KAMP’s Picks of the Year 2019
Each week KAMP’s E-Board and Music Directors post their picks of the week on our whiteboards in the station. These represent music or events that we are really digging at that time. This will be a place for KAMPers to elucidate their highlights of this year. There is no formal style here, KAMPers have written their top picks and could choose to explain them as little or as much as they want. Without further ado, KAMP’s picks of 2019.
Alli – General Manager
Happy New Year everyone! It’s Alli, your General Manager here with my picks of the year 2019. To be honest, I didn’t really stretch out of my comfort zone this year. Nevertheless, my taste in music is somewhat all over the place so I hope you find something for you to enjoy. All of these are from this year; I double checked! I hope you give some of these picks a try!
– affection by BETWEEN FRIENDS (bedroom pop)
– F*ck it I love you by Lana Del Rey (indie pop)
– Running Up Freestyle by Megan Thee Stallion (Southern rap)
– BOOM by NCT DREAM (KPop)
– Cha Cha by Freddie Dredd (grunge rap)
– SNOWCONE by REI AMI (rap/bedroom pop)
– money machine by 100 gecs (experimental PC music)
– holy terrain by FKA twigs (art pop)
– If You Supply the Paint by Donny Electric (indie pop)
– Sympathy by Vampire Weekend (indie pop)
– EARFQUAKE by Tyler, The Creator (hip-hop)
– Selfish by Little Simz, Cleo Sol (R&B)
– Coax & Botany by Gus Dapperton (synth pop)
– Kilmaa (Cover by Miyashita Yuu)by Niru Kajitsu (JRock)
Hibah – Marketing Director
The songs that I have chosen to highlight are related to meaningful events and people who, for better or for worse, have granted me immeasurable insight into the person who I aim to be. In no particular order, here are my top picks of 2019:
1. Boku no Koto- Mrs. Green Apple
I started 2019 with a strong reminder of the precious experiences I made in 2018. A friend I made from the club I joined while studying abroad in Japan was studying at the U of A, and before he went back home after the end of the semester, I offered to show him around Phoenix. One night, I took him to see the Zoo Lights and of all the exhibits there, perhaps the most mesmerizing one was were moving light patterns were cast upon the mountains. While we watched the city lights from the highest point, the frigid air and the rain that started drizzling reminded me of the memories I made in his hometown.
This song especially allows me to relive perhaps my proudest moment: performing live as a band’s lead vocalist. Mrs. Green Apple’s Motoki Omori has such an amazing and powerful voice in which you can hear his cries for hope and optimism. I entered 2019 hoping I could achieve as much as I did in 2018.
Summary: This song makes me shed happy tears and is a really good song to belt during karaoke. 10/10 highly recommend. Disclaimer: has some weeb flair~
2. TLC- The Runaway Club
Like every Spring Break, this year’s was also long-awaited. I thought I would be spending my time sleeping and eating the days away, ya know, giving myself a little TLC. However, the week resulted in sleepless nights filled with worry. My grandfather’s health suddenly deteriorated—one day he was walking and talking just fine and then the next day he didn’t have the strength to bring a spoon to his mouth. I went back to school with a new set of worries, but a greater bond with my family.
TLC. It stands for Tender Loving Care… I didn’t know before (I literally googled it while writing this), I just knew that it had something to with self-care? Everyone needs some TLC. Everyone goes through rough times. Listen to the song. The lyrics may sound silly but it helps put things in perspective.
Summary: Take care of yourself, take care of others.
3. Grow Old Die Young- ONE OK ROCK
I had been waiting to see these guys for YEARS. I wasn’t in the country when they were in America the last time, that is why when I learned they would be passing through Arizona, I would see them in concert no matter what. Japanese rock band ONE OK ROCK has gained an international following with their amazing live performances. Their latest album, “Eye of the Storm,” has been released in two versions, English and Japanese. Straying from their original rock roots, they have embraced a more pop sound; however, all of their songs have feeling—have meaning.
While I was standing pushed up against the crowd, at that moment, I had could have died and had no regrets. Such was the feeling of unity amongst the other OORers.
This song isn’t their best, but I deffo remember that I was singing this one at the top of my lungs. I might’ve shed a tear or two. I don’t remember, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did. I’m a very emotional person.
4. Everything Sucks- Scott Helman
May 2019. Yikes.
