AF 2019 IN REVIEW: Our Favorite Albums & Singles of The Year

Lizzo press photo by Luke Gilford, courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Every year I keep a running list of new album releases. The idea is that I’ll have new stuff on my radar, along with a go-to playlist if I’m feeling adventurous (or bored) and want to hear something new. This year that list grew to nearly 9,000 songs, and I’m still adding stuff I missed from this year to it. When it came time to make my year-end list, I had some ideas about what would be on it, but I decided to do something more immersive than I’d done years prior (basically narrowing my list down to ten albums). This year, I decided to rank every record I listened to that came out in 2019, resulting in a list of more than 200 albums. That’s a lot, certainly. It’s my job, of course, to listen to music. But what was more mind-boggling was that, when I made a separate list of albums I hadn’t had a chance to listen to or simply didn’t stick in my mind, it was more than double that number. Y’all, a lot of music came out in 2019. And a lot of it was really, really good.

I think our list at Audiofemme is unique in that it gives each of our regular writers (and some of our contributors) complete ownership over their favorites, and that makes our list unusually eclectic. That’s especially true this year; last year’s lists featured a lot of love for Mitski and Janelle Monae, while this year’s lists were so disparate there’s very little crossover from list to list. So while it’s hard to choose one overarching narrative around who slayed hardest this year – Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen releasing the best albums of their careers, Big Thief releasing two amazing records, Jamila Woods and FKA Twigs going big on concept albums – I think we all know that person was Lizzo.


  • Marianne White (Executive Director)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    2) Big Thief – Two Hands
    3) Boy Harsher – Careful
    4) FKA Twigs – Magdalene
    5) Cate le Bon – Reward

  • Lindsey Rhoades (Editor-in-Chief)

    Top 10 Albums:
    2) Hand Habits – placeholder
    3) Crumb – Jinx
    4) Pottery – No. 1
    5) Orville Peck – Pony
    6) Cate le Bon – Reward
    7) Kim Gordon – No Home Record
    8) Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
    9) Black Belt Eagle Scout – At the Party With My Brown Friends
    10) Big Thief – Two Hands
    Top 10 Singles:
    1) Sharon Van Etten – “Jupiter 4”
    2) SOAK – “Valentine Shmalentine”
    3) Jonny Kosmo – “Strawberry Vision”
    4) Mineral – “Your Body Is the World”
    5) Drahla – “Stimulus for Living”
    6) Mattiel – “Keep the Change”
    7) Girlpool – “Minute in Your Mind”
    8) Charlotte Adigéry – “Paténipat”
    9) Weyes Blood – “Andromeda”
    10) Palehound – “Killer”

  • Mandy Brownholtz (Marketing Director)

    Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
    Summer Walker – Over It
    Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
    Mannequin Pussy – Patience
    Raveena – Lucid
    Top 3 Singles:
    Summer Walker – “Anna Mae”
    Solange – “Binz”
    Jamila Woods – “ZORA”


  • Alexa Peters (Playing Seattle)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Guayaba – Fantasmagoria
    2) Ings – Lullaby Rock
    3) The Black Tones – Cobain & Cornbread
    4) Lemolo – Swansea
    5) Stephanie Anne Johnson – Take This Love
    Top 5 Singles:
    1) Lizzo – “Juice”
    2) Karma Rivera – “Do More Say Less”
    2) Heather Thomas Band – “When I Was Young”
    3) Stephanie Anne Johnson – “Never No More”
    4) Sarah Potenza – “I Work For Me”
    5) Ariana Grande – “Thank U, Next”

  • Sophia Vaccaro (Playing the Bay)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    2) PUP – Morbid Stuff
    3) Kim Petras – TURN OFF THE LIGHT
    4) Microwave – Death is a Warm Blanket
    5) Caroline Polachek – Pang
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Jess Day – “Rabbit Hole”
    2) Ashnikko – “Hi, It’s Me”
    3) Saweetie – “My Type”

  • Cillea Houghton (Playing Nashville)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Yola – Walk Through Fire
    2) Louis York – American Griots
    3) The Highwomen – The Highwomen
    4) Sara Potenza – Road to Rome
    5) Rising Appalachia – Leylines
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
    2) Louis York – “Don’t You Forget”
    3) The Highwomen – “Crowded Table”

