The Best Albums of 2019
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
...THE BIG ONE!
Oh yes, The Best Albums of 2019! This is the one that means the most and the one that we could all argue about for years to come!
I'm kind of still arguing with myself about my final ten!
My music listening is super eclectic and all-encompassing and I wanted the list to reflect that which meant that there were some casualties along the way!
But them's the breaks, kids!
Apologies go to:
The Tallest Man On Earth
Better Oblivion Community Centre
I have no apologies for:
Fuck you, Kanye.
Anyhoo, let's get stuck in shall we?!
Fontaines DC - Dogrel
The tail end of 2018 into 2019 birthed a (much needed) gush of socially aware, guitar-driven post-punk music and Irish poets, Fontaines DC, were part of this new wave that kept the old punks happy and gave the young kids their newfound guitar heroes. And rightly so, their debut album, Dogrel, is a guitar thrashing collection of punk anthems that are full of angst, chaos and darkness, pulled together by lead singer, Grian Chatten's vocals that embraces his Irish accent much like Mike Skinner or Alex Turner did with their respective accents. This ain't just a shouty punk band, this is a band that heaps melody, meaning and mischief onto every single track on the record and it is a thing of beauty and as Chatten sings, "They're gonna be big".
Amyl + The Sniffers - Amyl + The Sniffers
If you thought true Rock N Roll was dead and we were to now suffer a life of Lewis Capaldi and old ginger bollocks, think again! Heralding from my second favourite place to be, (Australia), Amyl + The Sniffers are loud, brash, riff-tastic mother fuckers out for a good time making a heavenly racket with everything turned up to eleven. Their live shows are something to behold and (thankfully) what the record has managed to do is capture that live energy so as you can fully immerse yourself in it all. These tunes make you want to drink Jack Daniels out of a bottle, smoke tons of fags and bounce about your flat playing air guitar on your tennis racquet. This is the biggest, dumbest, good-time rock album of the year.
Joel Ortiz - Monday
The only hip-hop album in this list is from ex-Slaughterhouse member, Joel Ortiz. Now there have been some incredible individual Hip-Hop tracks in 2019, but full albums? Nah, mate! Let's not even get started on, Jesus is King, eh?! This second album from Ortiz plays like a man in the middle of his life taking stock of everything. He raps lyrical about where he once was, he spits about where he finds himself now and he pontificates on where he plans to be in the future. It is sentimental at points, aggressive at times and often full of wisdom from someone that has lived a life! I hate it when artists say their latest album is "mature", but quite frankly that's what Monday is all about. It's a story of maturity, whether that be in what Ortiz raps about or the depth of the beats that engulf you and the whole record plays like an imparting of wisdom...and isn't that what we're all after in this game they call, life?!
Vampire Weekend, ‘Father of the Bride’
One of the best albums of the summer was from Vampire Weekend who released the beautifully detailed and boundary-pushing, Father of the Bride after a six-year hiatus. A huge double album that rocks and rolls through plucked, country guitars right through to electro-pop synths and fanfare. It's fair to say that sometimes they miss the target slightly with the number of songs, but the overall results are spectacular with the meticulous attention to detail creating tunes that, very quickly, lovingly attach themselves to your subconscious. A real treat of a selection and a joy to have them back.
Lizzo - Cuz I Love You
Lizzo, that powerhouse of voice, releases a track called, Juice, and people lose their shit because it's so god damn catchy. Great news, but hard to follow up. I mean success like that cannot be followed, right? WRONG. Every single track on her third album, Cuz I Love You, is a bigger, bolder earworm than the last and has made this incredible talent the household name that her fans always knew she deserved to be. Cuz I Love You sees Lizzo jump, with absolute ease, between Jazzy jaunts, Hip-Hop hits, and R&B jams and still sounds like she has the energy to do some more. Confidence pours out of the speakers as the beats attack every cell of your being, making even the hardest of critics fight the urge to move to the beat. This is a joyous affair of celebratory music that should be held dear in this current climate.
