Over here at the Boston Hassle we like to cover all the great stuff that’s flying under the radar, underground style. But you can listen to all this cool shit AND check out all the stuff that’s flying high! This is a look back on all the quote-unquote mainstream albums that came out this year. Everything on this list is something I’ve gone back to more than once, something that stayed with me as much as my usual heaping pile of queercore-powerviolence that I so dearly love. In no particular order, here are Ev’s most memorable mainstream albums of 2019:
Earl Sweatshirt – FEET OF CLAY
Earl’s latest release, FEET OF CLAY, features his classic flow and lyricism, but hits the nail on the head with weird production wave he’s been riding since Some Rap Songs. It’s grimy, it’s dirty, it’s just fun. Also personally I love “EAST,” even if the production sounds vaguely sea-shanty like.
Favorite Track: “OD” or “EL TORO COMBO MEAL (feat. Mavi)”
Girlpool – What Chaos is Imaginary
I know, I know… but Girlpool’s latest album is a melancholy journey through heartbreak, loss, and captures the feeling of journeying through life. It’s soft, it’s slow, and I listen to it when I need to brood. The crunchy slowcore just settles in my ribcage, yknow? Also support trans artists always.
Favorite Track: “Minute In Your Mind”
FKA twigs – MAGDALENE
I was legitimately blown away the first time I heard this LP. The spectral choral quality, the super freakish production, the strange focus on Catholicism… just incredibly spicy throughout. FKA twigs killed it on this, her voice is stunning and weaves in with the production to gel the narrative together. This hurt me to listen to. And if that’s not what I want from an album, I don’t know what is.
Favorite Track: “home with you”
Big Brave – A Gaze Among Them
Big Brave released a KILLER doom-y album this year. A Gaze Among Them seeps out of my earbuds and onto the city streets whenever I go on a two a.m. walk. It’s slow and fuzzy, and Robin’s voice cuts through all the fuzz and powerful basslines just so my hair stands on edge. I love this piece, and absolutely have screamed along to the climax of “Muted Shifting of Space” which may or may not be worrying, but is definitely powerful.
Favorite Track: “Muted Shifting of Space”
Czarface – The Odd Czar Against Us
If you talk to me about rap, you KNOW I’ll bring up Czarface at least once. While this LP doesn’t steal my heart from Czarface Meets Metal Face, it’s a fantastic record in it’s own right. 7L’s production is incredible, balancing nostalgia and new vibes. Also Inspectah Deck and Esoteric are fantastic as always.
Favorite Track: “Dear Computer” (feat. Kendra Morris)
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Angel Olsen’s 2019 release has seen me at my worst. Not only did it come out during a rough patch, it hit every emotional button I needed to just sob. This synth-y approach is really working for me, and it feels like All Mirrors let Angel loose. It’s weirder than her previous releases, and that works for me. Maybe it’s where I was, maybe this album just communicates emotional pain well.
Favorite Track: “What It Is”
Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q.
This record absolutely rips. Absolutely fucking rips. It’s a brutal extravaganza of Hunter Hunt Hendrix’s distinctive style, solar metal pulsing out of every beat. It’s not even a constant assault of burst beats and distortion: every “EXACO” provides a release, an intermission of equally interesting music that guides us to the next work. Another album to scream to. Another album featuring some kind of weird Catholicism. Maybe I’m becoming too predictable.
Favorite Track: “HAQQ”
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Safe And Also No Fear
I listened to this album at the end of summer. It was a warm day, and me and my friend were smoking a joint on her back porch. The porch gave us enough shade that we weren’t sweltering in the heat, and it was a magical experience. Another contemplative piece, Safe And Also No Fear feels comfortably lazy. Languid. It evokes memories I’m not sure exist.
Favorite Track: “The Dogs”
Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed and Ready
And the second album on this list I could see people giving me shit for. But it’s MY list and I get to choose the albums! Stuffed and Ready is pure pulpy fun. It gets my head nodding, it gets my heart soaring, I feel like some kind of 90’s preppy punk mix. The guitar feels crunchy while light, and my G-d I love some weird vocals. Shoutout pulp.
Favorite Track: “Stupid Fish”
CONTROL TOP – Covert Contracts
CONTROL TOP bless us with dance-y noisey punk from Philly. It’s absolutely sick and gets me on my feet every single time. Let me dance my worries away to the catharsis of their screams. The guitar and drums are pounding, and my G-d do I love this vocal performance. Screaming? Check. Danceable? Check. Raw as all hell? Double-check. Great work.
Favorite Track: “Ego Deaf”
Florist – Emily Alone
Another artist that I absolutely adore. Emily Sprague’s acoustic work on Emily Alone rivals her ambient projects. Another melancholy album, loneliness roots and makes a home in us all, and this album conveys the imagery perfectly. It’s not a pessimistic piece either, just a contemplative one. Emily and a guitar are a powerful combination, and this definitely makes me excited for the next full-band Florist album (If I wasn’t already excited.)
Favorite Track: “Rain Song”
JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes Are Cornballs
JPEGMAFIA is an absolute master. I am in love with the production on this release, and the cross of femininity with nerdiness. It departs from the sounds of Veteran, still grimy as hell, but way softer and shows that JPEGMAFIA will remain fresh. Great album, great vibes.
Favorite Track: “PTSD”
Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
Great album from a great person. I’m a big Silver Jews fan, so you couldn’t keep me away from this record. It’s hard to listen to these days, but it still feels magical and important. David Berman’s poetry is gorgeous. Listen to this album, hear the lyrics, read his poems.
Favorite Track: “Nights That Won’t Happen”
Wow alright… that was like twelve albums right? Not bad. Back to our regularly scheduled programming, and looking forward to next year!