Albums of the year
My top 5 albums of the year are (probably):
Purple Mountains: Purple Mountains (This record would be really funny if David Berman hadn’t actually topped himself. However, it’s still a lovely, lovely, affecting album)
Amyl And The Sniffers: Amyl And The Sniffers (Melbourne punk band’s debut album. The only band who can make a mullet vaguely acceptable.)
Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel (named album of the year by Rough Trade, Getintothis and BBC 6 Music. The hype is intense, but the album is really good. Like Cathal Coughlan’s The Fatima Mansions fronted by Liam Gallagher. In a good way.)
Interestingly, two Melbourne acts in that five, with only Ebony Steel Band representing the UK.
Gigs of the year
Not as many gigs as usual for me this year, but I was able to make it to Village Underground in East London back in June for Guided By Voices’ first UK gig since September 2003 – curiously, the only other time I’d seen them live. 53 songs played, from thirteen different GBV albums, including plenty from the two released in 2019 prior to the gig. Obviously, there’s since been a third long-player of the year already.
Another London gig at number two – Vic Godard & The Subway Sect with Johnny Britton at the Moth Club in Hackney in March. My personal highlight was probably Stop That Girl, originally a single in 1981, although a revamped version of the classic Ambition, also apparently to be featured on an upcoming album, ran it close.
The last gig of the year was one of the best as Fontaines D.C. pretty much lived up to their hype at the O2 Academy in Liverpool in November. Too Real was probably the intense peak for me, complete with guitars that sounded like clanging fighter planes.
Norwegian indie pop at number four, with Pom Poko at Jacaranda Records Phase One in October. Their set ended with a killer threesome from the debut album Birthday, firstly the brilliant title track. Next was the utterly joyous Crazy Energy Night. The very final, intense number was If U Want Me 2 Stay, which weirdly made me think of a mix of C81 indie and English toytown psych.
Number five came at The Shipping Forecast in May when Canadians Tallies were ably supported by Milo Seabird and especially Irene & The Disappointments. Live, Tallies most recalled Pale Saints, despite their album really reminding me a lot of The Sundays.
Songs of the year
Every year I compile a ‘best of’ CD for friends. I set a few rules – only one song per band/singer, and only songs released that year. If you want a copy, give me a shout.
This year’s track listing is:
1. Pom Poko – Crazy Energy Night. A killer start to any album, although strangely this is actually track seven on Birthday. I’ve just discovered its rather disturbing plasticine-esque video:
2. Amyl And The Sniffers – Gacked On Anger. Well worth the inclusion for the use of the word “gacked”, if nothing else. But this is a gloriously shouty, modern punk song.
3. Parsnip – Sprouts. From this year’s finest angular post-punk album.
4. Edwyn Collins – It’s All About You. Every Edwyn album is well worth listening to, and this one is no exception.
5. Fontaines D.C. – Too Real. As I mentioned in my live review, the band most remind me of Cathal Coughlan’s The Fatima Mansions, with hints of The Fall.
6. The Long Ryders – Greenville. This is from the awfully-titled Psychedelic Country Soul album, their first album since 1987. I’ve just discovered that this was the first single released from the record back in January, whatever that means these days.
8. Robert Forster – Inferno (Brisbane In Summer). Some lovely twangy guitar introduces a typically great song from another fine album from the Aussie stalwart. I also love the minor key piano stabs.
10. Brix And The Extricated – Dinosaur Girl. From Super Blood Wolf Moon, the third long player by ex-Mrs Mark E. Smith and her band that includes the Hanley brothers amongst the other former members of The Fall.
11. The Regrettes – Dress Up. One of a few bands in this list first brought to my attention by the excellent The Ledge podcast, this is one of many pop-punk tunes spread across sophomore LP How Do You Love?. Read my review of their Liverpool gig here.
12. Willie Nelson – Come On Time. A winner off Willie’s 69th (!) solo studio album. Just another solid, self-deprecating country record.
13. Pip Blom – Daddy Issues. A Dutch indie pop band called Pip Blom, fronted by a woman called Pip Blom.
14. Ebony Steel Band – Computer Love. I could have picked many of the tracks off Pan-Machine, but plumped for this marginally ahead of Tour De France and The Model.
15. Robyn Hitchcock / Andy Partridge – Turn Me On, Deadman. These two old stagers combined for a fine ep. Hopefully an album might follow at some point. As this one’s not on Spotify, here it is, the whole ep in fact:
16. Aldous Harding – Fixture Picture. A track off her critically-acclaimed third album Designer, which really reminds me of long-lost US indie poppers Joy Zipper. This track also features H. Hawkline and producer John Parish.
19. Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts – Eat Y’self Fitter. Lewis released a covers album called 13 Fall Songs, all recorded on tour. This is a version of my all-time favourite Fall song, recorded in Liverpool, but sadly I wasn’t present. This isn’t on Spotify, so the original is on the playlist below.
21. Tallies – Mother. As mentioned, there’s a lot of The Sundays in this, but that’s clearly no bad thing.
22. Nathan Hall & The Sinister Locals – Return Of The Butterflies. Lovely Welsh woozy psych from Scattersparks, the third album by this Soft Hearted Scientists-offshoot. Here’s some highlights from the album, as this is another one not on Spotify:
23. Guided By Voices – My Angel. This is from Warp And Woof, the second of their three LPs released in 2019. Typical spiky GBV lofi-esque indie pop.
24. Purple Mountains – Maybe I’m The Only One For Me. Closing track to the eponymous album by the latest incarnation of David Berman who very sadly killed himself in August. It contains the fabulous couplet:
“If no one’s fond of fucking me, maybe no one’s fucking fond of me”
A few of these artists have featured on my Best Of CD’s in the recent past – Nathan Hall was on the last two years’, with GBV featuring for the fourth time in eight years. Edwyn Collins last appeared in 2010, while Willie Nelson featured in 2016 and 2017, with Peter Perrett and The Regrettes also claiming a spot in 2017.
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Here is most of my 2019 CD on Spotify: