donderdag 2 januari 2020

Wo.'s Top 10 albums of 2019

Yes, I know it's an overload of lists on the blog these past days, and there are a few more to come. Although the list of the decade has already given some away, here's my top 10 of 2019. And don't catch me out if the order is not exactly the same as in the previous list. In fact I can tell you it is not. This is what my feeling of today tells me. As such the list you see can change a little any moment. Fact is that in this form it may be holding out for the whole of eternity. Who will say how long Google holds things online? This is it, folks.

It is not only my feeling of the day though. What I tried to look at a bit more than in the list of the decade, was the impact a record had on me. So you find The Raconteurs, De Staat and the last one of The Black Keys in the top 100 but not in this top 10. Why? Because they are good and solid records, but not very surprising or renewing. Some of the albums that may grow into top 100 records yet, but did have an impact on me or surprised me in a pleasant way did make their way here.

2019. What kind of year was it musically? One that in the first months could not really convince me as being special. Of course, there were a few beautiful records but almost nothing that touched me in a deep and special way. So the sole record that did and was played a lot, for a long time seemed to win out easily. In the end it did not. Yes, things changed later on in the year. A few extremely good records were released and a few old(er) timers released records that simply were alright to brilliant.

P.S. 2 January 2019. There is one record I only bought in the last weeks of the year, 'Designer' by Aldous Harding. That record has grown on me in the past few weeks and can't be found in either, top 100 and this, list. So, a special mention, because as things stand, had I discovered 'Designer' a few weeks or months earlier chances are the album would have listen here.

Let me share my list with you and keep up the suspense how it will end.

(11. Something In The Air. The Maureens

Without the tragic story surrounding the record on #10, this record would have made the top 10. That spot now goes to Dakota as this band needs a positive boost because of the very uncertain and unknown future. The Maureens have delivered a third beautiful record full of brilliant pop songs, deserving this mention here.)

10.Here's The 101 On How To Disappear. Dakota

I saw Dakota play on the Conservatory of Amsterdam graduation party in 2018 and was deeply impressed. When I found out about the album release, the band had already disbanded, because of health issues of the band's singer. The quality of Here's The 101 ... is so consistent that Dakota is/was a true promise for indie rock's future and not just in this country. All that hangs in the balance or perhaps even past that by now. Hence my honouring the album with this spot, which is well deserved in its own right.

9. Open Water. The Fire Harvest

The wobbly album is one I keep returning to. Hesitating, halting, stop, starting, it holds a lot to discover and enjoy. Alternative rock, country rock, indie, folk, The Fire Harvest incorporates lots influences into its mix of fairly unique music. Unfortunately the band and I do not seem to be able to meet live. Perhaps in the 20s we'll fare better.

8. Osmosis. I Am Oak

The album with the beautiful cover. Also the album containing I Am Oak's most consistent and brazen music to date. Thijs Kuijken seems to have found himself a new voice and new topics to sing about that somehow appear to be closer to him, making them more personal and emotional. All that can be heard on Osmosis.

7. Norman Fucking Rockwell!. Lana del Rey

An album that finds itself a little lower than I would have expected even a few weeks ago. Am I plagued by NfR! fatigue already?

The album that may the #1 record of 2019 globally. I'm not going that far as there is an album by Ms Del Rey I like considerably more than NFR! That said, it is clear that with this album Lana del Rey has made a giant step in her career and is taken completely seriously as an artist. And rightly so.

6. Stay Around. J.J. Cale

And so there is a posthumous album in this list. J.J. Cale passed away in 2013. His widow released an album with songs that were left behind here and there and is his strongest album in two decades. It is not an album with one mood, as J.J. Cale's albums of the past often were. There is more variance in the approach making the album better. J.J. Cale was a great, modest artist.

5. Fool. Joe Jackson

Somewhere in the late 80s I had heard enough of Joe Jackson where new music was concerned. Each album sounded a bit less interesting from 'Big World' onwards. The reunion album with his Band was nice but done before. On come the 10s. With Fool from early 2019 Jackson comes with his second great album in a row. The format, the music may all sound familiar, the quality however is so extremely fantastic that I am fully, completely a fan again. Live in Paradiso the man and his band were so good this year.

4. A Blemish In The Great Light. Half Moon Run

Half Moon Run reaches for a level of perfection that is not given to many bands. Not every song is as good, I think, but the way they are executed by this band full of multi instrumentalists is close to flawless. Some songs could have been just this little more free flowing, one melodic catch extra, but that is the only thing I can possibly argue in the face of perfection.

3. Rammstein. Rammstein
Ten years of silence proved worthwhile in the end. Rammstein returned, all the live shows aside, with a video that shocked and surprised the world. It encompassed the whole history of Germany it seemed. The album is everything Rammstein should be and then this little bit more. Better comeback albums have seldom been made.

Concerning the cover, I can only hope the world is further removed from just a matchstick to light it up in a fiery, belligerent conflict.

2. Soliloquy. Lou Doillon

With her third album Lou Doillon reached for the sky and went beyond what she may have expected ever to reach for. Soliloquy is a beautiful and great album all in one. She manages to play in between genres and styles yet be totally one and herself. Her voice is fantastic and so is the music she made with a host of writers and producers. Quite the album.

1. Ghosteen. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Whether this truly is the best album made by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ever, is something time will have to tell, but at this point in time for me it is. Somehow everything seems to be coming together on this album. His personal loss and sorrow, the power it seems to be giving him creatively, while his loyal sidekick Warren Ellis seems to have pushed all other band members aside and can work nearly exclusively with his band leader. The result is an extremely sad yet so powerful album. Ghosteen is speaking to his dad in volumes it seems, spurring him on.


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