Fran Slater: Damn you, The National. I wanted to look like I had wide ranging tastes and that, just because The National released a 2019 album, it wouldn’t be guaranteed to be my album of the year. But I can’t see I Am Easy To Find being beaten. This collaborative masterpiece is warm, expansive, and beautiful. Matt Berninger shares the microphone with a host of female voices and the fact that my two favourite lines on the album are delivered by Kate Stables of This is the Kit shows just how strong this collaboration is. An absolute work of art.
Read Pete Wild’s review of I Am Easy To Find.
Tom Burrows: Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY! – As she says in her own words, Jamila Woods “may be small” and “may speak soft”, but these characteristics only serve to make the astounding power of LEGACY! LEGACY! all the more impressive. Woods honours and embodies well and lesser-known heroes on 13 odes to black and feminine excellence, and from the neo soul tones of ‘BASQUIAT’ to the closing house rhythms of ‘BETTY (for Boogie)’, it’s yet another slice of Chicago brilliance that’s an undoubted highlight of the year.
Sam Atkins: Lady Antebellum – ‘What If I Never Get Over You’ After hearing Lady A debut this song as part of C2C festival back in March my expectations of the studio version were sky high. Charles and Hillary’s voices sound incredible together as always, but for me this song is like a warm hug from my favourite band. Familiar and safe, but will undoubtedly be my most played song of 2019.
James Spearing: Karen O and Dangermouse – ‘Turn the Light’ – It’s not the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but with a new grown up and laid back sound for Karen and the deep nostalgia her unique vocals inspire, I’m perfectly happy without them. It makes me want to go out immediately and find her in the ‘starry, starry night’. A joy.
Read Nick Parker’s review of the Karen O and Danger Mouse album Lux Prima.
Matt Paul: I’ve been pretty obsessed with Chloe Foy’s new track, ‘Oh, You Are Not Well’. Well I have been pretty obsessed with everything she has done as yet and I can’t wait for her to release an album. If you like Laura Marling or Sharon Van Etten it is worth your time checking her out.
Kathy Halliday: Jerry Williams – ‘Grab Life’ – So, this one took me completely by surprise whilst I was out clothes shopping (a rare occurrence). I was in somewhere super trendy looking at both cacti and culottes simultaneously, when ‘Grab Life’ came on and I suddenly thought – ah, this must be the love child of Jamie T and Kate Nash. I didn’t realise how much I missed indie-pop and how much I needed it still. Life is full of cute little surprises, it seems! I think she might be one to watch…
Pete Wild: For me, it’s Years to Burn, the second collaboration between Calexico and Iron & Wine. On first listen, you’d be mistaken for thinking it’s just a new Iron & Wine record (all burnished in Sam Beam’s sunshine smooth voice) but then you listen and you listen and Calexico start to shine through (it’s like rubbing sheet gold with your thumb and their golden trumpets and aching pedal steel and grizzling guitar noise starts to come off on your thumb). Yes, if you like the Iron & Wine of Naked As They Come or The Shepherd’s Dog, there’s much here that you’ll like. But if you’re a fan of Calexico’s The Thread That Keeps Us you’ll find a direct throughline here. Taken together it’s a wonderful way to forget about the shittiness of the world for a bit.
Lisa Whiteman: Mastersystem – Dance Music – May was never going to be easy, with it marking a year since Scott Hutchison passed on to the house in the clouds. Mastersystem, a project pulled together by the Lockey and Hutchison brothers, released their first and only record only weeks prior – Dance Music. It is gnarly, grungy perfection in all of its not-long-enough 35 minutes, packed full of a much harder guitar and heavier drums than we ever saw from Frightened Rabbit – not least showcasing a different musical side to both Grant and Scott. But, with it came a dark familiarity in Scott’s lyrics, retrospectively perhaps an uncomfortable further insight to his pain. ‘Bird Is Bored Of Flying’ is a sublime piece of music and maybe a lyrical farewell. I can’t bring myself to love or hate this song, but accept it will forever be an impersonal, unsaid goodbye to one of the greatest writers of my generation.
Listen to the Picky Bastards discuss Dance Music on their albums of 2018 episode, where Fran Slater picked it as his album of the year.