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Timmy Awards

Timmy Awards- The Best Albums of 2019

You can get videos for them all in this YouTube playlist. If you click "play all," it will play them from 50 right on down to #1.

Here's an additional playlist of concerts and extras, from 50 on down to 1 whenever available.

Were that not enough, here's a Spotify playlist of three tracks from each entry, except #5 which is not on Spotify.

Nick Cave

50. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen: In some ways, I'm getting this one out of the way. It's definitely one of the Top 50 albums I've heard this year, and it could really be much higher, but I don't know how often I can listen to it. The first album written and recorded after the sudden death of Cave's 15 year-old son, it captures grief in a way I'm not sure any other album I've ever heard has. Having lost my mother in December, sometimes listening to this is too raw; sometimes it's comforting. Dave Eggers wrote a book with the title "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius". Eggers used it tongue-in-cheek but it works as a perfect summary for this album.


49. Kokoko! - Fongola: On the Fat Albert show, the kids formed a band banging on things they found in the junkyard. That's how Kokoko! got started, but with the help of a French producer who officially joined their group, they added synths and drum patterns and came up with dance music that reflects their native Congo but sounds as modern as almost anything out there.

Wet Tuna

48. Wet Tuna - Water Weird: The cover may give it away, this is some spaced-out stuff. Mostly psychedelic but there are other elements - rock, folk, jazz - mixed in, not unlike the extended mid-70's Grateful Dead meanderings...


47. Deerhunter - Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?: Harpsichords and horns? Deerhunter is expanding their sound while cranking out their usual catchy-but-off-kilter indie pop-rock.   

Harley & The Hummingbirds

46. Harley and The Hummingbirds - Future Superstar: Spotify is great for music fans seeking out new artists. While listening to Drugdealer (who you'll see later in this list), one of the recommendations was Harley and The Hummingbirds. They both crank out 70's style AM Radio pop, with Harley maybe leaning a little more towards Todd Rundgren and ELO.           


45. Joyero - Release the Dogs: One half of Wye Oak, this a solo effort from Andy Stack, and it's dreamy pop with a heapin' helpin' of electronica - not too far off from The Postal Service and maybe a little Animal Collective too. 

Field Medic

44. Field Medic -fade into the dawn: Another Spotify success story. I was looking to listen to Field Music and I stumbled upon Field Medic. Field Medic is singer/songwriter Kevin Patrick, with help from others on a set of clever indie-folk tunes.

Simon Joyner

43. Simon Joyner - Pocket Moon: It's not too often I have two albums in the same genre back-to-back on the Timmys, but here we are, an indie-folk mini-block. Nebraskan Simon Joyner has a little more Dylan/Bright Eyes (I discovered Simon through a book of his lyrics, where Bright Eyes' Connor Oberst wrote the intro and cites him as an influence.) Worth checking out for fans of the aforementioned artists or Leonard Cohen.

Strand of Oaks

42. Strand of Oaks - Eraserland: Slowly moving out of the folk-rock block, Strand of Oaks is another singer/songwriter who ups the volume a little. Every member of My Morning Jacket except Jim James plays on this record, which will give you a basic idea of what to expect. 


41. Clipping.- There Existed an Addiction to Blood: And now for something completely different. Clipping. (yup, the period is part of their name) is an L.A.-based experimental hip-hop group with a horror theme running throughout both the lyrics and music. Dark and powerful, this is a group to watch. 

French Vanilla

40. French Vanilla - How Am I Not Myself?: There was a time in the 80's where there were a bunch of new wave bands with female vocals and saxophones - The Waitresses, Romeo Void, X-Ray Spex, to name a few. French Vanilla fits right in with those bands, even though this album came out in 2019.   


39. Starcrawler - Devour You: Another L.A. band, Starcrawler sounds VERY L.A. - there's some glam, metal, punk, straight-ahead rock, all behind the vocals of 6'3"  Arrow de Wilde who sometimes channels Joan Jett, Courtney Love or Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. If MTV still played videos non-stop, Starcrawler would be huge.

Cy Dune

38. Cy Dune - Desert: Akon/Family leader Seth Olinsky breaks out on his own as Cy Dune. These songs were recorded in the desert in Arizona in 2010 but just released in 2019. There's elements of the blues throughout, and sounds reminiscent of current guitar groups from Mali. Ramshackle at points, this is a messy but in a good way.     


37. Yuna - Rouge: If Sade was making her debut these days, she might sound a lot like Yuna. Silky smooth vocals, catchy soulful tunes and guest spots from Tyler the Creator and Little Simz, this Malaysian singer should be seeing more international success soon (she's been close in the past with a duet with Usher and production by Pharell.)  


36. Bleached - Don't You Think You've Had Enough?:  Geez, another L.A. band! Sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin play punky pop that's super catchy.


35. Sleater-Kinney -  The Center Won't Hold: Sleater-Kinney takes their sound a different direction on this album with production from St. Vincent. That you can hear the trademark sounds of both artists show that this is good of a collaboration as it sounded when it was first announced. It's a shame about the departure of drummer Janet Weiss and the drama which followed, but hopefully both sides can move on and produce double the good music going forward.   


34. BATS - Alter Nature: Ireland's BATS are kinda metal? Kinda punk? I hear some Big Black, some Helmet, some current metal bands I can't quite put my finger on. The band's Kickstarter page for this album described their music as "science-based, groove-oriented metal/post-punk". If that sounds good to you, dive right in.   

Moon Duo

33. Moon Duo - This psychedelic duo returns with a groovy batch of songs but adds some electronic twists, still staying firmly in the psych camp but adding elements similar to Manchester bands like the Happy Mondays.

Skarbø Skulekorps

32. Skarbø Skulekorps - Skarbø Skulekorps: A seven-piece Norwegian jazz-rock combo that sounds like Eno/Cale on the opening track and gets further out as the album gets deeper. A little Sun Ra orchestra here, a little prog rock there, pretty entertaining everywhere.   

The Oh Sees

31. Thee Oh Sees - Face Stabber: The opening track starts with what sounds like a squeaky dog toy on repeat, then the drums kick in, followed by off-kilter vocal babbling and spacy synths. If I haven't lost you yet, Thee Oh Sees may be for you. Starting as a garage punk band over a dozen years ago, they are now proggy, weird, crazy and all over the place. This album is 80 minutes of freaked-out lunacy.  

Carl Stone
Carl Stone

30. Carl Stone - Himalaya and Baroo (two separate releases): Experimental electronic music that relies heavily on samples, field recording and slicing and dicing sound into a unusual new mix. Challenging but really interesting, in a noisy way. 


29. Baroness - Gold & Grey: Georgia's Baroness is very consistent, and here's another solid hour of metal mixed with prog, grunge, Southern rock and anything else they feel like throwing in.  

Fontaines D.C.

28. Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel: Post-Punk from Dublin with some of the energy of IDLES and more than a touch of The Fall, a very strong debut and I expect more good albums from this group.

75 Dollar Bill

27. 75 Dollar Bill - I Was Real: An experimental guitar-and-percussion duo who draw heavily from the blues- both Saharan desert blues and dirty Delta blues - but make their own unique sound.

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah

26. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah - Ancestral Recall: This New Orleans-based trumpeter expands what jazz could be in a set that uses African rhythms, electronics and spoken word artist/rapper Saul Williams to expand what jazz can be.  

Guided By Voices
Guided By Voices
Guided By Voices

25. Guided by Voices - Zeppelin over China, Warp and Woof, Sweating the Plague (three separate releases): America's most prolific indie rock band outdid themselves in 2019 - three albums, 68 songs, 2 hours and 49 minutes of music. Could they stand to do a little editing? No question about it, yes. But in these days of streaming services, we the listener can do that ourselves. I present to you Zeppelin Warp Plague, my playlist of the best of these three albums (in my opinion) - 24 songs in 42 minutes.

King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard

24. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard - Fishing for Fishies and Infest the Rat's Nest (two separate releases): Another prolific band, KG and the LW only released two albums this year, compared to 5(!) in 2017 which made the Timmys that year. Both are psych-based as you'd expect from this band, but very different from each other. Fishing is sunny and at times folky and reminiscent of Southern rock, while Infest is much darker and even a bit metal at points. A fun, inventive group who continues to do whatever the hell they feel like doing at any given moment.    

