Big Thief

Adrianne Lenker is the guitarist and singer for the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based rock band Big Thief. Cecilia Bartoli is the Italian opera singer who thrives on neglected repertoire from the 18th century. The two women might seem like strange bedfellows, but they come together in our series titled "highly specific superlatives," a kind of drilling down to some of the finest and most precise moments in the arts in 2019.

These are my favorite albums of 2019. The flood of music and the variety of music in 2019 felt exhilarating, though also overwhelming. I couldn't keep it to my usual top ten, so I extended it to twenty.

Last week, we shared NPR Music's best music of 2019 in the form of nearly two dozen lists our staff and contributors made collaboratively. Today we're handing over more private treasures. The albums listed below are personal favorites from our staff, ranked from one to 10. The lists themselves are also presented in order of best to worst. Just kidding.

The 25 Best Songs Of 2019

Dec 11, 2019

This list was made by writers, editors and producers at NPR Music operating under two rules: Songs had to be released during 2019 and no lead artist was allowed to appear on both this list and our list of the 25 Best Albums of 2019. You can find the rest of our picks for the best music of 2019 here.

The 15 Best Rock Albums Of 2019

Dec 11, 2019

After a decade of genre-blending, globalization and the growth of micro-niches, the definition of rock is very much up for debate. But for us — and for the purposes of this list — it means one thing: Guitars. Big, loud, fuzzy guitars. Sharon Van Etten put out one of our favorite albums of the year and there are some guitars on it. But not really rock and roll.

This week, Big Thief will release its second album of the year. The double play alone doesn't capture just how prolific this band is, though. Two Hands is the third Big Thief release in the past year and six days, if you count lead songwriter Adrianne Lenker's solo record, abysskiss. Broaden the count from there, and it is the fifth Big Thief-related LP of the past year and a half, including solo outings from guitarist Buck Meek and drummer James Krivchenia. Big Thief is like a hydrant with its top knocked off. Music is pouring from Big Thief.

NPR Music's Top 16 Songs Of August

Aug 30, 2019

Stream: Spotify, Apple.

Bob Boilen and I are back together again to share some of the phenomenal new music we've been hearing, starting with Brittany Howard's stirring and inspired "He Loves Me," from her upcoming solo debut Jaime. She named the album after her sister who passed away when they were both teenagers. The music is a celebration of the human spirit.

Best Albums Of 2019 (So Far)

Jun 25, 2019

We asked our panel of public radio writers one question: What is your favorite album of 2019 so far? There were so many ways to answer: we've heard albums that feel germane to our time, that allowed us to escape, that reconfigured a beloved artist's roots or that signaled the next wave of sound. But ultimately, what we have here are the No. 1s as picked by some of the biggest ears in the country, the albums that we just can't stop listening to, even when time, algorithms and unending news cycles demand otherwise.

Our shortlist of the best albums out on May 3 includes Vampire Weekend's first new album in six years, life-affirming "pep talks" from Judah & The Lion, the interdimensional sounds of Big Thief's latest album U.F.O.F., the profound lyricism of Nashville singer-songwriter Caroline Spence, former Civil Wars singer Joy Williams and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Lars Gotrich and Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the week's best new albums.

Featured Albums:

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