17 January 2020

The 2019 Grampies

It's high time (and past time) for the posting of the 2019 Grampies, identifying the most significant albums of this past year across a wide diversity of musical genres. It was a different year in many ways. Whereas 2018 featured numerous new releases from a great many of my favorite artists, 2019 was predominated by a greater number of less familiar acts. The fact is, I was also more preoccupied with other priorities. By way of example, my three most favorite new releases in 2019, hands down, were my three most-recently-born baby grands, Benedict, Philippa, and Augustin. My father's departure from this vale of tears in 2019 also put the transience of popular music into perspective, especially considering that my Dad also avidly followed and charted music across the years. Now his collection of music sits without its owner, and his many lists and notes will go undeciphered. Even so, for the time that we are given in this body and life on earth, music of all kinds is part and parcel of our Lord's good creation, a beautiful gift of His grace, and a joy that gladdens the hearts of His dear children. And I give thanks for that blessing.

As always, my enjoyment and tracking of music have been aided and abetted by Amazon, Spotify, the St. Joseph County Library, the Rate Your Music and Album Of The Year websites, my good friend and colleague, Rev. Erich Fickel, and my own children. Often as not, I stumble upon great new music almost by accident. (I've concluded that, beginning with this New Year, I'm going to have to limit my exploration of new music and rather stick to my tried and true favorite artists; but here, for now, my focus of attention is on what I discovered and enjoyed in 2019.)

In addition to my "Album Top 40" (across all genres) for the year, I've included lists of the most significant albums within each of seventeen different "genres." Within those categories, I've listed the albums in more-or-less my order of preference (though that is likely to vary from day to day). In many cases, trying to determine the precise genre of a given album is a challenge, and I'm sure there are those who might well quibble with some of my decisions in that regard. So be it. This is all a matter of my own tastes and opinions, obviously, and one and all are free to disagree with me. That's part of the fun in posting such lists, and I welcome friendly discussion and debate. I should note that I have normally not included live albums as contenders in the annual Grampies, but I've made one exception (sort of) for this past year. Especially having had the privilege and pleasure of seeing Joe Bonamassa live in South Bend with my wife and a couple of good friends, I simply could not overlook his "Live at the Sydney Opera House" album, released in October. It is an exquisite album and a joy to listen to. So I've listed it as the first album in the "Guitarists" genre, and as a "Special Honorable Addendum" to my "Album Top 40."

Alright, then. Without any further ado, herewith are awarded the coveted Grampies for 2019:

D. Rick’s Album Top 40 (Across Genres)

1. Alter Bridge - Walk the Sky

2. Sabaton - The Great War

3. The Black Keys - “Let’s Rock”

4. Rob Thomas - Chip Tooth Smile

5. Andy Black - The Ghost of Ohio

6. Cody Jinks - After the Fire / The Wanting

7. Lonerider - Attitude

8. Opeth - In Cauda Venenum

9. The Head and the Heart - Living Mirage

10. Jamestown Revival - San Isabel

11. Avantasia - Moonglow

12. Jimmy Barnes - My Criminal Record

13. Black Star Riders - Another State of Grace

14. Terra Nova - Raise Your Voice

15. Flatland Cavalry - Homeland Insecurity

16. Skillet - Victorious

17. Miranda Lambert - Wildcard

18. Age of Reflection - A New Dawn

19. Kenny Wayne Shepherd - The Traveler

20. Battle Beast - No More Hollywood Endings

21. Scott Stapp - The Space Between the Shadows

22. Metalite - Biomechanicals

23. Inglorious - Ride to Nowhere

24. Switchfoot - Native Tongue

25. Beth Hart - War in My Mind

26. Iron Savior - Kill or Get Killed

27. Dream Theater - Distance Over Time

28. Damon Johnson - Memoirs of an Uprising

29. Volbeat - Rewind, Replay, Rebound

30. The Steel Woods - Old News

31. Taylor Swift - Lover

32. Majestica - Above the Sky

33. The Avett Brothers - Closer Than Together

34. Kiefer Sutherland - Reckless & Me

35. Cyhra - No Halos in Hell

36. Tanya Tucker - While I’m Livin’

37. Rival Sons - Feral Roots

38. Bayside - Interrobang

39. Lady Antebellum - Ocean

40. Rhapsody of Fire - The Eighth Mountain

Special Honorable Addendum: Joe Bonamassa - Live at the Sydney Opera House


Taylor Swift - Lover
Sheryl Crow - Threads
Céline Dion - Courage
James Blunt - Once Upon a Mind
Maggie Rogers - Heard It in a Past Life
Sara Bareilles - Amidst the Chaos
Dean Lewis - A Place We Knew
Walk Off the Earth - Here We Go!
Sabrina Carpenter - Singular Act II
Ingrid Michaelson - Stranger Songs
The Script - Sunsets & Full Moons
Jonas Brothers - Happiness Begins / Music from Chasing Happiness
Backstreet Boys - DNA
Dido - Still on My Mind
Carly Rae Jepsen - Dedicated
Norah Jones - Begin Again
Parachute - Parachute
Andy Grammer - Naive
Camila Cabello - Romance
Zac Brown - The Controversy

