The year has only begun, but the music world has started delivering some of the year’s best work. That being said, there’s a lot of music to listen to in order to get to the real gems. Here are our favorite album and song selections from January 2019!
Best Albums Of January 2019
A fresh perspective on life can say a lot for a musician. In the case of gnash, his look on life helps make his unique sound that much more special. In his debut album we, gnash introduces his sound with confidence and plenty of personality to spare. we has a “live life in the present” attitude to it, but doesn’t live in harmony: gnash faces his demons directly in we. Chiller numbers like the somber ‘t-shirt‘ and the heartbreaking ‘the lonely hearts club‘ show a more fragile side to gnash as he lets his emotions flow freely and poetically. Meanwhile, tracks like the twenty one pilots-esque ‘insane‘ and the sweet ‘pajamas‘ offer warmer, relatable messages. At the heart of the record is the tortured hit ‘i hate u, i love u‘ with Olivia O’Brien, the two duerting in such a way that both of their dejected vocals accept the harsh realities of love and life together. we is the culmination of gnash’s personal philosophies, and that charm makes for a great record.
Favorite Tracks: the broken hearts club, dear insecurity, t-shirt
Least Favorite Track: feel better
Rating: 81 / 100
Electronic producer James Blake has been redefining his genre and practice since he began creating music, and his latest effort Assume Form is no different. Blake employs elements of trap, electronica, folk, and more into this eclectic blend of genres, making for a very engaging listen. Whether Blake is creating atmospheres (which range from relaxing like in opening track ‘Assume Form‘ to unsettling with album closer ‘Lullaby For The Insomniac‘), collaborating with some of today’s most notable artists (Metro Boomin and Travis Scott join Blake for ‘Mile High,’ while Moses Sumney also features in ‘Tell Them‘) or breaking boundaries (dueting in both English and Spanish alongside Spanish singer ROSALÍA in ‘Barefoot In The Park‘), Blake doesn’t waste a moment throughout the entirety of Assume Form.
Favorite Tracks: Mile High, Barefoot In The Park, Tell Them
Least Favorite Track: Power On
Rating: 80 / 100
The concept of Toro y Moi‘s Outer Peace is relatively simple: humanity’s main goal is to succeed in comfort. People want to be able to work and live by their own comfort and on their own accord; and in today’s society, that’s possible. Outer Peace is the exploration of these concepts. A freeing atmosphere encapsulates the record, leaving you no choice but to fall in line with the grooves and stay engaged; it’s certainly not a hard trap to fall into, with infectious tracks like ‘Laws Of The Universe‘ and ‘Ordinary Pleasure‘ in the tracklist. ‘Freelance‘ is the album’s most directly content-driven track, an attitude present that attempts to motivate you to get out and do whatever it is you want to do. Whether you’re caught up in the schizophrenic-yet-beautiful opening track ‘Fading‘ or the minimalistic haunt of ‘Miss Me‘ with Abra, Toro y Moi’s look on society does more than provide perspective: it encourages you to go out and accomplish something of your own, from the comfort of your own home.
Favorite Tracks: Laws Of The Universe, Fading, Baby Drive It Down
Least Favorite Track: New House
Rating: 88 / 100
Artists find their success in different ways. For English singer dodie, it was by posting her songs ot her YouTube channel. This poses a potential problem, though: such great exposure so early on can make it hard to really open up about your life, especially with so many eyes ready to watch and judge. Regardless, dodie does not stray away from anything but the truth in her new Human EP. dodie introduces some fundamental concepts in opening track ‘Arms Unfolding‘ and keeps things generally bubbly in songs including title track ‘Human‘ featuring Tom Walker, but the album only gets deeper and more honest as it goes. dodie’s first track ever, ‘She,’ reveals the pain of loving a girl who dodie knows couldn’t love her back in the same way. Closing track ‘Burned Out‘ acknowledges the demons that tell dodie she isn’t enough, and that she’ll never live up to the expectations of her fans; but as the quality and power of this record ensures, she should never have to worry about that again.
