2019 Music

I don’t claim to be as good as I used to be when it comes to discovering new music. I have to seek out guidance/reference/suggestions by various outside influences. One album that for sure cheered me up in 2019 was Orville Peck’s Pony. It’s as if Hank Williams had a mysterious queer (and Canadian) grandson. I adore the entire album. Here’s a little taste:

Next, I turn to NPR to find inspiration and exposure to newness. They compile lists of songs that find themselves in heavy rotation on their stations. My commute in 2019 went from atrocious to reasonable near the end of the year, so I did spend a considerable amount of time listening to NPR while traveling in cars and on boats and busses. They exposed me to some newness. Here are some suggestions that they have given:

Lana Del Rey, “Doin’ Time”

Somnambulistic and lush, with a touch of California apocalyptic, Lana Del Rey’s take on “Doin’ Time” – Sublime’s interpretation of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” – resuscitates the Great American Songbook and gives it a ballsy, elegantly orchestrated makeover; her Grammy-nominated album Norman F****** Rockwell! feels like her own declaration of independence. — Gini Mascorro, KXT

Lizzo, “Juice”

With “Juice,” Lizzo took a carton of life’s lemons — of self-doubt, self-consciousness, self-hatred — and served up 2019’s anthemic beverage of confidence, acceptance and respect. The break-out song came at a time when America desperately needed freshly-squeezed “Juice,” not with Vitamin C, but with Vitamin L: love, light and Lizzo. — Joni Deutsch, WFAE Amplifier

Beck, “Saw Lightning”

Reminiscent of the acoustic guitar sounds found on Beck’s breakthrough album, Mellow Gold, the intro to “Saw Lightning” transitions into a groove that is more in-line with the beat-driven songs from his 2017 album, Colors. With the help of Pharrell Williams, Beck has produced an auditory time capsule of a career that spans more than 25 years, while continuing to push musical boundaries as a creative visionary. — Amy Miller, KXT

Florence + The Machine, “Moderation”

Love is many things: patient, blind … a battlefield. It isn’t moderate. Especially not when it comes to Florence Welch. In the single “Moderation,” she’s a Victorian ghost haunting you with wails of lamentable and consuming love. A level-setting love song about getting what you deserve. — Jade, The Current

Karen O & Danger Mouse, “Turn The Light”

Karen O and Danger Mouse’s Lux Prima is meant to wash over our senses as a wave of dreams. It’s meant to be listened to and taken as a whole, greater than the sum of its parts. “Turn The Light” may be the most accessible song on Lux Prima, but it is a crucial linchpin in the sweeping, cinematic story. — Anne Litt, KCRW

Local Natives, “When Am I Gonna Lose You”

It’s alarming how good this group is at being wildly emotional and a fun, vibe-y summer band. The highlight of the song is the bridge when, at the height of anxiety about his assurance of failure, our narrator falls deeply in love. Somehow, he feels he’s not worthy of it; and yet, he is able to describe his loved one and the exact moment he falls in love so beautifully, all in a 15-second phrase. — Cindy Howes, WERS

The New Pornographers, “Falling Down The Stairs of Your Smile”

Close to 20 years since the band’s debut, The New Pornographers returned with a smartly crafted, power pop-influenced song heavy on the grooves, synths and charming harmonies of A.C. Newman and Neko Case. — Bruce Warren, WXPN

The National, “You Had Your Soul With You”

For two decades, no band has chronicled the intersection of love and loss better than The National. And while lyrically this song mines familiar territory, the group’s signature melancholic sound is almost gone. In its place are bright, flickering lights and a gorgeous vocal contribution from Gail Ann Dorsey. — Jerad Walker, opbmusic

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