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Magical music: Our favorite albums of 2019

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GEOFF CARTER

1. Angel Olsen, All Mirrors Luxurious, heart-rending country death-pop. Just plain gorgeous.

Kelsey Lu, Blood

2. FKA twigs, Magdalene Timeless. Lives on the same ethereal plane as Dead Can Dance, Bel Canto and Kate Bush.

3. DJ Shadow, Our Pathetic Age Warm, old-school hip-hop with a phalanx of killer guest vocals (Run the Jewels, Fantastic Negrito) and a timely warning to destroy all your social media accounts.

4. Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising Didn't love it at first, but this Laurel Canyon-meets-Grandaddy set eventually got under my skin.

5. Jenny Lewis, On the Line Elevated Americana. The sound of sunrise hitting the highway ahead.

6. Maps, Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss. Splendidly produced chamber pop—lush and hypnotic.

The Cinematic Orchestra, To Believe

7. Kelsey Lu, Blood The allegiance of this LA-based singer, songwriter and cellist is evenly divided between jazz, classical, rock and R&B. Good thing, too.

8. The Cinematic Orchestra, To Believe Think of it as the soundtrack to a bittersweet 1960s romance, set in a Europe that never really existed.

9. Lana Del Rey, Norman F*cking Rockwell! She's not of this time or this place. This is legitimate siren song.

10. Underworld, Drift Series 1 "Listen to Their No" and "Custard Speedtalk" saved me from despair more than once this year.

CASE KEEFER

Lingua Ignota, Caligula

1. Lana Del Rey, Norman F*cking Rockwell! She'd already dominated the decade with four strong records but they amounted to practice swings compared to this home run.

2. Lingua Ignota, Caligula A highly unsettling experience, this graphic aural depiction of abusive relationships brings to light the horror inflicted.

3. Cattle Decapitation, Death Atlas A benchmark for modern death metal, moving the genre into more experimental and accessible realms.

4. Greet Death, New Hell The Flint, Michigan, trio is among many bands taking cues from early-'90s alt-rock and shoegaze, but one of few pushing the sound forward.

Cattle Decapitation, Death Atlas

5. Cult of Luna, A Dawn to Fear The Swedish post-metal trailblazers capture the power of the genre's live shows in recorded form.

6. The Menzingers, Hello Exile The definitive punk rock band of the decade has never sounded less punk, leaning on Greg Barnett's ability to craft catchy, relatable midtempo ballads.

7. Ceremony, In the Spirit World Now The Northern California band's transformation from hardcore hell-raiser to post-punk powerhouse feels complete with this joyous blast of energy.

8. Brutus, Nest Stefanie Mannaerts emerged as a true triple threat on the Belgian post-hardcore band's sophomore outing, with stunning vocals and drumming to go with undeniable songwriting.

9. Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains "Heartbreaking" will be the adjective most associated with David Berman's final release, but it's so much more than that—affecting, astute and even amusing at points.

10. Ceres, We Are a Team Quite possibly the best early-2000s emo record since the -early-2000s, ditching sadness for elation.

SPENCER PATTERSON

Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society, Mandatory Reality

1. Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society, Mandatory Reality Tones, glorious tones, at the nexus of jazz and drone. One can get so deeply lost in this.

2. FKA twigs, Magdalene As much a statement about pop music's future capabilities as a batch of gorgeous songs.

3. Pile, Green and Gray If you only hear one pissed-off rock album this year ...

4. Anna Webber, Clockwise A challenging and rewarding ride, through semi-composed avant jazz with seven crack NYC players.

Jamilla Woods Legacy!

5. Jamila Woods, Legacy! Legacy! Poetry in motion.

6. Tim Hecker, Anoyo The sound manipulator peels back layers, letting natural space shine through.

7. Lana Del Rey, Norman F*cking Rockwell! Listen, then decide for yourself.

8. Swans, Leaving Meaning Less intense is still pretty intense when Michael Gira's at the helm.

9. Tyler, the Creator, Igor Fun in a jar, just waiting to be opened.

10. Nivhek, After Its Own Death/Walking in a Spiral Towards the House Liz Harris, aka Grouper, re-explores the dark.

LESLIE VENTURA

Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising

1. FKA twigs, Magdalene The singer/composer pushes raw emotion and feminine power to the surface, with inspiration drawn from the misunderstood New Testament character. Ghostly, sinister and divine.

2. Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising A cinematic soundscape for the senses, providing an honest, heartbreaking assessment of modern life while still remaining hopeful.

3. Kelsey Lu, Blood The cellist, guitarist and avant-pop singer concocted a harrowing work that bubbles up through every pore ("Pushin Against the Wind"), while also providing delicate relief ("Due West").

4. Orville Peck, Pony The masked cowboy—who keeps his face and real name secret—breathes rugged new life into the country genre.

5. Ceremony, In the Spirit World Now The former hardcore mainstays pivot topost-punk and New Wave reminiscent of Joy Division and New Order.

6. Fat White Family, Serfs Up! The infamous U.K. punks made a polished, disco-tinged LP that gets better with each play.

7. Sabrina Claudio, Truth Is The Miami singer has released four albums since 2016, and this is the evocative, hypnotizing best of them.

Foxygen, Seeing Other People

8. Taylor Swift, Lover Hate all you want, but T-Swift consistently churns out brilliant pop hits and society-defying tracks like "The Man."

9. Foxygen, Seeing Other People After three somewhat haphazard records, Sam France and Jonathan Rado re-find their stride.

10. Mdou Moctar, Ilana (The Creator) The Tuareg musician grew up where secular music was forbidden, so he built a guitar and taught himself how to play. The result is mesmerizing.

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