Getintothis’ Top 100 Albums of 2019 – A Year In Review

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As 2019 draws near its end, Getintothis offer our Top 100 albums of the year and whatever your tastes, we are sure there is something incredible for you to discover.

So here we are – 2019 in the rearview mirror. The year is drawing to a close and our minds wander back over the last twelve months.

An eventful and entertaining year, 2019 has presented us with many opportunities to indulge our passion for music

What follows here are our own personal opinions and, as such, may bear little relation to your own 2019, but hopefully our paths have crossed and we have shared moments together over the last year and the work we here at Getintothis offer up has meant something to you.

Before we look at the year’s cultural highlights however, we can’t offer a review of the year without mentioning the elephant in the room – British politics. Political machinations have been a major part of 2019.

Brexit and the election have dominated the news and, to be honest, my own thoughts for much of the year.

I don’t intend to bang on about it too much, we have provided some excellent features on the state or British politics this year and no doubt we will continue to do so as the drama unfolds further in 2020.

But we will say this, for the first time in many years it seems we are being presented with a real choice between two ends of the political spectrum.

On the one hand we have the Tories offering another half decade of punishing and self serving policies, and on the other we have a chance to elect a socialist government who offer palpable change and seem more concerned with making sure the people of this country are able to live better and easier lives.

If I’m being honest, I don’t hold out much hope of waking up on the morning of the December 13 to anything other than crushing disappointment, but for the moment we have that hope, hanging in the air.

But, back on track, Liverpool has yet again proven itself to be a city that culturally punches well above its weight. Our weekly gig guides and monthly arts diaries are proof of this, each being packed to the rafters with happening, events and good old gigs.

Special mention here must go to Fontaines D.C., who are undoubtedly the band of the year.

We here at Getintothis have fallen for them in a manner that hasn’t happened for, oooh, we don’t know how long. Here we have a band who came out of nowhere to take 2019 by storm with gigs and an album that have shaken the year by the scruff of its neck, and we get the feeling that things will never be the same again.

If 2020 isn’t their year too we will eat our scarves, and then where will we be?

As the list below proves, 2019 has been yet another incredible year for killer albums. From the state-of-the-art pop of Billie Eilish to the heavy HEAVY metal of Slipknot to the troubled expositions of Nick Cave we have been treated to all manner of musical extremes. Personally, we think this is something to be cherished and celebrated.

And that, if anything, is what our top 100 albums of the year do, they demonstrate perfectly that, whatever the genre, music is in the rudest of health in 2019. As ever, we must bow to the wisdom of John Peel, who remarked that there are two types of music, good and bad.

Getintothis have tried to bring you the best of the year’s music that falls firmly into the ‘Good’ category, and you can rest assured that we will continue to do so as we head into a brand new year.

We hope you will join us. –  Banjo, Getintothis Features Editor.


100. Slipknot: We Are Not Your Kind
Roadrunner Records

We Are Not Your Kind is one for metal fans everywhere, and is even one for those who fancy dipping their toes in the waters of heavier music. If you haven’t already given it a spin, you’re missing out on one of the metal best albums of 2019. – Max Richardson

Getintothis on Slipknot


99. Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats: Anger Management
Sugar Trap

Anger Management pummels and attacks, the 21-year old rapper’s vocals shredding, jumping and flowing over squelchy buzzing beats in an immersive performance that leaves you nowhere to hide. And like some weird therapeutic journey that turns you inside out – it arrives at a place of reflection and peace. – Roy Bayfield

Getintothis on Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats


98. Kamandi: Voices
Kamandi

On Voices the vocals are woven into many of the tracks, but there are no decodable words, just fragments communicating emotion – forlorn, warm, sexual, longing – over exquisitely teased beats that construct a soundtrack to an absent film. Smooth, futuristic and bright, Voices is an absorbing and surprising sonic space to inhabit. – Roy Bayfield

Getintothis on Kamandi


97. Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow
Jagjaguwar

Sharon Van Etten’s most adaptable instrument is still her vocals, sometimes velvety, sometimes roaring with shades of Stevie Nicks; and the poetics of her lyrics match the skill of her composition. From the Springsteen-esque balladry of Seventeen to the dreamy soundscape of Memorial Day, every track on Remind Me Tomorrow has something to offer. – Mostyn Jones

Getintothis on Sharon Van Etten


96. American Football: American Football (LP3)
Polyvinyl, Big Scary Monsters

While American Football‘s renaissance started earlier in this decade with (LP2), here on (LP3) the band draw out proceedings, adding shoegazey/ambient elements into the sonic melting pot whilst remaining true to their roots. The results on (LP3) equate to everything that most American Football fans have dreamed of the band producing. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on American Football


95. The Twilight Sad: It Won/t Be Like This All The Time
Rock Action

Each track has been carefully formed, molded and delivered as a completely finished article. From the opening high tempo organ loop of [10 Good Reasons For Modern Drugs], it only takes sixteen seconds for James Graham’s vocals to kick in, “we’re hanging on by a thread.” There’s the running theme encapsulated right there. It Won/t Be Like This All The Time is full of those larger, personal issues we all carry: love, hope, self-doubt, compassion, bereavement, and above all the belief in human understanding. – Howard Doupé

Getintothis on The Twilight Sad


94. Vetiver: Up On High
Loose Music

While the gentle arrangements are simple and pleasant enough, Andy Cabic is a craftsman not afraid to show off his chops on more than occasion. The title track has a groovy, almost yacht rock feel to it while opener The Living End could be an outtake from the Grateful Dead’s masterful Workingman’s Dead. By the whispered strum of the closing Lost (In Your Eyes) it becomes obvious Cabic has sealed the deal on a collection of songs that are warm, intimate and utterly captivating. – Jamie Bowman

Getintothis on Vetiver


93.The National: I Am Easy to Find
4AD

Where Sleep Well Beast was dark and tight and infused with near-unbearable tension, I Am Easy To Find is a much looser and woozy affair. It’s stretched out and dreamlike, languid and resigned. Matt Berninger‘s vocals evoke the sound of ghosts and the ghosts of doomed relationships; yearning and loss. The National have truly come up with a thing of rare beauty. Treasure this record. – Rick Leach

Getintothis on The National


92. Lankum: The Livelong Day
Rough Trade

With The Livelong Day, Lankum provide a brooding representation of folk music enveloping and drifting through your conscious like a winter fog. The Dublin four piece have produced an incongruous set of songs here, bursting with despondent yet gorgeous melodies, rattling instrumentation and swelling drones in what is one of the most esoteric releases of 2019. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Lankum


91. Sarathy Korwar: More Arriving
The Leaf Label

Korwar intricately yet effortlessly blends several musical genres including modern jazz, Indian, and British hip-hop, classical Indian and spoken word for More Arriving, an album full of dynamic ebbs and flows where the ear is kept as intrigued as the mind. There’s elements of free spirited vulnerability in the melody yet severed with politically charged and startling lyrics delivered with deep intensity. – Kev Barrett

Getintothis on Sarathy Korwar

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90. Durand Jones & The Indications: American Love Call
Dead Oceans

It is Detroit in its heyday, banging out Buicks and Cadillacs to a brass ensemble every time one rolls off the production line. The vocals are a pure Motown mix of bass, alto and higher backing harmonies thrown in. American Love Call is a remarkable thing. A great big hug for its mellifluous tunes and a great big kick into the solar plexus for its uncompromising lyrics. Durand Jones is after you and he won’t give up until you sign up to his creed. – Peter Goodbody

Getintothis on Durand Jones & The Indications


89. Whistling Arrow: Whistling Arrow
God Unknown Records

On Whistling Arrow, band members morph and mould spacious string arrangements, slender piano and gentle whirrs of synth around Charles Hayward‘s intangible shape shifting percussion. Hayaward‘s performance alters this project from an intellectual listening exercise into something sonically accessible with a genuine opportunity to reach new ears. You won’t lend an ear to a better improv’ album all year, so rest your fingers from crate digging and phone scrolling by enjoying the journey right here. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Whistling Arrow


88. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
Columbia Records

It’s a question Saadiq must have been asking himself for some time, if Jimmy Lee hadn’t fallen under the spell of heroin addiction what might he have done with his life? Although the lens is focused on Saadiq‘s brother and his addiction, it’s through his story that we see the greater struggle of those living in difficult circumstances and how easy it is to get trapped in the situation without ever finding away out There is a Jimmy Lee in all of our lives and Raphael Saadiq has shone a light on their struggle. – Michael Maloney

Getintothis on Raphael Saddiq


87. Wand: Laughing Matter
Thrill Jockey

15 tracks ticking over the hour mark, Laughing Matter is somewhat a pledge of patience but the tracks Wand deliver here are worth it. Some of their finest work weaves in and out of psych interludes here with the one-two gut punch of Rio Grande and Airplane arguably being one of the year’s finest sequences committed to wax. It’s drawn-out psychedelic pop at its finest and Wand prove to be adequate purveyors of it. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Wand


86. A.A Bondy: Enderless
Fat Possum

Tracks effortlessly bleed into one another to the point where A.A. Bondy has built this new world comprising of atmospheric textures and an off-kilter emotional intensity. Enderness is a country soul record which nods to hip hop and doo wop. Here, it feels like we are getting Bondy’s true persona. It’s as bleak as it is beautiful and marks a strong return for one of today’s finest and most elusive troubadours. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on A.A. Bondy


85. La Dispute: Panorama
Epitaph Records

As much as it sounds cliched, Panorama as an album really is a sonic journey. Every track carries a different timbre, which blend together with such ease to create an album that really is a cohesive work rather than a collection of unrelated tracks. It really is a superb album, showing that even after a five-year gap from their last LP, La Dispute haven’t even broken their stride. – Max Richardson

Getintothis on La Dispute


84. Light Conductor: Sequence One
Constellation Records

Over the course of 45 minutes the duo weave a textured pattern of mesmeric synth-led grooves which are bathed in warm iridescent glows. Opener A Bright Resemblance is characteristic of the album’s tone; a seductive repetitious rhythm of electronic pulses before the dissonant burn out of Chapel of The Snows. This is the kind of album that invites you to kick back and luxuriate in it’s soothing evening afterglow – or alternatively get lost amid it’s bottomless wonder while out of your head in the late night abyss. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Light Conductor


83. John Luther Adams: Become Desert
Cantaloupe Music

Where Become Ocean had a sense of change and transition – or movement if you will – Become Desert has a feeling of stillness and calm. It’s lighter and ethereal, and much gentler than its predecessor. There’s a sense that if you reach out to catch it, then it will simply slip through your fingers, intangible and lost forever. This is a beautiful piece of music, beautifully performed and recorded and to be treasured for a long time. – Rick Leach

Getintothis on John Luther Adams


82. XamVolo: All The Sweetness On The Surface
Decca

Having juggled an architecture degree with developing his catalogue, taste and musical identity, Sam Folorunsho signed to Decca a few years back. This album comes as a merging of all his work from his time making music, from bedroom to studio, and the end product is a clean, soulful and crafted record. On one level, it’s an uplifting journey to brighten a day while at other times it deserves deep consideration. – Lewis Ridley

Getintothis on XamVolo


81. Pat Dam Smyth: The Last King
Quiet Arch Records

On first listen, The Last King is a departure for Pat, it starts with Kids, a mesmerising anthemic beauty about a trouble-torn homeland that builds in your veins and tells of a place that has changed much over the last 30 years. The Last King is a beautiful follow up to The Great Divide and together they tell the tale of a man on a mission to share his view of the world with all who will listen. – Chris Flack

Getintothis on Pat Dam Smyth

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80. Claire Welles: Transpose
Self-released

Claire Welles experiments with different styles and genres of music and it would be impossible to describe her body of work in a few words other, perhaps, than to say she is eclectic and will refuse to be packed up into any particular box. Transpose may perhaps be one of her more radio-friendly releases, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. Next time, she’ll come out kicking. – Peter Goodbody

Getintothis on Claire Welles


79. Glassing: Spotted Horse
Brutal Panda Records

The radiating flourishes of cinematic textures project the Austin, Texas trio into a new light, with ten tracks that undeniably capture the imagination. It’s sprawling, majestic, aggressive and just plain intense. Not a world away from what Deafheaven have achieved over their beguiling journey of four albums, however Glassing lean closer to the fringes of post-hardcore with Spotted Horse. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Glassing


78. Murder Capital: When I Have Fears
Human Season Records

When I Have Fears is such a raw record, both emotionally and sonically. The result has been just as huge as the hype surrounding Fontaine’s D.C.’s Dogrel. But this isn’t about all these Irish bands sounding the same. With When I Have Fears, The Murder Capital have made something much more dark, harrowing and passionate. – Lucy MacLachlan

Getintothis on The Murder Capital


77. Yank Scally: There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day

While There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day is far from flawless it represents the initial scrapbook of one of Merseyside’s most intriguing and blindingly ambitious artists for sometime. While we’d suggest time is on Yank’s side, he may not necessarily agree – but we’re damn sure he will use it well. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Yank Scally


76. Cate LeBon: Reward
Mexican Summer

Le Bon’s trademark idiosyncratic lyrics are as mystifyingly intriguing as ever. Hints of post-punk, krautrock and oft-kilter pop can all be detected here, but are re-assembled in surprising, fresh new ways. If you’re unfamiliar with her music, then Reward is a good stepping-on point. – Gary Aster

Getintothis on Cate Lebon


75. Ride: This is Not a Safe Place
Wichita Recordings Ltd

Fifteen Minutes is a later highlight, all thundering guitars and Britpop la-la-la’s. It’s another unexpected pop moment on an album stuffed full of them, before the album ends with the mellow, epic In This Room. A band that sounds like they still have much to say, and with This is Not a Safe Place, in places, will attract new ears as well as the past glory merchants. – Steven Doherty

Getintothis on Ride


74. Pip Blom: Boat
Heavenly Recordings

Fans of their earlier singles and last years well received EP Paycheck will be happy to learn that Pip and her band have not lost any of their rawness and that they have not had their immediacy and post-punk attitude tamed or suppressed, as perhaps might have been the case if they had signed with a bigger label who would want to see the profits roll in. This is a very enjoyable piece of work that seamlessly blends fuzzed out indie rock with some damn catchy choruses. You will be singing along. That is a rule. – Andy Sunley

Getintothis on Pip Blom


73. Drahla: Useless Coordinates
Captured Tracks

Leeds outfit, Drahla, released one of the finest under-the-radar long players in 2019 in Useless Coordinates. Luciel Brown spits and snarls with acerbic menace throughout these nine tracks that could be defined as somewhere between later-era Sonic Youth and a swirling racket of no-wave lunacy. It’s post-punk to drive down the coastline to but make no mistake, it’s elusively barbed with a gnarly edge that takes no prisoners. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Drahla


72. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets: And Now For The Whatchamacallit
Marathon Artists

With a name your mum would sneer at and a sound which would make her confused, Perth’s Psychedelic Porn Crumpets return with their third album And Now For The Whatchamacallit. It’s a get-up-and-go crazy psych party record which reinvents itself as a demon when performed live, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are not a band to be snubbed at all. – Will Whitby

Getintothis on Psychedelic Porn Crumpets


71. Orville Peck: Pony
Sub Pop

Pony is his debut album, and it’s a record full of his powerful, stunning vocals coupled with warm instrumentation. The lyrics feel like an outpouring, stories wish he has waited a lifetime to tell. Thankfully the face furniture gimmicks don’t detract in any way from this, although there is always the nagging doubt that it’ll turn out to be some elaborate joke, and it’ll turn out to be some tin-pot indie singer’s alter-ego vanity side project. Let’s hope not as this is an absolutely glorious debut. – Steven Doherty

Getintothis on Orville Peck

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70. slowthai: Nothing Great About Britain
Method

In an album full of grilling political and social commentary, on Nothing Great About Britain one of the underrated highlights is slowthai’s delivery. Somehow he’s managed to launch through tirades and proclamations with the same vigour as a seasoned veteran, but also sounding like you’re in the front room with him discussing the day. – Nathan Scally

Getintothis on slowthai


69. Cave In: Final Transmission
Hydra Head

While they sit somewhere between metal, hardcore and rock, Cave In are certainly a part of a community that welcomes music that operates close to the edges. While Final Transmission is designed for sweaty fleapits we know as live venues, its scope is so wide that it’s equally as welcoming for late-night walks and highway driving. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Cave In


