2019: Album by Album (in Review)

Twelve months ago, in January 2019, I decided to note down every album and EP I listened to that year, as well as any new-to-me individual songs I actively discovered, in a notebook – the traditional way it’s done – as both something cool to look back on in years to come, and an incentive to discover more music, whether that’s new releases or albums I had been meaning to check out for years but hadn’t got around to. However, having barely started, it occurred to me that I could make this obsessive journey into discovering more music even more obsessive by blogging my journey every month. And so, if you scroll down through this blog you will find every month’s worth of listening for your perusal.

Having completed the task at the end of December, naturally, I have now had a couple of weeks to take a break and take stock of my journey. I say take a break, but actually, by doing this I had re-instilled a passion to actively check out new albums on what has been pretty much an everyday basis, so in one sense, my journey has only continued. The only difference is, I’m no longer blogging it.

Ultimately, what I learnt from doing this was that there is a never-ending supply of good music out there waiting to be discovered. It was exciting to listen albums that I had neglected for so long, like ‘How It Feels to Be Something On’ by Sunny Day Real Estate, a band whose debut I obsessed over so much that I neglected the rest of their catalogue (it was in equal parts gutting to know I had been missing out such an incredible album in full for all this time, having first discovered Sunny Day Real Estate and becoming obsessed with ‘Diary’ some fifteen years ago); it was also exciting to discover bands and albums that I hadn’t heard before, whether it was a 2019 release like ‘Schlagenheim’ by Black Midi, or an older release that had passed me by, but I have since fallen in love with, with like ‘Any Other City’ by Life Without Buildings. I even discovered albums that had passed me by that have now become some of my favourite albums ever, like ‘Black Phantom Crusades’ by Red Animal War, a band who had a few tracks I had loved for years, but regretfully never delved into further.

Similarly enjoyable was listening to albums and EPs by friends’ bands, and from people I know on the scene like ‘Taut Orchestras’ by Tripper (as well as the single, ‘Pilot Error’, from their upcoming collab album with Mike Watt), ‘Big Storm Coming’ and ‘Heaven’s Gunships’ by Broker, ‘Turbo Island’ by Steve Strong’, ‘Young and Cool’ by Woahnows, ‘Everyone Will Fall’ by The Natural 20s, ‘To Set Things Right’ by The Bell and the Hammer, and ‘Tiny Fires’ by SPACESHIPS, reminding me that I am surrounded by, if not connected to, hugely talented musicians. And, although it wasn’t a genre I listened to huge amounts of in 2019, I should give a nod to fellow poet, and in fact someone whose poetry I really admire, James Turner, for introducing me to classical music in the form of Shostakovich and Henryk Górecki, which I found to be really nice to listen to whilst drawing.

As the year went on, I found myself getting more and more glued to checking out albums from 2019. As soon as I listened to one, I discovered another, and there were just so many great albums being released last year that I was unable stop. This is why the latter half of my blog posts are particularly saturated by 2019 releases, resulting in my album of the year list. As I write this I am listening to my 7th 2020 release of the year, so it is safe to say that obsession has continued, and there will probably be another extensive album of the year list from me come late December 2020, but hey, there are much worse things I could get obsessed with. At least I’m eating all my vegetables and washing myself regularly.

2019, in fact, was such a great year for music, that not only did a lot of my favourite bands release new music, including The Appleseed Cast, my favourite band ever, who put out ‘The Fleeting Light of Impermanence’, which (completely unbiased-ly) made the number one spot on my AOTY list, but my top ten albums of 2019 alone consisted of six albums by bands that were new to me: Bars of Gold, Prince Daddy & the Hyena, Heartscape Landbreak, Outer Spaces, One True Pairing, and Pile.

To round things up then, here are my favourite discoveries from each month of my journey (I have purposefully chosen albums/EPs that were completely new to me as opposed to old favourites, to make it more fun for myself if not anyone else – who is actually reading this anyway?), with an alternative highlight track, as well as my favourite individual song I heard that month (so, a track that I heard by itself, and not part of an album I had checked out – I know, this is anal, and overly specific, and all those things – welcome to the cogs of my constantly overworking and anxiety-ridden brain). Before that though, because this wasn’t all obsessive enough, as I went along I put a song or two from every album and EP I listened to in 2019, as well as those individual tracks I mentioned, in a Spotify playlist, which now clocks in at 26 hours and 1 minute in length, which you can follow here.

    Highlights
    January

Album: Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place, ‘You’re Doomed. Be Nice.’ Highlight: ‘Yie Air’.
Individual track: Mineral, ‘Your Body Is The World’.

    February

Album: Sunny Day Real Estate, ‘The Rising Tide’. Highlight: ‘Killed By An Angel’.
Individual track: Unwed Sailor, ‘Heavy Age’.

    March

Album: American Football, ‘American Football (LP3)’. Highlight: ‘Heir Apparent’.
Individual track: Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, ‘All I Remember is Punk Rock’.

    April

Album: Owls, ‘Owls’. Highlight: ‘For Nate’s Brother Whose Name I Never Knew Or Can’t Remember’.
Individual track: Outer Spaces, ‘Teapot #1’.

    May

Album: Heartscape Landbreak, ‘The Remedy’. Highlight: ‘Resentment Teeth’.
Individual track: Modest Mouse, ‘Poison the Well’.

    June

Album: The Appleseed Cast, ‘The Fleeting Light of Impermanence. Highlight: ‘Chaotic Waves’.
Individual track: Lightspeed Champion, ‘Waiting Game’.

    July

Album: Outer Spaces, ‘Gazing Globe’. Highlight: ‘Album for Ghosts’.
Individual track: Land of Talk, ‘Heartcore’.

    August

Album: Prince Daddy & the Hyena, ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’. Highlight: ‘Cosmic Thrill Seeking Forever’.
Individual track: Shield Your Eyes, ‘Drill Your Heavy Heart’.

    September

Album: Bars of Gold, ‘Shelters’. Highlight: ‘Atlantic City’.
Individual track: Brightside, ‘Just Like Dancing’.

    October

Album: Danny Brown, ‘uknowhatimsayin?’. Highlight: ‘uknowhatimsayin?’.
Individual track: SPACESHIPS, ‘Tiny Fires’.

    November

Album: Pile, ‘Green and Gray’. Highlight: ‘Bruxist Green’.
Individual track: Tindersticks, ‘Pinky in the Daylight’.

December

Album: Big Thief, ‘Two Hands’. Highlight: ‘Forgotten Eyes’.
Individual track: Tripper + Watt, ‘Pilot Error’.

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