Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Best of 2019: The Best New Albums I Heard

Western Stars is far from the best Bruce Springsteen album I've ever heard. He's had so many great ones.

In truth, though I think the album he released this year--his first studio recording since 2014's High Hopes--is pretty stellar, simply in terms of listening pleasure it's not even my favorite Springsteen album to come out in 2019.

That would be his latest archival live set, recorded on December 15, 1978 at San Franciso's Winterland.

But Springsteen put together a new album of material recorded as far back as 2012 that sounds remarkably cohesive, while also sounding like little he's ever released.

As you'll see below, another old favorite, The Who, surprised with a late 2019 album that--again--not ranking close to their all-time best, is solid enough to rank high this year.

Sadly, I only heard of my #2 album below because the man mainly behind it, David Berman, took his life shortly after its release and just before he was to start a tour. A shame, as while it isn't exactly filled with uplifting lyrics, it's a rather powerful last testament.

Anyway, of what I heard--which really wasn't that much nor that diverse--here's what I've determined to be: 

My Favorite New Rock Albums of 2018

1. Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars (Spotify link)

2. Purple Mountains - self-titled (Spotify link)

3. The Who - Who (Spotify link)

4. The Twilight Sad - It Won't Be Like This All the Time (Spotify link)

5. Mannequin Pussy - Patience (Spotify link)

6. Miranda Lambert - Wildcard (Spotify link)

7. Tool - Fear Inoculum (Spotify link)

8. The Black Keys - "Let's Rock" (Spotify link) 

9. Fontaines DC - Dogrel  (Spotify link)

10. Cage the Elephant - Social Cues (Spotify link)

11. Beck - Hyperspace (Spotify link)

Honorable Mention

Wilco - Ode to Joy (Spotify link) 
Coldplay - Everyday Life (Spotify link)
Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go (Spotify link)
Taylor Swift - Lover (Spotify link)
The Muffs - No Holiday (Spotify link)

Reissues, Live Albums, etc.

R.E.M. - Monster (25th Anniversary) (Spotify link)

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - Live Archive Recordings
Available via and These are the ones I purchased:

● Tampa 4/22/08
● Los Angeles 9/27/85
● Passaic, NJ 9/19/78
● San Francisco (Winterland) 12/15/78
● Houston 5/6/14
● Coventry, UK 6/3/16

Of these, San Francisco 1978 would be my top recommendation.

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