Spinning Thoughts is proud of the music diversity found throughout the many contributors on our team. With each “Top 10 Albums of the Year” list shared, we hope to encourage a dialog that inspires the sharing of music with others. 2019 had some really amazing moments for new music. The beauty is in how these bands/artists impact us all differently, and even better, how they bring us together.
Elliott Spagat | Contributor
It was a daunting task to review the amazing music that was 2019 and limit my list of favorite albums to just 10. My first list had about 24 phenomenal albums. The best way I could think of to easily get it down is to choose my top 10 records of the year. In order to qualify for the list, I have to own the vinyl. With apologies to some amazing artists including Dave Hause, Silversun Pickups, The New Pornographers and Bishop Briggs, here are my top 10 records of 2019.
10. Said the Whale – Cascadia
Cascadia was the first record I purchased in 2019. I had ordered the pre-release bundle which came with a sticker, patch, pin and an autographed photo of the band that was used in their video for “Unamerican.” The album is full of hope and love. It’s the ray of sunshine that we all need in today’s world.
Standout track: “Level Best”
9. Pkew Pkew Pkew – Optimal Lifestyle
When Pkew Pkew Pkew released the first single from this album, “65 Nickels,” I knew I found a record that would be getting a lot of play on my turntable. It turned out that the record was SO good that finding a copy was difficult and tickets to their album release show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto were even moreso. I finally managed to get my hands on a copy (limited edition clear) at a punk-rock flea market a few weeks after the release and my expectations have been more than exceeded.
Standout track: “The Polynesian”
8. Wintersleep – In the Land Of
I first heard a couple tracks of Wintersleep’s latest record last year when I saw them at a small theater near my house. I was sitting front row and could actually only hear the band through their amps and monitors. A few weeks later I had the opportunity to attend a live taping of CBC Radio’s First Play Live where the band set up in a smallish room, with fans lining the walls, where they played the whole album live two months before it was released.
Standout track: “Beneficiary”
7. Girlfriend Material – Cool Car
Girlfriend Material (or GMAT for short) is a fun side project made up of members of Hollerado and Tokyo Police Club. Cool Car is a rerecording of some of the songs found on the band’s self-titled EP, along with some new ones. The lyric videos they released are imaginative and fun. Over the past year and a half GMAT has been one of my favorite bands to see live.
Standout track: “First of the Month”
6. Charly Bliss – Young Enough
Charly Bliss’ music is an automatic shot of dopamine. If I’m having a crappy day, I’ll put on this album and my mood will perk right up. Eva Hendricks and Co. have written some of the best indie-pop songs that I’ve heard in years. I have to be careful when I listen to this record on my earbuds at work because more than once I’ve gotten nasty looks from my co-workers for bopping in chair and singing along. One of my concert highlights was seeing them in a small club; Eva had put so much emotion into their song “Heaven” that by the end she was crying.
Standout track: “Blown to Bits”
5. Hollerado – Retaliation Vacation
Back in February, Canadian indie band Hollerado shocked their fans by announcing their “retirement.” They explained that after 12 years it was time for them to move on. As a thank you to their fans, they were releasing one last album, which was recorded, engineered and mixed completely by them (and released on their own label which they started to release their first album, Record In a Bag). They’ve since embarked on a North American tour leading up to a final 3-night stint at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall in the middle of December.
Standout track: “One Last Time”
4. Frank Turner – No Man’s Land
About three and a half years ago I went to see Frank Turner perform at a local radio station before his show that night promoting his album Positive Songs for Negative People. There were less than 20 people in the room. After playing a couple songs from PSFNP he asked everyone there to turn off their phones, cameras, etc. He went on to say that he was writing an album that would tell the stories of influential women that people wouldn’t have necessarily known. He then played a song he had just written called “The Death of Dora Hand.” Three years later the album was released and it was worth the wait!
Standout track: “Sister Rosetta”
3. Taylor Knox – Here Tonight
The discovery of this album is the happiest accident of 2019. I was at a show to see the openers, Basement Revolver and Girlfriend Material. It was a Thursday night and I didn’t want to get home too late, as I had to work the next morning. I hadn’t heard of Taylor Knox before, but figured I’d stick around for the first couple songs of his set to get a taste. When he started playing I was enthralled. The songs were catchy, and the man can play the guitar. I was very impressed when he put down his guitar and took up the drums and sang. I stayed until the end, bought the record on my way out and still managed to make it to work on time the next morning.
Standout track: “Live It Up”
2. PUP – Morbid Stuff
PUP is one of those bands that have the golden touch; every song and album they release is amazing. For their latest release, PUP decided to take themselves off the beaten path. They started their own label, Little Dipper, and found some unique ways to gain attention. Prior to the release of their song “Free At Last,” they released the rough tabs and the lyrics asking their fans to send in their interpretation, which was then turned into the video for the song.
Standout track: “Free At Last”
1. AM Taxi – Shiver By Me
AM Taxi is the one band that I’m telling anyone who will listen to me about. This was the first album I reviewed for Spinning Thoughts this year. I didn’t know what to expect and from the opening notes I knew I found an album that would make this list. I’ve listened to it countless times over the past few months. I’m so enthralled with the album as a whole that I am at complete loss of words and don’t know what I can say about it. Give it a listen and you’ll hear what I mean.
Standout track: “Swim Before You Sink (Short Time on Earth)”
What are your thoughts on Elliott’s Top 10 Albums of 2019?