The Best Non-Jazz Albums of 2019

Initial draft collected on Nov. 11, 2019. The file will be updated as additional worthy records are found (although updating may lag behind the official 2019 list). Last year's list was never frozen (OK, let's say it was frozen on Nov. 11, 2019). There also exists a parallel list of The Best Jazz of 2019.

Note: numbering of lists (aside from A/A-) is only temporary, to make it easier for me to tally up stats. I've made no effort to order (other than alphaetical by artist) anything in grades below A-.


[*] indicates that I reviewed this on the basis of an advance, often a CDR copy (a good thing, I might add, for vinyl-only releases). [**] identifies a record that I've only heard via download or through a streaming service like Napster.

For all lists, I've included a few 2018 (and possibly earlier) records that I discovered after last year's freeze date, but I've only included such records if they were so little known that they received less than five points in the 2018 metacritic file. These are marked, e.g., -18, after the label.

New Music

1. Billy Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Darkroom/Interscope) Teenage (17) singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, last name O'Connell, home schooled, parents in show biz, older brother started writing songs before her. First album, but her debut was a 26:00 EP released in 2017, containing a single she recorded at 14 and turned into a video hit. Nothing here suggests she's so young. Counted as electropop, the songs stick with you but the hooks are so casual you barely notice them. [**]

2. Carsie Blanton: Buck Up (So Ferocious) Singer-songwriter from Virginia, ran off at 16 to Oregon, then decided to turn pro and moved to Philadelphia but wound up in New Orleans. Never heard of her before, but sixth album since 2005 -- catchy, quotable, clever, sometimes cute, but bucks up when the going gets tough. [**]

3. Todd Snider: Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 (Aimless) After several outings with his rock band Hard Working Americans, back to folk mode, guitar and harmonica more minimal than ever (although he's got a couple of name guests in the background), puts his words out front, and he's pretty pissed. Title refers to the recording studio, originally a shack used by John R. Cash.

4. Hayes Carll: What It Is (Dualtone) Country singer-songwriter from Texas, sixth album since 2002, Trouble in Mind (2008) his best, but this is pretty close, rocks a little harder, worries about "Times Like These," honors "Jesus and Elvis." [**]

5. Jamila Woods: Legacy! Legacy! (Jagjaguwar) From Chicago, published poet, filed her first album under rap but she sings her way through this second album. Song titles are names, all one word (save "Sun Ra"), most easy enough to fill out, with her best hooked song, "Betty," reprised ("I am not a typical girl"). Took a while to settle in, and probably has more depth than I'll ever be able to plumb. [**]

6. Yugen Blakrok: Anima Mysterium (IOT) South African rapper, second album, had a bit on Black Panther: The Album. Music here has an advanced industrial air, sheets of sound stretched around a steely pulse. [**]

7. Chance the Rapper: The Big Day (self-released) Chicago rapper, surname Bennett, reissued his debut mixtape 10 Day a while back and it was the freshest, most stimulating thing I had heard all year. He's older now (26), married, has a new child, has doubled down on his Christianity, and has chops enough to run this out to 77 minutes without interest flagging. [**]

8. Mdou Moctar: Blue Stage Session (Third Man) Major guitarist from the famed Tuareg hamlet of Agadez in Niger, deep into the Saharan Desert. I've been impressed by his work before, but wonder sometimes how much one needs. Still, hard to fault this live set recorded on tour in Detroit. In fact, it may be the one to recommend first. [**]

9. Control Top: Covert Contracts (Get Better) Post-punk trio from Philadelphia, female singer (Ali Carter) on bass, plus guitar (Al Creeton) and drums (Alex Lichtenauer), first album: hard, fast, short (29:28, but 11 songs so I don't count it an EP), "cathartic" is a word often used to describe them. Can't make out many words, but with rants against "capitalist patriarchy, . . . indictments of wrongdoing and abuse of power, odes to empathy and ego death," I wouldn't refuse a lyric sheet. [**]

10. MexStep: Resistir (Third Root -18) Rapper from San Antonio, don't know any personal details, nor have I dug deep enough to say much about Third Root (perhaps a collective and/or a label). Produced by Marco Cervantes and Adrian Quesada, with various feat. guests. Scratches are old school, tejano flashes add color, and the politics is up front. [**]

11. Mavis Staples: We Get By (Anti-) Quickly became the star of her father's gospel family act, tried going secular in the 1970s, much later finding her calling as the torch bearer of the civil rights movement. At 80 she has more gravitas than anyone needs, which lends extra heft to Ben Harper's solemn songs. [**]

12. Little Simz: Grey Area (Age 101) British rapper Simbi Ajikawo, born in London, parents from Nigeria, third album. [**]

13. Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (Nice Life/Atlantic) Melissa Jefferson, third album, raps, sings, wails, whines, cracks wise. Says she pledges to be "Aretha Franklin for the 2018 generation." Doesn't have the voice, but cranks up the drama, and the music is punched up to the max. She makes an outsized impression, only fading a bit at the end. [**]

14. Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell (Polydor/Interscope) Sixth album, starts with a dollop of strings and proceeds so slyly, so ethereally, I never really notice the title in the title song. Still, nearly every song seduces me in the end, maybe with a riff on "Summertime," or a choice expletive I happened to notice. Ends with: "Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have." Claims it anyway. [**]

15. The Hold Steady: Thrashing Thru the Passion (Frenchkiss) Craig Finn's steady band, seventh studio album since 2004, second since Finn started releasing albums under his own name (four since 2012, including I Need a New War earlier this year). Difference, I reckon, is that he gives the band more head, and they swing as well as rock. Still, Finn's voice uniquely catches the ear, and he's usually reeling off a line you want to hear. [**]

16. Dave: Psychodrama (Neighbourhood) British rapper David Orobosa Omoregie, born in London, parents Nigerian, first album after two EPs and a bunch of singles. Concept heavy, working his way through psych sessions, finding his way and gaining confidence and comfort, although not without some psychodrama. [**]

17. Weldon Henson: Texas Made Honky Tonk (Hillbilly Renegade) Country singer-songwriter, grew up in Humble, Texas, sounds a lot like vintage Joe Ely. The voice, anyway -- doesn't have the piano, but gets by with his guitar (and some pedal steel), especially when he doesn't dawdle. (Not that I have any complaints about "Not the Kind to Hang Around.") [**]

18. Robert Forster: Inferno (Tapete) Australlian singer-songwriter, formerly in the Go-Betweens, had several solo albums in the 1990s, regrouped the band, then was left to resume his solo career when Grant McLennan died. Forster never seemed to have McLennan's knack for indelible melodies, but his songs are intelligent and humane, and he sticks with them until they work -- at least if listeners meet him midway. [**]

19. People Under the Stairs: Sincerely, the P (Piecelock 70) Los Angeles hip-hop duo, Christopher Portugal (Thes One) and Michael Turner (Double K), formed in 1997, decided to call it quits with this final album. First I've heard of them, but I feel right at home. After all, their beats would have been recognized as old style even when they started. And while they're not as old as I am, their maturity sounds earned. [**]

20. Chris Knight: Almost Daylight (Drifters Church) Country singer-songwriter from Kentucky, ninth album since 1998 (seven years since his last and best, Little Victories). The band has muscled up, his voice thick and grizzled -- nowhere more than on John Prine's "Mexican Home," their duet close to seamless. [**]
21. Oumar Konaté: I Love You Inna (Clermont Music)
From Mali, fifth album, good-enough singer but really impressive on electric guitar, backed by electric bass and drums in a configuration that would have turned Jimi Hendrix's head. [**]

22. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee (Columbia) Soul singer-songwriter, started in the group Tony! Toni! Toné! (1988-96), went solo in 2002, only his fifth album, eight years after Stone Rollin' took the critics' polls by storm. Ghetto drama, lament for a dead brother, but the music is strong enough to persevere. Highlight is a rap, Change of pace is a gospel in lieu of a funeral. [**]

23. Kelsey Waldon: White Noise/White Lines (Oh Boy) Country singer-songwriter from Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky, probably the best voice in recent years, and one of the better songwriters. Third album, all superb; this one on John Prine's label, first new artist there since Todd Snider. [**]

24. Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) She's moved from London to Lisbon, picked up a few new beats, plus Colombian featured Maluma, although that was the sort of timely move she's been making for ages now (single: "Medellin"). As her life in exile puts America ever more distant in the rear-view mirror, her politics grow both snarkier and more empathetic, with the solution a path of personal growth that only she seems to be able to pull off. Still, good for her. [**]

