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28+ Albums From 2019 You May Have Missed

Promoting music is (I guess) one of my passions so throughout February I challenged myself to do a short writeup on an album that came out in 2019 that went under the radar but I think other people would love, and to put a cap on the series I’ve compiled those writeups here. The albums are many different genres and some of them aren't in English but these are all pop-friendly albums that I feel really good about recommending, so if something sounds interesting don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone! For the sake of bias I’ve arranged them in alphabetical order.

Amplified Experiment by The APX (Funk)

  • For Fans Of: Chaka Khan, Lizzo, the girl group challenge on All Stars 4
Description: This album is such a tribute to old-school funk that midway through this album there’s literally a voicemail from Jody Watley and Teddy Riley literally thanking The Apx for making it. The Apx are a husband and wife duo who clearly love the genre and they’ve done their best to revive the sound of the heyday of the disco-funk era with this album. Despite this the album isn’t stale and they manage pay their dues to the legends while still having a slight modern flair that keeps the sound feeling relevant. Songs like “Mirror” lean a bit more into the electronic production side of things and are a more trance-like take on the genre, lending more of a modern appeal to the sound that takes it out of being just a niche product. I personally am not a huge fan of funk but I respect what they’re doing, and I think anyone can appreciate the colorful production and huge vocal melodies on this album. If you want bright, silly, retro fun, this is it.
Positives: Great reexamination of a classic genre, brimming with energy
Potential Barriers: It’s pure funk so if you don’t like that you likely won’t like this.
Sample Track: “Jupiter” is a funky song with an even funkier music video.

Atlanta Millionaires Club by Faye Webster (Alt-Country)

  • For Fans Of: Kacey Musgraves, Surfjan Stevens, late night vibes
Description: Over sparse accompaniment Faye Webster offers her takes on topics like love, sadness, music and more, and it’s very poignant with just a touch of humor. Her voice is soft but clear, and her cool (somewhat detached) crooning feels effortless, almost as if she’s speaking to us rather than singing. I label this album as alt-country because that’s what it is, but it toys around a bit with genre. Though dominated by wailing steel guitar there are keyboard melodies and some horns that give an almost r&b edge to the songs, with a few (“Flowers” in particular) going there entirely. The result is a dreamy atmosphere for the album, as if the music is pouring out of a radio late at night as you talk with a close friend. It’s a masterwork of honesty and intimacy.
Positives: Great lyrics, very soothing, fresh
Potential Barriers: It’s a very thoughtful album without “bop” style songs
Sample Track: “Hurts Me Too” is clever and emotional.

Be Runway by Bree Runway (Rap + Hyperpop)

  • For Fans Of: M.I.A., LIZ, cocaine at Fashion Week
Description: Bree Runway’s music is characterized by off-the-wall energy and a take-no-prisoners attitude, and she channels her talents into an EP full of eclectic (but explosive) pop songs about sexuality and female liberation. She oscillates between straight up pop songs and straight up rap songs with a lot of interesting pit stops along the way. At her poppiest she offers up songs like the slinky guitar driven “All Night” and at her most legit rap she delivers tracks like the trap laced “Relevant,” however the tracks that lie in between the two styles (“2ON,” “X2C,” Big Racks”) are the real gold of the EP. As she spits quotable line after quotable line her vocals are distorted by autotune and hammered by bubblegum bass, effortlessly fusing together rap and hyper pop. She sounds like a star on every single track, and that’s all that matters.
Positives: Slammin’ songs, fierce attitude, crazy vocals and production
Potential Barriers: Fractional as an actual EP, potentially annoying
Sample Track: “2ON” is an aggressive, over the top pop rap track.

Blood by Kelsey Lu (Alt-Dream-R&B)

  • For Fans Of: FKA Twigs, Blood Orange, arthouse films where women go insane
Description: Kelsey Lu has a cello, and she’s not afraid to use it. Over the course of this album her and her cello are silly, scary, even a bit sexy, but always grounded in a sense of thoughtfulness and delicate composition. While there are a few relatively straightforward pop songs on here, the album is at its best when it’s being weird. She has the ability to be classy and insane at the same time, seamlessly flipping between gliding through songs with intelligence and tearing through them like a madwoman. The subject matter is equally strange, at times cuttingly insightful and at other times pure nonsense. Beneath all of this is a solid foundation of r&b and dream pop that keeps the album eminently listenable. It’s a strange and experimental album from a strange and experimental artist, but don’t let that scare you off from a great album.
Positives: Unique, hauntingly beautiful
Potential Barriers: Weird, might feel inaccessible at first
Sample Tracks: Her cover of “I’m Not In Love” shows off her aesthetic and voice.

Casualty by Anna Akana (Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Hayley Kiyoko, Hey Violet, unpacking emotional baggage
Description: A non-exhaustive list of styles touched upon in this album includes pop, rock, electronic, rap, trap, r&b, spoken word, and probably some more stuff I’m forgetting. But it all feels cohesive thanks to the strong aesthetic of the album, which gives everything a somewhat heavy air to match the gravity of what she’s singing about. The songs deal with heavy topics like mental illness and toxic relationships, describing how they feel and, more importantly, how she overcame them. Along the way she provides some snappy one liners and insistent hooks that keep the songs fun and listenable. While there are definitely some missteps on this album, the quality of the tracks that work and the wide variety of styles makes up for them.
Positives: Deals with important topics, several really strong songs, wide variety of tracks
Potential Barriers: Amateurish vocals, clunky songwriting, "Pretty Girls Don't Cry" sucks
Sample Track: “Intervention” showcases the moody pop-rock aesthetic of the album, musically and lyrically.

Crush On Me by Sir Babygirl (Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Charli XCX, Alanis Morissette, talking about how Melodrama was the best album of the decade
Description: Sir Babygirl’s self-written/produced album is one of the most exciting debuts from the underground pop scene in recent years, with her spunky take on pop music combining moody vibes with tons of energy and a hefty arsenal of hooks. Her strong, musical theatre trained voice brings so much life to the songs, and when combined with the off-the-wall production of wailing background vocals and guitars we end up with some songs that are extra in the best way. Although the album is fairly brisk there are some interludes/reprises threaded throughout the album that offer a change of pace and give the album a loose Melodrama-esque narrative arc. Her quirky lyrics really capture what it’s like to be super gay and a little bit over everything. A must-listen.
Positives: Great vocals, catchy, strong artistic vision
Potential Barriers: Weird, you might roll your eyes at times
Sample Track: This performance of “Pink Lite” showcases the song and her talent.

