FINAL SCORE: Best Albums of the Year 2019. Countdown: 20 to 11.


20.  Bellevue Days – It Can’t Possibly Go Wrong Ever

What is there to be said about Bellevue Days’ debut album other than ‘woah’. Each and every song on the album is dangerously good, and none more so than opener Gentle Flower. The three lead singers featured over the extent of the album give it its own unique beauty, with each song twisting around each other like overgrown ivy, snaring anyone foolish enough to put the album on without an hour to kill. The voices get progressively angrier, with their grunge-rock harmonies building upon each other and hiding the throat-rupturing screams sheltering beneath, while each song is its own little jewel. An amazing album, just one that at times becomes one tune to fall into rather than a collection. (JOS)

Check Out: Gentle Flower, Shotgun, Jouska, S.A.D.

19.  Gaffa Tape Sandy – Family Mammal

Family Mammal achieves the almost impossible being one of the few authentic pop-punk albums that doesn’t feel contrived. Describing Family Mammal as a pop-punk album could be deemed as insulting as it’s far more than this, with it taking heavily influences from anthemic indie but for ease we decided we didn’t need to create a pup-punk-sing-along-indie sub-genre. Family Mammal is a fun album for any occasion. It’s accomplished and not cheesy, not pretentious and over in just enough time so that the hipsters don’t die from indie-wankery starvation. (JW)

Check out: Meat Head, Headlights.

18.  Half Moon Run – A Blemish in the Great Light

Montreal outfit Half Moon Run’s third offering, A Blemish in the Great Light is nothing short of magnificent. It signifies yet another tonal shift from their previous works, distancing slightly from the haunting darkness of debut Dark Eyes and the sheer electric eccentricity of sophomore offering Sun Leads Me On. The singles from it, particularly, are superb — the addictively good Then Again, the sheer brilliance of Favourite Boy and the heavenly harmonies of Flesh and Blood — and the album, as a whole, is simply the epitome of easy listening to. It’s catchy, light-hearted and just an incredibly enjoyable collection of songs. Subjectively, it’s let down slightly by some less memorable numbers — but the true transcendence of their contemporaries allows the album to clinch a place on this list. (JOS)
Check Out: Flesh and Blood, Then Again, Favourite Boy, Razorblade.

 

17.  Miss June – Bad Luck Party

Miss June’s Bad Luck Party is another feel-good album but in a grunge styling. The reason it’s made our end of year list is for one damn good reason: it doesn’t have a bad track on it (a rare feat these days). Miss June are fronted by Annabel Liddell which could easily lead a misogynistic music press to paint them as just another Hole, Wolf Alice or some other lame comparison. In all honesty though, the talent of the band is that they have rewritten the rule book for a female fronted band by doing their own thing and mashing up ideas from a plethora of great bands – ya know, like males are allowed to do without being given some shit correlation to another band. Bad Luck Party is perfect in that it just fits and for that reason it is one that we’ve come back to over and over. In the spirit of their interview with us, “you’re either Miss June or you can fuck off mate.” (JW)

Check out: Best Girl, Scorpio.

16.  Sunset Sons – Blood Rush Deja Vu

There’s nothing bad you can possibly say about Sunset Sons’ sophomore offering, Blood Rush Deja Vu. It’s not perfect — there are one or two tracks that don’t stand up to the rest of the album when listened to multiple times but some of the songs on this record are so strong that it’s irrelevant. Take Superman, for example; a gentle piano synth number that escalates into something truly special, that became a fan favourite months before it was even released. Or the effortlessly good Heroes, which weaves its way into your ears and refuses to let go. The whole album is easy to enjoy and some of the tracks are so crazily good that it had to make the list. The only real problem with the album is that it ends too soon. (JOS)
Check out: Superman, Heroes, Eyes Wide Open, Alien.

