The Best Records 2019 Had to Offer (Now, Forward Into the Past)

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185 really good-to-really great albums of new music. 60 laudable issuings of music recorded in another time. That, my friends, is an embarrassment of riches. Now: if that will rub off on general citizenship, good cheer, charming self-effacement, and energized civic action, we’ll be cooking with gas here.

My Album-Lover’s Honor Roll for 2019 – The Final Unscrolling

(bolded items are new additions to the list)

The Straight and Bent A’s:

  1. Little Simz: Grey Area
  2. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
  3. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy!
  4. Junius Paul: Ism
  5. Rapsody: Eve
  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. Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes
  13. Laurie Anderson, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith: Songs from The Bardo
  14. Peter Perrett: Humanworld
  15. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium
  16. Mexstep: Resistir
  17. Mdou Moctar: Ilana (The Creator)
  18. Danny Brown: uknowwhutimsayin
  19. Tomeka Reid Quartet: Old New
  20. J Balvin & Bad Bunny: OASIS
  21. DKV and Joe McPhee: The Fire Each Time
  22. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel
  23. Tanya Tucker: While I’m Livin’
  24. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places
  25. EARTHGANG: Mirrorland

The Tragically Flawed A- Team:

  1. 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real
  2. Sheer Mag: A Distant Call
  3. Dumb: Club Nites
  4. Jeffrey Lewis: Bad Wiring
  5. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
  6. Young Thug: So Much Fun
  7. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere
  8. James Brandon Lewis: An Unruly Manifesto
  9. Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity: To Whom Who Buys A Record
  10. Teodross Avery: After the Rain–A Night for Coltrane
  11. Various Artists: Total Solidarity
  12. Lana Del Rey: Norman F***ing Rockwell
  13. Zonal (featuring Moor Mother): Wrecked
  14. Control Top: Covert Contracts
  15. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
  16. Ifriqiyya Electrique: Laylet El Boore
  17. Elza Soares: Planeta Fome
  18. Abdullah Ibrahim: The Balance
  19. Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble: Where Future Unfolds
  20. Andres: Andres IV
  21. Denzel Curry: Zuu
  22. Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye
  23. Rod Wave: Ghetto Gospel
  24. Eddy Current Suppression Ring: All in Good Time
  26. Moor Mother: Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes
  27. Various Artists: The Final Battle—Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics
  28. Rocket 808: Rocket 808
  29. 2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League
  30. Planchettes: The Truth
  31. Joel Ross: Kingmaker
  32. JME: Grime MC
  33. I Jahbar: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash
  34. Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford
  35. Bill Orcutt: Odds Against Tomorrow
  36. Joe McPhee / John Butcher: At the Hill of James Magee
  37. Tyler Childers: Country Squire
  38. Pat Thomas, Dominic Lash, and Tony Orrell: Bleyschool
  39. Beyoncé: Homecoming
  40. Sote: Parallel Persia
  41. Jaimie Branch: Fly or Die II—Bird of Paradise
  42. SEED ENSEMBLE: Driftglass
  43. Arto Lindsay, Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, Phil Sudderberg: Largest Afternoon
  44. The Comet is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
  45. Blacks’ Myths: Blacks’ Myths II

The No-Disgrace B+ Ticklers:

  1. The Coathangers: The Devil You Know
  2. Sudan Archives: Athena
  3. San Cha: La Luz de la Esperanza
  4. GRLwood: I Sold My Soul to the Devil When I Was 12
  5. P. P. Arnold: The New Adventures of P. P. Arnold
  6. Yazz Ahmed: Polyhymnia
  8. Miranda Lambert: Wild Card
  9. Aquarian Blood: A Love That Leads to War
  10. Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tuba in Cuba
  11. Quelle Chris: Guns
  12. Heroes Are Gang Leaders: The Amiri Baraka Sessions
  13. DaBaby: KIRK
  14. Ben Lamar Gay: Confetti in the Sky Like Fireworks
  15. Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer EP
  16. Bobby Watson, Vincent Herring, and Gary Bartz: Bird at 100
  17. Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs
  18. Various Artists: Weaponize Your Sound
  19. Earl Sweatshirt: FEET OF CLAY
  20. Maxo Kream: Brandon Banks
  21. BaianaSystem: O Furturo Nao Demora
  22. Aesop Rock & TOBACCO: Malibu Ken
  23. DaBaby: Baby on Baby
  24. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever
  25. Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won’t Hold
  26. Dan Weiss Trio + 1: Utica Box
  27. Davido: A Good Time
  28. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
  29. Saul Williams: Encrypted & Vulnerable
  30. Young M.A.: Herstory in the Making
  31. Ken Vandermark: Momentum 4—Consequent Duos 2015-2019
  32. Poncho Sanchez: Trane’s Delight
  33. Gang Starr: One of the Best Yet
  34. The New Orleans Dance Hall Quartet: Tricentennial Hall Dance 17. October
  35. Mario Pavone: Philosophy
  36. Alcorn/McPhee/Vandermark: Invitation to a Dream
  37. Joachim Kuhn: Melodic Ornette Coleman—Piano Works XIII
  38. Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid
  39. Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain
  40. Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs from The Sun Ra Cosmos
  41. The Sensational Barnes Brothers: Nobody’s Fault But Mine
  42. GoldLink: Diaspora
  43. Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty
  44. Usted Saami: God is Not a Terrorist
  45. Mantana Roberts: COIN COIN Chapter Four—Memphis
  46. Various Artists: Travailler, C’est Trop Dur–The Lyrical Legacy of Caesar Vincent
  47. black midi: Schlagenheim
  48. Nots: 3
  49. Guitar Wolf: Love & Jett
  50. Robert Forster: Inferno
  51. Aziza Brahim: Sahari
  52. Jacob Wick & Phil Sudderberg: Combinatory Pleasures
  53. Ingrid Laubrock & Aki Takase: Kasumi
  54. LPX: Junk of the Heart (EP)
  55. Helado Negro: This is How You Smile
  56. Joe McPhee and Paal Nilssen-Love: Song for the Big Chief
  57. G & D: Black Love & War
  58. Boris: Love & Evol
  59. Girl Band: The Talkies
  60. Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys: 30 Years Live
  61. Kris Davis: Diatom Ribbons
  62. Gilberto Gil: OK OK OK
  63. JPEGMAFIA: All My Heroes Are Cornballs
  64. Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2
  65. Flying Lotus: Flamagra

