[Editor’s note: In addition to catching up on some albums we may have missed as we reach the arse end of 2019, we, your intrepid music writers, will be offering up our Top 5 albums/singles/whatever of the year, before we finish the year with a recap of the best music of the year in total. Karl Rozyn steps up to bat first].
It’s always hard to winnow it down to just 5 records, even if 2019 felt like it had less good music coming out than 2018 did (at least, most of the good music I found this year came out last year). To that end I’ll start with a few honourable mentions, which are all head and shoulders above the pack but not quite top of the heap. My other five, if you will – Amyl and the Sniffers, Self-titled; Starcrawler, Devour You; Anamanaguchi, [USA]; Skatune Network; Pick It the Fuck Up, The Regrettes, How Do You Love?.
That said, I give you my take on the best five things that came out in 2019, in order:
#5 – BABYMETAL, Metal Galaxy (Cooking Vinyl America) – The evolution of BABYMETAL has been fascinating to watch. Metal + J-pop, then J-pop + metal, and finally with Metal Galaxy they blossom into their final form: boss fight music from Castlevania. Absurd, kawaii, and somehow still shredding, it’s hard to not find raw joy from the sheer ridiculousness of it.
#4 – Hans Gruber and the Die Hards, Hans Gruber and the Die Hards 2 (Paper + Plastick) – Best band name in the record industry by a country mile. A little hardcore, a little ska, punk as fuck. More fun than punk has been since the Dead Milkmen and the only time you’ll ever sing along about the earth being flat.
#3 – The Beaches, The Professional (Universal Music Canada) – All the post-disco swagger that Franz Ferdinand used to have distilled into four young women from Toronto. Only five tracks but zero fat and groove to spare. “I Want What You Got” is in serious contention for song of the year.
#2 – Olivia Neutron-John, Olivia Neutron-John (Sister Polygon) – A near perfect slice of avant electronic, ONJ really hits it out of the park with their self-titled EP. Brutally minimalist, numbingly repetitive, the bleakness of ONJ’s ennui is impossible to summarize. Just fucking brilliant.
#1 – Grimes (feat. HANA), “We Appreciate Power” (4AD) – Yeah, yeah, my top pick of the year is a single track by a popular artist that came out in January – but holy fuck what a track it is. Part ethereal pop part industri-dance power groove welded to the catchiest of shout-along choruses, “We Appreciate Power” lit a fire under me like nothing has in decades. This is what dance music should be: big, brazen, thunderously electric. The real shame is that Grimes has gone on record saying the forthcoming album will be nothing like it.