Green Balloon by Tank and the Bangas (Soul + Rap)

  • For Fans Of: Noname, Lizzo, old PBS shows like Reading Rainbow
Description: Tank and the Bangas are known for their incredible energy in live shows and their jazz/soul stylings, and this latest album throws trap into the mix as well. However the foundation of their music lies in lead singer Tank’s electric voice and background in spoken word poetry, which allows the group to bounce effortlessly between soulful ballads, hard trap bangers, and slam poetry sessions. Their heartfelt songs are full of quirky lyrics and wisdom about topics like love, drugs, and self-care, and always backed by the lovely orchestrations of The Bangas. There’s a weird balance between “urban” and “childish” aesthetics, almost as if the album is children’s music for grownups that’s uplifting rather than patronizing.
Positives: Silly lyrics that deliver great messages, fun vibes
Potential Barriers: Songs are weird and vary in style, album is kind of long, “Forgetfulness” accidentally deadnames Caitlyn Jenner.
Sample Track: “Smoke.Netflix.Chill” is probably the track on the album that best combines all their influences (soul, rap, jazz, poetry) and it’s super fun.

HOLLAND by Holland (Dance Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Troye Sivan, Porter Robinson, tumblr
Description: This mini-album is gay, not just because the singer is gay and many of the songs focus on that, but because it sounds like the dance-floor ready pop that I always hear “the gays” begging for on twitter. Though short the EP is well-rounded, with each of the tracks offering a slightly different style: “Nar_C” has utilizes deep-house, “I’m Not Afraid” is more traditional synth-pop, “I’m so Afraid” is hard hitting electronic music, “Neverland” is a trap-laced ballad, and “Up” is tropical house. Each of them delivers on their chosen sound well while sounding cohesive to the project as a whole. The production on these songs is fantastic, giving the songs replay value and allowing Holland to work around his weaker vocals. The mini-album focuses on the pleasures and anxieties of being a modern gay youth, with these dance elements cleverly being used to communicate feelings even when you can’t understand the lyrics.
Positives: Fantastic dance production, gay
Potential Barriers: Lyrics are in Korean
Sample Tracks: “I’m So Afraid” is a great song that showcases both his ballad skills and the album’s electronic elements

Insecure by Amara La Negra (Latin-Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Keke Palmer, Party music, People who didn't turn off "Despacito" when it came on
Description: Since appearing on Love and Hip-Hop: Miami Amara has dipped her foot into hosting, acting, dancing, and she’s just oozed star power through all of it. Her debut album was a respectable attempt to get that presence to translate to music, and while it’s not perfect, it’s a very fresh, modern sounding album from a rising star. There’s plenty of trendy party music on here, but a few unusual breakup songs give the album a more unique identity and lets her show some different sides. The songwriting is a little bit unpolished but that serves to humanize her a little bit, and it gives a bit of edge that just a normal reggaeton wouldn’t. The more I listen to this the more I'm into it.
Positives: Short, very easy to listen to/get a hold of, fun
Potential Barriers: Clunky lyrics, some obvious filler
Sample Track: “Insecure” was hit-worthy.

Jaime by Brittany Howard (Rock + Soul)

  • For Fans Of: Nina Simone, Indie rock, "best of" lists by respectable (but still edgy) publications
Description: Look, Pitchfork gave this an 8.6 Best New Music review and Bandcamp said it was the 18th best album of last year, so I have it on good authority that this is a quality album. I labelled this album as “rock” because that’s what Wikipedia says but really it has a very loose relationship to genre. While guitars and drums permeate the album the music flows freely, beholden to one thing only: Brittany Howard’s iconic androgynous contralto. She’s got the kind of voice that could make the phone book sound like a sermon, but fortunately she’s an amazing songwriter as well. It’s a thoughtful self-portrait of a modern black queer woman, never shying away from a topic but also never losing a strong sense of poeticism. It’s not pop bops and bangers, but it’s tender and thoughtful in a way that should definitely be respected.
Positives: Gorgeous voice, soul healing, topical but uplifting
Potential Barriers: Subtle, might take a few listens to fully appreciate
Sample Track: “Georgia” is a sweet song about a young girl with a crush on an older girl.

LEGACY! LEGACY! by Jamila Woods (R&B/Soul)

  • For Fans Of: Nina Simone, Kendrick Lamar, critical acclaim
Description: This album is such a towering artistic achievement that I’m not sure how to even talk about it without underselling it. Read the spirited description of the album on her Bandcamp page for a far more eloquent take because all I can say is “this album had me shook.” Each track is dedicated to a revolutionary person of color, with Jamila taking inspiration from them and translating their philosophies into some truly forward thinking r&b. She imbibes these songs with gravity that would almost be crushing if it weren’t so inspiring, and power permeates through every note and every word of this album. Her earthy vocals sing the truth, and the collaborators she invites in do great work too. This is an album that makes you think, and keeps you thinking long after it’s ended.
Positives: Literally one of the best written albums of the decade
Potential Barriers: It’s kinda heavy
Sample Track: “BALDWIN” is one of the album’s poppiest moments and has some great trumpets.

Love Pop Wow! by LABOUM (Bubblegum Pop)

  • For Fans Of: TWICE, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, feeling cute and girlish~
Description: This album just beats you over the head with sugar, yet somehow it’s fabulous rather than exhausting? It stays consistently upbeat and bubblegum but there’s a lot of diversity in the tempos, levels, and styles of the songs that keeps the album from feeling one note. They don’t feel the need to shoehorn a ballad on there or anything (popheads rejoice!) but there are some guitar driven tracks and a slow jam or two that mix it up a bit while still feeling cohesive. They draw on the best aspects of both Jpop and Kpop here, so it’s slightly retro in some of its sensibilities but there’s definitely a modern edge. It’s not the album of the year or anything but if you’re in the market for an album that’s just a bunch of cute, happy pop songs then this could be it.
Positives: Unapologetically bright, high energy, feel good from start to finish
Potential Barriers: It’s in Japanese, potential sugar overload
Sample Track: “Hwi Hwi” is an impossibly bright, airy pop song.

