Al Disco Haram
Moving Still has been responsible for some of Ireland’s tastiest dance records this year and ‘Al Disco Haram’ takes a darker approach that is no less irresistible. Major electro grooves and Middle Eastern flourishes make for a wholly unique sound.
Kneecap exploded this year and ‘H.O.O.D’ is a provocative certified banger. We wrote about the track extensively earlier this year, but ‘H.O.O.D’ can be summarised as a crushing hip-hop anthem driven by biting wit and unparalleled energy.
An absolute jam from Pratt’s recent Quiet Signs LP. ‘Aeroplane’ is subdued yet focused. Woozy guitar lines and Pratt’s own strange vocals carry this gem.
Better Oblivion Community Centre
Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers go to war with the social media circus of politics in 2019 on one of their self-titled debut albums’ lighter folk cuts. They confront Donald Trump, consumerism and existential exhaustion with the flawed wise restraint of a poetic narrator that claims complacency yet still has a fire inside them.
Italo-disco is still great. ‘Monogamy’ is the best we heard of the genre this year.
A lineup change forced Foals to change up the way they approach their songwriting on both of their albums this year. Gone, largely, are the calling card progressive parts. In their stead, a focus on capturing groove and intensity in looped, repetitive ideas. ‘In Degrees’ is a signpost through the approach and a clear highlight from both volumes of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost.
Men I Trust
Soulfully smooth lushness built for breezy car rides into the sunset.
The Dublin MC absolutely jumps on this sleek West Coast beat to provide the listener with exactly three minutes of bars about ambition, intelligence and originality. Percy at his very best.
DeMarco does a slow one. ‘Nobody’ watches the world around it with cool detachment, happy to have its own moment of self-reflection. The background horns, with their baroque melody, feel a little like a tip of the hat to ‘She’s Leaving Home’ era Beatles. Even in his downbeat thoughts, DeMarco remains a charismatic and captivating artist.
Kojaque & Luka Palm
One of the best productions from the Green Diesel Mixtape. The beat, hook and low-end whispering atmosphere carries this tune.
Georgia On My Mind
Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract is a music-making machine, somehow fitting in space for yet another Brockhampton album and a solo release in 2019. ‘Georgia’ is a highlight from his second solo album Arizona Baby. Slow and melancholic, it’s a warming example of Abstract’s confessional lyricism and the musical intimacy that has won him such a rabid young following.
Sharon Van Etten
‘Seventeen’ is the centrepiece of Van Etten’s excellent Remind Me Tomorrow. A nostalgic and anthemic track that channels stadium rock into a nuanced and affecting direction, ‘Seventeen’ is a remarkably heartfelt ode to growing older and reckoning with your past self.
Baleful and intense, ‘Seven’ is an irresistible slice of atmospheric manipulation. Steeped in both claustrophobia guitars and cavernous production, Just Mustard play with dynamics on a seamless and intriguing track that is unquestionably one of their strongest.
Luke’s choice for track for the summer. Here’s an excerpt – “It’s not a particularly remarkable set up for a tune. ‘This Life’ won’t be referenced in the music production classes of the future, nor will barstool philosophers, chins in one hand and G&Ts in the other, debate the layered nuances of Ezra’s lyrics. However, ‘This Life’ has the sort of boundless energy the sun puts into its morning smoothie to prep for the day ahead.
James Blake feat. Rosalia
Barefoot in the Park
One of Assume Form’s centrepiece tracks features Spanish rising pop talent Rosalia and samples an old Celtic folk track. An ode to the intimate moments shared between two lovers.
Mix & Fairbanks
Ground Control & Major Toms
Absolutely that dance tune you heard at every single festival this summer from the always on-point Kildare duo.
“Fuck the government and fuck Boris”. A talismanic bar from an artist well on his way to becoming the face of mainstream grime. The first artist of his genre to headline Glastonbury, the second from all of hip-hop after Jay Z. His popularity is a testament to the potential of young Britain, a rare bright moment from a dark, dark year for England.
Rap Song Tutorial
Less a straightforward hip-hop outing and more a comedic skit, ‘Rap Song Tutorial’ does exactly what it says on the tin. Injury Reserve go to war with a generation of ‘trap type beat’ identikit releases with a step by step guide on how to build a rap project (“Congratulations, you have made one rap song / Repeat 10 to 12 times to create a rap album”). In between the SIRI sampling and goofy structure though, exists a brief but memorable flow from one of hip-hop’s most interesting albums of the year.
Art-pop artist and one half of the strangest neo-liberal couple in the world Grimes had a mixed year in regards to her released material. Fans remain frustrated that her album eludes public release and ‘We Appreciate Power’ is a bit headache-inducing. However, ‘Violence’ is testament to the unique vision has for the potential of pop music.
More feat. Anderson Paak
Anderson .Paak is as versatile as they come and on ‘More’ his collaboration on Flying Lotus’ Flamagra he rides both the intro beat and the track’s main rhythm with ease, while Fly Lo’s trademark production keep things flowing alongside some memorable backing vocals.