25. L'Orange & Jeremiah Jae: Complicate Your Life With Violence (Mello Music Group) Hip-hop producer ("sampledelic North Carolina cubist") and Chicago lyricist ("fracture rap demigod"), second album together (L'Orange has also worked with Mr. Lif, Kool Keith, Stik Figa, and Homeboy Sandman, but his first round with Jae was his best). Dingy film noir dystopia, not sure whether futuristic (as suggested), uncannily perceptive, or just an improved Czarface yarn. [**]

26. Allison Moorer: Blood (Autotelic)
Country singer-songwriter from Alabama, sister of Shelby Lynne, has had two famous songwriter-husbands. Tenth album, title tied to a memoir: the headline event in her life was in 1986 when her father shot and killed her mother, then killed himself. Not sure any songs can do full justice to the event, but these cut deep and move you. heard her do. [**]

27. Jason Ringenberg: Stand Tall (Courageous Chicken) Country rocker from Illinois, called his first band Jason & the Scorchers -- their 1983 EP Fervor earned the name -- tried a solo album in 1992, occasionally recorded as Farmer Jason, this his first since a Christmas album in 2014. In 2017, he got a gig as artist-in-residence at Sequoia National Park, and wrote a couple of songs about the tall trees there, as well as the title instrumental. Added a Ramones tribute, and a few titles like "John the Baptist Was a Real Humdinger," "Hobo Bill's Last Ride," and "Many Happy Hangovers to You." Sixty now, and still scorchin'. [**]

28. Kel Assouf: Black Tenere (Glitterbeat) Saharan rock band, founded in Brussels by Nigerien guitarist Anana Harouna, with Tunisian keyboardist Sofyann Ben Youssef (also dba Ammar 808). Not a lot of variation in this style, but this one sounds like the master take. [**]

29. The Coathangers: The Devil You Know (Suicide Squeeze) Punkish girl group from Atlanta, a going concern since 2007, made me wonder whether they're going soft, but "F the NRA" allayed those fears, and the next song ("Memories") is even better. As for the slow ones, further listening reveals how together they are. [**]

30. Epic Beard Men: This Was Supposed to Be Fun (Strange Famous) Second album: picks up quickly from the first and powers through, with big, old school beats, pressured rhymes, real stories. [**]

31. Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues (Jazz Village) Born in New York, parents Haitian, father "ran a New York based Haitian socialist newspaper," mother founded "an anti-domestic violence human rights organization," lived a couple years in Ghana, played cello in Carolina Chocolate Drops, also banjo and guitar, first solo album was a tribute to Langston Hughes. This is her third. Title song rings true, and the calypso "Money Is King" is even better. Got heavier, and the screechy guitar threw me for a loop until I looked up the song title, "Aleppo." She follows that with what sounds like a Haitian lullaby, then some Cajun woo-pitching. Not sure I'm ready for all this. [**]

32. Willie Nelson: Ride Me Back Home (Legacy) Still prolific at 86, a batch of originals (mostly co-credited to producer Buddy Cannon), almost as many covers (two from Guy Clark, one from Billy Joel). Reportedly the final chapter in Nelson's "Mortality Trilogy," but less focused on age and death than the previous entries. No dope songs either. Could be the new normal. [**]

33. Nilüfer Yanya: Miss Universe (ATO) British singer-songwriter, born in London, name preserves Turkish roots but the first band her guitar-rock reminded me of was the Buzzcocks. Gets slinkier after that, which I'd say is a plus. [**]

34. Lee Scratch Perry: Rainford (On-U Sound) Hard to know how much to credit dub, which takes existing tracks and adds echo and scratch, but Rainford Hugh Perry has a major player since the 1970s, spawning further dub masters like producer Adrian Sherwood here. Nine distinctive tracks dwell on his Upsetter theme, artfully enough to sound like everything and nothing else before. [**]

35. Tyler Childers: Country Squire (Hickman Holler/RCA) Alt-country singer-songwriter from Kentucky, impressed a lot of folks (including me belatedly) with his 2017 Purgatory and should get similar attention for this one. Another batch of strong songs, with a lot of fiddle in the band. [**]

36. Charly Bliss: Young Enough (Barsuk) Power pop group, Eva Hendricks sings, second album, seems like they got the tone right, all the hooks buttoned up tight. [**]

37. Miranda Lambert: Wildcard (RCA Nashville) Country singer-songwriter, seventh album (tenth if you include Pistol Annies), hard to improve on her voice or ask for more spunk, and I'm not finding any reason to doubt this album. [**]

38. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri (OutHere) Ngoni master from Mali, harder and more powerful than the usual run of desert blues -- possibly his association with Youssou N'Dour has rubbed off, projecting some star power. Getting hard to differentiate after several strong albums, but I see no reason to stop here. [**]

39. Kim Gordon: No Home Record (Matador) Sonic Youth chanteuse (1983-2009), now 66, first named solo album although she had a side project in the 1990s (Free Kitten), several more since, including post-SY albums as Body/Head and Glitterbust. She does a masterful job of capturing Sonic Youth's sound, then folds it back on itself, making it more impenetrable then ever. Not sure it's even possible to unpack it, but the sound stands magnficently on its own. [**]

40. Big Thief: U.F.O.F. (4AD) Brooklyn-based indie band, third album (although leader Adrianne Lenker also has a solo). Nothing hard, or even very solid, yet the songs hold together nicely, with lots of minor pleasures. [**]

41. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib: Bandana (Keel Cool/RCA) Rapper, from Gary, Indiana, second album (plus four mixtapes) with the producer (Otis Jackson), the combo sometimes known as MadGibbs. Lyrics are striking, carried along by the sweeping production. [**]

42. 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (Thin Wrist)
Guitar-drums duo, Che Chen and Rick Brown, the former studied Mauritanian music with Jheich Ould Chighaly, perhaps why their most obvious connection seems to be with Saharan blues-rock, but they work with all sorts of guitar patterns. No vocals, none needed. [**]

43. Queen Key: Eat My Pussy (Again) (Machine Entertainment Group) Chicago rapper Ke'Asha McClure, first album (following last year's Eat My Pussy EP), reminds one of CupcakKe -- her more "mature" work as opposed to her salacious debut Cum Cake, but then Key is a year older, and judging from her forced rhymes and slack beats not as talented. Still, she remains fearless and defiant in a world where trust is hard to come by, and takes her pleasure where she can. [**]

44. The Chemical Brothers: No Geography (Virgin EMI) When I organized my database c. 2000 I filed all the electronica albums under "techno," which is evidently a more limited (shall we say technical?) term. But back then I was thinking of artists like this UK duo, with three fairly major albums 1995-99. They've slowed down, with just four even spaced albums since 2005. But this one sounds much like the early ones, with one foot planted in disco, the other pushing metal hard to the floor. [**]

45. Youssou N'Dour: History (Naïve/Believe) Senegalese superstar, another strong album -- tempted to complain that his vocals are too strong, but that would be petty. [**]

46. Caterina Barbieri: Ecstatic Computation (Editions Mego) Italian composer, based in Berlin, "working in the fields of analog and digital synthesis and minimalism." Fourth album. All synth, rooted in minimalism but building something more out of such basics. [**]

47. Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) Pop megastar, seventh album, the first six multi-platinum, Wikipedia notes her age (29) and net worth ($360 million). With that kind of money, she can hire good help -- chiefly Jack Antonoff and Joel Little -- while stretching her product out to 18 songs, a bit over an hour. Album has some lulls: no doubt it could be edited down and sharpened up. But two songs I always notice -- "Paper Rings" and "You Need to Calm Down" -- and most others eventually clicked. [**]

48. Czarface: The Odd Czar Against Us (Silver Age)
Wu-Tang rapper Inspectah Deck, with the self-sufficient duo 7L & Esoteric, eighth album together since 2013, on their own again after meet-ups with MF Doom and Ghostface Killah. Mad comic cover art, songs that are dynamic and funny, often built on killer riffs. [**]

49. Ezra Furman: Twelve Nudes (Bella Union) Singer-songwriter, started leading Ezra and the Harpoons, still thinks in band terms (I've seen this credited to "Ezra Furman & the band with no name"). Describes this as "our punk record," by which he seems to mean short songs: 11 in 27:27, some crunch to the music, some grit in the lyrics. E.g.: "I refuse to call this living life and I refuse to die . . . The ache inside reminds my mind my body's really there . . . I'm not sure I can bite the hand that feeds me anymore." [**]

50. Murs: The Iliad Is Dead and the Odyssey Is Over (Jamla/Empire)
Rapper Nick Carter, albums since 2003 and still underground, produced by 9th Wonder and the Soul Council. Barely noticed when it came out, this is one of his best. [**]

