I’ve been keeping a record of all the albums and EPs I listen to in 2019 as I thought it would be cool look back on, so I figured that I might as well blog them whilst I’m at it. It also seemed a good way of actively discovering albums that I might not have got around to listening to otherwise, whether it’s bands that I have loved for years, but for one reason or another, have yet to sit down and listen to an album of theirs in full, or bands that I’ve been meaning to check out but have yet to do so, completely new discoveries too, and albums I have already heard/own as well.
I’m also recording standalone tracks that I actively listen to (hearing something in a shop, for example, doesn’t count). So that could be new singles released in 2019, or songs that pop up in Spotify’s recommendations, or that YouTube throws me to. This could become hard to keep track of though, so we’ll see how long it lasts.
Without further ado, here are the albums, EPs, and songs I listened to in January. Click through on the links to check them out. If you have any recommendations for an album or song I should check out based on the kind of stuff I seem to be listening to, post your suggestion in the comments and I’ll do my best to check it out.
Joan of Arc, ‘1984’ – Chicago’s art rockers with Melina on lead vocals this time. Luscious. Highlight: ‘Punk Kid’.
Blood Orange, ‘Negro Swan’ – His most ‘difficult’ album yet, in my opinion. With a little patience, there’s some gems on here though. Highlight: ‘Charcoal Baby’.
mewithoutYou, ‘Untitled’ – One of my albums of the year, picking up from where Pale Horses left off. Highlight: ‘Another Head for Hydra’.
Modest Mouse, ‘This is a Long Drive Home for Someone with Nothing to Think About’ – Beautifully wonky as you’d expect. Highlight: ‘Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset’.
Maps & Atlases, ‘Lightlessness Is Nothing New’ – another album of the year 2018 for me. Their most direct and accessible album yet. Highlight: ‘4/25’.
The Front Bottoms, ‘Talon of the Hawk’ – a funloving mix of folk, pop punk, indie, and revival-era emo. Many earworms. Highlight: ‘Santa Monica’.
awakebutstillinbed, ‘what people call self-esteem is really just seeing yourself the way that other people see you’ – frantic and noisy, fragile and delicate, with a lot of urgency. Highlight: ‘Life’.
Black Foxxes, ‘Reidi’ – Not shy of dramatic shifts between loud and quiet, light and dark. A solid rock record. Highlight: ‘Joy’.
Told Slant, ‘Going By’ – This record is so sad it makes me laugh when I listen to it (that’s a compliment). Highlight: ‘Sweater’.
The Get Up Kids, ‘Kicker’ – Their first release in seven years and marks a solid return from the pioneers of synth-lead emo. Highlight: ‘Maybe’.
Tangled Hair, ‘Two EPs’ – Fun, catchy, playful math rock. Highlight: ‘Trains Are Broken’.
Snail Mail, ‘Lush’ – Slacker pop, weed emo, fifth wave emo, whatever you want to call it, it’s dreamy and lush. Highlight: ‘Heat Wave’.
Young Fathers, ‘Cocoa Sugar’ – Not my usual listening, but there’s some cool moments here. Highlight: ‘Toy’.
Pink Floyd, ‘The Final Cut’ – An epic concept album about the Falklands, musically not too unlike ‘The Wall’. Highlight: ‘Not Now John’.
Brightside, ‘Now and Loud’ – Super fun and catchy indie rock. Highlight: ‘Stellar!!!’.
The Drink, ‘Capital’ – Idiosyncratic and slightly unnerving indie (if anything). This band is underrated. Highlight: ‘Roller’.
The Promise Ring, ‘Nothing Feels Good’ – Classic 90s emo from arguably the hookiest band on the scene. Highlight: ‘Red & Blue Jeans’.
Pinegrove, ‘Skylight’ – Emo revival meets ‘Harvest’-era country. Highlight: ‘Rings’.
Iceage, ‘Beyondless’ – Post punk full of fervour and vigour. Highlight: ‘Pain Killer’.
Bibio, ‘A Mineral Love’ – Given how much I loved the lead single ‘Light Up The Sky’, I thought this electronic album was going to be a shoe in. Unfortunately, not so. Highlight: ‘Light Up The Sky’.
Count Your Lucky Stars Sampler #4 – A great way to get a taste of the emo, post hardcore, math rock, and post rock that lays the groundwork for this label. Highlight: ‘Moving Mountains, ‘Cover the Roots / Lower the Stems’.
Hop Along, ‘Bark Your Head Off, Dog’ – Another amazing album to come out of 2018. No idea how to describe this band. But they’re so so clever. Highlight ‘Somewhere a Judge’.
