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Top 4 Music Albums of 2019 by babyBlueSedan (2019)  

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Some people measure the passage of time with each birthday, I do it with each year chart intro I write. As always, here are the dumb rules I follow:

1. Everything I listen to will be here because I am a completionist

2. The comments will vary wildly in quality and effort

3. Everything rated 70 or higher will someday work its way into my collection. Anything rated 65 or maaaaybe 60 is still recommended but I probably thought it had "consistency problems" or "no real standouts"

4. I've gotten a bit more critical with my rating scale because I noticed I rated 80% of albums a 65, so there may be a few more lower-rated albums this year

Chart updated: 02/14/2019 21:15 (Created: 01/23/2019 01:52). Chart size: 4 albums.

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Sort byOverall Rank | Number of Charts | Average Rating | Number of Ratings | Release Date | Title | Artist | Date Added
RankAlbumArtist
1. (=)

Malibu KenUnited States Malibu Ken
70/100
Abstract synth-hop

Last year there were a bunch of these low-stakes collab hip hop albums, and for the most part I enjoyed them a bit but never really came back to them. So the fact that I immediately knew I would come back to this one is probably just due to the fact that I'm a huge fan of Aesop. Hey, these lists have always been biased. For the most part this album sees the rapper building off of the less-obtuse self-deprecating lyrics from the impossible while also throwing in a bit more humor; "Tuesday" is a really enjoyable song about finding a mushroom growing in your car, for example. Elsewhere he becomes more of a story-teller then he's maybe ever been, telling stories about Ricky Kasso on "Acid King" (my and everybody's favorite track here) and a pair of breeding eagles on "Churro." The latter of those songs feels almost like a Mark Kozelek song*, as it's a pretty straightforward story that reflects on life and cats. Tobacco adds some great production, which isn't always super interesting but doesn't get tiring. And the 30 minute runtime means it never overstays it's welcome. This won't be near the top of my list at the end of the year (I hope), but I'm sure it will still get a lot of plays.

*I read the Pitchfork review for this album earlier today and I know they made the same comparison but I promise I thought of it first. I can't prove it, but I hope the fact that I included this addendum makes you believe me because otherwise I'll look dishonest AND arrogant.
(First added to chart: 02/02/2019)
Year of Release:2019Appears in:28 charts
Rank in 2019:14Rank Score:14
Rank in 2010s9,247Overall Rank:37,688
Average Rating:  71/100 (41 votes)
Comments: 4 comments
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2. (=)

Better Oblivion Community CenterUnited States Better Oblivion Community Center
65/100
Indie alt-country?

There are a bunch of different directions I could take this write-up, and against my better judgement I'm going to try them all instead of focusing on one. First off we have the members of this band. Stranger in the Alps was my favorite album of 2017 and Me & My Dog was one of my favorite songs of 2018, so you could say I'm a pretty big fan of Phoebe Bridgers. On the other hand, we have Connor Oberst. I've heard one Bright Eyes album and only gave it one listen because I had no opinion on it. So the amount I care about both artists is a bit unbalanced, and rather than approaching this as an amazing team up I'm approaching it as Phoebe's next album, which is...the wrong way to approach it, I admit. While this still has the same wit and self-deprecation as the rest of Bridgers's work, it's very different musically, at least as different as vaguely indie rock/folk can be. So my first struggle with this album is that it's a new direction from one of my favorite artists that I'm not really big on.

Secondly, I think I'm a guilty of giving up on artists when they go a direction I wasn't expecting or didn't care for. I remember writing off albums by Everything Everything (A Fever Dream) and Vince Staples (Big Fish Theory) in 2017 only to come around to them eventually and put them on par with the rest of the artists' stuff. So part of me worries that I'm doing the same thing hear. I'll honestly admit I wanted another Stranger in the Alps, and this album makes me slightly scared I won't get it. I've also got a bit of FOMO as Bridgers is getting bigger and I'm not really along for the ride. So even after three lukewarm listens I worry that I'm prejudiced against this album and should just let it go.

But thirdly, the issue I have with this album is that it contains almost nothing of what made me fall in love with Bridgers's music in the first place. Stranger in the Alps was such a revelation for me because of how restrained and slow-burning it was despite packing so much of an emotional punch. It felt so understated, but at the same time you could hear rage and sorrow bubbling under the surface. BOCC is a lot more straightforward musically, as it's basically a straight indie rock record. Which isn't really bad per se, but none of these songs really catch my ear even after multiple listens. There's no sudden climaxes like in "Georgia," no weird feedbacky intros like in "Killer." There is the weirdly synthy "Exception to the Rule," which suffers both from feeling really out of place and from having some of the worst lyrics on the album. And there's the suddenly rocky "Big Black Hearts," which sounds like a rock song by someone who has no idea how to write a rock song. The rest places it fairly safe, and it's telling that my favorite songs - "Chesapeake" and "Didn't Know What I Was In For" - lean the closest to Stranger in the Alps.