It was hot. Finals killed my soul. I still had to prepare for my MCAT and then take it. The MCAT killed my soul. And I was fasting amidst it all. Honestly, I don’t know how I emerged sane coming out of that month, but I did.
The title of this song matches my feelings about this time in my life more than the song’s actual contents but…whateva. Despite the negativity it oozes, the song actually makes me feel good. Idk how to describe it, I just really vibe with it. It’s a weird mashup between sad boi feels and dancing badly at a club on purpose wit yo fwends. (I’ve never done that before tho so take this description with a grain of salt. Thx.)
Summary: Everything sucks but it’ll be alright.
5. Nostalgic- A R I Z O N A
Besides the two holidays Muslims celebrate in a year, the only other time we get lit is at wedDinGZ~
While the wedding isn’t planned until March 2020, I did get to attend the engagement celebration of a woman who is essentially my older sister. The bride-to-be’s younger sister is my best friend (tho we started off as arch enemies—a story for another time) and their family is my family. As she was the first from our generation to get hitched, this was a big deal. I flew to Houston, TX for a weekend to attend an event that lasted a max of 4 hours? But what kind of sister would I be if I hadn’t?
Oof. Seeing her all decked out brought back a flood of memories of when we were young. Our wee selves causing a commotion, fighting and making up…
I cried that night too. (Sorry, not sorry. Tears have been a key component of my 2019.)
Summary: Listen to this song when you want to take a trip down memory lane. Share it with someone you miss from your past and reminisce and turn old memories into new ones.
6. GONG- WANIMA
I love change. I love trying new things. And, at the beginning of my last year of undergrad, I was getting ready to do A LOT of new things I was super excited for. I was starting positions as a Writing Tutor, a Marketing Director and a Global Ambassador. Plus, I was undertaking two separate research projects I was super passionate about: 1) behavior and cognition in the aging and 2) bioethical issues in anthropological research of the Ainu (the indigenous people of Japan).
Another Japanese rock band, WANIMA, was my most listened to artist in 2019 according to Spotify (they are definitely #1 in my list of bands I want to see perform live). They are fun; they are soulful. This song was featured at the end of the movie One Piece: Stampeded and is about going out and exploring the unknown and continuing even the toughest of journeys because hey, you haven’t completed your goal yet.
Summary: The song is fun and makes you feel like you take on anything. Take these words from the wise Straw Hat Pirate Zoro: “I’ll survive and do what I want to do.”
7. Beauties of Nature- SEKAI NO OWARI
This was my theme song when I finally ventured up to Mt. Lemmon after living in Tucson for 3+ years. I had heard rumors that there’s a point on your way to the top where you doubt you’re still in Arizona. Kinda ironic that I was leading the trip when I had never gone up myself, but it’s fine…everyone got to marvel at a new view of Tucson from 7000 ft in the sky. Getting the last few cookies from the cookie cabin, we watched the sun set and took Polaroids under the starry night sky. That was probably one of the most magical nights I’ve experienced.
It’s a simple song — sounds like it’s from a fairy tale. Reminds me of adventures children go on like catching fireflies, crossing rivers by balancing across logs, rolling around in grassy fields…
Summary: Listen to this track on repeat while stargazing or perform it to woo a special someone.
8. 3 a.m.- Survive Said The Prophet
I don’t do all-nighters. But I will stay up all night to spend extra time with my friends, especially if they are having trouble sleeping. People come first. Tomorrow’s exam means nothing if I know that someone I care about is suffering. Therapy at 3 in the morning wrapped in warm blankets and the best company is the best therapy. Convince me otherwise.
This song is in English, the band is made up of mostly Japanese members (surprise surprise). Emo vibes are strong in this one. I looove the vocalist’s voice, though he does give off a country accent here and there, but it doesn’t bother me 🙂
Summary: I wish I had a husky voice so I could sing this song.
9. Memories- Maroon 5
I heard Maroon 5’s success can due to the deal the made with the devil. Whether you want to admit it or not, you’ve liked at least one of their many hits.
This song made me think about all the new friends I made this year. It made me fear that I may lose them after graduation. I don’t want to lose them. There goes another tear.
If I ever perform a song again, it’s going to be this one, probably at your wedding/graduation/farewell party/other meaningful event. I will make you ugly cry.
Who wants to form a band with me? Disclaimer: be ready to work with a total amateur with no self-confidence.
Summary: I like this song. Don’t hate. Plz.