51. Hieroglyphic Being: Synth Expressionism/Rhythmic Cubism (On the Corner)
Jamal Moss, from Chicago but associated more with Detroit techno, has close to fifty albums since 2008, most on his own Mathematics label, but I only seem to notice him when some other label picks him up (e.g., Soul Jazz). Vinyl-sized at 5 songs, 34:25, opens with old-fashioned synths, adds a couple of saxophones to the 12:12 closer ("Timbuktu 2"), a very choice cut. [**]

52. YBN Cordae: The Lost Boy (Atlantic)
Rapper Cordae Dunston, from North Carolina, grew up in Maryland, wound up in Los Angeles, in a collective that goes by YBN (e.g., YBN Nahmir, YBN Glizzy, YBN Almighty Jay). First album, after several mixtapes (as Entendre). Sound stories, cute skits, various guests but holds his own. [**]

53. Rachid Taha: Je Suis Africain (Naive) Algeria's most famous raï star, based in Paris, died last year at 59, not sure exactly when this was recorded but it sounds like an evolutionary step from his later work, including his "first song in English." The fast ones don't rank with his best, but he's aged gracefully, a most pleasant surprise. [**]

54. Sault: 5 (Forever Living Originals)
Nothing I can find on this group or (more likely) individual, but name means a leap or jump, or less archaically "a fall or rapid in a river." First album, followed in short order by 7. I've seen various comparisons, but not the one that occurred to me: Chic. Well, minus the great bass lines, but everything else is there, and new again. [**]

55. Sault: 7 (Forever Living Originals)
Second album, released less than five months after the debut, extends the groove and, if anything, tightens up the songcraft. [**]

56. The Campfire Flies: Sparks Like Little Stars (OverPop Music) I probably would have filed this as a mid-B+ with a sigle play had it not been for voice-of-the-Cucumbers Deena Shoshkes sending me the CD. She sounded as appealing as ever, but I could have done without the predominant male vocals (members of groups I've never bothered with: Speed the Plough, the Thousand Pities). I guess that's democracy, with all six members singing, most writing and playing multiple instruments. Gradually the male songs emerged more clearly, with several (especially John Baumgartner's "Deep Water") reminding me of the Go-Betweens. And Deena just kept getting better.

57. Boy Harsher: Careful (Nude Club)
Electropop duo, beats reminiscent of the new wave 1980s (OMD, New Order, Cabaret Voltaire) but more claustrophobic, something they're calling darkwave. Haven't deciphered many words, but the beat goes on and on and on. [**]

58. Apollo Brown: Sincerely, Detroit (Mello Music Group)
Erik Vincent Stephens, grew up in Grand Rapids, moved to Detroit in 2003, hip-hop producer, a dozen albums sharing credit with various rappers, six more under his own name. Here it feels like he's working with the whole city, at least what's left of it. Not optimism -- "we knew from the start that things fall apart" -- but hard-earned survival. [**]

59. Pet Shop Boys: Inner Sanctum (X2) Live at the Royal Opera Hall, released as a DVD although I'm just going by the audio. I don't think the duo gains anything in the concert hall, although the crowd noise draws (even a singalong on "West End Girls") you into the experience, and they have no trouble drawing twenty-plus terrific songs -- sometimes two or three to a cut -- from their deep discography. Ends with a reprise of "The Pop Kids" -- their latest, a pure throwback to their heyday, although songs like "It's a Sin" and "Go West" tower even higher. [**]

60. Lee Scratch Perry: Heavy Rain (On-U Sound)
Reportedly a dub remix ("companion to") the auteur's Rainford, one of this year's best albums. Not obviously redundant: all new song titles, a couple guests (Eno's piece is "Here Come the Warm Dreads"), relaxed, happy to indulge whatever odd sounds emerge.
61. Sarathy Korwar: More Arriving (The Leaf Label)
Drummer, born in US, grew up in India, based in London but recorded some of this in Mumbai. In London he fits in with an expansive jazz scene, but this sounds more like hip-hop, especially with an array of rappers from India, but also note some fine sax leads, and lots of exotic percussion. [**]

62. Snotty Nose Rez Kids: Trapline (Fontana North)
Canadian First Nations hip-hop duo, from the Haisla reserve village of Kitamaat, now based in Vancouver, third album. Hard to get a handle here, but obviously much in jest, and serious nonetheless. [**]

63. Caroline Spence: Mint Condition (Rounder) Singer-songwriter from Virginia, settled in Nashville, fourth album, first not self-released. Lyrics tend toward the literary, but her voice softens the edges, and the melodies suffice. Took me a while. [**]

64. Ani DiFranco: No Walls: Mixtape (Righteous Babe) Product tie-in to the folksinger's new book, No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir, reprising 25 years of songs, mostly unplugged but with a few tricks here and there (also guests on three songs). At first I tried reading excerpts from her memoir while listening to this, but didn't have enough attention to satisfy both. Many striking songs here -- probably also on Canon, her 2-CD retrospective through 2007 -- maybe more so with her accumulated perspective, chops too. [**]

65. Peter Perrett: Humanworld (Domino) Former leader of the Only Ones, possessing one of the most memorable voices of the late 1970s punk invasion. Struggled long after the group broke up, only to make an improbably great comeback album in 2017 (How the West Was Won). This is a fitting sequel, if anything more fleshed out, more powerful. [**]

66. Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage: Bad Wiring (Don Giovanni)
New York folkie, started out drawing comic books, fifteen years later he goes to Nashville, gets a producer, and rocks harder than ever. Good opening song, a surefire single on "LPs" (advice: "if it's cheap there's less chance you'll regret it"), other wonders. [**]

67. Oompa: Cleo (OompOutLoud) Boston rapper, second album, "forever representing the queer, black, orphaned, hood kids and them." Underground, breaking out. [**]

68. That Dog: Old LP (UMe) Alt-rock group from LA (1991-97), singer-songwriter Anna Waronker, two of Charlie Haden's daughters, and a drummer. Cut three albums before breaking up. After some solo albums, regrouped recently (minus Petra Haden) and finally came up with this dense, quirky new album (title song soars way beyond nostalgic). [**]

69. Kalie Shorr: Open Book (self-released)
Singer-songwriter from Maine, based in Nashville. Songs have some country in them and are often brash and pointed. Production bigger than she needs, but she rocks harder than any Nashville ingenue since Miranda Lambert. [**]

70. Add-2: Jim Crow: The Musical (Add-2 Productions)
Chicago rapper Andre DiJuan Daniels, mixtapes since 2005 including four volumes of Tale of Two's City, and the album Prey for the Poor. Title suggests two dimensions of distance -- history viewed on stage, past from present, others from self -- but Jim Crow persists as a mental trap, not least because it's periodically reinforced by events. [**]

71. Omar Souleyman: Shlon (Mad Decent/Because)
Syria's most famous wedding singer, has a dozen-plus albums that are more/less interchangeable. This one is short (6 songs, 34:14), but that seems about right given the intensity. [**]

72. Special Request: Offworld (Houndstooth)
A third album within a six-month stretch, and indeed something of a stretch, but the vocal added to "237,000 Miles" adds a new dimension to his work, and the beats in the middle are as compelling as those on Vortex. The long final mix, with its dramatic pauses and ambient fuzz, took longer to come around. [**]

73. Stella Donnelly: Beware of the Dogs (Secretly Canadian)
Singer-songwriter born in Wales, moved as a child to Perth, Australia, offers what Christgau calls "a catalogue of assholes" -- males, "boys will be boys," etc. -- although I'm also struck by the allergies and bearers of infectious diseases. [**]

74. Leonard Cohen: Thanks for the Dance (Columbia/Legacy)
The poet-singer died in 2016, about the time he released You Want It Darker, still excellent despite a voice in tatters. These are "sketches" for songs, rounded up and finished roughly by son Adam Cohen, with guest help like Daniel Lanois and Beck. Barely makes it: nine songs, 29:17, the voice harsh even by recent standards, but the music is uncanny, and his words hit hard. [**]

75. Beans on Toast: The Inevitable Train Wreck (Beans on Toast Music)
English folksinger-songwriter Jay McAllister doubles down on the politics. I could quibble on details, but his heart and head are in the right place, and we're fortunate to have him. The refrain about "leave it in the ground" is catchy enough for a demonstration mob (although I wouldn't go so far as his dis on cows). He also doubles down on the music: he's added keyboards to his guitar in the past, but he's got a full band this time. Rocks a little, concluding that "life goes on and on and on." [**]

