Based on three of my favorite albums that came out in 2019, it seems almost disobedient that I dare stay clear-eyed through this post. Since 2019 is closing with three of Indiana’s four neighboring states having legalized recreational (Illinois and Michigan) or medicinal (Ohio) cannabis, it seems appropriate to recommend these albums. Let’s roll. Here are three albums you should really have smoked some weed to in 2019.
Don’t expect to put on Veils of Winter thinking that it’s a stoner metal album and it’s gonna sound just like your copy of Dopethrone and Stash and, fuckin’, “Dragonaut” on repeat. Veils of Winter has its clear influences in stoner rock–the doom-y breakdowns, the sludge-powered guitar crunches in the background–but Blackwater Holylight have really created a unique psychedelic experience all their own. More than anything, they reminded me of shoegaze and noise pop a la September Girls or Scarling; however, this may just be in part to vocalist and guitarist Laura Hopkins’ dream-pop, breathy sound. (Or, y’know, the fact that they have a synth player.) Be not fooled, however, because as little as Veils of Winter has in common with its stoner metal predecessors, it has just as little in common with any shoegaze band, beyond an aesthetic nod to the genre.
I would recommend listening to this album in the bath or the bedroom, as it is perfect for either relaxation or sensual wakefulness. Considering that the album is over forty minutes long yet there are only eight tracks, you can reliably assume that the songs have just the right amount of drone for your evening. Go ahead and check out the full album above or, better yet, check out their shit on the Riding Easy store or their Bandcamp. With any luck, we will be seeing more of these five in the coming decade.
Favorite track: “Death Realms”.
If you like this album, you might like anything by September Girls, either of Scarling’s studio albums, or Higher Time by Electric Citizen.
Carefully, Monolord gets most right what it also gets most wrong: its extremely indistinct, derivative sound. I remember when I was about eleven or twelve, the first time I ever heard a sludge band, I was watching Beavis and Butthead when the video for Crowbar’s “All I Had” came on. I believe it was Butthead who described the NOLA sludge band as sounding like somebody “taking a dump”. It has since become very difficult for me to listen to sludge without thinking about how it is the soundtrack to somebody taking a dump, and that’s exactly what No Comfort is: the raw sound of somebody taking the heaviest dump. It’s got sludge-y breakdowns, anthemic ubiquitous stoner metal vocals, and everything you would expect from a band of this caliber.
It is no coincidence, then, that Monolord and Blackwater Holylight teamed up for a month-long American tour. (Regrettably, I missed the Indianapolis show.) Both of these bands and the albums they released this year are excellent choices for unwinding after a long day with a bowl, a relaxing calm subtly permeating chunky riffs, but that’s about where the similarities end. Whereas Blackwater Holylight has carved a niche for themselves, Monolord is simply continuing a thirty-year-old tradition: seeing what happens when a group of people who are terrific heavy metal musicians smoke a lot of pot before they hit the studio.
Favorite track: “The Last Leaf”.
If you like this album, you might like anything by Sleep, Red Fang, or Bongzilla.
Our final record for the day is in every capacity the black sheep of the family. Released in Spring of 2019, this EP marks model and social media personality Zheani Sparkes’ foray into the world of independent hip-hop and electronic music. For the purpose of honesty, it is necessary to state that this album release was steeped heavily in controversy and infamy. However, that’s as far as I’m willing to go with that, because that’s not what this review is about.
I list this album as one to smoke weed to mainly for its aesthetic qualities. Zheani released this EP on YouTube with an accompanying visualizer that successfully complements her sound, which I have heard described as “cloud rap” and “fairy rap”. Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure what to categorize this album under. The past few years have been so weird for hip-hop, with new subgenres incorporating elements of emo, pop, and–in Zheani’s case–occultist imagery and shrill, banshee vocals reminiscent of witch house a la Alice Glass. Beyond a hip-hop EP, The Line is a battle cry: stories told from the aftermath of what has, undoubtedly, been an extremely difficult journey for Zheani. From her impoverished childhood in rural Australia to an adulthood pockmarked by sexual trauma, Zheani displays no restraint; it is clear she’s got shit to get off her chest.
Due in part to its stylistic wavering and genre-bending, but as well to its content, I don’t know who to recommend this album to. The only listener I can recommend this album to with certainty is someone who appreciates musical honesty. Zheani, both in her music and on social media and elsewhere, is extremely honest about who she is and what she’s doing. There is zero ambiguity in everything she spits and that’s a quality I’m thrilled we’ve seen more of in women’s music over the past decade. However, as she has pointed out across multiple outlets, Zheani made this album because she needed to begin being honest with herself more than anyone else: “This ain’t no me too bitch. This is beef and I’ll beat you”, she states in The Line‘s final track “The Question”.
Favorite track: “Ghosts”.
If you like this album, you might like Alice Glass’ solo work, A Girl Called Red by Princess Nokia, Pastel Ghost, or the N¡gh†m∆res ∆nd 8Ø8s YouTube channel.
So there you have it, three albums you should’ve really smoked some weed to in 2019. Hopefully these recommendations give you some fodder for your new year’s eve festivities, so that you can usher the new decade in with darkness. Happy New Year!