 

15.  Hatchie – Keepsake

If 2018’s Sugar & Spice distilled a hazy and swoony pop sound, debut long player Keepsake reveals Harriette Pilbeam’s ever-growing confidence to explore new frontiers, while that voice and those melodies root the new songs squarely within familiar Hatchie territory. The singles which trailed Keepsake highlighted the subtle shifts in Hatchie’s writing since she sought to capture the first rush of being love. Stay With Me is a dancefloor crossover; Pilbeam’s sultry and effortless contralto notes unfolding the familiar tale of the right people meeting at the wrong time. The wistful and the weary continue to interplay across much of Keepsake. “If I had a rose for every sorry that was overdue, I’d have a garden full of flowers not a never-ending empty view,” Hatchie laments on beautiful opener Not That Kind. Keepsake is an emotionally direct and pure no-filler offering, delivered with panache in Hatchie’s accessible and engaging style. Mid-twenties may seem early to be tackling memories and nostalgia, but in Keepsake, Hatchie gave us an unforgettable debut.

Check out: Stay With Me, Obsessed, Without a Blush, Not That Kind

14.  whenyoung – Reasons To Dream

With every single Whenyoung released we were left waiting for something other than an absolute indie banger, but that never came and even when we had the full album in our grasps we continued to be wowed. Reasons To Dream is the sound of summer soaked cider fuelled festivals whilst offering the journey through adolescence to adulthood the trio took when they moved from native Ireland to London. For over a decade we’ve come to accept and love accents in indie and this is another great example, with flecks of instrumentation and dialect Reasons To Dream has telltale signs of the trios Irish homeland. Possibly the biggest triumph with the album is its ability to lyrically navigate tales of youth without becoming contrived. Summer bangers with serious undertones, an understated soundtrack to summer 2019. (JW)

Check out: Pretty Pure, The Others.

13.  Mike Shinoda – Post Traumatic (Deluxe)

Mike Shinoda’s solo venture is nothing short of sublime as a collection. His first solo venture since Fort Minor is full of heartache and sorrow, as he tries to come to terms with Chester Bennington’s passing. The Linkin Park vocalist truly shines on this album, with his devastatingly open lyrics simply an extension of his artistic genius. With a host of brilliant names featuring on the album — most notably grandson, on Running From My Shadow — and songs venturing from cathartic anger to sheer, shocked devastation (particularly on Place to Start), the album is one stemming from a place of hurt, yet seeks constantly to cope and, hopefully, eventually, heal. (N.B. Included due to the deluxe album, with two new songs, being released in February). (JOS)
Check Out: Running From My Shadow, Prove You Wrong, Over Again, Crossing A Line.

12.  Blaenavon – Everything That Makes You Happy

It wasn’t a surprise that Blaenavon’s sophomore was such an intense affair when it finally arrived. The album inevitably documented Ben Gregory’s recurrent battles with his mental health but the overwhelming mood is not one of despair but of survival. Gregory runs the gauntlet of emotions, not least of all guilt, for the impact of his troubles on those closest to him. Even in the darker lyrical moments though, a song like Skin Scream takes the well-worn subject matter of relationship breakdown and turns the pain back on the afflicter of the misery: “It’s not about what you did, I can get over that,” assures Gregory. ETMYH is more than a simple exercise in dissection of mental illness, it’s about the will to triumph when faced with the worst of adversity; it’s an album full of hope. (ID)

Check out: Catatonic Skinbag, I Want You, Skin Scream, Quiet in Your Heart/Alone in Love.

11.  Ezra Furman – Twelve Nudes

Ezra Furman is an artist who is never afraid to push boundaries and on Twelve Nudes the chameleon took on punk in the only way possible with glam-fuelled androgyny.  Punk is a term for so much in life extending far beyond music but with music it can encompass songwriting, lyrical themes, aesthetic, production, ethos and much more. Assessing Twelve Nudes on the basis of Ezra trying to achieve a Punk record he’s achieved all he set out to. The tracks are often short and punchy with a focus on feeling and vibe not strictly on musicianship, the lyrics are wide scoping but centre around how to fit into a world that may not make sense to you, aesthetically Ezra has never been one to fit into a societal mould and has always been ‘punk’ in the manner of taking his own direction in life and assessing the production every dial feels turned up to the max, the perfect level of distortion to grit your teeth over. Twelve Nudes is the modern-day Marc Bolan does punk album, a gem that society needed for 2019. (JW)

Check out: Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone, Trauma.

Contributors: James Wadsworth @jamespart31, Iain Dalgleish @idalgleishmusic and James O’Sullivan @jsully2510.