Welcome to A-Ron’s top 10 list of the best albums of 2019. While everyone knows movies is my life, but I’m not just a fan of movies. As music is also a big part of my life and 2019 was another stellar year for music artists who have created some great albums. Here is my list of the 10 best.
10. Lady Antebellum – Ocean
Ocean is the eighth studio album and Lady Antebellum still has not made a bad record. Ocean is their first album since departing ways with longtime label Capitol Nashville. The album is no doubt their most personal record and band mate Charles Kelley has said “The theme of this record is definitely bearing our souls and our journey. We’ve gone through a lot over the past couple years, finding ourselves, reconnecting as a band and finding where we want to go”.
9. Coldplay – Everyday Life
Coldplay’s inventive magnum opus eighth album “Everyday Life” is proof that they can be more adventurous and creative than they’re often given credit for. Lead front man Chris Martin creates an immersive listening experience with sharp social commentary rock anthems in the style of U2 and a worldly sound inspired by Paul Simon.
8. Hootie & The Blowfish – Imperfect Circle
Imperfect Circle is the bands sixth studio album and their first studio album in fourteen years. With lead singer Darius Rucker spending time away from the band to pursue his successful solo career, he reunites with the band and creates their best album since Cracked Rear View. The new album Imperfect Circle brings them back to full pop/rock mode as the album never stops to take a breath, each track is a rocker and their tunes have never been catchier. At their peak, Hootie & the Blowfish is a genuinely excellent band and here they are hitting their peak again proving they never left.
7. Taylor Swift – Lover
The Who – Who
•My girl Taylor Swift is back with her best album since her masterpiece album 1989. Lover is Taylor Swift’s seventh studio album and Swift is a little wiser in her writing. Lover is a bright, fun album with great emotional honesty. Like her single “Shake It Off”, new single “Me!” is infectious pop at it’s finest.
•Rock legends The Who are back after 13 years since their last album Endless Wire. Since then Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend released solo records, wrote books and toured together as the band they formed back in 1964. The new album titled Who recalls bits and pieces of their classic rock years, with “All This Music Must Fade”, “Ball and Chain”, “Hero Ground Zero” and “Detour”. While Townshend wrote all of the albums tracks, he writes some of his most searing rock ballads like “Beads On One String” or “Street Song”. There’s enough here to bring back old fans and maybe draw in some new ones. It’s a throwback record for the most part, with nods all over the place to their classic work. But most importantly it sounds like a Who album, which is crucial for an album like this, which comes thirteen years since their last.
6. Goo Goo Dolls – Miracle Pill
Like Hootie & The Blowfish, John Rzeznik and Robby Takac were one of the biggest bands of the 90’s. The Goo Goo Dolls were in the ranks of the Counting Crows, Matchbox Twenty, Gin Blossoms and Bon Jovi as they were about as American as rock radio could get. In their sixteenth album, The Goo Goo Dolls prove they are gifted with being able to write songs that connect in some way. “Miracle Pill” is my favorite album of theirs and their best in years. Rzeznik puts his personal demons he had been fighting out into the albums lyrics, that leads to his best songwriting of any album. The album is full of joyous, introspective lyrics, and it highlights Johnny Rzeznik’s powerful lead vocals, smartly written lyrics and bassist Robby Takac’s versatility.
5. Beck – Hyperspace
With his 14th album, Beck roams across a psychedelic 80’s throwback landscape looking for a new direction musically. Hyperspace was produced along with Pharrell of N.E.R.D and hit song “Happy” from “Despicable Me”. The two create a breezy song cycle where at first, the plan was to collaborate with Pharrell on just one song. After a few sessions, they felt there was more ground to cover within Beck’s psychedelic landscape. It was a good instinct to collaborate on more tracks as their two musical styles mesh well together. This is Beck at his best.
4. The O’Jays – The Last Word
Legendary R&B group The O’Jays released The Last Word, their first non-Christmas album since 2004. The O’Jays were always a group who would “Give the People What They Want”, that has been a guiding principle for the group. So much so that it served as the title of their 1975 single. Their newest but sadly their final album The Last Word, is The O’Jays going out with a bang and still giving the people what they want. The Last Word never strays far from the style of their seventies Philadelphia sound.
3. Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
Bruce Springsteen returns with his nineteenth studio album Western Stars. Springsteen creates his best and most wise songwriting using the golden expanse of the American West as his inspiration. It’s his best studio album since “The Rising”. Springsteen aims to bring the American West, with sweeping orchestral accompaniments unlike anything in his catalog. Springsteen albums are usually grand affairs but he’s never made one that sounds so vast and luxurious throughout until now.
2. Gary Clark Jr – This Land
Gary Clark Jr manages to startle you with his gripping lyrics as he begins his album This Land by spitting out the chorus of “Run, Nigger, Run”. The words that follow is “Right In The Middle Of Trump Country”. Two years into the Trump administration, very few songs other than Gary Clark’s song, take dead aim at the openly racist politics surrounding the MAGA movement. His bold lyrics and signature guitar riffs makes “This Land” a bracing and powerful album that shows the new guitar god here to take a stand and say “I’m America Son”.
1. Marvin Gaye – You’re The Man
It’s funny to think that an album originally intended to be released in 1972 is the best album of 2019. When I say it’s the best album of the year, I mean it really is the best album of the year. Marvin Gaye’s masterpiece of an album, You’re The Man was meant to be the follow-up to Marvin Gaye’s other masterpiece What’s Going On. This “lost” album is just another glimpse into the brilliant artist that Marvin Gaye was. His iconic voice, the harmonies of his songs, the songwriting and the sound mixing. Just everything on this album screams genius, icon and proves what a master of his craft he was. Here we are 47 years after it was abandoned being blessed with a perfect album. I can just imagine this being released after What’s Going On and all I can say is “Oh my god. What an amazing two albums that would have been to hear back to back”. It’s as monumental of an album as it would have been 47 years ago. Marvin Gaye is truly the man.