Mazy Fly by Spellling (Experimental)

  • For Fans Of: Bjork, Allie X, cryptids and liminal spaces
Description: Some fun descriptors I’ve seen used for Spellling’s music include “alien abduction music,” “nocturnal psychedelic witch pop,” and “like Solange looking in a haunted mirror.” It’s difficult to pin her music down in terms of genre, it can be anything ranging from fairly straightforward pop songs to garbled audio experiments, but it’s less about that and more about the moods she creates. The songs on this album are almost more experiences than songs, stringing together synths and vocals into intriguing auditory odysseys that don’t really sound like anything you’ve heard before. It’s as if she’s unchained herself from conventional song structure and is creating pure music that’s spilling forth from some place otherworldly and mysterious. The production and songwriting are too insistent for it to be ambient music though, and she does offer up some memorable melodies and moments that stand on their own without the aesthetic.
Positives: Unique, freaky aesthetic, pretty arrangements
Potential Barriers: Might be too weird and spacey for some
Sample Track: “Under The Sun” is long but hypnotic, it takes like three minutes for the vocals to come in but they’re great.

mini mix vol. 1 by Magdalena Bay (Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Rina Sawayama, Hannah Diamond, /popheads favorites
Description: I feel like I’ve talked about this album a LOT and I’ll continue to do so until all of the songs on it crack at least 50k streams. Everything this group puts out is gold, but this is definitely my favorite. A visual mini-album, the pop duo challenged themselves to quickly create “mini” pop songs/videos and put them out without second guessing themselves, and the results are fabulous! The album is tied together by a dreamy, synth drenched sonic palate, but within that formula they find room for a diversity of sounds. They evoke the slightly kitschy sights and sounds of the ’90s/’00s to great effect, serving up retro videos and DDR-esque beats. It’s quick, but it’ll have you coming back for more.
Positives: Short, every song is great
Potential Barriers: ?
Sample Track: “Mine” is the longest and strongest song.

Neptune Diamond by Rakky Ripper (Hyperpop + Rap)

  • For Fans Of: Charli XCX, Slayyyter, Hyperpop/PC Music
Description: Rakky Ripper is from Spain and this album got little promotion (like, there aren’t even any music videos) so I understand why nobody has heard of this album but that needs to change because it’s exactly what this sub is into. Her and producer eurosanto joined forces to offer their own take on PC Music and it’s every bit as sugary and insane as the London collective is; they take a bit more of a rap approach to the sound but they understand what makes hyperpop so addictive and provide plenty of glossy beats and bubblegum bass. ALSO Rosalía and Charli XCX follow her on Instagram and Charli invited her onstage once so she’s basically popheads approved. If Charli stans, you should too.
Positives: It’s a madcap pop album, great production, a fresh take on the hyper pop movement.
Potential Barriers: It’s in Spanish, it could be obnoxious if you aren’t into this kind of thing.
Sample Track: “Fresas, Chocolate y Crema” is my favorite track from the album, probably because it’s the calmest.

Never Grow Up by Chanmina (Pop-Rap)

  • For Fans Of: (G)I-DLE, Iggy Azalea, being a tough girl but still having a heart
Description: Chanmina is a fantastic pop-rapper who really nails the balance between the two styles: while her bars are impressive, there’s always a really good pop chorus to latch onto as well. The choices of beats on this album are smart because they sound fresh and fun while still maintaining a bit of an edge, whether the song is moody, fierce, or fun. The album is mostly in Japanese but there are English hooks and she’s such a talented performer I’ll often find myself relating to the songs that I can’t even understand. She’s got aspirations to push into the Western market and I think she has the talent to do it, if you want to get in on a hot new artist early she’s not a bad choice.
Positives: Full of bops, strong melodies, good production
Potential Barriers: It’s mostly in Japanese, some disconnect between autotuned rap tracks and more traditionally sung tracks
Sample Track: She has a medley of songs up on her channel that contains some of my favorite songs, but “Yesterday” is also a standout.

Next To The Sun by KAINA (R&B + Soul)

  • For Fans Of: Solange, Kali Uchis, laying in bed and thinking
Description: Next To The Sun just weaves a spell. Droning guitars and measured percussion leave the album awash with dreamy vibes, a dream we’re guided through by Kaina’s rich voice. It’s soft and subtle, but also very warm. Her work is defined by a sense of optimism; even as she sings about darkness she’s also describing how to be strong and how to cope. It combines music from Kaina’s Latin-American background with the indie-pop, r&b, and soul of her Chicago upbringing, which helps to free the album from the constraints of genre and paint a picture of her experiences. It’s a hauntingly beautiful album, and a really promising debut LP.
Positives: Soothing and easy to listen to, uplifting, fresh sound/perspective
Potential Barriers: Slow, subtle
Sample Track: “Could Be A Curse” is downright hypnotic and really captures the thoughtful feel of the album.

Para Mi by Cuco (Psychedelic Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Tyler, The Creator, Mac DeMarco, the background music from Steven Universe
Description: This is stoner music, but like, in the best way. Genres melt together here into an intoxicating haze of r&b, jazz, trap, bossa nova, rap, synthpop, shoe gaze, and whatever else Cuco feels like pulling out at the time. This is perfect for the dreamy, psychedelic themes of the album, allowing Cuco room to croon about love and other (literal) drugs. His lyrics aren’t the greatest but they’re charmingly earnest and his melodies are so strong it often doesn’t matter what he’s saying at all because the vibes are so mesmerizing. Instrumental interludes keep the wavy atmosphere going between songs and make this a great, cohesive listening experience. I feel like this is what the cool kids are listening to.
Positives: Great to vibe out to, some really catchy songs
Potential Barriers: Lyrics can be clunky and a bit obnoxious
Sample Track: “Keeping Tabs” is an addictive piece of music.

