The Best Records of October (2019)
by Steven Spoerl
Surprise EPs, rapid-fire singles, daring long-form narratives, and more populated the best records of October. All but two of the artists featured in this list have been featured on this site in the past, while the two new entries provided head-spinning introductions that set each respective act up for further exposure. Each record hits different nerves of pleasure, so whether prospective listeners are looking for something a little more streamlined or a lot more frantic, they should be covered by something on the list.
Due to time constraints and the emphasis placed on the upcoming year and decade-end material, this will be an abridged version of what was originally intended. Nonetheless, these are all very much worthy of listeners’ full time and attention. Don’t let the scant review space stand as an indication of worth; a few of these will be mentioned again shortly. In the meantime, enjoy exploring below.
1. Charly Bliss – Supermoon
Explosive, volatile, and a perfect bridge between Charly Bliss‘ first era and their current mode. An unabashedly energetic thrill ride from start to finish, one of the strongest EP’s of the year, complete with some of the best songs from one of the decade’s best bands (“Feed” and “Heaven” alone could’ve powered this into a featured selection).
2. Ex-Vöid – Ex-Vöid
One of the more interesting punk bands of the past new years, Ex-Vöid feels like a natural extension of the members’ previous projects (namely, Joanna Gruesome) with a dash of something new. There’s a specificity to both of the songs on this 7″, one more pop and one more hardcore, that points to Ex-Vöid being a more fully realized project than some might think.
3. Lightning Bolt – Sonic Citadel
Few bands have gained the type of singular reputation afforded Lightning Bolt. One of noise’s most celebrated duos, the pair matches virtuosic playing with an unmatched, almost feral intensity. Sonic Citadel, their first record in four years, find them in a more polished pop mode (by their own unique set of standards) and yields some of the most immediate and enjoyable work of an already legendary career.
4. Black Beach – Tapeworm
Black Beach have appeared on this site a few times in the past and their natural artistic progression continues to make an impression. Tapeworm, the band’s latest, finds them at the top of their game, blending post-hardcore production aesthetics with noise-punk intensity and a deceptively pop-leaning melodic sensibility that tethers everything into a uniquely compelling whole.
5. clipping. – There Existed An Addiction to Blood
One of the most interesting acts of the past 10 years, clipping. have carved out a unique niche for themselves through a remarkable consistency. Even as the noise-rap band grows bolder and more adventurous with their artistic choices, there’s an innate quality to both the production and bandleader Daveed Diggs’ astonishing command of narrative that makes the trio’s latest, There Existed An Addiction to Blood, stand out at every unpredictable, terrifying turn.
6. Blush Cameron – Ambiguous World
Every once in a while, a bedroom pop record rolls around from a local upstart that is so fully-formed and thoughtful in its concept and execution that it feels as if the artist responsible for its creation has been making waves for years. Blush Cameron’s Ambiguous World falls firmly into that rare category, utilizing a fondness for ’90s alternative to great effect, imbuing an impressive record with a lo-fi warmth that elevates the whole affair from great to irresistible.
7. Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
One of 2019’s most unexpected records for a whole host of reasons, Great Grandpa‘s sophomore effort is a breathtakingly accomplished piece of music. A startling leap ahead in directional sensibility, Four of Arrows finds the band transforming their explosive, pop-leaning math-grunge into a genre-defiant collection of styles. Radiohead, Imogen Heap, The Cranberries, Tom Petty, and Cyndi Lauper all somehow wind up being major points of reference across the record, making it one of the year’s most fascinating listens. Impressively, everything the band throws at the wall here works. An astonishing record.
8. Carver Baronda – Spooky Love
Spooky Love, the latest EP from DIY alt-country force of nature Carver Baronda, is the songwriter’s most impressive work to date. Filled to the brim with a romanticized take on the genre’s best strains, Baronda carves out a collection of memorable tracks that are teeming with intricate subtleties and well-articulated nuance (the restrained slide work is especially tasteful). A small but staggering EP from an artist that deserves everyone’s full attention.
9. Amy O – Shell
One of the more consistently engaging emergent voices in indie pop, Amy O followed up 2017’s winsome Elastic with a more considered album, allowing it’s thoughtfulness to pay dividends. From the opening title track through the 10 songs that follow, Shell casually invites and thoroughly rewards investment. A small but notable triumph for an intriguing songwriter that never seems to stop getting better.