This mix collects representative cuts from the vast bounty of this year's excellent metal, art rock, noise rock, goth, and dark IDM releases.
I'd close with my traditional "enjoy," but that's really not the point here.
Nonetheless, this is one of the two best of of our 2019 genre-specific mixes, closing with two of 2019s most striking songs in Lingua Ignota's searingly intense DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR and Nick Cave's long mediation on the acceptance of death Hollywood.
Here's the Spotify Link. Explore!
3. bmbmbm - black midi: Quite possibly the best noise-rock album of 2019 came to us via a quartet of BRIT school performing art students out of London. Labeling themselves black midi, their debut Of Schlagenheim (Solid Recommend) traffics in many of the most repellent aspects of whiny indie, post-punk, math rock and experimental rock, but it all comes together in a surprisingly compelling way. Brilliantly mixed and daringly unpinned down directionally, the songwriting doesn't always match the band's youthful ambition, but there's enough conceptual daring convincingly pulled off here to suggest a we might have a budding new Radiohead-caliber art-rock talent on the horizon. We're profiling two songs on this mix, starting here with the band's lead single and best known song, the marvelously grating, in-your-face bmbmbm.
7. Mars For The Rich - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard: Give credit where credit is due; while not all of this crazy prolific Aussie psych rock act's efforts are of the highest caliber, the deserve high marks for always switching up their conceptual approach. On 2019's banging Infest The Rat's Nest (Solid Recommend), arguably the band's best effort since Nonagon Infinity, they eschew their psychedelic tendencies to dial in directly into the spirit of Judas Priest's early speed metal efforts and an appropriately over-the-top tale of planetary exploration spurred by cataclysmic global warming to produce one of the most satisfying (and blistering) hard rock albums of the year, perfectly encapsulated by opening track Mars For The Rich featured here.
10. Every Last Coffee Or Tea - 75 Dollar Bill: Though definitely not everyday fare, Every Last Coffee or Tea is one of the most genuinely appealing tracks on this oft-antongonistic mix, finding the New York experimental rock/jazz duo 75 Dollar Bill fully incorporating guitarist Che Chen's passion for traditional Mauritanian music in this flowing, riveting instrumental opener from 2019's I Was Real.
17. Breaking Bread - Matmos: After having crafted genuine, surprisingly effective music solely from field-recordings of non-instruments as wildly diverse as washing machines and manipulated cow bladders, San Francisco sample-masters Matmos turn their attention to the musical possibilities of everyday plastics on Plastic Anniversary (Solid Recommend), and once again, the results are surprisingly effective.
18. Unsainted - Slipknot: My favorite song from one of the strongest metal efforts of 2019, Slipknot's We Are Not Your Kind (Solid Recommend) finds the veteran band both delivering the requisite top tier pummeling riffs while also finding plenty of room for experimentation and broadening of the palette. Doesn't quite hit the majesty of say a Tool or Deafheaven at their best, but at many times the album feels like they are successfully gunning for the same broad appeal (as least as far as contemporary metal acts can court broad appeal).
20. People - The 1975: I haven't heard popular mainstream Brit pop act The 1975's 2020 release Notes On A Conditional Form yet, but man was this lead single from the album a surprise. Talk about a stylistic shift! People is one of the most in-your-face aggressive songs of 2019, and has to have repulsed a significant number of the bands fans. Will be interesting to see if the rest of the new album follows form, or if people is just an edgy outlier. More coming soon!
35. Hollywood - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: At 14:12, it was too long to stand as the representative track of Nick Cave's Ghosteen (Highest recommend) on Vol 2 - Best Albums Left, but for my money, this final meditation on dealing with the enduring grief following the death of his son in 2015, which concludes with the ages old parable of the mustard seeds, is the #1 best song of 2020.