68. King Princess: Cheap Queen
Zelig

Over a year after King Princess’ breakout single 1950, a single that saw major viral success, the likes of which could be compared to Billie Eilish, we finally have a debut album that has absolutely lived up to the single that shot her to overnight fame. Recruiting some heavy hitters to help out with this record, from Mark Ronson to Father John Misty, with contacts like that I don’t think she’s going to have any trouble keeping up the momentum. – Kris Roberts

Getintothis on King Princess


67. Steve Moore: Beloved Exile
Temporary Residence

The 5 track LP begins with the soft, shimmering sounds of a gorgeous synth pad, all drenched in that lush, inimitable warmth which can only be provided by analog synthesis. The epic, sprawling My Time Among the Snake Lords spans 15 minutes and 36 seconds, and really demands the full quarter of an hour to appreciate it at its most beautiful. – Max Richardson

Getintothis on Steve Moore


66. Black Midi: Schlagenheim
Rough Trade Records

Schlagenheim is an exhilarating listen, a breath of fresh air when every “next big thing” you hear is rehashed landfill indie, or well-rehearsed PR drama. Virtuosity and creativity combined with some of the best drumming you’re likely to hear, along with a little bit of craziness. – Matthew Eland

Getintothis on Black Midi


65. Jenny Hval: The Practice of Love
Sacred Bones

It’s a clash of pop and avant-garde in every sense. While thematically, Hval excavates beyond landscapes of conventional definitions of love, it’s the sonic bedding that these themes lay upon that truly defines The Practice of Love. It almost feels as if Hval thought “if Robyn can do it, then I’m having some of that!”. And having it she does, for you won’t find a better set of pop songs in 2019 than what Hval has produced here. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Jenny Hval


64. Black Pumas: Black Pumas
ATO Records

The eponymous album is a complete throwback to some of the finest musical works from the late 70’s Soul and R&B era: there’s elements Gil Scott Heron’s precision and panache, the funk and groove of Curtis Mayfield, and the soulful harmonies of the likes of The Delfonics all combining and intertwining with a modern day beat and lyric injection. There’s a deep rooted cinematic feel to the record, an almost Tarantino-esque embodiment, fitting given the number of film scores Quesada has worked on throughout his career. – Kev Barrett

Getintothis on Black Pumas


63. DeafKids: Metaprogramação
Neurot Recordings

Brazlian three piece, Deafkids, return with their second album, Metaprogramação, and it’s forty minutes of skinny psychedelic horrorcore that unleashes an unbridled fury that cuddles up to the ethos of punk. It’s an immersive experience of poly-rhythmic percussion and tribal chants that anxiously scream from your headphones and transport you to gates of hell. Not one for the fainthearted. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on DeafKids


62. Erland Cooper: Sule Skerry
Phases

Erland Cooper‘s version of Orkney is as far removed from the chaos and frenetic activity of the city life most of us are immersed in as it’s possible to imagine. This is the strange otherness of a different world. Orkney may seem “part of us”; whatever that means or implies, yet it’s as removed from our everyday reference points that it could be thousands of miles away. The title track ends the album and when you hear it whether for the first time, or like this writer, many times already, time slips away. Time becomes different. The track and Sule Skerry ends and you need to sit in silence for a few minutes. You need to let that dream music fade slowly away, like mist over the sea. – Rick Leach

Getintothis on Erland Cooper


61. HVOB: Rocco
[PIAS]

Tender lyrics matched with fist pumping beats connect, making HVOB the architects for sunset dance music engineered for lush green fields, chemical refreshment consumption and euphoric escapism. After the mesmerising Trialog from 2015, it was difficult to see how HVOB would exceed its excellence. It’s four years, but with Rocco they’ve done just that. Don’t let the album’s length put you off. The troughs are non-existent, making this journey all the more remarkable. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on HVOB

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60. Anderson .Paak: Ventura
12 Tone Music

As his fourth solo record using his real name, Anderson .Paak connects far more with the original duo, Venice and Malibu. Showcasing his unadulterated aptitude for funk and soul through every track and his natural talent for fusing numerous genres into one complete creation. It’s the culmination of a journey that’s featured so many collaborators including Smokey Robinson and Andre 3000 on this record alone, and long term creative partners Dr Dre and Knxwledge. – Nathan Scally

Getintothis on Anderson. Paak


59. Aldous Harding: Designer
4AD

On Designer we find Aldous Harding in a more upbeat mood than on previous album, Party, the songs feel lighter and gone is the anguish of her voice instead it’s softer and smoother. As with her previous albums Designer will require multiple listening as you try to decipher Harding’s lyrics and interpret their meaning but taken at face value it’s an album packed with intelligent and beautiful crafted folk songs. – Michael Maloney

Getintothis on Aldous Harding


58. A Winged Victory For The Sullen: The Undivided Five
Ninja Tune

2019 marked the return of Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie – better known to us as A Winged Victory For The Sullen – releasing their first studio album since 2014’s Atomos in The Undivided Five. Not shifting too far from their neoclassical ambient sonic template, however the niche AWVFS have carved out in the past has found them swimming in secluded lakes. Here, you will find a plethora of rich strings and gentle ambient-scapes that make you feel like you’re floating in space. Some of the most captivating compositions the duo has produced thus far lie within The Undivided Five. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on A Winged Victory For The Sullen


57. Wear Your Wounds: Rust on the Gates of Heaven
Deathwish Inc.

Rust on the Gates of Heaven is an elegiac affair, packed with rich strings, aching poeticism and brooding eyes-to-the-sky riff-a-rola. It drips with melody that will melt your heart, each instrument finding itself in the relevant pockets of space to work and utilise to maximum effect. Nothing feels forced or overdone here and for that Jacob Bannon must take great credit for producing the album the way he has. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Wear Your Wounds


56. Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs
City Slang

Strongest and simplest. It is in that simplicity, that raw and sweet purity, where Jessica Pratt‘s strength lies. These are soulful, wistful pieces that really reach you on first hearing. Relaxed, unhurried, unfussy and beautifully understated, it’s as much about the space around the sound as it is the sound itself. Sometimes, it’s just easier to give in. And give in you should, to this 27 minutes of stunningly accomplished, simple beauty. – Paul Fitzgerald

Getintothis on Jessica Pratt


55. Pan-American: A Son
Kranky

On A Son, Mark Nelson effortlessly guides melodies to the deepest corners of the universe, weaving traditional acoustic-laden songs between beautiful dreamscape interludes. It’s an stimulating journey as much as it is a surprise. Whilst expecting another collection of shadowy ambient night-scapes, Nelson has flipped the switch and given his devoted listeners something that we all know he has been more than capable of writing. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Pan-American


54. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel
Thrill Jockey

Lightning Bolt have always been a pop band, but it’s unusual for them to be this transparent about it. There’s barely any time to register surprise at the acoustic guitar in Don Henley in the Park before the hazy riff starts phasing in and out of reality. There’s a steady, almost mid-nineties indie punk feel to Sonic Citadel. It’s as accessible as they get. – Matthew Eland

Getintothis on Lightning Bolt


53. Loyle Carner: Not Waving But Drowning
AMF

Loyle Carner‘s sophomore release, No Waving But Drowning, is a slow-burn classic, one that takes a few listens to appreciate, to grow with and to sink into the honest lyricism of being a confused 20-something. His flow is smooth, his beats are mellow, his demeanour welcoming and the subjects of his tracks important and personal. – Will Whitby

Getintothis on Loyle Carner


52. Hayden Thorpe: Diviner
Domino

Elegant and emotionally very open, with uncluttered arrangements, Hayden Thorpe‘s Diviner is the polar opposite to Wild Beasts’ final album Boy King, concerned with pleasures of the flesh – Diviner is instead very much centred around affairs of the heart. There’s a real sense of vulnerability. The ghost of Billy MacKenzie, inadvertently present in Wild Beasts‘ early days, returns – Thorpe’s falsetto leads us like a guide over piano, and fluttering guitar, minimal arrangements. With no distractions or frills, it’s a very emotional album. – Cath Holland

Getintothis on Hayden Thorpe


51. King Midas Sound: Solitude
Cosmo Rhythmatic

Roger Robinson‘s dystopian diatribes are counterbalanced perfectly by Kevin Martin‘s stripped-back arrangements of glacial nuances, lonely backstreet hums and oceanic drones, making Solitude one of the albums of the year. Crushing in its transparency, Solitude is something that King Midas Sound will never produce again. Like all heartbreak albums, this is a brutally raw admission of loss with Robinson cascading his emotions across the canvass. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on King Midas Sound

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50. Bon Iver: i,i
Jagjaguar

Bon Iver’s i,i begins as it means to go on, with a trippy sound collage of an indistinguishable origin.

The utterly sensational new release by the Wisconsin-born Justin Vernon continues down the stylistic rabbit hole opened by 2016’s sublime 22, A Million  – fusing elements of indie rock, electronica, and even possibly musique concrète together to form a deliciously thick blend of sonic soup.

i,i begins with the short introductory track Yi, which smoothly segues into iMi, one of the highlights of this wonderfully cohesive record.

iMi features the same signature fragmented vocals prominent in 22, A Million – which then slowly dissolve into a poignant indie-folk ballad tinged with electronic sprinklings, before the wheels fall off altogether in a beautiful blend of sound.

There is no particular genre that can be comfortably applied to this album, other than simply ‘it’s Bon Iver’.

Indeed, i,i generally feels more mature than its predecessor, with Vernon seemingly having comfortably settled into creating electronic music without the novelty factor found in 22, A Million.

In a sense, the two records are almost two sides of the same coin, and could almost be listened to as a double album, with i,i definitely following on from the natural progression of the previous record by reining the experimental factor in slightly, with more incorporation of acoustic instrumentation.

Elements from the earlier works of Bon Iver are referenced in the latter half of the album in particular, with the lush Naeem fusing together Vernon’s early styles with his newfound love for electronic music, which is immediately followed by Jelmore, which sees a heavier emphasis on electronic elements.

With an ever-shifting sound palette, i,i really does keep you on your toes throughout the album, which is so wonderfully cohesive it really does feel like a perfect soundtrack to a dreamy autumnal evening.

The lyrics of the album are gorgeously intimate, with much of the record truly feeling like Vernon is laying his thoughts out loud for the world to hear.

Eventually, the album softly draws to a close with RABi, perhaps one of the more restrained tracks of the record – with barely a glitchy bleep bloop sound in sight.

It’s odd to hear the record start off so experimentally, and gradually devolve into cool, restrained acoustic-indie music, a stark contrast from the start of the album.

So, what does the future hold for Bon Iver?

Can we expect more acoustic music in the future, or will Vernon double down and give us another glitchy electronic landmark record?

If 22, A Million and i,i have taught us anything at all, it’s to expect the unexpected – so let’s not even try and predict the future of Bon Iver. – Max Richardson

Getintothis on Bon Iver


49. The Utopia Strong: The Utopia Strong
Rocket Recordings

This is a convincing debut effort from The Utopia Strong, the recently formed trio of Kavus Torabi (formerly of Gong, Knifeworld), Michael J. York (Coil, Guapo) and Steve Davis (yes, the former Snooker World Champion turned modular synth nerd).

It’s a thoroughly modern psychedelic record, occasionally a little reminiscent of Rocket Recordings’ label mates Teeth of the Sea, but comparisons seem unfair for such an assured first offering that largely treads its own path.

The tracks are the product of a series of improvised sessions, which is evident on a first listen, but it’s also clear that those sessions have been tastefully edited and supplemented with additional layers. Though the record is instantly appealing on a first spin, attentive listeners will still hear new things after multiple plays. In short, it’s a grower.

It’s a surprisingly upbeat, at times even euphoric record, diverging from some of the music that York and Torabi’s names have previously been associated with, and featuring a range of sounds and moods from kosmiche minimalism and ambient head-trips to underground dancefloor-fillers.

Though unmistakably an underground, experimental record, it’s not so out-there that it couldn’t find a respectably sized audience, and no doubt the impossible-to-ignore novelty factor of Steve Davis’s presence will attract some listeners merely out of curiosity.

That’s a double-edged sword for the band though, who have collaborated on a very fine debut which deserves instead to be judged on its own, not inconsiderable merits. – Gary Aster

Getintothis on The Utopia Strong


48. Gum Takes Tooth: Arrow
Rocket Recordings

Gum Takes Tooth are at times reminiscent of bands like Liars, Oneida, Fuck Buttons or Holy Fuck (yes there’s a fair few fucks there). With each song they traverse a pop/indie soundscape with anthemic, pleasing chops.

Passing the opening track we are headfirst into a collapsing star of a song, the titular The Arrow slowly developing into a raver of a track.

Moving through each song we get a better feel of what this band wants to achieve. Developing the each strand of sound into a hedonistic troupe, unapologetic about the enjoyment it plays.

It’s downward spiral into further depths of joy, skipping into trance state electronica. We push through into ever more pleasures, cascading into one track to another, each delivering the listen further into a hypnotic state.

Slowing down through some classic style early industrial landscapes and falling into tribal beats. This album is a classic in the making.

In this album Gum Takes Tooth have encompassed what great indie albums can achieve; stealing the instruments of the pop ethic and twisting into realms that only a few other bands have been able to follow.

If you’re a fan of bands like those mentioned above then you’ll love this band.

Here’s hoping we can see them live very soon. – Guy Nolan

Getintothis on Gum Takes Tooth


47. Whitney: Forever Turned Around
Secretly Canadian

The last time we heard from Chicago-based Whitney they were the easy-breezy bros stepping out into the wider world imbued with optimism, wonder and romanticism – the feeling was so infectious we fell head over heels gifting them our number one album of 2016.

Forever Turned Around is like the return of a good friend you’ve not seen for some time – but there’s something lost or broken.

There’s always been a wistful melancholy coursing through vocalist/drummer Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek odes but where Light Upon The Lake was a wide-eyed love letter to the future Forever Turned Around seems more of sigh to what’s gone, and will never be rekindled.

There’s genuine sadness and longing in Ehrlich‘s beautiful falsetto. See the way he coos desperation in Valleys (My Love), “There’s gotta be another way, I’ve been on my own all day, pretending everything’s alright, we’ve been drifting apart sometime.”

This feeling is echoed right across Forever Turned Around‘s instrumentation as their folksy-pop doesn’t effuse the bright spark of their debut, instead it is replaced by a pensive, mournful or downright sorrowful tone – see intro and lead single’s Giving Up‘s tearful waltz before their characteristic introduction of brass brightens up the narrative in the final third.

Equally downbeat are the final three tracks which neatly segue into a triptych of soulful blues; Day & Night with it’s swoonsome guitars aligned to lyrics about drifting and feeling strange, Friend of Mine which takes The Band‘s template of Americana wrapping delicious harmonies around a longing ragtime tune before the title track’s closing statement: “Has your heart grown heavy by now, because mine’s already on the ground,” sums up the album’s over all feel.

There are, however, brighter notes – the brass-to-the-fore instrumental of Rhododendron plays on their superlative nature as a tight-ass live outfit before fading out way too soon. While Before I Know It is a simply gorgeous track uplifted by a final flourish of lush sweeping orchestration.

By taking the same approach as their quite magnificent debut, Whitney have repeated that blueprint, yet with thinly layered woe Forever Turned Around is a without a doubt a more difficult listen which will inevitably underwhelm some of their fan base.

That said, there’s few bands out there who can create such beautiful timeless music as this and make it seem so easy. Expect tears. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Whitney


46. Steve Mason: About the Light
Double Six Records

About the Light is the fourth solo studio album from Steve Mason, and it’s an intriguing development from his previous offerings, a different approach was taken by the former Beta Band man this time round, with him saying; “I decided with this album that I wanted to get my live band involved at every stage because I wanted to capture the energy that we produce when we play live shows, so this time the band and myself worked on a collection of songs over the course of last year.”

Recorded with former Smiths and Blur producer Stephen Street the record is a pleasing blend of swirling guitar riffs, dreamy jazz sections, gospel elements, and beautiful songwriting, it’s all too easy to get lost in this albums melodic charm.

Having been both married, and also becoming a father since previous album Meet The Humans there are signs of a much more relaxed and content feel within the lyrics.

