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Album Countdown 2019: My Disappointments (19-28, rather 28-19)

28 Dec

I usually rank all of these artists higher, so I was particularly disappointed in them in 2019.  And can we just talk about how country music is totally off the rails right now?  Like, what the fuck happened to it?  Where has it gone?  It’s really superficial, lacking most of the elements I look for in a good country song.  The closest thing to it is this folksy Americana/roots stuff that Brandi Carlile ran off into.  Roots in fine in small doses.  But I want country, country!  And I’d like Brandi to go back to a more folk-rock sound.  Please and thank you.

 

28. David Gray:
He used to be one of my staples. And I was very excited to see his new album had ‘jazz’ right in the title! I really expected something. But alas, the tunes were quited and meh. And I aborted (which I never take lightly) the song by song review because of boredom.

 

27. Marren Morris
Her breakthrough albums made me an instant fan! I really liked it and had it on heavy rotation for 2 years. So I was excited to see her next effort since she has more fame, clout, money to go in a direction she wants musically. I’d have liked to see more personality on the 2nd album–it was kinda forgettable despite the duets. What a disappointment.

 

26. Madonna
File this one under: Expert Trying Too Hard. Yes, Madonna will always have it. But I could tell she was really trying to get in touch with a moment to better fit the aesthetic of 2019. Like that mom that borrows her 16 year old’s clothes to try to fit it with the kids.
“Extreme Occident” right/left/lost is not strong enough, and I found it to be a political cop-out. Madonna has never shied away from telling us who she is and what she thinks. Also, she has a large following and big audience that she influences. Finally, she’s a bit removed from the chasing fame and certainly financially stable. So what does she have to lose by making a big statement?
“Bitch I’m Loca” speaking part at the end was funny.
“I Don’t Search” very electronic (house?) with kinda dreamy lyrics. I, of course, like the “Vogue”-eske snaps.
“Faz Gastoso” is foreign language (Spanish?) and has an R&B tough-gal sound and a lot of tongue-rolling. It also has that sound given to a lot of 3rd world scenes with the instrumental breakdown and all. As a matter of fact, I felt a sense of dejavu listening to it, and was trying to figure out if it was copied from something…

 

23. Lady Antebellum:
I found the album a little ‘too.” You know overly sentimental and trying too hard.
-”The Thing That…” Nice harmony and nice like echo effect of the singing.
-”What If I Never” I liked how they alternate male vs female vocals on the verse then came together on the chorus. It’s a good concept-the thought that time might not always heal broken hearts caused from breaking up.
-”Pictures” Short and meh.
-”Downtown” Tells a story, with a lot of description.
-”On a Night Like” Is a nice love song.

 

22. Avett Brothers
-ugh! Too much talking! Every song is ruined with talk.
-”New Woman…” good political points/feminism, but I think it must have been written before Trump? It’s pretty optimistic, and the current political landscape and state of feminism is (I would say) bleak.

 

21. Jonas Brothers
The album seems quite generic and boring.
“Used to be” poppy. Just Ok.
“Love Her” is nice with the snaps and la-las.
“Hesitate” I like the sentiment of the lyrics.

 

20. Luke Combs
I was actually pretty disappointed this album was such a let down compared to the prior one that was well written. This one felt more forced and came off as phony to me–not nearly as authentic as the last album. I also thought that deep, resonant singing got lost on this one.
-“Angels Workin…” Has a good beat, is a good tailgate song, and was probably the strongest offering on this album.
-“Every Little Bit..” I like that it’s sad and cheeky. I always enjoy a good break up song, and this one is relatable.
-“Beer Never Broke” is a good tailgate song.
-“Even though…” Daddy? Um no, you’re too old for that, Luke. The song is folksy.
-“Frigerator Door’ is trying too hard to force sentimentality.
-“Mexico” is kinda short and meh-not that notable.
-“Better Together” is just OK. The singing is kinda rough.
-“Lovin on You” sounds like a jukebox song, with a good beat, and love lyrics.
-’Even Though” is too much for me. I put in in the ‘Army Wives’ category.

