Top 50 Tracks of 2019 (50-41)

50. Ramonda Hammer “Who’s the Narcissist”

“Who’s the Narcissist” shows off Ramonda Hammer’s ability to mix opposites. Soft, restrained vocals layer over a gritty, rock sound as they transform into rawer, emotional cries and back again. This song is a true rock track feeding distortion into quick drum patterns. The result is a driving song that punches all the way through. – Jacob Holke

49. Purple Mountain “All My Happiness is Gone”

To those that knew David Berman and/or his music it was no mystery that he wrote and composed from a place of great personal pain. There was, however, a discernible sense of joy in his voice when he was doing what he loved. The opening two lines to “All My Happiness is Gone” touches on this bittersweetness that had come to define Berman’s poetic lyricism:

Friends are warmer than gold when you’re old…
And keeping them is harder than you might suppose…

Whether you’re a longtime Silver Jews fan or a recent admirer of Purple Mountains “All My Happiness is Gone” serves as a beautiful but tragic elegy for Berman and his incredible talent derived from incredible pain. Rest in Peace David Berman. – Greg Scranton

48. LSD “Genius”

The grouping Labyrinth, Sia, and Diplo sounds like it should have been a force to reckon in pop. Although their album was mostly disappointing, “Genius” was a glimpse of what could’ve been. Catchy hooks and verses from Sia together with a huge array of instrumentation and solid support of Labyrinth’s vocals hint what could’ve been. Instead, we’re left mostly wondering with one major catchy song to repeat. – Jacob Holke

47. Belle and Sebastian “Sister Buddha”

“Sister Buddha,” the first single from Belle and Sebastian’s soundtrack for the film Days of the Bagnold Summer, is a return to form that finds Stuart Murdoch and company delivering a sunnily strummed, upbeat number made complete with victorious trumpets and ringing chimes. Much like the tender characters detailed in song portraits from the Glasgow indie pop band’s past discography, “Sister Buddha” details a young woman “surfing the coffee bean” and “looking for the things that make her buzz.” With “Sister Buddha”, Belle & Sebastian prove they are still faithful cheerleaders for alienated intellectuals and marginalized misfits everywhere. – Andy Mascola

46. Sacred Paws “Brush Your Hair”

Scottish indie rockers Rachel Aggs (Shopping) and Eilidh Rodgers previous of Golden Grrrls reunited as Sacred Paws in 2017 to create angular and infectious pop songs. On their 2019 Merge Records debut, Run Around the Sun, Aggs lends her distinctive hybrid post-punk west African guitar riffs and Rodgers’ her tightly wound drum beats to create a playful, pop centered, danceable sound. “Brush Your Hair” finds Rodgers opening the call and response with the first verse followed by Aggs line “I know you won’t care if I saw you crying” and then the two synchronously shout out “You’re not…so…tough!” Their infectious afrobeat inspired rhythms and symbiotic connectedness in the crafting and execution of their songs make Sacred Paws equal parts fun and inventive. “Brush Your Hair” is the consummate toe tapper that will have even the most rhythmically challenged up and moving. – Greg Scranton

45. PUP “Sibling Rivalry”

PUP’s newest album is often loud, abrasive, and in your face. “Sibling Rivalry” keeps the emotion but manages to keep it light and avoids too bleak of an outlook. The lyrics’ backstory and the raw feeling of the instrumentation keep the song real and easy to connect to. The verses keep the song interesting while the choruses manage to make “Sibling Rivalry” catchy and easy to pick up. – Jacob Holke

44. Lennon Stella “Bitch (Takes One to Know One)”

What started off as ironically playing a pop song quickly turned into an actual love affair with Lennon Stella‘s “Bitch (Takes One to Know One).” In the chorus, the line “it takes a bitch to know a bitch” is followed by a breathy backing vocal “bitch” which I thought was funny along with good pop song crafting. The more you listen to the song, the more you realize how powerful it is. It is about Stella not putting up with the way her partner talks to her. She pleads during the bridge “you should hear the way you talk to me” and it is easy to see how everyone should be more aware of what they say and how they can be perceived. – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

43. Saint Motel “Sisters”

Given as an ode to sisters everywhere, Saint Motel’s “Sisters” reaches back in time with its arrangements and lyrics. Instead of feeling tired and overused, “Sisters” manages to feel fresh as a hint of nostalgia comes through its retro tone. Listening to it is a reminder that despite progressing forward, sometimes it’s okay to look back at the past with fondness. – Jacob Holke

42. Patricia Taxxon “Road”

2019 saw the ultra-prolific Patricia Taxxon tirelessly self-releasing a fresh batch of art pop experimentalism nearly every month of this year. It’s a lot of music to go through, but “Road” from Patricia’s stunning Sixteen Sketchbooks Ago, is a good place to start. The synth-driven track builds slowly as Patricia details late-night online relationships conducted through instant messages. “I can’t deal with faces, but this is enough for me, everyone’s a text box on the screen,” Patricia sings robotically via a vocoder. Halfway into the five-and-a-half-minute song, an impassioned synth solo arises before a steady beat joins the tense, throbbing pulse and cleverly smooths and relaxes the song’s entire tone. “Road” is for anyone who’s ever found empathy and solidarity with a stranger online. – Andy Mascola

41. Lala Lala featuring WHY? “Siren 042”

My final concert of 2018 was seeing Lala Lala open for WHY? One of the last songs, Lillie West and company played was “Siren 042.” Of course she just announced it as a song she and Yoni Wolf wrote together while on tour, but what followed was a beautiful song about trying to live with your own weirdness and “normal.” At least, that what it seemed what the song is about before I read West’s quote “Yoni once talked me down when we were on the the strongest LSD of my life and I claimed to be ‘drowning in a river of sadness.'” – Adam Tercyak-Morgan

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