2019 gave us much in the way of music to celebrate in Northeast Florida; a glorious and eclectic mix of output, to be sure. Here are the tunes we really dug in ’19.

1: L.O.V.E. Culture
High but still standing on solid ground, “Shade” exhorts that Jacksonville is about to “hit the Golden Age” and L.O.V.E. (aka the “League of Vibrant Energies”) Culture will surely be included on that playlist. READ MORE

2: Trella
“Happy to be Here”
In 2019, Trella (a 2012 graduate of Jacksonville’s Douglas Anderson School of the Arts) released the stripped-down single “Happy to Be Here.” Minimal, sparse, the song highlights Trella’s skills as a vocalist and gifted storyteller capable of connecting her experiences to those of her listeners.

“Got tired of looking at the blue light / sick and tired of seeing life through their eyes / I want to feel right / Trade it all in to be alive,” she sings in the song’s climactic chorus. READ MORE

3: Mr. Al Pete
“Ice Man”
A bona fide Renaissance Man of Duval hip hop, Mr. Al Pete keeps it nice and chill on this cut from his equally cool 2019 release, Mister Peterson’s Neighborhood. READ MORE

4: LPT
“Aquella Mujer” (Live from Void HQ)
A heartbreak song in which the narrator comes to terms with the fact that he’d been blindly in love, in LPT’s hands Aquella Mujer becomes a cathartic blast of rhythm and melody, with frontman Josué Cruz intoning the heartache, yet keeping things lively. READ MORE

5: The Black Toilet
“What What” 
There are music earworms and then there are behemoth mind-annihilators; Dune-sized sandworms that bore into your skull with a resounding, sickly-sweet crack. The Black Toilet’s “What What” is surely in the latter camp. READ MORE

6: The Young Step 
“Ghost Town”
A super catchy, ’80s-evoking pop tune from a group that, by the time the song dropped, it’d been a minute since we’d heard from. READ MORE

7: Hurricane Party
“Hurricane Party!!!”
If anyone can harness the feeling of excitement mixed with the nervous anticipation of impending meteorological doom, it’s Floridians. Hurricane Party’s namesake track is the embodiment of the idea that we have no idea what’s about to happen, so we may as well try and enjoy ourselves. READ MORE

8: Cory Driscoll
“Vacation Artist”
With Cory Driscoll’s concept album, Tropical Depression—which represents perhaps the most ambitious of the recent influx of hurricane-related sonic projects—it’s clear that the effects of climate change are changing the lyrical content locally. The album’s not all doom and gloom, as the jangly, uptempo number “Vacation Artist” sees light beyond the grey clouds. READ MORE

9: Odd Relics
If his name is not well known, Brian Squillace (AKA Odd Relics)’s sonic fingerprints are all over the music scene in Northeast Florida. From the haunting, bedroom pop of electronic artist LANNDS, to the space-y atmospheric noises and whirring synths of the electronic outfit Sea Cycles, he’s one of the region’s most sought after collaborators. In August, he released “Matrimony”; a moody, ambient track about overcoming self doubt. READ MORE

10: Mercy Mercy
“The Usual (Baby)” 
Wailing guitars, howling vocals, and a recording quality that’d be best described as perfectly sh**ty, sonically “The Usual (Baby)” is a throwback, but in these tumultuous times, the tune is an apt, relevant outlet for cathartic release. READ MORE

11: The Noctambulant
“Unholy Benediction”

A standout track from The Noctambulant’s latest album

 The Cold and Formless Deep is surely “Unholy Benediction,” a 2:22-minute cut that gives a loud glimpse into the workings of The Noctambulant and arguably the melodic black metal scene overall. READ MORE

12: Folk is People
“Ghost Birdie”
Over the course of the song, Bennett asks questions about heaven, the afterlife, even speaking to the dead (When I scream out loud / is it coming through?”); by song’s end, she calls out “these little pills / are smoking guns”, alluding to the possible murderer that led to her mourning. Intimate, real, and energized in spite of the pain, “Ghost Birdie” is a glimmer of Bennett’s skills as a singer-songwriter and catches her in full flight. READ MORE

13: rickoLus
“Over U”
This soulful track could easily be an old jazz standard. “Over U” is simple and sweet, with soft brushes barely tapping on a snare drum behind a twinkling organ and Colado’s smooth, sentimental voice. READ MORE

The song opens with Woodard announcing “I got high last night,” and the ethereal soundscape that follows certainly intones the fog of a morning comeuppance. The hook provides some levity, if only in a sartorial sense, including references to “gettin’ money” and “takin’ selfies.” All things considered, the sum of “2093”, like most of LANNDS complex tunes, eclipses its individual parts. It’s also one of LANNDS catchiest to date. READ MORE

15: Sea Cycles 
Though it’s not likely to satiate fans of the band patiently waiting for that aforementioned full-length, we’re happy Sea Cycles was able to allocate “Quota” in 2019. READ MORE

16: Modern Violence
“Welcome Home”
Right out of the gate, with an idiosyncratic and polished debut single “Welcome Home” (released in late-December of ‘18), local indie-emo quintet Modern Violence came ready to make waves in Northeast Florida. READ MORE

17: Che
Like their superhero brethren, The Justice League, each member of the L.O.V.E. Culture (“League of Vibrant Energies”) has his or her own powers. As we wait patiently for the other members of the collective to release solo projects in 2020, we’ll go ahead and count devastating vocals, formidable wordplay, and unique song structure among the gadgets in Che’s utility belt. READ MORE

18: Faze Wave
“The Game”
For 2019’s “The Game” Faze Wave collaborated with bassist Hunter Hileman’s solo project Groove Inn, to create a laid-back, and moody tune that retains the indie-bonafides that made us fall in love with the band in the first place. What’s more, the fellas released an absurdist, colorful, enjoyably creepy video to go along with the song, which features geriatrics making a modern digital love connection, while a pastel-clad Faze Wave performs in what appears to be an old folks home. READ MORE

19: SolaFide! 
A kind of development of the Modest Mouse and MGMT sonic blueprint by way of Mutemath and Hippo Campus, “Stuck” bubbles along with admirably-processed electric guitars, a thick bass line that would make Jah Wobble blush, and effectively mellow, even disconsolate, harmonies. Technically, all of the above elements make Solafide!—Joseph Arns, Jonas Miller, Chase Barrett, Devon Vonbalson—a veritable “power twee” quartet. READ MORE