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DJ Hot Tubb’s Top Albums of 2019


Cage the Elephant – Social Cues

“Social Cues” is the kind of album that I have to just let play through in its entirety every time I put it on. It just has such an addicting pace thanks to the unstoppable energy of lead singer Matt Shultz. It definitely helps that I got to see them perform the album live this summer with Beck. Standout tracks include “Broken Boy” and “Ready to Let Go” which contrast heavily with slower cuts on the album’s second half like “The War is Over,” giving the album some depth and the listener a chance to reflect on the central theme of moving on after heartbreak.


Benny Sings – City Pop

Benny Sings is definitely influenced a lot by funk and soul from the 1980s, which is an aesthetic that I am a big fan of. His songs on “City Pop” are carried by funky baselines and bright pianos that never fail to put me in a good mood. “Everything I Know” in particular has an incredible groove that leads up to this triumphant brass section and kicks off the album in such a good way. I also love the duet in the final track “Softly (Tokyo).”


slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain

I definitely haven’t listened to as much rap in 2019 as in previous years, but I’m really glad I didn’t miss slowthai’s “Nothing Great About Britain,” a bitter album that doesn’t pull punches in its critique about the struggles of life as a racial minority in England. The beats on “NGAB” are experimental and often hauntingly beautiful, matching the lyrical content about drug addiction and the contrast between what Great Britain seems like to the rest of the world and how he actually experiences life there. My favorite track is “Doorman,” produced by Mura Masa, for its cool beat, clever wordplay and very funny skit at the end.


Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

I’ve never been the biggest Vampire Weekend fan. I like “Unbelievers” and “A-Punk” like everyone, but “Father of the Bride” is the first VW album I’ve really sunk my teeth into. I’m glad I did–the sound of the album is both new and nostalgic (which kinda seems to be Vampire Weekend’s M.O.). The blending of musical styles and influences just work together so well on this project, and lead singer Ezra Koenig’s voice is as good as ever. As someone who is just learning to play guitar, some of the riffs on this album are just so cool and make me want to learn them. Favorite songs: “Unbearably White,” “Rich Man,” “Harmony Hall.”


King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rat’s Nest

I love King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard because they just refuse to make the same kind of music twice. This is their second album of the year behind “Fishing for Fishies” and while I like both, “Infest the Rat’s Nest” is too unique to not include. I am by no means a huge metal fan, but this album somehow remains accessible to me. I have never come across a band with better concept albums–this one is a pro-environment thrash album about a group of astronauts who go to Venus to escape Earth’s declining climate and end up in hell. It would be hard to find an album more creative than ITRN in terms of its concept anywhere on my list. THERE IS NO PLANET B.


Sure Sure – What’s it Like?

This is technically an EP, but every song on it is good so I’m including it. Sure Sure makes the catchiest music on the entire planet, bar none. I literally had “Good Thing” stuck in my head for two months. I met these guys at a Young the Giant concert earlier this year and it may be my happiest moment of the year. “What’s it Like?” makes you want to get up and dance around the house. It might not be the most original, groundbreaking music of all time, but it makes me smile.


Milky Chance – Mind the Moon

As of writing this, I haven’t gotten a chance to fully sink my teeth into this album, but Milky Chance is one of my favorite bands ever and I’ve been waiting for this LP for years. As with all of Milky Chance’s albums, the songwriting on “Mind the Moon” is cryptic, but that’s not the reason I listen to MC. I listen for those sexy guitar loops and Clemens’ one-of-a-kind voice. If you only know them from their 2014 hit “Stolen Dance,” consider giving MC some more attention. If you’re curious, I’d start with “Daydreaming” and “Fado.”


Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

“IGOR” only came out this year, but it already makes me nostalgic for a different time and place. I was in a really tumultuous transitional phase of my life when this album first came out, so that could explain it. The sound of “IGOR” is just so consistently good and it somehow has this timeless quality. Tyler blends pop, soul and hip-hop together to make essentially a modern breakup album–it feels like the next logical step from 2017’s “Flower Boy” but remains its own thing. My favorite tracks are “I THINK” and “GONE, GONE/THANK YOU.”


James Blake – Assume Form

Beautiful album. James Blake has the voice of an angel. I adore his sound, which is incomparable to pretty much anyone else out there–it’s this seamless blend of hip-hop, electronic, R&B and jazz. Go listen to “I’ll Come Too” immediately. It may be my favorite song of the year. I don’t even know what more to say about “Assume Form” other than it’s amazing. It defies description.



Billie Eilish absolutely exploded in popularity since her 2017 EP “dont smile at me,” but somehow this hasn’t seemed to affect her artistic vision. She has a fantastic voice, top-notch production, and clever (if a little edgy) songwriting. If more pop music sounded like this I would listen to a lot more pop. The mood of this whole album is definitely what sells it. It’s dark, introspective and emotional. “When the party’s over” is a definite highlight for me, it just always gives me goosebumps.


Honorable Mentions:

Earl St. Clair – Potluck
Michael Kiwanuka – KIWANUKA
Brockhampton – GINGER
American Football – LP3