Photo: Larry Hirshowitz
KCRW's Best of 2019
KCRW's Best of 2019
KCRW's Best of 2019

Best of the Decade

21

Adele

Bringing an emotive warmth, first-class songwriting, and a hair-raising mezzo-soprano to an unsuspecting contemporary music scene, Adele dominated the last decade, fast becoming the greatest singer on the planet. Her sophomore album 21, released in 2011, revealed a dramatic stylistic growth and amped-up urgency that was embraced stationwide at KCRW and around the world. — Chris Douridas

Sound & Color

Alabama Shakes

Sound & Color is an incredible follow up to Alabama Shakes’ epic debut. Producer Blake Mills polished the rural Americana roots sounds and helped solidify the Shakes’ place in music history. Heartfelt blues from start to finish, coupled with an unforgettable voice both in style and content. — Jose Galvan

Malibu

Anderson .Paak

Anderson's fantastic voyage into balmy oceans of groove - from classic boom bap to deep disco, funk, and muted deep house nods, laced with exquisite rhymes that encourage love, perseverance, and positivity! — Garth Trinidad

Blonde

Frank Ocean

To write a few sentences on Frank Ocean's impact on the decade would be an injustice. He’s been the subject of podcasts, avoids social media, cut pop star Drake’s set short without even appearing at Camp Flog Gnaw and created a visual album just to get off a label deal with Def Jam. Blonde continues where Channel Orange left off but added creative freedom currency to the pallet of Frank in 2016. From electronic minimalism to perfectly placed symbolism in the lyrics, Blonde reminds me of the various levels of The Legend of Zelda - it’s timeless with something new always to be found. — Anthony Valadez

The Epic

Kamasi Washington

Jazz saxophonist Kamasi Washington certainly wasn’t shy when he named his 2015 triple album debut The Epic (though the story of the album’s name isn’t at all what you think). His LA roots + his legit jazz credentials + his collaborations with artists like Flying Lotus, Thundercat and Kendrick Lamar = the stage spiritually set for a new generation of jazz in Southern California. — Anne Litt

To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar

I'm not sure too many modern MCs have had a 3 album run quite like Kung Fu Kenny. From good kid to DAMN., he has sealed his place in hip-hop history. Even though To Pimp a Butterfly is the middle child of the trio - it is universally recognized as one of the best hip-hop albums ever and will never be an afterthought. Seamlessly incorporating jazz - in the middle of its modern renaissance - with self-reflective narratives and racial & societal critics, all with the Black Lives Matter movement at its peak and in the middle of a string of police killings...like they say in real estate. Location, location, location. This is one of those moments in music that the time and execution were perfect. To Pimp a Butterfly is one of the few albums on the list that was a unanimous first ballot vote. It will likely go down as K.Dot's magnum opus. — Aaron Byrd

This Is Happening

LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem followed up two decade defining albums with a record that arguably packs an even greater punch than their previous efforts. This Is Happening saw LCD Soundsystem's status evolve from scrappy underdogs to full-fledged headliners. — Travis Holcombe

A Seat at the Table

Solange

Solange captured a BIG MOOD with A Seat at the Table. She echoed modern, and often marginalized, conversations of black folks in a thoughtful and iconic way that had many expressing "yes! thank you for saying that!" The sound of the album, complete with meaningful interludes, was wholly fresh and unique while taking many notes from vintage soul, jazz and funk artists. — Novena Carmel

Currents

Tame Impala

After delivering a pair of bona fide mind-blowing heavy fuzz psych rock albums, Tame Impala's Kevin Parker turned on the razzle-dazzle and created a post-internet genre-defying, era-defining classic, Currents. A dissolving sugar cube of an album, Currents morphs from Psych to Pop and R&B. A perfect kaleidoscope of moods, from ecstatic and anthemic to heartbroken and resigned, and every feeling on the spectrum. — Mario Cotto

Lost In The Dream

The War On Drugs

This album is the perfect example of the power of music - how it can evoke memories, emotions and transport you to a specific place in time. From the fuzz filled, guitar driven alt rock anthems “Red Eyes” and “Under The Pressure” to the lush, extended and hypnotic grooves like "Disappearing" - start to finish, it’s definitely a magical trip, and not only will this album be a best of the decade, but will be a favorite of all time! — Raul Campos