Ikebe Showdown

23. Ikebe Shakedown - Kings Left Behind: According to, Ikebe Shakedown describe their sound as "cinematic instrumental soul". I think that sums it nicely - you can picture scenes from funky 70s movies in your head while these tracks play. Can you dig it?   

Gum Takes Tooth

22. Gum Takes Tooth - Arrow: I guess you'd call this London duo's sound "Electronic" but there's a layer of noise that says experimental and a dark heaviness that's reminiscent of metal. Powerful stuff.

Steve Gunn

21. Steve Gunn - The Unseen In Between: A guitarist/singer/songwriter with deep folk roots, his latest album shows sharper songwriting than previous efforts. There are some classic rock touchpoints, but the sound is left of center but still catchy when it needs to be. If you like this, there's also the stripped down Acoustic Unseen, acoustic versions of most of the songs on this album.

Young Guv
Young Guv

20. Young Guv - GUV I & II: Young Guv is singer/songwriter Ben Cook and part I is straight up power pop - think Matthew Sweet, maybe even Big Star. Part II has more keyboards, closer to early Cars maybe. Catchy as all get out. 


19. Drugdealer - Raw Honey: Mentioned way back at 46 on this list, Drugdealer dishes out 70's AM radio style pop (think Harry Nilsson or The Carpenters), even veering into yacht rock a little. Perfect for a lazy, summer afternoon. 

Kate Davis

18. Kate Davis - Trophy: Kate Davis co-wrote Sharon Van Etten's "Seventeen" and there's certainly similarities between the two singer/songwriters' sound. Jenny Lewis is also a touchpoint for this hook-laden collection full of clever lyrics.  


17. Lizzo - Cuz I Love You: Well, at this point, America, and perhaps all of the free world, is well aware that Lizzo is 100% that bitch. The production here is a little over the top at times, but there's no containing Lizzo's personality or voice.  

Mercury Rev

16. Mercury Rev - Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisted: So most folks know Bobbie Gentry as the "Ode To Billie Joe" singer and little else. I know I was in that camp until this album came out. Mercury Rev cover Bobbie Gentry's second album in full, and it's collection of Southern Gothic tales not far removed from her big hit. Mercury Rev provide spooky backing to a host of female guest vocalists, including Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval and Beth Orton (and for good measure, add "Ode To Billie Joe" with Lucinda Williams on vocals as a bonus track). The biggest guest vocalist surprise for me was Carise van Houten - who played Melisandre, The Red Witch, on Game of Thrones. Her take on "Parchment Farm" is dark and awesome.

Billie Eilish

15. Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go: So if 2019 wasn't Lizzo's year, then it was definitely Billie Eilish's. Pop for sure, but not cookie-cutter by any mean. I hear a lot of Lorde here, and my friend Jim Griffith mentioned Fiona Apple, and now I hear that also. A really nice effort - not my everyday listen but a really well-crafted album.    

Sacred Paws

14. Sacred Paws - Run Around The Sun: A bright, peppy album that harkens back to 80's UK indie pop - Orange Juice, The Wedding Present, Altered Images. Jangly guitars (which sometimes sound African-influenced), horns, female vocals, really awesome stuff that will put you in a good mood or increase the good mood you already have.


13. Matmos - Plastic Anniversary: Matmos is a duo who takes sounds from the universe around us and warps them into music. Their 2016 album Ultimate Care II was nothing but samples of their washing machine, manipulated and rearranged as musical compositions. This time out, they focus on plastic in its various forms. Some of the titles give hints of what plastic is being used and the range of sounds throughout the album help echo how plastic is all around us and in so many different forms. High concept stuff but done in a playful and listenable way.    

Bon Iver

12. Bon Iver - i,i: A teaser to this album implied that this album, the fourth from Bon Iver, represented autumn, where For Emma, his groundbreaking debut, was winter. It makes sense - each album seems to build sonically on the one prior, with this latest being lush, experimental at points but always heartfelt and interesting. Excited to see what's next.

11. People Like Us - The Mirror: People Like Us is London-based Vicki Bennett, a sound collage artist who has been at it for about 30 years. She takes samples of records - some familiar, some obscure - and chops them up and rearranges them into her own new compositions. Similar to Negativland and The Avalanches and probably in the middle in terms of the former's experimentalism and humor and the latter's song structure and catchiness.

