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The 20 best albums of the year, so far

All the uncertainty of 2019 has definitely yielded plenty of great music, with artists finding inspiration from visions of the past, present and future for timeless works. Here’s a look at the best albums of 2019 so far:

20. Get Up Kids, “Problems” (Polyvinyl)

The Get Up Kids' "Problems" on Polyvinyl Record
Photo Credit: Polyvinyl Record Co.

The Get Up Kids work through a lot of issues on "Problems," including their own concerns about repeating themselves. Full review

19. Doug Seegers, “A Story I Got to Tell” (Doug Seegers)

Doug Seegers' "A Story I Got to Tell"
Photo Credit: Doug Seegers Records

Seegers has always been blessed with a gorgeous, distinctive voice, even when he was performing as Duke the Drifter or with his band Angels in Overdrive on Long Island. And that is definitely on display. Full review

18. Madonna, “Madame X” (Boy Toy/Interscope)

Madonna's "Madame X" on Boy Toy/Interscope Records......
Photo Credit: Boy Toy/Interscope Records

This will be one of those Madonna albums that will be hailed years from now, once its subtleties and artistry is recognized. One, two cha-cha-cha.

17. Khalid, “Free Spirit” (Right Hand/RCA)

Khalid's "Free Spirit" on RCA Records.
Photo Credit: RCA Records

Khalid establishes himself as one of music's best new artists, following in the footsteps of Frank Ocean and Solange, but creating his own path up both the pop and R&B charts. Full review

16. P!nk, “Hurts 2B Human” (RCA)

P!nk's "Hurts 2B Human" on RCA Records
Photo Credit: RCA Records

 P!nk makes references to a tumultuous world, but rather than letting it get her down, she sings about moving through it with help. Full review

15. Billie Eilish, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” (Darkroom/Interscope)

Billie Eilish's "When We All Fall Asleep, Where
Photo Credit: Darkroom/Atlantic Records

The 17-year-old sensation crafts a musical universe all her own, where she proves that quiet vocals can dominate any rhythm or crafty production technique. Duh.

14. The National, “I Am Easy to Find” (4AD)

The National's "I Am Easy to Find" on
Photo Credit: 4AD Records

All the great female guest vocalists - Gail Ann Dorsey, Lisa Hannigan, Sharon Van Etten among them - make Matt Berninger's vocals even more poignant than usual.

13. Faye Webster, “Atlanta Millionaires Club” (Secretly Canadian)

Faye Webster's "Atlanta Millionaires Club" on Secretly Canadian
Photo Credit: Secretly Canadian Records

Her combination of '70s pop, classic country and neo-soul filtered through a modern sensibility creates a new definition for what Southern music can be.

12. Maggie Rogers, “Heard It in a Past Life” (Capitol)

Maggie Rogers' "Heard It in a Past Life"
Photo Credit: Capitol Records/Olivia Bee

 Rogers' work gets stronger with each risk she takes. You can almost hear "Overnight" as a folk song, but the pounding beat and glitchy samples and choral snippets turn it into something all her own. Full review

11. Charly Bliss, “Young Enough” (Barsuk)

Charly Bliss' "Young Enough" on Barsuk Records........
Photo Credit: Barsuk Records

 The Brooklyn quartet delivers '80s-tinged power pop that helps Eva Hendricks' quirky, beautiful vocals charm you.

10. Jamila Woods, “Legacy! Legacy!” (Jagjaguwar):

Jamila Woods' "Legacy! Legacy!" on Jagjaguwar Records......
Photo Credit: Jagjaguwar Records

 The Chicago R&B singer pays tribute to her influences, writing songs in their styles or about their styles. That means a bluesy guitar riff drives "Muddy" and playing up the sultry, jazzy side of her voice in "Eartha."

9. Patty Griffin, “Patty Griffin” (PGM/Thirty Tigers)

Patty Griffin's "Patty Griffin" on PGM Recordings/Thirty Tigers
Photo Credit: PGM Recordings/Thirty Tigers

Griffin steers the album toward broader topics, where she examines how we can try to move forward together in a world that currently seems to thrive on people tearing each other apart. Full review

8. Tyler, The Creator, “IGOR” (Columbia)

Photo Credit: Columbia Records

The stunning moment when Tyler harnesses all his creativity and bold innovations to serve a single idea that still surprises as it pushes hip-hop forward.

7. Justin Townes Earle, “The Saint of Lost Causes” (New West)

Justin Townes Earle's "The Saint of Lost Causes"
Photo Credit: New West Records

Earle tries to capture the anxiety that has set in on America, regardless of where you live, and offer a bit of hope, as he does in "Mornings in Memphis." Full review

6. Carly Rae Jepsen, “Dedicated” (Schoolboy/Interscope)

Carly Rae Jepsen's
Photo Credit: Schoolboy/Interscope Records

She delivers another stunning album - this time, less about "Boy Problems" and more about healing from heartbreak enough to fall in love again. Full review

5. Cage the Elephant, “Social Cues” (RCA)

Cage the Elephant's "Social Cues" on RCA Records.........
Photo Credit: RCA Records

The Grammy-winning rockers process grief and loss with David Bowie grandeur and The Clash's edge.

4. Gary Clark Jr., “This Land” (Warner)

Gary Clark Jr.'s "This Land" on Warner Bros.
Photo Credit: Frank Maddocks

Clark makes an artistic quantum leap, writing potent songs that are even more powerful than his fiery solos. Full review

3. Bruce Springsteen, “Western Stars” (Columbia)

This cover image released by Columbia Records shows
Photo Credit: Columbia Records

Springsteen pairs the orchestral grandeur of early 1970s greats like Harry Nilsson and the collaborations of Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb with tales of men trying to cope with lives, knowing they are past their prime. Full review

2. James Blake, “Assume Form” (Republic)

James Blake's "Assume Form" on Republic Records......
Photo Credit: Republic Records/Amanda Charchian

Applying his futuristic mix of EDM and hip-hop to a pile of great love songs, including the gorgeous "I'll Come Too," has given Blake the strongest, most-polished album of his already-impressive career. Full review

1. Lizzo, “Cuz I Love You” (Atlantic)

Lizzo's "Cuz I Love You" tops the list
Photo Credit: Getty Images for Coachella/Emma McIntyre

Even if her bubbly combination of funk and self-empowerment catchphrases didn't provide the perfect soundtrack for this summer's parties, as well as millions of TikTok videos, the power of her "Juice" would have made her the year's breakout star regardless. Truth hurts. Full review

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