Though world politics remain a hellscape AND we saw the return of Crocs in 2019, it wasn’t all bad. Ken Burns released Country Music, Dolly Parton is back in a big way, and Beyoncé is alive and well.
Gathered here today are some of the young gods of Seattle’s texture music scene to testify against the naysayers of 2019. We’ve got venue owners, musicians, label heads, DJs, and music professionals giving you the inside scoop on the albums and concerts that slapped the hardest in 2019. Spotify, eat yer heart out.
Amyl & The Sniffers – Amyl & The Sniffers
the body – Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back
FKA twigs – Magdalene
Institute – Readjusting The Locks
JARS – Forgery
Lingua Ignota – CALIGULA
Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q.
Nivhek – After Its Own Death/Walking In A Spiral Towards The House
Pact Infernal – The Gehenna Odyssey
Sunn O))) – Life Metal/Pyroclasts
Glintshake // Schmutz DJs – Monarch (Berlin)
JARS // Rape Tape – cassiopeia (Berlin)
Amyl & The Sniffers // Jealous // Schmutz DJs – Zukunft am Ostkreuz (Berlin)
Godflesh // Bliss Signal // DŌMU – UT Connewitz (Leipzig)
Michael McDonald // Chaka Khan – Chateau Ste. Michelle
Sunn O))) – The Showbox
FKA twigs – Moore Theatre
Daughters // Lingua Ignota – Neumos
Mount Eerie w/ Julie Dorian – Neptune Theatre
Satan’s Pilgrims // The Delstroyers // 1uppers // The 427’s – Darrell’s Tavern
Albums (no particular order):
Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
Orville Peck – Pony
Beyoncé – Homecoming: The Live Album
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
Emergency Contact – Ep’s 1-4
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Paul Cauthen – Room 41
Concerts (no particular order):
Orville Peck – Thing Festival
Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Tacoma Dome
Vacuum – Bait Shop
The Presidents of the United States of America – Andrew McKeag’s 50th Birthday Party
King Diamond – Paramount Theatre
Angel Olsen – Moore Theatre
Fucked – Belltown Yacht Club
Cave Singers // Galatic Gold – Sunset Tavern
Thee Sgt. Major III (with no drummer) – Sunset Tavern
Wu-Tang Clan – WaMu Theater
Gucci Mane – Showbox SoDo
The Japanese House – Good At Falling
Bon Iver – i,i
Bayonne – Drastic Measures
Barrie – Happy To Be Here
Jay Som – Anak, Ko
Tycho – Weather
The National – I Am Easy To Find
Toro y Moi – Outer Peace
Brittany Howard – Jamie
Pedro The Lion – Phoenix
Bon Iver // Sharon van Etten – The Gorge
Imogen Heap – Moore Theatre
Broken Social Scene – Neptune Theatre
Diane Coffee – Barboza
Death Cab for Cutie // Car Seat Headrest – Marymoor Park
Her’s – Barboza
Crumb – Neumos
Beirut – Paramount Theatre
Pedro the Lion // Tomberlin – Alma Mater (Tacoma)
Foxwarren – The Crocodile
Smashing Pumpkins // Noel Gallagher // A.F.I. – Shoreline Amphitheater (San Jose)
Fontaines D.C. – Neumos
Drab Majesty – Neumos
James – Showbox SoDo
IDLES – Neumos
Kirin J. Callanan – Barboza
The Mulocs – Barboza
Methyl Ethyl – Barboza
Amyl & The Sniffers – Barboza
The Coathangers – Neumos
Albums (most listened to//not from 2019):
State Champion – Send Flowers (2018)
Holiday Ghosts – West Bay Playroom (2018)
Pinback – Summer in Abaddon (2004)
Surgeons in Heat – Surgeons in Heat (2012)
White Denim – Last Day of Summer (2010)
Butterglory – Crumble (1994)
Cleaners from Venus – Midnight Cleaners (1982)
William Tyler – Modern Country (2016)
Silver Jews – American Water (1998)
Letters to Cleo – Wholesale Meat and Fish (1995)
Outer Spaces – Black Lodge
Den Tapes 4th Anniversary w/ Happy Times Sad Times // Tourist Activities // Meanderthals – Add-a-Ball
Faye Webster – Barboza
Pinback – The Crocodile
Sebadoh – Tractor Tavern
Okilly Dokilly // Playboy Manbaby – El Corazón
Salt Lick // Dusty // Fluung – Add-a-Ball
Den Tapes Acoustic Showcase – Cafe Racer
Don Piano’s tape release – Mosswood Loft
French Vanilla – Barboza AND Substation
Note: Built to Spill is only omitted due to the crowds
10 Things I Only Just Learned More About In 2019:
While I understand that everyone’s musical journey is a work-in-progress, and only independent record store owners know everything, I’m still shocked regularly by my enormous blind spots. At least my taste is all over the place? Anyway, all of these will seem pathetically obvious to one or another of you, and are presented in no particular order:
My mind was boggled wide open by the amusing pop brilliance of 2011’s ‘Lamborghini’. I thought it was extra cool that LeGere does all of her own recording and instrumentation, and that she played Toxie’s girlfriend in Toxic Avenger, and left it at that. HOWEVER, I read some old interviews this year and found out all about her Native heritage, queer identity, feminist activism, classical training at Juilliard and Vassar, outreach programs for disadvantaged youth, and importance in the NYC art scene of the 80s. That’s just the tip of the crazyberg for this living legend and Renaissance woman. ‘Lamborghini’ is still my favorite song though.
