As the last days of 2019 begin to tick away, it’s time to delve into our final (and arguably most important) list of the year. While there are a few impressive debut albums that really shone this year, the most common theme within this year’s top ten is that of bands and artists really stepping up their game and producing their best work yet. So without further ado, here are the ten albums that most defined our 2019.
10. Kuri – No Village
This record finds the perfect balance between uplifting orchestral scores and moments of introspective emptiness. The perfect soundtrack for gazing out the window on a rainy day and pondering on all that life may throw at you. It is packed to the brim with a touching and bittersweet charm and has been one of my most listened to records of 2019. (Review)
9. Bear’s Den – So That You Might Hear Me
Building on all that came before, Bear’s Den have offered up their most consistent and well written record to date. Delicate folk, soaring riffs, soothing synths, bright melodies – all with the band’s unique stamp upon them. Each track comes from the heart and is delivered with real love and conviction. The band really shone this year and this record is always an absolute joy to come back to. (Review)
8. The Lumineers – III
Massively underrated and seemingly always able to surprise us, The Lumineers really upped their game with their mature and ambitious third record. III exceeded all my expectations and helped me see the band in a new light. This hard-hitting concept album about the scars of addiction lived up to what it promised, working as a single cohesive piece as well as having songs that stand tall on their own. (Review)
7. Cattle & Cane – Navigator
I struggled to review anything that came after Navigator, as it just kept pulling me back in. Cattle & Cane feel completely rejuvenated and reborn with this record. Somehow they manage to embrace a more accessible hook-heavy sound, while at the same time showcasing their most potent and heartfelt lyricism to date. It sets the standard for everything a truly great pop album should hope to be. (Review)
6. Press Club – Late Teens
It’s one thing to exceed expectations, it’s another to subvert them entirely. Punk albums that I like are as rare as hen’s teeth. Australia’s Press Club find themselves breaking new ground by providing me with a punk album that I love. The boundless energy, the faultless musicianship, the relatable cathartic lyrics, the raw and earnest vocals, the fire that it ignites in your veins; it is everything that I could ask for and more. (Review)
5. Hozier – Wasteland, Baby!
There were a lot of hotly anticipated albums from big name artists that missed the mark in 2019. This is certainly not one of them. Hozier built upon the successes of his debut to create a record that contains his most infectious, uplifting, dramatic, playful and powerful work yet. His songwriting reaches new heights, his voice is as striking as ever; this was a follow-up that was well worth the wait. (Review)
4. Iamthemorning – The Bell
This Russian duo are in a league of their own. Their latest record sees them refine their unique sound; beautiful and bleak, gothic and gossamer, melodious and macabre. Gleb’s piano as magical as the first flurry of snow, Marjana’s voice so airy and angelic, both working in perfect harmony on their strongest collection of songs to date. This gorgeous record is like a fairytale come to life, and is an experience that I wholeheartedly recommend. (Review)
3. Foy Vance – From Muscle Shoals
It’s been a busy year for Foy, dropping two albums in the last 12 months. While To Memphis sadly fell short for me, From Muscle Shoals however was the album I had always hoped he’d make. Delivering a deeper dive into his soulful side at last, it’s just so warm and comforting, the kind of record you want to cherish and pass on down the line. A perfect mix of brilliant new material and old favourites finding a home at last, this album is an absolute treasure for Foy fans and newcomers alike. (Review)
2. Gold Complex – New Soul
Canadian soul ensemble Gold Complex just exploded out of the blocks with their debut album. They are just on fire track after track, never missing a beat and even throwing a few exciting curveballs your way. Slick grooves to get you up and moving, nostalgic nods to Motown that are ready-made for carefree cruising, and some gorgeous balladry to fall in love to. At the centre of it all, frontman Will Bowes seemingly challenged himself to see how many times he can get you to say “holy fuck this guy can sing!” over the course of this album. (Review)
1. Thank You Scientist – Terraformer
Double albums are nearly always a doomed endeavour, cursed with an overabundance of filler. A double album in the hands of a progressive rock and jazz fusion band sounds on paper like a recipe for pretentious excess. Not when that band is Thank You Scientist. In their hands it means an incredible record like Terraformer. The band are at their most playful and madcap, their musicianship so bewilderingly intricate and yet delivered with such fervour and gusto, and their brilliant hooks are more infectious than ever. It’s epic, it’s heaps of fun, and it’s the best thing I’ve heard all year! (Review)
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