Another quarter and as always I am trying desperately to catch my breath.
The idea this time was to go for some safe cards, such as ‘Anima’ by Thom Yorke, the new Metronomy record, or even the bilingual outing by Opeth. But although those albums might be good, I have to admit that I have basically ignored them and sneaked off to secretly listen to a lot of other sounds instead. So much in fact that I gave up on the idea to limit myself to a top 10.
Hence, my best albums of this dramatic third quarter of the year 2019 are again selfishly personal, totally disorganised and not at all reflecting a responsible person’s selection of music.
But hey, the whole point with writing this is that I decide what stays and what goes!
Charlie Cawood – Blurring Into Motion
Melodically complex, lush and progressive neo-classical head spin. Makes me realise why Genesis liked Benjamin Britten.
The Cold Spells – Interstitial
Forlorn and experimentally pastoral post-punk pop. Not only is this album wonderfully restrained and autumnal, but it also gives me yet another opportunity to mention a clear influence from Robert Wyatt.
Diagonal – Arc
Van der Graaf Generator makes love to Talk Talk and gives birth to ambient prog. This is where post-rock should have gone in the first place.
Emmett Elvin – The End of Music
21st century King Crimson meets schizoid electronica. A difficult listen at first, but then you discover the beauty of this beast.
Föhn – Ballpark Music
Joss Cope teams up with Napo Camassa III and Ian Button, and invents a new genre, improvised pop. A strange trip, but one you need to take!
Led Bib – It’s Morning
A free-jazzier take on the North Sea Radio Orchestra. “Spine tingling” wrote NSRO collaborator James Larcombe and I can only agree! One of my top picks this year.
Francis Lung – A Dream Is U
Solipsistic pop of the highest order. A bedroom recording done in a big studio and nothing new under the sun – but somehow that sun is in a different galaxy.
Magma – Zëss (Le Jour Du Néant)
Orchestral rendition of the literally final piece of celestial music originally conceived in the 70s but not recorded in a studio until now. Not as unrelentingly mind-blowing as Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh but still a masterpiece.
The Melamine Division Plates – Novosibirsk
I am too young for the Spotnicks, but I bet they never sounded this good. Retro-futuristic imaginary soundtrack rubber band surf music from Alan Jenkins, of Deep Freeze Mice fame.
Modern Nature – How To Live
Modern Nature seem intent on updating 70s jam rock band Mighty Baby. The babies were in fact mighty far ahead of anyone else, and hence the updated result is nothing less than rootsy futurism. Amazing.
The Monochrome Set – Fabula Mendax
The progression here since The Jet Set Junta from 1982 may be difficult to pinpoint. But what does it matter when it is as great as this? As silly as it is sincere, and pure genius if you ask me!
Gruff Rhys – Pang!
Mixed by the South African electronic artist Muzi and with some verses in Zulu, this is nevertheless very much a Welsh pop album. Never been to Wales, but it seems that the pop Einstein per capita ratio must be highest in the world there. And Gruff is one of them, of course.
School of Language – 45
A concept album about the ruler of the Untidy State of America. Must have. Next quarter sees the release of a new Field Music album. Will it be as bold as this? One can only hope!
Alexander Tucker – Guild of the Asbestos Weaver
Electronica a la Brian Eno meets pop music a la Brian Eno in a modern studio playground. It may all have been precogged before, but Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451 which is the thematic reference here is of relevance again.
Utopia Strong – Utopia Strong
Suggestive improvised electronica with a “non-musician” snooker champion Steve Davis and musical voyager Kavus Torabi. Haven’t wrapped my brain all around this one yet but you don’t need to with tracks like Brainsurgeons 3.
The Martial Arts – I Used To Be
Master popsmith Paul Kelly combines Abba and Elton John on smashing new EP. Timeless!
Officer! – Brexit means Toxic
Finally somebody says it like it is. And with a wyattesque pop-feel to boot!
The Beatles – Abbey Road [50th Anniversary Edition]
Who else but the Beatles could agree to do a final masterpiece before splitting up, and then go ahead and do that. After half a century, no other band even comes close. And this one is worth the price of admission already for the studio demo of Macca ditty Come And Get It. But you also get the best sounding Beatles album ever as a bonus!
The Regime – The End of Something
Home made album that sums up the dreams and the themes of the tail-end 60s gets posthumous release. Warts and all pop with some great moments.
Coincidentally, not only the end of something like an era – but also the end of this post.
One thought on “15 best albums Q3, 2019”
The Abbey Road 50th anniversary package is great. I know some people are against remixes as a matter of principle but to my ears this one sounds good – without departing substantially from the original. In the case of the previous Beatle 50th anniversary remixes, there were different issues since in both these cases the original mono mixes were substantially different to the stereo versions. Until the 2009 remasters I wasn’t aware of the mono mix of the White Album since it was the first Beatles album I bought in stereo when it came out. In my view, like Sgt Pepper, the mono mix is far superior to the stereo version. While I still marginally prefer the mono mixes, I think Giles Martin did a good job on the 50th anniversay releases of producing stereo mixes which incorporated many of the virtues of the original mono mix.
Going back to the Abbey Road set, I enjoyed the extras although we had already had “Come and get it” on Anthology 3. For me, the biggest revelation was hearing the isolated George Martin orchestrations. I had never picked up quite how lush they were! A great tribute to Martin as a producer that he placed them in the mix so they did not swamp the beauty of the songs and you were never aware of quite how elaborate they were