Itch, ‘Well, Well, Well, Three Holes In The Ground’ – Angular post hardcore from a UK band who should have been much bigger. Hightlight: ‘Tables Turned’.
Surrounded, ‘The Nautilus Years’ – Space rock. Much atmosphere. Much emotion. Highlight: ’21st Century Paradise Traveller’.
MGMT, ‘Little Dark Age’ – I loved ‘Oracular Spectacular’ and ‘Congratulations’, and really wanted to love this too…there’s a few good tracks. Highlight ‘She Works Out Too Much’.
The Sky Corvair, ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ – Shambolic post hardcore, featuring Tim Kinsella, Bob Nanna, and members of Guage. Highlight ‘St. December’.
Axes, ‘Axes’ – Fun and frantic math rock instrumentals you can sing along to and make you want to grin madly. Highlight: ‘Let Me Tell You Something About Pepe’.
mewithoutYou, ‘It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright’ – for all it’s criticism, if you go into this knowing it’s a folk album, it’s a really great folk album. Highlight: ‘A Stick, A Carrot & String’.
Camera Obscura, ‘My Maudlin Career’ – I loved ‘French Navy’ and was hoping the album would be more of the same, but it bored me. Highlight ‘French Navy’.
Owen, ‘King of Whys’ – Mike Kinsella makes beautiful, earnest folk songs. Highlight: ‘A Burning Soul’.
Jeremy Enigk, ‘Return of the Frog Queen’ – A colourful folk album. His voice is ethereal. Highlight: ‘Return of the Frog Queen’.
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), ‘You Will Eventually Be Forgotten’ – Emo revival full of twinkles and a voice that is saccharine. Highlight: ‘We Are People Here. We Are Not Numbers’.
Joie De Vivre, ‘We’re All Better Than This’ – Emo revival with a post rock nod, short songs that climb up and up. Highlight: ‘I Was Sixteen Ten Years Ago’.
Big Scary Monsters, ‘The Six Machine’ – Great compilation of post rock, math rock, post hardcore, and folk. Highlight: Caesura – ‘Weight And Carriage’.
Japanese Breakfast, ‘Psychopomp’ – ‘The Woman That Loves You’ is a song I often have on repeat. I really wanted to like this album. Highlight: ‘The Woman That Loves You’.
The Bell and The Hammer – ‘To Set Things Right’ – Saddle Creek-esque husband and wife folk duo. Highlight: ‘Here It Is’.
Toe, ‘Hear You’ – Chilled Japanese math rock. Highlight: ‘Song Silly’.
Team Me, ‘Blind as Night’ – Norwegian indie pop. Often epic. Highlight: ‘Riding My Bicycle (From Feddersensgate 5A to Mollerveien 31)’.
Parquet Courts, ‘Wide Awake!’ – If The Velvet Underground covered Fugazi songs, or vice versa. Highlight ‘Total Football’.
Sky Ferreira, ‘Night Time, My Time’ – A brooding pop album. I enjoyed a handful of the songs. Highlight: ‘Omanko’.
The Appleseed Cast, ‘Sagarmartha’ – The best post rock/emo band out there and this album only adds to my very biased view. Highlight: ‘As The Little Things Go’.
Starmarket, ‘Abandon Time’ – Swedish indie/emo with a punky rhythm section. Highlight: ‘Cologne’.
Second Monday, ‘Alvorada’ – Turning it up a notch or five and heading in a more post hardcore direction on their second album. Highlight: ‘Stereoscope’.
Patti Smith, ‘Live in Italy’ – A nice acoustic set. Highlight: ‘My Blakean Year’ (video not from the Italy gig).
Better Oblivion Community Center, ‘Better Oblivion Community Centre’ – Debut album from Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridge’s new collaboration. Highlight: ‘Didn’t Know What I Was in For’.
Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place, ‘You’re Doomed. Be Nice.’ – Rob Crow’s doing his own thing again and it’s good. Highlight: ‘What We’ve Been Up to While You’ve Been Away’.
Forth Wanderers, ‘FW’ – Dreamy, hazy slacker indie. Highlight: ‘Taste’.
Friend/Enemy, ’10 Songs’ – Weird mathy, shambolic, folk-punk from Tim Kinsella and friends. Highlight: ‘Thax Douglas’.
David Bowie, ‘Low’ – His artiest record. Very Eno. Worth the deep dive. Highlight: ‘Be My Wife’.
