Music’s Albums of the Year – Part One: 11-20.

and guide you through the best picks from 2019’s deluge of new albums. In Part One, we go from No. 20-11, with Loyle Carner, Pixies and Sam Fender among those successful.

11. Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning

Always one to skirt from the rap mainstreams, this album should have the mainstream seeking Loyle Carner with urgency.

The second album from the rapper unafraid to mix jazz and soul into his hip-hop certainly does not disappoint. It’s almost more introspective and personal than his first offering, starting off with a love-letter to his Mum – and from thereon in we are welcomed into his world. It’s a brilliantly produced record with features of interactions with fans (“Ice Water”), sampling 50 Cent (“Angel”), and linkups with some of his most admired artists (“Desoleil” is set ablaze by Sampha, whereas the following track, “Loose Ends”, lends itself to the croons of Jorja Smith). You have to treasure the special moments we are given by Loyle – “Sail Away Freestyle”, recorded in one take over a Jordan Rakei beat, is phenomenal; “Ottolenghi” and “Carluccio” call back his heroes with delicate lyricism. Always one to skirt from the rap mainstreams, this album should have the mainstream seeking him with urgency. MP

For Fans Of: Grandmaster Flash, Little Simz, Anderson .Paak.

Best Track: “Angel”

12. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears

This record is simply beautiful. We are taken on a sonic journey on The Murder Capital’s debut record.

This record is simply beautiful. We are taken on a sonic journey on The Murder Capital’s debut record. When I Have Fears opens with thumping drums and vocals on “For Everything”; we find ourselves midway with “Slowdance II”, an instrumental which appears reminiscent of Foals or early Coldplay; the following track, “On Twisted Ground”, is a cut Guy Garvey would be proud of crafting; finally, “Love, Love, Love” journeys from dissonant guitars to mysterious chimes, then back to samples of noise rock. Dublin has produced many brilliant bands in the past couple of years, but this astronomical record proves that these lads are one of the best. MP

For Fans Of: IDLES, Wolf Alice, Elbow

Best Track: “On Twisted Ground”

The Murder Capital impressed with their debut akin to taking your ears on a sonic journey. Image credit: Paul Hudson via Flickr.

13. Pixies – Beneath the Eyrie

A great outing from one of the most important bands in indie history.  

Pixies’ seventh album is a return to form following recent underwhelming efforts Head Carrier and Indy Cindy. Biting guitars and gothic undertones are all present and correct, and Frank Black’s vocals are typically impassioned. Despite these classic comforts, the band break new ground on the album, moving towards more traditional psychedelic alt. rock that seems to suit their current aesthetic. A great outing from one of the most important bands in indie history.  TH

For Fans Of: Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana

Best Track: “St. Nazaire”

14. Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles

This is a diatribe of the millennial generation.

Sam Fender rarely sings about nothing, and even when he does, it’s still brilliant. Hypersonic Missiles is full of aims at Johnson, Trump, Putin and the lot; it is a diatribe of the millennial generation. What Fender does so well, though, is appeal to both new and old – there are flashes of Tame Impala or on songs such as “The Borders”, but other tracks like “Saturday” and “Leave Fast” call back rock legends such as Springsteen, Sting and Dylan with their bluesy chords and implementation of sax. Ending your debut with a live take of a solo piano ballad is special too, especially when you can deliver a take as stunning as that of “Use”. MP

For Fans Of: Gerry Cinnamon, Kasabian, Phoebe Bridgers

Best Track: “Leave Fast”

15. Fat White Family – Serf’s Up

The Fat White Family are famous for their raucous live performances and genre-shattering records.
Image credit: Umberto Rotundo via Flickr & Creative Commons.

Glam rock, jazz and disco all find a home here, and this variety keeps the album interesting from start to finish.   