THE PARK IN THE NIGHT part three by GWSN (Dance Pop)

  • For Fans Of: LOONA, Betty Who, cartoon soundtracks
Description: A tight album of colorful dance pop with strong melodies, they do a good job of reworking existing genres to sound fresh. There are hints of r&b, new jack swing, tropical house, EDM, and more on this album, but they’re filtered through this ethereal, futuristic lens that makes them sound wholly unique and lend the group an almost retrofusturistic sound. Space and dreams are major motifs in their music and you can hear that in the diverse production, which offers up hard hitting drops and layered harmonies in equal measure.
Positives: Great production, creative, high energy
Potential Barriers: It’s in Korean
Sample Track: “Night Aviation (Interpretation Of Dreams)” is really cool sounding r&b tinged slow jam.

Past Progressive by Jane Zhang (Electropop)

  • For Fans Of: Timbaland, Rihanna, getting #turnt
Description: Jane Zhang had the potential to be the first Chinese pop girl to break the US back in 2017 after “Dust My Shoulders Off” was used in Hulu ads and she performed at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. All of the buzz died down by the time the album finally dropped last year, but those of us who stuck around were well rewarded with a fantastic dance-pop album. This album reminds me of the heyday of floor-filler club music, there’s huge early ‘10s energy on here. I’ll put it this way: Timbaland produced some tracks and there’s a Ne-Yo feature. This album is loud, bringing electropop production and huge vocals that make the moody pop girls of today quake. Almost half of this album was released as a single or used on a soundtrack so it’s a bit all over the place in that regard, but the songs themselves are always polished and full of energy. If you’ve been craving some trashy dance diva music, here it is.
Positives: Huge club songs, great vocals, top notch production
Potential Barriers: Kind of dated, the album drags in the middle with some obvious filler
Sample Track: If you asked me to create the ideal club song it would be “808.”

Queer Pop Songs by be steadwell (Bedroom Pop)

  • For Fans Of: dodie, mxmtoon, being gay and emotional
Description: be steadwell made a lot of this album in her bedroom for no money, but talent is a great substitute for budget. She manages to get a lot of mileage out of just simple recording equipment and her voice, using clever vocal arrangements to augment the simple instrumentals. She frequently employs vocal looping as well, so many of the songs pseudo-a cappella sections as well. It gives her music a surprisingly distinctive style that’s calming and a little hypnotic. Her lyrics are, as the title implies, “queer,” but they’re frequently introspective and touch onto spiritual imagery as well. It’s underground, left-of-center chill pop, but it makes for a nice change of pace. It's long so I’d recommend listening to it once through and picking out the songs you like.
Positives: Spunky energy, calming, frequently clever
Potential Barriers: Low production value, songs are very simple
Sample Track: “ExFriends” shows her style well.

Rouge by Yuna (Pop + R&B)

  • For Fans Of: (Modern) Mariah Carey, Hoody, a night out with the ladies that ends at a reasonable hour
Description: The track list of Rouge is like a bunch of gems strung together into a beautiful necklace: each song shines in its own way thanks to the diversity of styles and collaborators. The songs are strung together well enough that they feel cohesive but the songs come in different shades of r&b, pop, and dance, all of which feel polished and elegant. Over half of the songs on the album have featured artists and she brings out the best in each of them. She trades bars with Jay Park on a synth pop song, disco dances with G-Eazy and Little Simz, ruminates over thumping r&b with too many others to list, and she shows different colors each time. The solo half of the album is equally worthy, Yuna is a commanding performer with a rich, mature voice that she doesn’t have to raise to make a point. The overall effect is a chill pop album that manages to be silky and mature without sacrificing fun in the process.
Positives: Great list of features, solid blend of danceable bops and slow jams, mature perspective
Potential Barriers: It has ballads
Sample Track: “Likes (ft. KYLE)” is a chill song that reflects on her place as Muslim woman in the music industry.

STA7GES by FRANKIE (Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Kim Petras, Hayley Kiyoko, Radio Disney
Description: Titled after the seven stages of grief, this album aims to guide us through a bad breakup with the most powerful weapon known to man: bouncy pop music. Armed with a powerful set of pipes and vibrant production, FRANKIE offers up pop songs that feel almost old-school in their maximalist tendencies. Her sound and aesthetic feel ripped from the ’00s, but in a good way! It’s not dated but rather comforting, offering up modern takes on old tropes like the piano power ballad that remind us why we fell in love with them in the first place. Despite the seemingly dark subject matter the album is never maudlin, instead opting for a more positive approach that gives the album a breezy quality.
Positives: Pure pop fun, relatable songs
Potential Barriers: A bit basic
Sample Track: “Strangers” has a great chorus.

Sweater Collection by Lo Lo (Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Carly Rae Jepsen, Tori Kelly, overusing the term "bop"
Description: I can’t pretend that Lo Lo is breaking any barriers or blowing any minds, but she’s been consistently putting out catchy pop music and really, what else are we asking for? She has the good sense to keep the tempo up: her debut EP is all bright, breezy pop songs that are fun and don’t overstay their welcome. Her style is refreshingly straightforward, with clean production and vocals delivering the catchy hooks and choruses we expect from good music. The album has a distinctly spunky attitude, but the vibes buried beneath the cheer are darker and lend the EP a bit of an edge. She’s got good energy that helps her music go down easy, I’ve gotten a LOT of mileage out of these songs.
Positives: Short and sweet, really addictive pop songs
Potential Barriers: A little basic
Sample Track: “Yours” is the kind of adventurous, catchy song pop artists dream of releasing.