76. Craig Finn: I Need a New War (Partisan)
Fourth solo album, after fronting groups Lifter-Puller and the Hold Steady (a continuing venture with its own album this year). Has a distinctive voice, writes serious songs about interesting people. Initially taken aback by the title here refers to U.S. Grant, who would think such a thing, and still prefer the band effort, but this one is growing on me. [**]

77. Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters (Smithsonian Folkways) Four black folkies with banjos -- Rhiannon Giddens and Leyla McCalls from Carolina Chocolate Drops, Amythyst Kiah and Allison Russell -- torn between their instinct to preserve old slave hollers and minstrel tunes and to update them to reconstruct a history they obscure as much as belong to. CD comes with a thick booklet to help you keep score. Still, even without the history much of this is gripping. [**]

Also added the following 2018 albums after freezing the 2018 year-end file:

1. Blueprint: Two-Headed Monster (Weightless) Rapper/producer Albert Shepard, from Columbus, Ohio, got noticed for his Rhymesayers debut (1988 in 2005) but ignored for a steady stream of self-released albums since 2003. Guest shots here include Slug, Mr Lif, and Aceyalone. "Good Guys Get Ignored"? That's a shame. [**]

2. K.A.A.N.: Subtle Meditation (Redefinition) Rapper Brandon Perry, from Maryland, acronym stands for Knowledge Above All Nonsense, Wikipedia lists this as his first album, after 17 mixtapes (since 2014). Underground like MF Doom. [**]

3. Thiago Nassif: Três (Foom) Brazilian, third album, sings, plays guitar, bass, synth, with scattered guests, notably Arto Lindsay, who produced here, while Nassif co-produced Lindsay's 2017 album Cuidado Madame. Picks up where Lindsay's badly bent postpunk tropicalia leaves off. [**]

4. Aceyalone & DJ Fatjack: 43rd & Excellence (That Kind of Music) Underground rapper Eddie Hayes, started in 1995, attracted some attention for 2001's Accepted Eclectic but little notice lately, despite regular releases. Love the easy flow here, as well as the scratch-sample beats. Can't find anything on his producer-partner. [**]

Honorable Mention

Additional non-jazz rated B+(***), listed alphabetically.

  1. Aesop Rock & Tobacco: Malibu Ken (Rhymesayers) **
  2. Laurie Anderson/Tenzin Choegyal/Jesse Paris Smith: Songs From the Bardo (Smithsonian Folkways) **
  3. Anderson .Paak: Ventura (Aftermath/12 Tone Music) **
  4. Atmosphere: Whenever (Rhymesayers Entertainment) **
  5. Iggy Azalea: In My Defense (Bad Dreams/Empire) **
  6. Backxwash: Deviancy (Grimalkin, EP) **
  7. BaianaSystem: O Futuro Não Demora (Máquina De Louco) **
  8. Barker: Utility (Ostgut Ton) **
  9. Pip Blom: Boat (Heavenly) **
  10. Danny Brown: Uknowhatimsayin¿ (Warp) **
  11. Cigarettes After Sex: Cry (Partisan) **
  12. Clairo: Immunity (Fader) **
  13. Chuck Cleaver: Send Aid (Shake It) **
  14. Crazy P: Age of the Ego (Walk Don't Walk) **
  15. DaBaby: Kirk (Interscope) **
  16. Davido: A Good Time (RCA) **
  17. The Delines: The Imperial (El Cortez) **
  18. Dumb: Club Nites (Mint) **
  19. Steve Earle & the Dukes: Guy (New West) **
  20. The Exbats: E Is 4 Exbats (Burger) **
  21. Craig Finn: I Need a New War (Partisan) **
  22. Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel (Partisan) **
  23. Martin Frawley: Undone at 31 (Merge) **
  24. Dori Freeman: Every Single Star (Blue Hens Music) **
  25. Ghostface Killah: Ghostface Killahs (Now Generation) **
  26. Rhiannon Giddens: There Is No Other (Nonesuch) **
  27. GoldLink: Diaspora (Squaaash Club/RCA) **
  28. Kim Gordon: No Home Record (Matador) **
  29. Homeboy Sandman: Dusty (Mello Music Group) **
  30. Jenny Hval: The Practice of Love (Sacred Bones) **
  31. Injury Reserve: Injury Reserve (Senaca Village) **
  32. Carly Rae Jepsen: Dedicated (604/School Boy/Interscope) **
  33. Cody Jinks: After the Fire (Late August) **
  34. Ras Kass: Soul on Ice 2 (Mello Music Group) **
  35. Salif Keita: Un Autre Blanc (Naive) **
  36. Khalid: Free Spirit (RCA) **
  37. L7: Scatter the Rats (Blackheart) **
  38. Megan Thee Stallion: Fever (300 Entertainment) **
  39. Mekons: Deserted (Bloodshot) **
  40. Haviah Mighty: 13th Floor (self-released) **
  41. Mdou Moctar: Ilana: The Creator (Sahel Sounds) **
  42. Van Morrison: Three Chords & the Truth (Exile/Caroline) **
  43. Ian Noe: Between the Country (National Treasury) **
  44. Octo Octa: Resonant Body (T4T LUV NRG) **
  45. The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (Bar/None) **
  46. Lee Scratch Perry: Life of the Plants (Stones Throw) **
  47. Pink: Hurts 2B Human (RCA) **
  48. Priests: The Seduction of Kansas (Sister Polygon) **
  49. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (Drag City) **
  50. Quelle Chris: Guns (Mello Music Group) **
  51. Rapsody: Eve (Roc Nation) **
  52. The Regrettes: How Do You Love? (Warner Brothers) **
  53. Emily Scott Robinson: Traveling Mercies (Tone Tree Music) **
  54. Hama Sankare: Niafunke (Clermont Music) **
  55. Derek Senn: How Could a Man (self-released) **
  56. Shed: Oderbruch (Ostgut Ton) **
  57. Sturgill Simpson: Sound & Fury (Elektra) **
  58. Sir Babygirl: Crush on Me (Father/Daughter, EP) **
  59. Slowthai: Nothing Great About Britain (Method) **
  60. Elza Soares: Planeta Fome (Deck) **
  61. Special Request: Bedroom Tapes (Houndstooth) **
  62. Ronnie Wood & His Wild Five: Mad Lad: A Live Tribute to Chuck Berry (BMG) **
  63. Billy Woods & Kenny Segal: Hiding Places (Blackwoodz Studioz) **
  64. Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Colorado (Reprise) **
  65. Young Nudy & Pi'erre Bourne: Sli'mere (RCA) **
  66. Young Thug: So Much Fun (300/Atlantic/YSL) **

Also added the following 2018 albums after freezing the 2018 year-end file:

  1. Abhi the Nomad: Marbled (Tommy Boy) **
  2. Camp Cope: How to Socialise & Make Friends (Run for Cover) **
  3. Chuck D as Mistachuck: Celebration of Ignorance (SpitSLAM) **
  4. DaBaby: Blank Blank (South Coast Music Group, EP) **
  5. Sue Foley: The Ice Queen (Stony Plain) **
  6. Marlowe: Marlowe (Mello Music Group) **
  7. Murs: A Strange Journey Into the Unimaginable (Strange Music) **
  8. Hama Sankare: Ballébé: Calling All Africans (Clermont Music) **
  9. Senyawa: Sujud (Sublime Frequencies) **
  10. Shannon Shaw: Shannon in Nashville (Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch) **
  11. Tallawit Timbouctou: Hali Diallo (Sahel Sounds) **
  12. Sheck Wes: Mudboy (Cactus Jack/GOOD Music/Interscope) **
  13. Barrence Whitfield & the Savages: Soul Flowers of Titan (Bloodshot) **

Reissues/Historic Music

The standard for historic music is a record where everything was recorded 10+ years ago, regardless of whether it's ever been in print before. Some past lists may have treated previously unreleased music as new (regardless of actual age), but I've never been able to manage that distinction consistently. This category also includes compilations of previously released music, including straight reissues, although my selection is very erratic.