Fat White Family have finally grown into themselves on Serf’s Up, putting aside their boring controversy and notoriety to produce an album with diverse vibrancy and character. First track “Feet”, complete with grand string arrangements, is a slick, danceable opener that showcases just one of the multitude of styles employed on the record. Glam rock, jazz and disco all find a home here, and this variety keeps the album interesting from start to finish.  TH

For Fans Of: Shame, The Fall, Suicide

Best Track: “Fringe Runner”     

16. Jade Bird – Jade Bird

Jade Bird’s self-confidence shines throughout this record, as she takes swings at her doubters and aims at her pretenders

Jade Bird has clear country roots, but this does not stop her expanding her sound beyond the country bracket. “Uh Huh” is an explosive rock anthem where Jade explores the tribulations of love; “17” is an emotional ballad full of resonant piano playing. Her self-confidence shines throughout this record, as she takes swings at her doubters and aims at her pretenders – a raucous atmosphere is almost never far away. Plus, the record is well-balanced, with the perfect amount of ballads and anthems, as the production intensifies crescendos and makes more precious those delicate, introspective solo moments. MP

For Fans Of: First Aid Kit, Courtney Barnett, The Amazons  

Best Track: “Uh Huh”

17. Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

This is without doubt his best work to date, and lays out his colourful manifesto of what is to come.

Michael Kiwanuka’s third album is a reflective, soulful classic that commands unwavering attention from the opening note to the last. Regal instrumentation is woven through Michael’s timeless, expressive voice, which deals lyrically with themes of toxic relationships, police shootings and nuclear apocalypse. This is without doubt his best work to date, and lays out his colourful manifesto of what is to come. TH

For Fans Of: Marvin Gaye, Primal Scream, Maribou State

Best Track: “Hero”

18. Clipping. – There Existed An Addiction To Blood

Over an hour of hilarious, sickening tales of ectoplasmic gore, bloody dismemberments and grisly cannibalism.

It would be a tough ask to find a more repulsive, nausea-inducing musical experience than this frankly horrifying concoction from Clipping. Over an hour of hilarious, sickening tales of ectoplasmic gore, bloody dismemberments and grisly cannibalism. However, through this red mist of brutality, alluring instrumentals and witty, politically charged verses jut out like compound fractures, ensuring the album engages on levels beyond shock value. TH

For Fans Of: Death Grips, Shabazz Palaces, Tyler the Creator

Best Track: “The Show”

19. Skepta – Ignorance is Bliss

This album proves that, even if Stormzy is the feature of the limelight, Skepta is one of Grime’s most vital pioneers

Skepta’s first LP offering since his Mercury Prize-winning, world conquering Konnichiwa is a much more direct and angrier record. On “Redrum” he takes on his enemies, spitting Everyone wants to be my archnemesis; he describes himself literally as a “Bullet From A Gun”. However, the entertaining Skepta is still there, full of wordplay, tricks and determination, never to be taken down. His features are brilliant too – the classic BBK ensemble are here on “Gangsta” and his brother JME on highlight “What Do You Mean” – but it’s the emerging talent, such as Lay-Z, Wizkid (both featured on “Glow In The Dark”) and Nafe Smalls (featured on “Greaze Mode”). We’re also dropped titbits of garage on “Love Me Not” and soul on “Going Through It”. This album proves that, even if Stormzy is the feature of the limelight, Skepta is one of Grime’s most vital pioneers. MP

For Fans Of: Kano, Krept & Konan, AJ Tracey

Best Track: “Greaze Mode”

Skepta once again won praise and plaudits for Ignorance Is Bliss. Image Credit: Bastiste Safont via Wikimedia & Creative Commons.

20. Penelope Isles – Until The Tide Creeps In

One of the most unique releases of the year.

A matrimony of gorgeous melodies and fuzz-choked, explosive riffs characterises Penelope Isles’ debut effort. The album is wonderfully varied, unexpectedly launching itself down alleyways of grunge, folk and disorienting psychedelia. Lead single Chlorine sets the stage with brash guitars and rich harmonies and is followed up by other highlights Underwater Record Store and 7-minute epic Gnarbone. One of the most unique releases of the year. TH

For Fans Of: Our Girl, Fleet Foxes, The Orielles

Best Track: “Chlorine”

Part Two of Music’s Albums of The Year will arrive next week. Image credit: Renaud.alouche via Wikimedia and Creative Commons.

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