[sic] Magazine

Editor’s Albums Of 2019

Brett Spaceman’s Top Albums Of 2019

2019 was an utter dumpster fire of a year, politically but dark times often give rise to brilliant music. The deathly rise to power of Thatcher and Reagan was soundtracked by the likes of Joy Division, Wire and PIL. Indie music would continue to provide plenty of outlets for protest in the eighties. So would the music of 2019 cut it?

I had my eye on quite a few post-punk and indie releases in 2019 but alas many fell short of my own, admittedly high, expectations. Instead it was a year for ambient music to shine, ably backed by singer songwriters. Perhaps such reflective music is apt for 2019. As the British public overwhelmingly (well, 45%) voted to sell off their hospitals, continue to neglect schools and have their pension funds emptied by one of the worst and most heinous Tory governments in living memory, perhaps it was indeed time to reflect.

Reflect and think… ‘what the fuck have we done?’

Here’s my top ten of the year:
Oh look, a perfect hattrick for 4AD. Left foot, right foot and a header. I didn’t even plan it. Just happened.

Videos and review links below plus some others that just missed the ten.

Enjoy, and happy hols.

1. A Winged Victory For The SullenThe Undivided Five – (Ninja Tune)

“a profound realisation of life, death, the afterlife, and the spaces in between”.

The Belgian based duo went onto another level with this compositional work of staggering quality.

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2. HammockSilencia (Hammock Music)

Perennial [sic] faves Hammock wind up their ‘grief’ trilogy with this solid third installment. This is ambient neo classical at its absolute finest.

Brilliant.

3. Aldous Harding, – Designer (4AD)

“In the surreal world of Aldous Harding, songs are conjured via sleight of hand, simple gestures rendered fantastical as fairytales. Familiar chord voicings and sing-song repetition lull the ear, so when something subtle shifts, the rug really whips out from under your feet.”

(Tim Clarke)

4. Big Thief‘U.F.O.F.’ (4AD)

Unusual for a band these days to release two quality albums in one year. Two Hands and UFO were difficult to split. Rob Gannon bundled both in his excellent year review (linked below). He thinks choosing the ‘better’ is an exercise in futility. Well, with the quality on offer from these folksters it wasn’t an unpleasant audition. Two Hands has the bigger hitters but its UFOF by a hair for me. Rob was right though. Get both.


5. The NationalI Am Easy To Find (4AD)

Their weirdest album to date and certainly the baggiest since their fledgling debut. I liked this a Hell of a lot more than Sleep Well Beast. Certainly the relegation of Matt to, at times, an almost supporting role was a brave and selfless move. The guest singers do a fine job though. This collective approach has seen I Am Easy To Find compared to This Mortal Coil which is praise indeed from 4AD fans. Made me think of REMs Monster/New Adventures era, experimentation on the borders of their own comfort zone. Flawed, overlong…..brilliant.

6. [Retreat][Retreat] (s/r)

Wow a late entrant from Barnsley’s [Retreat] (Lyndon Scarfe and Sam Horton) This is one of the years most unique releases. Trancy electronica, field recordings and spoken word poetry paint an acerbic picture of Britain’s normalized dystopia.

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7. Angel OlsenAll Mirrors (Jagjaguwar)

Angel Olsen is “a natural at writing mantras for jaded souls”, according to Pitchfork. On her fifth album there’s a sense of Olsen going back to find the essence of herself . Lyrically softer, musically grander All Mirrors strips Olsen bare. She is for real here.

If this is the real Angel, I think I like her. A lot.

8. Greet DeathNew Hell – (Deathwish Inc)

Another late surprise. Power, grunge and ‘gaze combine to terrific effect. Having just mentioned Angel Olsens authenticity, so too these boys, unabashed at throwing a guitar solo into a cool, slacker indie album.

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9. Slow MeadowHappy Occident (Hammock Music)

Ambient compositions as you might expect from Hammock Music label yet very different in style to their label heads, Hammock.

A gentle meditation on the meaning of happiness in western society.

10. Sharon van EttenRemind Me Tomorrow (Jagjaguwar)

Her delivery continues to dazzle. Her writing goes from strength to strength (and she never even said hello to Jason Isaacs in the OA).

She amazes me.

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Sub Editors Albums of 2019

Editors Albums of 2018 – My picks from last year

A Winged Victory

Hammock

Aldous Harding

Big Thief

The National

[retreat]

Greet Death

Slow Meadow

Bubbling under cuts – enjoy:

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