Inverse Proportion Theory of Musical Succor: “Records Were as Great This Year as Our World was Terrible”

I’m making no bones about it: we did not do a good job living as humans with other humans this year. Not. At. All. I really didn’t expect to turn 57 and come to the conclusion that, despite reading, enjoying, and occasionally subscribing to the viewpoint of many cynics and curmudgeons, I have been naive. A lot of us dig fascism as a possible salve on our fear. It’s hard to know how many, but even a big little is a lot.

I ain’t going into the nooks and crannies of that now, though. 2019’s music-makers responded with some very convincing aural evidence that we can actually do a very transcendent job working, playing, speaking, and listening to each other, and–especially–calling on us to be our best possible selves, rather than wallow in self-pity and misguided resentment. If the music that was produced this year is a real representation of who we are, how we feel, and what we want, then the hate-wave is operating on borrowed time.

Remember: naive at 57.

Anyway, I endorse all the albums below as interesting. Also, please note my somewhat half-hearted grading scale. And think about sending the artists the most money you can and just buying physical media to defy Marie Kondo. You know she’s marketing a bunch of worthless shit to fill your houses with, don’t you? Seriously: we’re not all grifters, especially the folks that made this stuff…

My Album-Lover’s Honor Roll for 2019 — THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

(bolded items are new additions to the ongoing list)

For those that need a harness on this burgeoning list:

1-10: Straight A (no A+ record this year)

11-66: A-

67-118: B+

119-170: B (and a B is still a good record)

  1. Little Simz: Grey Area
  2. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
  3. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy!
  4. Junius Paul: Ism
  5. Rapsody: Eve
  6. Billie Eilish: WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  7. Chance The Rapper: The Big Day
  8. Byron Asher: Byron Asher’s Skrontch Music
  9. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana
  10. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Trapline
  11. Royal Trux: White Stuff
  12. EARTHGANG: Mirrorland
  13. Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes
  14. Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith: Songs from The Bardo
  15. Peter Perrett: Humanworld
  16. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
  17. Mexstep: Resistir
  18. Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator)
  19. Danny Brown: uknowwhutimsayin
  20. Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye
  21. J Balvin & Bad Bunny: OASIS
  22. DKV and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time
  23. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel
  24. MARK LOMAX, II: Afrika United (one part of a box set—if it’s all this good, woah!)
  25. Sheer Mag: A Distant Call
  26. Dumb: Club Nites
  27. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places
  28. Jeffrey Lewis: Bad Wiring
  29. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
  30. Young Thug: So Much Fun
  31. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere
  32. James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto
  33. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys A Record
  34. Teodross Avery: After the Rain–A Night for Coltrane
  35. Various Artists: Total Solidarity
  36. Lana Del Rey: Norman F***ing Rockwell
  37. Zonal: Wrecked
  38. Control Top: Covert Contracts
  39. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
  40. Tanya Tucker: While I’m Livin’
  41. Ifriqiyya Electrique: Laylet El Boore
  42. Elza Soares: Planeta Fome
  43. Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance
  44. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds
  45. Andres: Andres IV
  46. Denzel Curry: Zuu
  47. Rod Wave: Ghetto Gospel
  48. Eddy Current Suppression Ring: All in Good Time
  49. Dave: PSYCHODRAMA
  50. Moor Mother: Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes
  51. Various Artists: The Final Battle—Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics
  52. Rocket 808: Rocket 808
  53. 2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League
  54. Joel Ross: Kingmaker
  55. JME: Grime MC
  56. I Jahbar: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash
  57. Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford
  58. Bill Orcutt: Odds Against Tomorrow
  59. Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee
  60. Tyler Childers: Country Squire
  61. Pat Thomas, Dominic Lash, and Tony Orrell: Bleyschool
  62. Beyoncé: Homecoming
  63. Sote: Parallel Persia
  64. Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II—Bird of Paradise
  65. SEED ENSEMBLE: Driftglass
  66. Arto Lindsay, Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, Phil Sudderberg: Largest Afternoon
  67. The Comet is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
  68. Blacks’ Myths: Blacks’ Myths II
  69. Sudan Archives: Athena
  70. The Coathangers: The Devil You Know
  71. GRLwood: I Sold My Soul to the Devil When I Was 12
  72. Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia
  73. FKA Twigs: MAGDALENE
  74. Miranda Lambert: Wild Card
  75. Aquarian Blood: A Love That Leads to War
  76. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tuba in Cuba
  77. Quelle Chris: Guns
  78. Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions
  79. DaBaby: KIRK
  80. Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks
  81. Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer EP
  82. Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs
  83. Various Artists: Weaponize Your Sound
  84. Earl Sweatshirt: FEET OF CLAY
  85. Maxo Kream: Brandon Banks
  86. BaianaSystem: O Furturo Nao Demora
  87. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken
  88. DaBaby: Baby on Baby
  89. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever
  90. Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won’t Hold
  91. Dan Weiss Trio + 1: Utica Box
  92. Davido: A Good Time
  93. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
  94. Saul Williams: Encrypted & Vulnerable
  95. Young M.A.: Herstory in the Making
  96. Ken Vandermark: Momentum 4—Consequent Duos 2015-2019
  97. Poncho Sanchez: Trane’s Delight
  98. The New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet: Tricentennial Hall Dance 17. October
  99. Mario Pavone: Philosophy
  100. Alcorn/McPhee/Vandermark: Invitation to a Dream
  101. Joachim Kuhn: Melodic Ornette Coleman—Piano Works XIII
  102. Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid
  103. Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain
  104. Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs from The Sun Ra Cosmos
  105. The Sensational Barnes Brothers: Nobody’s Fault But Mine
  106. GoldLink: Diaspora
  107. Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty
  108. Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist
  109. Mantana Roberts: COIN COIN Chapter Four—Memphis
  110. Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dur–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent
  111. black midi: Schlagenheim
  112. Nots: 3
  113. Guitar Wolf: Love & Jett
  114. Robert Forster: Inferno
  115. Aziza Brahim: Sahari
  116. Jacob Wick & Phil Sudderberg: Combinatory Pleasures
  117. The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life
  118. Ingrid Laubrock & Aki Takase: Kasumi
  119. LPX: Junk of the Heart (EP)
  120. Helado Negro: This is How You Smile
  121. Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief
  122. G & D: Black Love & War
  123. Boris: Love & Evol
  124. Girl Band: The Talkies
  125. Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys: 30 Years Live
  126. Gilberto Gil: OK OK OK
  127. JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs
  128. Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2
  129. Flying Lotus: Flamagra
  130. Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her
  131. JD Allen: Barracoon
  132. Big Thief: Two Hands
  133. Various Artists: Queen & Slim—The Soundtrack
  134. Tinariwen: Amadjar
  135. Various Artists: Typical Girls Three
  136. Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues
  137. Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time
  138. Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops
  139. Santana: Africa Speaks
  140. Judy and The Jerks: Music for Donuts
  141. Tyler, The Creator: IGOR
  142. Sault: 5
  143. Whit Dickey Tao Quartets: Peace Planet / Box of Light
  144. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On the Edge
  145. Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien
  146. Solange: When I Get Home
  147. Freddie Douggie: Live on Juneteenth
  148. Ranky Tanky: Good Time
  149. Ahmad Jamal: Ballades
  150. Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For
  151. Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
  152. Little Brother: May the Lord Watch
  153. Blood Orange: Angel’s Pulse
  154. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Rodents of Unusual Size (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
  155. Doja Cat: Hot Pink
  156. Kelsey Lu: Blood
  157. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri
  158. Hama: Houmeissa
  159. Ill Considered: 5
  160. Girls on Grass: Dirty Power
  161. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs
  162. Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature
  163. Shovels & Rope: By Blood
  164. Angel Bat Dawid: The Oracle
  165. Spiral Stairs: We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized
  166. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters
  167. Rosie Flores: A Simple Case of The Blues
  168. Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima
  169. Mekons : Deserted
  170. Serengeti: Quail

