Check out what some of our DJs consider their favorite albums of 2019.
You Deserve Love, White Reaper
Review by Jane Harris
No one did it quite like White Reaper this year. 2019 was a bountiful year for the Louisville, Kentucky natives. With the release of their third studio album, You Deserve Love, White Reaper signed with Elektra Records, joining the ranks of rock n’ roll greats. However, the group isn’t too daunted by sharing a label with The Doors or The Cars, they are quite content blazing their own path and ‘reaping’ its benefits. One of their singles, “Might Be Right,” off You Deserve Love, has racked up over 3 million streams (and counting) since its release at the end of May, dethroning their staple “Judy French” as the band’s most-streamed single. White Reaper’s new album provides a perfect soundtrack for the turn of the year into a new decade— featuring impressive battling guitar solos reminiscent of classic rock with contrasting high-energy synth sections that deepen the record’s sound. Though the new album isn’t quite as party-next-door sounding as their last two records, the natural progression of their sound as more sleek and tuned can’t be denied or ignored. This album shows that progress is valuable and important. You Deserve Love proves White Reaper succeeds in making intentional music for constantly evolving times and listeners. And that music fucking rocks.
Along with the success of their newest album, 2019 brought White Reaper their debut on national television— they rounded out the year with an electrifying performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Make no mistake, White Reaper is a force to be reckoned with. So sit back and kick off 2020 with some good tunes and some good love— you deserve it!
Come In, Weatherday
Review by August Caldwell
If you listen to any album I ever try to peddle into your earholes, please let it be the emo-punk masterpiece, Come In by Swedish artist Weatherday. I hesitated to suggest this album out of fear that every hip CC student would start listening to it and it would cease to be my own, personal album. But, in light of the season of giving, I decided to do a selfless act and give you, reader, the gift of this perfect album. You can thank me by listening to it.
Come In, Weatherday’s debut album, is a mystical grunge piece, both light and dark, soft and heavy all at the same time. Perhaps what I love most about this album is the lack of production on it. The album is self produced and according to the artist, Sputnik, was recorded mostly in their bedroom. The album possesses the simplicity of a Bandcamp gem and the elevation of raw musical talent. Listening to Come In is like being submerged in a complex dream, it is mysterious, but it resonates. It has a fantastic flow; the music moves you from unabashedly head-banging in public to weeping on your dorm room floor in one fluid motion. The album is absolutely delectable in its entirety, each song blends beautifully into the next, coming together to build a story whose contents seem to evolve with every listen. Come In is balanced; each track transitions seamlessly, and yet the album does not let the listener tune out, like many other albums of its genre. Weatherday injects chaotic and explosive energy throughout, but they make it sympathetic. There is not a dull moment in the entire album. The punk coarseness on tracks like Older Than Before and Cut Lips do not dominate and are balanced with softer, melodramatic tracks like Embarrassing Paintings and the opening moments of Mio, Min, Mio. The fifth track, My Sputnik Sweetheart, is especially noteworthy. The thirteen minute song is both long and crafted enough to subsist as an album in itself. My Sputnik Sweetheart is an emotional rollercoaster, carrying the listener from sunken ballad through a hardcore rage into a goose bump-raising gothic chord progression.
Come In is an important addition to the lo-fi emo-punk genre as one of the most creative albums to emerge from 2019. The album gives magic and a certain child-like thought process back to the genre. Weatherday has proved themselves to be an inspired lo-fi artist in their debut album and I look forward to their future productions in 2020.
Over It, Summer Walker
Review by August Caldwell
Atlanta native Summer Walker’s studio debut album, Over It, immediately stood out to me as one of the best albums of 2019. I am not the only one who holds this opinion, its debut week marked the largest streaming week for an R&B album by a female artist. Walker’s second album reveals a large professional leap from her first. She paired up with producer and boyfriend London on Da Track to create a well produced and star studded album sporting hit singles featuring other R&B stars, such as Come Thru with Usher and Playing Games with Bryson Tiller. In between these catchy, breakout tracks, there are gems tucked away that are as soulful as they are sexual, making the entire album an absolute pleasure to listen to, and a personal favorite of mine.
Over It has a slow, sultry flow filled with emotional complexity. Walker’s soft, crooning and at times, mumbly voice gives the album a very sexual feel. I often catch myself gently humping the air when I listen, no matter where I am. I have been trying to control myself, but the melodies are powerful. At the same time, the lyrics invite the listener to share Walker’s most inner thoughts of frustration, anger, desire and heartbreak. It is naughty at some points, Walker tenderly describes scenes of lovemaking on tracks like Stretch You Out and Body that unabashedly draw the listener into the bedroom and let them watch. No matter the content, Walker’s style never fails to be deeply introspective and moody. Walker, the introverted queen of R&B, presents herself as a sexually empowered and dominant woman across her songs, like Just Might with lyrics “I just might be a hoe.” The shy girl-sex kitten combination that Walker introduces is not only inviting but incredibly powerful.
Over It masterfully accentuates Walker’s talent and unique voice. Listening to the album is a deliciously spiritual experience; the sound is so soft and intimate it feels as if the album is wrapped in silk. The album is a great contribution the R&B genre and I am eager to follow Walker’s success in the upcoming decade.
Review by Emily Faulks
After listening to Goldlink’s second album At What Cost, I had been anticipating his new album for almost two years. When it finally came out, I was not disappointed. Although the album, entitled “Diaspora,” does not have the same 90’s inspired beats as songs like “Summatime” and “Crew” in his last album, Goldink beautifully creates a time capsule of the present that is scattered across a spatial plane. The songs in Diaspora feel like a musical representation of youth and vitality, the beats pulsating to Goldlink’s relaxed voice and airy choruses. The album opens with the brief introduction of a man sprinting outside on a summer night; then abruptly jumps to a mellow beat and buoyant hook from Ari PenSmith in “Joke Ting.” The album reflects the diaspora of black music through reggae inspired beats and D.C. slang that expose inequality beyond the D.C. area to other gentrifying cities in America and colonized countries in Latin America and Africa. This is my favorite rap album of the year because of Goldlink’s effortless flow paired with hip-swaying beats. It makes me feel like I’m right there with him: running alongside him on a summer night.
Patience, Mannequin Pussy
Review by Mimi Norton
I first heard of Mannequin Pussy when I saw them open for Japanese Breakfast on tour in 2017. I was captivated by their show because they performed at a breakneck pace, flying through a series of loud, high-energy songs; each of the band members’ bodies tensing and releasing according to the pulse of the drums. This punk record is driven by tight guitars and explosive drumming, but it’s exceptional because the album really features lead singer, Marisa Dabice, and lets her voice cut through the noise to share hard truths about trauma, toxic relationships, and self-love. This album is so fun to listen to, and will give anyone listening a new appreciation for patience in this crazy life we all live.