December 30, 2019
In 2014, the provost of Portland State University brought in some expert to tell us the university as we know it, would “cease to exist in 50 years,” so we better get onboard with higher education moving online. He compared it to CDs replacing vinyl albums. I remember thinking that sometimes the old way is better and CD sales were fading fast. 2019 saw vinyl albums outsell compact discs for the fist time since the late 1980s. Vinyl has roared back into the marketplace. I wonder where that shithead “expert” is now.
I certainly bought plenty of vinyl in 2019, including plenty of new releases. Nothing like spinning a black platter on a grey rainy Portland day. Here’s my annual list of my favorite albums of the year. In the top spot are some old friends of mine, drivin n cryin, from Atlanta. I picked up their new album, Live The Love Beautiful, in a record store in Austin, Texas and immediately fell in love with it. It represents everything I love about the conflicting themes of life in the South, the beauty and the stark desperation.
There are plenty of great 2019 releases that I haven’t discovered yet. I just bought the new Lana Del Ray album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, today. I’m dying to hear the new records from Beck and Nick Cave. There were other great albums that just missed my Top 20, like The Highwomen, Vampire Weekend, Little Sue, and The Dandy Warhols. These are just the 20 that I spent the most time with. 2019 was a year when listeners rediscovered the Paisley Underground and the Laurel Canyon sound. I didn’t have much time for auto-tuned hip hop but all the time in the world for Lizzo and her brilliant debut album.
We also saw plenty of shows this year as we’ve been rebuilding our normal routine. Some great gigs from old friends passing thorough town, including Amy Ray, the Long Ryders, and the Waterboys. Great jazz in local Portland haunts and one show I was completely conflicted over, Morrissey at the Moda Center. He was a prat but was he a fascist prat? (Regardless, openers Interpol were brilliant.)
2020 is gonna be a rough year. There will be more unraveling before we come together. Hopefully the tension will produce some brilliant music. But here’s my 20 pixel snapshot of the end of the decade.
My 20 Favorite LPs of 2019
- drivin n cryin – Live the Love Beautiful
- Lizzo – Cause I Love You
- The Beatles – Abbey Road Reissue Box
- The Waterboys – Where the Action Is
- Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
- The Who – Who
- Amy Ray – Holler
- Miranda Lambert – Wildcard
- The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade, and The Three O’Clock – 3 X 4
- Jeff Lynne’s ELO – From Out of Nowhere
- Jenny Lewis – On the Line
- Our Native Daughters – Songs of Our Native Daughters
- Mavis Staples – We Get By
- Sleater-Kinney – The Center Won’t Hold
- Linda Ronstadt – Live in Hollywood
- John Coltrane – Blue World
- Solange – When I Get Home
- Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
- The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
- Pistol Annies – Interstate Gospel