Christmas is coming, the turkey is getting fat and it’s time to reflect on the best of 2019.

In no particular order here are my top albums, EPs and Singles of 2019. If you want to check any of these out, why not give by best of 2019 a listen? Enjoy!

Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow

Sharon Van Etten, photo by Ryan Pfulger

It’s early 2019 and a song pops up in one of my daily mixes – Comeback Kid. A song with an instant drum hook that draws you in, and I couldn’t help to click through to the Album – Remind me Tomorrow by Sharon Van Etten. Comeback Kid drew me in, but it’s the rest of the album that takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride of sound.

This album steps away from her guitar focused songs of previous albums and introduces a heavier synth sound, playing beautifully with her raw, timeless vocals. My vinyl copy gets played weekly still – i do think i’m slightly addicted to it to be honest – since purchasing it back in February. It’s developing a tone of it’s own like only vinyl can, which only adds to the sense of nostalgia this album.

The Blackheart Orchestra Mesmeranto

The Black Heart Orchestra performing live in Milton Keynes. Photo by Charles Palmer

Musical duo Crissy Mostyn and Rick Pilkington have created a sad, yet beautiful masterpiece. A look at life, the journey we take, and our ultimate end. Exploring the emotions we feel throughout our lives – the joy we feel, how loss can leave us with a sense of emptiness – as well as anger and regret at the moments we missed, and the times we’ll never now get. Then ultimately how we may feel as we draw close to our own end, is this it or is there more?

This album cuts through right to you soul, the synthesized orchestra created by the duo and sung so beautifully by Crissy will stay with you for a long time.

Martha Gunn
Love & Emotion

Martha Gunn Performing live in Milton Keynes. Photo Charles Palmer

At just three tracks, it would be really easy to overlook this EP – yet they manage the cram in a huge amount of love and emotion into this EP. Highly talented, this five piece band originally met in brighton. Inspired by bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Mystery Jets and Haim, they have crafted a sound all of their own.

The EP follows the theme of unfulfilled relationships, With Abi’s powerful vocals pairing perfectly with the energetic rhythms and guitar. This is a band that have it all, and i’m looking forward to their future releases with eager anticipation. Oh and they were amazing live. Go check them out if you can.

Grace Lightman
Silver Eater

Grace Lightman performing live at The Islington. Photo by Charles Palmer

Grace Lightman’s album Silver Eater is a quirky, fun and tongue in cheek exploration of human society through the eyes of an alien – the Silver Eater (inspired by the real life ‘alien’ Paul Karason (google it).

Reminiscent of Bowie’s The Man Who fell To Earth, the Silver Eater provides observation on humanity’s quirks and idiosyncrasies.

With 80’s synths, hints of Goldfrapp and Kate Bush, Grace Lightman makes the music of the future – or at least the future I imagined watching Buck Rogers boogieing at the space discos of the 25th century back in the 1980’s.

So, let the Silver Eater take you on a science fiction journey with this highly creative (and addictive) music from another dimension and look at our lives through different eyes. This album should so be the soundtrack to a movie adaptation of The Humans by Matt Haig!

Fenella
Fehérlófia

Inspired by Marcell Jankovic’s 1981 animated fantasy of the same name, Jane Weaver’s new ambient project Fenella is simply a stunning electronic album. Created with long time collaborators Razz Ullah and Peter Philipson they have woven the fabric of folk tales into the deeply textured, layered soundscapes that can both confound and delight.

Jane, Razz and Peter have created an album that is as complex as it is minimal, one moment you could be hearing the swirling synth soundscapes that wouldn’t be out of place at a Hawkwind concert, the next The textured and processed instruments reminding me slightly of Flying Saucer Attack or Robert Fripp.

I don’t claim to quite understand the narrative, but it does have me intrigued and i’m looking forward to tracking down a copy of the animation so that I can understand some of the context of the songs.

Biianco
Get Up

I sort of wish Gabby Bianco had released her first three tracks as an EP – they are all amazing slices of chillwave that deserve recognition. But as they have all been released as singles, i have decided to focus her debut Get Up in my top on 2019.

A song about rising up against adversity – being knocked down, just to get back up, stronger than before – like the pheonix rising from the flames. Based loosely on the Sumerian myths of Innana, this is a powerful exploration of her own soul and equality. Her music gives me hope for a future where we are judged on our talents, not on our gender. And that’s the most beautiful thing of all.