Solange – When I Get Home
I’ve been hearing writing and collaborations from this genius my whole adult life, even when I haven’t been aware of it, but this album made me listen up with new ears. While the contemporary black female pop scene this year was dominated by explosively successful releases from your Lizzos and your Janelle Monets, this subtle and downtempo masterpiece stole my heart and feels like a slow sunny bike ride through the happiest parts of your childhood. She’s not just the lady from the elevator, America. Although that was pretty cool.
Peter Ivers – Terminal Love
I finally watched Eraserhead all the way through and thought the music was pretty great, so I looked into the composer. Turns out he lived a short, charmed, strange life, and also made a super weird pop album or two along the way.
I was fortunate enough to meet Monika before she ever moved here, and have followed her musical endeavors ever since. This was the year I was fortunate enough to see performances of her solo work, which is even more transcendent, cinematic, and worldly than her brilliant collaborations so far. What a treasure!
Brazilian New Wave:
Just like any other country with teenagers in the 80s, Brazil had its own vibrant New Wave movement. Most of the best of it is in Portuguese of course, so it didn’t catch on with fickle North American audiences. You don’t need a translation for a beat though, and the songwriting keeps up with a lot of what was coming out of London or anywhere else at the time.
A buddy was giving me a session of rap school and put me on to these guys right here. Somehow I’ve listened to all kinds of stuff from their scene but managed to miss them entirely. It has been a great pleasure to get filled in because they are big news.
On the far end of the musical spectrum but just as capable of making me feel stupid and out of touch for not knowing about it, Bathory is apparently the most famous and rippingly shreddiest band of a kind of music I like a lot and thought I had listened to fairly thoroughly. Maybe no one told me because they didn’t want to seem condescending?
Karl Amadeus Hartmann:
Widely under-recognized as likely the greatest symphonist of the 20th century, Hartmann was a strident socialist and anti-fascist in Germany through both world wars, surviving only by moving off to the mountains and keeping an extremely low profile. His music conjures images of screaming your rage and hatred of the Nazis from a mountaintop under a full moon, while a storm rages and the witches take their Walpurgisnacht flight in the background, although I likely have the wrong mountains.
Heard these big-time talents right when they came out, and immediately loved the grunge hookiness and modern grrl take on classic funny punk lyrics. Unfortunately, it took me until very recently to bother figuring out that they’re from Seattle and that I know who they are. Once again feeling way out of the loop, and sad I probably won’t ever get to see them live… fortunately, the hardworking womxn of our local scene are still out there destroying it every day, so I’ll just have to love all the other stellar femme projects around here instead.
Lastly but very not leastly, get ready for Artemis. I got to see them open for Wolfcorp, and was floored by the soulful crooning over articulate avant-pop. We are hugely fortunate here in this town as home to arguably the world’s best queer rock scene, from Yr Heart Breaks to L80 to Mud On My Bra, and Artemis is only going to blow that juicy bubble bigger. They won’t have recordings available until next month, so no link for you.
Good luck in 2020, y’all!