Global Garage’s Favorite Records of 2019

Okay, so here it goes, my obligatory rant regarding end-of-year lists. If y’all don’t know by now, I’m not a fan of “best-of” lists. This is not a best of list. It’s a list of our favorite ‘garage rock, psych rock, punk rock, and more rock’ records that came out this year. We played over 500 tracks from 2019 over the course the year and there’s no way in hell any of us have time to write about all of them. These are the ones that got stuck in our heads or we formed some sort of musical connection with. They stuck out; scratched an itch we might not have even known needed scratching. Every year is a great year for music and those who say otherwise aren’t listening hard enough. There will probably be some records on this list that you recognize. There will definitely be some that you don’t. There might be some surprises. There are definitely a few obvious picks if you regularly follow the show. There are also records very deserving of acclaim that are not listed below. In any case, we hope you check out these fantastic records and spend a bit of time with the ones you haven’t yet listened through. We did the list a bit differently this year, dividing it into region instead of host. We are also featuring a LOT more records this year than we did in years past so we tried to keep the blurbs fairly concise for your sanity and ours. Your ears are what need to do all of the work anyways. We here at Global Garage HQ are looking forward to listening through 2020 with all you weirdos. Cheers! – Ryan

Favorite 2019 Records from Africa

Kel Assouf — Black Tenere (Niger)

In comparison to the other Tuareg rock groups on this list (Tinariwen & Mdou Moctar), Kel Assouf’s Black Tenere offers a funkier, heavier, and, arguably, dancier treatment of the genre. – Ryan

KOKOKO! — Fongola (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Anxious but energetic post-punk from this inventive DRC combo that’s DIY to its core, performing on instruments made from upcycled materials. – Paul

Mdou Moctar — Ilana: The Creator (Niger)

Mdou Moctar really hit it out of the park this year. Ilana is a sonic masterpiece, successful at transporting you through time and space with fiery psychedelic prowess. I’ve enjoyed his previous 4 records, however  on this release Moctar leverages the power of a full band. When I listen to it, I feel a sense of urgency to move. On Ilana, Moctar quickly finds a groove and keeps you there for a healthy ~40 minutes.  – Ryan

Tinariwen — Amadjar (Mali)

Forty years after they were founded, these Tuareg rock pioneers continue to innovate and and rebel. – Ryan

Favorite 2019 Records from the Americas

Abronia — The Whole of Each Eye (Oregon, USA)

The phenomenal psychedelic experience that is The Whole of Each Eye sounds like what would happen if you tossed (Jefferson Airplane-era) Grace Slick into a volcano with a saxophone and a blood-soaked, dusty manuscript of a lost Cormac McCarthy novel. – Ryan

Boogarins – Sombrou Dúvida (Brazil)

Roughly translated as “Shadow or Doubt,” Boogarins’ new release is a weighty listen with plenty of surprises. Just take the title track for example, which starts off in the band’s familiar psychedelic territory before entering an uneasy glitchy soundscape. Lead guitarist Benke Ferraz describes it as “Kanye producing a track off of In Utero.” For those of you salivating at that last sentence, this album’s for you. – Paul

Cascabel — We Are Universe (Mexico)

From our Album of the Week feature earlier this year: “It feels like We Are Universe is the record in which the band truly found their identity and their groove, making a proud declaration of their musical ambitions… The passion and collaboration on this record oozes through the speakers with a confident prowess… While the record is a sonic roller coaster, it’s a smooth ride that fits together from start to finish leaving the listener (rider?) wanting another spin around the track.”– Ryan

Ceremony — In the Spirit World Now (California, USA)

The California hardcore group continues its transformation into unlikely post-punk revivalists with a record that merges the best of both worlds. – Paul

Das Drip — S/T (North Carolina, USA)

After including ISS’s sophomore album on the first Global Garage yearly roundup back in 2017, North Carolina’s punk enfant terrible Rich Ivey was conspicuously absent from our favorites of 2018. However, we’ve been blessed for our struggles with not one, but two new releases from Ivey-associated projects in 2019. And while I haven’t had as much time to sit down with the new ISS record as I’d like, I’m proud to announce that the eagerly anticipated (by me, anyway) official release from Das Drip is just as fast, dumb, and nutty as I’d hoped. Recommended for fans of other weirdo hardcore a la Brown Sugar and Leather Towel. – Paul

Digawolf — Yellowstone (Canada)

