“Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us, only sky. Imagine all the people, livin’ for today. Ah!” – Doris
In December of 2019, as the other blogs were hastily publishing their Best-of-the-Year lists, your friends at The Blocland refused to cave to the demands of this 21st-century “EVERYTHING NOW” society. And now look at you. Locked away. Alone. Shriveling. (Note: This was “funnier” a month ago when all this shit was just starting. I promise.) But oh, what’s this, riding into your town like Geralt of Rivia, rescuing you from the monster that is yourself? That’s right, jump through this portal to better days with the The Blocland’s thoughtfully curated collection of the Best Albums of 2019. Be well, wash your feet, and no sloppy kisses with strangers. – Cooolin
Album-cover reimaginings by Saul Wright
5. Nilüfer Yanya – Miss Universe
It’s going to be annoying feeling obligated to put that umlaut in Nilüfer Yanya’s name for the foreseeable future.
But when a new artist releases a perfect debut album, they get to change the rules. It’s one of those albums that everyone has a different favorite song and they’re all the best. It’s an album so good you don’t wonder where she’ll go next; you worry if she can ever top it. Ask The xx. – Raptor Jesus
4. William Tyler – Goes West
I work a lot. I need some music to calm my mind. William Tyler is that music.
There is no album I’ve listened to more this past year than Willy T.
Colin is pushing me for a blurb. I am the last to submit. This is all I can come up with. I am trying to find a dishwasher and feeling a little stress.
I’ll put on some William Tyler now to help calm me down.
I forgot to send this to Colin again. I was on my other email and didn’t have his email address saved. So I logged on to my other email where it is saved. Now I am sending it to him.
I hope he likes it. Please like it Colin. I’ll scream if you don’t.
Sent from my iPhone
3. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
Charly Bliss know what they like, and they know exactly why they like it. This sounds like a trivial statement, but when so much of the #discourse surrounding pop music is simply yelling “This is The Shit” and “no this is shit” back and forth without any reasoning, the ability to deconstruct what makes a pop song great is something of a superpower. And if that is true, that makes Charly Bliss the pop-punk Fantastic Four. They know why they loved the music they loved when they were kids, and they figured out how to improve it into something timeless.
Young Enough is constructed from the sounds of early 2000s alt-rock radio (think Hot Fuss meets Take Off Your Pants and Jacket with a dash of “Gives You Hell” by the All American Rejects), without falling into any of the traps that kept that kind of “Forever 18” high-school-hell music from aging terribly well (to put it nicely). Eva Hendricks continues to be one of the generations funniest and most acerbic lyricists while turning in her most personal set of songs, and seriously stunning vocal performances to date (seriously, if you can listen to “Hurt Me” without dying I don’t know what to tell you, except that I am dead and the afterlife is lit af). The whole band (An actual band! In 2019!) is beyond tight, even tighter than they were on Guppy, which should be a mathematical impossibility, but these crazy kids somehow pulled it off. – PADFOOT
2. Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising
In 2016, Natalie Mering gave us a Front Row Seat to Earth. This year, the young auteur pulled back the curtain even further and widened the frame to give us a spectacle of IMAX scope and scale, set somewhere between the distant reaches of the ever expanding cosmos and the shadowy bottom of the ocean, presumably eight miles high above Laurel Canyon.
The cinematic analogy isn’t particularly novel or insightful — especially given Mering’s frequent mention of film in interviews and, well, the title of the centerpiece track — but it is a useful one. Here, she reprises her role as the lead, but the cast and production have expanded in every sense. As her supporting characters she seems to have recruited the disembodied spirits of Enya on vocals, while the ghost of George Harrison meanders through the background on his slide guitar. There’s new toys and tech galore, too. Synthesizers ripple like underwater currents. Harpsichords twinkle like stars. Every inch of tape lovingly adored in hi-fi detail.
Mering has always been a star, with her charisma and ambition shining through even the home video budgets of her earlier work. And now that she’s graduated to big studio budgets, there’s no telling where she’ll go next. And with the ascendance of HAIM and Lana Del Rey into the mainstream eye, it’s no great stretch to imagine her haunting a red carpet sometime soon, not entirely there, like a ghost among the flashbulbs. – Yachtmaster
The Blocland’s Album of the Year: Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
Couldn’t get anyone to write a blurb for this one. Understandable. You can’t talk about this album in a “music writer-y” way without addressing the tragedy of David Berman’s passing. And there’s no shortage of tragedy surrounding us at this moment in time.
So I’ll sign off with an R.I.P. David Berman. And thank you for this final, beautiful, perfect gift of an album.