Credit: Illustration by <a href="">Jason Wyatt Frederick</a>

As we at the Reader head into 2020, a spirit of transformation and renewal prevails. In keeping with that spirit, we’re publishing what as far as anyone here knows is the first music critics’ poll in the paper’s nearly 50-year history. Initially the brainchild of Reader senior staff writer Leor Galil, it quickly grew to involve nearly half the editorial department and dozens upon dozens of outside contributors. Everyone chose their ten favorite Chicago albums of the past ten years, and we compiled all those picks into a ranked list of several hundred releases. We hope that this list will provide a durable tool for discovery, rather than disappearing into the memory hole along with the glut of year-in-review pieces that music journalists are obligated to churn out annually. The project’s online form in particular will not only stick around longer than this paper will be on the streets but will also include streamable music from 50 records we’ve decided to spotlight. May it serve as a gateway into the richness and depth of Chicago’s music community at least until we build the next one in 2030—if not longer.