Every year since the beginnings of Music For Lunch I have reached out to two of my most trusted and respected musical comrades, Mark Levy and Brian Haviland. This year I not only tasked them with picking their favorite five albums of 2019 but ALSO their top three albums of the last 10 years. After weeks of our own personal internal debates, we all came up with lists we are proud of. The challenge of reaching back in time to dig for music from the last ten years that shaped us, colored our memories with soundscapes was unsettling at times but in the end, satisfying!
In no particular order of preference, I reveal representative tracks from the top 5 albums and the lists themselves according to Mark Levy, myself and Brian Haviland. Followed by a playlist with representative tracks from our decade picks, a list and light discussion added by the musical curators themselves, all in the same order as above. Happy 2020 <3. May it bring you all love, joy and incredible music.
The Best of 2019
- Good at Falling by The Japanese House
- Sunshine Rock by Bob Mould
- Kings and Queens/Knaves and Thieves by The Ocean Blue
- Modern Mirror by Drab Majest
- Old Star by Darkthrone
- Assume For by James Blake
- Drastic Measures by Bayonne
- All Mirrors by Angel Olsen
- This is How You Smile by Helado Negro
- Triage by Methyl Ethyl
- All Mirrors by Angel Olsen
- Ghosteen by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
- Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend
- On the Line by Jenny Lewis
- Not by Big Thief
The Decade’s Best
- Mogwai’s Harcore Will Never Die But You Will came out early 2011. I was working at Big Sky that winter. My commute through the canyon was always around 7:30 am. This record will forever be the soundtrack to the following scene. The sun hitting fresh fallen snow while steam rises from the river. An Ansel Adams photograph comes to life.
- Rush is the worlds biggest cult band and I have been a member for forty years. I could write a book about my life and connections to their music. That said, they have always pushed themselves to create the best art as possible while remaining true to their form. Clockwork Angels (2012) is no exception. As per the recent, devastating loss of drummer and lyricist Neil Peart, it shall be the last. I think this album is fantastic start to finish. The band will end on a high note.
- Growing up in New York, I’ve always enjoyed hardcore as a genre. I love bands from back in the day. Cro-Mags, Sick Of It All and Gorilla Biscuits to name a few. Turnstile is a band in the scene currently making great music. You can hear nods to the old school while keeping it fresh and interesting. Time & Space (2018) is hard and full of hooks. Can’t wait for more.
- In Colour by Jamie xx somehow worked its way into my ears the year of its release in 2015. I believe it was the track “Loud Places” that first caught my attention. My best friend has this magical ability to sense what music I adore and she gifted me the record on vinyl for my 27th birthday. I think I partially blew out the speaker on my record player. I can’t remember a time since receiving that gift that I have been able to not listened to it from start to finish once I push ‘play’ on the top track, “Gosh.”
- I heard something very strange but extremely enticing in early 2012. It was “Fitzpleasure” by Alt-J. I became obsessed with how bizarre the sounds, lyrics, vocals, instruments…everything, was. The obsession grew with the release of their debut full length An Awesome Wave in 2012. I listened to it over and over again, dug into the lyrics to discover more than just complete oddities but an attractively eccentric logic I appreciated. Come spring 2013 and another music-loving friend and I drove ourselves to Seattle to see them perform, the album on repeat for all 7 hours.
- I cannot begin to describe what sort of feelings Future Islands conjure up within myself. This band has been a staple in my musical existence, a mainstay in my life the last 10 years. I find myself going back to their music always when I lose track of myself, when I become a version of myself that isn’t honest. It was challenging to pick one album of theirs as all but their debut were released in the last 10 years. I chose On the Water (2011) as it holds the highest density of my favorite tracks.
- Brothers by The Black Keys (2010) –Without a doubt my Most listened to Album of the 2010s. Is that a fair comparison to make? After all, I had a full 10 years to listen to it as opposed to less than a year for an album released in 2019. Really, I just don’t listen to full albums like I used to. This might have been the last physical CD I purchased. Oh, and it’s damn good. Every song.
- Wild Onion by Twin Peaks (2015) – Five years ago I became worried I’d slip into a Classic Rock loop of contentedness, listening to the same music over and over. It’s an easy thing to do and hey, the music is good. So when I came across this gem I felt a renewed drive to keep digging up new music like I used to. Best Rock Album of the Decade and somehow still flying under the radar.
- Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest (2016) – I might dodge the question if you ask me what kind of music I listen to (Me: “Oh, I listen to everything” Humorless observer: “Everything? You listen to every single song ever released?” Me: “Yes”), but I prefer Indie Rock. I’m sure I’m not the first to make comparisons to one of the all time indie greats Pavement.