Symptoms by Ashley Tisdale (Electropop)

  • For Fans Of: Marina, Hilary Duff, basic bops
Description: While she hasn’t been in the spotlight as much as her contemporary child stars Ashley has been out there living her best life and aging gracefully, and it shows on this album. It’s a more thoughtful album that reflects on her experiences with struggling to find happiness in love, utilizing a gentle approach to electropop that feels very fresh and trendy. You won’t find the trashy club bangers of her youth here, and as much as I love those I’m glad she gave us an album that feels authentic to who she is and where she’s at in her life right now. It’s refreshing to hear a mainstream pop celebrity release a collection of mature pop songs about learning to get in touch with yourself and your emotions. It’s not the most ground breaking album in existence but I find it very cozy and reassuring to listen to.
Positives: Wholesome, relatable content, nice chill electropop
Potential Barriers: Kind of basic
Sample Track: “Feeling So Good” is the penultimate song of the album, and a mild banger.

U D D by Up Dharma Down (Indie + Dance)

  • For Fans Of: The 1975, Fickle Friends, night drives and neon lighting
Description: Their music is almost impossibly slick, with every synth pad and bass lick perfectly calibrated for their vision of a genre defying album that fuses indie rock, soft disco, synth pop, and jazz. Offering up danceable tracks and slow jams in equal measure this album is radio friendly and welcoming to fans of pop but still has a free spirit and an indie edge that’s incredibly compelling. This is the soundtrack of late nights, both the kind spent out and the kind spent alone. An air of nostalgia permeates the album, both in the ’80s-esque sound palate and in the lyrics, which handle former pain and new beginnings. These songs will touch your heart and make you wistful even as you dance to the bouncy grooves offered but by the band.
Positives: Unique dance vibes, emotionally intelligent lyrics (many of which are in English), no bad songs
Potential Barriers: Kind of long, some of the songs are in Tagalog
Sample Track: “Never” is a hard hitting, synth drenched track with a bit of a funky kick to it.

Ugh, those feels again by Snoh Aalegra (R&B + Soul)

  • For Fans Of: Amy Winehouse, Sade, music to sing along to on a lazy Sunday morning
Description: This album feels like it’s going to become a classic. Every song on here is distinct and memorable, but it’s also the kind of album you can just put on and vibe with. Snoh Aalegra creates r&b at its fullest potential, blending in styles like hip-hop, gospel, and soul to add further flavor to her work. She doesn’t have to raise her voice to make a point (her smoky voice is perfect for the genre), instead bringing songs to life with an emotive, almost theatrical touch. There is something of a thematic arc to the album, beginning with songs about new love and ending with songs about old pain, and she nails it every step of the way with her earnest lyricism and the cinematic production. Listening to this album you’ll find yourself nodding your head, tapping your foot, and feeling all gooey inside.
Positives: Super easy to listen to, silky and smooth
Potential Barriers: Not everybody likes r&b I guess?
Sample Track: “I Want You Around” is gorgeous and romantic, such a calming piece of music.

Was It Even Real? by Olivia O’Brien (Moody-Pop)

  • For Fans Of: Halsey, Due Lipa, being kind of burned out on everything
Description: “Generic” is not a dirty word, but Olivia O’Brien still has a few tricks up her sleeve. Most of the album is anchored in a very modern acoustic/trap fusion sound, but depending on the song she can either veer entirely acoustic or lean into full on dance pop. It’s a somewhat scattershot approach to genre that works out well and stays cohesive thanks to the strong lyrical/thematic focus. It’s definitely an album written by a nineteen year old because a lot of the songs concern being fed up with boys, fake friends, and partying, but as cliched as it sounds she actually has a knack for lyrics that make these experiences sound relevant and relatable. It’s dark, but it manages to raise itself above just being depressing through smart songwriting choices. Given the broad variety of songs on this album there are songs to listen to when you’re feeling sad, when you feel like dancing, or both.
Positives: Balances moody and upbeat sounds well, relatable content, strong pop album
Potential Barriers: Some of the tracks are rough, might be too “generic” for some
Sample Track: “Just A Boy” is a spunky little ’80s disco number.
And that's it! There’s also a quick list of 28 more albums in the comments! Please share your thoughts on any of these albums, or any albums you felt went under the radar, down below.
Also check out my 57 Overlooked/Underrated Songs From 2019 post as well because there's stuff on there that didn't make it on here.
submitted by Ghost-Quartet to popheads

My grandma died and passed down her cabin to my brother and me. I've run of options, and I've taken the final dose of the serum. I'm changing into something horrible.

Just joining us? I recommend starting at the beginning. Too far back? You can read the previous update here.

I wanted to rest. Close my eyes and go to sleep. Forever. I wasn't afraid anymore, I was ready.
Another screech, weaker this time. Dad was hurt, and he needed me. I'd lost everybody. Mom. Eric. Grandma. Dad was all I had left, and I was letting him down all over again.
I didn’t have a choice. If Pri’deom was already here, then it didn’t matter whether or not I became a monster. Not anymore. The war was lost.
But I could still win this battle. I could still kill Jake, and still save my father. I found the syringe in my stomach, and pressed down on the plunger.