Yellowstone digs its claws in with the angsty rocker “By the Water,” fuzzed-out and urgent encased in pensive synth drones, only to take you on a sonic journey ending with the numbing spoken word track “The Undiscovered World.” The gravely timbre of Diga’s voice makes for immediate comparisons to Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen; however, I think Digawolf accomplishes that and more. I would almost sooner liken Yellowstone to that of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born-era Wilco, toying with soundscapes that are sliced through with a potent twitchy guitar solo and introspective musing. It’s psychedelic, it’s “alt-country,” it’s rock’n’roll, but ultimately it’s one of the most-beautifully chilling records I’ve listened to all year. – Ryan

Dump Him — Dykes to Watch Out For (Massachusetts, USA)

Queercore’s not dead. – Paul

Ex Hex — It’s Real (District of Columbia, USA)

Mary Timony’s 2017 Plays Helium tour was the perfect cosmic precursor to this record; phaser pedals remain set for stun on It’s Real. These are athemic crowd-pleasers, drawing out everything that works from the okboomerized world of arena rock, leaving the rest behind. It’s not nostalgia for a greater time (the 80’s?) that Ex Hex seeks in our alternate timeline — nor an illusion of authenticity in romance. They’re on an earnest quest for truth. – Chris

Fea — No Novelties (Texas, USA)

This band killed when they opened for Subhumans, and this new album captures their poppy but angry 77′-inspired sound. – Paul

Fly Pan Am — C’est ça (Canada)

Distinctive elements of noise, ambient, shoegaze return from the Fly Pan Am of decades past, yet further forays into kosmische rhythms distinguish C’est ça from anything else released in 2019. – Chris

French Vanilla— How Am I Not Myself? (California, USA)

What better soundtrack to tough breakup, identity crisis, and self-discovery than the sounds of squawking sax, falsetto and tight rhythm? These are unapologetic earworms. I liked this album. – Chris

Knife Wife — Family Party (Washington D.C., USA)

As a fan of fellow Sister Polygon labelmates Priests, I thought I had a handle on what to expect from Knife Wife’s debut. But where Priests often occupies the more aggressive end of the post-punk spectrum, Knife Wife’s doomy, minimalist songs sound surprisingly lethargic by comparison — at least until you start listening to the lyrics. By the time I fully immersed myself in the band’s world of sing-song stalkers and nitrous oxide hallucinations, the band’s dreamy moodiness began to take on a distinctly nightmarish cast. One of my biggest surprises and absolute favorites of the year. – Paul

LADRONES — S/T (Puerto Rico, USA)

Delivering a fast-paced grit reminiscent of Paint Fumes and catchy slacker-rock vibes of Spider Bags, Ladrones’ Slovenly debut is non-stop garage punk action. – Ryan

Reese McHenry — No Dados (North Carolina, USA)

Reese McHenry is back with a raw, garage rager that is everything rock’n’roll has been and should ever be. This record will give you a form of musical amnesia causing you to ask Jannis who? Led what? – Ryan

Merlin — The Mortal (Missouri, USA)

Sax-laced heavy-psych prog-rock bliss.– Ryan

Monarch — Beyond the Blue Sky (California, USA)

Smooth psych-rock So-Cal gems. – Ryan

The Muslims — Mayo Supreme (North Carolina, USA)

I said it last year and I’ll say it again: The Muslims are punk as fuck. – Ryan

Out Cold — Living Is Killing Me (Massachusetts, USA)

The final release from these American hardcore titans collects the remaining tracks produced before the untimely death of guitarist/vocalist Mark Sheehan. – Paul

PUP — Morbid Stuff (Canada)

Amongst the growing emo revival amongst renewed waves of stress and confusion, PUP dares to say, “Just cause you’re sad again, it doesn’t make you special at all.” Accept that  sadness, or transmute that pain into the good fight: this is the the essence of great rock and roll. – Chris

Solar Halos — Coiled Light (North Carolina, USA)

Powerful but meticulously controlled, this heavy trio delivers hazy, seismic riffs with an entrancing rhythm. – Ryan

The Spiral Electric — S/T (California, USA)

This self-titled debut is an epic suite of heavy psych jams that might make you prog-curious. – Ryan

Terno Rei — Violeta (Brazil)

The third album from the best-selling Brazilian indie dream poppers is their lushest, most romantic offering yet. – Paul

