So far, it has been a wild year for music releases. From artists rising into popular music stardom, to Queens defending their titles, 2019 has blessed us with some landmark albums. And still, there’s more to come. Here, TickPick discusses The Best Albums of 2019 (So Far). Be sure to check our ticket inventory, as many of these artists are bound to tour these albums, live.
Lizzo: Cuz I Love You
First, there was “Juice”. When this lead single dropped, fans and famous people alike were turning to their mirrored faces and friends, wondering who is Lizzo, and where has she been all my life? Then came “Truth Hurts”, which quickly skyrocketed to the top of the charts—and has remained there—which forced everyone in the world to wake up to this incredibly talented, flute-flexing R&B singer. Now, Lizzo continues to embark with style, grace, and some of the most powerful vocals we’ve witnessed in years. We thank the heavens for Lizzo and Cuz I Love You—by far, her most confident and realized LP to date.
Our favorite Cuz I Love You tracks: “Juice”, “Tempo”, “Cuz I Love You”
Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do we Go?
Moody, sullen loops and perfectly hurried synth; Billie Eilish’s lightly stated vocals, urging us further into darkness; the unbelievably exciting production from her brother Finneas O’Connell—clearly a prodigious mind. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is a brave experiment. It’s the product of imagination and persuasion of the pop music parameter. It’s arguably the most exciting debut LP to drop in a decade.
Our favorite When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? tracks: “bad guy”, “bury a friend”, “when the party’s over”
It’s not just because this live album spurred the “Before I Let Go” dance challenge. It’s not just because Queen Bey ordered it. Homecoming: The Live Album encapsulates a seminal moment in Beyonce’s career. Already storied as one of the best performers of her generation, Beyonce’s Coachella performances quickly made headlining news. From the outfits, to the imagination she used to approach her beloved catalog of music, to the air of excellence that followed her across the stage, it’s no surprise that these concerts have finally been whittled into history.
Our favorite Homecoming: A Live Album tracks: “Formation”, “Freedom”, “Flawless / Feeling Myself”
Gary Clark Jr: This Land
For his third studio album, Texas-native blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. used some unleashed anger and channeled it into a beautiful, scathing, and outright moving work of art. This Land, inspired by moments of casual racism Clark Jr. experienced in his native state and beyond, is controlled, artistic fury. Without a doubt, Gary Clark Jr. has joined the ranks of other African American artists who perfectly exemplify the concept of achieving freedom, through art.
Our favorite This Land tracks: “Feeling Like A Million”, “This Land”, “Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow”
Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow
Sharon Van Etten’s fifth studio album Remind Me Tomorrow is a whimsical, poignant, deeply personal record that demonstrates her best songwriting to date. Vaulting from the aggressive to the atmospheric, Remind Me Tomorrow is a sprawling account of selfhood: high school slumps, tentative romance, abusive relationships, the hard-won control over her own life. Sharon Van Etten’s stunning LP Remind Me Tomorrow is, simply, an ode to being alive.
Our favorite Remind Me Tomorrow tracks: “Jupiter 4”, “Comeback Kid”, “Stay”
Kehlani: While We Wait
Kehlani sings “Here’s to being honest” at the outset of her third studio album, While We Wait. In doing so, she sets up a roadmap for her listener, one which is marked with vulnerability and merciless introspection. This R&B mixtape showcases both the hard and soft of Kehlani, the sadness and the self-respect, the juxtaposition much like that of becoming a young mother after a life of early pain. While We Wait is Kehlani’s strongest, most distilled release to date.
Our favorite While We Wait tracks: “Morning Glory”, “Nunya”, “Nights Like This”
MEgan Thee Stallion: Fever
It began with the arrival of “Big Ole Freak”, its landing in the Billboard’s Hot 100, the wide critical reception of Megan Thee Stallion as a voice to be reckoned with. Helped largely by her “hottie” fanbase—those who loyally generated traffic after each and every viral freestyle—Megan Thee Stallion rose to prominence so quickly that rap fans wondered exactly how long she’d been there, watching and waiting, honing her craft to mainstream readiness. Fever and the evolution of Hot Girl Meg, a manically ambitious persona who is fortified to become Houston’s female rap tour-de-force, is undoubtedly one of the best hip-hop moments of 2019.
Our favorite Fever tracks: “Hood Rat Shit”, “Pimpin”, “Running Up Freestyle”
Anderson .Paak: Ventura
From the beginning, Anderson .Paak made it clear that there were two albums in the works, both produced by Dr. Dre. The first, Oxnard, was lead by the single “Tints” featuring Kendrick Lamar, a track that swiftly became the song of the season. Though Oxnard faced critique from lacking direction and finesse, .Paak’s second album of the year, Ventura, brought the artist back to his signature, smooth sound which won him attention in the first place. By taking a step away from his rap persona, .Paak’s ear for melody and addictive choruses had ample room to shine. Imperfect and joyfully contagious, Ventura should be on everyone’s rotation this year.
Our favorite Ventura tracks: “Make It Better”, “Chosen One”, “Winners Circle”
Mavis Staples: We Get By
It’s been 70 years since Mavis Staples began her singing career by being a voice in her family’s gospel group. And still, after all this time, Mavis Staples has maintained a strong sense of moral authority, a joyful disposition, and hope. Though quieter than previous albums, We Get By carries an emboldened message. As the first-person-plural title We Get By implies: We are one, We are in this boat, together. Heralding back to an era where music was used as a means to end violence and partisanship, Mavis Staples has given us a huge gift, a What’s Going On? for our times. We Get By, through funk and circumstance, finds us whole again.
Our favorite We Get By tracks: “Anytime”, “Change”, “Heavy on My Mind”
Jenny Lewis: ON The Line
Jenny Lewis has come a long way since being the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the indie rock outfit Rilo Kiley. On the Line, Lewis’ fourth solo album, finds Lewis becoming the band leading troubadour she was born to be. Lewis reigned in the talents of several charismatic musicians for On the Line, including elder statesmen like Benmont Tench and Don Was, not to mention cameos from Ringo Starr, Beck, and Ryan Adams. Based loosely in Lewis’ own dream of L.A, On the Line charts the adventures of several lonely protagonists who’ve been strung together by Lewis’ own heart and wit. Though it seemed impossible, On the Line is more than a worthy follow-up to 2014’s Voyager —it’s a triumph.
Our favorite On the Line tracks: “Dogwood”, “Wasted Youth”, “Little White Doves”
Little Simz: Grey Area
According to Kendrick Lamar, Little Simz is “one of the illest doing this right now”. Both Ms. Lauryn Hill and Gorillaz have formally invited Little Simz to join them on tour. This year’s GREY Area, easily Little Simz most realized album to date, has been lauded by NME as one of the best rap albums of the year. At the shy age of 25, British spitfire Little Simz has taken on the daunting task of weeding through her own ideas and life experiences to create a wonderfully focused coming-of-age record.
Our favorite GREY Area tracks: “Therapy”, “Flowers”, “Venom”