Adrenaline rioted through me, each breath like fire in my lungs and each movement sending pins and needles shooting through my nervous system. My eyes bulged as pressure built in my skull, and I felt thirsty, so thirsty that my mouth was parched and my tongue was fat, but I wasn’t thirsty for water. I wanted blood. I needed it. My bones snapped and twisted, piercing my skin at points while I choked on my teeth as they fell free of my gums.
I let out an anguished scream as my spine elongated, popping and cracking as it snaked its way further and further up my growing torso. I clenched my fists, willing myself to bear this pain. Was this what dad had gone through? Mom? My neck cranked, snapping in all the wrong directions. Fuck! I'd never been in such agony. It was like my entire body was being torn apart and reassembled from the inside out.
My consciousness flickered but my grounding exercises kept me awake. That, and dad. I had to save him, even if it killed me. I had to, because he was the only person left to save and I couldn't bear to let another person down. Lucky for me, saving him meant killing Jake.
I blinked and my eyelids felt slick, wet and heavy. My vision was no longer the dim, shadowy thing from moments ago, rather now it was a mess of colours; an abstract painting of madness and instinct. A shotgun blast rang out and I staggered to my feet, searching for the source.
Nobody else was here, though. It was still just Pri’deom, my father and Jake. No shotguns. No firearms. I shook my head, feeling dazed and disoriented.
Another blast sounded, and another. I realized they were coming from right beneath me, and I looked down, catching sight of my fingernails falling to the stone shore. They dropped in slow motion, like leaves drifting down from trees, or something descending through water. One struck the ground and I recoiled, its gentle collision creating another ear-splitting blast of sound. I became aware of my ears tugging upward, growing on the side of my head. A cacophony of noise began erupting around me, each sound amplified by a factor of thousands. Each bringing new agony to my senses.
I could hear everything distinctly -- too distinctly. My father’s heartbeat, slow and laboured drummed like a death march, while Pri’deom’s laughter echoed like bats screaming in a cave. I was consumed by sound, pain, and terror.
“Look at that,” Jake’s voice said, loud as a jet engine. “Your son’s finally decided to come around.”
I heard the muscles in Jake’s arm contract, followed by a chorus of my father’s desperate wheezes. More blood thundering on the shore. Could I hear Jake smiling? I needed to get over there.
I stepped toward them and stumbled, my legs numb and unresponsive. Dammit! Clearly my body was still working its way through the transformation. It was all I could do to stand on my fast-growing legs and not keel over.
I growled, staring at Jake. My entire being felt magnetized toward him. I was desperate to sink my teeth into him, to pay him back a hundred times for all the horror he had caused my family. Soon, I promised. Soon. My breath quickened in anticipation, but each gulp of air felt different. Smoother. Easier. Where before my exhales would steam in the chilly night, now there was nothing. The air inside of me was frigid cold.
I was levelling out now, adjusting to the serum. The ungodly pain that had been omnipresent before was slowly tapering off, and I realized the transformation must be nearly finished.
I looked down, gazing at my new body beneath my leather jacket and torn t-shirt. I was lean, but I felt strong; stronger than I ever believed I could be. Stronger than I ever believed anything could be. Yes, I could do it now. I could end Jake. I could drink his blood and wash away this horrible thirst. I licked my lips and found my tongue much longer than before, serpentine and forked.
“Welcome to the family, Matty!” Jake shouted. “Why don’t you come on down and convince your dad to see some light of reason?”
Dad.
I flexed my hands and realized they, too, were different now. My fingers were long and thin, playing host to a set of horribly sharp claws. Good. Those would come in handy.
“I won’t lie to you, Matthew,” Pri’deom said. “I’m impressed, but unsurprised.”
I looked to him, willing myself to speak but only managing guttural grunts and snarls.
He chuckled, placing his hands on his hips. “Still learning, aren’t you?” His eyes shifted to Jake, who was still perched atop my father, chewing into his neck, drenching the shore in blood. “It took Jacob years to master sentience, and longer still to truly control his true form.”
I shouted at him to stop this, to let my brother go, but it materialized as an ear-splitting roar and nothing more.
“You’re adjusting incredibly well.” Pri’deom circled me, his gold-flecked eyes drifting up and down my person, his lips in a near constant state of grin. “Your father is nearly as bruteish as he was as a man, but you…" He twitched, his head snapping to the side with a choking cough. A moment later, he ran a gentle hand over his neck and smiled. "Sorry. Still getting used to my new suit. Looks like we're both acquainting ourselves to these new forms, aren't we?"
I heard his words and understood them, but I couldn’t respond. Why not?
“What…” I managed to say, though the word came out twisted, broken and strange.
Pri’deom’s eyes lit up. “Ah, there it is! A new record, I should think.” He pulled out Eric’s phone and looked at it, before shrugging and tossing it into the river with a splash. “Dead battery. Can’t say the time for certain, but your arrival at speech is certainly impressive nonetheless.”
“What…” I said again, pushing the word out more naturally now. I tried to say the next piece, but only managed to choke and growl.
“Easy does it, Matthew,” Pri’deom coached. “Try again, this time without the emotion. It’s often such a stumbling block.”
Fucking hell. Alright, once more.
“What… am… I?” The words were harsh and their pronunciation unnatural, but they were there.
Pri’deom clapped his hands enthusiastically. “Oh, well done! I always knew you to be an Apex, but to achieve this level of mastery so quickly? You’re a true prodigy. I would have been happy to have you serve as my vessel.”
“What…” I repeated, and this time the anger seeped into my words. “Am I?”
“Right,” Pri’deom said, bringing a hand to his chin and appraising me thoughtfully. “Well, you’re certainly quite tall. Those… fangs though.” His playful smile vanished, replaced by a piercing smirk. “I would say you resemble a vampire, one of the Old Ones.”
“Old Ones?”
Dad's voice rang out and I realized I didn't care anymore. I stepped toward Jake, my legs feeling stronger and more balanced now. Yes, it was high time to finish this. I flexed my claws and let out a screech before springing forward, ready to end the bastard's existence. Pri'deom grabbed my heel mid-air, and flung me backward onto the shore. I crashed in a shower of stone pebbles.
“Yes," Pri'deom said, standing in front of me and examining Eric's nails nonchalantly. "The Old Ones were those who existed before the madness of man, before people wiped them from existence. They are the firstborn of this world.”
I staggered back to my feet. Alright, so Pri'deom was powerful and fast. Faster than I was. I looked back to Jake and my father, hating that even as I was now, there was still this wall between us. The Dipshit Beyond the Veil.