  • Luci Turner (Playing Atlanta)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
    2) Harry Styles – Fine Line
    3) Brittany Howard – Jaime
    4) MARINA – Love + Fear
    5) Death Mama – High Strangeness
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Sam Burchfield – “Blue Ridge June”
    2) Pip the Pansy – “Siren Song”
    3) 5 Seconds of Summer – “Teeth”

  • Victoria Moorwood (Playing Cincy)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy
    2) Wale – Wow… That’s Crazy
    3) Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
    4) DaBaby – KIRK
    5) NF – The Search
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) DaBaby – “Intro”
    2) Polo G – “Pop Out”
    3) Lil Baby – “Yes Indeed” (feat. Drake)

  • Amanda Silberling (Playing Philly)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Palehound – Black Friday
    2) Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
    3) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    4) T-Rextasy – Prehysteria
    5) Leggy – Let Me Know Your Moon
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Mannequin Pussy – “Drunk II”
    2) Charly Bliss – “Chatroom”
    3) (Sandy) Alex G – “Southern Sky”

  • Tarra Thiessen (Check the Spreadsheet)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
    2) FEELS – Post Earth
    3) Francie Moon – All the Same
    4) Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
    5) Crumb – Jinx
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dehd – “Lucky”
    2) Bodega – “Shiny New Model”
    3) Y La Bamba – “Entre Los Dos”

  • Natalie Kirch (Pet Politics)

    Top 5 Albums (in Chronological Order):
    1) JANITOR — She Hates The Hits
    2) Haybaby — They Get There
    3) Holy Tunics — Hit Parade Lemonade Supersonic Spree
    4) Bethlehem Steel — Bethlehem Steel
    5) Francie Moon – All The Same
    6) SUO – Dancing Spots and Dungeons
    Top 5 Singles (in Chronological Order):
    1) Big Bliss – “Contact”
    2) Gesserit – “Silence”
    3) Vanessa Silberman – “I Got A Reason”
    4) New Myths – “Living Doll”
    5) Miss Eaves – “Swipe Left Up”


  • Liz Ohanesian

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy
    2) (tie) Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence // K Á R Y Y N – The Quanta Series
    3) !!! – Wallop
    4) Yacht – Chain Tripping
    5) Chromatics – Closer to Grey
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy”
    2) Roisin Murphy – “Narcissus”
    3) Boy Harsher – “Come Closer”

  • Lydia Sviatoslavsky

    Top 5 Albums:
    1)  Xiu Xiu – Girl With a Basket of Fruit
    2) slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
    3) Boy Harsher – Careful
    4) Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
    5) Sylvia Black – Twilight Animals
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Squarepusher – “Vortrack – Fracture Remix”
    2) Coyu & Moby – “I May Be Dead, But One Day The World Will Be Beautiful Again”
    3) Cocorosie – “Smash My Head”

  • Tamara Mesko

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Bad Books — III
    2) Pedro The Lion — Phoenix
    3) Laura Stevenson — The Big Freeze
    4) An Horse — Modern Air
    5) Black Belt Eagle Scout — At the Party With My Brown Friends
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Kevin Devine – “Only Yourself”
    2) Rain Phoenix feat. Michael Stipe – “Time is the Killer”
    3) Sigrid – “Strangers”

  • Erin Rose O’Brien

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Stef Chura — Midnight
    2) Angel Olsen — All Mirrors
    3) Lisa Prank — Perfect Love Song
    4) Carly Rae Jepsen — Dedicated
    5) Cheekface — Therapy Island
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Caroline Polachek — “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”
    2) Priests — “Jesus’ Son”
    3) Lana Del Ray — “The Greatest”

  • Katie Wojciechowski

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) The Highwomen — The Highwomen
    2) Better Oblivion Community Center — Better Oblivion Community Center
    3) Various Artists — Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
    4) Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride
    5) J.S. Ondara — Tales of America
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) MUNA — “Good News (Ya-Ya Song)”
    2) Lizzie No — “Narcissus”
    3) Noah Gundersen — “Lose You”