Alternative and Progressive Folk

The Head and the Heart - Living Mirage
The Avett Brothers - Closer Than Together
The Highwomen - The Highwomen
Neyla Pekarek - Rattlesnake
The Wild Reeds - Cheers
Joseph - Good Luck, Kid
Jessica Pratt - Quiet Signs
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
Lula Wiles - What Will We Do
Dylan LeBlanc - Renegade
Glen Hansard - The Wild Willing
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors - Dragons
The Lumineers - III
Bailen - Thrilled to Be Here
Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center
Belle & Sebastian - Days of the Bagnold Summer
Shovels & Rope - By Blood
Steve Gunn - The Unseen In Between
Ida Mae - Chasing Lights
Son Volt - Union

Folk and Americana

Jamestown Revival - San Isabel
Flatland Cavalry - Homeland Insecurity
J.S. Ondara - Tales of America
Sister Hazel - Earth / Fire
Allison Moorer - Blood
Molly Tuttle - When You’re Ready
Emily Scott Robinson - Traveling Mercies
Eilen Jewell - Gypsy
Ian Noe - Between the Country
Vince Gill - Okie
Joy Williams - Front Porch
Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars
Carrie Newcomer - The Point of Arrival
Buddy & Julie Miller - Breakdown on 20th Ave. South
Mandolin Orange - Tides of a Teardrop
Patty Griffin - Patty Griffin
Dori Freeman - Every Single Star
Over the Rhine - Love & Revelation
Hayes Carll - What It Is
Kelsey Waldon - White Noise / White Lines
John Paul White - The Hurting Kind
Josh Ritter - Fever Breaks
The HawtThorns - Morning Sun
Joshua Radin - Here, Right Now
Rhiannon Giddens - There Is No Other
Passenger - Sometimes It’s Something, Sometimes It’s Nothing at All
Justin Townes Earle - The Saint of Lost Causes
Andrew Combs - Ideal Man
The Talbott Brothers - Ghost Talker
Leonard Cohen - Thanks for the Dance

Modern Mainline Country

Miranda Lambert - Wildcard
Lady Antebellum - Ocean
Ward Thomas - Restless Minds
Christie Lamb - Broken Lines
Maddie & Tae - One Heart to Another / Everywhere I’m Goin’
Michaela Anne - Desert Dove
Lauren Jenkins - No Saint
Luke Combs - What You See Is What You Get
Brooks & Dunn - Reboot
Jason Aldean - 9
Austin Jenckes - If You Grew Up Like I Did
Clay Walker - Long Live the Cowboy
Hunter Hayes - Wild Blue, Part I
Hootie & The Blowfish - Imperfect Circle
Jon Pardi - Heartache Medication
Justin Moore - Late Nights and Longnecks
Kevin Fowler - Barstool Stories
Jake Owen - Greetings from . . . Jake
Maren Morris - Girl
Brooke White - Calico
Cassadee Pope - Stages
Tracy Lawrence - Made in America
Rodney Atkins - Caught Up in the Country
Thomas Rhett - Center Point Road
Zac Brown Band - The Owl
Sarah Darling - Wonderland
Old Dominion - Old Dominion
Chris Janson - Real Friends
Danny Gokey - Haven’t Seen It Yet
Dean Brody - Black Sheep (EP)

Retro and Traditional Country

Cody Jinks - After the Fire / The Wanting
Tanya Tucker - While I’m Livin’
Kendell Marvel - Solid Gold Sounds
Sunny Leigh Shipley - Out of the Sky
George Strait - Honky Tonk Time Machine
Tyler Childers - Country Squire
Trisha Yearwood - Every Girl
Erin Enderlin - Faulkner County
Randy Rogers Band - Hellbent
Cody Johnson - Ain’t Nothin’ to It
Reba McEntire - Stronger Than the Truth
Yola - Walk Through Fire
Willie Nelson - Ride Me Back Home
Midland - Let It Roll
Mike and the Moonpies - Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold
Casey Donahew - One Light Town
Ronnie Milsap - The Duets
Dee White - Southern Gentleman