Standout track Rocket is delicately written with gorgeous harmonies, and as good as anything Mason has put out before.and the added dimension of the band’s input bring a warning vibrancy to the songs.

Given Mason‘s big cult following, and mightily impressive back catalogue from both Beta Band and previous solo work the debate will rage as to whether this is his best album to date, but it certainly seems to be his most experimental, and endearing to a more varied and wider audience. – Kev Barrett

Getintothis on Steve Mason


45. Julia Kent: Temporal
The Leaf Label

Vancouver native and New York City–based, cellist/composer, Julia Kent returned in 2019 with her sixth solo album, Temporal.

As a former member of Rasputina and Antony and the Johnsons, Kent‘s music is grandiose as much as it is haunting and Temporal sees Kent continue to explore these rich brooding themes.

Kent‘s compositions are very much tailor-made for soundtracks and yes, she has had her hand in a number of film scores. The latest being 2014’s Oasis.

The opening track, Last Hour Story is the centrepiece of Temporal. Clocking in at just over twelve minutes, it’s an odd choice to start the album but paves the way for Kent‘s elegantly presented strings and slight pulsating electronics that snake in and out throughout the next six tracks.

On Temporal, Kent provides an intriguing aesthetic between classical and minimalist electronica. It’s an interesting marriage and that’s what makes Julia Kent standout from most. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Julia Kent


44. Alex Cameron: Miami Memory
Secretly Canadian

He’s back, the Sydney Sleazebag. Ten viciously satirical vignettes of love, lust and lowlife in the layby.

You know the score by now, so here’s the top lyrical wonders from his second album for Secretly Canadian, Miami Memory.

“Been on dating apps in Budapest, we got high as fuck in Prague, sodomy in Berlin without no guten tag.”PC With Me.

“I got friends in Kansas City with a motherfucking futon couch, if that’s how you want to play it, I’m drinking in the dark because my battery’s all ran out, all you got to do is say it – divorce.”Divorce.

“Now, she’s doing sex work, pays bills while you all still text jerks, she buys her own damn meals, you sit at home and masturbate while she plays grown-ups for real” – Far From Born Again.

“Eating your ass like an oyster, the way you came like a tsunami.” – Miami Memory.

“We’re at brunch and the scampi’s on ice, I’m feeling like a million bucks, in he comes, this bobbing turd, this piece of shit he just won’t flush.” – Too Far.

“There’s a guy who thinks I’m fucking his girlfriend, he says he’s gonna make me cry, but I couldn’t get it up if I wanted to, man, yeah, and I already want to die.” – Bad For The Boys.

“Calm me down, babe, I know I’ve been away, I’m coming back for the holidays, boots all shined, I’m Santa Clause with AIDS, selling pornographic Polaroids and counterfeit shades” – PC With Me.

“I could leave your ovulation to meet Elon and his clan, with his batteries full of sunlight and his cars that run on sand, and I go weak with constipation, from all the pills and the spam.” – Divorce.

“I been working like you told me, pitching shows to NBC, but that old Tim Allen ain’t the way he used to be, it’s not for me, TV.” – Other Ladies. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Alex Cameron


43. Big Brave: A Gaze Among Them
Southern Lord

Montreal outift, Big Brave (Robin Wattie – vocals, guitar, bass, Mathieu Ball – guitar, and Loel Campbell – drums), return with their fourth album, A Gaze Among Them.

Big Brave‘s home at Southern Lord may seem an odd fit given their sound could be defined as a little safer than their label stable mates. However, make no mistake. They very much hold their own and with A Gaze Among Them, crafting their finest artistic moment yet.

Big Brave‘s sound focuses predominantly on space, volume, tone and emotion and with the five compositions which comprise A Gaze Among Them, they accomplishment each facet admirably.

It commences with Muted Shifting of Space. Just under nine minutes, the track bursts with fuzz-laden drone and Wattie‘s raw shrieking vocal.

Holding Pattern is hands down the album’s highlight. It balances Big Brave‘s explosive heaviness and fragile minimalism. It’s a searing composition of hypnotic tribal rock.

While Holding Pattern is the album’s high point, Body Individual is certainly the centre piece of the album. Ticking over the ten minute mark, it builds into a cacophony of bowel shuddering drone. If a meditative religious retreat for the metal community existed then this is the track to greet its guests.

A Gaze Among Them is fuelled with down-tuned guitars that throb and swell with a dynamic intensity, drenching listeners with bruising waves of feedback.

It’s a sonic storm of nuclear proportions conceived from carefully sculptured repetition and tear jerking tones. It’s a pure cathartic experience. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Big Brave


42. Be Forest: Knocturne
WWNBB Collective

Drifting into a dark abyss has seldom sounded so beguiling. Knocturne, the third album from Italian dream-pop shoegaze trio Be Forest, is a mesmerising trip – expansive, atmospheric tracks that always sound slightly beyond reach, moving away into the dimness.

A ‘nocturne’ is a piece of night music, to listen to reflectively when the light fades from the world – adding a ‘K’ suggests an added dimension of ‘knowledge’, though the kind of understanding that Knocturnes evokes is impressionistic and slightly disturbing – like the landscapes of the subconscious.

The cover, white hands belonging to unseen figures opening black velvet curtains to reveal pitch blackness, sets the tone for a gothic, ambivalent experience. It’s alluring but there is danger here too. Atto 1 ushers us in with jangling, echoing guitars over insistent drums.

Through tracks like Empty Space and Gemini the listener experiences a sense of stateless wandering through a world of uncertain memories and fleeting images. Sometimes, as on K (that letter again) there’s a sense of slight delirium.

Tracks like Bengala are insistently tuneful, layered to the point of being cocooned in their own sound – pop songs turned inside out to reveal ambiguous yearnings.

Vocals by Erica Terenzi and Costanza Delle Rose are mixed down to ghost-face-glimpsed-in-the-trees level, the voice used as another element in the soundscape, like an instrument. If there is a lead, expressive element it’s percussion, looping beats that drive the melancholy journeys.

The half-hour album closes before you know it with tender, distant ballad You, Nothing, a soft blitz falling away over the event horizon.

An album to get lost in. – Roy Bayfield

Getintothis on Be Forest


41. Julia Jacklin: Crushing
Transgressive

Julia Jacklin’s second album Crushing, was written over the two years following her debut album Don’t Let the Kids Win, primarily drawing inspiration from the ending of a romantic relationship.

But rather than becoming overly personal and literal, Crushing draws upon the experience to narrate to the listener certain universalities that we have all at some point experienced when losing love.

Whether that’s lamenting love that has already been lost (Turn Me Down), worrying about love that is in the process of being lost (Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You), or the head-scratching and soul-searching involved when one tries figure out what to do afterwards, not only with the pieces of a broken heart (Head Alone, When the Family Flies In) but also with the remaining residues of guilt (“You can’t be the one to hold him when you were the one who left” she sings on Comfort)”, it’s all here.

Musically, the instrumentation is for the main part subtle and on the right side of country (think Neil Young or Neko Case), with the occasional break-out; although it might be lazy to draw comparisons with Courtney Barnett, the fuzz and abandon of Pressure to Party and You Were Right do share similarities to her fellow antipodean.

The main attractions here however are Julia’s voice and lyrics, at points displaying a vulnerability and fragility. Good Guy finds a near-broken Julia pleading “tell me I’m the love of your life, just for a night… even if you don’t mean it”.

There is a temptation to write about Crushing through the lens of a female empowerment perspective; yet, writing as a male, that would be, by its very nature not only patronising, but entirely missing the point.

Falling into the wearily outdated trap of ‘mansplaining’ the content of the album (“what you should all be finding in this is the growth, not only of the artist, but the woman… here, let me show you how I know that…”) would be a disservice to not only you as a reader, but to Jacklin herself.

Although, there are themes of Julia the individual trying to find her way back to normality after heartbreak and commentary on the experience of being female in the midst of this (“I don’t want to be touched all the time, I raised my body up to be mine…”), making that the focal point of the album would be wrong.

Rather, like Beck did with Sea Change and Joni Mitchell did with Blue, Julia Jacklin here has perfectly summed up the confusion, the mess, the anguish and the recovery involved in a break-up, so we don’t have to, and frankly, we should all thank her. – Matthew Loughlin

Getintothis on Julia Jacklin

These New Puritans: Inside The Rose, performing in art galleries and Soviet-era Berlin


40. 10 000 Russos: Kompromat
Fuzz Club Records

Portugal’s psychedelic behemoth 10 000 Russos are back with their latest album, Kompromat.

Having seen them tear up Phase One at the beginning of November there’s no let up on record, either.

Throughout Kompromat as the dry ice kicks in it gets slower, darker, both in terms of the bass and the visibility, it slows, to a terrible march almost, it becomes something foreboding, like something hideous is about to happen to your favourite leading lady that may or may not involve aliens or zombies creeping out of the darkness.

The change in tone is gradual, the change in tempo is almost hard to pin down, but it’s these two elements that drag you along.

The bass has a brutality that is hard to describe in mere words, there are points where it’s almost demonic, terrorising your senses and punishing you for past transgressions.

But it’s the drums that push the insanity along its terrible path, they’re relentless, like someone has tied your head to a kango hammer as they dismantle the flyover on Dale Street at three in the morning.

The vocal sounds like some drunken, demented heathen preacher, screaming vain repetitions through a loud hailer in a dark warehouse in Area 51; tied with the bass it’s probably this that gives 10,000 Russos this space-age, horsemen of the apocalypse, demonic vibe. – Chris Flack

Getintothis on 10 000 Russos


39. Snapped Ankles: Stunning Luxury
The Leaf Label

Logs mounted on mike stands and attached to synthesises which are responsible for a lot of the bloops and screeches that add rhythmic flourishes to their tunes. This is Snapped Ankles and it continues on their latest album, Stunning Luxury – a record very much concerned with these themes of gentrification and the closure of cultural spaces.

What they lack in killer choruses and deadly hooks they make up for in weird, improvisational intensity. Comparisons have been made with LCD Soundsystem and Can, but the act that really springs to mind is Lightning Bolt. Everything is ramshackle and on the edge of collapse, homemade and ragged. Finesse has been sacrificed on the altar of energy, and it’s through this that the band have made their name.

There is something quite Radagasty about the whole thing, like a troop of morris dancers have taken a wrong turn and been stranded in the woods, surviving on psychotropic mushrooms and growing moss on their backs until the eventual discovery of their semi-feral souls by an outing of startled boy-scouts five months later.

Album highlight Tailpipe is powerful and propulsive, setting off all the car alarms down the street as it barrels along, all drum-rolls and screeches and sirens.

Drink and Glide is as close as Snapped Ankles gets to anthemics, with its building, stuttering outro and odd, arching synth-lines. Pestisound (Moving Out) is a spooky, furtive, marching-band call to arms; a Foxtons estate agent’s worst nightmare.

There aren’t many bands better suited to usher in this new era of carnival chaos, one in keeping with the ethos of that bastion of outsider spirit obstinately plugging away. – Matthew Eland

Getintothis on Snapped Ankles


38. W.H. Lung: Incidental Music
Melodic Records

W.H. Lung arrived with no small amount of word-of-mouth buzz. The band only formed in 2016, and by 2017 already had major festival bookings off the strength of first single Inspiration!/Nothing Is.

They were still mainly a studio concern at this point; the group returned to the practise rooms to bulk out their set. Two years on and the result is Incidental Music.

A lot of the early buzz around this band revolved around how they were exactly what some wanted to hear, at this exact point in time. Indeed, songs like Nothing Is seem very much of the zeitgeist. In the same way that krautrock in the late sixties was a rejection of that era’s previous generation, a look forward to a cleaner, more progressive age, there’s something quite millennial-utopian and optimistic about this group’s work. Expansive and unsullied.

They’re also very much a Manchester band: cerebral and bookish in the same way as The Smiths and New Order, with a slight Ian Brown swagger. A noted tenant of their mission statement has been their wish to close the gaps between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture; to contrast the austere sparseness of W.H. Auden with the fact that they’re actually named after a cash-and-carry.

Bring It Up – a song about having a panic attack, and then panicking about it – is another highlight, with an LCD Soundsystem-style vocal yelp. It also harks back to this millennian-utopian idea; confronting the age of anxiety with clear thinking and optimistic, expansive music.

In many ways it’s hard to see how W.H. Lung grew out of a recording project: the sound they produce and how it’s been composed suggests hours of diligent work in the practice room. – Matthew Eland

Getintothis on WH Lung


37. Petbrick: I
Rocket Recordings

They’re called Petbrick. They are Sepultura‘s Iggor Cavalera and Wayne Adams of Big Lad.

They have tracks called Radiation Facial and Jesus Dropkick. And they’re on Rocket Recordings.

What were you expecting, ballads?

Petbrick‘s opening outing is exactly what you’d expect – 10 tracks and 39 minutes of unremitting brutality.

But there’s nothing tossed off, or throwaway here, instead I delivers with gut-wrenching ferocity yet underpins the noise with ridiculous grooves and, dare we say it, a healthy dose of melodic pop.

Sure, it’s the filthy kind of gunk you’d find at the bottom of kitchen bin but check the frenetic machine-gun beat down of Gringolicker, the blitzkrieg distorted synth riot of Some Semblance of a Story or the face-melting industrial death disco of Guacamole Handshake.

These are tracks tailor-made to put a strut in your step or punish the senses in some sweat-stained dive bar. Crank up, punch the sky, and enjoy. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Petbrick


36. Lingua Ignota: CALIGULA
Profound Lore

“If you rise up to heaven/I’ll turn the sun to blind you/If you sleep deep in hell/I have chains to bind you.”

Perhaps the passage from Do You Doubt Me Traitor encapsulates the themes that comprise CALIGULA. The second full-length release from Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota).

Hayter has released the most unsettling piece of music this year in CALIGULA. A cruel marriage of piercing operatic noise tip-toeing on the fault lines of progressive metal.

Thematically, Hayter tackles of the roaring flames of violent power struggles, misogyny, domestic abuse, love and vengeance to produce one of the most cathartic listening experiences not only this year but from this decade, too.

Core-shuddering drone, shards of strings and rapturous piano crash through walls as Hayter delivers these 11 songs with a hollow-eyed malevolence. Classically trained, Hayter‘s operatic-like performance is outright fearless, striking you time and time again in the solar-plexus.

It’s hard to pinpoint any one song, for each composition bleeds into the next. Although taxing for the listener, to capture its full effect, CALIGULA needs to be consumed from front to back.

It’s the most relentless and boundary breaking album released in 2019 and if you can listen to CALIGULA without completely shuddering with dread, then you’re probably dead inside. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Lingua Ignota


35. Tool: Fear Inoculum
Volcano

There were numerous reported reasons for the 13-year wait between 10,000 Days and Fear Inoculum. Lengthy legal disputes, scooter accidents, outside projects and the band’s notoriously drawn-out and perfectionist approach to the writing process. It was even mooted at one point in the creative process whether the album was destined to be just one long song. As 10,000 Days runs for the maximum CD time of 80 minutes it would be fair to say that this may have pushed even the band’s most loyal of fans over the precipice.

Was it all worth it? Well, it has moments. It’s certainly an album with both feet firmly in the outliers of what can be considered metal. Fear Inoculum feels as alternative and progressive – even psychedelic – as anything they have ever produced. It has an epic, sprawling and cinematic quality that requires patience and multiple listens to fully appreciate.

There’s no doubt Maynard James Keenan‘s emotive vocals are as strong as ever. We can also hear the influence of his other project A Perfect Circle to the softer melodies and vocal sound in general, which stands to reason as Maynard’s involvement with APC must have influenced his vocal development more than Tool in those wilderness years.

What the album does lack is immediacy or the obvious hooky moments that could still snag you in on their previous albums. Whatever you can criticise the album for being – or not being – it must be noted the musicianship is as creative and impressive as ever. – Lee Grimsditch

Getintothis on Tool


34. Pelican: Nighttime Stories
Southern Lord

The pioneers of B-flat tuning, Pelican, return with their first long-player in six years, Nighttime Stories.

The follow-up to the very underrated Forever Becoming, Nighttime Stories was inspired by the sudden passing of Tusk frontman, Jody Minnoch – a band Pelican guitarist Trevor Shelley de Brauw and former Pelican member Laurent Lebec were both a part of.

