After bigging up as much music as possible over the last twelve months, it’s time for list week! The most wonderful time of the year for music fans, and today is Sounds Good final list of 2019: Favourite Albums of 2019! Much like every other music-related publication out there, Sounds Good will be listing its favourite singles, EPs and albums of the year. I’ll be doing things a little different and will simply name my favourite singles rather than attempt to decide on the BEST, as that would drive me insane.
Thank you to every artist, PR person and record label who has submitted music to Sounds Good this year. Without them, this would be the quietest music blog around. Please note that it was hard to cut down each list to an acceptable number, and that the releases featured were some that have remained in constant rotation on my listening this year.
Each listing will contain links to the review of each album (if there is one, I didn’t feature enough albums this year) as well as the record itself, so that you too can listen to the ones that helped shape my 2019. Sounds Good will be taking a break over the holidays and will return in January, so make sure to check it out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you won’t miss out! With all that said, let’s get underway!
SOUNDS GOOD’S FAVOURITE ALBUMS OF 2019
MISS JUNE / BAD LUCK PARTY
This album holds a lot of sentiment for me as I was going through a rough patch during the time I discovered these guys. A dear friend of mine recommended them alongside an immediate invitation to see them live in London. Despite being so clearly into music, gigging is something I don’t do a lot of (mostly due to anxiety), but I fancied being uncomfortable and went for it as a way to shake things up.
It was an INCREDIBLE gig. Miss June (and Pretty Sick) killed it on stage which spurred me to listen to nothing but Bad Luck Party forever. I can recall the moment my face melted for the bassline to “Polio”, the riff to “Enemies” and the larger-than-life feeling of euphoria for “Twitch”. It’s a fantastic record and one that reminds me of when life began getting good again.
CHARLI XCX / CHARLI
You can always rely on Charli XCX to deliver something good, and this year was no exception. Charli is a record that showcases exactly how Pop is going to sound in the next five years, blending together various genres to produce a slice of Pop that’s futuristic and so entertaining. Easily one of the most off-kilter mainstream releases of 2019, but comes with the odd hit or two (“1999”, anyone?).
DRUG APTS / CLEAN LIVING UNDER DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES
Drug Apts have circulated the Sacramento Punk scene for a while but they finally released their debut album this year. Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances is not only a badass title, but it’s also a record that wears its experiences on its sleeve and jams both arms down your throat. Packed with ideas that range from genuinely catchy to genuinely mad, this is a record that unnerves and entertains you all at once.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN / DEDICATED
Coming off of the huge momentum of EMOTION is Dedicated, the new album from my favourite guilty pleasure, Carly Rae Jepsen. It’s another solid set of pure Pop songs, but it’s an album that brings out a new side to Carly that’s bolder and even a little bit saucy.
FONTAINES D.C. / DOGREL
FONTAINES D.C. entered the fray with potentially the best debut album of the year. Dogrel is a record steeped in anger, passion and holds some massive tunes throughout. I love the way each song flows easily into the next, maintaining a level of accessibility to contend against the rugged nature of the band’s sound.
SAM FENDER / HYPERSONIC MISSILES
The North East has churned out so many great bands over the year it’s making me ponder if I should move up north. Probably the biggest example of this is Sam Fender and his debut album Hypersonic Missiles. Sam has cut through into the mainstream thanks to a series of singles that transcend your traditional Indie vibe and actually brings some meaning to the table instead.
YAWNERS / JUST CALM DOWN
Yawners delivered a slacker’s dream with Just Calm Down. It comprises a sound that’s mammoth in size but comes with a mood that’s quite chill, making it one of the most enjoyable records of the year. I can only describe it as like having a mosh pit full of stoners. Sure there’s a lot going on but really, nobody’s being harmed. It’s superb.
