It seems that music people like lists of things that they like so imma end the year in a super basic fashion with a list of my top five albums of 2019. It’s in release order so as to avoid hurting the feelings of international megastars who will never know I exist.
#1: Get Tragic by Blood Red Shoes.
Two-piece no more, Blood Red Shoes had me concerned for their sound when early singles from this record dropped, fearing it would be largely washy, calm synths instead of raucous rock. I needn’t have worried. While certainly different to their last four albums, the addition of bass and synth on Get Tragic has diversified Blood Red Shoes’ back catalogue, without compromising their ethos. Almost every song is a monolith of noise, sinister and towering in a way the band haven’t really been able to explore previously. Unlike many, they certainly haven’t stumbled upon spreading their wings.
#2: Jade Bird by, get this, Jade Bird.
When I first heard Uh Huh on YouTube, I thought it was a pretty cool track, and kinda forgot about it after a few weeks. Then it was everywhere, and this time I would stay hooked. Never before has a strummed acoustic guitar sounded so much more indie rock than inept campfire. The album is incredibly introspective for the product of a then-21-year-old, but also features a load of great balls-to-the-wall, fuck the patriarchy and creepy guys folkish rock. This is not an album I expected to love as much as I do, but alas. Perhaps the only let-down related to it was the cancelation of Jade’s London show, but I can’t wait for its rescheduling in the coming year.
#3: In Plain Sight by Honeyblood.
(24th May 2019)
Honeyblood have a pretty tumultuous history, going through two drummers before anything was ever said about the third album. This has done nothing to stifle frontwoman Stina Marie Tweeddale’s impeccable song writing, as she moves ever darker and explores more sounds. While In Plain Sight has traditionally Honeyblood slightly jangly indie, its on the more out-there tracks that the album really shines, such as the chaotic synth and distorted vocals on Gibberish, Twisting The Aces’ airy ambience, or the utterly brutal fuzz on Kiss From The Devil. The best track for me, though, has to be Tarantella, as it almost parodies typical grunge song writing as it switches from haunting quiet to crushing noise with nary a stutter.
#4: Any Human Friend by Marika Hackman.
It’s not often you get a duo of lesbian break-up albums, but that is something that was delivered this year, and this is the half I prefer. Hackman has a sleeker, darker sound than on her previous record, but it’s more authentic and natural than most transitions to the poppier side feel. The album never beat around the bush, so to speak – every lyric seems perfectly earnest, bluntly so on more explicit tracks like Hand Solo. Really, I couldn’t sum up the album in the few words my editor will allow, so just go and listen to the album.
#5: Norman Fucking Rockwell by Lana Del Rey
There’s a reason critics and magazines are sucking off this album so hard. Its fantastic. Nobody does morose mid-century feeling Americana anything like LDR, and NFR manages to match Born to Die in its excellence, unlike the albums between them. Every track has exactly what it needs, often just a voice and a piano, showing a restraint and cleanliness in writing that so few musicians embrace today, especially in pop music where every song seems to need seventy million features and top producers crammed into thirty seconds of generic bullshit. Cleanse on this album and embrace your inner sixties California Romantic.
Indoor Pets – Be Content
Taylor Swift – Lover
Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – End of Suffering
Queen Zee – Queen Zee
Life – A Picture of Good Health
Pip Blom – Boat