Western Stars - Bruce Springsteen
The fact that it's 2019 and a new Bruce Springsteen album is on heavy rotation is kind of hilarious. I've been a Springsteen fan for a long time, but I've been critical of his low effort albums. I hadn't heard much buzz about Western Stars, so I assumed it wasn't worth my time until a friend of mine tweeted about it. I don't suspect this is his last album, but if he were to go out on this note, it would be a very high one.
In the Wild - Udobi
I ran into this album on accident, and while I don't love it from start to finish, I love 75% of the tracks, which is impressive for this day and age. Udobi's hip-hop-influenced sound performed with live instruments is refreshing. Some of my favorite tracks on the album are The Beginning of the End, Renegades, and Transitions.
Bandana - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
The production on Bandana is unreal. Madlib reached into the depths of his soul and produced something that I'll remember for a long time. Freddie Gibbs isn't my favorite artist, but his pairing with Madlib helps to smooth the rough edges of his style and allows him to shine in the ways he's most comfortable. One of the more impressive displays of this is on the song Palmolive.
We Get By - Mavis Staples
I don't know what else to say about this album other than it's the best album I've heard this year. I've seen this album getting universal acclaim, but I didn't expect to connect with it on the level I did. It's a soulful album, with some gospel undertones but I wouldn't say it's religious.