Our best albums 2019 list features the 15 albums that we can’t stop listening to.
What a year! It’s been beset with political turmoil. But in terms of music its been another fantastic 12 months.
This time around 15 albums have impressed us for our annual round up. This ranges from a return to form for one of our favourite US acts to an intriguing funk concept album about Trump.
Lots of our other top acts over the last few years have also marked 2019 in style with stellar releases. There’s plenty of interesting new acts as well that impressed during the year.
But enough from us. Here’s the 15 best albums of 2019 that we urge you to seek out and investigate yourselves.
15.The Mountain Goats – In League with Dragons
John Darnielle and co once again excel with a collection taking in themes of celebrity and this time the mythical heroes of their youth. Here the production is even more sumptious than it has been in recent years, with one of our favourite artists Owen Pallet on production desk duties. Read our full review here.
14. John Howard – Cut the Wire
The singer songwriter’s fierce sense of independence rises to the fore on this collection that has a far greater focus on his 1960s and 1970s musical influences, sitting somewhere between The Beach Boys and whimsical English pop. Read the full review here.
13. Jenny Lewis – On The Line
We may miss the sparkling pop of Rilo Kiley but Jenny Lewis is still delivering great songs as a solo artist. Continuing on from where 2014’s The Voyager left off she cements her role as one of the best country-pop balladeers around.
12. Stealing Sheep – Big Wows
The evolution of Stealing Sheep continues and any of the more folksy pastoral elements of their first two albums have been cast aside in favour of a greater pure-pop approach. The good news is that it suits them perfectly, and anyone who has seen them live this year can attest to what a great glittery performance that is. Additionally, ‘Jokin’ Me’ has to be the best song released this year and deserves to be a chart smash (if that even exists as a thing anymore?).
11. The National – I Am Easy To Find
The “stadium band it’s ok to like” continue to deliver the goods on their eight album. An array of guest female vocalists add some difference to the sound this time around and compliment Matt Berninger’s smooth croon perfectly.
10. The New Pornographers – In The Morse Code of Break Lights
The second Dan Bejar free New Pornographers album in a row may miss his contributions but the rest of the band do their best to make up for that. Simi Stone joins the band, adding a third female vocalist, and AC Newman delivers some pitch-perfect tunes. ‘You’ll Need A Backseat Driver’ is worth the admission fee alone.
9. Purple Mountains – Purple Mountain
Purple Mountains is notable as David Berman’s first post-Silver Jews album, and his first recorded work in over a decade. It is also notable as one of the most consistent records of his fascinating career. Sadly it stands as his final work, tragically he committed suicide in August this year.
8. Guided By Voices – Warp and Woof
This is just one of the three albums the prolific band released this year. Originally coming out as a set of EPs the songs are short, urgent and focused. It is a purple patch for the lo-fi legends but this stands out (just) as the best of the bunch.
7. Pip Blom – Boat
The Dutch indie popsters have a very identifiable sound, and a very appealing one. Their debut album continues on from their excellent early singles and is one of the most enjoyable, and freshest, releases of the year.
6. Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All the Time
Album number five for the Scottish act is full of epic melodies and meloncholy lyrics as they cement their place as one of the most innovate indie rock and alternative bands in the UK. James Alexander Graham’s downright beautiful vocals elevate them even further. VTr and The Arbor are among our favourite tracks here.
5. Penelope Isles – Until the Tide Creeps In
Brighton base dPenelope Isles play a melodic dream pop, their debut album has a scope and sophistication that reveals their music school background. In lazy journo style I hereby dub them “the British Deerhunter”.
4. School of Language – 45
David Brewis from Field Music turns his attention to Donald Trump and the US far right on this cheeky, funky and in places angry collection. The lyrics left us nodding in agreement and chuckling, while David’s inventive take on his influences of Prince and Talking Heads continues to impress us. Read the full review here.
3. Corridor – Junior
Sub-Pop’s Corridor are a French Canadian band that deliver a pulsing guitar pop that evokes post-punk and the pulsing rhythms of Stereolab in equal measure. It is epic and rhythmic and melodic and one of our favourite discoveries of the year.
2. Fontaines DC – Dogrel
This Dublin band’s stunning debut sounds like a blend of Joy Division, The Smiths and the Buzzcocks. While lyrically they are cemented in their Dublin background, especially with Grian Chatten’s powerful vocals. They impressed us so much at Glastonbury 2019 that we rushed out to buy this debut – there’s not many live acts that have the power and talent to do that.
1. Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
Their best album since 2010’s melody packed release Halcyon Digest? We certainly think so. In fact its filled with even more melody and inventive ways to present a song, veering from classic pop to alternative rock at will on this all killer, no filler collection.
Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers