Top 50 albums of 2019: 10-6

10: Little Simz – GREY Area

An uplifting and powerful rap album. Little Simz manages to find optimism among hardship, while calling out some of the stereotypes found in rap culture.

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9: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Shockingly good first half of a two-part album by a band truly comfortable in their own skin. A masterful display of how to build up songs. A crying shame that part 2 wasn’t up to the same standard.

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8: JOHN – Out Here on the Fringes

Brash, boisterous guitar noise that’s just too much fun to ignore.

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7: Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury

An fantastically bonkers blend of dance, psych, post-punk and avent garde that almost always hits the spot.

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6: The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears

A brilliant post-punk debut album with an occasional whiff of early U2 to it, only let down on occasion by a slightly strained vocal.

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Honourable mention: Viagra Boys – Street Worms

This album from the Swedish post-punk outfit was released late in 2018, so doesn’t officially make it into my list, but as I missed it at the back end of last year I wanted to give it a shout out for its brilliantly dirty grooves. Had it been released in 2019, it would most certainly have earned a place somewhere on this page.

 

And we’re down to the final five

Album of the week (05 April): JAWS – The Ceiling

JAWS - The Ceiling album cover

This is the third full length outing from Brummie indie-rock trio JAWS and this album displays enough maturity and song craft to justify it as album of the week in what turned out to be quite a strong shortlist.

The Ceiling has just enough dreaminess, grunge and shoegaze to push a lot of my buttons, and in many ways is quite reminiscent of the work of Shame, who also produced a strong album with Songs of Praise last year.

It takes a little while for this album to get going. Driving at Night offers us some warm familiar tones, with a classic jangly indie guitar riff, while Feel has a distinct Foals feel to it with its poppy chorus and slightly staccato rhythm section.

All very nice so far, though not necessarily blowing your socks off, but the album keeps growing as you listen.

With Do You Remember? we get our first taste of some heavier grungy rhythm guitars, albeit balanced out by some lighter lead guitar work at first but as the song gets into gear the heavier tones dominate and we end up with a bit of a stomper.

Fear offers us laid back grooves alongside lighter touch guitars that really sweep you up as the song motors along. End of the World has some Slowdive influence at the start with some echo laden guitars complementing Connor Schofield’s vocals before the song veers off into a satisfyingly heavy area.

Two more indie classics follow, Patience offers us beats, whereas Looking / Passing has a more atmospheric start. But however build well as the songs progress leaving us well happy by the end.

Strangely, title track The Ceiling is probably the weakest track on the album – a lower key number that doesn’t really go anywhere.

Please Be Kind is another classic indie belter with an anthemic wall of sound guitar laden chorus, while closer January is another groove-laden number after a slower start.

Ultimately this is an indie album, pure and simple. But it is good to see that there are still some newer bands injecting a bit of fresh life into a mature genre at a time when some of the old names are coming back out of the woodwork to reclaim their territory.

Release date: 05 April 2019

Rating: 7.5/10

Standout track: Do You Remember?

For fans of:

  • Shame
  • Foals
  • Slowdive

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The best albums of March 2019

1: FEWS – Into Red

Rating: 9/10 – Read full review

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2: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Rating: 8.5/10 – Read full review

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3: Snapped Ankles – Stunning Luxury

Rating: 8/10 – Read full review

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

Rating: 8/10 – Read full review

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5: Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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6: Flight Of The Conchords – Live In London

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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7: These New Puritans– Inside The Rose

Rating: 7.5/10 – Read full review

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8: Little Simz – GREY Area

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

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9: The Cinematic Orchestra – To Believe

More classy emotive and enveloping soundtracks from these damn-fine purveyors of blissful grooves and soundscapes.

Rating: 7.5/10

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10: Zefur Wolves – Truth Is In The Stars

Droning, drawly alt-indie rock with some pop undertones. A satisfyingly languid assault on your senses.