1. L7: Pretend We're Dead: Best of L7 (1992-97, Warner Music Group) Digital-only audio tied into the 2016 documentary DVD, L7: Pretend We're Dead, drawing from only three of their albums, with 10/11 tracks from Bricks Are Heavy, 8/12 from Hungry for Sink, and 7/12 from The Beauty Process -- the first two are solid-A in my book, and the latter holds up better than I recalled. [**]

2. The Daisy Age (1989-94, Ace) A blip in the history of hip-hop, where pop rap took an underground twist, perhaps all the more to distinguish itself from the contemporary vogue for gangsta. I didn't respond at all well to De La Soul at first -- they lead off here, and are credited with a ridiculous acronym for DAISY -- but I've logged A-list albums for nine other artists here (although a couple only with later compilations), and eventually got into some later De La Soul albums. Half of these cuts are well remembered (not that I've pulled the albums out recently). The others fit the flow, which is what a good various artists comp should do. [NB: 2-LP adds 2 cuts: Fu-Schnickens with Shaquille O'Neal: "What's Up Doc? (Can We Rock?) (K-Cut's Fat Trac Remix); Leaders of the Old School: "Case of the P.T.A."]

3. Chance the Rapper: 10 Day (2011, self-released) Chicago rapper Chancelor Bennett, one of the decade's best, released this debut mixtape in 2012, only 18 when he recorded it, yet bursting with wit, charm, and hooks. [**]

4. Hank Williams: The Complete Health & Happiness Recordings (1949, BMG, 2CD)
Radio shots, eight 15-minute shows (including patter but trimmed of advertising, about 12 minutes each), each opening with "Happy Rovin' Cowboy" and signing off with "Sally Goodin'" -- in between, expect at least one classic, some breaks and filler, and the obligatory hymn. Remarkable sound, extraordinary voice, could be edited down to an even more remarkable single CD. [**]

5. Alex Chilton: From Memphis to New Orleans (1985-89, Bar/None) Pop anti-star from Memphis, had a number one hit as a teenager, led a legendary pop-rock band in the early 1970s, recorded erratically as a solo act from 1978 until his death in 2000. Mostly this draws from EPs just before and after his 1986 move from Memphis to New Orleans, about half covers. I don't think this makes as good a case for his genius as 19 Years, the Rhino compilation which leans a bit earlier (including 5 Big Star tracks, plus 5 tracks that reappear here). [**]

6. Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987 (1973-87, Strut) Fourth installment in the label's Nigeria 70 series, the first a sweeping 3-CD set from 2001 that expanded the decade from 1964 to 1980. Further single-CDs came out in 2008 and 2011, so they haven't been in a rush to dump this one out (12 cuts, 81:06). Not the top material, but the highlife and juju styles are pretty irresistible. [**]

7. James Brown: Live at Home With His Bad Self (1969, Polydor) Archival release of the complete show in Augusta, GA on October 1, 1969, originally planned for release, then excerpted (four cuts) for Sex Machine. Not hard to see why this was shelved at the time: a fair amount of patter, some uninspired instrumental breaks ("Spinning Wheel"?), especially compared to the later material they went with. On the other hand, much of it is as great as you'd expect. [**]

8. Laurie Spiegel: Unseen Worlds (1991, Unseen Worlds)
A pioneer in electronic music, started with analog sythesizers in 1969, worked at Bell Labs 1973-79 writing composition software, founded New York University's Computer Music Studio. First record was The Expanding Universe (1980). Not many more, but this one was taken as the name of this label. The pieces, organized as "Thesis," "Antithesis," and "Synthesis," with grand gestures that I assume derive from classical music aesthetics, plus some piano to settle things down. [**]

9. Abdallah Ag Oumbadougou: Anou Malane (1995, Sahel Sounds) Tuareg guitarist-singer from Niger, recorded this in Benin. Regarded as a classic in the style, so steady you start to wonder if it isn't too easy, but that's only because the balance is so impeccable. [**]

10. Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars: Sewele (1986, Strut) Nigerian juju star, started in 1980 with his big breakthrough in 1989, tailing off a bit after 2000. Four tracks, 40:05. A bit erratic, but hard to resist anything that sounds this much like early King Sunny Adé. [**]

11. Kankyo Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental and New Age Music 1980-1990 (1980-90, Light in the Attic) Beware the version differences: the full 3-LP package has 25 tracks, the 2-CD a bit less at 23, but the digital, which is the only one I've heard, stops at 10 (41:47). This doesn't sound like much at first: a bit of quiet piano, a shift to synth and more electronics, the occasional light rhythm track. Nice and calming, not meditative (at least not exactly). Grows on you, or maybe just gets comfy. [**]

12. Sonic Youth: Battery Park, NYC, July 4th 2008 (Matador) Live shot, a year before their last album (The Eternal), two years after Rather Ripped, both solid entries in their 25-year run, although I can't say as I remember much from either. I do recall their sound, compressed and sharpened here. [**]

13. Endless Boogie: Vol. I, II (2005, No Quarter, 2CD)
Rock jam band from Brooklyn, name from a John Lee Hooker album, formed eight years before they committed to wax two 3-song LPs (second side of each is a single 25-minute piece). Vocals here and there, but are secondary to the two-guitar grind, which is muscular enough to hold up for 25-minute runs. [**]

14. Atom[TM]: Lassigue Bendhaus/Matter (1992, AtomTM Audio Archive, 2CD)
One of many aliases for Uwe Schmidt, German electronica producer based in Chile. Clangy beats, whisper vocals, runs too long but very impressive. No idea about dozens more where this came from. **

Also added the following 2018 albums after freezing the 2018 year-end file:

1. Two Niles to Sing a Melody: The Violins & Synths of Sudan (1970s-80s, Ostinato) Mostly recorded in Khartoum before the 1989 coup turned the nation toward Salafi Islam and against pop music, although it's possible some tracks were recorded later, in exile -- this label doesn't offer discographical details. Closer to Ethiopia than to Egypt, more emphasis on groove, also on cheese. [**]

Honorable Mention

Additional non-jazz rated B+(***), listed alphabetically.

  1. Alefa Madagascar (1970s-80s, Strut) **
  2. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Live at Woodstock (1969, Craft) **
  3. Nâ Hawa Doumbia: La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol. 1: Decouverte 81 a Dakar (Awesome Tapes From Africa) **
  4. Fania Goes Psychedelic (1967-71, Craft Latino) **
  5. Future: Monster (2014, Freebandz) **
  6. Jambú E Os Míticos Sons Da Amazônia (1974-86, Analog Africa) **
  7. George Jones: United Artists Rarities (1962-64, EMI Nashville) **
  8. Ronnie Lane: Just for a Moment: The Best of Ronnie Lane (1973-97, UMC) **
  9. Ana Mazzotti: Ana Mazzotti (1977, Far Out) **
  10. Mogadisco: Dancing Mogadishu, Somalia 1972-1991 (Analog Africa) **
  11. John Prine: Chicago '70 (Hobo) **
  12. Professor Longhair: Live on the Queen Mary (1975, Harvest) **
  13. The Rough Guide to the Roots of Country Music: Reborn and Remastered (1926-33, World Music Network) **
  14. Star Band De Dakar: Psicodelia Afro-Cubana De Senegal (Ostinato) **
  15. This Is Toolroom 2019 (Edits) (Toolroom) **
  16. World Spirituality Classics 2: The Time for Peace Is Now (1970s, Luaka Bop) **

Also added the following 2018 albums after freezing the 2018 year-end file:

  1. African Scream Contest 2 (Analog Africa) **
  2. Kwi Bamba: Kwi Bamba & L'Orchestre De Gama Berema (1997, Ouch!) **
  3. Imamu Amiri Baraka: It\'s Nation Time: African Visionary Music (1972, Motown) **
  4. Tyler Childers: Live on Red Barn Radio I & II (2013-14, Hickman Holler -EP) **
  5. Dur Dur of Somalia: Volume 1, Volume 2 & Previously Unreleased Tracks (1986-87, Analog Africa, 2CD) **
  6. Orchestre Abass: De Bassari Togo (1972, Analog Africa, EP) **

Notes

Additional new non-jazz records rated B+(**) or below (listed alphabetically by artist).

