calmer counterpart album did not share the same urgency. However, both parts of the album mark a point in Foal’s career as they move towards more experimental grounds.
Favorite Tracks: “Exits,” “On the Luna,” “In Degrees”
15. In Search of the Miraculous, Desperate Journalist
This post-punk band hails from the UK, like so many of the greatest post-punk bands of all-time. Desperate Journalist formed in Northern London and found the “miraculous” with their album. Vocalist Jo Bevan shows off her booming voice that has a gothic tinge to it, that creates this emo sound similar to that of the Smiths or New Order. This is dark dreamy rock that makes you want to get up and dance and fall in love and get your heartbroken and fall in love again.
Favorite Tracks: “Murmuration,” “Jonatan,” “Girls of the House,” “Sattelite”
16. Error 93, Cazzu
Emo trap princess Cazzu gifted us with ten tracks that remind us that she doesn’t care that she cares too much. Sad trap is not by any means new to the genre, but it’s not often that it’s done with such open and specific vulnerability. She states again and again that she won’t be forgotten, both to ex-lovers and the world listening. She closes the album with collaborations with other fresh blood, Duki, Neo Pistea, and Ysy A, with that flexing that dominated her first album. In her sophomore album, Cazzu narrows more on her sound and her place in the male dominated genre as the featured female voice on a track with six other dudes.
Favorite Tracks: “Al Revés,” “Nada,” “Mentiste”
17. LAHS, Allah-Lahs
Allah-Lahs’ album that came out in October of 2019 can be described as a nostalgic trip, more specifically, a nostalgic summer in the West Coast. Allah-Lahs may borrow from classic rock surf bands like The Beach Boys and added a rawer garage tone, but in this album, they lose the grittiness.
Favorite Tracks: “Prazer Em Te Conhecer,” “Royal Blues”
18. Bendecido, Santa Fe Klan
Ángel Quezada began Santa Fe Klan when he was just 12 years old. That was seven-going on-eight years ago, and the hip-hop whiz kid from Guanajuato released an album that shows off skills in sampling, rapping, and lyrical pacing. The Rat Trap Records artist has been prolific since day one, following this album immediately with several more singles and all of which rival hip-hop scenes like that of Brooklyn. Turning 20 in 2019, this album is his third album technically but his first entirely his. We’ll include his single “Debo Entender” with Yoss Bones who he’s done multiple singles with and might end up on these lists pretty soon.
Favorite Tracks: “Mi Religión,” “Hip Hop (Caminaré),” “Amor”
19. BRAINDEAD, Elohim
2019 was the year of Elohim. Two albums (three if you include the live album) helped her expand a fanbase large enough to kickoff her first ever headlining tour, called Group Therapy. This isn’t homage to A&B, but to the electronic music star’s focus and outreach on mental health. BRAINDEAD is the ultimate proof of Elohim’s talent and message. Her airy vocals and glossy sounds make this album an emotional journey that ends with a collaborative cover of Harvey Danger’s 90’s anthem “flagpole sitta” with AWOLNATION.
Favorite Tracks: “tv,” “pills,” “flagpole sitta”
20. Nuevos Aires, Girl Ultra
It’s official: this is Nan de Miguel’s aka Girl Ultra’s world and we’re just living in it. The sophomore album came only a year after her debut album making the quality of this album all the more impressive. Somehow, she creates a balance between vulnerability, by letting vocals bounce back and forth between elongated and high pitch guitar riffs that can set the mood, and ferocity with more present and louder drums carrying those vocals. A sophomore album with several big names being featured could easily have drowned out Girl Ultra’s voice but not only did she carry her own, she controlled each song entirely. The Mexico City went from starlet to superstar on these “nuevos aires.”
Favorite Tracks: “PEna,” “Discreción,” “fuckhim,” “Morena Mía”
21. The Center Won’t Hold, Sleater-Kinney
Only the second studio album of the iconic riot grrrl rockers, TCWH is an album you can’t help but love, even if you don’t want to as may be the case for the most extreme SK fans. While the band has always been known for camofloauging and changing stripes between albums, this was the most extreme being produced by St. Vincent. The album was also shortly followed by the news of Janet Weiss leaving the band, so the fact that the sounds is so far off from the debut self-titled album in 1994 or even Dig Me Out which was the first album with Weiss, only adds a grain of salt or two. But despite all that the album is still another gem for Corin and Carrie; maybe it isn’t 90’s punk but it’s a futuristic garage pop with the same powerful vocals in every SK album.
Favorite Tracks: “Hurry On Home,” “LOVE,” “Reach Out”
22. Covert Contracts, Control Top
A debut album for the record books, Covert Contracts is Control Top’s emphatic arrival. The sonic speed of angry riffs clash with Ali Carter’s booming vocals in every track of this album. The year ended with a string of tour dates with fellow punk rockers The Coathangers but it won’t be long before Control Top are headlining their own dates.
Favorite Tracks: “Office Rage,” “Type A”
23. Heavy is the Head, Stormzy
Stormzy is already cemented among UK hip-hop royalty, and this album serves as his coronation. Smooth vocals waft through the air on top of rhymes that only Stormzy himself can concoct. 2019 was also a big year as he became the second youngest artist (David Bowie at 24 is the youngest) and second Black artist (Skin from Skunk Anansie in 1999) to headline Glastonbury.
Favorite Tracks: “Own It,” “Superheroes,” “Lessons”
24. Cuz I Love You, Lizzo
Turns out I 100% danced and cried to this album with raw bacon in my hands while cooking a grilled cheese in my apartment alone. Burning this album all summer long was vital to get through bad Tinder matches as Lizzo reminded me that we all have facets and they all tend to be messy AF. We just gotta work through it. Not to mention that the first 20 seconds of Cuz I Love You are indisputably, and perfectly the widest range of emotions possible.
