After leaving the series dormant for multiple months (again), I’m back to round off the year with my favourite and best Korean albums of 2019.
These are listed in no particular order, because placing arbitrary numbers besides records that most of us are unfamiliar with just seems counterintuitive.
So do treat all these albums with the same amount of importance, and hopefully you’ll be able to find a new favourite Korean artist to ring in the next decade with.
I’ve also mentioned other 2019 great Korean albums in the past such as AKMU’s Sailing and pH-1’s HALO, so do read back on previous entries to look for more Korean music.
SURL — I Know
Coming from one of the most exciting rock bands in Korea, I Know is my favourite Korean release of 2019. There are no booming choruses nor insanely intricate instrument solos here. Instead, the record is crafted as a compact package that emphasises tight playing and even tighter control over the overall sound within the album’s short 20 minutes.
BROWN EYED SOUL — It’ Soul Right
Genre: Jazz, R&B
From the band’s name alone, it’s easy to tell where they pull their influences from. The bouncy instrumentals throughout is guaranteed to hook listeners in, while the powerfully smooth vocals from lead singer Jung-yeop breezes over each track, instilling life into this wonderfully joyful album.
Mamamoo — reality in BLACK
I firmly stand by the opinion that Mamamoo is the best group working in K-pop today. reality in BLACK is only further proof of the group’s versatility and their propensity to nail every sound that they choose to dabble in. Be it pop, R&B, dance or ballads, the group’s ever-consistent output is on full display on the best album of their career thus far.
Kwon Tree — 새로운 날 (New Day)
Genre: Indie, Folk
New Day is an album that’s easy to describe. Light, guitar-tinged folk music that could be the soundtrack to your chilly afternoon contemplations. However, the main separator of this record and the millions of other folk tunes out there is easily Kown Tree’s knack for catchy melodies. Despite the album’s long runtime, every song is guaranteed to make some sort of impact on listeners.
JAMBINAI — ONDA
Genre: Nu-metal, Rock
A largely instrumental album, ONDA is monumental in its sound. Loud, thumping and abrasive, the band’s penchant for overloading their listeners’ senses is impressive, but not as impressive as their ability to find structure amongst their own chaos. The record can almost be seen as being beautifully calm in its own madness.
Leebada — THE OCEAN
Perhaps the most straightforward release out of all the album’s listed on here, Leebada’s THE OCEAN sets out what it aims to be – a stellar Korean R&B record that doesn’t push boundaries, nor does it sacrifice its quality to reach them. Sometimes, just settling for the familiar works, and this album is a perfect example of that.
Car, the Garden — C
Genre: Rock, Pop
Car, the Garden has quietly been one of the Korean music industry’s hardest workers. Collaborations with other artists from a plethora of genres popping up left and right, it’s all the more impressive how his solo material keeps a sound of its own that’s completely distinct. Funky yet also melancholy, C is a shining gem in Car’s already illustrious career.