  • Micco Caporale

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Orville Peck — Pony
    2) Boy Harsher — Careful
    3) Lingua Ignota — Caligula
    4) Heterofobia — Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder
    5) Knife Wife — Family Party
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dorian Electra – “Flamboyant”
    2) Orville Peck – “Dead of Night”
    3) Solange — “Binz”

  • Jason Scott

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Allison Moorer — Blood
    2) Gabriella Rose — Lost in Translation EP
    3) Emily Scott Robinson — Traveling Mercies
    4) Girl Wilde — Probably Crying EP
    5) BHuman — BMovie
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dua Lipa – “Don’t Start Now”
    2) The Highwomen – “Redesigning Women”
    3) Katy Perry — “Never Really Over”

  • Ysabella Monton

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) King Princess – Cheap Queen
    2) Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    3) Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
    4) Kim Petras – Clarity
    5) Charli XCX – Charli
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
    2) FKA Twigs – “holy terrain”
    3) Charli XCX – “Gone” feat. Christine and the Queens

  • Holly Henschen

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Marielle Allschwang & the Visitations – Precession of a Day: The World of Mary Nohl
    2) Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
    3) Sudan Archives – Athena
    4) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
    5) Sigur Rós – Sigur Rós Presents Liminal Sleep
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
    2) Sleater-Kinney – “Hurry on Home”
    3) Lizzo – “Tempo”

  • Erin Lyndal Martin

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love
    2) Mariee Sioux – Grief in Exile
    3) Carolina Eyck – Elegies for Theremin & Voice
    4) Julia Kent – Temporal
    5) Rhiannon Giddens – There is No Other (with Francesco Turrisi)

  • Rebecca Kunin

    Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
    Mal Blum – Pity Boy
    Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    Durand Jones and the Indications – American Love Call
    Tony Molina – Songs from San Mateo County
    Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    Top 3 Singles:
    Brittany Howard – “Stay High”
    Angel Olsen – “New Love Cassette”
    Jacky Boy – “Get Along”

AF 2019 IN REVIEW: The Best of Playing Atlanta

Pip the Pansy may change everything you know about pop music.

There’s only one day left in the decade, y’all. Like it or not, 2020 is almost here. Whether you’re ready to send it out with a bang or trying desperately to figure out where the last twenty years went, there’s no denying: the time has flown, and we’re on the cusp of a brand new decade. 

Time to put some serious thought into those New Year/New Decade Resolutions, huh? 

While you’re working on those resolutions — or just trying to detox after a month of nonstop Christmas music — PLAYING ATLANTA is here to offer a break from the jingling and jangling and remind you that not all music insists that it is, in fact, the most wonderful time of the year. 

Full of sultry melodies, blazing rock ’n roll, and enough swampy Southern soul to call forth the dearly departed of Capricorn, FAME, and Stax, PLAYING ATLANTA has been a joy and an ongoing surprise to write. Over the last year, we’ve explored loss, self-love, and life’s long roads, traveled to Colorado with Sam Burchfield, and brought it all the way back home to witness the soul-stirring rock power of The Pinx. 

All of that in a year, too. Who knows what the new decade will sound like. 

And now, without further ado, PLAYING ATLANTA’s Top 10 of 2019:

10. Lesibu Grand // The Legend of Miranda

Atlanta indie-rock group Lesibu Grand, founded by lead singer Tyler-Simone Molton and bassist John Renaud, blends sharp vocals with a Debbie Harry nonchalance, zesty synth, and new-wave-meets-hip-hop prowess to craft a debut EP that sounds like anything but. Weaving introspective lyrics between tracks like “Miranda,” which tells the story of a loveless suburban marriage launched into out-of-this-world adventures following an alien invasion, The Legend of Miranda is a zingy debut by a band who has already made a name for themselves.

9. The Pinx // “Mercy!”

The Pinx rock… and roll, and boogie-woogie all night long, especially in their latest music video, “Mercy!” Shot in the ballroom of a haunted hotel, The Pinx disturb a few guests and draw listeners out of the mundane with each single, music video, and concert.

