TLMT’s Top 20 Albums of the Year 2019

Stephen White

With 2019 coming to a close the Last Mixed Tape has delved deep and come up with its top 20 albums of 2019. As with every year, only albums reviewed by TLMT make it on the list. 

20. Beauty Sleep – Be Kind
What TLMT had to say: Be Kind is the type of album you just want to delve right in to. Brimming to the top with deep dreamy sounds, Beauty Sleep’s first offering is a lush love-letter to pop music delivered with a clear joie de vivre from start to finish.”

19. Fangclub – Vulture Culture
What TLMT had to say: “Fangclub has honed their craft since the trio’s self-titled debut, and with Vulture Culture created a sense of clarity within the powerful clash of grunge, alt-rock and no wave that shimmers beneath their music. Drawing more thematic aspects into the mix, the album shows just how the band can contort their core sound and add to it, making for a record that can be patient in one moment and immediate the next.”

18. Havvk – Cause & Effect
What TLMT had to say:Cause & Effect is a compelling thematic piece working in moods and intensity throughout. With this debut Havvk take their core alt-rock sound a meld it with meaning, relevance and importance. There’s a story Factory Record’s owner Tony Wilson would tell in reference to the first time he saw Joy Division, saying that compared to all the other acts he saw that night the post-punk band were the only ones that “needed to be there” instead of just “wanting to be there”. In the same way, Cause & Effect was is an album that needed to be made.”

17. Dermot Kennedy – Without Fear
What TLMT had to say: “Dermot Kennedy’s Without Fear is the kind of album where everything seems to have a sense of weight to it. Whether in the emotionally wrought vocals, the deep textural production or the longing lyrics that underpin the record, Kennedy’s debut has a depth of field to it that adds another layer to the pop sensibilities that lie at the heart of it and portray an intimacy within the grandeur.”

16. Jafaris – Stride
What TLMT had to say: “Jafaris exudes confidence and its only fitting that his first album feels like it could be his second or third. He is an artist with a laser-focused sense of self, from the start of Stride it’s clear that he’s made exactly the record he set out to make, one that tells us who Jafaris is, was, and will be.”

15. Jape – Sentinel
What TLMT had to say: Sentinel is a deep and delicate record. From its dreamlike form to the ever changing soundscape that lies beneath, Jape latest album feel every bit like the seas and the oceans he evokes in his songwriting, calm at one moment but always with the potential to rise and crash in intensity, while also awash with texture and detail.”

14. Talos – Far Out Dust
What TLMT had to say:Far Out Dust is a vast, imposing album. There’s an in-built sense of awe that runs right through Talos sophomore offering, one that feels earned rather than implied. Indeed, its a testament to Talos as an artist that his songwriting never gets drowned out by the large-scale production on show, but instead shines through all the more. Its this merging of emotional and sonic weight that gives Far Out Dust its monumental sound. Stunning.”

13. Soak – Grim Town
What TLMT had to say: “A record with the contrast set to full, Grim Town is a masterstroke from Soak that feels natural in comparison to what came before on Before We Forgot How To Dream whilst also portrays an immediate artistic vision that looked to expand upon those ideas. In this way, Grim Town is every bit the journey it sets out to be, and one that will know doubt continue for Soak in a much wider context, as she has not only produced a stellar sophomore album but also made it harder to predict where she’ll go from here.”

12. Rosie Carney – Bare
What TLMT had to say: “Somewhere in the midst of listening to Bare for the third time, I felt myself drifting away from critiquing the record and instead began to give in to the intimate beauty of the music. Such is the beguiling quality of Rosie Carney’s songwriting, that the overwhelming sense of place that her debut album produces compels you to immerse yourself within it.”

11. Kitt Phillipa – Human
What TLMT had to say:Human is a stark bare-boned self-portrait. No stone is left unturned in a record that packs an emotional punch from beginning to end via Kitt Philippa’s deft turn of phrase but lyrical and vocally, making Human an album that examines both the internal and the external in a completely gripping way.”