Nighttime Stories unravels with death being its central theme. Guitarist Dallas Thomas‘ father also passed during the recording of this album and the frayed acoustic drone of opening track, W.S.T. pays him tribute.

Following the gentle meanderings of W.S.T., things become heated. Midnight & Mescaline sounds like rubber-on-asphalt highway metal.

Abyssal Plain is a ferocious collision of psychedelic sludge rock and pure post-metal while Cold Hope and the album’s title track brim with face burning chords that could only have been conceived from the bottom of a swamp.

You won’t hear a better representation of sludge metal all year with Cold Hope in particular.

If Cold Hope wasn’t enough to sit listeners on their backsides, then the vise crushing cauldron of noise during Arteries of Blacktop certainly will.

It just about feels like vintage Pelican, however the closing track, Full Moon, Black Water, is probably closer to that very mark, containing an eye-watering groove that forms the track’s spine.

It’s a number that could have easily nestled into Pelican‘s world circa The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. It’s an unmistakable roaring hell-fire of sonic glory.

While the sounds of dark psychedelic undercurrents are prevalent throughout Nighttime Stories, its essence still holds that signature Pelican sound.

Arguably the greatest triumph is located behind the drum kit in Larry Herweg.

Sharply critiqued in the past (see City of Echoes), Herweg delivers his greatest performance on Nighttime Stories, riding the skins in machine-like fashion, underpinning Pelican‘s overall aesthetic.

Nighttime Stories holds a similar aroma to 2009’s What We All Come to Need. Even the artwork between the two albums holds a striking similarity with hazy post-apocalyptic reds and blacks dominating the canvass.

With Nighttime Stories though, you get the sense that there’s more of an emotional framework. The B-flat tunings still shudder bones and tickle rib-cages, but the aggression here seems more focused and less haphazard. There’s a new found maturity at play here.

Pelican have always been immune from producing substandard music and with Nighttime Stories that notion still remains.

Here, they sound as majestic and dangerous as ever. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Pelican


33. Will Burns & Hannah Peel: Chalk Hill Blue
Rivertones

There are some things that you never want to end.

Like reading a great book or watching a particularly special film, you hit a point of sadness when it’s over. When the last page is turned and you put the book back on the shelf or when the end credits roll. You know it’s over and real life intrudes.

That moment, those accumulated and aggregated moments where you’ve lost yourself, when you’re enmeshed in it all to the exclusion of everything else has gone. You want to start all over again. You want to read those words for the first time or watch those flickering images with a sense of the new and unexpected. But it never can be the same. Not again.

But sometimes-just sometimes- very rarely it should be said, those moments don’t fade. You can go through things again with a sense of the new, a sense of exploration and wonder. Those moments do not fade or become old and tired.

That’s how it is with this new album by Will Burns and Hannah Peel.

Burns and Peel had met in 2016 following the release of Peel‘s’ Awake But Always Dreaming album due to their shared experiences in their respective works of memory loss, family life and dementia .

In summer 2018 this collaborative work came into being in producer Erland Cooper’s studio. Burns with softly-spoken yet carefully chosen and selected words and Peel running analog and digital synths and drum machines underneath it. No, underneath is the wrong word. Beside it would be more appropriate.

This is not poetry set to music nor is it music with poetry providing a background. This is something that works together so well, this is something that’s finely balanced, perfectly balanced.

And put your misconceptions to one side. Any misconceptions about poetry. This is tough stuff.

Chalk Hill Blue is not only the title of the album but also the name of an iridescent blue-grey butterfly which lives on the chalk heaths of Buckinghamshire where Burns lives and works.

The album came about after hours of Peel and Burns walking those dusty summer hills. Burns evokes something deeper than a simple rural idyll, deeper than looking beyond the landscapes of golf courses, four-wheel drive cars and golf courses to find a past that maybe was never there.

These are words that look to the future as well, using those landscapes to discard sentimentality and to tell stories and tales you want to explore more deeply, where you want to know what has been going on. Stray fragments and glimpses of memories, not only of Burns’ but of your own. Of your own past and your own memories. There’s a resonance brought forth with those words. And that music.

This is where Chalk Hill Blue works so well. It’s the ebb and flow not only of the words but of Peel’s music. It would be too easy and simplistic to say that the music complements the words. It does so much more than that.

On Spring Dawn on Mad Mile for instance, Peel’s swirling synths fade into gentle single piano notes and you’re transported to those early mornings when, as Burns states; ‘there is no weather yet to define the day in those terms.’

In The Night Life, quite unexpectedly for what will no doubt be (incorrectly) called a pastoral record, Peel’s loops and synth percussion echoes ghosts of early Cabaret Voltaire, all disconcerting swoops and jarring rhythms as Burns relates a tale of early divorce, regret and drink. His words end moments into this track but somehow manage to linger through Peel’s use of music.

Afterwards speaks of change and loss and absence, of half-memories, of what was real and what was tangible and what jars and tugs and pulls. Summer Blues, well Summer Blues is just incredible. As is the rest of this album.

I know we’re barely a few months into 2019, but Chalk Hill Blue is already the album of the year. Not only this year, but every year from here on in. It truly is something remarkable and I strongly urge you to listen to it. Over and over again. – Rick Leach

Getintothis on Will Burns and Hannah Peel


32. These New Puritans: Inside the Rose
Infectious Records

These New Puritans kicked up a storm upon formation in 2005. The two-piece has eschewed musical categorisation over the years, instead approaching songwriting from the stance of sonic innovators.

The fraternal two-piece’s latest effort, Inside the Rose, definitely continues this lineage, yet takes a tangent into a more commercial realm – something the band has actively (or perhaps subconsciously?) avoided since setting up shop in the 00s.

In an interview with Getintothis published in April , songwriter Jack Barnett professed that, historically, the group follows its instincts and the people they want to work with.

He also described the album as about ‘letting someone or something completely consume you and change you; about searching for things beyond your normality.’

Perhaps letting those the band has taken this journey with leave a lasting impression has shaped the end result we hear today. The album takes a romantic stance, such as Where The Trees Are On Fire and Anti-Gravity, dealing with change and the ominous ‘next step’ in life.

Take this commercial ‘approach’ with a pinch of salt, though; Inside The Rose is full of smoke and mirrors in the form of diversional soundscapes that play tricks with the mind throughout.

Infinity Vibraphones leads with mesmerising chimes from the instrument of the same name, later giving way to choral and piano-led sections.

Meanwhile, Beyond Black Suns features smashing glass, dark electronic drum beats and sampled vocals – a weird, yet truly wonderful soundscape knitted together by a repeated statement: ‘this is not yesterday‘.

Lead single Where The Trees Are On Fire is perhaps the biggest curveball of them all: a jazzy brass section lays the foundations for George Barnett revealing his woes for environmental destruction: ‘This is where the trees are on fire,’ where ‘blood runs cold’ and ‘dreams come true‘ – but also ‘nightmares too.’

Dig in for a moment of reflection, with a varied soundscape to accompany ever-shifting thoughts. – Luke Halls

Getintothis on These New Puritans


31. Oh Sees: Face Stabber
Castle Face

22 years, 22 albums, 14 members and 7 names – Oh Sees have a long and prolific history filled with a combination of quality and quantity other bands can only dream of replicating.

Their music has always felt like a continual experiment to document a specific time and the sounds surrounding it, and Face Stabber is no different.

The nonsensicity of opening an album with a chorus of squeaky dog toys is perfect for the tumultuous state we find the world. And it’s one of the most creative ways we’ve seen to demand attention and questions from the listener in recent memory.

The Daily Heavy is the ultimate teaser as to whats instore. Clocking in at just under 8 minutes, the opener feels longwinded in the middle in particular. The band themselves describer it as “daily gluttonous consumption of information, misinformation and conjecture”.

The gluttony feels especially descriptive, this album is made for Oh Sees enthusiasts who until now have simply not gotten enough of their favourite garage rock outfit.

A theme for the record is that John Dwyer and co were not in the mood to kill their darlings. The whole album reaches 80 minutes, around 20-30 minutes longer than the other Oh Sees efforts, and much more than those under their other monikers, leading us to believe the cutting room floor didn’t need much of a sweep.

A quarter of the runtime admittedly is from the finale, Henchlock, which alone is 20 minutes of colliding instruments and genre-bending.

Henchlock is an instrumental we’d be very keen to see in the live arena, this is a marathon of a track which brings you into the studio. You’re left feeling like you’ve just experienced the creative process of Oh Sees – one they’ve mastered after making a full-time job out of what began as a side project.

As the third phase of the Oh Sees era, Face Stabber is the latest whats already been a heavier turn from the indie/alternative sound made by Thee Oh Sees.

Filled with more energy, it sometimes feel like its not been used as efficiently as possible. Perhaps, the album would be stronger if some of the breakdowns had been shortened or cut, delivering the highlights relentlessly without the loading screens.

One of the best things about being an Oh Sees fan is that no matter how you feel about each output, you never have to wait long for the next episode in one of rock’s longest series.

22 years, 22 albums, 14 members and 7 names – Oh Sees have a long and prolific history filled with a combination of quality and quantity other bands can only dream of replicating. – Nathan Scally

Getintothis on Oh Sees

Ride’s Andy Bell on Basquiat, mad super loud music and new album This Is Not A Safe Place


30. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
Polydor Records

People say the situation in which you first listen to an album can leave a lasting impression on what you think of it. For Michael Kiwanuka’s self-titled third album, I listened to it high in the clouds as I flew home from my holiday. It was an album that demanded my attention as the clear skies of the North Atlantic passed by below.

Kiwanuka is no stranger to me, I’ve followed him since his sublime debut record impressed crowds at Sound City 2012. Warm vocals with a retro soul feeling coming from a place of discovery and excellent songwriting.

As we took off as did the album. Track one You Ain’t The Problem comes in straight off the bat, funky as hell.

Brassy and fuzzed guitar lines are coupled with brash snares and a smooth entrance from Kiwanuka’s voice. The 11:20 Easyjet flight from Iceland to Manchester quickly turned into a gritty NYC jazz club.

One thing that sticks out on every track is that the standard of instrumentation. Percussion is crisp, the basslines are groovy and roll on throughout the album, the bites of guitar drip and snap at tracks as the additional strings, brass and choirs just show that Kiwanuka threw it all into this album… and it is worth it!

The album excels in the use of preludes and introductions to set the pace of key tracks.

The first intro track for Piano Joint is compelling and mysterious and pulls you in straight away. Soft piano, softer vocals. Comparisons can be drawn to Marvin Gaye’s classic Inner City Blues.

Lyrically its a tale of isolation and feeling lost as “walking down the avenue, looking out for something new, the right time to give in, the right time to lose.”

Kiwanuka has exceptional lyrics and is an epic storyteller, its music that transforms you and takes you away. As the track continues rolling snares come in with the soft piano motifs as strings dance and sway around the melody.

The piano throughout the album almost acts as a second lot of vocals as the changes moods and can dictate emotion. Distorted radio clips from 1960s America where racism and the treatment of black people was atrocious begins the track Another Human Being. A solitary gunshot sets the tone.

Hero speaks strongly as it discusses the murder of 60s activist Fred Hampton alongside recent US police shootings of the modern-day singing: “To die a hero is all that we know now.” Fuzzed Hendrix-like guitars meet a warm voice akin to Bill Withers as the immense groove carries it through to rip-roaring distortion.

The pianos meet a rolling snare in Final Days as Kiwanuka lets them take the melody through regret and melancholy to waves of soaring strings and flowing basslines. Blending seamlessly into the final interlude of Loving The People the piano turns to synth as ghostly vocals inject themselves amongst pulsating fuzz.

The mysterious Solid Ground struck when my flight was amongst clouds in a haze of white 32,000 feet up. Kiwanuka talks about “hanging around on the edge of the world” as warm jazz organ begin to entwine themselves among the strings.

The final track Light is an exquisite exit to a thoroughly enjoyable album. Waves of strings flew amongst the clouds as my flight came back into land with harmonising choirs and snappy snare rim shots taking us home.

As with all good music, I don’t think the true impact and influence of Kiwanuka won’t be realised until next year. It is an album which people are going to adore more and more with every listen.

The honesty and breadth of topics sung within the album separates it massively from its current counterparts. Kiwanuka is an immense talent talking with great ability about not just love but isolation, rejection, racism, confusion and the deeper meanings of the everyday

An album release in late November changes the first situations in which people enjoy the album. This is an album to walk home with facing cold crisp winds, an album to travel within the dark nights, and one to soak up the bright city lights with.

Kiwanuka is an escapism soul classic. Think What’s Going On but for the Uber generation. – Will Whitby

Getintothis on Michael Kiwanuka


29. Julie’s Haircut: In The Silence Electric
Rocket Recordings

Italian collective Julie’s Haircut burst on to our stereo more than two years ago with Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin, their seventh album and first for Rocket Recordings.

A slow-burning, yet explosive package there was much decipher with the labyrinthine layers of chaotic Krautrock, jazzy time signatures and volcanic Stooges-aping riffage.

Such is their musical scope, it is hardly a surprise they’ve remained largely off many people’s radars yet their set at the 2017 edition of Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia cemented them, for this writer, in the top tier of Europe’s most innovative bands.

What marks them out from their contemporaries is they manage to hone their sound – rarely making noise for noise sake – and imbue their music with oodles of melody and enough saxophone freak-outs when necessary.

On their second album for Rocket Recordings, In The Silence Electric, they’ve further fine-tuned their delivery making their most accessible racket yet while never diluting the finished results.

Until The Lights Go Out exemplifies their magnificence – a malevolent tribal chugging march made for the live arena complete with free-wheeling cop show brass.

The highlights are considerable – Darling’s Of The Sun drips with magnetic seduction, Sorcerer oozes a glistening Suicide-inspired fuzz and Emerald Kiss is a widescreen droning stomp.

Elsewhere there’s blissed out sonic hypnotism that will delight Spiritualized fans with Lord Help Me Find A Way and In Return dialling in mystical tripped out psychosis.

While In The Silence Electric turns down the experimental assault often delivered on Invocation And Ritual Dance Of My Demon Twin, it delivers in a more rounded and perhaps more accessible album.

Let’s hope this results in more listeners because we can’t shout any louder about this truly electric band. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Julie’s Haircut


28. Kim Gordon: No Home Record
Matador

No Home Record, Kim Gordon’s first proper solo album, is thrilling, exploratory and grounded in the mundane all at the same time.

An iconic creator with a four-decade history of work in avant-garde art and music, Gordon is an artist at the edges of things – whose work creates new focal points, draws new maps and spins out constellations of wonky provocative meaning.

No Home Record certainly has moments reminiscent of earlier work including all those Sonic Youth years, but it totally creates its own territory – fresh and powerful, a fine place to start even if you have no interest in the backstory.

Opening with the sound of strangely yearning strings, Sketch Artist sets the agenda for the album – the way the often-minimal words and soundscapes conjure images, moods and thoughts, like lines of rapid drawing appearing on a page.

Air BnB is an anthem to the everyday phenomenon of “superhosted” urban living and the freedoms it creates. Paprika Pony’s sinister electronica leads into the fuzzy, howling blitz of Murdered Out, Gordon’s howling vocals sounding desperate and driven.

Don’t Play It is angsty underwater industrial, with echo-extended vocal yelps that sound like samples of Alan Vega at his most demented.

The lyric “You can pee in the ocean, it’s free” randomly calls to mind Patti Smith’s Pissing in a River… It would be possible to find sensible reasons to compare the two as outstanding female poet/musicians, but whereas Smith’s poetry is that of a romantic mystic activist, Gordon’s use of language is more experimental and playfully evocative, pointing to elusive personal meanings and undefined spaces.

Cookie Butter has a weird bounce and list-poem spoken-word vocals over urgent percussion driving into deep grinding machine-music.

Things get slightly rocky again with Hungry Baby that hurtles headlong and screeching on a rockabilly bassline.

Earthquake is an elliptical noir love song stretched over dusty guitar work – “I’ve got sand in my heart for you” a typically ambiguous and chilling lyric.

The album finishes with Get Yr Life Back whispering to a darkly scintillating close.

An absorbing listen from a major artist. – Roy Bayfield

Getintothis on Kim Gordon


27. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
Drag City

While it’s perhaps easier to reflect an artist’s recent work post-human, David Berman‘s Purple Mountains is an album that I’ll remember where I was at the first time of listening, which is the perfect indication of an album’s high stature.