  1. 2 Chainz: Rap or Go to the League (Gamebread/Def Jam) ** [B+(**)]
  2. 100 Gecs: 1000 Gecs (Dog Show) ** [B]
  3. Snoh Aalegra: Ugh, Those Feels Again (Artium) ** [B+(**)]
  4. Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (Question Everything/RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  5. Acid Arab: Jdid (Crammed Discs) ** [B+(*)]
  6. Charlotte Adigery: Zandoli (Deewee, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  7. Abjects: Never Give Up (Yippee Ki Yay) ** [B+(**)]
  8. Altin Gün: Gece (ATO) ** [B+(**)]
  9. Angel-Ho: Death Becomes Her (Hyperdub) ** [B+(*)]
  10. Michaela Anne: Desert Dove (Yep Roc) ** [B+(*)]
  11. Bali Baby: Bubbles Bali (Billmania Media) ** [B+(**)]
  12. J. Balvin & Bad Bunny: Oasis (Universal Music Latino) ** [B+(**)]
  13. Courtney Barnett: MTV Unplugged (Live in Melbourne) (Mom + Pop Music) ** [B+(**)]
  14. BCUC: The Healing (Buda Musique) ** [B+(**)]
  15. Beck: Hyperspace (Capitol) ** [B]
  16. Better Oblivion Community Center: Better Oblivion Community Center (Dead Oceans) ** [B+(*)]
  17. Beyoncé: Homecoming: The Live Album (Columbia, 2CD) ** [B+(*)]
  18. Big K.R.I.T.: K.R.I.T. Iz Here (Multi Alumni) ** [B+(**)]
  19. Big Thief: Two Hands (4AD) ** [B+(**)]
  20. Bonnie Bishop: The Walk (Thirty Tigers) ** [B+(**)]
  21. B.J. the Chicago Kid: 1123 (Motown) ** [B+(*)]
  22. Black Alien: Abaixo De Zero: Hello Hell (Extrapunk Extrafunk) ** [B+(*)]
  23. Black Midi: Schlagenheim (Rough Trade) ** [B+(**)]
  24. Black to Comm: Seven Horses for Seven Kings (Thrill Jockey) ** [B]
  25. James Blake: Assume Form (Polydor) ** [B-]
  26. Blarf: Cease & Desist (Stones Throw) ** [B-]
  27. Blood Orange: Angel's Pulse (Domino) ** [B+(**)]
  28. Blu & Oh No: A Long Red Hot Los Angeles Summer Night (Native Sounds) ** [B+(**)]
  29. Bon Iver: I,I (Jagjaguwar) ** [B]
  30. Boogie: Everythings for Sale (Shady/Interscope) ** [B+(*)]
  31. Brockhampton: Ginger (Question Everything/RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  32. Brooks & Dunn: Reboot (Arista Nashville) ** [B]
  33. Burial: Clausto/State Forest (Hyperdub, EP) ** [B]
  34. Burna Boy: African Giant (Atlantic) ** [B+(*)]
  35. Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (Drag City) ** [B+(*)]
  36. Lewis Capaldi: Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent (Capitol) ** [B+(*)]
  37. Car Seat Headrest: Commit Yourself Completely (Matador) ** [B+(**)]
  38. Matt Carson: No Regrets (Bunba)** [B+(**)]
  39. The Carter Family: Across Generations (Reviver Legacy) ** [B]
  40. Cashmere Cat: Princess Catgirl (Mad Love/Interscope) ** [B+(*)]
  41. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Ghosteen (Ghosteen/Bad Seeds) ** [B]
  42. Chai: Punk (Burger) ** [B+(*)]
  43. Charly Bliss: Supermoon (Barsuk, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  44. Cheekface: Therapy Island (New Professor Music) ** [B+(**)]
  45. Cherry Glazerr: Stuffed & Ready (Secretly Canadian) ** [B]
  46. Chromatics: Closer to Grey (Italians Do It Better) ** [B]
  47. Stef Chura: Midnight (Saddle Creek) ** [B+(**)]
  48. The Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe (Domino) ** [B+(**)]
  49. Diabel Cissokho: Rhythm of the Griot (Kafou Music) ** [B+(**)]
  50. Gary Clark Jr.: This Land (Warner Brothers) ** [B]
  51. Clipping.: There Existed an Addiction to Blood (Sub Pop) ** [B+(*)]
  52. Luke Combs: What You See Is What You Get (River House/Columbia Nashville) ** [B+(**)]
  53. Frankie Cosmos: Close It Quietly (Sub Pop) ** [B+(**)]
  54. Croy & the Boys: Howdy High-Rise (Spaceflight) ** [B+(**)]
  55. Denzel Curry: Zuu (Loma Vista) ** [B+(**)]
  56. Czarface/Ghostface Killah: Czarface Meets Ghostface (Silver Age) ** [B+(**)]
  57. Czarface: A Double Dose of Danger (Silver Age, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  58. DaBaby: Baby on Baby (South Coast Music Group) ** [B+(**)]
  59. Deep State: The Path to Fast Oblivion (Friendship Fever) ** [B]
  60. Deerhunter: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (4AD) ** [B]
  61. Default Genders: Main Pop Girl 2019 (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  62. Dreamville: Revenge of the Dreamers III (Dreamville/Interscope) ** [B+(*)]
  63. Dreezy: Big Dreez (Interscope) ** [B+(**)]
  64. Dump Him: Dykes to Watch Out For (Musical Fanzine/Get Better) ** [B+(*)]
  65. Open Mike Eagle: The New Negroes: Season 1 Soundtrack (Comedy Central, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  66. Earthgang: Mirrorland (Dreamville/Interscope) ** [B+(*)]
  67. Ekiti Sound: Abeg No Vex (Crammed Discs) ** [B+(**)]
  68. Robert Ellis: Texas Piano Man (New West) ** [B]
  69. Empath: Active Listening: Night on Earth (Get Better) ** [B+(*)]
  70. Ex Hex: It's Real (Merge) ** [B+(**)]
  71. Fennesz: Agora (Touch) ** [B]
  72. Filthy Friends: Emerald Valley (Kill Rock Stars) ** [B+(**)]
  73. Floating Points: Crush (Ninja Tune) ** [B+(**)]
  74. Rosie Flores: Simple Case of the Blues (The Last Music Company) ** [B+(**)]
  75. Flying Lotus: Flamagra (Warp) ** [B+(**)]
  76. Fruit Bats: Gold Past Life (Merge) ** [B+(*)]
  77. Future: Future Hndrxx Presents: The Wizrd (Epic/Freebandz) ** [B+(**)]
  78. Jayda G: Significant Changes (Ninja Tune) ** [B+(*)]
  79. Ras G and the Afrikan Space Program: Dance of the Cosmos (Akashik) ** [B+(**)]
  80. (Sandy) Alex G: House of Sugar (Domino) ** [B]
  81. Gang Starr: One of the Best Yet (TTT/Gang Starr) ** [B+(*)]
  82. The Garifuna Collective: Aban (Stonetree Music) ** [B+(**)]
  83. Girl Band: The Talkies (Rough Trade) ** [B+(*)]
  84. Girlpool: What Chaos Is Imaginary (Anti-) ** [B]
  85. The Good Ones: Rwanda, You Should Be Loved (Anti-) ** [B+(*)]
  86. Ariana Grande: Thank U, Next (Republic) ** [B+(**)]
  87. Hama: Houmeissa (Sahel Sounds) ** [B+(*)]
  88. Aldous Harding: Designer (4AD) ** [B]
  89. Jason Hawk Harris: Love & the Dark (Bloodshot) ** [C+]
  90. Hash Redactor: Drecksound (Goner) ** [B+(**)]
  91. Tim Hecker: Anoyo (Kranky) ** [B]
  92. Tim Heidecker: Another Year in Hell (Jagjaguwar) ** [B]
  93. The Highwomen: The Highwomen (Elektra) ** [B]
  94. Jesca Hoop: Stonechild (Memphis Industries) ** [B+(*)]
  95. Hot Chip: A Bath Full of Ecstasy (Domino) ** [B+(*)]
  96. Randy Houser: Magnolia (Stoney Creek) ** [B+(**)]
  97. Brittany Howard: Jaime (ATO) ** [B]
  98. Ibibio Sound Machine: Doko Mien (Merge) ** [B+(**)]
  99. Indoor Pets: Be Content (Wichita) ** [B+(*)]
  100. Insignificant Other: I'm So Glad I Feel This Way About You! (Counter Intuitive) ** [B+(*)]
  101. Bobby J From Rockaway: Summer Classics (Make Noise) ** [B+(**)]
  102. Julia Jacklin: Crushing (Polyvinyl) ** [B]
  103. I Jahbar and Friends: Inna Duppy SKRS Soundclash (Bokeh Versions) ** [B-]
  104. Loraine James: For You and I (Hyperdub) ** [B+(**)]
  105. The Japanese House: Good at Falling (Dirty Hit) ** [B+(*)]
  106. Jealous of the Birds: Wisdom Teeth (Atlantic, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  107. Gethen Jenkins: Western Gold (5 Music) ** [B+(*)]
  108. Lauren Jenkins: No Saint (Big Machine) ** [B+(**)]
  109. Cody Jinks: The Wanting (Late August) ** [B+(**)]
  110. Georgette Jones: Skin (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  111. Jpegmafia: All My Heroes Are Cornballs (EQT) ** [B+(**)]
  112. Judy and the Jerks: Music for Donuts EP (Thrilling Living, EP) ** [C+]
  113. Juice Wrld: Death Race for Love (Interscope) ** [B-]
  114. Ahmed Ag Kaedy: Akaline Kidal (Sahel Sounds) ** [B+(**)]
  115. Kano: Hoodies All Summer (Parlophone) ** [B+(*)]
  116. Kaytranada: Bubba (RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  117. Kehlani: While We Wait (Atlantic/TSNMI) ** [B+(**)]
  118. Angelique Kidjo: Celia (Verve) ** [B+(*)]
  119. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka (Polydor) ** [B+(*)]
  120. Kokoko!: Fongola (Transgressive) ** [B+(**)]
  121. Kronos Quartet: Terry Riley: Sun Rings (Nonesuch) ** [B]
  122. Steve Lacy: Apollo XXI (3Qtr) ** [B+(*)]
  123. Alex Lahey: The Best of Luck Club (Dead Oceans) ** [B+(**)]
  124. Lady Lykez: Muhammad Ali EP (Hyperdub, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  125. Lakou Mizik: HaitiaNola (Cumbancha) ** [B+(*)]
  126. The Last Poets: Transcending Toxic Times (Ropeadope, 2CD) ** [B+(**)]
  127. Cate Le Bon: Reward (Mexican Summer) ** [B]
  128. Ari Lennox: Shea Butter Baby (Dreamville/Interscope) ** [B+(*)]
  129. Kim Lenz: Slowly Speeding (Blue Star) ** [B+(**)]
  130. Jenny Lewis: On the Line (Warner Bros.) ** [B+(*)]
  131. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel (Thrill Jockey) ** [B+(*)]
  132. Lil Nas X: 7 (Columbia, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  133. Lil Tjay: True 2 Myself (Columbia) ** [B+(*)]
  134. Little Brother: May the Lord Watch (Imagine Nation Music/For Members Only/Empire) ** [B+(**)]
  135. Kedr Livanskiy: Your Need (2MR) ** [B]
  136. Nils Lofgren: Blue With Lou (Castle Track Road) ** [B+(*)]
  137. Maurice Louca: Elephantine (Northern Spy) ** [B+(*)]
  138. Rosie Lowe: Yu (Wolf Tone) ** [B+(**)]
  139. LSD: Labrinth/Sia/Diplo Present . . . LSD (Columbia) ** [B-]