Alternative & Edgy Country & Americana

The Steel Woods - Old News
Kiefer Sutherland - Reckless & Me
Paul Cauthen - Room 41
Pony Bradshaw - Sudden Opera
Adrian - Desert Dwelling Mama
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real - Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)
Ryan Bingham - American Love Song
Lillie Mae - Other Girls
Jason Hawk Harris - Love & the Dark
Chris Knight - Almost Daylight
Steve Earle - Guy
Kalie Shorr - Open Book
Aaron Lewis - State I’m In
Brantley Gilbert - Fire & Brimstone
Randy Houser - Magnolia
Frank Turner - No Man’s Land
Montgomery Gentry - Outskirts (EP)
Micky & The Motorcars - Long Time Comin’
Dillon Carmichael - I Do for You (EP)
Jack Ingram - Ridin’ High . . . Again

Pop and Heartland Rock

Rob Thomas - Chip Tooth Smile
Jimmy Barnes - My Criminal Record
Beth Hart - War in My Mind
Keuning - Prismism
The Goo Goo Dolls - Miracle Pill
Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water
Grace Potter - Daylight
Don Felder - American Rock ‘n’ Roll
Wilder Woods - Wilder Woods
The Cranberries - In the End
Jimmy Eat World - Surviving
Bryan Adams - Shine a Light
Electric Light Orchestra (Jeff Lynne’s ELO) - From Out of Nowhere
Kevin Griffin - Anywhere You Go
Fastball - The Help Machine
Ringo Starr - What’s My Name
American Authors - Seasons
Stray Cats - 40
Alan Parsons - The Secret
Allen, Mack, Myers, & Moore - Let It Roll

Classic Rock

The Black Keys - “Let’s Rock”
Lonerider - Attitude
Black Star Riders - Another State of Grace
Inglorious - Ride to Nowhere
Rival Sons - Feral Roots
Tesla - Shock
The Allman Betts Band - Down to the River
The Raconteurs - Help Us Stranger
Thunder - Please Remain Seated
Wolfmother - Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby
Melissa Etheridge - The Medicine Show
The Magpie Salute - High Water II
Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown - Truth and Lies
Whiskey Myers - Whiskey Myers
Laura Cox - Burning Bright
Caleb Johnson - Born from Southern Ground
Black Stone Cherry - Black to Blues, Vol. 2 (EP)
The Who - Who
The Drugstore Gypsies - Easy Access
Reese Wynans and Friends - Sweet Release
The Glorious Sons - A War on Everything
John Mayall - Nobody Told Me

Retro Radio Rock

Terra Nova - Raise Your Voice
Age of Reflection - A New Dawn
The Brink - Nowhere to Run
Trishula - Scared to Breathe
Rob Moratti - Renaissance
Gathering of Kings - First Mission
Restless Spirits - Restless Spirits
The Defiants - Zokusho
Danger Zone - Don’t Count on Heroes
Danny Vaughn - Myths Legends and Lies
Wake the Nations - Heartrock
First Signal - Line of Fire
Work of Art - Exhibits
Find Me - Angels in Blue
DeVicious - Reflections
Viana - Forever Free
Hardline - Life
Cats in Space - Day Trip to Narnia
Toby Hitchcock - Reckoning
Jim Peterik and World Stage - Winds of Change

Modern Rock

Alter Bridge - Walk the Sky
Andy Black - The Ghost of Ohio
Skillet - Victorious
Scott Stapp - The Space Between the Shadows
Volbeat - Rewind, Replay, Rebound
Eclipse - Paradigm
Takida - Sju
Saint Asonia - Flawed Design
Ray Alder - What the Water Wants
The Darker My Horizon - Seize the Day
Buckcherry - Warpaint
Art of Dying - Armageddon
Art Nation - Transition
Torndown - Out of the Darkness
Cold - The Things We Can’t Stop
Puddle of Mudd - Welcome to Galvania

Progressive Rock & Metal

Opeth - In Cauda Venenum
Dream Theater - Distance Over Time
Queensrÿche - The Verdict
Evergrey - The Atlantic
Arch/Matheos - Winter Ethereal
The Neal Morse Band - The Great Adventure / Jesus Christ the Exorcist
Steve Hackett - At the Edge of Light
Insomnium - Heart Like a Grave
Vanden Plas - The Ghost Xperiment - Awakening
Sweet Oblivion - Sweet Oblivion
Darkwater - Human
Hollow Haze - Between Wild Landscapes and Deep Blue Seas
Pattern-Seeking Animals - Pattern-Seeking Animals
Avandra - Descender
Sifting - The Infinite Loop
Teramaze - Are We Soldiers
Lance King - ReProgram
Richard Henshall - The Cocoon
Flying Colors - Third Degree
Jordan Rudess - Wired for Madness
TOOL - Fear Inoculum
Baroness - Gold & Grey