SURFLINER / KISKA
Surfliner emerged from nowhere to drop a debut album that’s equal parts chill and wonderful. The love-struck ache of “Foolish Heart” opens the listener to a world littered with Bluesy, Tom Misch-esque melodies and lyricism awestruck by emotion. Kiska is beautiful, accessible and everything you could ever need from a record.
THOUGHTS / THE LAST SUMMER
The Last Summer is such a lovely record. It’s the kind of record that’ll make any occasion better. Chilling on a summer’s day? Check. Reading a book and avoiding interaction? Check. Thoughts have delivered something that’s effortless to get into, yet warrants the deeper listening to really appreciate their craft. What a record.
PEPPA PIG / MY FIRST ALBUM
Peppa Pig has dominated TV for well over a decade and this year decided to flex her knuckles and give music a go. The result is My First Album, a record so assured of its direction that you’d be shocked to find this is Peppa’s first foray into the wonderful industry of sounds. “Bing Bong Zoo” absolutely slaps, and the number of hooks within “Jumping in Muddy Puddles” should be illegal. This is Pop in its purest form and considering the album’s title, you can tell Peppa already knew it was going to be a hit. Here’s hoping for a swift follow up in 2020.
SKYE WALLACE / SKYE WALLACE
People look for different things when it comes to music. Whether that involves looking for an emotional connection or an experience into something left-field, everybody has an itch they need to scratch. For me, nothing’s more satisfying than an album that offers some straight up noise to sink your teeth into, and Skye Wallace’s fourth album does exactly that. This is why I believe it to be one of the best records of 2019.
Lead single “Coal in Your Window” sums up this record perfectly. It’s packed with massive riffs and shredding leads that wishes to flood your mind with noise, and it sets the tone for an album that throws wind right in caution’s face. You’ve got moments of clarity on the likes of “Iced In”, stomping grooves on “There is a Wall” and a more-melodic approach on the storming “Always Sleep with a Knife”. Skye Wallace has got everything you could want from a record, but gives all of those extra emotions and directions the same set of balls to knock you for six.
STURGILL SIMPSON / SOUND & FURY
Sturgill Simpson appeared to grow tired of being shoehorned as a Country artist and released the monolithic Sound & Fury as a form of protest. The new record is a driving force of destruction and features some of Sturgill’s heaviest and most interesting instrumentation yet. It immediately changes the atmosphere into one akin to a Mad Max film, and always brings a sense of doom to it that really goes down well. It’s a fantastic record and “Make Art Not Friends” is his best work. Prove me wrong.
THE COMET IS COMING / TRUST IN THE LIFEFORCE OF THE DEEP MYSTERY
A lot of 2019 was spent pretending to enjoy being people who were the absolute worst, and this was the record that helped me get through my day. The Comet Is Coming rejuvenated the modern Jazz scene with this eclectic journey into time and space, and it delivered some of the most original, bizarre sounds of the year.
DESERT SESSIONS / VOLS. 11 & 12
Anything that involves Josh Homme is sure to be featured because I am indeed that level of obsessed with him. After fifteen long, cold years lying defunct, Homme’s illustrious Desert Sessions series finally released a new collection of volumes. Vols. 11 & 12 features the most star-studded lineup yet as well as pristine production quality, fully realising the potential of DS as a standalone act.
The record is Homme’s return to the desert and a true embrace of the sound that defined Kyuss and QOTSA in the early days. “Move Together” is a sensually charged opener, “Noses In Roses Forever” is an off-kilter boogie, “Crucifire” is a driving force of a track and “Chic Tweetz”? Is…weird, man.
BILLIE EILISH / WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
I think it’s safe to say that Billie Eilish had the biggest debut year, right? She burst onto the scene from nowhere with a series of weird TV adverts, before launching into a sound that was dark, moody and everything against what traditionally becomes a mainstream stay. Her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? throws us into this world of doom and gloom, chucks in a few mammoth hits, frequent off-kilter grooves and a couple references of The Office in, creating one of the best debut records around.