I do this every year, but this year I am going to write a blog post about it. My top 5 albums of the year, as chosen by me based on wot I like (simple innit). I know it’s late too, but here it is.
I think 2019 was definitely been a year for classics – at least 2-3 of these I can see being staples on my ipod from now on (you can guess which ones). So here goes, in no particular order…
Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement
A comeback, a reboot, H and Acid Reign 2.0. Whatever you want to call it, it’s Acid Reign back and better than ever. The first two singles on their comeback trail (Plan of the Damned and The Man Who Became Himself) were catchy, punchier and crunchier than anything they’d done before and showed a band who weren’t afraid to embrace new sounds, recording ideas and influences while still remaining distinctly ‘Acid Reign’.
The album that followed was at the same time everything you would expect from Acid Reign (gang vocal choruses, chugging riffs) but with a modern production and a modern songwriting approach, H’s vocals are the strongest they’ve ever been, not just in terms of power and vocal strength but in his confidence and delivery of the material too. The overall vibe I got was of a mid-period Anthrax album (like Persistence of Time or State of Euphoria) which is no bad thing.
Du Blonde – Lung Bread for Daddy
Probably my favourite singer/band of the year, if not the decade. Beth Jeans Houghton’s 2nd album as Du Blonde sees her expanding her sound both in songwriting terms and sheer presence – her voice and lyrics just get you ‘right there’.
On this album, I think Du Blonde truly found their voice. While their first album was the sound of a singer breaking free from her ‘expected’ path, this album shows her establishing her own distinct character. From the dark doom of coffee machine through to the equally dark (but musically upbeat) Holiday Resort, everything here just clicked into place and made for the perfect storm of an album.
Seeing these songs live a few times now has just confirmed how amazing Du Blonde are. Not a weak track on there.
Redbait – Cages
Technically not an album but it’s my list so who cares. Redbait were a happy random find, having come across them in 2018 through a link on a review site to their Bandcamp page and their amazing ‘Red Tape’ 4 track EP.
2019 saw the release of Cages, their 5 track EP that expanded their hardcore approach with a darker and heavier metallic sound that combined their hardcore roots with a more mature songwriting that lost none of the power and directness.
The twin singers Rebecca and M. give the band a great way of intertwining and playing off each other vocally, crashing against the metallic chug of Capital Gains or the melodic chorus riff of Bred For the Knife to provide a memorable and really distinct sound.
Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
A great band, not just a great name. MMWB’s 3rd album doesn’t stray from the garganutan drone/doom of their previous 2 releases, but add more refined vocals from Jessica Ball and more space-rock keyboards and soundscapes. A great album to get lost in.
Darkthrone – Old Star
They just get better. This album continues their crust-punk/NWOBHM journey that started on ‘The Cult Is Alive’ and brings some classic metal riffing into the mix, as well as returning to some of their early black metal atmospherics. The band that are their own genre now. The Hardship of the Scots is a personal favourite.
The Ting Tings – The Black Light (Manchester Versions)
Hey, you’re not meant to have 6 in a top 5! I put this one in as it was a chance purchase – saw it listed on social media and I listened to it in 2019 at a time when it just chimed in with me. They’re a great band anyway, and I’ve got their previous albums, but this is a raw guitar version of their 2018 release ‘Black Light’, giving the songs a more sparse melancholy feel. Just the right album at the right time.