10. All You Need to Know Ft. Calle Lehmann (acoustic version!!!)- Gryffin
I went to my first rave. I learned I’m not a raver. While I didn’t quite enjoy the music, the experience left me speechless. Music’s power to form a community never ceases to amaze me. I don’t want to relive that weekend again, but despite the numerous traumatic events that occurred (hunger, heartbreak, traffic violations), my friends and I survived with each other’s support.
I want to learn to play this song on mi guitarra. Calle Lehmann has an amazing voice.
Summary: The acoustic version of the song you are listening to is probably better.
I really had to dig through my playlist to find songs released in 2019…I usually listen to older songs. But here are some songs released earlier that I listened to on repeat for a while:
Dear Winter 2.0- AJR
Don’t Throw Out My Leggos- AJR
New Light- John Mayer
Stacy- Quinn XCII (acoustic version is good too~)
All Night Long (Piano version)- NiiHWA
Yokohama Blues- SEKAI NO OWARI
Still Good- DNCE
Favorite Fantasy- Lucky Kilimanjaro
Life in Pink- The Ready Set
Nozomi- Monkey Majik
Tokyo Lights- Monkey Majik
Basho- KICK THE CAN CREW
Like I’m Home- CIRRRCLE
Nate – Engineering Director
Hey Folks, If you have some free time, read this thoroughly and perhaps even listen to the songs I present? I won’t say I have excellent taste but I am confident that you will like something from this list. 2019 has been a pretty good year for me and for music. Similar to last year, I was content to stick with old classics and not really dive too deep into new releases. I will admit I probably passed over some gems but I am not stressed about it; these records may not be the absolute greatest albums but I liked them enough to revisit them here. In no particular order, my picks of the year:
Cruelty and the Beast (Re-Mistressed) – Cradle of Filth
Standout Track: Hallowed be thy Name
An old album remastered, a cash grab as old as time. Or so I thought, before this album absolutely blew me away. If you haven’t heard it, the original album Cruelty and the Beast kind of sounded like shit. It had a strange mix that didn’t really compliment the band and many people bemoaned this fact. In this “Re-mistressed” version, the album sounds fantastic and I enjoy listening to it much more. It retains some of the creepy/campy/cringy vibes of the original while sounding wholly modern and relevant. Disclaimer; if you don’t like Dani Filth’s high screams or long songs about Elizabeth Bathory, then this will not be for you. The final/bonus track is an amazing cover of Iron Maiden’s Hallowed be thy Name, which is a must listen if you are unfamiliar.
The End of an Era|Rebirth – Inferi
Standout Track: The Warrior’s Infinite Opus
Inferi is a band that I have followed since their bandcamp days and they continue their grind as they seek to gain more of a following in the tech death scene. Unfortunately, I was unable to see them live this year, but I hope to rectify that soon. The End of an Era was the band’s sophomore release, dropping way back in 2009. The album that was released in the current year is a rerecorded take on the original, with the band’s more recent lineup. I personally liked the original for its lo fi production, so this new album disappointed me by having a relatively generic tech death mix. That’s not to say the album is bad. Far from it; the new production just allows the guitar work to really shine. Even after 10 years, the riffs and leads of this album are still amazing. To me, Inferi is a band based around guitar, and this album is no different. One curious thing; in the older version of the album Sentenced to Eternal Life is easily my favorite track, but in the newer version I find myself coming back to The Endless Siege or A New Breed of Savior. This is not a complaint, but rather I think it speaks to the quality of the album that it is making me question former favorites.
In Cauda Venenum – Opeth
Standout Track: Lovelorn Crime
No one saw this coming I’m sure. If you aren’t aware, Opeth is my favorite band so it is no surprise that their newest effort makes it onto this list. Now firmly in the prog rock genre, Opeth has found their footing and puts out a cohesive and powerful album that is easily the best of their post-Watershed music imo. Please go and listen to the song Lovelorn Crime. If you want my extended take on In Cauda Venenum, check out the review I wrote back when it came out: Review Here
New Moon – AOA
Standout Track: Ninety Nine
AOA comeback strong with this EP, showing us that they are just as capable as a 5 piece. After their appearance on the Queendom tv show, we basically all expected a comeback by the end of 2019. The songs Egotistic and Sorry were released along with their performance on the show, and they gave us a good taste of AOA the 5 member group. Egotistic is a fucking banger and I recommend you check it out. I’ll readily admit that I was a bit worried and set my expectations relatively low for the album release. New Moon came and quelled my fears. All five songs on the album are great and I have been listening to all of them. This is the first AOA album where I feel that every one of the b tracks is awesome and worth listening to just as much as the lead single. Each song is different in style and it really makes the album an interesting listen. Many people will say that AOA is dead without Choa and Mina but I disagree heartily.