Hey! A “B” is a Decent Grade!:

  1. Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her
  2. The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life
  3. Bobby Rush: Sitting On Top of the Blues
  4. JD Allen: Barracoon
  5. Big Thief: Two Hands
  6. Kele Okereke: 2042
  7. Various Artists: Queen & Slim—The Soundtrack
  8. Tinariwen: Amadjar
  9. Various Artists: Typical Girls Three
  10. Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues
  11. Tyshawn Sorey and Marilyn Crispell: The Adornment of Time
  12. Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops
  13. Santana: Africa Speaks
  14. Judy and The Jerks: Music for Donuts
  15. Tyler, The Creator: IGOR
  16. Rodney Whitaker: All Too Soon—The Music of Duke Ellington
  17. Sault: 5
  18. Whit Dickey Tao Quartets: Peace Planet / Box of Light
  19. The Art Ensemble of Chicago: We Are On the Edge
  20. Nick Dunston: Atlantic Extraction
  21. Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien
  22. Warren Storm: Taking the World by Storm
  23. Solange: When I Get Home
  24. Freddie Douggie: Live on Juneteenth
  25. Ranky Tanky: Good Time
  26. Ahmad Jamal: Ballades
  27. Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For
  28. Branford Marsalis Quartet: The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
  29. Little Brother: May the Lord Watch
  30. Blood Orange: Angel’s Pulse
  31. Lost Bayou Ramblers: Rodents of Unusual Size (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture)
  32. Doja Cat: Hot Pink
  33. Kelsey Lu: Blood
  34. Dopolarians: Garden Party
  35. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri
  36. Hama: Houmeissa
  37. Ill Considered: 5
  38. Girls on Grass: Dirty Power
  39. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs
  40. Matthew Shipp Trio: Signature
  41. Shovels & Rope: By Blood
  42. Angel Bat Dawid: The Oracle
  43. Spiral Stairs: We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized
  44. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters
  45. Rosie Flores: A Simple Case of The Blues
  46. Aki Takase Japanic: Thema Prima
  47. Mekons : Deserted
  48. Lee Scratch Perry: Life of the Plants (EP)
  49. Marquis Hill: Love Tape
  50. Serengeti: Quail (EP)

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New Releases of Older Material

A = Thoroughly Enjoyable:

  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. Various Artists: Love is All I Bring—Reggae Hits & Rarities by the Queens of Trojan Records
  20. Johnny Griffin and Eddie Lockjaw Davis: Ow! Live at the Penthouse

A- = You’ll Barely Notice the Rough Spots:

  1. Various Artists: Outro Tempo II–Electronic and Contemporary Music from Brazil 1984-1996
  2. Various Artists: All the Young Droogs–60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks
  3. David S. Ware New Quartet: Theatre Garonne, 2008
  4. Various Artists: Cadillac Baby’s Bea & Baby Records—The Definitive Collection
  5. Gregory Isaacs / Ossie All-Stars: Mr. Isaacs
  6. Various Artists: Jambu
  7. Erroll Garner: Closeup in Swing
  8. Clifford Jordan: Glass Bead Games
  9. James Booker: Live at Onkel PO’s, Carnegie Hall, Hamburg 1976
  10. Cornell Campbell: I Man a the Stall-A-Watt
  11. Various Artists: World Spirituality Classics 2—The Time for Peace is Now
  12. Various Artists: J-Jazz–Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1983 (Volume 2)
  13. John Coltrane: Blue World
  14. Moondog: The Stockholm 1981 Recordings
  15. Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans and Greens—The Lost Fontana Studio Sessions 1969
  16. Star Band de Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana de Senegal
  17. Smokey Haangala: Aunka Ma Kwacha
  18. Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick
  19. Various Artists: Blues Images Calendar Companion, Volume 17
  20. Primal Scream: Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll—The Singles
  21. Masayuki Takayanagi New Directions Unit: April is the Cruellest Month
  22. Various Artists: Rhapsody in Bronze
  23. Various Artists: Fania Goes Psychedelic
  24. Various Artists: Brutal Africa—The Heavy Metal Cowboys of Botswana
  25. Stan Getz: Getz at the Gate
  26. Sir Shina Peters and His Internation Stars: Sewele
  27. The Heptones: Swing Low
  28. Sounds of Liberation: Sounds of Liberation
  29. Prince: Originals
  30. Various Artists: Nigeria 70–No Wahala, Highlife, Afro-Funk & Juju 1973-1987

B+ = A Three-Beer Buzz:

  1. Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972
  2. John Carter & Bobby Bradford Quartet: No U-Turn
  3. James Wayne: Junco Partner–The Very Best Of James Wayne 1950-1955
  4. Various Artists: Siya Hamba! 1950’s South African Country and Small Town Sounds
  5. Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down–Live 1973
  6. Terry Allen & The Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steal + Four Corners
  7. Neil Young & The Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa
  8. The Replacements: Dead Man’s Pop
  9. Scientists: Not for Sale (Live, 1978-1979)
  10. Abdallah Oumbadougou: Anou Malane