Look it's still January so this post is only a little bit late. I enjoyed listening to albums in 2019, there was quite a lot that I liked which makes this list easier to do. There are some on here that aren't surprising at all if you know me, there are some which maybe are; cryptic eh? Lets get into it.
10. The Skints - Swimming Lessons
Let us start with one of the less surprising entrants, Swimming lessons is the fourth album from London based reggae-ska-rap band The Skints. I've been sold on the Skints since I was introduced to them by my friend shortly after the release of their first album and although they have never made huge waves in popular music they have slowly built a good following over the past 10 or so years culminating in a headline show at Brixton Electric this past year which I had the pleasure of attending. For me the band will always be better live than on CD which is why they are as low as they are but tracks such as Armageddon and Restless are a highlight (despite the awful rap on the latter).
9. Childcare - Wabi-Sabi
Apparently Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese term meaning to accept imperfection, strange choice of album title but I agree with it. Wabi-Sabi is the debut album from Childcare, a band I've been following the progress of since 2015 and the first time I heard the single Kimberley, that song genuinely has a shout at being in my top 10 songs of all time. Kimberley is not on this album and thus I have to accept the imperfection. The album is good, I enjoy tracks Man Down and Getting Over You especially and had I not had such a high expectation this might place higher but without Kimberley how can I? Childcare I fear suffer from the perennial sickness of Indie bands, ditching their more popular older material to seem avant-garde, I doubt they will ever record a second album.
8. Lost Under Heaven - Love Hates What You Become
Love Hates What You Become is the 2nd album from Lost Under Heaven, a male/female two-piece consisting of former Wu Lyf man Ellery James Roberts. Mr. Roberts is another great example of an Indie darling who takes himself far too seriously but I can't help it, I like the music those guys make. Roberts has an unmistakable raspy voice which can be heard on the soundtrack to 13 reasons why, although that is from the bands previous album. From this offering my favourites are Come and For the Wild.
7. Kele - 2042
Everyone knows Kele Okereke as the front man of Bloc Party but in recent years he has thrown out a plethora of solo material. 2042 was actually the 2nd album released by Okereke in 2019 after "leave to remain" which was the soundtrack to his play of the same name - I have been reliably informed that despite the name it has very little to do with Brexit and more to do with being a gay man in London. I was dissapointed by Leave to Remain as an album so when I heard the first release of 2042 I was really excited, Jungle Bunny is a really catchy song about a serious subject much more akin to his 2017 album Fatherland which was one of my favourites that year. 2042 has some great tracks in Jungle Bunny, St. Kaepernick wept and Guava Rubicon but the album as a whole has a few misses and goes on a bit at 16 tracks which is why it only makes number 7.
6. Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride
This is the fourth album from New York 4-piece Vampire Weekend and the first for 6 years. Singles from Father of the Bride started leaking out in twos at the start of the year starting with Harmony hall and 2021 with the former being my favourite from the entire album, these provided a taster of what was to come and the album as a whole did not disappoint. I do think that similarly to 2042, the album suffers from being longer than it needs to be at 18 songs but this I fear may be a trend of the post physical world, people don't seem to listen to albums in the same way as they used to. But yes this album was actually probably better than I was expecting, I'm not sure why that is maybe as they don't seem as miserable as most of the artists in this list and as a result they have crept up to the higher end of this list.
