The end of 2019 is approaching, we had a look back on the music brought to us this year. From up-and-comers to arena-sized icons, these are our staff picks of the albums that stood out from the rest…
Loyle Carner – Not Waving, But Drowning
- 19th April via AMF
- Picked by Eleanor, Marketing
The BRIT Award winner released his second album to huge critical and commercial acclaim! It reached number 3 in the UK charts and receiving such comments as “this introspective and brutally intimate record comes at an opportune moment for the young artist who has taken a step further into his own world instead of branching out to appeal to new audiences” from The Line of Best Fit (9/10).
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Bandana
- 28th June via RCA etc
- Picked by Mark, Marketing
This fiery release is the second collaborative album created by rapper Freddie Gibbs and producer Madlib, and features guest appearances from the likes of Pusha T and Anderson .Paak. NME rated it 5/5, while Pitchfork stated “On Bandana, their bond deepens. Madlib’s beats remain off-kilter, and Gibbs remains gangster, but there’s a looser feel to this record, a spirit of intuition and intimacy.”
Whitney – Forever Turned Around
- 30th August via Secretly Canadian
- Picked by Ida, Marketing
Counterparts – Nothing Left To Love
- 1st November via Pure Noise
- Picked by Heather, Marketing
Starting out 12 years ago in raucous hardcore before developing into melodic metalcore, Canadian group Counterparts chose to mix their past with the present for their sixth album. With a great balance of anthemic choruses and chugging breakdowns, Dead Press said “Streamlined and passionate, Nothing Left To Love is a record that sees Counterparts maintain their position as one of the leaders of the pack, whilst simultaneously looking at possible new avenues.”
Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles
- 13th September via Polydor
- Picked by James, Marketing, and Rosie, PA
First-time listeners would never believe this Sam Fender’s debut album. Filled with feisty lyrics and catchy acoustic hooks, it shows the North Shields singer-songwriter master the art of original indie rock in one take. Taking on topics such as toxic masculinity, working class struggles and war, he eloquently voiced his own experiences in a manner NME have called “chest-punching”.
The Chemical Brothers – No Geography
- 12th April via EMI
- Picked by Tab, Press
No Geography may be The Chemical Brothers’ ninth album bur it’s still massively varied, with the likes of Q, The Guardian and NME giving recurring compliments on how their sweet electronic sounds never grow stagnant. The album features the hugely acclaimed lead single ‘Eve of Destruction’ which has become a regular spin in the office!
Alex Cameron – Miami Memory
- 13th September via Secretly Canadian
- Picked by Johnny, Press
Australian artist Alex Cameron is closing the decade with one of his most critically claimed albums to date. His third full-length release sees him take a more personal approach to songwriting; a move that clearly paid off as The Line of Best Fit and Loud and Quiet both rated it 8/10, and Pitchfork commented “Cameron makes [each situation] both painfully real and bleakly comical.”
Little Simz – GREY Area
- 1st March via AGE 101
- Picked by Joe, Production, and Emma, Ticketing
After just one listen, there’s no questioning why Little Simz’ third album was nominated for a Mercury Prize, only why she didn’t win. The album sees the rapper looking for clarity in a confusing time of her life, but is instead met by top marks from publications such as NME and The Independent, as well as positive reviews from Pitchfork, The Times and Q.
Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
- 12th April via Partisan
- Picked by Holly, PA
The Dublin post-punk collective exploded onto the airwaves earlier this year thanks to the iconic debut album which features hit singles ‘Boys In The Better Land’ and ‘Too Real’. The album itself was nominated for a Hyundai Mercury Prize and listed as BBC Radio 6‘s Album of The Year, while both NME and The Guardian awarded it 5/5.
Mark Ronson – Late Night Feelings
- 12th April via Partisan
- Picked by Chloe, PA
2019 has seen the multi-award-winning and Platinum-certified producer collaborate with a grand plethora of musicians, all featuring on his fifth full-length release Late Night Feels. Including the hit singles ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus and ‘Find You Again’ featuring Camila Cabello, this album is just one incredible mellow R&B ballad after another.
Friendly Fires – Inflorescent
- 16th August via Polydor
- Picked by Annie, PA
Arriving eight years after their last album, Inflorescent is the sound of a band rejuvenated and reborn. It’s very much about living in the present; about not being afraid, seizing the moment, casting aside doubts and pursuing the things you love. And that’s exactly what Friendly Fires achieved this year.
FKA twigs – MAGDALENE
- 8th November via Young Turks
- Picked by Jess, PA
We’re not the only ones putting this art pop masterpiece in our album of the year lists! The second release from FKA twigs, it also placed at number 7 in The Guardian‘s and number 8 in The Skinny‘s, while other publications such as NME rated it 5/5. On top of this praise, Pitchfork added “MAGDALENE is not just on the vanguard of pop, it’s in a breathtaking class of its own.”
The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears
- 16th August via Human Season
- Picked by Lucy, VIP
It’s obviously been a great year for Irish post-punk as The Murder Capital also make the list with their debut album, which was given full marks from The Guardian and Indie Is Not A Genre, with other outlets like NME, DIY and Clash following not far behind. The dark, beautiful and totally captivating release also translates well live too as Lucy said their recent Manchester show blew her away.
Fever 333 – STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS
- 18th January via Roadrunner
- Picked by Jess, VIP
Also placing at number 6 in Kerrang! magazine’s top 50 albums of the year last week, this record marks the start of something new for genre giant Jason Aalon Butler, and sees him continue the same biting attitude that once thrived in his previous band letlive. The album is an amazing blend of punk, hardcore, hip-hop, and metal; taking on political and social issues to help those who may not have a voice.
JME – Grime MC
- 29th November via Boy Better Know
- Picked by Chris, Promoter
His first album in four years, Grime MC was definitely worth the wait. With Pitchfork calling it his strongest record of his career, it’s clear that the British rapper has spent his time wisely. Only available on CD and vinyl, this album sees him stand up as a key member of the scene as he proclaims that “grime is a physical genre and is a niche thing that is best when kept away from the charts and corporations.”