Favorite Tracks: “Heaven Help Me”, “Jerome,” “Soulmate”
25. Conqueror, BAND-MAID
Miku Kobato, Kanami Tōno, Akane Hirose, Misa, Saiki Atsumi are BAND-MAID, one of the most identifiable bands from Japan. They’re easy to spot not just because of their dress, (which comes from the band’s vocalist, Miku’s employment at a Japanese maid cafe) but because of their prowess in making heavy metal rock. Their music can keep pace with almost any rock band you can think, but they also also very prolific, with Conqueror being their sixth album in five years. Now signed to Revolver Records in Japan and JPU Records in Europe and North America, they have locked their place in the upper ranks of bands in Japan and one of the best metal bands in the world. This album still boasts the heavy metal riffs and Akane’s steady frantic drumming that has made BAND-MAID but also features a softer side with some lyrics being much slower and quieter than most of their music.
Favorite Tracks: “PAGE,” “Liberal,” “azure,” “The Dragon Cries”
26. No Novelties, Fea
The second album by San Antonio riot grrrl rockers Fea came out at the very end of the year but rung louder than most. The band consists of half of Girl in a Coma, the San Antonio band that has officially called it quits as Nina Diaz relocated to L.A. But Phanie Diaz and Jenn Alva kept the rock from the Riverwalk going. Signed to Joan Jett’s label, Blackheart Records, this album was produced by Chicana titan Alice Bag. The album screams the riot grrrl mantra and fuses Chicanx culture without apology. A true highlight is a cover of Gloria Trevi.
Favorite Tracks: “Pelo Suelto,” “Out the Window,” “ICU”
27. Patience, Mannequin Pussy
The third album of the punk band from Philadelphia and it boasts the band’s truest talent: the ability to make fast paced angst filled songs that are also delicate and airy. Marisa Dabice’s vocals switch back and forth between these vocals that could fit into romantic dream pop ballads to shredded yelp-like singing. The result is an album that is introspective, that reflects on sadness and releases it at the same time. It’s the perfect album to getting over heartbreak or just letting out stress.
Favorite Tracks: “Patience,” “Drunk I,” “Cream,” “Love Again”
28. Killjoy, Fox Stevenson
The Fox Stevenson debut album has been a long time coming. The Leeds born electronic star constructed an album fill with fun hooks and heavy bass drops that will make the happiest mosh-pit in EDM history. Fox Stevenson has been in the spotlight since he was 15, but really gained traction in 2014 when his single “Sweets (Soda Pop)” was played at just about every festival, Oliver Heldens set at Ultra particularly stands out. Since then we’ve heard hit collaborations with artists like Ookay and Curbi. But with Killjoy, Fox Stevenson gives these downer lyrics you can’t help but dance to and smile at.
Favorite Tracks: “Dreamland,” “Go Like”
29. American Love Call, Durand Jones & the Implications
No, it’s not a lost track from a 70’s soul compilation; it’s the Durand Jones & the Implications sophomore efforts and it’s a smooth but scathing indictment on politics in 2019 U.S. The band hit their stride in this album with lyrics filled with confidence and conviction. Durand Jones’ vocals collide with Aaron Frazer’s drums. Add the airy backup vocals from a 60’s and 70’s dream and you have this album. The album has that societal commentary but magically keeps its romance and slick and slender tones that make it soul.
Favorite Tracks: “Morning in America,” Too Many Tears,” “Listen to Your Heart”
30. The Devil You Know, The Coathangers
Coming off the release off their first live album, the Georgia punk rock stars struck with another memorable album. The lead single “Bimbo” gave us a tease to the gentle soft themes and sounds that would clash with classic Coathangers riffs. The band, arguably political by name since the band name is a reference to the self-induced abortions, definitely got political with the banger “F the NRA.” But really, the album stands out for its diversity and range. Rusty Hanger (Stephanie Luke) sets the tone with her drum-work.
Favorite Tracks: “Hey Buddy,” “F the NRA,” “Lithium,” “Bimbo”
31. ameri’kana, Making Movies
Cumbia rock with Rubén Blades: need we say more? Making Movies reinforced their place on the map with this album filled with collaborations with legendary musician Rubén Blades. The Mexico born, Missouri based band has always been collaborative working with some of the biggest Latinx artists in the music industry, but this cumbia gem’s riffs will be resonating far beyond 2019. One of those Rubén Blades collabs, “Delilah,” was actually a track decades in the work that started with Blades and Lou Reed.
Favorite Tracks: “No Te Calles,” “Como Perdonar”
32. Disco De Oro, Little Jesus
Three years since the band’s last album, through DDO Little Jesus reaches the high expectations their fans have come to expect in their music.”Un Plan Espectacular” is the fastest and funnest song of them all, giving an anthem track for people to relate to. Sony Mexico took this band under their wing and found true “oro” with this record.
Favorite Tracks: “Un Plan Espectacular,” “Disco de Oro,” “En Otro Planeta”
33. Memoria Futuro, Siddartha
If you are willing to let yourself go for an hour and submerge yourself on a journey of love and despair, and drama, then this is the album for you. With such a strong career in a relatively short period of time, Siddartha once again released a powerful and versatile record that will make your heart feel warm and alive again. Songs will have you kicking your feet to the beat of the drums while the lyrics touch you on a personal level.
Favorite Tracks: “Buscándote,” “Película”
34. Carnage Bargain, The Paranoyds
Another of several debut albums on this list, the Paranoyds created an instant rock classic with Carnage Bargain. The L.A. originated punks, the Paranoyds blend punk rock with a surf rock sound so familiar in California. Their music brings 90’s sounds to 21st century themes.
Favorite Tracks: “Face First,” “Girlfriend Degree”
35. Morbid Stuff, PUP
The Canadian pop-punk, PUP, released Morbid Stuff early this year to complete surprise. Songs are quick, instrumentally messy, chaotic, and aggressive in all in the best ways. Morbid Stuff sounds like an album made in the late 1990’s opened up in 2019. The songwriting is witty, angsty, and quotable all set on the backbone of very catchy melodies.
Favorite Tracks: “Kids,” “See You at Your Funeral”
36. MAGDALENE, FKA Twigs,
This is the long awaited sophomore album by a celebrated figure known for infusing genres in a manner that is unspeakably mesmerizing. Twigs has described the creation of this album as healing since separating from her former fiancé, Robert Pattinson, and undergoing ureteral surgery. It’s been reported that people are left sobbing at during her performances on the MAGDALENE tour. The music video for “cellophane” is nominated for a Grammy.