The brooding ache of Darkness and Cold, the lonely meander that is Snow Is Falling in Manhattan, the stark reality of the modern day highlighted in Margaritas at the Mall, the honestly beautiful I Loved Being My Mother’s Son.

Then there’s Nights That Won’t Happen. One of the most jarring pieces of music I’ve ever held an ear to.

Like with certain passages in books, sometimes you feel specific words were exclusively written for you and with Nights That Won’t Happen, it felt like Berman was speaking directly to me. The most cutting passage and arguably some of the finest words Berman had written:

“The dead know what they’re doing when they leave this world behind
When the here and the hereafter momentarily align
See the need to speed into the lead suddenly declined
The dead know what they’re doing when they leave this world behind

And as much as we might like to seize the reel and hit rewind
Or quicken our pursuit of what we’re guaranteed to find
When the dying’s finally done and the suffering subsides
All the suffering gets done by the ones we leave behind”

Nights That Won’t Happen feels like it has a totally different meaning, almost as if Berman was writing his own eulogy and it’s not the only moment throughout Purple Mountains with that similar thread.

The magic throughout these songs doesn’t feel like receding anytime soon and while Purple Mountains is harder to engage with now that David Berman has left this world, hopefully many will see these tracks as a final celebration of what he has given us as an artist.

It would be foolish to call Purple Mountains Berman‘s best ever work – only more time in its company will prove that or not. What Purple Mountains did, however, was re-establish Berman as one of the great modern day storytellers and tale spinners, it also reinforced how much his music will be missed. Rest In Peace, gentle soul. Rest In Peace. Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Purple Mountains


26. Sleaford Mods: Eton Alive
Extreme Eating Records

With Eton Alive, Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn return with what many believe is their most focused effort yet.

When people say it’s Sleaford Mods most focused album it seems like a code for less shouty and the receding amount of profanity leaving Williamson‘s usual potty mouth.

Still, like always, Sleaford Mods are still well ahead of the curve from most and Eton Alive is a fine addition to their already explosive cannon of work that, for this writer, is the finest produced from these climes in the last ten years (yes, I had little say in our albums of the decade).

There is more of a social conscious narrative which fills Eton Alive. Perhaps Williamson‘s most important message here is within Discourse Dif where he sings (yes sings), “we never touch the real feeling just the empty discourse”.

There’s still hilarious moments, expertly pulling the piss out of hispters and vapes (Into the Payzone), the safety of picking up a certain shade of dog shit (Policy Cream) and suggesting that Graham Coxon looks like a left wing Boris Johnson (Flipside). 

Hilarity aside, it’s tracks like Firewall, Top It Up and Discourse that are the indicative moments on Eton Alive, demonstrating a new dimension to ‘Mods. Once again, Williamson shows his contemporaries just how to stay pertinent, with cutting forward-thinking diatribes many of these landfill post-punk acts could only dream of writing. Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Sleaford Mods


25. The Comet Is Coming: Trust In The Lifeforce Off The Deep Mystery
Impulse!

The Comet is Coming are back with their follow up from 2106’s Mercury Prize shortlisted Channel the Spirits. Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is the work of the London based three-piece comprised of saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, keys and synth Dan Leavers, and drummer Max Hallett.

Personally it’s been eagerly anticipated.

The first release from the album Summon The Fire has blown ears away with its pulsating, chaos charged electronics and psychedelic jazz sax that leaves you dazed from a light speed trip through hyperspace.

This psychedelic jazz collection is wide left field, with crashing synths over unorthodox sci-fi loops. The cosmic exploration is nourishment for the soul, drawing enrichment from the likes Fela Kuti, Sun Ra and John Coltrane, it’s testimony is undoubtedly of the now.

The music is profound of an age where mass political enragement in rife, an oppressed culture screams loudly and defiance is deafening.

Delve into this album for a journey of provoking thoughts and an atmospheric fizz as you teleport along a track-to-track timeline.

Listening to the albums opener, Because The End Is Really The Beginning I felt as though I was immersed in the rising haze of a new world amongst the intro.

The gaps between the crashing drums adds suspense as Shabaka Hutchings’ slow melody pushes you into the unknown.

Birth Of Creation brings you further into this world as it develops with more sinister layers. Then into Summon The Fire which leaves you at the point of no return.

With your back against the wall and ears tuned in Blood Of The Past ft. Kate Tempest is delivered with a powerful poem from the mouths of those who have suffered in conflict, to those who live a selfish life where these spoken events are disregarded and seen as untrue.

Leaving what feels like days just passed the record ventures on.

Super Zodiac and Astral Flying blend into each other and it’s hard to be descript here, as who knows about what lies ahead on this timeline but with track names like that your thoughts turn to space and discovery beyond our present knowledge.

Timewave Zero has a tribal/carnival drum beat which lays the foundation for a saxophone showcase which eclipses to a momentary climax.

Feeling that you’re now on the other side of this journey Unity brings a smooth, dreamy, peaceful mood.

Again with tribal-like drums, there is no sense of distress in this track which can be identified in those previous. It really is a beautiful and relaxing piece that to me, resembles hope for togetherness in the times ahead.

The albums closer The Universe Wakes Up, is a new dawn with a sax intro that I’d listen to every morning with rising sun if I could. It’s a warming track which grows into a meditation before

Shabaka sends you off back to your affairs, leaving you more in touch with what else there is outside your own little world.

One conclusion to come from listening to this album is that it’s not experimental nor progressive, this is the truest form of modern jazz.

While Hutchings with Sons of Kemet threw down the gauntlet with last year’s Your Queen Is a Reptile, he has now picked it back up to define the genre into a wholly new generation. – Harry Rigby/Kev Barrett

Getintothis on The Comet Is Coming


24. Big Thief: U.F.O.F.
4AD

With the benefit of hindsight, Adrianne Lenker‘s 2018 debut solo album, Abysskiss, seemed like a gateway for Big Thief‘s much talked about third album, U.F.O.F.

While Big Thief’s previous two records, Masterpiece and Capacity, contained some downright gut-wrenching moments and are fine records in their own respective rights, on U.F.O.F. Lenker has bottled-up this tender magic and delivered Big Thief’s finest work yet.

U.F.O.F. is an album that unravels slowly, rewarding its listener for long periods of time spent in its company. Often these are the best records and U.F.O.F. certainly fits the bill.

Buck Meek‘s guitars spit and crackle throughout (Contact, Jenni) while the dreamy soundscapes and charming ambiance (Open Desert, Strange, Terminal) are a welcomed additions to the Big Thief cannon.

These adjustments of Big Thief’s sonic template work beautifully with Lenker‘s mesmerising storytelling abilities.

Whilst Big Thief‘s approach could be defined as being slightly more jarring in a sonic sense, the album’s title track, the spellbinding Cattails and the achingly beautiful Orange still have remnants of Big Thief’s simplistic approach that are aligned with Masterpiece and Capacity.

Holistically, however, U.F.O.F. feels refined and perfectly balanced.

In some ways Big Thief could prove to be their own worst enemy with U.F.O.F.

It’s a big record that launches them into a new stratosphere which risks alienating some listeners. Having witnessed their set at Primavera earlier this year, they occupy a space somewhere between the big stages of modern day pop stardom and coy indie intimacy.

However, you can’t deny U.F.O.F.’s quality and with it, Lenker has undoubtedly arrived as one of the most exciting modern day songwriters. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Big Thief


23. Modern Nature: How To Live
Bella Union

When Ultimate Painting abruptly called an end to their tenure, it left many people scratching their heads.

Jack Cooper took no time in assembling a new project and while releasing his solo LP, Sandgrown back in 2017, Modern Nature seems to be his new focal point.

Joined by Will Young of BEAK> on synths/keys, Jeff Tobias of Sunwatchers on saxophone, and Aaron Nevue of Woods, Modern Nature released their debut album, How To Live, through Bella Union.

How To Live is a tough listen to penetrate. You have to be in a certain time and place to properly digest this set of tracks which has been described as “contemporary wind chamber music”. Hmm. Okay…

The intangible sprawl of Nightmares, the downright gorgeous album highlight in Peradam, Oracle and Devotee, all feel aligned to a soundtrack for someone walking up to the path leading to the gates of heaven. There’s an unsettling finality to these tracks, which feel as if they’ve been placed at the back end of the album for a reason.

With the back end of the album feeling totally contrasting to its beginning, Modern Nature are certainly one of a kind, producing an off-kilter cinematic ambience that quite frankly, I’ve still not entirely worked out. A blissed out journey to endure in the clouds. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Modern Nature


22. Deadbeat and Camara: Trinity Thirty
Constellation Records

There’s a moment after sunrise that this writer has taken to running. It’s a beautiful feeling hearing little but the waking of birdsong and the low rumble of a town switching gear.

This calm is echoed in another sensory experience we’ve taken to during the last few months, the new album by Berlin-based producers Scott Monteith (Deadbeat) and Fatima Camara – a record which mirrors the soothing rush of running alone with little distraction but your own thoughts. It has been our comfort blanket both during early mornings and deep into the night.

The backstory is simple: a thirty year anniversary tribute to The Cowboy Junkies’ album The Trinity Session. Yet this writer hadn’t heard the original (considered an unlikely classic in many quarters) – and so unfolded a listen which rather than come at it with comparisons, we felt entirely fresh and unprepared.

And what a listen. The duo fuse somnambulant drones with subtle yet profoundly deep electric pulses paired to the duo’s melancholic harmonies.

The results are quasi-religious cowboy gospel love songs which are quite magnificent. Much of the beauty is found in the cracks, spaces and silence but every so often a peak will occur which is both disarming and highly arresting.

Take the vocal refrains which pierce through the gurgling backbeat of Blue Moon, the sitar-like drone in Working On A Building or the minimal dub stomp of I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry which threatens to dissolve into dirt at any point before ghostly church organs phantom their way through the mix.

Much like Grouper, Low or passages of Julia Holter, Trinity Thirty is not an easy listen – especially given the profound quiet that shimmers throughout – for this is a record to bask in and let it ease its way into your psyche.

However, where it differs from those mentioned above, is in its rich warmth – despite the often bleak subject matter – these are songs bathed in an iridescent glow and spine tingling aural hug. None more so than when vocalist Caoimhe McAlister joins the woozy party on the languid waltz of 200 More Miles which is simply stunning.

The only misstep is the closing Sweet Jane which can’t help feel like a lumpy pastiche of the original, however, this is a minor point on an album dripping with so much soul and evocative emotion it’s barely shifted from the jukebox. We should really listen to the original. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Deadbeat and Camara


21. Hatchie: Keepsake
Heavenly Recordings

After a string of singles (Without A Blush, Stay With Me and Obsessed) now comes the full hit from Brisbane’s Harriette Pilbeam aka Hatchie.

You may have heard a track or two shimmering across the airwaves over the last few months- this is the sound of summer in a speaker.

This is shoegaze indie-pop or as it’s more commonly filed these days, dreampop. Brimming over with flawless melodies and luscious synth-layers the hooks themselves brand it firmly in a style that’s not short of peers these days.

Saying that, these tracks are a pure slice of radio-friendly pleasure-pop.

Twinkly layered guitars and washed out reverbed vocals make it one of the finest revisits of 90’s jangly pop. All neatly placed over the white-noise hum and propelling rhythms.

Even with the sweetness strong enough to dissolve your molars there’s a fair whack of emotionally-tangled terrain covered here. On lead single Without A Blush jagged guitar riffs and woozy rhythms meet in a sprawling piece of industrial-pop with Hatchie’s airy voice channelling loss and longing, regret and self-doubt.

One of the albums highlights When I Get Out is psychedelic pop perfection. With harmonies abound, chiming guitars and Marr inspired riffs.

Those of us luckily enough to catch her at Primavera this year will already know the live experience is where these tracks soar. Don’t worry if you missed the brief UK tour in June.

No doubt you’ll be seeing more of Hatchie over the forthcoming months- ready for every prime time TV show with a token ‘music slot’ at the end. – Howard Doupé

Getintothis on Hatchie

Bill Callahan and Smog – A Buyer’s Guide: I have learned, when things are beautiful, to just keep on


20. Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
Drag City

‘Personal’ albums can walk a tightrope.

‘Confessional’ or ‘break-up’ albums can either be fascinating glimpse into the psyche of a tortured artist that touches upon universal themes we can all relate to, or they can end up a bit too close to the bone, with us listeners left feeling maybe some of this stuff is best left for the therapy room or the pub with pals.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is a line that is even trickier to walk; the ‘I got happy’ album. It is a rare thing to master and more often than not, they end up rather saccharine, overly sentimental and –worst of all – dull.

It takes a skilled craftsman to avoid falling into this ditch; someone like Bill Callahan.

His first album in six years, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest, sees him detail, in typical part-cryptic, part-disarmingly-blunt style, the birth of his son and marriage to filmmaker Hanly Banks.

It would probably be safe to say few saw this coming, least of all Callahan himself – who muses at one point “I never thought I’d make it this far/ little old house, recent-model car/ and I got the woman of my dreams” and the wonder at a new life opening up to him is tangible throughout.

747 for instance finds Bill on a plane, high above the clouds, rhetorically asking his new-born son if “this is the light you saw” right before he was thrust into the world, while Watch Me Get Married contains the gleeful line “let’s spend a light year together, oh I know it’s a distance”.

Songs like Writing and Call Me Anything also find Callahan falling back in love with his art again – “it sure feels good to be writing again” he reveals on the former.

In lesser hands, lines such as “I got married… to my wife… she’s lovely” would rightly be disregarded as utter tripe, yet in the hands of Callahan, it is a heart-warming, semi-humourous gem of a line that sits comfortably within this sprawling double album.

It would be wrong to write this album off as being consistently as simple as this however, as another theme permeates throughout, namely the death of Callahan’s mother.

Yet, rather than let this dominate the psyche and allow Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest to become a grief-focused album (a la Panda Bear’s Young Prayer), this event is set within the context of the flow of life with lines such as “death is beautiful, we say goodbye to many friends who have no equal”.

Songs such as Circles and When We Let Go are wonderful reflections and ponderings on the mysteries of life, death and rebirth; it’s stunning.

Stylistically, things are much more bare-boned than recent offerings.

At 20 songs and reduced to mainly acoustic instruments with only hints of the chaos and ethereal ambience of Apocalypse and Dream River, some songs do inevitably pass by or bleed into another, but such is the focus of Callahan as an artist – this is an album that will clearly give back as much as the listener puts in and promises to be one we can cherish throughout life – and death. – Matty Loughlin

Getintothis on Bill Callahan

 


19. Fennesz: Agora
Touch

Notwithstanding the excellent 2014 release Becs, Christian Fennesz has since collaborated with King Midas Sound (2015’s Edition 1) and Jim O’Rourke (2016’s It’s Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry) – both with the desired effect.

However, where the Austrian composer flourishes, is when he works within his own confines and with his latest release, Agora, Fennesz has reached new heights.

Agora is album that doffs the cap to glam luminaries of the ’70s and ’80s. On the surface it may not appear this way, however this is undoubtedly the quintessential Fennesz pop album, exploding with melody that transcends the customary multi-layers of drone and obligatory field recordings.

Opener In My Room brims with shining glacial soundscapes, pulsating with beats that build, unfolding and guiding us into a celestial alternative universe. It feels like a track to watch the sunrise to. When at the top of his game Fennesz has an uncanny knack to drag you through a distorted portal into his own world. It’s meditative music by default.

With the album’s title track, Fennesz cherry-picks his audience from land and drops us into the ether to occupy, float and consume. It’s equal parts serene and intense, illustrating Fennesz as the true romantic of ambient music of the last twenty years.

Album closer We Trigger the Sun is a stunning end in what may just be one of the finest compositions Fennesz has written. It feels like the track was written for a backing band, such as the weight and wholesomeness of sounds, which are a vapour trail of drone and ceaseless melody. It’s truly a defiant piece of work, honing in on Fennesz‘s quality to uplift his audience in true world-builder fashion.

Christian Fennesz has always been consistent in releasing good music but where Agora is concerned, he has upped the stakes by producing one of his finest releases yet. Here is an artist firmly entrenched at the summit of his creative arc. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Fennesz


18. Sacred Paws: Run Around The Sun
Rock Action Records

To say Sacred Paws‘ debut was a breath of fresh air would be understatement.

