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Joshua Kellogg’s Top Albums of 2019


Oso Oso – Basking in the Glow

With the third long-playing release under the moniker of Oso Oso, New York songwriter and guitarist Jade Lilitri has struck a hypnotic balance between upbeat, sunny atmospheres and nostalgia-rich, melancholic lyrics. “The View” confronts the increasingly common struggle to find meaning in a world where it’s always getting easier to let everything slip away, and “One Sick Plan” takes a more stripped-down, lo-fi approach to slowly losing sight of all but one person.
Favorite song: One Sick Plan


Overslept – With or Without

With their sophomore album, Denver quartet Overslept has released some of their best work to date. “With or Without” keeps the atmospheric guitar parts that made 2015’s “I’ve Been Keeping to Myself” so spacious and shimmery but adopts a more focused sound overall. This shift is also matched in the lyrics; in lieu of introspective melancholy, one will find more outward-facing commentaries on death, power and the tightening grip of social media in an increasingly connected world.
Favorite song: Survival of the Chillest


Bent Knee – You Know What They Mean

In “You Know What They Mean,” the Boston sextet exchange washy, rich chords for rock-solid riffs, resulting in an angry cacophony which is exhilarating and cathartic from start to finish. Interludes like Lansing and Lovell provide insight into life in a touring band, either on the road or in the studio, and Bird Song and Golden Hour provide brief pauses; chances for the listener to catch their breath. However, the album shines its brightest in songs such as Bone Rage, Cradle of Rocks and Catch Light, where airtight grooves and relentlessly catchy riffs accompany meaningful lyrics. Frontwoman Courtney Swain’s voice is dynamic and powerful, complementing the music at both its sweetest and its angriest.
Favorite song: Catch Light


Yeah is What We Have – Through the Window

With his debut release as “Yeah is What We Have,” singer & songwriter Tom Werring has released an album that fuses indie and emo in a way that is simultaneously melancholic and sparkly, which impressively holds attention even when it slows down for an acoustic ballad or two. Werring’s vocals gel nicely with the guitars, which alternate between biting and shimmery appropriately and easily.
Favorite song: Loner Sky


Allen Stone – Building Balance

Reminiscent of the work of Stevie Wonder in all the best ways, “Building Balance” is a grooving, optimistic trip through the ups and downs of the past decade. “Miscommunicate” ponders feeling less connected in a world that’s supposed to be bringing us closer together. Similarly; in all of its jazzy sweetness, “Back to the Swing” is all about finding the good in humanity in times where it’s getting easier to look around and feel as if it’s all falling apart.
Favorite song: Back to the Swing


Honorable mentions:
Slaughter Beach, Dog – Safe And Also No Fear
Declan Welsh and the Decadent West – Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold
PUP – Morbid Stuff
Wildermiss – In My Mind
Macseal – Super Enthusiast