  140. Kelsey Lu: Blood (Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  141. Maluma: 11:11 (Sony Music Latin) ** [B+(**)]
  142. Mannequin Pussy: Patience (Epitaph) ** [B+(**)]
  143. Charlie Marie: Charlie Marie (self-released, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  144. Martha: Love Keeps Kicking (Dirtnap) ** [B+(**)]
  145. The Mauskovic Dance Band: The Mauskovic Dance Band (Soundway) ** [B+(**)]
  146. Maxo Kream: Brandon Banks (Big Persona/RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  147. MC Frontalot: Net Split, or the Fathomless Heartbreak of Online Itself (Level Up) ** [B+(**)]
  148. MC Yallah X Debmaster: Kubali (Hakuna Kulala) ** [B+(*)]
  149. Reba McEntire: Stronger Than the Truth (Big Machine) ** [B+(*)]
  150. Mercury Rev: Bobbie Gentry's the Delta Sweete Revisited (Partisan) ** [B]
  151. Anna Meredith: FIBS (Moshi Moshi) ** [B]
  152. The Messthetics: Anthropocosmic Nest (Dischord) ** [B+(*)]
  153. Microwave: Death Is a Warm Blanket (Pure Noise) ** [B+(*)]
  154. Mika: My Name Is Michael Holbrook (Republic/Virgin EMI) ** [B+(**)]
  155. MIKE: Tears of Joy (10k) ** [B+(**)]
  156. Mike & the Moonpies: Cheap Silver & Solid Country Gold (Prairie Rose) ** [B+(*)]
  157. Buddy & Julie Miller: Breakdown on 20th Ave. South (New West) ** [B+(**)]
  158. Moor Mother: Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes (Don Giovanni) ** [B+(**)]
  159. Maren Morris: Girl (Columbia Nashville) ** [B]
  160. Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock (Merge) ** [B+(**)]
  161. The Mountain Goats: In League With Dragons (Merge) ** [B+(**)]
  162. Muna: Saves the World (RCA) ** [B+(**)]
  163. The Murder Capital: When I Have Fears (Human Season) ** [B+(*)]
  164. Rico Nasty/Kenny Beats: Anger Management (Sugar Trap, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  165. The National: I Am Easy to Find (4AD) ** [B+(**)]
  166. Helado Negro: This Is How You Smile (RVNG Intl) ** [B+(*)]
  167. Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real: Turn Off the News (Build a Garden) (Fantasy) ** [B+(*)]
  168. Nérija: Blume (Domino) ** [B+(*)]
  169. The New Pornographers: In the Morse Code of Brake Lights (Concord) ** [B+(*)]
  170. Nivhek: After Its Own Death/Walking in a Spiral Towards the House (Yellow Electric) ** [B+(*)]
  171. Nots: 3 (Goner) ** [B+(**)]
  172. Nubiyan Twist: Jungle Run (Strut)
  173. Karen O & Danger Mouse: Lux Prima (BMG) ** [B+(**)]
  174. Old Man Saxon: Goldman Sax (Saxon Kincy, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  175. Angel Olsen: All Mirrors (Jagjaguwar) ** [B+(*)]
  176. Otoboke Beaver: Itekoma Hits (Damnably) ** [B+(**)]
  177. Kassa Overall: Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  178. Jai Paul: Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) (XL) ** [B+(**)]
  179. Orville Peck: Pony (Sub Pop) ** [B-]
  180. Pedro the Lion: Phoenix (Polyvinyl) ** [B+(*)]
  181. Pere Ubu: The Long Goodbye (Cherry Red) ** [B+(**)]
  182. The Pernice Brothers: Spread the Feeling (Ashmont) ** [B+(*)]
  183. Pet Shop Boys: Agenda (X2, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  184. Caroline Polachek: Pang (Columbia) ** [B+(*)]
  185. Polo G: Die a Legend (Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  186. Pom Poko: Birthday (Bella Union) ** [B+(*)]
  187. Post Malone: Hollywood's Bleeding (Republic) ** [B]
  188. Powder: Powder in Space (DJ Mix) (Beats in Space) ** [B+(**)]
  189. Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs (Mexican Summer) ** [B-]
  190. PUP: Morbid Stuff (Rise/BMG) ** [B]
  191. Kojey Radical: Cashmere Tears (Asylum/Atlantic) ** [B+(*)]
  192. Rex Orange County: Pony (RCA) ** [B]
  193. Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis: Beautiful Lie (Next Waltz) ** [B+(**)]
  194. Rocket 808: Rocket 808 (12XU) ** [B]
  195. Maggie Rogers: Heard It in a Past Life (Capitol) ** [B+(**)]
  196. Mark Ronson: Late Night Feelings (RCA) ** [B+(*)]
  197. Royal Trux: White Stuff (Fat Possum) ** [B+(*)]
  198. Ustad Saami: God Is Not a Terrorist (Glitterbeat) ** [C]
  199. Dua Saleh: Nur (Against Giants -EP) ** [B+(**)]
  200. Santana: Africa Speaks (Concord) ** [B]
  201. Sasami: Sasami (Domino) ** [B+(*)]
  202. Serengeti: Music From the Graphic Novel Kenny Vs the Dark Web (Burnco, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  203. Sheer Mag: A Distant Call (Wilsuns) ** [B+(**)]
  204. ShitKid: [Detention] (PNKSLM) ** [B+(*)]
  205. Kalie Shorr: Open Book (self-released) ** [B+(*)]
  206. Sigrid: Sucker Punch (Island) ** [B+(**)]
  207. Silk Road Assassins: State of Ruin (Planet Mu) ** [B+(*)]
  208. Skepta: Ignorance Is Bliss (Boy Better Know) ** [B+(**)]
  209. Skyzoo & Pete Rock: Retropolitan (Mello Music Group) ** [B+(**)]
  210. Slayyyter: Slayyyter (The Mixtape) (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  211. Sleaford Mods: Eton Alive (Extreme Eating) ** [B+(**)]
  212. Sleater-Kinney: The Center Won't Hold (Mom + Pop) ** [B]
  213. Sly & Robbie/Roots Radics: The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie vs. Roots Radics (Serious Reggae) ** [B+(**)]
  214. Sneaks: Highway Hypnosis (Merge) ** [B+(*)]
  215. SOL Development: The SOL of Black Folk (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  216. Solange: When I Get Home (Saint/Columbia) ** [B+(*)]
  217. Jay Som: Anak Ko (Polyvinyl) ** [B+(**)]
  218. Son Volt: Union (Transmit Sound) ** [B+(*)]
  219. Sote: Parallel Persia (Diagonal) ** [B+(*)]
  220. Soundwalk Collective With Patti Smith: The Peyote Dance (Bella Union) ** [B+(*)]
  221. Soundwalk Collective With Patti Smith: Mummer Love (Bella Union) ** [B+(**)]
  222. The Specials: Encore (Island) ** [B+(*)]
  223. Spellling: Mazy Fly (Sacred Bones) ** [B+(**)]
  224. Emily A. Sprague: Mount Vision (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  225. Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) ** [B-]
  226. Peter Stampfel and the Atomic Meta Pagans: The Ordovician Era (Don Giovanni) ** [B+(*)]
  227. Mavis Staples: Live in London (Anti-) ** [B+(**)]
  228. The Steel Woods: Old News (Woods Music) ** [B-]
  229. STL GLD: The New Normal (AR Classic) ** [B+(**)]
  230. Stormzy: Heavy Is the Head (Merky/Atlantic) ** [B+(**)]
  231. Dexter Story: Bahir (Soundway) ** [B+(*)]
  232. George Strait: Honky Tonk Time Machine (MCA Nashville) ** [B]
  233. Harry Styles: Fine Line (Columbia) ** [C+]
  234. Sudan Archives: Athena (Stones Throw) ** [B+(**)]
  235. Sunflower Bean: King of the Dudes (Mom + Pop, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  236. Sunn O))): Life Metal (Southern Lord) ** [B-]
  237. Supa Bwe: Just Say Thank You (Freddy Got Magic/Empire, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  238. Earl Sweatshirt: Feet of Clay (Tan Cressida/Warner, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  239. Swindle: No More Normal (Brownswood) ** [B-]
  240. Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer (Six Shooter, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  241. Tegan and Sara: Hey, I'm Just Like You (Warner Brothers) ** [B+(**)]
  242. Kate Tempest: The Book of Traps and Lessons (Republic) ** [B+(*)]
  243. Thick: Thick (Epitaph, EP): ** [B+(*)]
  244. Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band: Obiaa! (Strut) ** [B+(**)]
  245. Tinariwen: Amadjar (Anti-) ** [B+(**)]
  246. Jonah Tolchin: Fires for the Cold (Yep Roc) ** [B+(*)]
  247. AJ Tracey: AJ Tracey (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  248. Tropical Fuck Storm: Braindrops (Joyful Noise) ** [B+(*)]
  249. Tanya Tucker: While I'm Livin' (Fantasy) ** [B+(**)]
  250. Molly Tuttle: When You're Ready (Compass) ** [B+(**)]
  251. The Twilight Sad: It Won/t Be Like This All the Time (Rock Action) ** [B]
  252. William Tyler: Goes West (Merge) ** [B+(**)]
  253. Tyler, the Creator: Igor (Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  254. Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride (Columbia) ** [B+(**)]
  255. Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar) ** [B+(*)]
  256. Alice Wallace: Into the Blue (Rebelle Road) ** [B+(*)]
  257. Summer Walker: Over It (Interscope) ** [B]
  258. Faye Webster: Atlanta Millionaires Club (Secretly Canadian) ** [B]
  259. Kanye West: Jesus Is King (GOOD/Def Jam) ** [B-]
  260. Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising (Sub Pop) ** [B-]
  261. Barrence Whitfield Soul Savage Arkestra: Songs From the Sun Ra Cosmos (Modern Harmonic) ** [B+(**)]
  262. The Who: Who (Polydor) ** [B]
  263. Betty Who: Betty (self-released) ** [B+(**)]
  264. Wilco: Ode to Joy (dBpm) ** [B+(*)]
  265. Saul Williams: Encrypted & Vulnerable (Pirates Blend) ** [B+(*)]
  266. Wilma Vritra: Burd (Bad Taste) ** [B+(*)]
  267. Billy Woods: Terror Management (Blackwoodz Studioz) ** [B+(**)]
  268. Wreckless Eric: Transience (Southern Domestic) ** [B+(*)]
  269. Charli XCX: Charli (Asylum) ** [B+(**)]
  270. The Yawpers: Human Question (Bloodshot) ** [B+(**)]
  271. Yola: Walk Through Fire (Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch) ** [B+(*)]
  272. Thom Yorke: Anima (XL) ** [B-]
  273. Young M.A: Herstory in the Making (M.A Music/3D) ** [B+(*)]

