Considering the sheer volume of LP releases that find release every Friday these days, it can be more than a bit tricky to keep track of the artists releasing the best material. With the summer days just ahead, we wanted to take a moment and collect our favourite releases of 2019 from January to March in one place.
When I Get Home
Solange must have felt an enormous pressure to follow up on the seminal When I Get Home. Much of the obstinate material on When I Get Home feels like a direct response to that expectation. When I Get Home is abstract and at times, standoffish. Yet Solange remains one of the dynamic R&B artists currently out.
Niall & Andrea gave the LP a lot of love on the podcast, check it out here.
Tackling modern day apathy, adverse mental health and social media culture is a lot for a debut LP to take on. Miss Universe nails it. Yanya doesn’t bother with the gently gently approach. Instead, the artist blasts out her message over the wails of a distorted guitar. That message is one of self-doubt and, eventually, empowerment. Miss Universe begs for repeat listens.
We covered Miss Universe in depth, check out the review here.
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
The biggest new pop star around? The 17-years old’s debut album makes good on the promise of her early work by succeeding it with a fresh and singular vision concocted by Billie and her brother Finneas alone that feels free of major label industry shackles even though it isn’t. That’s a testament to the pair’s vision. For an album that cements Eilish’s stardom, it’s a wildly imaginative pop record filled with distorted low-end, discombobulating atmosphere, buckets of character and great songwriting.
Assume Form feels very much like the result of the last 3 years Blake has spent collaborating and producing. The straight shoulders Britishness of his earlier work is reduced to but a kernel, with a wild hip-hop influence taking the fore. The artist falls hopelessly in love throughout Assume Form, it’s been a long time since a track as unabashedly affectionate as ‘I’ll Come Too’ landed quite as effectively.
Niall & Andrea chatted through the album in depth on a podcast episode.
Japanese pop-punk group Chai’s hyperactive LP Punk subverts the tropes of Kawaii culture and female normativity over faster than light distorted guitar riffs. Punk takes a little getting used to, some of the ideas on it are a little sickly sweet to begin with. Stick with it a little longer and you’ll pick up on some nuanced cultural commentary and steadfast songwriting.
Far Out Dust
Eoin French’s second LP only really uses Wide Alee as a rough reference point. On Far Out Dust, French bravely steps into the field of contemporary pop music. There’s a certain amount of detail removed from Talos’ usually vivid soundscapes as a result. This is more than fairly recompensed by the anthemic hooks on tracks like ‘See Me’ and the quiet genius of ‘On & On’.
We chatted to Eoin about the new LP, the interview is here.
Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow
The New Jersey native seemed to tap into the abundant energy supply of Arcade Fire’s debut LP on Remind Me Tomorrow. Van Etten always feels as if she’s fighting her way out of a corner throughout the LP. Tracks like ‘Comeback Kid’ and ‘Seventeen’ blend gnarled instrumentals, impassioned lyrics and the artist’s supreme voice to make for a euphoric whole.
Hi, This Is Flume
It’d been a cool minute since we’d heard from Australian producer Flume, about three years to be precise. Then Hi, This Is Flume was given the surprise release treatment. It’s fantastic to hear the warped electronica Flume helped introduce a generation to back in 2012 be given a modern facelift. Flume remains a superb collaborator on this new mixtape, with highlight features coming from Slowthai and JPEGMAFIA.
All My People
BIMM graduate Maria Somerville caught our attention early in the release process for All My People. The full album, when it did drop, did not disappoint. Despite its brevity, at only 7 tracks, All My People effectively creates a sonic world unto its self. It’s downtempo, moody dream pop done right.
Everythings For Sale
Compton MC Boogie’s debut LP is flying the flag for conscious rap in 2019. The MC’s takes on love, life, race and gender roles dominate the discussion throughout the LP’s 13 tracks. Considering it was released under Shady Records, Everythings For Sale is also easily the best thing Eminem has been involved with in well over a decade.
Australian slacker-pop artist Julia Jacklin‘s second solo LP Crushing a brutalist collection of tracks on love and heartbreak. Opener ‘My Body’ is the sort of track you’re going to need a moment to digest. Despite its downtempo instrumentation and arrangement, there’s a staggering vulnerability and vitriol in Jacklin’s lyricism and vocal delivery. Crushing is flush with excellent lyrics. Jacklin tends to avoid poetic sentimentality, instead opting to pen brutally effective bon mots in an everyday vernacular. A captivating listen from top to bottom.
Kankyo Ongaku: Japenese Ambient, Enviormental & New Age Music 1980-1990
Light In The Attic Records has an austere reputation for reissuing obscure gems, so when they announced the release of Kankyo Ongaku, I had to give it a listen. The album boasts some of the most evocative sound design and dynamic composition I’ve heard from an album in a long time. This collection of ambient works from various Japenese composers takes its cue from the sounds of nature – be it the roll of a wave of the rush the wind outside.
All City’s reissue label Allchival unearthed a hidden gem with enigmatic Irish musician Micheal O’Shea’s self-titled LP. O’Shea was as much inventor as he was a composer. The man created his own instrument, partly out of a door. His music is a strange blend of folk sensibilities and the experimental sounds of the 70’s (the era in which the artist wrote this material). Yet, there’s a distinct world music vibe to the LP, O’Shea loved travelling and clearly picked up plenty of influence on his adventures.
LA singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt’s 3rd LP Queit Signs rolls out in the reverb of a jazz progression on the piano. It’s a moment of subdued excellence, a motif then carried throughout all of the LP. The beauty of Pratt’s music is in the nuance, the subtle shifts in texture and tones. Queit Signs is a culmination of Pratt’s diverse late sixties singer-songwriter influences. Play it through good headphones.
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt.1
People were getting, rightly, worried about Foals there for a minute. The band seemed to have lost their way a bit on the bland What Went Down, plus bass player Walter Gervers left the group after 12 years of service. This shift in the lineup seems to have been the catalyst for Everythig Not Saved Will Be Lost, forcing the group to change the way they approach songwriting. It shows too, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost feels fresh and vibrant. Part 2, due out in Autumn, is supposed to include 2 or 3 10 minute jams. Sounds good to us.
The posthumous LP from Mayo classical contemporary composer Conor Walsh is a bittersweet listen. There is a vibrancy and fluidity in Walsh’s songcraft, that expert crossover between technical ability and emotive material. This collection of 10 instrumentals are fitting tribute to one of Eire’s golden sons.