Hard Rock / Heavy Metal

Sabaton - The Great War
Battle Beast - No More Hollywood Endings
Beast in Black - From Hell with Love
Liliac - Chain of Thorns (EP)
Spirits of Fire - Spirits of Fire
The End Machine - The End Machine
Sammy Hagar & The Circle - Space Between
Mind Key - MK III - Aliens in Wonderland
Starbreaker - Dysphoria
Michael Sweet - Ten
Pretty Maids - Undress Your Madness
Alchemy - Dyadic
Lazy Bonez - Kiss of the Night
Whitesnake - Flesh & Blood
Last in Line - II
Blacktop Mojo - Under the Sun
Stargazer - The Sky Is the Limit
KXM - Circle of Dolls
SOTO - Origami
Overkill - The Wings of War

Epic Power Metal

Iron Savior - Kill or Get Killed
Majestica - Above the Sky
Signum Regis - The Seal of a New World
Tanith - In Another Time
Timo Tolkki’s Avalon - Return to Eden
Gloryhammer - Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex
The Ferrymen - A New Evil
Eternity’s End - Unyielding
Frozen Crown - Crowned in Frost
Rexoria - Ice Breaker
The Raven Age - Conspiracy
Vision Divine - When All the Heroes Are Dead
Hammerfall - Dominion
Sonata Arctica - Talviyö
DragonForce - Extreme Power Metal
Metal De Facto - Imperium Romanum

Symphonic Metal

Avantasia - Moonglow
Rhapsody of Fire - The Eighth Mountain
Chaos Magic - Furyborn
Turilli / Lione Rhapsody - Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution)
The Dark Element - Songs the Night Sings
Moonlight Haze - De Rerum Natura
Visions of Atlantis - Wanderers
Within Temptation - Resist
Edenbridge - Dynamind
Imperia - Flames of Eternity
Delain - Hunter’s Moon
Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra - Legacy of the Dark Lands

Alternative Metal

Metalite - Biomechanicals
Cyhra - No Halos in Hell
In Flames - I, The Mask
Of Mice & Men - Earth & Sky
Amon Amarth - Berserker
Lacuna Coil - Black Anima
Rage of Light - Imploder
Freedom Call - M.E.T.A.L.
Killswitch Engage - Atonement
As I Lay Dying - Shaped by Fire
Edge of Paradise - Universe
Starset - Divisions
Myrath - Shehili
Jinjer - Macro / Micro (EP)
Voyager - Colours in the Sun
Nemesea - White Flag

Ambiguous Alternatives

Switchfoot - Native Tongue
Bayside - Interrobang
Collective Soul - Blood
Sleeping with Sirens - How It Feels to Be Lost
Judah & the Lion - Pep Talks
NF - The Search
The Hold Steady - Thrashing Thru the Passion
Weezer - Weezer (Black) / Weezer (Teal)
The Claypool Lennon Delirium - South of Reality
Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride
Sunset Sons - Blood Rush Déjà Vu
little hurricane - Love Luck
Of Monsters and Men - Fever Dream
Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow
Tegan and Sara - Hey, I’m Just Like You
Alice Merton - Mint
Sturgill Simpson - Sound & Fury
Bastille - Doom Days
blink-182 - Nine
Jenny Lewis - On the Line
Pixies - Beneath the Eyrie
Ed Sheeran - No. 6 Collaborations
James Blake - Assume Form
Swervedriver - Future Ruins


Joe Bonamassa - Live at the Sydney Opera House
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - The Traveler
Damon Johnson - Memoirs of an Uprising
Diana Rein - Queen of My Castle
Michael Schenker Fest - Revelation
Steve Dadaian - Follow the Light
Tommy Emmanuel - Heart Songs
Tedeschi Trucks Band - Signs / High & Mighty (EP)
Joanne Shaw Taylor - Reckless Heart
Gary Clark, Jr. - This Land
Billy Strings - Home
Soren Andersen - Guilty Pleasures
Morano - Incognito
Joe Stump - Symphonic Onslaught
Gary Hoey - Neon Highway Blues
Santana - Africa Speaks
Peter Frampton Band - All Blues
Yngwie Malmsteen - Blue Lightning
Eric Gales - The Bookends
Mark Morton - Anesthetic
John 5 & The Creatures - Invasion

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