Additional reissued/archival non-jazz records rated B+(**) or below (listed alphabetically by artist).

  1. Terry Allen + Panhandle Mystery Band: Pedal Steal + Four Corners (1985-93, Paradise of Bachelors, 3CD) ** [B+(*)]
  2. Big Star: Live on WLIR (1974, Omnivore) ** [B+(**)]
  3. Big Stick: Some of the Best of Big Stick (Drag Racing Underground, EP) ** [B+(**)]
  4. Bulawayo Blue Yodel (1950s, Olvido) ** [B+(**)]
  5. Burial: Tunes 2011 to 2019 (Hyperdub, 2CD) ** [B+(*)]
  6. Alex Chilton: Songs From Robin Hood Lane (1991-94, Bar/None) ** [B+(*)]
  7. Julie Coker: A Life in the Limelight: Lagos Disco & Itsekiri Highlife 1976-1981 (Kalita) ** [B+(*)]
  8. Elecktrokids: Elektroworld (1995, Clone Classic Cuts) ** [B+(**)]
  9. Marvin Gaye: You're the Man (1972, Motown) ** [B+(**)]
  10. Smokey Haangala: Aunka Ma Kwacha (1976, Séance Center) ** [B+(*)]
  11. Ernest Hood: Neighborhoods: Memories of Times Past (1975, Freedom to Spend) ** [B]
  12. Kid Creole & the Coconuts: Live in Paris 1985 (Rainman) ** [B+(*)]
  13. Sourakata Koité: En Hollande (1984, Awesome Tapes From Africa) ** [B+(**)]
  14. Live at Raul's (1979, Steady Boy) ** [B+(*)]
  15. Ana Mazzotti: Ninguem Vai Me Segura (1974, Far Out) ** [B+(**)]
  16. Jaye P. Morgan: Jaye P. Morgan (1976, Wewantsounds) ** [B]
  17. Harry Mosco: Peace & Harmony (1979, Isle of Jura) ** [B+(*)]
  18. Lee Moses: How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972 (Light in the Attic) ** [B+(**)]
  19. Kinloch Nelson: Partly on Time: Recordings 1968-1970 (Tompkins Square) ** [B+(*)]
  20. Prince: Originals (1981-91, Rhino/Warner Bros.) ** [B-]
  21. Patrice Rushen: Remind Me: The Classic Elektra Recordings 1978-1984 (Strut) ** [B+(*)]
  22. Arthur Russell: Iowa Dream (1974-85, Audika) ** [B+(*)]
  23. Johnny Shines: The Blues Came Falling Down: Live 1973 (Omnivore) ** [B+(**)]
  24. Jim Sullivan: Jim Sullivan (1972, Light in the Attic) ** [B+(*)]
  25. Team Dresch: Personal Best (1994, Jealous Butcher, EP) ** [B+(*)]
  26. Team Dresch: Choices, Chances, Changes: Singles & Comptracks 1994-2000 (Jealous Butcher) ** [B+(*)]
  27. Townes Van Zandt: Sky Blue (1973, Fat Possum) ** [B+(*)]
  28. Weaponize Your Sound (Optimo Music) ** [B+(*)]
  29. Neil Young + Stray Gators: Tuscaloosa (Reprise) ** [B-]

New non-jazz records I haven't heard estimated to have a 2% (or better) chance of making the A-list if/when I finally hear them:

  1. Holly Herndon: Proto (4AD)
  2. The Rails: Cancel the Sun (Psychonaut Sounds)

Reissued non-jazz records I haven't heard estimated to have a 2% (or better) chance of making the A-list if/when I finally hear them:

  1. Bob Dylan: The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings (Legacy)
  2. Bob Dylan: Travelin' Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series Vol 15 (Columbia/Legacy)
  3. Richard Thompson: Across a Crowded Room: Live at Barrymore's 1985 (Real Gone Music)
  4. All the Young Droogs: 60 Juvenile Delinquent Wrecks (Cherry Red -3CD)