Here at World Cafe, where music discovery is buried deep in our musical DNA, we play a lot of new music. As we look at the current musical landscape — through streaming services and public radio stations alike — we've noticed that music discovery is increasingly becoming genre-less. The best sounds from Americana, R&B, indie rock, classic rock, alt-rock (whatever that actually means anymore), hip-hop and singer-songwriters all have one thing in common: that regardless of the genre, the passion for music is driven by our love of discovery and our curiosity.
While we had a short list of best albums of the year — new releases by Michael Kiwanuka, Vampire Weekend, Sharon Van Etten, Joan Shelley, Lizzo, Brittany Howard and more — our list of best songs of the year, which you can listen to below, is much deeper. We were enamored with debut albums and songs from musicians with bright futures ahead of them, including singer-songwriters like Jade Bird and J.S. Ondara, Illiterate Light, Bailen, Clairo, Sudan Archives, Yola, Angie McMahon and Vagabon's major label debut.
Other highlights of 2019: Strand of Oaks' "Forever Chords" was the epic of the year (please don't say rock is dead). David Wax Museum, from Charlottesville, Va., returned with a optimistic album born out of the tragic events of the 2017 Unite The Right rally. The Head and The Heart swung hard for the pop fences and made its best record yet. And Josh Ritter, working with Jason Isbell, turned up the guitars but didn't lose a bit of his storytelling eloquence.
Listen to our best songs of 2019 below. Thanks for tuning in to World Cafe and here's to a wonderful 2020.