10. Kishi Bashi – Omoiyari
Sweet and Summery sounds from a brilliant multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. The folk guitar picking and pleasant strumming of chords provide a cheerful rhythm, whilst Kishi Bashi’s vocals make me weep for how beautiful they are. His mixture of high-mid register singing really compliment the songs and soothe me. The violin arrangements are fantastic and not to mention the piano playing which is elegant and almost encompasses artists of the past in such a way to how The Beach Boys used to arrange their instruments. The album is reflective on modern America and the rise of white supremacy. Kishi Bashi has put a lot of thought into his words and has listened to real stories about the world around him and it’s time for you to hear what he has to say.
9. Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
Lana’s music has always experimented with low-fi sounds and melancholy vibes and her classic style flows so well on ‘NFR’. Smooth piano, delicate acoustics and nostalgic electric guitar set the scene for an archaic Hollywood/California vibe. The album is slick and relaxed with some of the best production yet for her work and what we’re here for the most are Lana’s words and voice which are fantastic. Her voice seems to pull at the heart-strings with little effort and her words sound so experienced and reflective. Am album that makes me feel and I have to say this is her best work yet.
8. Little Simz – Grey Area
The way that people have talked about artists such as Jay Z and Kanye West over the years will seem like nothing when they hear Little Simz’s third album ‘Grey Area’. Full of slick bass and rhythmic beats, Simz really makes each track her own with her unique and expressive rapping style. Fast and effective and incredibly political as she highlights the hardships of black people and women, especially in the UK. ‘Venom’ is a real highlight on the album as Simz basically spits out the venom of society and is a ferocious track. The album closes off perfectly with the smooth ‘Flowers’ which highlights the sounds of the Grey Area to a light and delightful finish.
7. In Autumnus – Scrupulosity
Every so often there comes an album which opens your eyes to new ways of making heavier music accessible. Scrupulosity takes influence from existing Blackgaze, but also includes nods to 80’s pop and 70’s Prog! A really diverse and expressive album both vocally and instrumentally and sole member Mike puts everything into his music and production. The guitar tone is exceptional and the ferocity in drumming and high pitched note playing is chaotic yet emotional. You rwally feel the emotion in his voice as well. A nod as well to the intricate bass work throughout the album. This is the most interesting album you haven’t heard.
6. Tropical Fuck Storm – Braindrops
Tropical Fuck Storm by name and nature as this Australian band bring everything to the table with noise rock, art rock, psychedelic rock and punk. Chaotic and creative with an intense opener and calmer closer. It’s amazing how so many styles can be incorporated into one album and still keep consistent with a thunderous bass, distorted and piercing guitars and vocal rioting. I hope we don’t have to wait long for another album.
5. Ashley Henry – Beautiful Vinyl Hunter
One of this year’s finest with experimental jazz, Afrobeat and one of the best contributions to jazz in years. Delicately brilliant piano, driving bass and smooth beats all contribute to a range of styles and the smooth lounge style provides a chilled out vibe. A modern touch on a classic sound with plenty of exciting features who lay down their own spin over Henry’s craftsmanship.
4. The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery
Truly infectious, beautiful and awe inspiring. The jazz trio put together an intergalactic fusion of loud and scattered sax, driving basses and warm drum patterns. A pioneer of modern experimental Jazz which presents itself as bold and proud. One of my favourites from this year and chaotic brilliance. I can’t think of anymore positive words to say besides get listening to this album and go on a journey!
3. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains
One of my favourites from this year and one of the saddest releases in 2019 and for a long time as frontman Dave Berman died shortly after the album’s release. It is a soulful record blending together indie, alt-rock and Americana sounds with Berman’s emotionally stricken words and voice guiding you through. The album’s inspirations include his mother’s death, depression and splitting from previous band Silver Jews (check them out). The album enriches sadness and following his death has a whole new meaning like Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’. This album needs to be heard.
2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
Beautiful and simply depressing and if you ever want to feel something then look no further than Nick Cave. An album blemished in sadness from Cave’s personal life and is spilled over in poetic magic with atmospheric electronics and delicate pianos. Cave’s voice aches over the tracks and you feel like you’re on a mystical journey with him and are transcended through the keyboards into this Eden-like portrayal in the album artwork. There’s a sense of enlightenment with this album and I am forever grateful for the music Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds create.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR:
RICHARD DAWSON – 2020
Why is 2020 my album of the year? For many reasons ranging from Dawson’s descriptive story-telling or his combination of blues, folk, pop and rock genres fused together in each track. The guitar tone was an instant hook for me and the crunching guitars which at the same time seemed so simple, re-envisioned my thinking of how you can make a guitar sound. The picked acoustics and pounding keys and bass really beef up the album and walk alongside Dawson’s words. I feel like I’m on a journey around the north of Britain and walking through his past experiences as if Dawson has opened up his brain and said “come inside.” Incredibly melodic and consistent in tracks such as Two Halves and Dead Dog In An Alleyway and mind-blowing in the 10 minute Fulfilment Centre which feels like no time has passed. Whether he’s talking about flooded pubs, football matches or not coming in to work, Dawson’s visual description of British life is well depicted and almost political in the sense of the life of the simple working man. I now have to go and make my guitar sound half as good as Richard Dawson’s. Keep pushing those boundaries!
My album of the year ladies, gentlemen and everyone else. Let me know some of your favourite pieces of work from this year and onto 2020!