Featuring the lead vocals and guitar work of Adam McIntyre, lead guitarist and vocalist Chance McColl, bassist Charles Wiles, and drummer Cayce Buttrey, The Pinx takes rock back to its roots and reminds us all of the true meaning of rock ‘n roll: to break down barriers and get everyone dancing.

8. Victoria Blade // Lo-Fi Love Songs

Actress, filmmaker, indie label co-founder, and singer-songwriter Victoria Blade wear a lot of hats, but she wears them with an incomparably jaunty ease. The Brooklynite-via-Chicago-turned-Atlantian has an uncanny ability to craft an EP that listens more like a diary, chronicling the life and love of a creative nomad. Equal parts studied and effortless, good-natured and introspective, Blade blends lo-fi folk with the sweet sensibility of indie pop, resulting in the breath of fresh air that is Lo-Fi Love Songs.

7. Sarah Zúñiga // “Heart of Mine”

Athens-based, New-York-born, Ecuadorian-and-Nicaraguan singer-songwriter Sarah Zúñiga brings an intimate sensibility to her unique brand of alternative folk, blending sharp observation with the textured poeticism of traditional Spanish folk music. When we last checked in with her, she had released her latest single, “Heart of Mine,” gearing up for a few highly anticipated winter releases.

The stop-you-in-your-tracks single was followed by a two-song EP featuring Fish, What Is Love To You, and the single “I Like Knowing You’re Around,” but there’s something about the deeply personal “Heart of Mine” that I love. Tackling the weighty, often indescribable effect anxiety has on the heart, “Heart of Mine” features Zúñiga’s unique vocal styling and showcases her ability as a songwriter and musician.

6. Sam Burchfield // “Colorado”

Sam Burchfield’s wanderlust-inducing, Appalachian-folk inspired single “Colorado” was the perfect track to usher in autumn (and I’m still listening to it now!). Based in Atlanta but born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Burchfield returned to his roots and crafted a stunning ode to the natural world – and the breathtaking beauty of Colorado – with this track.

5. Seersha // “Lecture Me”

Atlanta’s chillest electro-pop artist and producer Seersha – aka Kara Revnes – spent two years crafting her latest release, but it was definitely worth the wait. Her seemingly effortless ability to create ambient soundscapes that are equally driving and oh-so-chill is unrivaled, but it was her onstage presence that drew me in from the start. Calm, subdued, and self-assured on stage, she takes that easy confidence with her into the studio, imbuing each song she writes and produces with her own indelible style.

4. Death Mama // High Strangeness

Blues-rock quartet Death Mama is one of the newest – and loudest – players in the rock scene. Committed to a shroud of mystery that envelops the slinky, smoldering sound, the foursome has already made a name for themselves in the Atlanta area. Following the release of two singles, the group dropped their debut album, High Strangeness, featuring seven tracks as jolting as the band’s name.

3. Sarah and the Safe Word // Red Hot & Holy

Atlanta sextet Sarah and the Safe Word had me hooked before I ever heard their music. Their one-line bio – “Jay Gatsby died, we played the funeral.” – wraps the group in their own brand of the operatic, twisted rock ‘n’ roll ethos. Crafting stories that range from a demon-powered car race in “Formula 666” to the swashbuckling battle on the open sea in “Dead Girls Tell No Tales,” the group manages to create a world that’s as outrageous as it is inclusive, a place for anyone and everyone to join in and enjoy the dark, swinging sounds of the 1920s.

2. Cicada Rhythm // Cecilia

Melodic and unassuming, Cicada Rhythm has a way of subtly blending the sweet simplicity of ’60s and ’70s folk music with the hustle and bustle of 21st century life between the slide of fingers on acoustic guitar strings, the swell of a stand-up bass, and crisp harmonic vocals. Featuring bassist Andrea DeMarcus and guitarist Dave Kirslis, Cicada Rhythm has the most down-home sound of any group I’ve heard this year, perfectly showcased in their take of Simon & Garfunkle’s “Cecilia,” the latest installment in their Stuck in My Head cover series.