In a world distinctly lacking breezy indie pop tracks clocking in under four minutes, Strike A Match had 10 of them.

The fact it was written by two women living at other ends of the country made it all the more remarkable; the synergy between Glaswegian singing drummer Eilidh Rogers and Londoner guitarist Rachel Aggs is a primal, thrilling joy.

Their fusion of buoyant clattering grooves, angst-turned-upbeat lyricism, popping riffs and the odd burst of brass made for the soundtrack of our entire summer – and subsequently the remainder of the year eventually topping Getintothis‘ end of year top 100 albums chart.

Push forward 18 months and they’re back – can they repeat the trick? The answer is an unequivocal ‘yes’.

Acting impressively as a twin sister to their debut, Run Around The Sun adopts the if-it-ain’t-broke-then-don’t-fuck-with-it mantra and the duo have carved out another ten songs which while mirroring the original blueprint, never run out of steam or underwhelm.

If anything, the follow up has shed a little of scatty lo-fi elements of Strike A Match sounding even more exuberant.

Take Write This Down – a song which leans on their paranoia and mental strain – yet is imbued from the get-go with a sense of blistering sunshine aligned to dancing guitar picks, bombastic brass blasts and their quite brilliant harmonies. It’s like the two were born to play music together.

The same can be said for lead single The Conversation which sees them characteristically finishing each others sentences amid a skipping beat imploring you to dance around your bedroom with a hair brush microphone.

That winsome brass is employed to stunning effect on Life’s Too Short and single in waiting Almost It while closer Other Side employs funky African rhythms recalling Talking Heads.

Elsewhere, the relentless rush of What’s So Wrong weaves washes of glittering synth to the frenetic pangs of Rogers‘ percussive pings, while How Far is the only track they pause for breath reflecting autobiographically ‘the page on a map that’s keeping us apart‘.

Apparently Aggs has now relocated to Glasgow and the pair share a gaffe which surely means more music and more fun times ahead for a world with Sacred Paws is a better world to be in. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Sacred Paws


17. Black Mountain: Destroyer
Jagjaguwar

There’s something quite magical about entering the Swan Pub in town. Barely touched in how many decades it positively roars ’70s Marquee era hard rock.

Going down those stairs is like entering the bowels of hell while simultaneously accompanied by the best darts walk on music ever.

Or ring walk. Whatever sport you like, the clattering percussion and throwback riffing makes you feel alive. Just don’t pinch a regular’s bar stool or you may expect trouble.

Black Mountain‘s Destroyer evokes similar feelings – a 38 minute rollicker complete with duelling harmonised guitars and huge tub thumping beats – it positively radiates leather wastejackets, denim patches and dodgy moustaches.

Yet, this is no throwback of an album – quite the opposite. With founding members Amber Webber and Joshua Wells now departed, a new line up boasts singer Rachel Fannan of Sleepy Sun (who sounds FANTASTIC), and three drummers: Adam Bulgasem of Dommengang, Kliph Scurlock (formerly of the Flaming Lips), and Kid Millions from Oneida.

The result is a band reborn: gone are the Drugganaut stoner boogies replaced by a progressive soar with an epic feel – see Licensed to Drive‘s symphonic Black Sabbath meets Yes prog euphoria, while High Rise is six minutes of careering rock and roll before mainstay and keyboard player Jeremy Schmidt sends the song into the stratosphere with frentic organ wig-outs. It’s truly terrific stuff.

Of course, chief songwriter Stephen McBean is all over the record layering textures and guitar motifs in every direction, so long time fans will find much to revel in (see opener Future Shade’s blazing motorik guitar frenzy) but elsewhere it’s Schmidt who’s front and centre with his ’70s synth theatrics – Pretty Little Lazies coming off like Pink Floyd’s Rick Wright jamming with a Canterbury prog outfit.

The album was conceived as a road-trip – and it’s ideally suited to be blasted out while driving down a dusty freeway with no line on the horizon.

However, we’ll settle for a dimly lit local with it cranking out the jukebox. Make mine a Guinness. Horns up! – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Black Mountain


16. Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising
Sub Pop

Whilst Titan Rising provides a richer backdrop than its predecessor, the sweeping arrangements still manage to blur the lines between the grandiose and bedroom pop, sitting between the lines nicely to project an array of luminous ice sculpture one minute, slow motion waterfalls the next. These tender orchestral qualities are the perfect bedding for Natalie Mering‘s soft elegant vocals to soar beyond the ether.

While Mering‘s voice provides alluring ease across the room, it’s her lyrics that transform Titan Rising into something truly game-changing.

While tracks like A Front Row Seat to Earth’s centrepiece, Generation Why, strongly hinted towards it, this confirms what Mering truly is. A soul not for these times. A roving charlatan. A cosmic drifter, just like her modern contemporaries, A.A. Bondy and Cass McCombs. Artists trying to make sense of a new world where social media is seemingly the focal point for, well … everything.

Since the release of Titanic Rising, it’s hard to remember coming across a record that has taken so long to seep into the skin. It’s living proof that the slower burners are often the best. You can grow to love something.

Titanic Rising is skewed pop music that provides a faint light for ever-narrowing corridors. Lost love. The burden of hope. The sheer hilarity of it all. You could be having some sort of existential crisis but listening to Mering part with heart-breaking diatribes such as in Movies and, oddly enough, you can’t help but think that things might just be okay.

Along with Mering‘s cataclysmic abilities to pen the perfect love song, in a world that’s moving too fast for us all, Mering questions these times as best as anyone, providing a naked optimism that both the past and present can somehow coexist in the future. It’s not an overt message per se, it a softly radiates and gently probes. And no one is delivering the memorandum better than Weyes Blood. – Simon Kirk

Full review

Getintothis on Weyes Blood


15. Stealing Sheep: Big Wows
Heavenly Recordings

Stealing Sheep have been around for some time now. They first appeared in these pages in a live review back in 2010, where we described them as ‘harmony-led folk’. Clearly much has changed since then.

By 2011, they had, in our reviews, moved from folk to alt-folk to psych-folk. Clearly things were moving, but folk was still being cited as the dominant strain in their music. The progression here is interesting though, if folk had been a starting point, their music and ideas were evolving beyond their roots at a considerable pace.

Stealing Sheep 2019 are as far removed from folk as it is possible to get. They now offer ultra-modern, hi-gloss, intricate, off-kilter pop for the 21st century.

Live they are a performance art revelation, with their Big Wows show at Edge Hill Arts Centre proving to be one of the best gigs this writer has ever seen, commenting at the time that ‘the work and thought that must have gone into the show before even the first note was played is phenomenal. Here is a band who have an artistic vision that obviously reaches beyond the scope of most of their peers. One number in and already all other bands look inadequate and old fashioned in comparison.’

We noted at the same gig that ‘There is a femininity to the way Stealing Sheep interact, the way the make music and the way they mesh together. Coming after International Women’s Day, it is inspiring to see everything that is good and positive about such a day being played out so effortlessly before our eyes.’ This is core to both the music they make and they way they play it live.

Whatever process of evolution Stealing Sheep have gone through, they have now arrived, fully formed and perfect. They are quite unique and, as a music writer, I struggle to describe their music using mere words.

The closest I can come to in terms of finding another band to compare them to is to say there are some similarities to the approach and sound of Let’s Eat Grandma‘s latest album, I’m All Ears, but really Stealing Sheep operate in their own arena.

On Big Wows, everything gels perfectly. Their attitude, their closeness, their musical vision, everything is in place and creates a whole that is as near to perfection as it is possible to get. And then some.

Their music is made up of parts that seem to have been created separately, with little common ground to stand on. And yet, when they are put together, they create a sound that is as complex as the inside of a Rolex watch but that fits together as perfectly and creates music that is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Emily Lansley’s bass is used as a foundation for the songs to stand on, creating melodies of its own that often bear little relation to what is going on around it, but that hold the songs together. Lucy Mercer’s drums shy away from conventional rhythms – such things have no place in Stealing Sheep’s world, with an instinctive avoidance of convention being part of their musical DNA. To complete the picture, Rebecca Hawley’s keyboards and effects provides essential hooks, texture and washes of sound.

All three contribute vocals and their voices mesh together superbly, the result maybe of their folk roots showing through. Harmonies are, as is Stealing Sheep’s way, intricate, flawless and perfectly worked out.

This means there is no ‘lead singer’ in Stealing Sheep, no grandstanding or limelight stealing. There’s a vision of a perfect world, a Utopian ideal, where art and the execution of art are more important than ego.

Big Wows starts off with Show Love, which demonstrates the Stealing Sheep aesthetic in all its glory. Catchy yet clever, awkward yet simple. It’s easy to imagine this taking over the airwaves to soundtrack our summer.

Second track Back in Time again almost sounds too odd to make for a pop song, but somehow they manage to rein it in and command all the odd elements of the song to make sense and fit together. This is Stealing Sheep’s genius, to be both non-conventional and yet to make music that can come together to sound straightforward It is not an easy line to walk, but they manage it with enormous style.

Girl features a taut funk bassline that puts us in mind of early 80s post-punk, but married to modern sounds and treatments and again I am minded to note that Stealing Sheep occupy a hinterland somewhere between The Raincoats and SOPHIE, between a version of the past and a vision of the future.

Just Dreaming calms things down with a short, chilled interlude, before the album’s title track again picks up the pace, with shades of Talking Heads backing and dream-like vocals.

Album closer Heartbeats arrives to usher us out, its pulse rhythms and backwards keyboards feeling like a return to the womb. There is a symbolism here that I don’t want to ruin by stomping all over it in my clumsy linguistic boots, but again Stealing Sheep’s natural feminism informs them and the music they make It is the perfect end to a perfect record.

I am aware that I have perhaps overused the word ‘perfect’ here, but in all honesty Big Wows demands it.

Stealing Sheep are massively important, their mere fact that they exist makes pop music a better place.

Where they go from here is hard to predict, but for now we have Big Wows. And for now that is enough. – Banjo

Getintothis on Stealing Sheep


14. Lorelle Meets The Obsolete: DE FACTO
Sonic Cathedral

Confession time: we’re not exactly sure when we first ‘heard’ Lorelle Meets The Obsolete. It could have been 2013 in the sweat box decay of Blade Factory or perhaps 2016 in the cavernous surrounds of Camp & Furnace.

The fact our memory is hazy holds little bearing on the band’s music but on the semi-conscious state we were in during Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia‘s brutal sensory overload.

While we’re relatively sure we enjoyed what was on offer revisiting their music away from the live arena proved less inviting and ever so slightly underwhelming for like most artists prone to rely on cranial exploding sonics and arresting visuals they didn’t quite translate into the grooves.

Not so anymore. As the Mexican duo of Lorena Quintanilla and Alberto Gonzalez have, for their fifth album and first time of asking, employed their live band in a newly built home studio in Ensenada resulting in their strongest record to date – one that fully explores their hitherto slinky ambience but captures the wild drama of their live show.

In essence – it’s louder, heavier and more seductive see Fernando Nuti‘s bass and Andrea Davi‘s drums are pushed to the fore on AcciónVaciar snaking around Jose Orozco‘s treated synth and Gonzalez’s hypnotic lead guitar.

Central to DE FACTO’s attraction is is the push and pull between meditative chamber pop and grinding death rolls of riffs and percussion; the woozy Inundación a perfect example with it’s Lynchian like waltz before morphing into a megalithic droning rumble.

But it’s the nine minute Unificado which is head and shoulders above the rest building from subtle bedtime noir into rabid riffs of raining sheet metal.

Elsewhere, Resistir and Lux, Lumina reminds you they can still do noisy psychedelic rock and roll before the quite beautiful 10-minute dreamscape closer of La Maga sees you down the home straight in relative aural comfort. For an album riddled with juxtaposition and contrasts it’s pretty close to perfection. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Lorelle Meets The Obsolete

 


13. The Building: PETRA
Concord Records

When Anthony LaMarca softly sings “my body transformed, from leaves to a tree, cut down too soon'”it’s fair to say he’s not messing.

War On Drugs guitarist, LaMarca, aka The Building, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma while recording his second album PETRA and subsequently recorded much of the album connected to an IV drip.

The physical and emotional scars are left starkly exposed throughout the 37 minutes of this wondrous nine-track record.

PETRA, named after his German Shepherd and the self-made acronym, Peace’s Eternal Truth Renews All – is a brutal, open letter with much of the album autobiographically documenting his health struggle, most notably on lead single All Things New, as he says: “fearing what you cannot change, waiting for the ground to thaw I don’t wanna wait at all,” you can palpably sense his want to overcome.

If it doesn’t make you well up, you have a heart of stone.

Elsewhere, on the superb Life Half Lived he strays from the self, adopting the perspective of two female friends who are dealing with emotionally abusive partners and trying to find their way forward.

Sounding like a young Neil Young, he empathises with their love towards these men, the fathers of their children, while getting nothing in return. It’s another dagger through the heart.

Indeed, much of PETRA recalls the tenderness and naked beauty of Young‘s After The Gold Rush and fans of his will find much to cherish.

See When I Think Of You is a stripped back ode to his wife, while increasing in physical and mental torture, “I hate that this is hurting you, but this is happening to me” he coos over gentle cello and violin strings and suppressed feedback.

He saves his greatest statement of positivity for the title track and finale – a brushed intro leads into a swelling organ, kick drum and a gentle chorus of voices repeating his mantra – “peace’s eternal truth renews all”.

It feels like a victory lap, a triumph against all odds and a testament to the power of the human spirit. And that’s something we can all get behind. Peter Guy

Getintothis on The Building


12. Dommengang: No Keys
Thrill Jockey

Dommengang is guitarist Dan ‘Sig’ Wilson, bass guitar/vocalist Brian Markham and drummer Adam Bulgasem and together they are one of the most under the radar riff overlords on the planet.

Their third album for Thrill Jockey, No Keys is the follow up to 2018’s Love Jail and the superlative krautrock infused desert punk blues of debut Everybody’s Boogie, and finds the trio leaving their native Brooklyn and aptly decamping to L.A.

The result is a stark, sinister, sometimes sleek and often supercharged record bountiful in pummelling riffs and cavernous percussive thunder. The mountainous cacophony of Earth Blues and the wah-heavy Wild Wash sets the tone as nine tracks bludgeon the senses with fans of Black Mountain, Kyuss, All Them Witches and Dead Meadow in for a feasting.

Yet it’s when the band take their foot off the accelerator and allow their Kosmiche influences ride to the fore that proceedings become even more thrilling. See ArculariusBurke a meandering six-minute road trip drenched in acid washed out stoner blues. It’s bloody fantastic.

Elsewhere, Kudzu sounds like the bastard offspring of a White Denim jam; all duelling guitars and frenetic rhythms while closer Happy Death (Her Blues II) lives up to its name with widescreen whisky-soaked rock and roll climaxing in a face-melting crescendo.

While Dommengang are hardly reinventing the psych-rock wheel they take you on one hell of a ride that few right now can equal. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Dommengang


11. Teeth of the Sea: Wraith
Rocket Recordings

It always hurts more when those you love let you down. Speaking as a Prince fan this writer had to get used to that during the latter years of his relentless conveyor belt like musical production line.

While, not quite on that level of stratospheric musical adoration, during the last decade Londoners Teeth of the Sea have been right up there in the ‘favourite band‘ stakes. The love affair began in 2010 with their second album Your Mercury and reached peak infatuation during a colossal live display at MelloMello in 2012

They tick all our boxes: lashings of grooves, malevolent riffs, unexpected time signatures and a penchant to stray into cinematic progressive ridiculousness. Not in a turgid Muse kind of way – rather that of similar mavericks Oceansize, Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree or even Radiohead.

Yet their last album, 2015’s Highly Deadly Black Tarantula marked a sea change in the band’s consistently magnificent output – not only did it sound like several bands experimenting with several ideas it was also a bit of a let down. No matter how much we revisited it just didn’t quite click. Sure it was dark as hell and at times those aforementioned riffs threatened to kick in but for the most part its industrial serrated edges and bleak dissonance was hard to love.

