the year in music 12/24 '19
In alphabetical order, 2019 releases:
- Battles, Juice B Crypts— The band's down to two members now. Bleepier. Vocal collaborations like Gloss Drop.
- Andrew Bird, My Finest Work Yet— He's not kidding. He keeps getting better.
- Ioanna Gika, Thalassa— She had a guest appearance on Stumptown, where she played an amazing cover of "One Thing Leads to Another", so i looked her up and yeah, sold.
- The Joy Formidable, Y Falŵn Drom— The band reissued their debut mini-album A Balloon Called Moaning for its 10th anniversary, but also recorded new versions of the songs with Welsh lyrics.
- Juan Luis Guerra 4.40, Literal— He remains a force, so very good at what he does, and barely looks like he's aged since he came across my cultural radar 30 years ago.
- Mdou Moctar, Ilana: The Creator— Tuareg Nigerien rock. Recommendation from a friend, another instant buy.
- The New Pornographers, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights— Another TNP album without Dan Bejar, which is fine by me. Doesn't feel as good as its predecessor.
- Rodrigo y Gabriela, Mettavolution— Fabulous. They stretch by adding more multi-track work, electric guitar, and vocals. Their arrangement of Pink Floyd's "Echoes" is epic.
- Takénobu, Conclusion— Nick Ogawa is joined now on violin by his fiancée Kathryn Koch; here, they re-record some older tracks and add new ones. They're great together.
- Tool, Fear Inoculum— It's good but... the tracks lack separation. The overall feel is too similar. And their ultra-deluxe CD packaging ($45, if you can find it) feels like a cash grab from their legion of slavering fans (i bought the MP3 album).
There was also Sleater-Kinney's The Center Won't Hold, but it was super disappointing and, alas, prophetic.