Whenyoung
Reasons to Dream

The Irish trio came onto the scene in 2017, and their debut album released this year. Full of hooks, energy, bite this indie band have added more raw emotion to their indie sound. And production values seem to have gone up a notch too.

Beautifully written songs, a sound that’s bigger than a trio suggests, moments of indie disco, shoegaze and vocals that cut through the music to deliver their message this is a debut album that was the soundtrack to the summer.

Hawklords
Heaven’s Gate

Jerry Richards of Hawklords performing at Shepherds Bush Empire. Photo by Charles Palmer

The Hawklords started as an offshoot band of ex Hawkwind members, providing that classic space rock sound that Hawkwind fans crave. Since their inception the band have grown and developed, each album better than the last, moving out of the shadow of their roots and becoming something different. And they have been prolific – 6 albums in 6 years.

This album has everything the discerning space rocker needs – trippy lyrics – often with a sub context or message, swirling synths, jazzy keys, driving guitar, bass that would make Lemmy proud and pounding drums to keep everything moving. Long live the Hawklords!

Angel Olsen
All Mirrors

Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

I’m not going to lie – at first i wasn’t sure if this album would make my top of 2019 – I bought the album on the strength of the tracks Lark and All Mirrors which just grow, and grow, and grow until the raw emotion is almost too much to bear. And then things took a bit of a dip. Only I was wrong it didn’t – as is often the case it’s the songs that require that little bit more effort mentally that end up leaving you feeling more fulfilled.

This is an album that needs to be listened to in it’s entirety to fully appreciate Angels musical genius – don’t skip the tracks on spotify just because they don’t leave you instantly fulfilled – this isn’t music for instant gratification. It’s more like a good scotch at needs to be savoured to pick up the different notes, savoured to the last drop. Simply put this album is a masterpiece.

Will Burns & Hannah Peel
Chalk Hill Blue

Hannah Peel & Will Burns. Photo by Chris Turner

Chalk Hill Blue is a collaboration between electronic producer Hannah Peel and poet Will Burns. An album that combines the spoken word with sweeping electronic landscapes of sound inspired by the rural landscapes of southern England.

This album is quite unlike anything else I have bought this year. The poetry is delivered in a melancholic way, and the synths only serve to highten the sense of tension and bleakness. Themes of the album revolve around themes of friendship, death, loss and how the passage of time affects the landscape – both real and metaphorically. It’s haunting. It’s beautiful. It’s not always an easy listen. But that’s what makes it such a triumph.

Hawkwind
All Aboard the Skylark

Hawkwind are currently celebrating their 50th year in the music business, and Dave Brock and the rest of the band are showing no signs of slowing down.

With their lastest album All Aboard the Skylark we have Tongue in cheek songs about aliens feasting on flesh fondu, songs of an astronaut returning to earth to find the human race is now extinct, and nine minute journeys through audio experimentation that wouldn’t be out of place in any of their back catalog, this is a hugely enjoyable album. Is it deep and meaningful? probably not. Does it break new ground? not really. But it does deliver bucket loads of wit and humour, with some more serious undercurrents? All wrapped up in their trademark rock meets rave with a hint of punk and proggy jazz influenced sound.

Hawkwind are not a band, they are genre all of their own.

Thyla
What’s on your Mind

Thyla performing live in Milton Keynes, photo by Charles Palmer

Full of angst, frustration and catchy guitar hooks and powerful vocals, Thyla’s EP What’s on your Mind is a look at today’s social media society and the problems that can bring.

Duthie’s vocals demand to be listened too, with a power, emotion and confidence that reminded me slightly of Wolf Alice singer Ellie Rowsell. I literally love everything this band have done, and i’m eagerly awaiting a full length release.

Deep Deep Water
Something in the Water

Deep Deep Water live at BlueDot Festival 2019

With hints of bands like portishead, warpaint and Massive Attack, this EP hits all the right notes. Trip Hop influences in the rhythm section, layers of synth goodness, textural guitar work and sultry, reflective vocals this EP provides us with fantastically crafted songs, lyrically intelligent and backed up by the accomplished musicianship of a band who understand each others strengths.

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