There was a lot of great new music in 2019.
There was a lot of great new music from familiar faces in 2019.
But I am kicking off my review of the best albums of the year with a compilation of old music, Steve Lamacq’s “Lost Alternatives” was a treasure trove of old favourites, lost classics and things you hadn’t ever heard before.
Spread over a massive four discs the collection reads like a who’s who of British indie-pop ‘n’ roll throughout the nineties.
You can read my full reviews of each disc in the set here.
The return of Sleeper as a live concern set hearts racing across the globe back in 2017 when they appeared at the mighty Star Shaped Festival but the announcement, in 2018, that there was going to be new music was almost too much for the likes of me to deal with.
The fear was that it wasn’t as good as what had come before or, worse, it was just a re-re-play of what had come before and wasn’t actually new at all. Sure it would have pleased people who think that the most exciting new bands in the country are the ones who sound just like the most exciting new bands in the country in 1997 but for the rest of us…no thanks.
Praise be Sleeper understood that coming back for the sake of coming back was a pointless, and unsatisfactory, exercise and instead decided to return with their best album and one of the best albums of the year.
The Modern Age review can be read here.
Two bands from the other side of the world released fabulous albums this year. The Beths with “Future Me Hates Me” which you can read about here and Miss June who delivered the musical equivalent of a punch in the face with their furious “Bad Luck Party” which you can read about here.
Earlier this year I caught a singer-songwriter by the name of Nigel Thomas playing support to a certain well known Britpop star in a tiny venue in Edinburgh. Thomas was full of charm and in possession of clever, heartfelt, funny and memorable songs. His album “Well Well” is a gem and you can find out why it’s one of my albums of the year here.
It was a good year for people who loved the nineties and who soundtrack their lives through Britpop. There were new albums from Salad, who’s “The Salad Way” was a career best featuring songs of beauty, heartache, heartbreak and wonder.
The Supernaturals delivered “Bird of Luck” which, again, was a career best filled with the sort of melody makers that made them so special first time around.
And then Jake Shillingford brought us a new My Life Story album which was, quite frankly, astonishing, “World Citizen” proved that he is one of the best songwriters of his generation and that he has lost none of his ability to write music that lingers long in your mind since the last album all those moons ago.
One of the most astonishing albums of the year was “When I Have Fears” from The Murder Capital. It wasn’t just the way in which they drew upon familiar punk and post-punk sounds and visions but that they managed to do so and make something that sounded new, relevant and important. But more than the music was the fact that, for the first time in a long while, here were a band you felt actually mattered…a band, whisper it, you could believe in. You can read the full review of the album here.
For me the best album of the year, from a new band, was “Signal” by Automatic. Here were a band who understood that only a fool doesn’t judge a book by its cover and that while substance matters it matters less if you you don’t have style. Achingly retro and utterly modern they delivered a no-wave, new wave, electro-pop, synth-pop album that sounded like the soundtrack to the best film David Lynch has never made. You can read the full review here.