David Bowie, ‘Scary Monsters’ – It sounds like electric sparks are flying off this thing. Highlight: ‘It’s No Game (Part 1)’.
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – Yep, more of this band, can’t get enough. Highlight: ‘Keep What You Have Built Up Here’.
Individual songs I hadn’t heard before
Drug Church, ‘Grubby’ – Hardcore punk. Not for me.
Mineral, ‘Your Body Is The World’ – Another beautiful comeback track, bringing 90s emo into 2018/19.
Brightside, ‘Dreams (Fleetwood Mac Cover)’ – A cool indie cover of that Fleetwood Mac song.
Real Estate, ‘Darling’ – Bright, ‘trickly’ indie. Pleasant enough but nothing to write home about.
TV on the Radio, ‘Young Liars’ – Succulent art rock.
Pedro the Lion, ‘Quietest Friend’ – Stunning lo-fi emo/indie. Another great 90s/00s comeback for 2019.
Pedro the Lion, ‘Rapture’ – This one’s from his 2002 release and goes a bit harder.
Jets to Brazil, ‘Chinatown’ – There’s a nice plodding motion to this 90s emo classic – and more of that lo-fi vibe.
As Friends Rust, ‘Perfect Stranglers’ – Hardcore punk. I wasn’t really into it.
Warren Franklin and The Founding Fathers, ‘See Him Again’ – An unrelenting indie rock track.
Reggie and the Full Effect, ‘Congratulations Smack + Katy’ – Interesting title. Emo/pop punk with a lot of synths. Not for me.
Jeremy Enigk, ‘Sacred Fire’ – A beautiful atmospheric rock song, harking back to his earlier band The Fire Theft.
Pohgoh, ‘Friend X’ – Jangly and uplifting second wave emo.
Vedera, ‘Desire on Repeat’ – I liked the first 30 seconds or so.
Chinese Football, ‘Blind Men and an Elephant’ – Chinese mathy emo. Much twinkles.
Joie De Vivre, ‘Summer in New London’, ‘Salt’, ‘Sundays’ – I can’t wait to listen to ‘The North End’ in full, which these songs are taken from.
Parquet Courts, ‘Captive of the Sun (Feat. Bun B)’ – My favourite track on ‘Human Performance’, now with added rap. Pretty cool.
Tigers Jaw, ‘Guardian’ – Too polished for my taste.
Foals, ‘Exits’ – First single from their forthcoming album. It was okay, maybe it will grow on me.
American Football, ‘Uncomfortably Numb (ft. Hayley Williams)’ – The kings of twinkles with another beautiful song from their forthcoming ‘LP3’.
Circa Survive, ‘Bad Heart’ – Chilled experimental rock track.
Tears for Fears, ‘My Girls’ (Animal Collective cover) – Pretty standard cover, not quite as energetic and passionate as the original.
Tears for Fears, ‘Ready to Start’ (Arcade Fire cover) – As above.
Woahnows, ‘Dipping Out’ – Indie-punk has never been so catchy. Props to that cowbell.
Woahnows, ‘Skin Peels’ – More ear candy. It’s brevity leaves you wanting more.
The Most, ‘Orange’ – Fun, jazzy math rock.
Sweet Toothe, ‘Black Smoke’ – Finger-tapping math rock. The vocals are an acquired taste.
Delta Sleep, ‘Daniel Craig David’ – More math rock, this one’s a little more earthy.
‘Bearcubbin’!’, ‘Solid Gold Monster Truck’ – First I’d heard of this band, and I’ll be going back for more. Awesome fun-times math rock.
itoldyouiwouldeatyou, ‘Letters’ – Mathy indie rock. A bit too much on the poppy side.
Yvette Young, ‘A Map, A String, A Light’ – Mathy folk. I got bored.
Earthholder, ‘The Castle, The Tower, I Am’ – Post rock/metal. Not for me.
Toe, ‘Can’t Hear Mosquitone Any More #2’ – Vibrant, acoustic math rock.
Rain Still Falls, ‘Beginner Swimmer’ – Ballsy emo track.
Jejune, ‘Hialeah’ – Emo track with cool quiet/loud dynamics.
Triple Fast Action, ‘I Want To Know’ – Fun, punky emo song.
Red Level, ‘Turn It On’ – More emo. Sensing a theme here?
Only Airplanes Count, ‘Kings Do Not Have Watches’ – This song sounds like it’s going to fall apart at any moment.
Bay Faction, ‘Are You In The Mood?’ – Indie, emo, alt rock, with moody vibes.