#4 (tie). Superchunk
Acoustic Foolish
Merge Records

This year marked the 25th anniversary of Superchunk’s 1994 album Foolish, so in celebration they put together an acoustic version of it.  If you are a fan of the original like me, you’ll really enjoy this. It’s softer, there’s an orchestra of strings, and it doesn’t really sound entirely acoustic like you would imagine with just a guitar. It’s a full sound of a myriad of instruments lending a lightness, a drifting, celestial feeling, bringing out each song’s choice aspects. Mac and Laura’s singing are slightly rawer, calmer, bringing out some real warm tones.

#4 tie): Amyl and the Sniffers
Amyl and the Sniffers
Rough Trade Records

Super heavy and exhilarating 4 piece sloshy, catchy, mullet-wearing, punk rock pub band from Melbourne, Australia, with tough and cutesy lead female singer, Amy, with lovely accent and spitfire attitude, dishing out clever lyrics, like GFY’s “Punch 1, Punch 2, Punch 3, I don’t like you, and you don’t like me” and skillful guitar unleashings and drum smashings and fat bass dribblings, executing unique and memorable parts all over. Lots of charm coming from their foreignness and punk craziness and Amy’s shouting and grunting.

#3: Sebadoh
Act Surprised
Dangerbird Records

Sebadoh are finally back from a too long hiatus with this deep and soulfully produced album rife with power and emotion and excellent song writing, from Lou, Jake and Bob. Tempos range slower and faster, like in Lou’s “Celebrate the Void” which he described in concert as when you reach a point in life where you can relax and feel free from worry and anxiety. Jake is his classic self, rendering us his revved-up country twang punk in songs like “Vacation”, “Stunned” and bouncy “Raging River” while Bob’s “Leap Year” is a little gem of a nugget to enjoy on repeat with its creative effects, lyrics and fun chorus, before Lou’s beautiful and stoic “Reykjavik” ends this masterpiece.

#2: Mike Krol
Power Chords
Merge Records

My number 2 album release for 2019 is Power Chords, the fourth album from suburban wonder kid Mike Krol, and his emotive gut-wrenching pop punk stylings. 11 heart-ache tracks to send you straight to seventh heaven. Enjoy the explosive sensation “An Ambulance” with its power hook and addictive melody, and the sweet, warm and eloquent “Blue and Pink” runs you deep , or the ultra punk “Nothing to Yell About” revving you up with it’s riffing hook, droning bass, distortion-y air whizzing solo and sheer attitude-y charisma.

#1 The Muffs
No Holiday
Omnivore Recordings

I was devasted to hear of Kim Shattuck’s passing in October, from ALS, a disease she kept hidden from the public.  These are the last 18 songs you’ll hear from Kim and The Muffs, songs she had written from 1991-2017. Her bandmates, Ronnie and Roy, recounted in an interview how difficult it was putting this album together during her illness but her perseverance to get it done really shows what remarkable person she was, aside from her amazing talent as a singer and songwriter. The album is a joy to listen to, lots of great songs that weren’t used for other past albums but are still catchy melodic 60s pop heartwarming marvels, filled with her bright soul, her fluidic riffing and clever hook filled guitar playing,  and brilliant, sweet and raspy voice with hints of those wonderful quintessential guttural Kim screams.