Rating: 7.5/10

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08 March releases – Reviewed and rated

Despite my initial fears, this week turned out to have a little bit of gold dust sprinkled on it, with a shockingly great album from Foals. Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind offered us some good ‘ol rock ‘n roll while Flight of the Conchords proved their music can still make us laugh.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Shockingly good first half of a two-part album by the increasingly mature Foals. A masterful display of how to build up songs.

Rating: 8.5/10Read full review

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Flight of the Conchords – Live in London

The comedy duo are at their very best in this live show from 2018.

Rating: 8/10Read full review

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Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind – CollectiV

Numerous styles on display here, but at heart this is a very well executed rock ‘n roll album.

Rating: 7/10Read full review

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Indoor Pets – Be Content

Upbeat, preppy post-punk pop that’s a riot to listen to, though not hugely original.

Rating: 7/10

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The Coathangers – The Devil You Know

Lo-fi indie rock with some punk pretensions. Enjoyable but not setting the world on fire.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Sasami – Sasami

Oh-so gentle indie rock in classic singer-songewriter style from the former Cherry Glazzer member. There are some engaging moments that suck you in, just not enough of them.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs

Female singer-songwriting in the vein of Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Bar the sometimes acerbic lyrics this is a little vanilla for my taste.

Rating: 6/10

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Nick Waterhouse – Nick Waterhouse

50s and 60s influenced beach rock. You would be better spending your time listening to the source material.

Rating: 6/10

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Ten Fé – Future Perfect, Present Tense

Dreamy pop with a folky influence. Perfectly inoffensive.

Rating: 6/10

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Malihini – Hopefully, Again

Softly, softly pop from this italian duo. Music to fall asleep to.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to releases from 8th March.

Album of the week: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1 album cover

Confession time – Foals haven’t been on my radar since 2010’s Total Life Forever, which featured the brilliant Spanish Sahara but little of interest.

With that in mind I wasn’t expecting too much from Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, but how wrong I was. This is an exceptionally good half an album that manages to constantly catch you off guard.

It displays a mastery of song progression – with layers building and building on each other until you are incapable of anything but being sucked into the tracks.

On numerous occasions the first few bars of a track leave you with low expectations and little indication of what’s to come but by the end you’re left thinking ‘that was fucking brilliant!’

Prime examples are Syrups, a slower number with a dominant bass that adds keyboards, soulful vocals and guitars as it goes, while On The Luna starts all Maroon 5 but gets beefier as it goes and is beyond recognition by the close of the track.

Sunday is perfectly named, as it has a laid-back sunny Sunday afternoon feel to it. But even here we get some guitar and keyboard layers, a squelchy bass coming in and even a change of tempo that will be perfect for getting the summer festival crowd bouncing.

There are some more full-on numbers too, such as In Degrees, which is an all-out dance number – Foals style, and the brilliant White Onions, which has buzzy guitars and some delicious heavy notes in the chorus.

Even in the quieter moments, such as with the synth chorals of opener Moonlight and the solo piano of closer I’m Done With The World (& It’s Done With Me), there is still plenty of atmosphere and emotion on show.

I had to listen to this album immediately after finishing it first time round just to make sure I hadn’t been hoodwinked by it, but if anything it sounded better second time around.

Part 2 of this work is out in the autumn, and I for one can’t wait.

Release date: 08 March 2019

Rating: 8.5/10

Standout track: White Onions

For fans of:

  • The Twilight Sad
  • Editors
  • Klaxons

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New Music Friday 08 March – What to listen to

Slightly slimmer pickings this week following a bumper crop or quality releases last week. However, there still may be some promise in the new material from Foals, Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind and Stella Donnelly, along with a live album from Flight of the Conchords.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

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Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind – CollectiV

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Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs

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Flight of the Conchords – Live in London

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Nick Waterhouse – Nick Waterhouse

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Indoor Pets – Be Content

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Sasami – Sasami

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Malihini – Hopefully, Again

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The Coathangers – The Devil You Know

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Ten Fé – Future Perfect, Present Tense

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Here’s a playlist of all of the above if you want to listen to this week’s selected new releases.