It’s the end of the year and the end of the decade (more on the latter in this post). It’s the time for me to reflect on the year and think too much about lists. Some things will never change.
Music I Worked On This Year
- Jeff Schaller and the Long Way Home – “Younger Years” (guitar, recording, mixing, mastering)
- Apocalypse Quest – Paradoxes (mixing, mastering)
- Sloth Hands – Vacation’s Over (mastering)
- Apocalypse Quest – “Mediocre Boys” (recording, mixing, mastering)
- Flora Self – “Didn’t See It Coming” (bass, recording, mixing, mastering)
- Pelafina – “Blue and Gold” (guitar)
- Apocalypse Quest – “CEO Blood” (recording, mixing, mastering)
- Apocalypse Quest – ERBA (recording, mixing, mastering)
My Favorite Albums of 2019
I’ve had a one-sentence review of my number one album, Breakup Season by Future Teens, in my head for a few months: If I had heard this when I was seventeen, I might have been a better person. That sounds hyperbolic, but I haven’t been able to shake the idea. I know I could have used this album as a teenager. It’s so honest and introspective about heartbreak and sadness and dealing with those emotions in healthy ways. I’m so happy that a band like Future Teens exists. I’m jealous of the kid that hears Breakup Season this year and connects to it like I connected to The Upsides. Future Teens will be that kid’s first favorite band, the soundtrack to their formative years, their inspirations and role models. I keep likening this album to The Upsides, probably the single most influential album on my past ten years. It feels like a torch-passing at the end of the decade, and it’s all the more apt because I saw Future Teens open for the Wonder Years in October.
The rest of my list feels as varied as my year, spanning genre and scope from emo debuts to the biggest pop artist in the world. As always, I think there’s a lot to love on this list, so pick something and give it a spin.
- Future Teens – Breakup Season
- Charly Bliss – Young Enough
- Pedro the Lion – Phoenix
- The Menzingers – Hello Exile
- The Mountain Goats – In League With Dragons
- Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
- Taylor Swift – Lover
- Origami Angel – Somewhere City
- The Get Up Kids – Problems
- Telethon – Hard Pop
- Proper. – I Spent the Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better
- Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties – Routine Maintenance
- Ceres – We Are a Team
- Oso Oso – Basking In the Glow
- Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center
- The Dangerous Summer – Mother Nature
- Somos – Prison On a Hill
- Dave Hause – Kick
- American Football – LP3
- Bruce Springsteen – Western Stars
- Junius Paul – Ism
- The Maine – You Are OK
- Nervus – Tough Crowd
- Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
- Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride
My Favorite EPs of 2019
- Better Love – All I Ever Wanted Is To Be Where You Are
- Mineral – One Day When We Are Young
- Ruston Kelly – Dirt Emo, Volume 1
- Rat Tally – When You Wake Up
- Bosley Jr – No More
My Favorite Songs of 2019
Here’s a playlist on Apple Music and Spotify of songs I loved this year. It’s vaguely in order (at least the top ten or so).
My Favorite Shows of 2019
I went to 63 shows this year, 35 of which I played. Here were my favorites. These were all great, but the John K. Samson show is a contender for my all-time favorite performance. He doesn’t tour much, so make it a priority to see him if you have the chance.
- John K. Samson and Christine Fellows – 11/23 at Beat Kitchen
- The Wonder Years, Future Teens – 10/20 at Metro
- Ruston Kelly – 11/1 at Thalia Hall
- Mineral – 1/24 at Lincoln Hall
- Pedro the Lion – 5/18 at The Castle Theater
- Jacob Sigman, Jetty Bones – 3/29 at Beat Kitchen
- The Sidekicks, Adult Mom – 7/7 at Subterranean
- Spanish Love Songs – 5/19 at Cobra Lounge
- Los Campesinos! – 7/6 at West Fest
- We Were Promised Jetpacks – 7/13 at Bottom Lounge
My Favorite Podcasts of 2019
Two Headed Girl is the best new podcast I listened to this year. It’s a chronicle of gender dysphoria, transitioning, and marriage. Hosts Alex and Matthew Cox are unflinching in their honesty with each other about their lives, health, and feelings. It’s kind of amazing that they recorded all of this and are willing to share such a personal journey with the world.
Elsewhere in the podcast world, two of my favorite long-running podcasts hit new highs in 2019. On episode 102 of Reconcilable Differences, “Preparing the Way,” John Siracusa buys a refrigerator. The two-hour chronicle of this harrowing adventure is everything I love about the podcast format. And The Watch, Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald’s twice weekly talk about movies and TV, transitioned from purely critique to a behind the scenes look at making a TV show as Andy called in from the set and editing room of his upcoming show, Briarpatch.
Finally, I’ll recommend Michael Lewis’s Against the Rules, a meticulously researched exploration of societal rules and the people who make and enforce them. Unlike the long-running conversational shows I typically like, the tight format and high production value make Against the Rules feel more like an audio book.
My Favorite Books of 2019
As usual, I read very few new releases this year, but the few I did read were fantastic: Hanif Abdurraqib’s latest poetry collection, A Fortune For Your Disaster, Mark Z. Danielewski’s children’s book for all ages, The Little Blue Kite, and Mischa Pearlman’s One Day When We Are Young, a retrospective on the emo band Mineral and a companion piece to their first new music in over twenty years.
The best book I read this year, regardless of release date, was The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
My Favorite Television of 2019
I started 2019 with the vague goal of “keeping up” with TV, but I quickly realized that’s impossible. There’s just too much great TV. With that in mind, I just want to highlight a few of my favorite shows of the year, all remarkable for very different reasons, which also happen to be short and digestible.
Fleabag – Season 2
A tour de force of emotion and energy, every episode left me thinking that writer / producer / star Phoebe Waller-Bridge might be the most talented person alive.
Every frame of this show is immaculate. I’m a longtime defender of the endings of Lost and The Leftovers so I had confidence in Damon Lindelof and his team to pull this sequel/remix, and my expectations were still far exceeded.
When They See Us
Ava Duvernay’s docu-drama about the Central Park Five is a heart-wrenching examination of injustice. The opening sequence alone is worth the price of a Netflix subscription.
A different kind of bleak docu-drama, set on the opposite side of the world as When They See Us, Chernobyl is equal parts moving, gruesome, frustrating, and deeply sad.
And I can’t leave the TV section without giving a shout to Baby Yoda on The Mandalorian, constant cause of delighted squeals (both Liesi’s and mine) every time he’s on screen.
My Favorite Movies of 2019
As always, I’m very behind on movies at the end of year, but Knives Out is a masterpiece.
- Knives Out
- Marriage Story
- The Irishman
- The Report
- Toy Story 4
- Dolemite Is My Name
- High Life
I haven’t made a formal new year’s resolution in quite a few years, but I do have some plans for 2020.
Pelafina will be releasing a new EP in the next couple months. More on that very soon.
The Long Way Home are deep in the process of recording our next album. That will hopefully be out later in the spring.
I didn’t make a single blog post this year, and I want to change that. I don’t have a clear structure in mind, but I just want to write more.
I’m going to listen to more jazz.