New Releases of Older Material

1-12: Straight A (no A+ record this year)

11-27: A-

27-45: B+

46-55: B (and a B is still a good record)

  1. Peter Laughner: Peter Laughner
  2. Eric Dolphy: Musical Prophet
  3. Burnt Sugar: 20th Anniversary Mixtapes—Groiddest Schizznits, Vols. 1-3
  4. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock
  5. The Royals: Gish Abbai
  6. Various Artists: Bulawayo Blue Yodel
  7. Merle Haggard & The Strangers: Live in Austin, ‘78
  8. Various Artists: Put The Whole Armour On—Female Black Gospel 1940s and 1950s
  9. Various Artist: WXAXNXD Sessions
  10. Screaming Females: Singles Too
  11. Sonny Sharrock: Ask the Ages (Bill Laswell Remix)
  12. Jessie Mae Hemphill: Run Get My Shotgun
  13. Chic: The Chic Organization: 1977-1979
  14. Griot Galaxy: Kins
  15. Various Artists: Mogadisco—Dancing Mogadishu (Somalia 1972-1991)
  16. Various Artists: No Other Love—Midwest Gospel (1965-1978)
  17. Horace Tapscott and the Pan Afrikan Orchestra: Why Don’t You Listen–Live at Lacma, 1998
  18. The Jewell Gospel Trio: Many Little Angels In The Band
  19. Johnny Griffin and Eddie Lockjaw Davis: Ow! Live at the Penthouse
  20. Various Artists: Outro Tempo II–Electronic and Contemporary Music from Brazil 1984-1996
  21. Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks
  22. Various Artists: Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
  23. Gregory Isaacs / Ossie All-Stars: Mr. Isaacs
  24. Various Artists: Jambu
  25. Erroll Garner: Closeup in Swing
  26. James Booker: Live at Onkel PO’s, Carnegie Hall, Hamburg 1976
  27. Cornell Campbell: I Man a the Stall-A-Watt
  28. Various Artists: World Spirituality Classics 2—The Time for Peace is Now
  29. Various Artists: J-Jazz–Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1983 (Volume 2)
  30. John Coltrane: Blue World
  31. Moondog: The Stockholm 1981 Reccordings
  32. Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans and Greens—The Lost Fontana Studio Sessions 1969
  33. Star Band de Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana de Senegal
  34. Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick
  35. Various Artists: Blues Images Calendar Companion, Volume 17
  36. Primal Scream: Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll—The Singles
  37. Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit: April is the Cruellest Month
  38. Various Artists: Rhapsody in Bronze
  39. Various Artists: Fania Goes Psychedelic
  40. Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate
  41. Sir Shina Peters and His Internation Stars: Sewele
  42. Sounds of Liberation: Sounds of Liberation
  43. Prince: Originals
  44. Various Artists: Nigeria 70–No Wahala, Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987
  45. Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972
  46. John Carter & Bobby Bradford Quartet: No U-Turn
  47. James Wayne: Junco Partner–The Very Best Of James Wayne 1950-1955
  48. Various Artists: Siya Hamba! 1950’s South African Country and Small Town Sounds
  49. Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down–Live 1973
  50. Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steal + Four Corners
  51. Neil Young & The Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa
  52. The Replacements: Dead Man’s Pop
  53. Scientists: Not for Sale (Live, 1978-1979)
  54. Abdallah Oumbadougou: Anou Malane
  55. George Jones: United Artists Rarities

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