Veleno – Fleshgod Apocalypse
Standout Track: Monnalisa
With the departure of some members a few years back, Francesco Paoli is playing drums, guitar, and vocals for Fleshgod Apocalypse on this album. I am not sure if this is a necessarily good or bad thing but I can say that this album is very good. In standard Fleshgod fashion, opera and technical death metal are mixed to create and eclectic sound that is equally terrifying and gorgeous. In the album there are extremely heavy parts and extremely tender parts. Notably, this album has a ‘ballad’ song in the beautiful track The Day We’ll Be Gone. The mixing is awesome, vocals and instruments blend well with the symphonic tracks. I have heard many complaints about this album suffering from a overcompressed master, but I did not hear anything too egregious. Perhaps I have not reached that level of music snobbery yet. My favorite song is certainly Monnalisa; five and a half minutes of pure banger. It combines well written symphonic elements with tight and fast metal sections. Vocals are good, lyrics are good, it just is a good song. Check out the instrumental version if you don’t like growls.
Spiritual Instinct – Alcest
Standout Track: Sapphire
An album I slept on to be honest. I really enjoyed the singles when they came out and then I pretty much forgot about this record. Listening back to it as I write this I am thoroughly enjoying it. This album combines black metal with shoegaze and alt for a unique feel that works much better than you think it would. The composition of the songs is superb, each one is a journey and full of pleasant melodies and riffs. Many of the riffs sound alike, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. For me this aided the continuity of the album and helped keep up the feel and atmosphere, similar to how Electric Wizard uses the same riffs over and over but it works.
Orphans – The Agonist
Standout Track: As One We Survive
To be honest, the single As One We Survive is the pretty much the only song I really like on this album. But that being said, this is a good album. If you are at all a fan of melodeath or female vocals, you will like this. If you like Arch Enemy or The Agonist or Jinjer, this has something for you and I recommend you check it out. The guitar riffs are consistent and catchy, the mix is heavy and good, not many complaints about this album. The vocals are a highlight, moving from clean to growls and many shades in between. Vocalist Vicky Psarakis has great control and her screaming tone is good in both her high and low screams. Her clean vocals are also surprisingly mellifluous.
!!!!Album of the Year!!!!:
Gryningsvisor – Ofdrykkja
You may be surprised to see that Opeth’s release didn’t seize the top spot. There is good reason for this. I previously had never heard of the Swedish band Ofdrykkja but I stumbled upon this release browsing through my apple music just about a month ago. I was immediately struck by how good this album was. Within a few songs I knew this was AOTY material.
The album could be considered black metal, but it also sits firmly in the dark ambient/atmospheric genres. It certainly reminds me of GY!BE and also of later Burzum. I would say that The Ways of Yore by Burzum is a potent analogy. I am a big fan of dungeon synth vibes and this record is good for that while also incorporating more traditional black metal elements. This album encapsulates everything that I love about black metal. It has a heavy focus on the atmosphere and has extremely well written guitar parts and melodies. Female vocals are used as well as spoken word and standard black metal shrieks. This combination allows for some truly gorgeous and dark songs such as Ensam or Swallowed by the Night. If you want an album to use as background music/fall asleep to, listen to this album. If you want an album to musically dissect and listen to over and over, this will work for that. I cannot recommend this album enough. I bought it on vinyl and plan to revisit it often. Bleak, meditative, beautiful, this album is my album of the year without question.
Bennett – Hip Hop Director
MY TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2019
Crush by Floating Points
The third album from English neuroscientist-turned-DJ, Sam Shepherd, Crush floats between dance floor breakbeat and cool ambient IDM. Textures float in and out of opener “Falaise” as strings weave to a staccatoed climax, while pulsing bass grooves call to awaken breakneck rhythms on “Bias”. The strength of Crush is in its mercurial disposition, content to be the life of the party in one moment, ready to vibe and chill out the next.