Thank heavens then for Wraith. Their fifth studio album on Rocket Recordings finds the band sadly down a member in Mat Colegate yet returning to what they’re best at spine-chilling widescreen atmospherics married to blockbuster slabs of noise – and the odd bit of lunacy.

From the off, their characteristic use of squalling trumpet oozes into opener I’d Rather, Jack which trades phased guitars with molten Mezzanine–era beats providing the ideal scene setter for a record which is a black magik box of tricks crammed with a plentiful supply of dark arts.

The aforementioned Sam Barton‘s trumpet pervades throughout (hurrah!) with Burn of the Shieling all Arabian exoticism, Her Wraith a slow burn of rattling disquiet while the crime thriller-esque Hiraeth carries a magisterial jazzy pomp before blossoming into a trip-hop game of dagger-stabbing beats, leaden thuds and jarring grooves.

But like centre-piece A.C.R.ON.Y.M. on Your Mercury and closer Responder from 2013’s MASTER, Teeth of the Sea specialise in almighty juggernauts of sound ad when they hit home they induce Mike Tyson levels of power. Wraith delivers two knockout blows.

The first arrives midway through (a track we’re told the label almost convinced them to drop) as VISITOR emerges from a futuristic cocoon of sinister John Carpenter keys and strident brass parps before building into Jimmy Martin‘s trademark Robert Fripp aping guitar heroics. It’s supernova in its epic brilliance.

And yet the closing Gladiators Ready (what a title!) betters it with horrorcore synths jerking off to mechanical fuzz-drenched atmospherics which swell into a death disco march before exploding courtesy of a Josh Wink orgasmatron which will have you laughing your tits off at the sheer audacity of it all. It is preposterously good.

The depth on this album is staggering, there is much stirring and there’s many a layer to unravel on Wraith but like the band’s finest work it’s worthy of persistence – for Teeth of the Sea are a special collective truly worth falling for.- Peter Guy

Getintothis on Teeth of the Sea

Getintothis’ best 100 albums of the decade – a reflection on the 2010s


10. Föllakzoid: I
Sacred Bones

If you’re not up to speed Föllakzoid have been making some of the finest dystopian grooves for the last seven years.

I is their fourth full-length release and third for Sacred Bones, following 2015’s III, 2013’s II and 2009’s eponymous debut.

Inspired by the landscape of the Andes mountain range which crosses their homeland of Chile, childhood mates Diego, Juan Pablo, and Domingo imbue sprawling rhythms with seductive menacing textured beats which is both hypnotic, compelling and unnerving.

Where previous albums have stuck to a more traditional psychedelic fusion of abrasive guitars aligned to dense percussive swells new album I takes a completely opposite route stripping everything back into a minimalistic framework as 17 minute songs merge into a complete 60 minute whole.

This is an album much closer in spirit and sound to Factory Floor than Pink Floyd. And long term listeners may be in for a shop by how they’ve descended into even darker terrain.

The result is techno-psychedelia: a minimal, unremitting drone designed to send you into a spiralling psychosis. Whether you’re adventurous to allow them take you into the abyss with them, is purely a matter of taste – the result should you accept the challenge is rather magikal. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Föllakzoid


9. Little Simz: Grey Area
Age 101

After spending the decade releasing mix tapes before releasing two albums which included the much talked about, Stillness In Wonderland, Simbiatu Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, better known to us as Little Simz, closes out the 2010s by changing the game altogether with her landmark third album, Grey Area.

Firstly, in this writer’s opinion, Simz was robbed of the Mercury Music Prize (sorry, Dave). Not that it should matter, we’ve talked about the importance of such accolades, or lack thereof.

It’s hard to know where to start with an album like Grey Area. Thematically, sonically, it has it all.

With Offence and Boss there’s a warn thread of funk that simmers underneath Simz‘s poetic flows that elucidate the feminist themes of Grey Area (“You’re not listening/I said it with my chest and I don’t care who I offend, uh huh, ha” Offence) and, (“Ohhh now you a man, hoe/I don’t need that stress/That stress/I’m a boss in a fucking dress” – Boss).

Grey Area‘s centrepiece, Venom, takes the best bits grime, chews it up and spits it out with a blatant firestorm of aggression. Simsz‘s delivery is enormous in what is arguably the finest rap number of the year.

On closing track, Flowers, featuring Michael Kiwanuka, there’s a gentle cosmic jazz flourish which further splays across the sonic terrains Simz explores.

With Grey Area, Simz showcases an unbridled mental dexterity. Jagged freestyle rhythms that burst with soul (Selfish), echo the origins of ’80s hip-hop and ’90s conscious rap that are dragged through a virtual portal to the current day (101 FM, Therapy, Sherbet Sunset). The instrumentation is warm and not overblown from behind the studio glass. It’s unquestionably organic.

We can pinpoint the production and the forward-thinking nature of Grey Area, but stripping it all back, what Simz has made here an honest record, exploring themes not limited to, feminism (Offence, Boss), and gun crime (Wounds, Venom, Pressure), mental health (Therapy). An album that is street level, exploding with the scorching flames of civic vitality. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Little Simz


8. Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Darkroom/Interscope Records

Sitting at the top of the charts in 13 different countries, Californian Billie Eilish‘s debut When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? follows on from her 2017 EP Don’t Smile At Me.

Becoming the first person born in the 2000s to have a number one album, at 17 Billie has the world at her feet, this album being arguably the hottest and most high-demand catalogue of works to date.

The first single You Should See Me in a Crown was released in July 2018, written and produced by her brother Finneas O’Connell, it’s a slow burner of whispering and haunting vocals charged with plenty of electro-pop layers and synthetic beats.

This is something shared with her second single, When the Party’s Over, again written by her brother. The track is kooky and mellow. Highly emotional, the viral-superstar’s angelic vocals knit together heaven and hell with this catchy number.

Bad Guy, the fifth and latest single, is a pulsating ancient Egyptian ode to alternative pop, this popular release is over within three minutes 14 seconds – too quick if you ask me.

Whatever you do, don’t listen to Bury A Friend at max volume on your car with the bass-treble turned to the max. I got the fright of my life when my car began shaking with the strength of those beats.

The song is one many will have heard before, championed on national radio stations, Billie has previously said this song helped shape the album, saying the album ‘just clicked‘ when she created the track. Written about monsters under the bed, the track even has a nod to People are Strange by The Doors.

From start to finish When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? is a modern-day 14-track masterpiece.

For someone who has an impulse need to listen to good-old guitar music, this album has opened my eyes to a shiny new world of electro – and I can’t get enough. – Lo Jones

Getintothis on Billie Eilish


7. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: Ghosteen
Ghosteen Ltd

Nick Cave’s 17th album Ghosteen does not have an easy job.

It simultaneously has to continue the career-best run of form started with Push the Sky Away and continued with Skeleton Tree, which is no mean feat given the incredible peaks reached on those albums.

But, more pertinently, it is the first album Cave has written since the tragic death of his son Arthur in 2015. Where Skeleton Tree was seen to be Cave’s expression of grief, it was largely written before what Cave refers to as ‘the trauma’, but recorded after it.

Some of the aftermath crept its way in to the songs and lyrics as they were recorded and Cave’s voice, sounding too tired and threadbare still razes me to the ground every time I hear it.

It inhabits the stages of grief after the initial shock has worn away, where what remains from the whirlwind is what you will have to live with for the rest of your life.

The sound of Ghosteen continues on from Skeleton Tree but is even more sparse and delicate. Warren Ellis’ use of electronics gives the album an ambient, otherworldly feel and drums are mostly noticeable only by their absence.

Lyrically, Cave is again on a peak and Ghosteen lays itself open to examination and interpretation. Loss and hopeful return are there in the lyrics, with Cave singing: ‘Oh the train is coming, and I’m standing here to see and it’s bringing my baby right back to me’ and ‘I’m waiting for you to return’.

Elsewhere he tells us that ‘it isn’t any fun to be standing here alone with nowhere to be, with a man mad with grief and on each side a thief, everybody hanging from a tree’ and of ‘a spiral of children climb up to the sun, waving goodbye to you and goodbye to me’

The album is rich with imagery, with several references to burning horses, Jesus and children.

He reverts to type as well, as Elvis and Jesus figure again in his lyrics. First song Spinning Song concerns itself with ‘the king of rock n roll, with black jelly hair’.

Spinning Song also features Cave hitting falsetto, singing ‘a peace will come in time’ in a fragile, yearning voice.

Where most singers seem to find their voice increasingly limited as they grow older, Cave seems to be finding fresh reserves for his, as if he needs to expand his range to get across the complexities of the lyrics that flow from him these days.

Cave has the veil pulled from his eyes and no matter how poetically he may see the world, the reality of it will always assert itself as he sings: ‘Horses are just horses and their manes aren’t full of fire, the fields are just fields, and there ain’t no Lord.’

The Ghosteen of the title reveals itself as he realises ‘the little white shape dancing at the end of the hall
is just a wish that time can’t dissolve at all’.

Cave’s love for his wife Susie is another thread that runs through his work. On Night Raid he explains his muse by saying ‘Sitting on the edge of the bed clicking your shoes, I slid my little songs out from under you’ as Ellis conjures another David Lynch like soundtrack.

The time Cave and Ellis have spent providing soundtracks for various films has fed into The Bad Seeds music, lending it an easy cinematic feel that suits Cave’s confessional lyrics perfectly.

The message is clear – grief and loss are universal and no house can escape it.

The album finishes with the lines ‘Kisa sat down in the old village square, she hugged her baby and cried and cried. She said everybody is always losing somebody, then walked into the forest and buried her child.’

This, if anything, is the core of Ghosteen; it sees Cave finding comfort of sorts in the knowledge that suffering is universal and he is but a part of a greater whole.

He knows that whatever solace is available can be found in the sharing of grief that the Red Hand Files and his recent tour have made possible.

The kind of trauma that he and Susie have been through will never fade away, but Nick Cave has found a place in this new world to inhabit, from where he can continue to express himself and create his art.

Ghosteen comes to an end as Cave sings ‘I’m just waiting now for peace to come’. Maybe Ghosteen will help that process.

In the meantime, it is hard to imagine another album that has this much thought, this much emotional punch and this much meaning.

Nick Cave has again reached into the depths of his soul and returned with a masterpiece. – Banjo

Full review

Getintothis on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


6. Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell
Polydor/Interscope Records

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are starting to fall, and Lana Del Rey has dropped a new album, so it’s official.

Move aside, Hot Girl Summer, it’s time for sad girl autumn. The queen of melancholy is back with her fifth studio album, Normal Fucking Rockwell and it’s filled with all the usual heartache and romantic fantasy that you’d expect from Del Rey, but this time there’s a splash of humour and absolutely stellar production courtesy of hitmaker Jack Antonoff.

Norman Fucking Rockwell opens with the title track which is an absolute treat to the ears. Opening with a string arrangement that builds up and quickly leads into piano, this is exactly the dreamy production we want from a Lana Del Rey song.

“Goddamn man child, you fucked me so good that I almost said I love you”. Ah, there’s that splash of humour I mentioned earlier.

Immediately, something feels different here. We know from her past works that she loves to layer her vocals to create a transcendent listening experience, and I’m not getting that here, at least not yet.

Her vocals feel close, and much more personal, like she’s sat in front of me singing straight from her diary. This song sets up more of a narrative that carries through the album than we’ve seen previously, though it does get a little rocky.

The album sees Lana at her most deep and self-aware, the lyrics on this album are beautifully poetic, but every now and then there’s a deadpan that snaps you straight out of the trance that her and Antonoff’s stunning melodies put you in.

The state of America at the moment is enough to scare even the most twisted, and Lana knows it, too. “L.A. is in flames, it’s getting hot”, for someone who has built her career around her love for her country, these lyrics seem pretty apt.

The album is wonderfully cohesive, it feels almost like a movie, and after revealing in an interview recently that she recorded a music video for every single song on the album, maybe that was her intention.

Each song reveals some deeper, darker, more personal part of Lana’s life on the west coast, from singing about her unhealthy and unsustainable lifestyle in Fuck It I Love You to her lover’s substance abuse in Cinnamon Girl, it’s easy to see why she is so protective of this project.

We know that all artists dramatise their experiences because, well, they’re their experiences to dramatise. Del Rey takes this one step further though, she’s created a persona (although she’s adamant this isn’t the case) that portrays Lana’s own experiences in an entirely fantastical way.

Hope Is A Dangerous Thing For A Woman Like Me To Have… But I Have It is possibly the longest title of any song she’s ever released, and I think it may be her best of the album too.

There’s so much to unpack with this song, it feels like a confessional, a review of her life so far, an admittance that even after all this time and work she still isn’t fulfilled in the way she wishes she was, but she hasn’t given up yet.

“Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not / but at best I can say I’m not sad”, ending the album on such a neutral note, who knows what’s going to happen next?

Del Rey and Antonoff have created an incredibly assertive, cohesive, and sonically stunning piece of work with Norman Fucking Rockwell.

I don’t know if Lana will ever be able to find her happiness, but I’m here for the ride until she does. – Kris Roberts

Full review

Getintothis on Lana Del Rey


5. Richard Dawson: 2020
Weird World/Domino

Whilst envisaging Richard Dawson hunched over history tomes burning the midnight oil in a fusty smelling library in search of his subjects that would eventually feature in 2017’s Peasant, similarly, there is a disturbing binary with his new album, 2020.

Unlike that fusty-smelling library, Dawson has seemingly spent time in the corner booth of Wetherspoons where the Newcastle native has been hard at work chiselling out characters over a lunch time pub special with a free pint of ale.

Given that the characters featuring across both albums are set in different centuries (Peasant being set in Bryneich – the kingdom which occupied the north east of England over 1000 years ago; 2020 being set in the now), you can’t help but feel the patchwork is woven from the same thread, further amplifying the current state of this nation.

Too disingenuous to pigeonhole as a Brexit album and in no way preachy enough to be defined as a protest album, with Dawson‘s spellbinding diatribes, naked harmonies and listener-friendly arrangements that spread a unique aesthetic across the creative landscape, 2020 is a burgeoning state-of-the-nation address.

Through his characters, Dawson breathes vitality into the sleepwalking working class. Small voices, once unheard, vividly brought to life by Dawson, who transforms the mundane into something cataclysmic.

There is a tender humility that Dawson portrays through his protagonists. Never has he been so empathetic. Perhaps it’s the era his subjects live in, but 2020 feels like Dawson at his humanising best.

As Brexit looms, with the cost of living rising, homelessness increasing and health services on their last legs, Dawson provides a deep and disturbing account on all of these issues, conjuring up an album that elucidates a collective existential anxiety.

Some music can feel like an intellectual exercise but with Dawson‘s 2020, whilst musically sometimes challenging, his unyielding storytelling qualities guide us away from these potentially rocky terrains. Like distracting a child from their greatest fear by offering them sweets instead.

Dawson owes as much to the origins of folk music as much as he does to redefining the boundaries of punk (yes, punk). Aesthetically, Dawson’s poignant campfire yarns are caught in the crosshairs of both genres.

He’s reporting and he’s doing it in a way like no other song-writer has and that’s why 2020 feels like a punk record as much as it is a folk record.

It’s song-writing with a profound use of language that should make any aspiring artist seriously question their own endeavours. Not that 2020 or Richard Dawson come with these harsh intentions, but with a virtuoso occupying another stratosphere, if anyone has come within a bull’s roar of the artistic quality on display here then not only I am yet to hear it, it’s going to be a long time before I or anybody else does.

They say write what you know and with the shiveringly appropriate 2020 Dawson has orchestrated an incredible exhibition of the inner workings of everyday life for everyday people in the north of England. With 2020, it reaffirms his position as the finest wordsmith this country has to offer. Richard Dawson. The anti-hero. Richard Dawson. The modest messiah. – Simon Kirk

Full review

Getintothis on Richard Dawson


4. Sigrid: Sucker Punch
Island Records

Pop has been having a bloody good time of it over the last few years.

Of course, there’s always great pop music, however since the mid 2010’s we’ve been spoilt rotten – and most of it is being created by women.

From the classic pop of Taylor Swift‘s 1989, Carly Rae Jepson‘s Emotion, Ariana Grande‘s thank u, next and Lorde‘s Melodrama through to the more leftfield experimental leanings of GrimesArt Angels, Beyonce‘s Lemonade, Christine and the QueensChris, Solange‘s A Seat at the Table and Rosalía‘s El Mal Querer it very much feels like we’re living in a golden age.