Favorite Tracks: “fallen alien,” “holy terrain,” “cellophane”
37. When I Get Home, Solange
This album is an audio version of a beat poem. Comprised of tracks that run no longer than two minutes, the album jumps from dialogue, beats, to melodic tracks that celebrate Solange’s hometown of Houston and her culture as a black woman.
Favorite Tracks: “Sound of Rain,” “Binz,” “Dreams”
38. I Am Easy to Find, The National
I Am Easy to Find takes heart-rending lyrics like, “There isn’t anybody else left to love us. I wanted you when I was a child. I raked the leaves and I started fires” and retains the nostalgic tone of past albums like Trouble Will Find Me. This time the voice of Matt Berninger is joined by five different collaborations with artists like Lisa Hannigan, Sharon Van Etten, Mina Tindle, Gail Ann Dorsey, Kate Stables, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The female voices bring a fresh sound to the well-know emotion of The National and with a short film produced to accompany the album, I Am Easy to Find is the band’s most aspiring project.
Favorite Tracks: “You Had Your Soul With You,” “Not in Kansas”
39. Devour You, Starcrawler
The sophomore slump is real, unless your the Arrow de Wilde led rock band Starcrawler. The second album of this L.A. band was a definite change in direction but not for the worse. Devour You features some strange additions in sound, even having some twangy country music sounds. But rest assured that those echoing and laidback vocals of Arrow are still all over the album as well as the inimitable guitar of Austin Smith. The album cover artwork is another photo by. legendary music photographer and mother of Starcrawler’s Arrow de Wilde, Autumn de Wilde.
Favorite Tracks: “Lizzy,” “Toy Teenager”
40. MALA SANTA, Becky G
“No soy mala ni santa,” is the hook on Becky G’s eponymous and lead track “MALA SANTA.” Maybe not mala nor santa but definitely an estrella now. The Mexican-American artist turned 22 in 2019 and dropped an album of 16 knockout hits. She wrapped the year up with a tour with Natti Natasha who comes out on the album along with Farruko, Myke Towers, Bad Bunny, among others. While Becky G has been dropping singles since 2013 and has toured and collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, it was easy at times to see her being drowned out by those other artists. But this album solidifies her as a star on her own.We’ll be dancing to these songs until the next Becky G album.
Favorite Tracks: “MALA SANTA,” “Mayores,” “NI DE TI NI DE NADIE,” “Sin Pijama”
41. De Lo Que Nada Fue, Flor de Jamaica
Simple and true, the debut of this band from Bogotá, Colombia stands out as one of the best that flew way below the radar. This dynamic duo bogotano, Manuel Tomás Pinzón and Valentina Anzola have a fitting name. Flor de Jamaica or hibiscus flower which gives us the agua fresca and tea with soothing and calming properties are the same properties of this music. An intimate medley of songs, this an album made for swaying, relaxing, or really any moment in life.
Favorite Tracks: “Miro al Revés,” “Canto”
42. PUNK, CHAI
Like their first album or many of the Burger Records releases, CHAI’s sophomore efforts are a fun, energy filled album that transmits the good time the band had making the album to their listeners. The Japanese rockers themselves explain their sound as what you think of “when you think of all things Pink,” and redefining “kawaii” or “cute” in Japanese.
Favorite Tracks: “Wintime,” “Fashionista”
43. Entrada y Salida De Volquetes, La Hermanastra Más Fea
If you aren’t playing close attention to the music coming out of Bogotá, Colombia, then chances are you’re missing out on A LOT. And that’s not just talking about Shakira, Diamante Eléctrico J Balvin, Kali Uchis, and a bunch of other larger than world artists. And this album is just more proof of it; LHMF created an album of punk rock so unique it created its own genre: cumbiacore. It’s a wild blend of strong, in-your-face vocals and a cyclone of guitar riffs and drums. They sound like the faster newer version of the original punk band, Los Saicos.
Favorite Tracks: “Elena,” “Paja y Porro”
44. Pony, Orville Peck
Sub Pop records had numerous fantastic albums last year, a handful of which made it onto this list. This spot is definitely among the strangest. Orville Peck is the mysterious man behind a mask and a country music phenom signed to the Seattle label. But his country music is far from ordinary; his music has American/southwest sounds with Johnny Cash-like narratives with shoe-gaze riffs and tweaks. You can definitely find the hidden rock influences in the music. The album creates a whole new world you’ll want to get lost in.
Favorite Tracks: “Winds to Change,” “Turn to Hate,” “Queen of the Rodeo,” “Roses Are Falling”
45. The Seduction of Kansas, Priests
It is too early to tell if this will be the last album from the post-punk D.C. band, but at the very least looking back on The Seduction of Kansas with the news of the band’s breakup gives some extra feels. Last album or not, this seduction is one big bang. The poignant lyrics standout in Katie Alice Greer’s vocals. Consider yourself lucky if you saw them on their world tour last year.
Favorite Tracks: “Youtube Sarte,” “Good Luck Charlie”
46. Hollywood’s Bleeding, Post Malone
It’s difficult to believe that this is already Post Malone’s third album. And let’s forget that this album has the widest range in sounds and a laundry list of huge names featured on several of the 17 songs like Halsey, Future, Young Thug, and Ozzy Osborne! This album is what you turn to, to cry without shame. “Circles” is the song about moving on with Post Malone vocals and sounds like Tame Impala is playing behind. There’s also the Spidey anthem “Sunflower,” and “Die For Me” with Halsey and Future.
Favorite Tracks: “Circles,” “Internet,” “Goodbyes,” “Take What You Want”
47. Famouz, Jhay Cortez
Our first real taste of Jhay Cortez was with the smash hit, “No Me Conoce” remix, with Bad Bunny and J Balvin, at least by voice but he’s the Boricua artist credited with writing some really huge hits for some really big urbana artists like Bad Bunny, Natti Natasha and Ozuna, and Anuel AA. Famouz is his first full-length album and follow up to his Eyez On Me EP in 2018. With this album, he has officially arrived.
