It’s been a great year for music, with many new artists releasing strong debut albums and promises of a prosperous career. We’re only a few weeks away from entering a new decade, but I was too scared to choose my top albums of the past decade so Kajal and I stuck to picking our top 10 albums released this year. So here they are, in no particular order!
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?
The instant first pick has to go to Billie Eilish. I stumbled upon her music after having seen her top a ‘Ones to Watch’ list back in 2017. She’d just released her Don’t Smile at Me EP and I was blown away by her vocal maturity and Finneas’, her brother, production. Her and Finneas have just been nominated for 11 Grammys, making her the youngest artist ever to be nominated across the 4 main categories. An amazing achievement well deserved by an inspiration for the younger generation.
(Favourite song – ilomilo)
James Blake – Assume Form
Another recently announced Grammy nominee (for Best Alternative Record) is on my list, although I swear I wrote these names down before the nominations were revealed! Blake is one of the few artists who can make you go from trance head banging to sobbing in the same song. Often referred to as ‘sad boy’ music, Blake has fought back against this label, explaining the phrase was ‘unhealthy and problematic’ when used to portray men who open up about their feelings and emotions. I saw him live this summer and his performance was transporting.
(Favourite song – Don’t Miss It)
Mahalia – Love & Compromise
I reviewed this album a few weeks back so I’ll keep it short. Mahalia is a young and brilliant artist who stands up for what she believes in and has delivered one of the best albums of 2019.
(Favourite song – What You Did)
Jordan Rakei – Origin
Another artist I wrote about a few weeks ago, I went to see him live for the second time and was once again blown away by him and his band’s technical ability. This is Rakei’s 3rd album, and it’s refreshing to have young artists still making this kind of music today.
(Favourite song – Mind’s Eye)
The Japanese House – Good At Falling
It’s impossible to describe her music. I discovered The Japanese House back in March 2015 when she released her first single, ‘Still’, on Soundcloud. I was taken aback, I had never heard music like this before but I had an instant connection with it. Four years and four EPs later, The Japanese House released her debut album, Good At Falling, and I get emotional just trying to describe it. It’s a masterpiece, and if this list was ordered, she’d be at the top.
(Favourite song – went to meet her (intro) )
SG Lewis – Dusk, Dark, Dawn
Where to begin with SG Lewis. He’s one of the reasons I became close to and got in a relationship with my girlfriend. We’ve now seen him live 5 times and are gearing up for his biggest show yet at the O2 Academy Brixton in January 2020. To people who know me, and hear my incessant banging on about how he’s the best producer working today, it will come as no surprise that his ambitious three-part debut album has to figure on this list. Although Dusk and Dark came out last year, the conclusion to the trilogy, Dawn, was released this year and it’s my favourite part.
(Favourite song – Easy Loving You)
Clairo – Immunity
Discovered Clairo through her feature with SG Lewis on ‘Better’ last year. She rose to fame through uploading lo-fi bedroom produced music on YouTube (over 35 million views). She released her debut album this year (I’m noticing a trend in my picks) and it’s an instant classic. Following the album’s commercial success, she was named an Up Next artist by Apple Music in August 2019. Her single ‘Bags’ also made it onto Pitchfork’s The 200 Best Songs of the 2010s.
(Favourite song – Bags)
Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 & Part 2
Double albums have seen a resurgence in popularity lately, and Foals have jumped on the bandwagon, to everyone’s benefit. Their double album is one of their finest works yet, and cements them as one of the best bands working today. From climatic rockgasms to intimate hushes, this piece has it all.
(Favourite song – In Degrees)
AURORA – A Different Kind Of Human – Part 2
Another artist discovered before their soar to the front stage. I saw her perform at Sweden’s Way Out West festival back in 2015, in a small concert hall of barely a few hundred people. I was at the front row, right in front of her, in what turned out to be the most intimate concerts of my life as I was the only one who knew the lyrics and our eye contacts were long and sustained. At the end, the drummer came to shake my hand, I’m guessing as a sort of token of gratitude for the support. Another double album, with the first part released last year. AURORA is a truly special character, who isn’t afraid to fully embrace her fantasies and portray them in her music and the way she dresses and behaves. In her debut album (another one), she takes risks and deviates from trendy pop to deliver a unique sound.
(Favourite song – A Different Kind of Human)
RY X – Unfurl
RY X released his second album, Unfurl, earlier this year and it was a perfect follow up to 2016’s Dawn. Conveying more electronic textures this time around, RY X stays faithful to his lush melodies and soothing instrumentals. The repetitive structures transport you into hypnotic trances accompanied by his intimate vocals.
(Favourite song – Untold)