This was brought home with crystal clear perspective at this year’s Primavera as festival goers sported t-shirts branded: ‘Miley, Carly, Chris, Janelle and Solange‘. Big voices with even bigger bangers had largely replaced the bearded men with guitars as Barcelona embraced ‘the new normal.’

Also on the bill was 22-year-old Sigrid. Another huge talent, and one who’s debut album crept out somewhat under the radar (it peaked at #4 in the albums chart) in March despite three years of relentless promo and a raft of singles.

The fresh-faced Norwegian’s tale of giving two fingers to the men in the music industry who tried to mould her into something she isn’t is well storied and that rebellious tone is all over Sucker Punch. And while her music hardly falls into the aforementioned experimental pop listed above, it’s not far off the contemporary classics of the likes of Carly Rae and Ariana are producing.

Sure the latter third of the album tails off, but the front is loaded with soaring serotonin-infused Scandinavian belters.

The one-two opening combination of the title track and Mine Right Now set the tone with fizzing rushes of synths and block-rocking beats aligned to Sigrid‘s raspy roar.

Sight Of You is even better, all dancing orchestration, twinkling piano and towering rushes of effusive energy – and is perhaps the finest feelgood song of the year while documenting losing your luggage.

Elsewhere, Basic and Don’t Feel Like Crying align massive hooks to a natural lyrical innocence and genuine sense of someone starting off on their (ahem) journey while 2017 singles Strangers sounds just as fresh with the former’s Euro Pop dazzle and the latter oozing ire and steely vigour.

In a crowded field, Sigrid‘s raw talent is easily enough to make her stand out and sit comfortably alongside her contemporaries – it’ll be fascinating to see where she goes next. – Peter Guy

Getintothis on Sigrid


3. Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe
Ninja Tune

Like the marriage rock and dance music, Electronic and orchestral music always has the potential to be a complete disaster.

There’s a narrow corridor for success and where the latter genres are concerned, with their latest album, To Believe, London’s Cinematic Orchestra have stitched together something achingly beautiful.

With To Believe, Cinematic Orchestra‘s fourth album, Jason Swinscoe and Dom Smith draft in a wealth of talent to breath life into their ambient orchestral conceptions and this may just be the biggest victory with To Believe.

The title track starts us off, giving us quiet acoustics, electro undercurrents and big strings which Moses Sumney soars over with his soulful vocals.

On A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life, Roots Manuva‘s thick baritone vocal style is stripped back to a soft serene traipse. His performances makes the track as it weaves through elegant electronics akin rain drops and sparse piano.

Then there’s Wait For Now/Leave the World. The album’s centre piece and Tawiah‘s heartfelt lyrics have you choking up in front of luscious arrangements and rippling-pool piano, providing an exquisite sonic bedding. It really is one of the finest tracks released this year.

The album concludes with A Promise, featuring Heidi Vogel on vocals. It’s a perfect end to To Believe with spacious urbanised soundscapes that hang in the air like cigarette smoke.

To Believe breathes a new vitality into a dreary everyday existence, elevating these themes through a snapshot of blissed out beats and rich elegant orchestral offerings.

It’s the sound of rain clouds parting. It’s the sound of optimism. It’s the sound of love. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Cinematic Orchestra


2. Sunn O))): Life Metal
Southern Lord

Sunn O))) have always been an elusive proposition to me. Whilst I could appreciate what eternal amplifier worshippers Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley were doing, it still felt as if idealism outweighed the end product. After all, they say it’s the idealism that kills you.

Then, along came Life Metal

The album’s cover art was the first thing that deeply resonated with me. Samantha Keely Smith‘s artwork (which is one of four paintings which comprises Life Metal) is ingrained in romanticism and abstract expressionism.

As soon as I laid eyes on it, I knew Life Metal would be one of those game changing albums. It’s an inexplicable circumstance with music when this happens – sometimes it just works that way.

From the canvass to the turntable platter and Life Metal begins with Between Sleipnir’s Breaths.

We are greeted with a whining horse that sounds like it’s fearfully marauding from an impending apocalypse. From there, we are met with the Sunn O))) treatment.

An array of humid drones that swell, explode and singe the hairs from head to toe. The track’s behemoth masculinity is expertly offset by Hildur Guðnadóttir‘s haunting meditative vocals. It’s a striking clash of ideas.

Troubled Air follows and is equally beguiling. The varying textures in tone and frequency make the listening experience between sound system and headphones polar-opposite. It’s loud, bruising and scarring to the ears.

Sunn O))) seem to ease the tension during the second half of Life Metal. Aurora showcases a slow motion whirring ambience with flickering feedback and low-end trailblazing roars.

Not as overtly aggressive as the two tracks it follows, Aurora possesses a mysterious slow burning quality and in time, could well be Life Metal‘s finest moment.

The longest track on the album at just over twenty-five minutes, Novae leads us to the end of Life Metal and what a captivating way to culminate this offering of sonic mutiny.

Novae begins with Sunn O))) threatening to break the shackles and become a conventional rock band (believe it or not).

The balance of tone fluctuates to the point where you almost succumb to vertigo. Gradually, it disappears into a smouldering atmosphere, an ambience enveloping into a hush and gentle string sections that can be picked up with careful listening.

It ends in hell-fire with an onslaught of drones for the last two minutes. Sunn O))) could only end it this way.

With Life Metal, I’ve never come across an album that has such a contrasting listening effect through the medium of choice. Through stereo and headphones, Life Metal reveals that it is an unprecedented split personality.

In Life Metal‘s physical presentation, turned up loud, the noise serenely reaches every corner of the room. It’s a cathartic experience of flickering feedback and loud/quiet torrents of sound.

That’s Steve Albini‘s trademark recording techniques. It’s the best recording performance that Albini has given us in quite some time.

With headphones, things couldn’t be more different.

The experience equates to be dragged to the gates of hell. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting, making your mind crumble as you are faced with a rolling maelstrom of drone storms. It’s core shuddering.

The eye watering tones make you realise that with Life Metal, well, this is living!

It’s an album that will have you crying tears of joy into your pint glass, ultimately forming the holy water of a new religion dubbed Life Metal.

Because this is life and, yes, this is metal and in 2019, there hasn’t been more immersive listening experience than this. – Simon Kirk

Getintothis on Sunn O)))


1. Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel
Partisan Records

Fontaines D.C. are a uniquely original Dublin quintet, hewn from the ashes of long dead, hopeless, lost bands. Fontaines D.C. deserve every accolade they get and more. And there is no shortage of that incoming.

Their first single, Liberty Belle, was released in 2017 and scratched the surface, Hurricane Laughter followed, showing their snarling angry side, the urgency of Too Real and Big followed, highlighting a relentless need to create, to speak truth to power and make a stand for something.

Anything.

Comparisons have been made to The Fall, PiL, The Strokes, Sonic Youth and more in that vein, but none of these do Fontaines D.C. any justice.

They’re resolutely proud of their upbringing, of their city, of their Irishness.

Their energy and lyricism come from a shared love of old Irish poets and writers, of an Ireland long gone, of an Ireland yet to realise its potential. Their inspiration comes from years of bold texts and brick-lined alleys, and it is an inspiration not lost on anyone.

Rolling Stone has them listed as one of the top bands at SXSW this year, describing their sound as blunt force trauma. It is hard to argue with that.

Fontaines D.C. speak to all of us. In a city where people can’t afford to live, or they try to live on shit wages spread over three jobs while Google and Facebook are given tax breaks, young people, people like Fontaines D.C., have a lot to shout about.

Their anger has become Dogrel.

Dogrel is about a Dublin that is being chewed up and spat out, via foreign money, gentrification and people like Jacob Rees-Mogg using the city as a place to hide his filthy lucre.

Dogrel is an oft used term that talks of rhyme, of rhythm, poetry, and music. It is lyrical, burlesque, cheeky. Dogrel is a working-class thing, anger, and joy.

Dogrel is Fontaines D.C.

It starts with Big, a relentless homage to Dublin in all its glory and guts, tales of challenging childhoods, making life your own, taking it back, making it big. It’s a statement of intent.

Sha Sha Sha is next, driven by a pulsating beat that suits its prowling fury. “you work for money and the rest you steal” gives you an idea of where their heart is.

It’s followed by Too Real and you’ve been living under a rock or tied to a radiator if you haven’t heard that before now.

Too Real is a remarkable tune, a call to action almost, a song wondering why we’re all sat around talking shit while Rome burns. This is pure brutal honesty, and it is fucking remarkable.

Television Screen seems to laugh at us while the water levels rise, literally. A gentler beast this, though still as urgent, it is a sad, stunning thing.

Hurricane Laughter, for us perhaps, is one of their finest songs. A post-apocalyptic, grungy thrashing animal about the end of the world, running, getting lost, finding truth.

It feels like you’re being beaten to a pulp by an evil genius’ henchman in a dark dank alley someplace while said evil genius stands over you, preaching in a hushed, monotonous tone. It’s menacing. Terrifying.

Roy’s Tune is a heartbreaker about putting up with shit, namely capitalist bullshit, barely putting up, barely hanging on. It’s beautiful, heart-rending.

The Lotts lifts things up a notch, it’s another thrash at poverty and life on the streets while Jags drive Tory tossers to tracking meetings so they can watch their money decimate city streets and souls.

Chequelesss Reckless is their most lyrically clever, a song about greed, waste and loss, about trying to figure out what is going on in the world, if you can pull yourself away from your phone. “She documents an essence in a bathroom stall” says everything you need to know.

Liberty Belle continues our central theme of anger, of money, and bullshit.

Boys In The Better Land snarls about those who’ve left the city in search of double barrel names, fancy cars and fame. It’s five minutes of righteous fury and figurative fashion faux pas. Phenomenal.

Dublin City Sky is a heartbreaker of a final song, a homage to Shane MacGowan and The Pogues, it’s more Irish, gently lyrical, it is almost traditional in its tone.

It’s a singsong of a punky poetic passionate love song.

Dublin City Sky will be as big as anything The Pogues ever produced, it could be the biggest thing we’ve heard out of Ireland in a very long time, it is that good.

By the time you get to the end of this record, it becomes clear that Fontaines D.C. might just have taken The Pogues mantle.

As a single piece of work Dogrel is one of the most complete albums we’ve listened to in some time, it is clearly meant to be enjoyed from start to finish, there is a narrative, a tale to tell.

It is an inherently intelligent piece of work, it avoids the usual fodder of four-piece beer swilling bands.

Dogrel has a swagger all its own, it has a point, a soul.

It is angry, in your face confrontational, it demands attention, it is delivered in a colloquially rich Dublin drawl that drags you in, dumping its energy in your head, this stays with you.

Dogrel is a love letter to a city these boys love, its a love letter that begs for patience, a love letter that begs for the forgiveness of love lost somewhere amidst the money and the Maseratis.

Dogrel drips with a uniquely Dublin humour, it is dark, devious, devilish, it’s dipped in Guinness and hung out to dry for all the world to see.

For all of their anger, there is a recognition in their work that the Dublin they know, and the Ireland they know is changing, and not all of it is bad.

This is a country that legalised same-sex marriage by way of a referendum, the first place the world to do so.

They also legalised a woman’s right to choose and alongside those two huge changes, they’ve kicked the church into touch too.

An act that was seemingly easier to do on the news that that same church was responsible for the burial of 800 babies in a septic tank at a church property over the past century.

Ireland is not the place it once was, it’s getting there, slowly, but there is still lots to be angry about, lots of change needed, lots of anger.

Fontaines D.C. seems to be the outpouring of that anger that has been bubbling under the surface for a very long time.

No more. Their time is now. – Chris Flack

Getintothis on Fontaines D.C.

Getintothis’ Top 100 Albums of 2019

1. Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel
2. Sunn O))): Life Metal
3. Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe
4. Sigrid: Sucker Punch
5. Richard Dawson: 2020
6. Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell
7. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: Ghosteen
8. Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
9. Little Simz: Grey Area
10. Föllakzoid: I
11. Teeth of the Sea: Wraith
12. Dommengang: No Keys
13. The Building: PETRA
14. Lorelle Meets The Obsolete: DE FACTO
15. Stealing Sheep: Big Wows
16. Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising
17. Black Mountain: Destroyer
18. Sacred Paws: Run Around The Sun
19. Fennesz: Agora
20. Bill Callahan: Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest
21. Hatchie: Keepsake
22. Deadbeat and Camara: Trinity Thirty
23. Modern Nature: How To Live
24. Big Thief: U.F.O.F.
25. The Comet Is Coming: Trust In The Lifeforce Off The Deep Mystery
26. Sleaford Mods: Eton Alive
27. Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains
28. Kim Gordon: No Home Record
29. Julie’s Haircut: In The Silence Electric
30. Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka
31. Oh Sees: Face Stabber
32. These New Puritans: Inside the Rose
33. Will Burns & Hannah Peel: Chalk Hill Blue
34. Pelican: Nighttime Stories
35. Tool: Fear Inoculum
36. Lingua Ignota: CALIGULA
37. Petbrick: I
38. W.H. Lung: Incidental Music
39. Snapped Ankles: Stunning Luxury
40. 10 000 Russos: Kompromat
41. Julia Jacklin: Crushing
42. Be Forest: Knocturne
43. Big Brave: A Gaze Among Them
44. Alex Cameron: Miami Memory
45. Julia Kent: Temporal
46. Steve Mason: About the Light
47. Whitney: Forever Turned Around
48. Gum Takes Tooth: Arrow
49. The Utopia Strong: The Utopia Strong
50. Bon Iver: i,i
51. King Midas Sound: Solitude
52. Hayden Thorpe: Diviner
53. Loyle Carner: Not Waving But Drowning
54. Lightning Bolt: Sonic Citadel
55. Pan-American: A Son
56. Jessica Pratt: Quiet Signs
57. Wear Your Wounds: Rust on the Gates of Heaven
58. A Winged Victory For The Sullen: The Undivided Five
59. Aldous Harding: Designer
60. Anderson .Paak: Ventura
61. HVOB: Rocco
62. Erland Cooper: Sule Skerry
63. DeafKids: Metaprogramação
64. Black Pumas: Black Pumas
65. Black Midi: Schlagenheim
66. Jenny Hval: The Practice of Love
67. Steve Moore: Beloved Exile
68. King Princess: Cheap Queen
69. Cave In: Final Transmission
70. slowthai: Nothing Great About Britain
71. Orville Peck: Pony
72. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets: And Now For The Whatchamacallit
73. Drahla: Useless Coordinates
74. Pip Blom: Boat
75. Ride: This is Not a Safe Place
76. Cate LeBon: Reward
77. Yank Scally: There’s Not Enough Hours In The Day
78. Murder Capital: When I Have Fears
79. Glassing: Spotted Horse
80. Claire Welles: Transpose
81. Pat Dam Smyth: The Last King
82. XamVolo: All The Sweetness On The Surface
83. John Luther Adams: Become Desert
84. Light Conductor: Sequence One
85. La Dispute: Panorama
86. AA Bondy: Enderless
87. WAND: A Laughing Matter
88. Raphael Saadiq: Jimmy Lee
89. Whistle Arrow: Whistling Arrow
90. Durand Jones & The Indications: American Love Call
91. Sarathy Korwar: More Arriving
92. Lankum: The Livelong Day
93. The National: I Am Easy To Find
94. Vetiver: Up On High
95. The Twilight Sad: It Won/t Be Like This All The Time
96. American Football: s/t
97. Sharon Van Etten: Remind Me Tomorrow
98. Kamandi: Voices
99. Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats: Anger Management
100. Slipknot: We Are Not Your Kind

Previous Getintothis End of Year Album Polls

Getintothis‘ Top 100 Albums of 2018

Getintothis’ Top 100 Albums of 2017

Getintothis Top 100 Albums of 2016

Getintothis‘ Top 100 Albums of 2015

Getintothis‘ Top 100 Albums of 2014

Getintothis‘ Top 100 Albums of 2013

Getintothis’ Top 100 Albums of 2012

Getintothis‘ Top 100 Albums of 2011

Getintothis Top 100 Albums of 2010

Getintothis Top 100 Albums of 2009

Getintothis Top 100 Albums of 2008

Getintothis Top 50 Albums of 2007

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