We launched The Typescript in the middle of May, four-and-a-half months into the year, by which time a whole boatload of brilliant music had been released. We’ve had a good year here, and we’ve got a wide variety of reviews running, we’ve done a few features with indie bands, and, of course, our ever popular Classic Reviews on Fridays. Our music writers, Evi Cox, Samia Aladas, Rik Eisenberg, Karl Royzyn, and myself have widely divergent tastes, not just as individuals, but across the four of us.
We did our first Top 5 last week, with Karl’s, Samia’s, and Rik’s will follow. For now, it’s my Top 5. Later this month, I will also take a look back at our music coverage as a whole. So stay tuned for that.
And now, without further ado, let’s get to my top music of 2019.
We’ll start with the Honourable Mentions:
- The Comet is Coming, Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery.
- Michael Kiwanuka. Kiwanuka
- IDLES, A Beautiful Thing: IDLES Live at le Bataclan
- Fontaines DC, Dogrel
- 75 Dollar Bill, I Was Real
- Kim Gordon, No Home Record
- Home Body, Spiritus
And now, for my Top 5, listed in no particular order. I find it impossible to rank music like this.
- Stef Chura, Midnight: I loved this album when it came out, but I kind of forgot about it after a month or two until one day I was out running errands my phone played the track ‘Method Man.’ Back in the day, My Main Man Mike and I had this concept, the car crash song. The song so amazing you crash your car. Taken out of the context of the album, ‘Method Man’ is a car crash song. After playing it something like four or five times in a row, when I got home, I played this album again. And I fell in love with it, Chura’s timorous, tough and vulnerable voice and her fiercesome axe skills had me hooked. Midnight has remained in high rotation around here since that October day.
- Hallelujah the Hills, I’m You: Hills are one of my favourite bands, and have been ever since they gave away their Prepare to Qualify ep back in 2008. I’m You shows a sense of maturity from frontman and primary song-writer, Ryan Walsh, as well as a well-tuned, well-oiled machine of a band. This is an album made by a group of friends who are comfortable with each other. In my review of this album, I called it brilliant. I stand by that assessment. I also interviewed them.
- Tinariwen, Amadjar: The masters of the desert blues dropped one of their greatest albums this year. And if frontman Ibrahim ag Alhabib does occasionally sound his age, and tired, his band keeps him buoyant. Amadjar is full of songs about the beauty of the Sahara, as the hypnotic electric guitars of the desert blues. The guest list on this album included Warren Ellis, the musical genius behind the Bad Seeds, and his electric viola and other instruments on the tracks he guests are perfectly placed. You can just lose yourself in their rhythms. I was also excited to see them live this year, in Montréal, where they played for what seemed forever, creating this swirling, beautiful cacophony of guitars (usually at least three at any one time), bass, and percussion.
- Mark Lanegan Band, Somebody’s Knocking: As far as I’m concerned, Lanegan is a god and, in some ways, the heir of Leonard Cohen’s introspective and poetic approach to music. Lanegan’s solo career was initially built upon largely acoustic music graced with his growling voice, but he has developed a much broader sound with the advent of the Band behind him. And here, he pays homage to the likes of Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Public Image Ltd., and Sisters of Mercy with brooding post-punk guitars and bass, to say nothing of that growl.
- Red Mass, Kilrush Drive: This one came out before we launched The Typescript, but it is nothing short of phenomenal. Red Mass is fronted by Montréal underground king Roy Vucino, and over the years, dozens, if not hundreds, of friends and colleagues have come and gone under this moniker, though of late, the band has coalesced around Vucino and his wife, Hannah Lewis. And here, they have created brilliance. Drawing on post-punk, the album explodes with the first track, ‘God’s House’ and is just relentless from there on, as Red Mass run the gamut from post-punk to noise to more electronic tracks. Brilliance.