Feet of Clay by Earl Sweatshirt
Earl’s follow up to last years massively successful Some Rap Songs is the brief Feet of Clay. Although only 15 minutes, Earl makes the most of his time and shines against some of his most abstract production yet. If you’re a fan of his new style you probably know by now, but this album converted me. From the deadpan “MTOMB” to the dreamy “4N”, Earl continues to push the boundaries of hip hop.
Itekoma Hits by Otoboke Beaver
Do you ever want to go apeshit? Otoboke Beaver have you covered. The quartet blast through 14 hardcore punk songs in the time it takes for you apologize to your significant other for whatever careless thing you did this time. My favorite is “S’il vous plait”. Strictly music for being furiously productive. Get some aggression out!
Basking in the Glow by oso oso
2017 never truly ended for me, so excuse me if I enjoy my emo-pop. Jade DiMitri’s earnest anthems have been locked in my head since I first heard his brand of Long Beach indie rock. Basking in the Glow is indebted to Arizona’s own Jimmy Eat World as well as power pop titans The Get Up Kids, and you can hear it, from the sensitive lyrics to sweet choruses and melodies. The component that separates Basking in the Glow from emo releases of days gone by is in it’s refreshing emotional honesty. “Because I don’t even know anymore/I open up just to shut it down” belts DiMitri on “One Sick Plan” and it feels great to recognize someone taking actual responsibility for their feelings.
Purple Mountains by Purple Mountains
Rest in peace David Berman. It absolutely sucks that any discussion of this album revolves around mental health and suicide when Purple Mountains features so many dynamic emotional moments other than those of despair. “Storyline Fever” is a take on fake news cycles and their tendency to spin everything into sinister narratives, but more than that it’s about confirmation bias and the desire to frame everything that happens as part of a grand scheme. Berman’s strong americana roots guide each of the songs here and there’s little a missed moment. A strong memoriam for a brilliant man.
Duster by Duster
The comeback album twenty years in the making from slowcore band Duster is fantastic. Labeled as “experimental depressed music” by Clay Parton, band leader, Duster’s self-titled effort drifts from Red House Painters ballads (“Copernicus Crater”) to Galaxie 500 – esque pop songs (“Summer War/Ghost World”). Layers of distortion and guitar fuzz build as synths sweep through, though the effect is nothing if not calming.
Magdalene by FKA twigs
Magdalene is ornate and delicate, though most of the appeal in listening derives from seeing how the production deliberately pushes against twigs’ signature soprano. Nicolas Jaar’s harsh samples and sharp strings color the gorgeous “Fallen Alien” while simple piano with a little beatboxing close the album with the pristine “Cellophane”, probably the best song of the entire year. The songwriting deserves a look as well, ranging over topics from the historical Mary Magdalene to depressed masturbation, always in a tasteful and captivating manner. Magdalene is one of the most interesting releases of the year and a definitive release for twigs.
House of Sugar by (Sandy) Alex G
Mr. G has blessed us again with this lush package of beautiful fall-colored songs. I have less to say about this album than the others on this list because of how well it stands for itself. The four song run “Hope/Southern Sky/Gretel/Taking” is the best sequence on any album released in 2019, and although this would leave one to believe the latter half falls behind, the experimental and sometimes silly pop compositions of “Near” and “Sugar” would beg to differ. Closing with the beautiful “SugarHouse – Live”, (Sandy) Alex G employs his best songwriting yet, making me as eager as ever to see what the prolific 26 year old will make next.
Schlagenheim by BLACK MIDI
This record is magic. It’s stunning that that a group of four musicians as young as they are (19-20, when the album was recorded) have captured such a unique style with their debut album. Schlagenheim touches on noise rock, post-punk, and country before settling on Battles-esque math rock. Frontman Geordie Greep’s vocals are without comparison, screeching and whining with little regard for time or rhythm. This album is unlike anything else I’ve heard and deserves a listen. My favorites are the rage filled “Near DT, MI” and the transcendent “bmbmbm”.
Dog Whistle by Show Me the Body
Dog Whistle is my favorite album of 2019 because of how carefully it uses its time. Julian Pratt’s banjo leads opener “Camp Orchestra”, as tense bass promises an eruption soon. Album highlight “Madonna Rocket” rips through its allotted 2 minutes with no room to spare as Pratt screams about dead friends and old family, before leading into the instantly classic “Arcanum”, easily one of my favorite songs of this year. “City full of tombstones/that’s a mass grave” howls Pratt, referencing the band’s three coffin logo. Every song on Dog Whistle wastes no time, jumping from riff to riff, and issue to issue with little time to look back and evaluate each tune before it’s on to the next. This album isn’t for everybody, evidenced by the spoken word segments, distorted vocals, and sludge metal riffs, but if you ever find yourself angry with urban life or the pigs walking your street, this might be for you.
