As we hit the halfway point of 2019, here’s the best music of the year so far.

[Gilles LeBlanc, whom you might know as the person who writes under the name ROCKthusiast, has picked his favourite songs to this point in 2019. You should sign up for his newsletter, too. – AC]

Most ROCKthusiastic So Far of 2019
Excluding The Black Keys or Jack White’s Raconteurs

Anyone who’s met me or knows ROCKthusiast on Twitter is very aware of my partiality with regard to bluesy garage rock produced by The Black Keys or Jack White via The Raconteurs. I dare you to find anyone who was more excited when both entities announced that fresh ear candy would be available before 2019 was halfway over. And while each new album has good to great aspects about them, the hype around the two as a harbinger of rock’s return to prominence has unfairly pushed numerous others’ endeavours into the white noise background.

Since all the cool online kids seem to be doing midyear performance reviews, I thought I should add another two cents to the jukebox, baby of some of the songs that have rocked my year to date.

The Dandy Warhols – Be Alright
I know it’s an Austin term and the Dandys are originally from played out Portland, but I hope they always stay weird. 25 years into their career and with 10th overall album Why You So Crazy, this is evidently still the case for these alternative oddities.

Blood Red Shoes – Mexican Dress
A UK two-piece in the vein of The Black Keys or White Stripes of old who struggled to finish latest full-length effort Get Tragic. Hints of challenges the duo faced are peppered liberally throughout their song lyrics (“There’s only so much I can take”).

Cage the Elephant – Night Running (with Beck)
They haven’t played it live yet in 2019, but something tells me we’re going to be hearing “Night Running” a lot this summer on Cage the Elephant’s 30-date joint tour with Beck, happening from July 11th until the end of August. Hope Nick Bockrath is OK!

Albert Hammond Jr. – More to Life
Still waiting for “The Adults Are Talking” as mentioned in Garage Rock Revival Revival to surface digitally. There’s “More to Life” than The Strokes at least as far as their multitalented, second-generation, musically industrious guitarist is concerned.

Vampire Weekend – I’m Goin’ Down
Always thought of Vampy Weeks as that pretentious hipster band, even though a good deal of their tunes are postmillennial guilty indie pleasures of mine. I’ll give them and cultured singer Ezra Koenig one thing for sure – They do the Boss very, very well.

The Hives – Good Samaritan
An under the wire pick, sharing the same release day as “Let’s Rock”. I know I said I was going to refrain from talking about Jack White, but his Third Man Records did a sweet-looking splatter double A-side single of this and “I’m Alive” that I so WANT.

Reignwolf – Over & Over
The spirit animal of Canadian expat Jordan Cook, Reignwolf’s Hear Me Out has been a good 5-6 years in the making following countless “you’ve got to be $#@%ing kidding me” performances in addition to opening shows for legends from Black Sabbath to The Who.

Band of Skulls – Love Is All You Love
It’s still Pride month, so here’s something to make up for how I didn’t put together a specific playlist. While not outwardly towards the LGBT community, don’t let Band of Skulls’ biker-sounding name fool you into thinking they’re not positively inclusive.

The Heavy – Heavy for You
Whoever emerges from the Democratic primaries would be wise to consider this neo-soul refrain courtesy of The Heavy as a battle cry to go up against Trump in 2020 the way Obama co-opted “How You Like Me Now?” when he was reelected. It’s no Crazy Train tho!

Eagles of Death Metal – Careless Whisper
I’m no fan of the Trumpish comments Jesse Hughes has made in the not so distant past. I can’t stay mad or cancel him altogether when he puts out a full set of kick-ass covers as Boots Electric, including a sorta plea for forgiveness in “Careless Whisper”.

Cold War Kids – Complainer
I didn’t hear many doth protests about Cold War Kids not belting out their newest single when they were in Toronto for North Northeast; still hung over from the Raptors’ big win I guess. Nathan Willett’s projection on “Complainer” can liven anyone up!

Brittany Howard – History Repeats
Yas, the same Brittany Howard who is the powerful-as-a-tornado voice of Alabama Shakes. “History Repeats” has an intriguing modern-jazz feel, although I hope her distinctive singing doesn’t take as much of a perceived back seat on a solo album to come Jamie.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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