Favorite Tracks: She, Burned Out, If I’m Being Honest
Least Favorite Track: Monster
Rating: 78 / 100
Maggie Rogers rose to fame when a video of Pharrell reacting to a song she wrote in 15 minutes — ‘Alaska‘ — moved him to tears at an NYU masterclass. Flash forward a few years and Rogers is back on the scene, now with her debut record Heard It In A Past Life under her belt. And instead of trying to find her voice on her debut, she’s already fully confident of it. Rather, Rogers pens the record as more of a diary, sharing some of her personal stories that made her who she is today. Warm memories like ‘Overnight‘ and ‘Say It‘ are on the same level as the sadder tracks, including the ballad ‘Past Life.’ Her wild spirit comes out in funkier, more fun tracks like ‘The Knife‘ and ‘On + Off,’ as well. This record is a cumulative experience of the life of Maggie Rogers - and that makes for an interesting, engaging listen.
Favorite Tracks: The Knife, Say It, Light On
Least Favorite Track: Retrograde
Rating: 78 / 100
Bring Me The Horizon have come a long way since their metalcore origins. Their exploration of pop, electronica, and alternative music over the last few records have culminated in a wildly experimental but powerful record in amo. Opening track ‘i apologise if you feel something‘ brings a unique atmosphere to the table right at the start of the record, its curious nature bringing tension at the start. Other tracks continue to dazzle with their powerful, often dark and brooding atmospheres, such as ‘nihilist blues‘ featuring Grimes. Bring Me The Horizon doesn’t completely strip away their heavy past, either, flawlessly intermingling their previous sound with their new modern touch in tracks like ‘MANTRA‘ and ‘wonderful life‘ featuring Dani Filth. amo is impressive in every aspect, being a daring experiment that could not have gone better.
Favorite Tracks: nihilist blues (ft. Grimes), sugar honey ice & tea, fresh bruises, i apologise if you feel something, wonderful life
Least Favorite Track: in the dark
Rating: 95 / 100
A band that knows how to have fun can’t help but succeed. On their latest record Feral Roots, Rival Sons show their musicianship with power and passion. Feral Roots explodes with creativity and energy from start to finish, powerful tracks like bombastic opener ‘Do Your Worst‘ and the massive ‘Too Bad‘ being responsible for that. It’s not all just simple rock n’ roll though; Rival Sons keep things interesting, experimenting with elements of folk, blues, and more through the album. The folky blues flair of title track ‘Feral Roots‘ is representative of the album as a whole, while the Middle Eastern vibes of ‘Look Away‘ add a new color to the album. Huge vocals and a powerful instrumental bring the record to an awesome close in ‘All Directions,’ assuring the record ends as explosively as it begins. If you love to rock, then this is the record for you.
Favorite Tracks: Too Bad, All Directions, Imperial Joy, Shooting Stars
Least Favorite Track: Stood By Me
Rating: 82 / 100
Lamb Of God guitarist Mark Morton spent much of the last two years readying his debut solo album Anesthetic, which is due in March. Morton burst into the new year powerfully with the massive track ‘Cross Off,’ featuring the late Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington. ‘Cross Off’ is as emotional as it is massive, its huge riffs and Chester’s giant vocals creating such an atmosphere. Hearing new music from Chester (as well as one of his finest, heaviest vocal performances to date) is a great way to start the year, and knowing that Morton has more jams on the way is a bonus, too.
Rating: 90 / 100
Indie rock legends American Football are prepping their next album, and the cut ‘Uncomfortably Numb‘ promises big things. The generally minimal track calmly but hopelessly recalls an alcoholic father and lover’s slow and painful decline. Dreamy guitars and an alternative yet engaging drive keep you wrapped in for the ride. Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams harmonizes with Mike Kinsella beautifully, her vocals coming from an the perspective of a loved one, adding another element of pain to the track. Not to mention the allusion to the classic Pink Floyd track ‘Comfortably Numb‘ (which is another fatherly reference) — American Football promise a personal and powerful record with ‘Uncomfortably Numb,’ which by itself offers enough emotion for an entire record.
Rating: 94 / 100
The year has started off strong, and there’s only more where that came from. What releases are you most excited for this February? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow our social media to stay updated on the latest music.