10. Orville Peck - Pony: One look at the album cover and you know there's something different going on here. Orville Peck is a queer singer/songwriter who creates country ballads and delivers them in a classic croon that can reach Roy Orbison highs and Johnny Cash lows. The cowboy hat and fringe mask scream novelty but the atmospheric sounds (which wouldn't be out of place in a David Lynch movie) and soaring vocals make it so much more. 

9. Snapped Ankles - Their previous album was #10 on the 2017 Timmys, and this band of masked weirdos returns with their homemade log synths and clattering drums. They could easily slip into being a joke or novelty act, but these guys can lock into a groove as good as anyone else out there right now.

8. The Hold Steady - Thrashing Thru The Passion: Their fourth time on the Timmys and third time in the Top 10. For a while I thought this could be #1 but for each song that ranks among their best, there are a handful of misses. I found out after the fact that a lot of these songs were released online over months, and there isn't as cohesive of a feel as there has been on some of their other albums, but they can still crank out awesome "Springsteen for the craft beer crowd" songs.     

7. Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow: Smooth, sweet vocals and well-crafted songs, to me, this is Sharon Van Etten's breakout and even bigger things are on the horizon for her. A songwriter and singer to watch - in the same field as Angel Olsen and Lucy Dacus, but right now I think Sharon has pulled into the lead.   

6. W.H. Lung - Incidental Music: A Manchester three-piece who jams together psych, krautrock, post-punk and 90's synth-pop into their own sound. The lead track is 10 minutes and 14 seconds long - 2 minutes and change of build-up then a solid groove the rest of the way. Sounds like different bands you've heard before - Joy Division, The Cure, Arcade Fire - here and there, but the overall combination is fresh.

5. Tom Caruana - Inner Space: Tom's 2 cd set of raps over Beatles loops made the Top 20 of the Timmys in 2017. He's back with a collection of raps of grooves from the German band Can. If you know Can, you know how genius this idea is. If you're not familiar with Can, they are lot funkier than you would expect a German band to be, and in the hands of Caruana, perfect fodder to be shaped into instrumental tracks for rappers such as Kool Keith, MF DOOM, Run The Jewels and Pharoahe Monch. Bjork even shows up on one track! Check out Tom's other remix projects out on Bandcamp.   

4. Thom Yorke - Anima: So let's get this out of the way: Thom Yorke Solo<Radiohead, and not by a small margin. But that's not to say Thom solo isn't pretty great, because it is. Thom's vocals and lyrics make certain it's in the same general area but it's more electronic, and a little darker. 

3. Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains: David Berman used to record under the name Silver Jews. This is first album in 11 years and is unfortunately his last as he took his own life shortly after this album was released. Berman's songs are cleverly written indie rock with a little bit of country - he played with members of Pavement and there are some strong similarities there. Berman battled depression and substance abuse for years and much of this album deals with his divorce. A beautiful album and very sad that it's his last.  And because this can't be posted in enough places - the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

2. Sleaford Mods - Eton Alive: Sleaford Mods couldn't be more British if they tried. Well, working-class British, not royal family or Dowton Abbey or even Mr. Bean. This is a 48 year -old guy who rants/raps while his mate supplies the beats (and on stage stands near his laptop and nods along while drinking a beer). What I can understand of it - the vocals are very heavily accented and the humo(u)r is very specifically British - is critical of society in the best way pop music can be - Public Enemy comes to mind, thought sonically the two bands are quite different. Like the best world music, the beats keep you involved while you research what the lyrics are saying.   


1. Jamila Woods - LEGACY! LEGACY! - In last year's Timmy, the angry working-class brits were #1 and the genre-bending African-American woman was #2. This year, it's flipped, This is one monster of an album - each track is named after a cultural giant who has been an influence on Woods' music and poetry. It's months after I first heard this album and I'm still trying to unpack what all the lyrics mean. Like the Sleaford Mods album, musically it's great to listen to while you work at digging into the meaning. Unlike the Mods' sparse electronic beats, Woods' music is a swirling blend of R&B, jazz and hip-hop. A really stunning album. I saw one review (I wish I could remember where so I could credit them) that called this the sister album to Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly and I think that's spot on.



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