5. Better Oblivion Community Centre - Better Oblivion Community Centre
The first of three eponymous albums on this list (you won't be surprised when you see the 2nd one), Better Oblivion Community Centre is a project from Connor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers and this is their first album together. Connor Oberst is someone who I have been listening to many years from his work in Bright Eyes and am always eager to hear his new music but Phoebe Bridgers was not a name I had come across before although I see she too is quite the name in the US Indie scene making Better Oblivion a bit of a super group. Didn't know what I was in for is the first track and my favourite from the album it combines the gentle lyrical stylings you would expect from Oberst with some lovely harmonies and a very relaxing backing track. This album unlike the previous two is an album that I will happily listen to from beginning to end over and over, it seems to have a natural flow
4. Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres - Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres
Its the one you were all expecting and I did not dissapoint, 2019 saw a new album from a member of the Libertines so of course it has made it into my list. The Puta Madres are a ragamuffin crew of misfits including Jack Jones of the band Trampolene who Peter has been a long term admirer of. This album from Doherty was the first in many years that actually gained some quite positive critical review which surprised me as on first listen it didn't really grab me at all but you know I persevered and the more I listened the more I liked. I wouldn't say that this is amongst my favourites of the main man's work, that will always be saved for The Libertines, but I wouldn't necessarily put it as his best solo work either. Some songs I don't think work that well such as the mish mash cover of the Velvet Underground and Oasis that is Someone Else to be but other songs such as Shoreleave and Punk Buck Bonafide do show his writing talents. I watched a few interviews around the time of the albums release and if I had to guess I would say Pete is back on the hard stuff which is a shame for him but if the critical reviews are anything to go by the press prefer him on it.
3. AJ Tracey - AJ Tracey
A grime album, at last something that does not fall under the indie genre, what can I say I have a type. AJ Tracey's album though is good enough to break me out of my usual comfort zone, and it is the first time since Kano's 2016 Album Made in the Manor that a grime album has made the list. AJ, born Che Wolton Grant, is a 25 year old Grime artist from Ladbroke Grove, London and the song named after his home town is what really sold this album to me from listen one with its catchy beat and flow. Although Ladbroke Grove is for me a stand out, every time I listened to the album another song popped out at me whether it be Psych Out! in which he explains how great he is or Horror show which now has a place in my Halloween playlist. Tracey in the same vain as a lot of young grime artists have a lot of songs which are fairly self indulgent and doesn't always have a lot of depth but the flow is good and its an album that just keeps drawing me back in.
2. Blaenavon - Everything That Makes You Happy
Another artist on the list that released 2 albums in 2019, the 2nd Demoitis was released about two days before the new year and so never had a shot but Everything Makes You Happy was released in October and was an ever present in my rotation for the rest of the year. The 3-piece Hampshire band, named after a small Welsh town for reasons unknown have climbed a place after their debut album, That's your Lot made 3rd place on my 2017 album list. To be fair Everything That Makes You Happy could easily have been number 1 on this year's list but was just pipped to the post as you will see shortly. This album like all my favourites is one that you can listen to the whole way through without getting bored and with stand out tracks such as The Song's Never Gonna Be The Same and my personal favourite Never Stop Stirring it has songs on from beginning to end that I really enjoyed and will be listening to for years to come.
1. Girli - Odd One Out
If you had told me at the start of the year that a pink haired, bi-sexual, gender fluid, feminist rapper come singer would be at number one on my album list I would have probably said.. yeah, fair enough it is 2019 after all. Girli is an artist I have been listening out for for a number of years after I heard her single Girl I met on the Internet in 2016. I always assumed that she would be one of these artists who releases the odd single year on year but never really gets as far as an album and I will admit I was wrong although at just 9 tracks and 24 minutes long it is a bit short for my tastes but it only leaves me wanting more. At the start of the year Deal with It was the track that immediately got my attention but after a number of listens, Friday Night Big Screen a song in which Girli compares her life to those of movie characters quickly became my song of the year and I spent many a traffic jam singing along to the wondrous if slightly camp lyrics. Some of the songs may be a bit on the nose with their 2019ness but on the whole they are fun, upbeat and uplifting.
Blimey, there we have it another year, another list. If I do say so myself this list is far better than last years as normal there were some surprises that made it in and some albums that I expected to be great that didn't quite live up to expectations such as the albums by Drenge and Skinny Lister which although weren't bad, they just weren't quite good enough. Honourable mentions also go out to Marina (formerly Marina and the Diamonda) and Cassia who were just edged out of the list. As alluded to in my singles countdown I have started narrowing down my songs and albums of the decade so I will probably write that sometime within the next 10 years. Until then adieu