Lana Del Ray - Norman Fucking Rockwell!
On her fifth album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, American songstress, Lana Del Ray reached her creative peak so far, with an intense, captivating and deeply expressive collection of songs that are poetic, witty and luscious. A less provocative and confident Del Ray is heard in this album, with tenderness, fragility, and vulnerability being the through-line and it's wonderful. I couldn't help but be reminded of my all-time love, Phoebe Bridgers in a lot of it - the heart-on-her-sleeve style of writing and the minimalist production (Thanks to Jack Anonoff ) has that Bridgers style all over, Norman Fucking Rockwell. This is a real career high point for Lana Del Ray and a true treat for audiences for years to come.
Coldplay - Everyday Life
Yep, as per the previous blog, The Best Songs of 2019, Coldplay are officially out of the doldrums for me after a period of seventeen-years - Not since their second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head have I been too arsed about them. But if the music is good then I am back on board, no grudges held...and the music is good. Their double album, Everyday Life, is a spectacular return to form. They don't often get their fair dues as a band that experiments and tries to push themselves forward, but I've always respected them for that, even if oftentimes they haven't quite got it right. However, Everyday Life, sounds like the amalgamation of all they've learnt from those failed attempts mixed with all the times they got it right. As musicians, they seem to have moved forwards in leaps and bounds and as songwriters, they have become more daring, whilst keeping the integrity of their melody and catchiness that has made them so attainable around the globe. This makes for an incredibly surprising and inviting album that resembles the release of their debut, Parachutes. Don't be a snob, come back to Coldplay. They'll take good care of you!
Sam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles
Last year I waxed lyrical about Sam Fender, after a string of singles were drip-fed to us mere-mortals, because he seemed like he could be that saviour of Indie-guitar music that Catfish & the Bottlemen threatened to be but just couldn't reach. A heavy load to carry but Hypersonic Missiles was released and it backed up the hype and then some. An album that has been written as an album - a body of work. Sure, every track has 'HIT" written all over it and works stand-alone, but this is not simply a collection of singles, this is a complete piece of art that makes him one of the most distinctive songwriters of this country. A songwriting marvel that truly was a hypersonic missile of success this year.
Hobo Johnson - The Fall of Hobo Johnson
The lad, Frank Lopes Jr aka Hobo Johnson released his third album, The Fall of Hobo Johnson, in 2019 following on from his hugely successful NPR Tiny Desk performance - It's how I was made aware of him, to be honest. And what an album it is! I love hearing something new and fresh and this album is all-o-that! Hip-Hop, Jazz, spoken word, rock, electronica all put in the pot and stirred with the crippling insecurities of the lead singer creating a dish of incredibly interesting pop music. Hobo as a frontman is so charismatic with his openness to baring his soul that it makes, The Fall of Hobo Johnson, play like a musical therapy session, benefiting both the singer and listener in equal measure. A wildly interesting talent and definitely one to fall for.
Billie Eilish - When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
2019 was the year that Billie Eilish and her brother/producer/co-songwriter Finneas O'Connell, proved that DIY low-fi avant-pop could battle the biggest of names in the top 40...and WIN BIG! Eilish has a sound that is so fresh and modern and yet remains sounding absolutely classic - the true mark of great songwriting. It is a precocious debut album from a precocious eighteen-year-old with a forward-thinking, dare I say, ground-breaking take on pop music and this is why this is by far the best album of the year. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Is the sound of impossibilities becoming possible. Of ideas becoming realities. It is a work streets ahead of most, in whatever genre, and that is bloody exciting. If this is the route that pop music is moving into then excuse me whilst I buy my bus ticket because I'm coming with!
So there you go! Another year wrapped and, quite possibly, my favourite year of the decade for music. It was so incredibly hard to get this list together and that is a testament to everything that came out. I love music. I live for it, almost literally, so it is such a great time to be alive when the music that is released is to such a high standard.
Right then 2020...what you fucking got then?!!
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