Matt – World + Jazz Director
It’s been quite an interesting year for Jazz as for any other year. I think what sticks out to me this year was a cultural integration helped in making jazz more of an interesting genre for listeners. Here are my “Top 10 Picks” for 2019. Starting at the number 10 spot we have Acute Inflections: “Electric Psychology”. For a duet, these cool cats can make pop arrangements have a chill flow. I found that their rendition(s) of “Redbone” and “Satisfaction” though catchy and rhythmic, it has a completely different presentation through their performances.
Number nine, Rich Willey’s Boptism Funk Band: “Conspiracy”. I’ve always been a fan of funk and fusion learning about them in Jazz history. To me the group reminds me too much of Booker T. & the MGs and this is an album to “bop” to.
Number eight- Raquel Cepeda: “Passion”. Overall a good mix of “Latin” an “Jazz” which without a doubt goes well together. Her vocals are incredibly alluring, not to forget of course the accompaniment is complimentary to her vocals.
Number 7, Fleur Suele: “Standards and Sweet Things”. To describe this album into one word; I’d simply would say nostalgic. A French/English Vocalist who nearly mimics iconic vocals throughout jazz history (i.e.- Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday) that of course the arrangement almost feels resonant to giving itself a more vintage quality which feels authentic.
Number six, Altered Five Blues Band: “Ten Thousand Watts”. A good mix of funk and blues that is overall just simple yet redundant. An album that you could slap onto a jukebox at a diner.
Number five- Roxy Coss: “Quintet”. This five-man band lays out a soothing jazz album for those slow night out on the town. A good sit-down album guaranteed to make you relax.
Number four, Champian Fulton & Corey Weeds- “Dream a Little…”. A coffee-house style of jazz that will help you kick back and alleviate your worries away. With a mix of popular jazz repertoire and original compositions this duet will help you to keep the good times rollin’.
Number three, Florian Hoefner Trio: “First Spring”. Hoefner and his trio set out to capture ambiance and this album executes that well by incorporating folk compositions and incorporating that into a jazz work that is contemporary and surprisingly, works well.
Number two, Carmen Sandim: “Play Doh”. A mix of Brazillian-Jazz that I thought to be quite exhilarating. This Pianist/Composer incorporates latin rhythms into a modern jazz setting. A musician who plays from the heart and shining her creativity through a more impressionistic style. Before I get to number one on my top ten list, I have some honorable mentions:
Larry Wolf / Four Cats & A Canary- “Mood Swings”
One O’ Clock Lab Band- “Lab 2019”
Lerner & Leowe- “Austin Cunningham & His Friends”
Jeff Goldblum / Mildred Snitzer Orchestra- “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This”
My number one Jazz album of 2019 is Troy Roberts- “Days Like These”. Roberts’ saxophone performance is complimentary to his improvised arrangement. A solid sit-down album that I feel like would lighten up the moods of many anywhere.
Ruby – Alt Director
The following is a list of my 10 favorites in music, film, and television from 2019. I feel I must disclose that I am terrible at ordering things by how much I liked them, so I think a better title for this list may just be “10 Things I Enjoyed in 2019”.
Avengers Endgame (movie)
I have to include this, not necessarily because it was my favorite movie but because of how significant of an event it was in my life. Maybe that sounds silly, but I was a huge marvel/MCU fan throughout high school, and to see the culmination of the entire cinematic universe was a momentous occasion for me. I was strangely depressed for days after the film because I felt like a huge part of my teen years had come to an end; it felt like my childhood was well and truly over. In retrospect, I think the movie itself was good, not amazing. It had its iconic moments (Cap wielding Mjolnir, “I am Iron Man”, etc) and did a surprisingly good job joining together the mcu’s dozens of characters and arcs. However, I wasn’t entirely happy with the way some characters were handled and I thought that the time travel aspect was riddled with plot holes, as complicated time travel plots tend to be. However, despite its flaws, it was a fitting end to the action packed, often corny but always entertaining films that defined my teen years.
