REVIEW OF 2019
WE CHOOSE OUR
ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
It's been a great year for new music, and we thought we would share our picks for the best albums of 2019!
DARREN ROBERTS - Head of Qube Records
1. South of Reality - the Claypool Lennon Delirium
Really hard to pick a favourite album this year but this one just sneaks it. Amazing mash up of sounds from the 60s and 70s and the blending together of 2 things that shouldn’t work but do, namely Sean Lennon’s Beatles leanings and the bizarre world of Les Claypool, and the band wrap it all in so much MUSIC. All the songs are full of life and adventure and magic, and harken back to a time when music was supposed to be exploratory. Amazing for bass players, and fans of early pink floyd, the Beatles, and anything psychedelic, this is a must listen and I genuinely believe this will be looked upon in years to come in a similar bracket to those bands. Get in early!
Standout track : Blood and Rockets
2. Spiritual Instinct - Alcest
French Blackgaze pioneers Alcest have always mixed the heaviest sounds with the most delicate melodies and grooves, and this album is just stunning. Heavy, fragile, angry and beautiful all at once, the songs have an epic, cinematic quality and the playing has never been better. Great riffs, huge guitars, anthemic, euphoric choruses and the odd burst of authentic black metal screaming. If you like any kind of rock music, give it a go. Also the joint best band I saw live this year (with Opeth, who also released an amazing new album in 2019)
Standout track: Sapphire
3. The Nothing - Korn
I love Korn. I’ve been waiting for about 15 years for a truly great return to form Korn album, and this was it. Written in the aftermath of the death of front man Jonathan Davis’ wife, the songs all deal with that one incident. It is heartbreaking and difficult and ugly, and is possibly the most raw and exposed example of someone dealing with grief I’ve ever heard on record. All that only stands up if the music matches the emotion and it does, the band sound absolutely crushing and Davis himself has never sounded better or more tortured. It’s such a powerful album.
Standout tracks: Finally Free, Cold, and the bridge of Idiosyncracy is my favourite single moment of the year. Genius.
Honourable mentions to:
Opeth - In Cauda Venenum
Chelsea Wolfe - Birth of Violence
Wheel - Moving Backwards
Mayhem - Daemon
Gaahl’s Wyrd - GastIR Ghosts Invited
CLAIRE BROWN - Head of Music at Mounts Bay Academy
1. Kiwanuka - Michael Kiwanuka
Gorgeous, syrupy, soul filled vocals that really garb you and some beautifully process guitar which leaps from elements of Jimi to David Gilmour. Really interesting use of acoustic instruments mixed with cleverly processed samples. The album seems to be easy to listen to at first, but the lyrics clearly explain Michaels anxiety and the fact that he feels like he cannot find his place in the world. Skip to ‘Final Days of the vocal samples, cool groove and beautiful piano and guitar. Or ‘Love and Hate’ for a treacly smooth, strong song about not having to put up with hate.
2. GREY Area - Little Simz
A very exciting and diverse album from the leading woman in HipHop. Lush string arrangements, beautiful soulful piano and backing vocals with a clear groove. Every song song on the album has its own character with lyrics about the uncertainty, fighting for your place and hope. Skip to ‘Therapy’ for the rattling sub-bass and mixture of processed samples and acoustic drums or ’Selfish’ for beautiful, soulful harmony vocals and melodic piano - Note - there is explicit language throughout this album.
3. Two Hands - Big Theif
Actually Big Theifs second album in 6 months with U.F.O.F released in May. A beautiful, vulnerable voice with elements of anger rippling through the songs. Country influenced with raw emotion in the delivery. Skip to ’Not’ for vulnerability and pain and 'Forgotten Eyes’ for an easier listen of a happier, country influenced song.
JACK CURNOW - Music Teacher at Mounts Bay Academy
1. Emotional Education - IDER
IDER originate from Falmouth University. The now London duo consist of flatmates Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville, Ider were formed in 2017. Emotional Education was largely written in the band’s London flat and draws on themes of anxiety, identity, and mental health.
IDER boast vocal harmonies that blend so perfectly together it is no wonder that they have sold out venues across Europe and the USA.
Tracks to listen to: The entire album is worth a listen from start to finish – but if I had to pick my recommendations; (The smooth grooving instrumental lines in “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you baby” and the beautiful vocal treatment in ‘Mirror”
2. Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 - Foals
Foals have always been a favourite of mine. Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 is their fifth studio album. Foals have pushed themselves to create a soundtrack to address the burning issues of our times – climate change, political uncertainty and mental health problems.
Track to listen to: As always, give the whole album a listen. However, the typical Foals sound and linking guitar licks check out “White Onions”
3. Djesse Vol. 2 - Jacob Collier
Djesse Vol. 2 is the second record in the series Djesse by Jacob Collier and was released 19 July 2019. Djesse is a planned collection of four volumes which was announced 29 October 2018. Each record describes a different part of the day.
Collier is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist who gained recognition as a Youtube sensation where he was spotted by the likes of Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock. Djesse Vol. 2 is part of a four-volume, 50-song album featuring more than two dozen artists and ensembles. The first half of the project has already led to 2 further grammy nominations for Jacob.
Track to listen to: Any Collier track is worth listening to if you have not done so before. Check him out on Youtube. However, listen to Steve Vaie shred over “Do you Feel Love” and listen to the classic Collier multitracked vocals. Also, check out the smooth vocal combination of Jacob Collier and Lianne La Havas in “Feel”.
AMY GREEN - Art Teacher at Mounts Bay Academy
1. Titanic Rising - Weyes Blood
In the summer I was sharing music with a friend and a song they recommended to me was ‘Andromeda’ by Weyes Blood. Natalie Mering’s timeless voice captured me, and it stayed on repeat in the months that followed. When I delved further the album I was also stunned by the song ‘Movies’. This song is one of my favourite of the year; haunting, mysterious and utterly beautiful. The whole album is full of harmonies, strings and a special kind of warmth. A must listen!
2. Two Hands - Big Thief
Adrianne Lenker singing ‘Shark Smile’ from the 2017 album ‘Capacity’ is still one of my all time favourite things to listen to. In their second album of 2019, Big Thief’s sound has continued to grow and develop further. This album was recorded in the desert, and the ethereal, loose and flowing melodies seem fitting when considering the way it was recorded. My highlight of the album is ‘Two Hands.’ The simplicity and poignancy of the lyrics have stayed with me since my first listen:
Somehow we exist
In the folds
And now we'll kiss
The mystery before us
3. Jaime - Brittany Howard
This album is still relatively new to me. It was a few weeks ago I heard the song ‘Georgia’, and it floored me. The song starts so soulfully and then builds to an such an epic end with an organs and heavy drums; I can’t stop listening to it. Brittany Howard also produced this album and I think it is one the most original sounds I have heard in a while. Other highlights on the album include ‘Short and Sweet’ and ‘Stay High’.
LES HALL - Principal at Mounts Bay Academy
1. I Am Easy To Find - The National
2. Remind Me Tomorrow - Sharon Van Etten
3. All Mirrors - Angel Olsen
Not such an eclectic mix as usual, could easily have put in the Chemical Brothers’ No Geography, Bon Iver, Fontaines DC or Slipknot!