Favorite Tracks: “No Me Conoce – remix,” “Imaginaste,” “Somos Iguales”
48. Norman Fucking Rockwell!, Lana del Rey
Perfect to listen when you’re having an intense, yell-y shower or an intense, lethargic bath. Lana just does it again. If there’s anything that she nails, it’s extending empathy and gentleness towards going back to something or someone that hurt you. Her lyrics are always dauntingly human like her (just look at how eerily normal her Insta feed is) and turns out we always need that. Not to mention that “Your poetry’s bad and you blame the news” is one of the most scalding and accurate indictments ever.
Favorite Tracks: “Cinnamon Girl,” “hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me – but I have it,” “Fuck it I love you”
49. Las Batallas, Porter
Although Porter already has a unique place in Mexican and Latin-American music, the band from Guadalajara again reached the full flight of their potential with their eclectic sound filled songs that show the extraordinary impact that ordinary things can have in our lives.
Favorite Tracks: “Himno Eterno,” “Las Batallas”
50. First Taste, Ty Segall, Drag City
First Taste begins with a drum solo, and from there it’s just unexpected turns. The album has been perceived as an experimental mess, and while some songs may fall plain like “Ice Plant,” and “When I Met My Parents Pt. 1,” the rest of the album keeps the listener wide awake to see where the next turn takes them. An additional feature to mention is that the entire album was produced without the use of a single guitar, only adding to the fact we already know, that Ty Segall may be the most prolific artist of all time.
Favorite Tracks: “Whatever,” “The Fall,” “Radio”
51. You Are OK, The Maine
With more than ten years of touring, several albums, and such a strong fanbase, the Maine have shown the level of maturity that the band has achieved throughout the years. The theme is overall brighter compared to their previous record- Lovely Little Lonely- with the songs taking an upbeat angle to the disparities of life. The guitar riffs are particularly strong and powerful in this album making each track unique in their own way.
Favorite Tracks: “Flowers On The Grave”
52. OASIS, Bad Bunny and J Balvin
A relatively short album, and maybe not as great as the Conejo Malo’s world altering X100PRE, OASIS still had some great bops for perreando, getting over heartbreak, or just dancing in general. J Balvin seemed a bit absent from the album, in certain tracks not even being recognizable but it’s still J Balvin. Between he and Bad Bunny, we all knew this album was going to be a worthwhile listen. The cute cover artwork also adds some points.
Favorite Tracks: “LA CANCIÓN,” “MOJAITA,” “YO LE LLEGO,” “QUE PRETENDES”
53. On The Line, Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis’ fourth album is cinematic as the listener not only hear it but can see it through storytelling. Lyrics from “Hollywood Lawn” that go, “suckin’ back some Beaujolais, rememberin’ better days, lookin’ up at the chem-trail haze,” sound more like the retelling of a memory. On the Line requires you to let yourself go on a ride driven by rhythm and words — do si do, rock n’roll, you’re a pro.
Favorite Tracks: “Do Si Do,” “Wasted Youth,” “On the Line”
54. OCEAN, KAROL G
KAROL G’s album topped the charts of not just the male dominated reggaeton genre but rose to some high spots on charts in music overall. This is most likely because of the incredibly ambitious nature of the album and range the the Colmbian star shows. She hits the música urbana genre with some smash hits like “Mi Cama” and the remix of the same song with Nicky Jam and J Balvin but also has songs like “Dices Que Te Vas,” which features her boo thing Anuel AA with whom she had three hit singles make it to the top five of the charts in a row. The album also features Yandel and Maluma among others in an array of songs that are both emotional and authentic but that regardless of their mood will make you want to dance.
55. Mujeres, Y La Bamba
Y La Bamba is definitely a more difficult band to pin down by genre. Their origin from the weird City of Roses of Portland, OR, makes sense. Not only was Mujeres a huge success and the band’s fifth album but it was one of two albums they put out in 2019. Fronted by Luz Elena Mendoza, this album shows Y La Bamba’s entirely unique form of mixing American folk sonic themes narrative and storytelling creates an album that is the testament to Chicana/Chicanx feminism and culture. It sounds like the exact music Gloria Anzaldúa would have listened to while writing Borderlands, and definitely what we should all be playing at every protest until the next elections.
Favorite Tracks: “Cuatro Crazy,” “Boca Llena,” “Mujeres”
56. Can’t Tell Me No, Summer Cannibals
2019 was long for some and filled with drastic highs but also drastic lows. This Summer Cannibals Tiny Engines debut has to be a high for Summer Cannibals’ Jessica Boudreaux. An album made after throwing out another entire album, Can’t Tell Me No is the soft angst filled album that soothes like few other albums can. With what now seems like a completed lineup, this album appears to be a very strong foundation for a very bright future.
Favorite Tracks: “False Anthem,” “Start Breaking”
57. The Best of Luck Club, Alex Lahey
Alex Lahey’s second album has range as it takes slow and melancholic tunes like “Unspoken History” and then takes a 180-degree turn with “Misery Guts.” Then it turns 90 degrees back with “Isabella.” The Best of Luck Club is a coming of age tale into mid-adulthood. While romance is at the center of the narrative of the songs, they also grapple with feelings of loneliness and struggling with career goals. More interestingly, the Australian rocker manages to take pop-punk influences and make them sound fresh.
Favorite Tracks: “I Don’t Get Invited to Parties Anymore,” “Unspoken History,” “Isabella”
58. Better Oblivion Community Center, Better Oblivion Community Center
Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst combined to make Better Oblivion Community Center. And this match-made-in-heaven duo’s self-titled debut album is a collection of poems with a soft serene soundtrack playing over it. The lyric writing is heightened with these two lyricists teaming up, and the presentation is what only Phoebe and Conor could do. It’s also fitting that an album so poetic would have a song titled after renown poet, Dylan Thomas.