Still, Jake wasn't killing him. He'd need to pull his heart for that, and he seemed more interesting in simply keeping him out of play.
"Matthew?" Pri'deom said. I heard a hint of annoyance in his voice. "Are you ignoring me?"
Fine, I'd indulge the parasite for now. "No."
"Such a relief."
"What is...the firstborn?"
“Ah, excuse me. I forget myself. Context, is everything, isn't it? You see, I’m not the villain you’ve painted me as -- and yes, I see the glint in your eyes, the anger, the desperation… the fear. I assure you though, that I am no more your enemy than the breath in your lungs.”
He spoke so casually it was hard to imagine he was the source of all of this horror. He carried himself like a chartered accountant.
“Eons ago," Pri'deom said. "Before man began its slow descent into unfiltered madness, destruction, and war, there was a balance. A calmness in the universe. I once walked this world, you know. I drank in its beauty every day, and I bathed in its wonder.” He did a small pirouette, breathing deep. “It was truly the gem of the universe. Of any universe. It was heaven.”
“How much more... stories….” I growled, my body lurching forward on its own accord. Fuck, my mouth felt thirsty. So dry. I needed to drink something. Jake’s blood would do. Yes, it would do just fine. I stepped toward him again, and Pri’deom hopped in front of me.
“Sorry,” he said, giving an awkward laugh. “I’m almost finished, then you can do as you please. As I said, context is important, Matthew.”
My body was desperate for blood. My muscles twitched and spasmed, eying Jake. I bottled it though, pushed it all the way down and put a cork on it. Just a little longer, I told myself. Sooner or later this cosmic asshole would finish his monologue, and then I could eviscerate my uncle.
Pri'deom folded his arms, noticing my distraction. “The truth is, you humans have ruined everything, haven’t you? You’ve spread across this world, erecting steel monuments of greed and slavery, murdering the planet with every step that you take.” His face -- my brother’s face -- fell into a snarl. “You’ve drained this world of its minerals, its oils, its very lifeblood. You’ve cast a shadow of poison across it, filling it with waste and fallout. You think yourself gods, but you treat each other as ants.”
He took another breath and shook as he did so. He was furious, and growing angrier with each word. His gold eyes began swirling, glowing and brimming with an impossible depth. “You’ve murdered the Old Ones, centuries ago of course, but with wanton cruelty." The words fell from his mouth like a guillotine "You’ve wiped them from human memory, leaving them only as myths, and legends. Stories lost to time, foolish to believe because they were only ever fictitious.”
“Who are you?” I said, surprised to find my voice sounding much more level now.
“I am a means to an end, Matthew. I am the universe redeeming itself. I am the pride of this world come to excise the cancer that is man.”
My father let out a cry, and his massive head dropped to the shore. He gave another swing of his arm, though it was weak now, half-hearted.
“Matty,” Jake called. “I’m serious, get over here and tell your old man to settle down before I actually kill the fucking prick!”
My vision exploded into a watercolour of red and I couldn't control myself anymore. “Jake!” I screamed, launching over Pri’deom. The force of my jump was more than I imagined, and I cleared the gap by wider than I’d intended. I landed on the far shore, with Jake and my father now between Pri’deom and I.
Jake, still eyeless, turned his head to face me as the sound of my body landing on the stones reached him. But he was moving slowly. So slowly.
I might not be as fast as Pri'deom, but I was faster than Jake.
I bounded across the stones, my body long and lanky but with each step I grew more familiar with it until eventually I dropped onto all fours and galloped toward my uncle, letting loose a feral screech. He hardly had time to paint his ape face with terror before I was on him, my claws slicing into his sides. He raised an arm to bash me but I dodged it easily. In this form, he moved so slowly it was like killing a snail.
I cut into him, over and over. Instinct overtook me and I understood what I needed to do. I understood what I needed to destroy. This tendon, that nerve cluster.
Moments later I landed back on the stones, breathing heavy, my long claws wet and red. The sound of fur drifting across fur met my ears, and Jake dropped from my father’s backside, lying motionless on the shore.
“You… little fucker,” Jake gasped, gnashing his simian jaws. “I gave you this and you…”
I stepped over him, pressing one of my thin legs to his chest. “You gave me a living nightmare, Jake. You took my brother from me. You nearly stole my father." The words were coming easily now. I was getting the hang of this serum. "You forced me to become a monster.” I leaned down, and the primal piece of me understood this fight was already finished. I’d cut his tendons apiece. He couldn’t move anymore, not for a while at least. “Worst of all,” My fangs were inches from Jake’s mangled face. “You dosed my brother, and stole my mom.” I pressed my hand to his chest, my claws digging into his flesh.
“Matty,” he sputtered, fear seeping into his tone. “Come on now, I did what needed to be done. You know that, deep down. I mean for fuck sakes, look behind ya, kid! I brought the Lord Beyond back from the Veil. He can fix this world, make it right again."
"Make it right," I said, tasting his excuse.
"That's it, Matty. He's gonna make it right and yes a few people had to get hurt but your brother and I, we've done something incredible."
You’ve done something unforgivable.” I tore into his neck with my fangs, drinking his blood, and my body shook with ecstasy. It tasted better than anything and I had waited so long.
“My Lord…” Jake said, voice weak. His head lolled to the side, gazing toward the monster in my brother’s skin. “Please… I brought you…”
Pointless. I already knew Pri’deom wasn’t going to save him. How could he? Everything he’d just admonished about humanity, Jake embodied. He was the poison. The demon in the shadows, that stole the pride of this world and manipulated it for his own ends.
“You thought...” I grunted, slurping the blood from his neck, “that you would be rewarded for your murder, your hate and your sick bullshit?”
I lifted my head from his neck, Jake's blood pouring from my mouth. I positioned my hand over his large chest, my ears picking up the rapid beating of his terrified heart. "You're not greater." I thrust my hand through his ribs and gripped his thrumming heart. He let out a scream, one so violent that the birds exploded from their roosts, filling the night sky with wings and feathers. I leaned back down, my mouth inches from his ear. "I am."
My fist closed tight around his heart, crushing it like a peeled orange before pulling it free from his chest in a shower of blood.
I closed my eyes, feeling the softness of what remained of his heart in my hand. I felt the warmth of his blood on my body. I tasted it on my lips.
The sound of clapping pulled me from my reverie. Pri’deom strolled out front of me, smiling enthusiastically. “You actually get it, Matthew. You understand the madness of this world, don’t you?”
