It’s New Year’s Eve! 2019 is finally coming to a close, a new decade is soon upon us, and most importantly today is Belwood Music’s 5th birthday. (Okay, so we had our birthday gig just over a month ago, but if the Queen can have two birthdays then so can we!). What better way to celebrate than by looking back at all the music that earned a place in our hearts over the past 12 months.
Album of the Year: Thank You Scientist – Terraformer
It’s bold, it’s bonkers, it’s bloody brilliant. No other album had us singing and dancing, 0left us awestruck at the musicianship, and put a great big smile on our face all at once the way this did. Thank You Scientist, already in a league of their own, just upped their game even further with this ambitious double album. (Full List)
Song of the Year: The Howl & The Hum – Hall of Fame
Another fantastic track from these Belwood favourites. They released a handful of gems this year, but this is the finest of them. The propulsive percussion, the nostalgic synths, and most of all the incredible lyrics, made this a firm favourite right from the first listen. It’s been blasted through the speakers so much even the neighbours must know all the words by now. (Full List)
EP of the Year: Winnie Raeder – From Here
Just such an incredible voice, the kind that sends shivers down your spine. The kind that makes the whole world fall still to listen. These four heart-wrenching tracks are delivered with such passion and vulnerability, Winnie just pours her very soul out for the whole world to hear. An extraordinary talent destined for great things. (Full List)
Video of the Year: Finn Andrews – One By The Venom
It’s so full to the brim with curious details and clever transitions that you can still keep finding little nuances that you missed several viewings down the line. There’s smirk worthy satire and glorious absurdity, to poignant vignettes and striking symbolism, and everything in between. It has a depth to it unlike anything else I’ve seen this year. (Full List)
Album Cover of the Year: Daniel Tompkins – Castles
I’ve been drawn in by plenty of inventive and beautiful covers over the years, but none that have actually stared into my soul the way this does. I just can’t tear my gaze away from it. The renaissance feel, the sculptures, the songbirds, the symmetry; there are so many gorgeous elements that contribute to making this so memorable. The eyes have it, the eyes have it… (Full List)
The Forgotten Gem Award: Maggie Rogers – Heard It In A Past Life
All music fans have an ever growing list of artists and albums they mean to get around to listening to eventually. Maggie was buried somewhere in the middle of mine, but after seeing her live I dove headfirst into her debut record. Sadly this discovery came many many months after its release, and during a very busy period, so it never got the mention it deserved on the site, but it has been a vital part of my year nonetheless.
Soundtrack of the Year: Blinded by the Light
There have been a lot of great music movies this year in the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody. The brilliant Rocketman of course, as well as the surprisingly charming Fisherman’s Friends. Yesterday was a very strong contender, but rather than a movie about how music can affect the whole world, this year’s winner Blinded by the Light focuses on a more personal story of how music can change a life for the better.
Best Male Solo Artist: Hozier
We have history in the making here, the first time someone has won an award two years in a row! The fact that Hozier won the category last year before his new album even came out meant he was a strong contender right from the start. But his record living up to expectations, with some brilliant stand-out tracks and excellent accompanying videos, just sealed the deal.
Best Female Solo Artist: Maggie Rogers
Not sure where her album would have come in our top ten if I’d had chance to review it, but even without the album she wins on the strength of her live performance alone. I went in with no prior knowledge, was completely mesmerised and bewitched for the duration, and left a changed man. Hands down one of the best sets I’ve ever seen and a night I’ll remember forever.
Band of the Year: Bear’s Den
I wasn’t sure who to truly call “band of the year”. Tool held the top spot for a while purely because those mad bastards actually did it; they finally released an album after 13 years! However, once I began writing out all the end of year lists, one name kept cropping up. Bear’s Den have earned a place among our best albums, best EPs, and best songs – a feat which has never been done before. That sure sign of consistent brilliance is more than enough reason for them to claim the crown.
The Spotlight! Award for Best New Artist: Megan Dixon-Hood
With such a constant influx of new music I’m often forced to just review a song and then move on; rarely do I get the time to dig deeper. This year I set aside the time to listen to all of Megan’s music, and boy was it time well spent. The scope and grandeur of her ambitions, the mystical quality to her music, the breathtaking power of her vocals, all point me to the belief that 2020 will be hers for the taking.
The White Feather Award for Disappointment of the Year: The National
I saved the worst til last as it actually pains me to write this. I’ve long held up The National as the textbook band that get better and better with every release, but then they broke their winning streak by releasing one of their worst albums with I Am Easy To Find. It was an album crammed with filler, the arrangements and hooks were a major step backwards, and the incessant overuse of guest vocalists meant it just didn’t feel like a National album at all. A heartbreaking note to end the decade on, but fingers crossed for 2020 and beyond.