Favorite Tracks: “Dylan Thomas,” “My City”
59. Immunity, Clairo
I can’t ell you if it was Calire Cottrill aka Clairo’s intention to make me bawl my eyes out, but what I can tell you is that she did and bawling so hard it was more ugly scream crying. This debut album is so raw and real. The opening track co-written by Rostam Batmanglij formerly of Vampire Weekend is about having suicidal thoughts and having someone insistently calling her on the phone to talk them out of it, and that’s just the opening track! The just-turned-21 Bostonian created an album that grapples with heartbreak, sadness, awkwardness and finds hope and light; it’s an album of persistence and love.
Favorite Tracks: “Alewife,” “Impossible,” “Softly,” “Sofia”
60. Beware of the Dogs, Stella Donnelly
Stella Donnelly, the Australian superstar that rose to prominence in 2017 with her song “Boys Will Be Boys,” has never shied from saying what’s on her mind and calling out bullshit. And this album is testament to that. Stella’s voice is one that is honest and fierce despite its gentleness. The aforementioned track which comes out in this debut album, is an indictment on victim blaming in sexual assault cases and that was one of her first big songs. But that same confrontation with frustrating topics is weaved throughout the entire album. Though, it is easy to get lost in the stunning vocals and mesmerizing guitar riffs.
Favorite Tracks: “Mosquito,” “Boys Will Be Boys,” “Beware of the Dogs,” “U Owe Me”
61. The Lost Boy, YBN Cordae
22 year-old Maryland rapper, YBN Cordae is another of several artists less than 25 years-old on this list. His rap debut studio album is a journey of self-discovery and an adventure to new heights for the young artist that feels like some Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz type of tale, just with some better rhymes and beats along the way. It’s only testament to his skill that his debut album has artists like Chance the Rapper, Ty Dolla $ign, and Meek Mill.
Favorite Tracks: “Have Mercy,” “RNP,” “Way Back Home”
62. Ulfilas’ Alphabet, Sundara Karma
One of the funnest albums of the year, this indie rock explosion is one made for throwing on glitter and dancing among strobe-lights. It’s so colorful and sweet and energetic and chaotic. It’s music that will definitely give you some 80’s rock and disco nostalgia falling somewhere in between Arcade Fire and Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
Favorite Tracks: “One Last Night On This Earth,” “Symbols Of Joy & Eternity”
63. Perfect Vision, Julia Shapiro
The first of two times Chastity Belt front woman appears on this is with her debut album. Much like Julia’s lyrics for Chastity Belt, her debut solo album is a unique and gorgeous blend of personal and quirky, in the sense that it uses passive humor or a nonchalant way of bringing up sad topics or feelings. Her vocals are always a melancholic symphony trying to find or offer comfort. This Hardly Art release came as a way for the singer/songwriter to get through some hardship in her life and it might be the best album to help you get through some as well.
Favorite Tracks: “Parking Lot,” “A Couple Highs,” Perfect Vision”
64. Claude Fontaine, Claude Fontaine
Simplicity, nostalgia, and homage are why Claude Fontaine‘s album is on this list. Out of Los Angeles, CA., she released her debut self-titled album. The album is a nod to classic reggae from the 1970’s. Songs about love and life wrapped in the sounds from reggae of days past. Her album features musicians such as Airto Moreira (the legendary Brazilian drummer who’s worked with artists such as Miles Davis, Astrud Gilberto, Chick Correa, and Annette Peacock) as well as Andre De Santanna, Gibi Dos Santos, Nando Duarte, and Fabiano Do Nascimento.
Favorite Tracks: “Cry For Another,” “Love Street,” “Play the Fool”
65. Kingfish, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
We first saw Christone “Kingfish” Ingram on Netflix’s Marvel hit show Luke Cage. But the riffs he ripped in that brief cameo were more than enough to throw him to the top of everybody’s radar. And now his debut album, Kingfish, is out and it’s the delta blues Jimi Hendrix-like guitar handling we expected out of the 20 year-old. Blues rock filled riffs are the bedrock of this album, like the second coming of Robert Johnson.
Favorite Tracks: “Love Ain’t My Favorite Word,” “Believe These Blues”
66. TDR, Tomasa Del Real
Unflinchingly herself, Tomasa Del Real returned with her third album and stayed true to herself and to the neoperreo reggaeton that has made her a staple not just in the Chilean music scene but in the entire regaaeton and Latinx music worlds. This music is like a mix of classic hip-hop and reggaeton and futuristic tones that Neo would be dancing to with Trinidad in the clubs if the robots hadn’t taken over. This is an album that’ll be provoking crowds in clubs for a long time.
Favorite Tracks: “Neoperreo Bailoteo,” “Ella Quiere Culiar,” “Braty Puti,” “Dinamita”
67. No Home Record, Kim Gordon
It’s Kim Gordon. From Sonic Youth. Of course this album was going to rock! That being said, if you’re looking for Daydream Nation or Goo, you might be disappointed. Kim has created an album that sounds like what an abstract art installation would sound like. It is a collage of sounds and ideas being connected by the one constant which is Kim’s unparalleled deep almost rusty voice that we’ve been in love with for decades now. There’s a rough garage aspect to this album that is definitely reminiscent of the Sonic Youth days but is closer to Kim’s Body/Head work.
Favorite Tracks: “AirBnB,” “Hungry Baby,” “Earthquake”
68. Stuffed & Ready, Cherry Glazer
Cherry Glazer announced this album with the single “Daddi” and followed it up with one “hell” of a single, with “Wasted Nun” that was not only a strong song but was accompanied by a music video that featured Clementine Creevy dressed like some sort of demonic nun. But the album exceeded even the expectations set from that single. Clementine talked about how she turned inward to find inspiration for this album. The monumental presence of the guitars in each track are a starch contrast to the soft vocals which dance around the riffs like someone running through an obstacle course in a lot of the songs. The album shows a narrative voice that is fighting with internal demons but ultimately squishes them like bugs beneath a boot. It really gets you hyped up.