Favorite 2019 Records from Asia

Dhidalah — Threshold (Japan)

Guruguru Brain raises the bar each year so expectations with any subsequent releases are always high. Dhidalah’s full-length debut met and exceeded the standards set by their label’s namesake with swirling, heavy psychedelia that spaces out harder than NASA. – Ryan

Gong Gong Gong — Phantom Rhythm (China)

Phantom Rhythm is an impressive record that proves good psychedelic music doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles to completely entrance the listener. – Ryan

JAMBINAI — ONDA (South Korea)

Seoul-based JAMBINAI incorporates traditional instruments into a unique post-rock/folk sound, which they’ve scaled to epic proportions on ONDA. Listen for the shredding kŏmun’go. – Chris

Khana Bierbood — Strangers from the Far East (Thailand)

Strangers from the Far East sounds like equal parts  relic of lost recordings and transportation vessel for the mind. – Ryan

Kukangendai — Palm (Japan)

An absolute wonder of minimalist rock that rewards multiple listens. – Paul

Otoboke Beaver — ITEKOMA HITS (Japan)

With Itekoma Hits, Otoboke Beaver make a loud-and-clear statement about toxicity of the varieties masculine and thankless overwork: we’re over it. – Chris

Favorite 2019 Records from Europe

Bad Breeding – Exiled (United Kingdom)

I’m a sucker for pretty much everything One Little Indian releases, but this is something truly special. I haven’t been this jazzed about a punk album since Anxiety’s debut back in 2016 (still waiting for the follow-up, guys!). Bad Breeding’s new album is the sound of a generation up against the wall, caught between the noxious lurching behemoth that is late-stage capitalism and the impending threat of utter environmental collapse. But as this absolute howler of an album attests with its potent cocktail of classic hardcore, anarcho-punk, noise rock, and more, the fight’s just starting because we’re not going anywhere. – Paul

Black Midi — Schlagenheim (United Kingdom)

Black Midi moves with a purpose — and it is such a magnificent purrrrpose. From kosmische to math rock, to synthy future-western storytelling, what’s not to like on Schlagenheim? – Chris

Capsula – Bestiarium (Spain)

As seen in our list of most anticipated albums of 2019. Rather than reiterate my love of the group’s psychedelic garage-glam oeuvre, which they’ve pretty much perfected on this eleventh full-length release, I’ll leave you with this fascinating factoid from Wikipedia: “To write the lyrics of ‘Bestiarium’, instead of using the surrealistic method of exquisite corpse among humans, the band used the surrealistic technique writing sentences and visual ideas with algorithms, using digital platforms. ‘Bestiarium’ was half created, thought and dreamt during months by Capsula and by learning and prediction algorithms.” Dig it. – Paul

DIÄT – Positive Energy (Germany)

The always reliable Erste Theke Tontraeger put out a host of great records this year, and one of my favorites was this ice-cold slab of bleak post-punk straight out of Berlin. Paying tribute to a long list of great bands without ever sounding like a retread, this is instead an urgent, exhilarating listen that acknowledges the heaviness of our current moment as well as the importance of moving forward. – Paul

Fat White Family — Serfs Up! (United Kingdom)

The Clockwork Orange contraption, but it’s Boris Johnson and Fat White Family’s video for “Feet” is playing on the movie screen. Ah, it’s the simple things in life. Spin “Serf’s Up” at your favorite neofeudalism themed party. – Chris

Girl Band — The Talkies (Ireland)

Not many people seem to have listened to Girl Band’s fantastic 2015 debut Holding Hands With Jamie, but I’d wager almost everyone who did has been waiting with bated breath for a follow-up ever since. Without speculating on the reasons behind the four-year gap, The Talkies suggests that the ensuing period hasn’t been an easy one — and whether that’s due to personal reasons or simply the chaotic, frightening acceleration of the massive geopolitical shift rightward since 2015, it’s safe to say that The Talkies is an even darker, more daring, and more haunting listen than its predecessor. – Paul

Green Lung — Woodland Rites (United Kingdom)

Pure Sabbath worship, animals, satanism. What’s not to love? – Ryan

Karl Hector & The Malcouns— Non Ex Orbis (Germany)

In a year where kosmische returned to its roots in funk and Afrobeat, it seems that these folks were doing it best in Munich, a cradle of the genre. I can say this in earnest: this record is out of this world. – Chris

