Normal History Vol. 565: The Art Of David Lester

Every week, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 35-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

There is a sense that as creators we should let go of work that isn’t successful right out of the box and move on to creating new work. We can pin our hopes on the next batch of songs, but most artists cannot financially afford to be releasing a near-constant stream of new work to keep their names in that narrow, time-sensitive window of potential viability. In many instances, worthy and even important work—and artists—are pushed into the past to reduce, invalidate and otherwise obscure gains made on many different fronts. Rights, freedoms, major issues.

“Museum Of Open Windows” from Flood Plain (K, 1993) (download):

MAGNET’s Top 25 Albums Of 2019

1) Michael Kiwanuka Kiwanuka (Interscope)
2) Fontaines DC Dogrel (Partisan)
3) Big Thief U.F.O.F.; Two Hands (4AD)
4) The Minus 5 Stroke Manor (Yep Roc)
5) Weyes Blood Titanic Rising (Sub Pop)
6) Angel Olsen All Mirrors (Jagjaguwar)
7) Guided By Voices Zeppelin Over China; Warp And Woof; Sweating The Plague (GBV Inc.)
8) Mannequin Pussy Patience (Epitaph)
9) The National I Am Easy To Find (4AD)
10) Karen O & Danger Mouse Lux Prima (BMG)
11) Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Ghosteen (Bad Seed)
12) Charly Bliss Young Enough (Barsuk)
13) Brittany Howard Jaime (ATO)
14) Purple Mountains Purple Mountains (Drag City)
15) The Highwomen The Highwomen (Elektra)
16) Pernice Brothers Spread The Feeling (Ashmont)
17) Priests The Seduction Of Kansas (Sister Polygon)
18) Deerhunter Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (4AD)
19) Nivhek After Its Own Death/Walking In A Spiral Towards The House (W.25th/Superior Viaduct) 
20) Hiss Golden Messenger Terms Of Surrender (Merge)
21) Sharon Van Etten Remind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar)
22) Big Search Slow Fascination (30th Century)
23) Swans Leaving Meaning (Young God)
24) Vampire Weekend Father Of The Bride (Spring Snow/Columbia)
25) Pup Morbid Stuff (Little Dipper/Rise)

Michael Kiwanuka; photo for MAGNET by Wes Orshoski

Best Of 2019: Reissues/Collections

MAGNET’s A.D. Amorosi picks the best reissues/collections of the year

1) Sounds Of Liberation Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) (Dogtown)
2) Bob Dylan (Featuring Johnny Cash) Travelin’ Thru, 1967-1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 (Columbia/Legacy)
3) Chet Baker The Legendary Riverside Albums (Craft)
4) Sparks Past Tense: The Best Of Sparks (BMG)
5) Lee Hazlewood 400 Miles From L.A. 1955-56 (Light In The Attic)
6) Prince 1999 (Prince Estate/Warner Bros.)
7) Pink Floyd The Later Years (Columbia/Legacy)
8) Shin Joong Hyun Beautiful Rivers And Mountains: The Psychedelic Rock Sound Of South Korea’s Shin Joong Hyun 1958-74 (Light In The Attic)
9) R.E.M. Monster 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition (Craft)
10) The Replacements Dead Man’s Pop (Rhino)

Best Of 2019: Indie Roots

MAGNET’s Devon Leger picks the best indie-roots releases of the year  

1) Brìghde Chaimbeul The Reeling (River Lea)
2) Our Native Daughters Songs Of Our Native Daughters (Smithsonian Folkways)
3) Black Pumas Black Pumas (ATO)
4) Dominique Fils-Aimé Stay Tuned! (Ensoul)
5) Lenin Ramírez Seguimos Adelante (DEL)
6) Lula Wiles What Will We Do (Smithsonian Folkways)
7) Ranky Tanky Good Time (Resilience)
8) Leyla McCalla Capitalist Blues (Jazz Village)
9) Lillie Mae Other Girls (Third Man)
10) Kalyn Fay Good Company (Horton)

Best Of 2019: Singer/Songwriter

MAGNET’s Hobart Rowland picks the best singer/songwriter releases of the year

1) Bruce Springsteen Western Stars (Columbia)
2) Ian Noe Between The Country (National Treasury)
3) Tyler Childers Country Squire (Hickman Holler/RCA)
4) Allison Moorer Blood (Autotelic/Thirty Tigers)
5) Tyler Ramsey For The Morning (Fantasy)
6) Pete Yorn Caretakers (Shelly Music)
7) Ben Dickey A Glimmer On The Outskirts (SexHawkeBlack/Dualtone)
8) Todd Snider Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 (Aimless)
9) Hayes Carll What It Is (Dualtone)
10) Craig Finn I Need A New War (Partisan)