Favorite Tracks: “Daddi,” “Self Explained”
69. Eres Diamante, Elsa y Elmar
Elsa y Elmar remains lo-fi but in a more experimental way than her first album. This latest album features influences of trap and reggaeton/música urbana in songs like “Nadie Va” and “Ojos Negros.” Eres Diamante offers calm and soothing melodies but also contrasting synthesized bangers with collaborations from Dan Bailey (Father John Misty’s band) and producer Dave Kutch.
Favorite Tracks: “Eres Diamante,” “Nadie Va,” “Millenials”
70. Everything That Makes You Happy, Blaenavon
An album that was made over a time of struggle with mental illness, ETMYH is Blaenavon’s ode to self-care and reaching out. Lead vocalist Ben Gregory released a statement to fans asking for patience as he dealt with his mental illness and was therefore delaying the album. Well it was worth the wait. Foggy gentle vocals are carried on soft-paced drumming and caressing riffs. The band then released a follow up album, demoitis, to end the year.
Favorite Tracks: “Catatonic Skinbag,” “Fucking Up My Friends,” “Everything That Makes You Happy”
71. The Gereg, The HU
Mongolian band The HU just get heavy metal and their debut album show’s that. But what makes their music and thus their debut album is how they use Mongolian throat singing and incorporate it into their heavy metal music. Their culture is deeply embedded in their music, “The HU” being a reference to an ancient Mongolian empire, the Hunnu. But it goes beyond the name as the band uses poems and war cries of the Hunnu in a lot of their music.
Favorite Tracks: “The Gereg,” “The Great Chinggis Khaan,” “Yuve Yuve Yu”
72. Peach Club, Emarosa
The band’s evolution from their last record is evident in Peach Club. From being considered an “emo/metalcore” band to becoming a pop rock fusion, Emarosa have proven their ability to make good music through and transformation. The catchy melodies and references to pop from past eras make this album unforgettable; besides, the sweet voice, the occasional riffs, and sax solos are all interesting elements that incorporate themselves to the equation in such a perfect manner. Since the album’s release in February, Emarosa have solidified themselves as shapeshifters in the music industry.
73. Homerun, Paulo Londra
Argentina had a big 2019 in música urbana. Cazzu’s trap album launched her to the height of the music industry alongside artists like Bad Bunny and Becky G. But there was a young superstar who hit a “homerun” on his debut album: Paulo Londra. The Córdoba born rapper turned just 21 this year and was already topping charts all over America Latina. Sure, some of the momentum came from appearing on a hit single with Becky G, but his album sets him apart. Citing Eminem and the film 8 Mile as large influences, Paulo Londra created some songs played in clubs across the world.
Favorite Tracks: “Adan y Eva,” “Solo Pienso En Ti,” “Chica Paranormal”
74. August, Shannon Lay
One of two artists that appear on their own and in a band on. this list, Shannon Lay gives the most noticeable contrast. Feels is a punk band through and through, but don’t look for those head-banging riffs in her solo work. Her solo work like her sophomore album, are heart shattering ballads that at best use a guitar to keep you grounded and prevent you from drifting off into a life altering heartbreak. Her vocals are what angels sound like when they’re venting.
Favorite Tracks: “November,” “Sea Came to Shore”
75. Mettavolution, Rodrigo y Gabriela
Rodrigo and Gabriela were almost discovered by accident on the streets of Dublin. With their particular sound that mixes metal and flamenco, the acoustic duo became more popular in Europe than in their natal country of Mexico. With instrumental pieces, Mettavolution covers Pink Floyd’s “Echos” and consistently continues with the formula that brought them success: taking heavy metal riffs and translating them into flamenco.
Favorite Tracks: “Mettavolution,” “Echoes”
76. Jaime, Brittany Howard
While we wait and see when and if there will be another Alabama Shakes album, Brittany Howard gifted us with this project of love, the album Jaime named after her sister who was a mentor and huge influence for her getting into music in the first place. The album features Brittany’s booming vocals and the same funky sounds and tones fans fell in love with in the Alabama Shakes’ music. But, there is also some slowed down songs with sweet and melancholic melodies that seem to be for her sister. Her sister died of canacer when they were teenagers and was the one who taught Brittany to play the piano and write poetry.
Favorite Tracks: “Stay High, “Short and Sweet,” “Baby”
77. Gallipoli, Beirut
The best label that can be used to describe to Beirut, is world music. In the past, Zach Condon has experimented with distinct sounds from traditional oaxaqueña in March of the Zapotec to European Western in Gulag Orkestar. This time, Condon takes on Italian influences with a contrasting use of ukulele to write the music for Gallipoli. Perhaps this album hosts the most pop-folk sound Beirut has ever produced.
Favorite Tracks: “Gallipoli,” “Landslide”
78. Grrrl, Sizzy Rocket
Sizzy Rocket gave us the soft side of grrrl riot. Maintaining the themes and spirit of the 90’s movement led by the likes of bands like Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney, Grrrl transmutes that message into music so personal and intimate that it feels like someone pressed their soul into an album. Throughout the 11 songs that make up this album, you see and feel the pains of an artist expressing themselves in full. There is also an accompanying release of three tracks from the album with a faster punk sound in “punk sessions.”
Favorite Tracks: “Grrrl,” Tequila In My Blood,” “Tattoos”
79. Saves the World, MUNA
There’s no need to fret; MUNA saved the world with this astonishing sophomore album. This album which starts off slowly with the lead “Grow” opening at 1:47 and telling “I want to grow,” behind piano. From then on, MUNA give us electric sounds and shuffles between subtle ballad like whispers to songs that boom with life as the vocals grow louder and the instruments follow suit. This album is one long queer anthem you have to dance to.
Favorite Tracks: “Number One Fan,” “It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby”
80. Chastity Belt, Chastity Belt
Pacific-Northwest Washington indie-rockers came back with their fourth album, a self-titled work that features lead vocalist, Julia Shapiro flexing her lyric writing skills. Julia is among the rare handful of lyricists that can write songs that have a sense of humor and are quirky but that are extremely and intricately personal. It’s an album of nostalgia and heavy hearted reminiscing, but with a subtle drumming from Gretchen Grimm, bass and guitar by Lydia Lund and Annie Truscott, this Hardly Art release is a heart swooning tour de force put in motion by Julia’s serene vocals.
