This year, alongside all of the traditional end-of-year lists, Indientry brings back one of its favorite features: Battle of the Bloggers. It’s a group feature with five musically-inclined folks who decided to defend their number one album of the year against everyone else’s – check out 2018’s feature. Make sure to check out their work as well as their favorite albums!
Caroline Spence – Mint Condition
By Grover Anderson, Singer-Songwriter
Caroline Spence’s “favorite things are tired and worn,” according to the title track of Mint Condition, which was released in May. It’s tempting to tie the music to the old stuff – her voice takes me back to Deana Carter’s debut album – but Spence’s voice detaches from time and feels eminently present. Mint Condition isn’t a flashy album, but whenever it shuffled into my queue this year I found myself bailing on the playlist to hear the rest of the album.
The album’s “Song About a City” is among the best country songs released this year; excruciatingly relatable longing is buoyed by a lush chorus and a ridiculously catchy pronunciation of “city.” “Talking to this man’s like looking at an ashtray,” is a devastating burn on “Who’s Gonna Make My Mistakes,” which easily logged the most time on my “What song am I mindlessly humming all day long?” charts this summer. And with all due respect to any other “slow and earnest” love song from 2019, Spence says so much more with so much less fanfare in “Sit Here and Love Me.”
Mint Condition is perfectly understated. The album’s here for the long haul; 2019 is merely lucky to claim it.
Listen to Mint Condition:
MISSIO – The Darker The Weather // The Better The Man
By Jeff Archuleta, ECLECTICMUSICLOVER
It’s not often that I love an entire album at first listen, but that was the case with The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man by MISSIO. I was literally stunned by this brilliant and totally original collection of songs.
MISSIO’s unique and eclectic sound is a glorious mash-up of alternative electronic rock, hip hop and dream pop, drawing the best from all three (and more) to create some of the most exciting and meaningful music I’ve heard in a while. The band is comprised of singer-songwriter and producer Matthew Brue and songwriter, producer and instrumentalist David Butler.
Many of the tracks on the album deal with Brue’s struggles with drugs, emotional pain and overcoming addiction. The album kicks off with “Underground,” a killer track with an irresistible hip hop beat, infectious melody and trippy vibes. MISSIO incorporates a rich array of synthesizers, instruments and textures to create a dense, sweeping soundscape, and Brue’s distinctive vocal style registers in the higher range.
Highlights include trap gem “Temple Priest,” EDM-infused “Rad Drugz,” bittersweet “Do You Still Love Me Like You Used To?” and anthem “I See You,” which is my favorite song of 2019. MISSIO is an innovative and creative musical act, and they’ve earned a spot among my favorites.
Listen to The Darker the Weather // The Better the Man:
Get A Life – Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt
By Travis Shosa, COUNTERZINE and Under the Counter Tapes
It’s been a pretty brilliant year for music all around, but above all stands Get a Life’s Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt. A quick and cursory listen of the album’s singles “Get a Job” and “2050” might lead one to dismiss the project as a lo-fi noise-pop record, but it is far more ambitious.
Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt sounds like the product of your best friend or co-worker stumbling into enlightenment almost entirely by chance: messy in the most endearing of ways, constantly interesting with genre influences from drone to twee to math rock, with a narrator who never overextends himself by trying too hard to be profound.
The album is a portrait of how simple and mundane life reads on a surface level, and just how tumultuous and chaotic it feels to us all. None of its emotional core is sacrificed for sonic exploration: “Dungeon” might be the most devastating song I’ve heard in a long while. If all that wasn’t enough, Chase DeMaster balances it all with pop sensibilities and an absurd sense of humor (“All of my jobs want me to get a job”).
This one feels like it was made just for me, but if more people listened, particularly if they’re looking for something in-between the straightforward Strokes and off-the-wall Voidz, akin to Car Seat Headrest filtered through early No Age, or even just good, loud pop-rock, they might feel just the same.
Listen to Our Band Could Be Your Life or Debt:
Skye Wallace – Skye Wallace
By Adam Reeve, Sounds Good
People look for different things when it comes to music. Whether that involves looking for an emotional connection or an experience into something left-field, everybody has an itch they need to scratch. For me, nothing’s more satisfying than an album that offers some straight up noise to sink your teeth into, and Skye Wallace’s fourth album, Skye Wallace, does exactly that. This is why I believe it to be one of the best records of 2019.
Lead single “Coal in Your Window” sums up this record perfectly. It’s packed with massive riffs and shredding leads that wishes to flood your mind with noise, and it sets the tone for an album that throws wind right in caution’s face. You’ve got moments of clarity on the likes of “Iced In,” stomping grooves on “There is a Wall” and a more-melodic approach on the storming “Always Sleep with a Knife.” Skye Wallace has got everything you could want from a record, but gives all of those extra emotions and directions the same set of balls to knock you for six.
Listen to Skye Wallace:
Hozier – Wasteland, Baby!
By Vanessa Jetwash, House in the Sand
Hozier kicked off the Wasteland, Baby! era with “Nina Cried Power,” a tribute song to protest songs and those who wrote them. With lyrics such as, “And I could cry power/Power has been cried by those stronger than me/Straight into the face that tells you to rattle your chains if you love being free,” he proves that he does not shy away from covering topics of political nature. The album itself is one of power, one of exploring emotions and communicating them loudly. His folkiest track to date, “Shrike,” vocalises the regret of not appreciating something when you had it, while “Dinner & Diatribes” explores desire in an almost explosive manner.
While Hozier definitely has managed to stay true to the sounds he has been praised for (the stomping and clapping, the choir like backing vocals, the howling riffs, his voice), he also discovered the depths and needs he has as a writer and performer and Wasteland, Baby! is the result of that journey. This is a record that has been essential to me ever since it was released in March and I know it will stay with me for a lot longer.
Listen to Wasteland, Baby!:
Make sure you check out each of these lovely folks’ work, and for those who run music publications, check out their full end-of-year lists on their websites and social media. Indientry’s official end-of-year list is coming on Friday, so be sure to stay tuned!