“This… isn’t a solution,” I said, looking at my father. He was bleeding, but I could see the puncture wounds of Jake’s jaws beginning to slowly heal. Whatever was in that serum truly was incredible. Horrifying, but incredible. “It’s a death sentence for humanity.”
“Death sentence?” Pri’deom looked offended.
“You want to turn everybody into this, don’t you?”
“It’s the only way to fix this heaven.”
“What sort of heaven is filled with monsters?”
Pri’deom shook his head, placing an impossibly cold hand on my arm. “Monsters exist in the hearts of men, Matthew. Look at your uncle, was his sin being a beast, or the horror that lived beneath the fur and fangs? The horror of his human aspiration?”
Jake was an asshole, but a poor example. “There’s a lot of good people out there. They don’t deserve this.”
“No, but they don’t deserve to be subjugated either, do they? Slaves to a world that gives them pennies for their efforts, while their lords grow fat on their sweat and blood.” He leaned close to me, his voice intoxicating. “Men treat men like monsters, Matthew. The beasts of the world live by a code, and a simple one. They exist to survive, and little else. They act as their instincts dictate, and even in their proliferation they could never bring this planet to its knees."
He clasped his hands behind his back and began circling me.
“Nuclear warfare will be the end of this world. I’ve seen it. The ash, the fire and the unimaginable pain.” He looked to my grandmother’s corpse, still propped up by the water. “When that time comes, the dead will be the grateful few. You cannot imagine the horror that awaits your human race.”
“It’s not your decision,” I snarled. “If we fuck things up, we fuck things up on our terms. Now let my brother go."
He paused, paying me a remorseful look. “Eric’s a powerful vessel. Unstable, but powerful. To give him up would be to relinquish a millenia of effort.” He shook his head. “No, I’m afraid I cannot. Many times throughout history people have come close to summoning me, to opening the gateway between our worlds. They’ve made a couple offerings perhaps, or three. But never four, and never with a host so... capable.” He flexed his hands, and a nearby tree exploded in a shower of bark and leaves.
I jumped back, stumbling off of Jake’s corpse. I felt stronger than I'd ever dreamed but that? What was this guy capable of? I swallowed, terror beginning to grip me as I realized the gulf between our abilities. “What…”
“What was that?” Pri’deom laughed. “That was what I’ve been waiting for.” He snapped his fingers, and the sky flickered blue before returning to the black of night. “Eric’s even stronger than you, you know. In this body, I can nearly touch the full extent of my power. I can almost wield the Veil.”
His eye twitched.
“Barring some instances of insubordination." He gave his head an irritated shake. "Though, those should come under control in due time. Point is, Matthew, I’ve waited far too long to give this up in the name of a single human being’s emotional experience." He offered me a half-smile. "I apologize, truly, but it is for the good of us all.”
Good of us all. I'd heard that bullshit before. “So what, you’re going to wipe us all out? Sayonara humanity?"
“Not at all, I thought we covered this? I'm going to make everybody as you are, Matthew. Greater. I'm going to reroute this world from calamity and back toward simple beauty. I'll take the human mold and cast it into that of the Old Ones, into beings free from human ambition and horror."
"You might be surprised to hear that most people don't find werewolves and vampires to be free from horror."
Pri'deom smirked. "Humanity has always feared what it doesn't understand."
“How’s this then,” I growled. “Jake was every bit the monster he always was, Old One or not. And your serum? That made my brother murder our mother!"
“That was an issue with your family serum, I’m afraid." Pri'deom looked down, sighing. "Regretful, of course, but ultimately necessary. To create a truly pure transformation within a human lifespan would be a near impossible undertaking."
He winked and stones began to rise, floating around him. “Luckily for me, I suffer no such limitations. In this body, I can recreate the Old Ones in their original image. I can free this world from the shackles of humanity, and return it to a simple reality of instinct, and survival.”
“You start turning people into monsters, and they’re going to kill people.”
“Billions, if I’m lucky.”
“You’re twisted.”
“I’m necessary. If you could see your world’s future, you would grovel at my feet, Matthew. But you’re too absorbed in your humanity to care. To you, the only thing that matters is --” he patted his chest, “-- your brother and the rest of your family. You lack the perspective to see things on a scale so wide as I.”
So, his end game was turning everybody into a monster in the name of stopping some future nuclear wasteland. I clenched my fists, my claws digging into my flesh. If that were true, it could almost justify it. Almost. But it meant removing the one thing we possessed, our free will. There was a chance we didn’t devolve into nuclear war, wasn’t there? A chance we figured this shit out as human beings.
I had to trust in that. It was all I had left.
“Let Eric go,” I snarled. I was done negotiating, done listening to his rationalizations. I wanted my brother back and I didn't care how powerful this dickhead was. “I’m not going to let you turn this world into monsters."
Pri'deom laughed. "Too late, the world's already full of monsters. They just look like you so you don't mind so much."
I racked my mind for a way out of this. How was I supposed to force him out of Eric? I had no fucking clue. This was always Eric’s area of expertise, the planning, the know-how. I hated myself for not reading more of the cave's books when I’d had the chance. Maybe there was some mention of a way to reverse the ritual.
Yes. That was it. If Pri’deom had walked the earth before and been banished, then there was definitely a way to send him back. I just needed to figure out how.
"I think I'll go ahead and get started," Pri'deom said.
"What?"
He stepped into the river. No, he stepped onto it. He walked along the water, to the center of the current. "This is where I was chained, you know. A bit further upstream, but still… It's almost poetic that this should also be where I deliver this world's redemption." He took a deep breath and raised his arms, and the water drifted upward, dancing around him. "Sit tight, Matthew. Soon I'll show you that change is a necessary part of our universe, and that some change is inevitable."
Fuck! Right now? He was gonna turn the world right now? Jesus! I looked around me, desperately hoping for some way to stop this. Some way to end this, but I didn't have a library here. I didn't have any counter-spells or ways of reversing the summoning ritual. I just had me, my comtatose father, and the dagger.
I swallowed, staring at the gleaming blade on the shore. It was silver, but its hilt wasn't. I could grab it. Use it.
"Sar'thu," Pri'deom said, his voice so loud that the very trees shifted. "Barthu'nal shry."
I didn't know how long his spell would take, but I did know I was running out of time. I screamed into the night and bashed my fists into the stone shore. What was I supposed to do? What options did I even have anymore?
My mother's voice echoed in my mind. Matthew, please.

[x.x]
submitted by Born-Beach to nosleep