Favorite Tracks: “Ann’s Jam,” “Half-hearted,” “Pissed Pants”
81. Post Earth, FEELS
The FEELS follow up to their debut album did not disappoint. But was there really a doubt with Shannon Lay’s limitless musicianship and the vocals and guitar of Laena Geronimo? The four piece struck back with a riff filled punk-tastic record that is the perfect soundtrack to hanging out in a basement eating pizza or driving down the highway going 80 mph.
Favorite Tracks: “Car,” “Awful Need,” “W.F.L.”
82. It’s Real, Ex Hex
Any music with Mary Timony is guaranteed to be fantastic. But tracking her musical trajectory can be hectic since she’s in what feels like a million and one bands: Helium, Ex Hex, The Mary Timony Band, Wild Flag or just working with Carrie Brownstein on an EP in 1999 in a project called The Spells (yeah, it’s really under the radar but really worth looking up). But the second Ex Hex album definitely stands out with Betsy Wright and Laura Harris shining together to create a post-punk oddity classic. It came five years after their debut but it was well worth the wait.
Favorite Tracks: “Rainbow Shiner,” “Radiate,” “Talk To Me”
83. Natural Affair, The Growlers
Since their album Chinese Fountain in 2014, The Growlers have flirted with 70’s soul and funk. In City Club, this sound was more prominent but in Natural Affair they are fully committed. With synthesizers, keyboards and slow dance beats, this album ventures into more pop territory than past albums. Still, the surf-garage rock vibe is imminently present.
Favorite Tracks: “Natural Affair,” “Pulp of Youth,” “Social Man”
84. What’s It Like Over There?, Circa Waves
A theatrical album with a lot of piano and songs about movies and Hollywood, Circa Waves found a way to take these overused motifs and flip them upside down into personal relics that express hope, love, frustration, and more. The Liverpool four piece band’ s third album is one that alternates between dance numbers about exploring romantic feelings and slow reflections on self-doubt.
Favorite Tracks: “Movies,” “Me, Myself and Hollywood,” “Passport”
85. Historias de un Capricornio, Arcángel
Who doesn’t love an astrology themed album drop coordinated with everyone’s favorite Insta-Astrologist, Madame Mela, just before the holidays? In the couple of months before its release, we saw papi Arcá return letting everyone know he’s a temperamental Cap in love, business, and music. He’s always been excellent at painting a scene and this album is no exception, putting us there in the bedroom, in the car, on the floor. It’s still a little early to see the lasting impact of this album and Arcángel’s full-forced return after an impulsive retirement, but he’s definitely back which we’re all be grateful for.
Favorite Tracks: “Al Volante”, “Memoria Rota” “Infeliz” & “Invicto”
86. The Fall of Hobo Johnson, Hobo Johnson
This sweet rap (as in Rhythm And Poetry) album is quirky and weird and the definition of overthinking and being sad but then being happy about sad. This is the album you listen to when you’re tired of feeling sad or just feeling goofy. Whether it’s explaining the role of cockroaches in the world and how religion and war came to exist, or expressing insecurity, Hobo Johnson shows in his sophomore album how his craft is really storytelling in this jokey way that’s actually maybe not so jokey? Regardless, one of the best lines of the year goes to “why does dad have a Lambo? He was insecure about himself son, let it go.”
Favorite Tracks: “Uglykid,” “You & the Cockroach,” “Subaru Crosstrek XV”
87. Cry, Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex have been around since 2012 and since its barely their second album it makes the wait from their last album and Cry seem like an eternity but they came back with a stunning album filled with harrowing, euphoric love songs that only they know how to do. Their slow paced declarations or mini stories of love are so special because of the lo-fi sounds and the spaced out riffs with persistent drumming. The album isn’t so much a new direction for the band but a building up on the foundation of their debut album in 2017.
Favorite Tracks: “Kiss It Off Me,” “You’re The Only Good Thing In My Life,” “Falling In Love”
88. SASAMI, SASAMI
SASAMI’s self-titled debut album features vocals that waft over her guitar riffs like a raft in the middle of the ocean. Listening to this album makes you feel like you’re three dreams in, Inception-style. And it’s only at the very conclusion of each song where you snap back to reality. This ten song album is like watching a one-person play in a small dark theatre where only you are in attendance. Every single sound reverberates so strongly, it’ll make you feel like you’re in floating through the sky and all you can hear or see is rain falling.
Favorite Tracks: “Morning Comes,” “Free,” “Callous”
89. NO, Nanami Ozone
With a title as simple as its sound, Nanami Ozone created this post-punk album that resonates for quiet and simple vocals that provide a whisper beneath booming guitars. The album is the Phoenix band’s second album and first on Tiny Engines.
Favorite Tracks: “The Art of Sleeping In,” “Alone Too”
90. ¿Dónde Bailarán las Niñas?, Ximena Sariñana
2019 was a big year for singer/songwriter and actress Ximena Sariñana. Her monumental album featuring artists like Girl Ultra and Francisca Valenzuela, and that album earned her first performance at the Latin Grammy’s. The Guadalajaran artist showed her talent and maturity in this album letting her powerful vocals carry strong beats throughout its entirety.
Favorite Tracks: “Pueblo Abandonado,” “Todo En Mi Vida,” “Cobarde”
91. Macro, Jinjer
The Ukrainian hardcore metal band released their third album and it is an album any metal head is sure to love. Tatiana Shmailyuk’s vocals serve as an amplifier and then switches to a counterpoint to death metal scream-singing and the fast and heavy overwhelming drums and guitar.
Favorite Tracks: “On the Top,” “Pit of Consciousness,” “Home Back”
92. This Place is a Mess, Tacocat
Tacocat returned with their fourth studio album and their first with Sub Pop records, a true milestone for a band with a DIY spirit from Seattle. And they have always been strange and goofy, but it came with their nature. They started off by booking shows for themselves on MySpace. This album has the same pop-punk riffs and energy that puts you back in high school with your best friends going to some sketchy dive bar that doesn’t card just for a band you love. The same sounds and lovable weirdness, but this album does take a step forward thematically, writing about the world post 2016 U.S. presidential election and the absurdities that have come around since then.