Four of Arrows by Great Grandpa
This album has to make my top 10, not only because it’s a lovely record, but because of the story that goes along with it. I first heard it sitting in scented leaf tea house while putting my slides together for a KAMP meeting, and immediately took a liking to it. Exactly two days later, my English TA mentioned that he was best friends with the members of a somewhat obscure band from Seattle called Great Grandpa and that he used to help the band’s songwriter write lyrics. I couldn’t believe the coincidence; I had only become aware of this band’s existence two days ago and I had just learned that I had known one of their best friends all semester, hundreds of miles from the city they’re based in.
The album itself is pretty and poppy but not without significant influence from garage rock and shoegaze. The lyrics are bittersweet and hopeful and the vocals are calming and melodic. It’s the kind of album that reminds you things will be okay eventually, even if they aren’t right now.
Laughing Matter by Wand (album)
I always love an album where most of the songs are longer than five minutes, and Wand’s laughing Matter did not disappoint. Its ambient and psychedelic, swelling from soft acoustic tracks like “High Planes Drifter” to louder, electric guitar driven trakcs like “Walkie Talkie” and ‘Evening star”. The vocals are relatively nondescript and definitely are not the focus of the the album, but they are soft and pleasant in a way that compliments the instrumentals well. There’s certainly influences from 60s rock, but with a contemporary twist that makes it an excellent modern psych rock album. It’s the kind of album that works best if you just close your eyes and let the music wash over you.
Literally Mainstreet by Cataldo (album)
This was one of those albums that immediately hit me right in the heart. It’s a very simple record, mostly just vocals over acoustic guitar, but the amount of emotion it held in those simple chords made it stand out to me. It’s a story-driven album, based on singer Eric Anderson’s experiences growing up in a strange small town in Idaho. The album’s lyrics were its strongest aspect; they were beautiful and touching, and made me feel nostalgic for a past I didn’t even experience. I remember almost tearing up as I listened to this album for the first time as I walked to class. Also, Anderson emailed me to thank KAMP for playing his songs which was very nice of him.
Like many people my age, I grew up with Elton John’s Music, but never really knew much about who he was as a person. Rocketman was a colorful, glittering, and heartbreaking portrayal of Elton John’s rise to fame and his struggles along the way that gave me new insight into the mind behind some of my favorite childhood songs. I think it was a great decision to make Rocketman a movie-musical instead of just a movie about music. It gave the film a theatrical flair that I think is only fitting for a film about such a theatrical performer, and it contextualized these much-loved songs in a new way. I thought it was a beautiful film, and left me feeling both heartbroken and inspired.
Umbrella Academy (TV show)
I was really excited to see the Umbrella Academy comics adapted to the screen, and curious to see how the showrunners would pull it off. I thoroughly enjoyed the show; it was visually stunning, had an excellent soundtrack, an interesting plot. I think the show’s strongest aspect was its lively variety of unique characters and the dysfunctional family dynamic between them. The show was significantly different from the comics, and while some of these changes fell flat in my opinion (like the transformation of Hazel and Cha Cha from deranged assassins to jaded employees) some I actually found to be improvements over the books (like Diego’s relationship with his mother, Klaus’s depth, and the more diverse cast). Overall, I felt that the show did a great job adapting the comics into a story that made sense on screen while preserving the story’s essence.
Good Omens (TV Show)
My favorite TV show that came out this year was the mini-series Good Omens, based on the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I admittedly have not read said book, but have enjoyed Gaiman and Pratchett’s other work, so when the internet became abuzz with adoration for this new show, I was eager to check it out. What I discovered was a quirky, hilarious series that was entertaining while also offering some interesting introspection on religion, friendship, and the true meaning of good and evil. It follows the story of an angel and a demon working together to stop the apocalypse while struggling to hide their friendship and their plan from both heaven and hell. I think the brilliance of this show was in the small details that gave each episode humor and complexity.
Barriers by Frank Iero and the Future Violents (album)
Barriers is the third solo album by New Jersey punk rocker Frank Iero, and the Future Violents the third incarnation of his solo act. As a fan of the music Iero has made in the many, many (many) bands he’s been in over the years, I was really excited for this release, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. It was an emotional, gritty record full of Frank Iero’s signature brand of grungy but beautiful guitar work, but this time with the notable addition of Kayleigh Goldsworthy’s keyboard and backing vocals, adding a softer layer that hasn’t been present on some of his earlier albums. My one complaint about the album is the vocals on some songs; clean, in-tune vocals are not Iero’s strength. However I think he undoubtedly makes up for it with his excellent songwriting and hard-hitting, poetic lyricism.
