Album Bracketology, Part Five: Winners
[Editor’s note: Propeller’s editorial staff returned from spring break long ago, but declines to work on Album Bracketology articles. Though we are allowing Matthew Kauffman Smith to finish publishing his double-elimination “music tournament,” his system for determining his favorite album of the previous year is confusing and his taste in music is mediocre. Our design intern uses these articles to explore web design potentials, and posts them at her leisure. Anyone reading beyond this point does so at their own risk.]
By Matthew Kauffman Smith
When my daughters were younger and still figuring out which foods they would accept, my wife and I read an article that said people’s taste buds change every seven days. While we never verified the scientific validity of this claim, we used it with our kids as if it were truth. Don’t like kale? Try it next week. Don’t want mussels? Try it next week. Don’t fancy a serving of haggis tonight? We’ll freeze it, and you can try it next week.
In Album Bracketology, the same thing can happen. One band may beat another in a Propeller listen-off in the winners bracket, but if the two meet again in the losers bracket the next week, things can change. Ear buds change, too.
Breaking news: Sideline reporter Alvin Bracketology reports that Propeller has named Lucy Dacus’ song “Night Shift” as its song of the year! Dacus already won Propeller Artist of the Year for her stellar album Historian, as well as being one-third of the band boygenius, who finished No. 33 in this year’s countdown. Congratulations, Lucy!
Breaking news: Tierra Whack has defeated Lucy Dacus in the final four. Album Bracketology giveth, and Album Bracketology taketh away. Dacus finishes fourth and we now give her a proper send off.
Scary and messed up that at this point in designing these articles, I actually understand this paragraph. May I please design smart or serious articles next, if only for my mental health?
That sets up a return contest between The Beths and Tierra Whack. The Beths, winner of the Australasian Album of the Year, defeated Philadelphian upstart Whack in the winners bracket quarterfinals. Whack went on an impressive run in the losers bracket, defeating Orquesta Akokan, Scandinavian champion Robyn, Grammy winner Kacey Musgraves, and then Artist of the Year Lucy Dacus. The Beths, meanwhile, made it all the way to the winners bracket, losing to Janelle Monae, who awaits the winner of the Beths and Tierra Whack in the final. Tasters change. Tierra Whack defeats the Beths, who finish No. 3 in their Bracketology debut.
The author mentions a “2019 tournament” when he obviously means a tournament that will happen in 2020. Happy to know I will no longer be an intern then and will not have to read (or design) those articles. I have read all five Album Bracketology articles this year and truly believe I deserve some kind of reward.
Before we hand out the 2018 Propeller Album Bracketology Cup (ABC), let’s take a look ahead at some of the storylines of the 2019 tournament.
The search for the first repeat champion: No former champions have announced that they are releasing an album in 2019. TV on the Radio and Alabama Shakes are overdue for an album, and Mos Def, a.k.a. Yasmin Bey, hasn’t released an album since he won the inaugural Album Bracketology in 2009. One of the ten former champions is bound to release an album in 2019, but at this point it’s anybody’s guess who.
The rise of the runners up: While a repeat champion is uncertain, 2019 may be the year that a former runner-up steps up and takes the cup. Leading the charge is two-time runner-up Kishi Bashi, who releases his new album on May 31. Runner-up Vampire Weekend and the Head and the Heart also have May releases this year, and when Blackalicious came through Portland for a show in late 2018, the iconic hip hop band promised they’d release a 2019 follow-up to 2015 runner-up Imani, Vol. 1.
Blue bloods: In addition to the strong pool of runners-up, three-time top-five finisher The National return with a May release, as well. Former top-ten finishers Tacocat and Ex Hex also return.
Breaking news: For the first time ever, Propeller is giving a sneak peak of next year with a 2019 pre-season tournament with 62 albums released so far in 2019. Remember: tasters change. Just because a band doesn’t win now doesn’t mean they won’t become champions in the official tournament. Based on the tournament, here is the pre-season top ten, even though almost two hundred albums will still be added to the 2019 tournament.
2019 Pre-season Top 10:
8. Billie Eilish
6. Ex Hex
4. Vampire Weekend
2. Durand Jones and the Indications
1. Julia Jacklin
As friend of Propeller Casey Kasem would say: “Now, back to the countdown.” The championship features Bracketology veteran Janelle Monae versus newcomer Tierra Whack. Monae departed from her past forays into concept albums about aliens to produce a great, danceable protest album. Conversely, Whack recorded a brilliantly catchy fifteen-minute album featuring fifteen one-minute songs. Here’s a look at the candidates:
Both albums are deserving of the top billing but at the end of the day, Whack’s ingenious experiment in brevity wins. The 2018 Propeller Album Bracketology champion is: Tierra Whack. For full results, consult the official bracket.