Lemurian Folk Songs — Ima今 (Hungary)

I wanted to write somethin’ fancy here but all I can really say is “holy shit this record slaps.” Start-to-finish psychedelic grooves laced in kosmische bliss, Ima今, is unapologetically transcendental. If you have even the slightest interest in psychedelic rock, do not sleep on this release. – Ryan

Lukiek — Lukiek #1 (Spain)

I actually heard this record after I finalized my 2019 playlist, but I listened to it so many times between first hearing it and now that I felt it warranted inclusion on this list. Lukiek’s debut is an incredibly fun musical ride of garage rock, punk, and a few dashes of grunge. The record sounds modern, but when I give it a spin, it feels like listening to a classic. – Ryan

Messed Up — Everything You Believe In (Belarus)

The debut full-length from the Belarus quartet Messed Up is an injection of anthemic punk rock that will have you raising your fists. – Ryan

The Murder Capital — When I Have Fears (Ireland)

The Murder Capital’s debut release is a bruising set of psychologically rich post-punk. – Paul


Orchestra of Constant Distress — Cognitive Dissonance (Sweden)

Swedish supergroup featuring members of Skull Defekts and Brainbombs creates top-grade noise rock. – Paul

Os Noctàmbulos — Silence Kills (France)

Friends of the show Os Noctàmbulos returned with a new release this year, cranking out the jagged, surf-laced garage that made us fall in love with them in the first place. – Ryan


Skinny Girl Diet — Ideal Woman (United Kingdom)

Another great riot grrrl release from 2019 with a crushing sound that you won’t believe comes from just guitar and drums. – Paul

Solar Corona — Lighting One (Portugal)

I’m honestly not sure if this is technically a 2018 release or a 2019 release because Bandcamp says 2018 but the Discogs entry for the Lovers & Lollypops vinyl edition says 2019 and I first listened to it (a lot) this year so I’m adding it here. Also they just released a fantastic brand new studio improvisational record just the other week so they’re making it on this list either way. – Ryan

Spielbergs — This is Not the End (Norway)

The Norwegian trio accurately reflects its namesake on this debut record: impeccably produced, occasionally ethereal, extremely relatable. – Chris

Trumpets of Consciousness — Approximate (France)

Approximate is beautiful, playful, catchy, and generally well-composed from start to finished. It’s a nicely-polished-but-not-sanitized audio adventure. Also, the bass line on Annie Anytime has been stuck in my head all year. – Ryan

Wild Classical Music Ensemble – Tout va bien se passer (Het komt allemaal ruel gold) (Belgium)

The fact that a project such as this — an avant-rock group featuring four neuro-atypical performers — could be organized without veering into either easy sentimentality or exploitation is impressive enough. The fact that it’s a hell of a listen, though, is truly cause for celebration. This is punk in its truest sense, a raucous howl against the rigid conformity of everything we take for granted in our day-to-day existence. Tune in and drop out, indeed. – Paul  Ditto what he said – Ryan

Favorite 2019 Records from Oceania

Amyl & The Sniffers — S/T (Australia)

As if we needed more proof that punk ain’t dead, Amyl & The Sniffers come along with their quick hitter of high-octane mosh fodder. – Ryan

Shrimpwitch – Gave Me the Itch (Australia)

This riot grrrl garage-surf duo out of Melbourne wouldn’t sound out of place on Burger Records, but there’s a raw production to their debut album that’s pretty much catnip to me whenever I hear it (not that I don’t love the sonic sheen of the Burger roster as well). The goofy humor and devil-may-care attitude put me in mind of acts like The Lovely Eggs and Hotpants Romance. This album came out in January and I’ve been blasting it ever since. – Paul

The Stroppies — Whoosh (Australia)

Whew, time flies, huh? Anyways, great things are happening for rock in Melbourne, proven by each new release by The Stroppies. Great things are yet to happen for rock in Melbourne. And yet, “the past is not dead, it’s not even come to pass yet.” – Chris

Tropical Fuck Storm — Braindrops (Australia)

It took me a few listens until Braindrops clicked with me, but, once it did I found myself engulfed by the woozy, musical staggering and raw angst and emotion the band strategically squeezes out. – Ryan


Ryan first discovered his love of radio at WSOE FM, where he spent all 4 years of college as a DJ, 2 as program director, and 1 as general manager. While his musical tastes are fairly broad, he has a big nerdy spot in his heart for prog rock.