Favorite Tracks: “Hologram,” Grains of Salt,” “Meet Me at La Palma”
93. What Life, Club Night
Club Night’s What Life fits perfectly on this list as the math rock group fits what seems like an entire album’s worth of ideas into every song without compromising the integrity of the songs. With amazing instrumentation, lovely vocals, and pitch perfect production, the album begs for repeat listens to explore every corner of sound the album has to offer.
Favorite Tracks: “Path,” “Mute,” “Cough”
94. Blushing, Blushing
This is Blushing, an Austin, TX band that just released their self-titled debut album. They have a unique make-up, being two husband wife teams. What isn’t weird is the punk riffy filled and echoing style that resonates in their album, which was produced by Ringo Deathstarr’s Elliott Frazier. It’s shoegaze garage punk that sounds more like the Portland/Seattle music scenes.
Favorite Tracks: “The Last Time,” “Sunshine”
95. TAWINGS, TAWINGS
After multiple singles, TAWINGS finally released their first album. What the album lacks in cohesiveness, it compensates for with a range of experimental synths. With mostly a post-punk influence, the debut album also offers a more sentimental side with “Statice,” making them a promising band to keep in mind for 2020.
Favorite Tracks: “Listerine,” “Statice”
96. What Chaos Is Imaginary, Girlpool
This is arguably Girlpool’s most ambitious and adventurous album yet. The guitars battle amongst each other almost like they’re having a conversation we can’t entirely understand all the while the vocals of both Cleo Tucker and Harmony Trividad have the same back and forth. This album is the first since Cleo’s transition, and the new vocal unison and pairing is evident. It’s the frustrations the duo had to get to the comfort with each other and with new sounds and orchestra setup of instruments that make this album so powerful.
Favorite Tracks: “Stale Device,” “Chemical Freeze,” “What Chaos Is Imaginary,” “Roses”
97. Hysteria!, Julia Why?
From the moment we heard “Pocket” in 2018, a Julia Why? album has been heavily on our minds. And now that we finally got it, it’s been difficult to stop playing on repeat. The album shows a wide range in sounds that are all anchored to the futuristic pop grunge rock that this Australian artist is grounded in. The music can be be described as the 90’s grunge rock if it started in space.
Favorite Tracks: “Pocket,” “Starman,” “Candy”
98. 1715, Dina Ramirez
This album is a simple but incredibly solid jazz piece. I saw Guatemalan jazz rock star Dina Ramirez blasting her saxophone whilst rocking some shades on stage at Ascarate Park alongside the renown Guatemalan rap star Rebeca Lane in El Paso. A night that consisted of performances by monolithic industry stars La Santa Cecilia, Cuco, and Ana Tijoux to name a few, it was Dina’s saxophone that won the title of best happy surprise. Her music complemented Rebeca’s rhymes really well but this album is a spotlight for Dina’s true prowess.
Favorite Tracks: “1111,” “1973”
99. Sin Maquillaje, Flor Amargo
Flor Amargo, aka Emma Mayte Carballo, has proven herself to be a versatile artist if nothing else with this album. “Sin Maquillaje” is a. fitting title for an album that bursts with vibrancy and freedom, with natural authenticity and self-acceptance even if that comes with some self-doubt as well. The versatility of this Mexican singer/songwriter, pianist, and actress are seen in the eclectic uses of the piano and valleys of sounds throughout the album. Some lounge style ballads pulled by piano start the album off the album being the major if not sole instrument countering Flor’s vocals. Then acoustic guitars and other instruments begin to creep up and the result is a folksy pop album with countless songs that will for sure get stuck in your head. Don’t sleep on the Spanish cover of “La Vie En Rose,” or the cover of Chavela Vargas’ “Paloma Negra,”either.
Favorite Tracks: “El Toro,” Jalisco No Te Rajes,” “La Vida En Rosa,” “Paloma Negra”
100. Foam, Divino Niño
Divino Niño is band that was meant to be. First, Camilo Medina and Javier Forero from Bogotá, Colombia parted ways only to find each other again in Miami, Fl. They both attended the School of the Art Institute in Chicago where they met Guillermo Rodriguez and Pierce Codina; and thus, the band was formed and started making their dreamy indie pop sounds floating over audiences all over. Their third album features songs in English, Spanish and one even in both: “Maria,” which is inspired partially Argentine punk and Mexican telenovelas. The airy romance songs made this album the final spot on our list.
Favorite Tracks: “Maria,” “Coca Cola,” “Melty Caramelo”
About the contributors:
Fandi Zapien is a writer, photographer, and social media addict from the borderland. She says, I love going music festivals, traveling, and discovering, new bands. Follow me! Instagram: @fandivphoto Twitter: @fandiv9.
Laura Andrea (she/her) is a cuir, boricua writer and poet from Carolina, Puerto Rico. She’s currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso. You can follow her day to day on Insta and Twitter @lauranlora.
Veronica Martinez is a multimedia reporter with a focus on Latino communities and immigration. She has worked at The News Journal in Delaware and contributed to Borderzine and Con Safos Magazine. She graduated in 2019 with a Master of Art in Communication from The University of Texas at El Paso. Catch up with her on Twitter @vamartinez10 for current stories and occasional rants. Follow her on Instagram @veroboheme for street photography and neon signs.
Stephanie Hinojosa is a newscast camerawoman and filmmaker in the Borderland with a Bachelor’s in Literature from the University of Texas at El Paso. She enjoys watching films, debating the meaning of films, the art of self expression, and reading novels before she starts her day.
Caleb Ortiz is a freelance journalist who primarily contribute music reviews for Con Safos Magazine. An avid fan of live music, you can find him at local shows or by following @calebgethappier on Twitter.
Antonio Villaseñor-Baca is a Xicanx photographer, freelance journalist, poet, and is currently the chief editor for Con Safos Magazine, online editor for Minero Magazine, and is pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso. Instagram: @tono2727 Twitter: @antoniobaca28.