Best Of 2019: Metal

MAGNET’s Andrew Earles picks the best metal releases of the year

1) Boris LφVE & EVφL (Third Man)
2) Low Dose Low Dose (Knife Hits/Brutal Panda)
3) Cherubs Immaculada High (Relapse)
4) Darkthrone Old Star (Peaceville)
5) False Portent (Gilead Media)
6) Elizabeth Colour Wheel Nocebo (The Flenser)
7) Pelican Nighttime Stories (Southern Lord)
8) Lightning Bolt Sonic Citadel (Thrill Jockey)
9) Cloud Rat Pollinator (Artoffact)
10) Mortiferum Disgorged From Psychotic Depths (Profound Lore)

Best Of 2019: World Music

MAGNET’s j. poet picks the best world-music releases of the year

1) Umut Adan Bahar (Riverboat)
2) Azam Ali Phantoms (Terrestrial Lane)
3) Olcay Bayir Rüya – Dream For Anatolia (ARC)
4) Analea Brown Queendom (Mensch House)
5) Ibibio Sound Machine Doko Mien (Merge)
6) Mdou Moctar Ilana: The Creator (Sahel Sounds)
7) Poranguí Poranguí (Sol Creation)
8) Rachid Taha Je Suis Africain (Naïve/Believe)
9) Tartit Amankor/The Exile (Riverboat)
10) Tinariwen Amadjar (Anti-)

Best Of 2019: Noise

MAGNET’s Raymond Cummings picks the best noise releases of the year

1) Kelly Ruth Forms (Pseudo Laboratories)
2) Stelzer/Murray Commuter (Humanhood)
3) Kyle Eyre Clyd Eggshell (Yew)
4) Thurston Moore Spirit Counsel (Daydream Library)
5) Jason Lescalleet This Is What I Do Volume 21 (Glistening Examples) 
6) Soft Issues Soft Issues (Opal Tapes)
7) Glenn Branca The Third Ascension (Systems Neutralizers)
8) Manja Ristić The Black Isle (Flag Day) 
9) The Dead C We Don’t Know Anymore (Afterhours Eden Prostitute)  
10) Marcia Bassett/Bob Bellerue Endless Parabolas (Humanhood)

Best Of 2019: Punk

MAGNET’s Tim Stegall picks the best punk releases of the year

1) The Flesh Eaters I Used To Be Pretty (Yep Roc)
2) Amyl And The Sniffers Amyl And The Sniffers (ATO)
3) Generation X Generation X Deluxe Edition (Chrysalis)
4) Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders The Past Came Callin’ (Hound Gawd!)
5) Buzzcocks Another Music In A Different Kitchen; Love Bites; A Different Kind Of Tension; Singles Going Steady (Domino)
6) Teenage Cavegirl Candy Cigarettes (Teenage Cavegirl)
7) D.O.A. 1978 (Sudden Death)
8) Louder Than Death Stop Und Fick Dich! (In The Red)
9) X Los Angeles; Wild Gift; Under The Big Black Sun; More Fun In The New World (Fat Possum)
10) The Dum Dum Boys Let There Be Noise (In The Red)

Best Of 2019: Hip Hop

MAGNET’s Corey duBrowa picks the best hip-hop releases of the year

1) Freddie Gibbs & Madlib Bandana (Keep Cool/Madlib Invazion/ESGN/RCA)
2) Lizzo Cuz I Love You (Nice Life/Atlantic)
3) Young Thug So Much Fun (300/Atlantic)
4) Czarface/Ghostface Killah Czarface Meets Ghostface (Silver Age)
5) Maxo Kream Brandon Banks (Big Persona/88 Classic/RCA)
6) Dave Psychodrama (Neighbourhood)
7) Danny Brown uknowhatimsayin¿ (Warp)
8) Skepta Ignorance Is Bliss (Boy Better Know)
9) Slowthai Nothing Great About Britain (Method/True Panther)
10) Megan Thee Stallion Fever (1501 Certified/300)

Best Of 2019: Jazz/Improv

MAGNET’s Bill Meyer picks the best jazz/improv releases of the year

1) Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society Mandatory Reality (Eremite) 
2) Dustin Laurenzi Snaketime: The Music Of Moondog (Astral Spirits/Feeding Tube)
3) John Butcher/Rhodri Davies Drunk On Dreams (Cejero)
4) Jaimie Branch Fly Or Die II: Bird Dogs Of Paradise (International Anthem)
5) Eucalyptus Kick It Till You Flip It (Lorna/Havn)
6) Jacob Wick Feel (Thin Wrist)
7) Christian Lillinger Open Form For Society (Plaist)
8) Ken Vandermark Momentum 4: Consequent Duos 2015>2019 (Audiographic)
9) Dave Rempis/Brandon Lopez/Ryan Packard The Early Bird Gets (Aerophonic)
10) Catherine Christer Hennix The Deontic Miracle: Selections From 100 Models Of Hegikan Roku (Blank Forms Editions/Empty Editions)