Massachusetts-bred metalcore-turned-space-rock band Cave In had a momentous 2019. The band had been reeling since the tragic death of bassist Caleb Scofield, who was killed a car accident in March of the year before. The group’s surviving members — singer-guitarist Stephen Brodsky, guitarist Adam McGrath and drummer John-Robert Conners — enlisted Converge bassist, longtime friend and Scofield’s bandmate in Old Man Gloom, Nate Newton, to play benefit shows for Scofield’s family, and Brodsky and McGrath performed an emotional acoustic set at the Netherland’s heralded Roadburn festival in tribute to their fallen comrade. But the future of the group was very much in question. The band members were sitting on demos for an unfinished album with Scofield and unsure what to do with them. In January 2019, Cave In announced that they would complete and release the record.
Released in June and tellingly titled Final Transmission, the album serves as a powerful epitaph for Scofield and a strong survey of Cave In’s evolving, increasingly spacey and experimental sound, a direction that that bassist influenced and encouraged. Joined by Newton, the band toured in support of the LP and even returned to Roadburn, this time for a fully plugged-in and electrified performance. As 2019 comes to a close, we caught up with McGrath to find out what music moved him this year — not surprisingly, he had some great picks. See below.