1. Pip the Pansy // “Siren Song”

Combining haunting piano melodies with fuzzy synth and driving rhythms – and the occasional flute solo – Pip the Pansy dispels every notion I ever had about pop music and replaces it with a lilting, quirky melodicism. Uniquely creative, she has a way of entrancing listeners with the effortlessness of a Greek siren, weaving a hazy dreamworld of myth, magic, and melody.

With a powerful live show and a brand new EP, Love Legends, Pt. 1Pip the Pansy is proof of the magic of reinvention, a perfect send off into a brand new decade.


Keep on rocking, Atlanta – wishing you the happiest of days and a wonderful new year.

PLAYING ATLANTA: Death Mama Resurrect Rock with High Strangeness

If there’s anything Atlanta has in spades, it’s killer rock bands. But not just your good ol’ Southern Rock bands: pop-rock, metal, psychedelic… you name it, you can find it, played with soul on a dark stage in a sweaty, crowded room.

Blues rock quartet Death Mama is one of the newest – and loudest – players in the rock scene. Committed to a shroud of mystery that envelops the slinky, smoldering sound, the foursome have already made a name for themselves in the Atlanta area.

Following the release of two singles, the group dropped their debut album, High Strangeness, on Friday. I sat down with the band to talk all things Death Mama, including the origins of the eyebrow-raising name.

AF: Let’s start with the most obvious: Death Mama isn’t the kind of name you hear very often. How did you guys come up with it?

DM: We came up with it after going through many ideas. Then we found a Bob Dylan poem in a photography book that had “Death Mama” written in it. It sounded cool to us, and we thought there were some cool things we could do with it. 

AF: You’ve all been in bands before, and Death Mama is actually the second incarnation of a previous band you played in together. What made you decide to keep going when a lot of musicians would’ve hung it up?

DM: We have to keep making music. It’s something that we have to do for us, even when it seems that all odds are against us. We love the kind of music we make and we hope others will attach themselves to it, but we do it as a creative outlet for us. We’ll always make music, and will most likely always make music in some form or another with each other. 

AF: Why do you think think the musical connection is so strong between the four of you?

DM: We’ve been friends for a long time and we think it shows in our music. We have a deep understanding of where each one of us wants to go creatively and we feed off of each others energy.

AF: What’s your writing process like? Is it generally collaborative, or will one of you come in with a song and you’ll jam it together until it feels right?

DM: It is normally very collaborative. We use our studio and we’re constantly showing ideas to each other. We like to build off of each idea and try to finish the idea into a song together, even if it doesn’t make a release. We have a lot of ideas that get re-purposed or altered into ideas later. Generally no one comes in with a complete song and says, “This is how we’re going to do it.” That’s just not what we do. 

AF: You released your debut record, High Strangeness, last Friday, following the release of two singles, “Can You Dig It?” and “Whenever I’m With You.” What’s the been like? Has it felt like a long time coming?

DM: We always love to release new music. The support we’ve gotten since the singles and the album release has been amazing. It was really cool to debut a new sound and see how people react to it. We love the idea of catching people off guard. 

AF: What inspired the record? What was the recording process like for you guys?

DM: We wanted it to be a big, raw sound. We have our own full on analog recording studio and that gives us the ability to mess around with sounds and song ideas any time we want. We love to finish a song in a day. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but maybe we get the basic tracking done and the overdubs done and do vocals another day. Then it typically takes about a day to mix a song. 

AF: You’ve been huge players in the Atlanta music scene for years, but you’ve reinvented yourselves with Death Mama. How do you think your fans and the scene will react?

DM: Our hope is that we bring something new to the table that people can sink their teeth into. A lot of music nowadays is so full of cookie cutter, snapped-to-the-grid stuff with the same sounds everyone does. We wanted to be completely different than that by spending a ton of time on the writing and the creation of certain sounds and FX that we used. No sound on each track is the same; they are all different. They may sound similar, but everything, even down to the vocal chains, are different on every track. We wanted it to all feel cohesive, but at the same time each track needed to be able to stand on its own. 

AF: What’s next for Death Mama?

DM: We plan to do some touring and continuing to release new music. We’re already writing and recording in the studio right now. Maybe we’ll release even more music by the end of the year. 

Follow Death Mama on Facebook and Instagram, and stream High Strangeness on Spotify now.