10. Lankum – The Livelong Day
What TLMT had to say: “Making the return the earthy, windswept world of Lankum’s music is a welcome journey indeed. There’s a wildness to The Livelong Day, an unkempt rough edge to the traditional music that flows within that Lankum unleash whilst maintaining a handle on the atmosphere, and the mood, of a record that feels like an act of expression over precision.”

9. Tandem Felix – Rom-Com
What TLMT had to say:Rom-Com is an invitation to traverse the music of Tandem Felix. Via an album that weaves vignettes of stories, fragments of memories, self reflection and a slight hint of abstract surrealism put through a prism of intricate lyricism and laid-back alt-country and indie-folk flourishes, we are given impression of a record presented in widescreen and a journey best experience from beginning to end.

8. Sorcha Richardson – First Prize Bravery
What TLMT had to say:First Prize Bravery comes to life through the choice of words, the tone and phrasing of how they are delivered, and the juxtaposition of intimate bedroom-pop songwriting brought to the fore by stylized production. Within this milieu, Sorcha Richardson’s debut is a record filled with late night streets, sunset vistas and hazy memories.”

7. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears
What TLMT had to say: When I Have Fears is a thematically strong debut that sets the tone for the Murder Capital going forward. And while the record does suffer the pitfalls of many debut albums. There’s an underlined narrative to the record that makes it feel full of unmistakable purpose that needed to be voiced. A voice that resonates throughout and creates an album the band had no fucking choice but to make.”

6. Junior Brother – Pull The Right Rope
What TLMT had to say: “An album of pure expression, Pull The Right Rope is a masterclass in the sheer joy of creation. Junior Brother’s debut may divide tastes but that seems to be the point, the character of the songwriter is intrinsically linked to the album itself. In this way, Pull The Right Rope is a shining example of how long-standing genres like trad and folk can be given new life. A true musical self-portrait.”

5. Maria Somerville – All My People
What TLMT had to say: “A dreamlike experience, All My People is a totally fulfilling listen. Everything about the record showcase Maria Somerville as an artist who puts craft and care into her music. Producing an album that works as one whole piece, Somerville’s debut is compelling in its sonic cohesion and the vast canvas of sounds Somerville uses to tell her story. A work of immense precision and subtly.”

4. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
What TLMT had to say: The cultural relevancy of Dogrel that truly sets it apart. While the post-punk/indie-rock backbone of the music is familiar to whats come before, its how different it is to whats happening now and how it uses this backdrop to speak about whats relevant. ‘Boys In A Better Land’ convey the grit, determination to break out and sense of identity that is indicative of the Irish experience in 2019. Dogrel is the sound of fury pushing against the malaise of reality, this clash of moods is the driving force that makes Fontaines D.C. connect in such a profound way, its not ponderous, it’s not pretentious, it’s concrete, it’s tactile.”

3. Maija Sofia – Bath Time
What TLMT had to say: “There’s something about the music of Maija Sofia. It seems to occupy the periphery, the other, a place just out of reach. In Bath Time, Sofia’s debut offering, there’s an air of gothic poetry and neo-romantic tragedy put through a modernist lo-fi prism that allows us to hear the stories being told but at a distance. Indeed, this is an album that gives voice to those robbed of it and we must listen.

2. Whenyoung – Reasons To Dream
What TLMT had to say: Reasons To Dream is immediate. Everything about whenyoung’s debut offering is instant, impactful and illuminating to listen to. That’s not to say the album lacks depth, quite the opposite, the multiple layers that comprise the trio’s music is what makes Reasons To Dream such an all-pervasive work of art. As always, the devil is in the detail.

The Last Mixed Tape’s Album of the Year 2019 is…

1. Girl Band – The Talkies
What TLMT had to say: “Girl Band’s The Talkies works like a Francis Bacon piece. There’s an undercurrent of visceral unease that dominates every facet of the music, everything you would come to expect is taken from its original context and put through a surreal expressionistic filter, one that spits it all back out in a way that the form of the songs and the meaning behind them seem abstracted from their origins. The Talkies isn’t predictable, nothing is where our ears expect it to be and that’s whats so captivating about it. Much like Francis Bacon, Girl Band lay everything out bare but its up to us to find the meaning behind it.”

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