 

19. Thomas Rhett:
It isn’t the autobiographical catchy tunes of the other album I liked. I found most of the songs felt too short. He did more shorter songs and I wish he had added to each one even if the album turned out shorter.
-”Don’t Threaten me w/a Good Time” party song, fun, jam-band instrumentals
-”blessed” nice love song, only complaint is that it’s too short
-”VHS” is mildly catchy like the other album, but not in a strong way. Watered down summer jam.
-”Notice” is a nice, catchy love song. I like the detail in it, and I like how singable it would be at concerts.
-”Sand” is a summer party song and also a love song. I think the singing is good here-some higher notes
-”Beer Can’t Fix” is the Jimmy Buffet island song of the album. Calypso sound and duet sounds nice for the beach.
-”Don’t Stop Drivin’’ has a nice beat, more poppy.
-”Barefoot” gives a nice mental image. Has some background vocals reminiscent of the other album.

Albums of 2019: Changed their Sound–in a bad way

28 Dec

 

These albums are towards the bottom of my 2019 countdown, because the artists went and changed their sound.  Obviously, to last over time, bands and solo singers need to grow and adjust with the times.  But changing your whole vibe so it’s unrecognizable makes it sound unfamiliar and alienates fans (exception:  Taylor Swift).  I switched it up and wrote this list from best to least favorite of the ‘changed their sound’ category of my countdown list.

Avril Lavigne:

OK, she probably had the 2nd best singing of the year (after Brandi Carlile inside the Highway Women and feat on the Zach Brown Band track), but it wasn’t HER.  I mean, she’s lost any punk edge she ever had.  And I usually don’t like when artists completely change their sound.  Melissa, is this you? But this is still good–in a totally different way.

-”Dumb Blonde” I especially liked how the notes get higher at the end of each phrase.  Skill is happening. It’s cheeky and included a nice rap breakdown.

-Crush” It doesn’t remotely sound like Avril and I kept thinking Spotify was up to its old tricks including a suggested song in the middle of my mission.  I thought Alanis Morissette was singing. But it’s good singing.

-”Tell Me it’s Over” It’s short.  It’s repetitive, but it’s still good.

-”Bigger…”  Wow mostly pop, with no edge.  Melissa strikes again.

-”I Fell in Love…” This haunting delivery was the whole thing.  Good lyrics and better high notes. The singing is really excellent on this album.

 

Black Keys:

They lost their hipster-vibe, cool factor that they used to have going for them.  Something about it just feels a little lighter than before. Maybe less percussion or base?  I can’t put my finger on what changed.  That depth and heavier sound is missing and the album lacks because of that.  Now they sound like anybody else–not a stand out.

-”Shine a Little…” Like the claps, but their sound is just a little lighter and not as cool as it used to be.

-“Get Yourself Together” It’s catchy, yet repetitive rock.

-Sit Around…” This one sounds a little bit like a throw back to CCR.

 

X-Ambassadors

Normally one of my favorites, but it’s like they lost themselves.  I couldn’t even tell it was them, The whole thing sounded like a boring version of Tracy Chapman-meh. 

 

Of Monsters and Men

This album went the way of Mumford and Sons.  Which exploded in much the same time frame.  Yes, yes folksy stuff is not really the sound in 2019, but there are ways to update and mutate your vibe without losing it.   I can see evolving and growing and adapting to changing times.  But they changed their sound so much it is unrecognizable. Instead of the folksy stripped down they had before, this was slick, heavily produced, polished, and computerized.  Nothing they were known for. They didn’t keep anything! It’s an entirely different band, as far as I’m concerned. And not for the better. We don’t need to conform to one genre.  There needs to be different genres, different unique sounds. I can’t understand why you would bow to pressure and stray from your roots, your influences, and former sound.

-The most substantial track was the first, “Alligator” which sounded epic and had an 80’s rocker chick vibe.  

-“Wars” has an ABBA sound, with (what’s that?) tambourine?  The ONLY folksy element I heard on the entire album.

-”Waiting for the Snow” sounds like Bon Iver (very experimental and almost electronic) with Sara Bareilles singing.  

-”Sleepwalker” was low key, with some chorus backing sounds that sound like Taylor Swift’s pop.