Devour You by Starcrawler (album)
This incredible album by the LA rock band Starcrawler is a perfect blend of modern punk and 70s rock and roll, equal parts abrasive and melodic and overall a raucous, Runaway-esque good time. The album is bratty and loud, especially on tracks like “Bet My Brains” and “Lizzy”, but is not without its soft moments, like “NO More Pennies” and “Crybaby”. It’s a very cohesive record that has a consistent tone and aesthetic, but manages this without sounding repetitive. It’s certainly my favorite new album I heard this year, and I’m so glad it led me to discover Starcrawler, an instant favorite. Judging from this album and the videos I’ve seen of them performing, they are a band full of raw energy and creativity, a force to be reckoned with, and I look forward too hearing their future work.
Like Phantoms, Forever: The My Chemical Romance reunion show
Oddly enough, the event that defined 2019 for me was a concert that I didn’t even attend. I became a huge MCR fan just months after their decisive 2013 break-up, and I assumed I would never get any sort of new content from the band, let alone see them live. But all that changed this Halloween, when they announced a reunion show, turning millions of fans’ worlds upside down. The event was named after the band’s first release (a now long lost EP called Like Phantoms, Forever) and took place at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles on December 20th, 2019. This particular date and time was especially significant to fans, as “California 2019” was the setting of MCR’s last studio album–Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys–and the accompanying music videos. I watched the concert from my living room in Washington via a blurry Instagram stream.
It was an incredible event to witness, even from so far away. Despite my excitement, I was unsure what to expect, seeing as the band hadn’t performed together in over seven years. But I had no reason to be worried. Ray Toro still shreds like a maniac, Frank Iero still thrashes about like a punk in a dirty basement, Mikey way still strums stoically on his glittery silver bass, and Gerard Way, though admittedly not as theatrical as he used to be, can still scream loud enough to shake the room. The manic energy and pure love in the crowd was palpable, even through my laptop screen, as devoted fans (some of whom had camped outside the venue for days before the show) shouted every lyric. It was the best Christmas gift a girl could ask for; I am overjoyed that my favorite band is back and I can’t wait to see what they have planned next.
2019 was a pretty solid year for me music wise. It had bops, bangers, and jams a plenty. My Top Seven, in no particular order, is as follows.
Ocean Grove put out some singles this year, Glass Gloss, Ask for the Anthem, and Sunny. All of these tracks are really sick, Sunny probably being my favorite. The band is a nu-metal-ish group from Australia, and had some recent lineup changes. Their older music was definitely a lil heavier than the tracks released this year, but there is some good moshing potential with the new tracks as well. Really hoping that 2020 will have a full album release.
Taylor Swift also realized a new album, and it was pretty solid. I’m not really a fan of the slow ballad types, but Cruel Summer, ME!, and some of the other tracks slapped pretty hard.
The Acacia Strain released an album right before the end of the year, and it was some peak slam jams. My favorite track off it was probably Only. Also, the names of the tracks is Our Only Sin Was Giving Them Names, and the album was called It Comes In Waves. If that’s not some trve kvlt metal, I don’t know what is.
Back on the girly pop track, Tessa Violet released an album, Bad Ideas. It’s really chill, the tracks sound really full and well made, and has some really good songwriting. Definitely check it out if you like happy background noise tope pop.
The heavy electronic artist Gost put out a couple singles this year, called Ligature Marks, Bloody Roses, and Wrapped in Wax. They are all dark and gritty, and have a lot of depth. The vocals are kind of drone, but I really like the style. There are also some good screams and heavy sections.
Another heavy and semi-electronic group, We Butter The Bread With Butter put out a single, Dreh auf! It’s German deathmetal, with some electronic elements mostly in the background. This band is super heavy, but pretty fun sounding. I don’t speak German so I don’t know what it’s about, but it has a good groove and tone.
Polyphia put out the single Look But Don’t Touch, and it’s great. They are one of my favorite bands, and the guitar parts are so intricate and well done. In my opinion, a lot of guitarists shred like crazy and lose the melody and feel of a song, but Polyphia can weave crazy hard guitar parts into songs that are fast and pleasant to listen to.