And more than anything else, I liked Bridgers for her lyrics. I loved how she blended really general emotions with really specific details that framed everything. This album feels a lot less vulnerable lyrically, as in all of the messages are really standard and just feel like vague platitudes. It also feels a bit preachy in places, which may just be me. I'm also not a fan of the dual vocals. I don't hate Oberst's voice (but I kind of dislike it), but I wish he would just let Phoebe sing. "Chesapeake" would be even better if Oberst would keep quiet and let her sing. I'd even be fine if the vocals were split evenly between the tracks, but their voices just don't sound good together.

So those are my probably terrible opinions. Maybe I'll come back to this one at the end of the year and enjoy it more. But until then I feel a bit let down and somehow guilty. Music is confusing, eh?
(First added to chart: 02/14/2019)
Year of Release:2019Appears in:28 charts
Rank in 2019:16Rank Score:12
Rank in 2010s9,850Overall Rank:39,578
Average Rating:  74/100 (42 votes)
Comments: 3 comments
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3. (=)


Safe Mode: On
Remind Me TomorrowUnited States Sharon Van Etten
55/100
Indie singer-songwriter

I'm a huge fan of Are We There, Van Etten's last album, and in fact it's sitting somewhere on my overall chart as I type this. I feel like I judge albums too much based on past albums by the same artist, so I don't want to talk about too many comparisons between the two. For the most part both albums are of the same style - relaxed singer-songwriter with a few dynamics and climaxes here and there. But for some reason this one just isn't doing it for me. I think a lot of the reason is that Are We There was a such a personal album that cut really deep, and this one finds Van Etten in a much more reflective place where she doesn't have much to say. Musically there's a bit more electronic elements, but I don't think they're emphasized enough to make the music feel much different than her past albums. It still feels like a Sharon Van Etten, just with a bit less fire behind it.

I'm going to give this another listen, so maybe this review will be completely different next time I update this thing. But I never got into any of the singles either so I'm worried my opinion won't change.
(First added to chart: 02/02/2019)
Year of Release:2019Appears in:68 charts
Rank in 2019:1Rank Score:78
Rank in 2010s3,165Overall Rank:16,409
Average Rating:  77/100 (94 votes)
Comments: 8 comments
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4. (=)

What Chaos Is ImaginaryUnited States Girlpool
50/100
Strummy rock

I had never listened to a Girlpool album before, but I hear they used to be a lot more lo-fi. This one sounds like pretty standard indie rock, and nothing really caught my ear throughout it. I don't really have much more to say but that's really what a neutral rating means I guess.
(First added to chart: 02/14/2019)
Year of Release:2019Appears in:11 charts
Rank in 2019:45Rank Score:3
Rank in 2010s20,186Overall Rank:70,741
Average Rating:  71/100 (20 votes)
Comments: 1 comment
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Top 4 Music Albums of 2019 composition

Artist Albums %


Sharon Van Etten 1 25%
Girlpool 1 25%
Malibu Ken 1 25%
Better Oblivion Community Center 1 25%
Country Albums %


United States 4 100%

Top 4 Music Albums of 2019 chart changes

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Other year charts (from the 2010s) by babyBlueSedan

Top 100 Music Albums of 2018 by babyBlueSedan (2019)
Top 100 Music Albums of 2017 by babyBlueSedan (2018)
Top 100 Music Albums of 2016 by babyBlueSedan (2018)
Top 100 Music Albums of 2015 by babyBlueSedan (2018)
Top 56 Music Albums of 2014 by babyBlueSedan (2018)
Top 27 Music Albums of 2013 by babyBlueSedan (2018)
Top 16 Music Albums of 2012 by babyBlueSedan (2018)
Top 18 Music Albums of 2011 by babyBlueSedan (2018)
Top 10 Music Albums of 2010 by babyBlueSedan (2018)

Top 4 Music Albums of 2019 ratings

Not enough data  Average Rating = (n ÷ (n + m)) × av + (m ÷ (n + m)) × AV
where:
av = trimmed mean average rating an item has currently received.
n = number of ratings an item has currently received.
m = minimum number of ratings required for an item to appear in a 'top-rated' chart (currently 10).
AV = the site mean average rating.

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