Top 50 albums of 2019: 30-21

30: Desert Sessions – Vols. 11 & 12

Josh Homme’s collaborative series returns with some cracking tunes. A lot of this sounds suspiciously like classic QOTSA and Them Crooked Vultures but there are a few tracks that surprise along the way too.

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29: LIFE – A Picture Of Good Health

Rousing and angry post-punk for the Hull four-piece. A must for any fans of loud guitars.

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28: Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith

An absorbing album that mixes electronica, ambient, dance and jazz with a splash of psych rock and even a touch of avent-garde.

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27: Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work

Heavy, raucous, clever. A right rollocking riff-tastic grind and a worthy successor to their brilliant debut ‘What Big Eyes’.

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26: The Comet Is Coming – Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

Jazz for the dancefloor, featuring the wondrous saxophone and clarinet work of Sons of Kemet’s Shabaka Hutchings. Surprisingly accessible, surprisingly good.

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25: Amyl and The Sniffers – Amyl and The Sniffers

Classic punk on show from this female-fronted Aussie five-piece. Powerful, absorbing and a whole lot of fun.

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24: RIDE – This Is Not A Safe Place

The band’s second album since reforming and they’ve certainly got their songwriting boots back on. Some great tracks on here to rival the best of their early work.

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23: Here Lies Man – No Ground To Walk Upon

More 60’s laden heavy grooves from the LA four-piece. It’s not a divergence from their previous two albums but they’ve certainly nailed this unique sound.

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22: Portico Quartet – Memory Streams

Jazzy trip-hop and electronica that’s perfect for chilling out to.

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21: Christian Fitness – You are the Ambulance

The sixth solo/not solo album from Mclusky and Future of the Left genius Andrew Falkous. As edgy, noisy and witty as ever.

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Not long to wait for albums 20-11.

Album of the week (10 May): USA Nails – Life Cinema

USA Nails - Life Cinema album cover

The fourth album from noise rockers USA Nails is only 25 minutes long, but during that time they manage to pack in a hell of a lot of riotous bass and crashing guitars. While hugely enjoyable, I got the feeling that the album was kept deliberately short in order to preserve our hearing and mental health.

From the off with Creative Industries we are presented with a bass line that demands your attention and all-consuming, wildly distorted guitars that just don’t quit until the very end. It’s quite an oppressive, head-pounding experience, and probably not one for those who are looking for a gentler introduction to the world of post-punk.

Singer Steven Hodson also does a sterling job shouting his way through the album, but you get the feeling he is just trying to make himself heard over everything else that’s going on.

At points when listening to this I did catch myself thinking, ‘Wow! This is intense’ and there isn’t much, if any, let up in that intensity. There are times, such as on standout track Work Drinks when the guitars take a slightly lighter touch and the approach of the bass is different – that’s as close to a moment of respite as you get. Similarly, title track Life Cinema, with its mantra of ‘Tune in and turn off’, offers a bit more structure that gives you something to grab on to.

By the close of the album, which finishes with a humorous 8-bit take on Life Cinema, you are left exhausted and elated, but also slightly relieved.

Release date: 10 May 2019

Rating: 8/10

Standout track: Work Drinks

For fans of:

  • Christian Fitness
  • Prettiest Eyes
  • Crows

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2018 Music Review – May

A mixed bag in my choices for May. There’s some absolutely banging dance floor fillers, very loud guitars, some lighter pop moments and something truly unique.

First to the elephant in the room. Despite my great excitement over its release (coming as it did on my birthday) there’s no place for Arctic Monkeys in the list. It’s divisive album. I know many people that love it and its won a fair few awards but I just didn’t get on with it. To be honest, I thought it was a bit boring. Not only had it lost a lot of the spikier side of the monkeys, but also it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before. I should probably give it another chance, but with so much good music around it’s hard to find the time.

On to those that did make the list. There was dreamy 60’s style Beach Boys-inspired girl-band La Luz, a strong outing from former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes and some Franco-pop from Halo Maud.

Putting my dance hat on we had an outstanding floor filler from Head Technician (Pye Corner Audio) while Jon HopkinsSingularity moved seamlessly from all out dance classics to beautiful piano solos. It’s an album that starts with a bang before slowly fading to almost nothing – in the most beautiful way.

The fifth solo-not-solo effort from Future of the Left and Mclusky frontman Andrew Falkous, Christian Fitness adds further depth to his work with the addition of distorted strings on top of his tradenark super fuzzy guitars. Another nice effort from one of my all-time favourite artists.

It’s really quite hard to describe exactly what my top album of May is. I’ve heard the phrase heavy music bandied about, but I’m still not quite sure the cuts it. Certainly The Body has a spiritual cousin with the of the darker aspects of heavy/death metal, but this is cut from an entirely different cloth. All at once it is a beautiful, distressing, joyous and downright put-your-head-in-the-oven depressing album. I guarantee it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but kudos to those prepared to give it a go. It’s so intriguing that I keep coming back to it, despite it feeling at time like you are in someone else’s nightmare.

Top 10 May 2018

1: The Body – I Have Fought Against It But I Can’t Any Longer

Standout track: Nothing Stirs

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2: Head Technician – Profane Architecture

Standout track: Beton Brut

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3: Christian Fitness – Nuance: The Musical

Standout track: Full Morrisey

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4: Jon Hopkins – Singularity

Standout track: Everything Connected

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5: Gaz Coombes – World’s Strongest Man

Standout track: Deep Pockets

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6: Halo Maud – Je Suis Une île

Standout track: Des bras

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7: Daniel Blumberg

Standout track: Minus

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8: Surgeon – Luminosity Device

Standout track: The Primary Clear Light

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9: Sleep – The Sciences

Standout track: Giza Butler

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10 : La Luz – Floating Features

Standout track: Loose Teeth

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