105. Now, Now: Saved
104. Iceage: Beyondless
103. Shannon and the Clams: Onion
102. Tove Stryke: Sway
101. Superorganism: Superorganism
100. H.C McEntire: Lionheart
99. First Aid Kit: Ruins
98. U.S. Girls: In a Poem Unlimited
97. Proclaimers: Angry Cyclist
96. Eternal Summers: Every Day Feels Like I’m Dying
95. Interpol: Marrauder
94. MGMT: Little Dark Age
93. Twin Shadow: Caer
92. Town Mountain: New Freedom Blues
91. The Love Language: Baby Grand
90. We Were Promised Jetpacks: The More I Sleep, the Less I Dream
89. Kero Kero Bonito: Time ‘n’ Place
88. Cupcakke Euphorize
87. Michael Rault: It’s a New Day Tonight
86. Birdtalker: One
85. Mitski: Be the Cowboy
84. Ume: Other Nature
83. The Struts: Young and Dangerous
82. Tunng: Songs You Make at Night
81. Kamasi Washington: Heaven and Earth
80. Tracyanne & Danny: Tracyanne & Danny
79. Dubstar: One
78. Ural Thomas and the Pain: The Right Time
77. The Joy Formidable: AAARTH
76. Viagra Boys: Street Worms
75. Panic! At the Disco: Pray for the Wicked
74. No Age: Snares Like a Haircut
73. Georgia Anne Muldrow: Overload
72. Shame: Songs of Praise
71. Kurt Vile: Bottle It In
70. Open Mike Eagle: What Happens When I Try to Relax
69. Angelique Kidjo: Remain in Light
68. Charles Bradley: Black Velvet
67. Neko Case: Hell-On
66. Maribou State: Kingdoms in Colour
65. Eleanor Friedberger: Rebound
64. Typhoon: Offerings
63. VHS Collection: Retrofuturism
62. The 1975: A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
61. Bodega: Endless Scroll
60. Michigan Rattlers: Evergreen
59. Young Fathers: Cocoa Sugar
58. Pistol Annies: Interstate Gospel
57. Dirty Projectors: Lamp Lit Prose
56. Black Panther soundtrack
55. Shakey Graves: Can’t Wake Up
54. Laura Gibson: Goners
53. Kali Uchis: Isolation
52. Shad: A Short Story About War
51. Doug Paisley: Starter Home
50. Chvrches: Love is Dead
49. Art Brut: Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!
48. Vance Joy: Nation of Two
47. Chanti Darling: RNB Vol. 1
46. Brazilian Girls: Let’s Make Love
45. Death Cab for Cutie: Thank you for Today
44. Laurel: DOGVIOLET
43. Gregory Alan Isakov: Evening Machines
42. Snail Mail: Lush
41. The Goon Sax: We’re Not Talking
40. Flasher: Constant Image
39. Noname: Room 25
38. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Hope Downs
37. Sons of Kemet: Your Queen is a Reptile
36. Rosalia: El Mal Querer
35. Speedy Ortiz: Twerp Verse
34. Jorja Smith: Lost & Found
33. boygenius: boygenius EP
32. M. Ward: What a Wonderful Industry
31. Hop Along: Bark Your Head Off Dog
30. Tracey Thorn: Record
29. IDLES: Joy as an Act of Resistance
28. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
27. Courtney Marie Andrews: May Your Kindness Remain
26. Sunflower Bean: Twentytwo in Blue
25. Mary Gauthier: Rifles and Rosary Beads
24. Middle Kids: Lost Friends
23. Foxing: Nearer My God
22. Brandi Carlile: By the Way, I Forgive You
21. Rubblebucket: Sun Machine
20. Courtney Barnett: Tell Me How You Really Feel
19. Amanda Shires: To the Sunset
18. Dr. Dog: Critical Equation
17. Christine and the Queens: Chris
16. Camp Cope: How to Socialise and Make Friends
15. John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
14. Screaming Females: All at Once
13. Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive
12. The Decemberists: I’ll Be Your Girl
11. Sarah Shook and the Disarmers: Years
10. Valley Queen: Supergiant
9. Orquesta Akokan: Orquesta Akokan
8. Jeff Rosenstock: Post–
7. Robyn: Honey
6. Parquet Courts: Wide Awake!
5. Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour
4. Lucy Dacus: Historian
3. The Beths: Future Me Hates Me
2. Janelle Monae: Dirty Computer
1. Tierra Whack: Whack World
Matthew Kauffman Smith is still doing this.