Nottingham’s Rough Trade has announced its top 10 albums of the year for 2019.
In celebration of those releases, the record shop on Broad Street has announced exclusive editions of each one, including newly released music and limited edition coloured vinyl.
You can find out more about these Rough Trade special editions here: https://www.roughtrade.com/gb/albums-of-the-year-exclusives-2019
01 Fontaines D.C.: Dogrel
Garage-pop melodies backed by agit-punk rhythm fronted by the powerful, insistent vocals of Dubliner Grian Chatten.
All versions come with a bonus 6 Track CD – Darklands Versions. Debut album from Dubliners Fontaines DC – a band that feel like they’ve been around forever already – welcome to the world of Grian Chatten, Conor Deegan III, Carlos O’ Connell, Conor Curley and Tom Coll. A driving urgent sound like running down hill with the wind at your back – muscly strong songs full of melody and rhythm. Poetic flows of words drive home like rough-hewn nails – even on the mellower tracks the words hit home liek urgent messages wrapped around bricks.
Rough Trade recommendation: “Seriously you won’t find a better debut album this year. It oozes class and is the sound of 2019.”
02 Weyes Blood: Titanic Rising
Classic torch songs for a lost summer built on synth, strings and beautifully effortless vocals – music for the end of the world.
Californian-born Natalie Mering has been making hearts sing previously on the Mexican Summer label. This is her fourth album and her first on Sub Pop. She’s previously guested on tracks by Father John Misty, Perfume Genius and Ariel Pink. These are atmospheric sacred synth sounds. Strings emerge into music for a place that’s not been touched for a 100 years. These are the songs they played as the Titanic sunk and that pleased the sea so much Neptune released the ship back into the light.
Rough Trade recommendation: “These are torch songs with poignant vocals like the memory of a lost summer. Gloriously effortless vocals slink like velvet over music for the end of the world. This could be a ‘songbook’ collection after a 50 year career.”
03 Angel Olsen: All Mirrors
The descent into darkness is a trope we find time again across history, literature and film. But there’s also an abyss above. There’s a winding white staircase that goes ever upward into the great unknown — each step, each turn, requiring a greater boldness and confidence than the one before. This is the journey on which we find Angel Olsen.
Olsen’s artistic beginnings as a collaborator shifted seamlessly to her magnificent, cryptic-to-cosmic solo work, and then she formed bands to play her songs, and her stages and audiences grew exponentially. But all along, Olsen was more concerned with a different kind of path, and on her vulnerable, Big Mood new album, All Mirrors, we can see her taking an introspective deep dive towards internal destinations and revelations. In the process of making this album, she found a new sound and voice, a blast of fury mixed with hard won self-acceptance.
“In every way —from the making of it, to the words, to how I feel moving forward— this record is about owning up to your darkest side,” Olsen said.
04 Little Simz: GREY Area
Sweeping orchestral breaks lift and help let fly Simz’s royal melodies.
This is the latest album from North London rapper, actress (she was ‘Vicky’ in BBC’s Spirit Warriors and ‘Meleka’ in E4’s series Youngers) and musician Simbi Ajikawo following on from two other albums and a slew of mixtapes and singles.
Rough Trader recommendation: “Dancing breakbeat drums, fuzzed up funky hip-hop bass and of course fast-flowing words pitter pattering against an infectious moving, grooving backing. Horns and flutes fly, jazzy breaks and samples flit between words and grrrl-gang vocal backing chants slip in and augment choruses.”
05 black midi: Schlagenheim
Jazz scronk, cut and pasted to make civilised epics in a sea of frantic mayhem.
Dan Carey of Speedy Wunderground produces 9 tracks for Black Midi’s debut album. Singer/guitarist Georgie Greep, singer/guitars Matt Matt Kwasniewski-Kelvin, singer/bassist Cameron Picton and drummer Morgan Simpson unleash a unique set of tunes.
An emotional tidal wave. Scurries and flurries in a cascade of odysseys of intricate rhythms. Hurtling abrasive, brilliant strings with forceful melodies. Classical jazz folk guitar and sometimes almost operatic vocals. Like the highway of the world’s meeting place. Calm and storm and indefinable. An orchestrated cacophony like a computer has taken all the genres and given them a good spanking. Prog jazz metal psych rock opera all spinning in a mayhem of discordant madness.
06 Sleaford Mods: Eton Alive
The album, which features 12 new tracks from the prolific artists, was recorded in Nottingham. The record is the first release on Jason and Andrew’s newly formed label ‘Extreme Eating’ and their first album since parting ways with Rough Trade Records.
“Eton Alive speaks for itself really. Here we are once again in the middle of another elitist plan being digested slowly as we wait to be turned into faeces once more. Some already are, some are dead and the rest of us erode in the belly of prehistoric ideology which depending on our abilities and willingness, assigns to each of us varying levels of comfort that range from horrible to reasonably acceptable, based on contribution. So after the digestive system of the Nobles rejects our inedible bones we exit the Arse of Rule, we fall into the toilet again and at the mercy of whatever policies are holding order in the shit pipe of this tatty civilisation. It is here our flesh regenerates as we rattle into another form, ready, and ripe for order”. – Jason Williamson ‘Eton Alive’
07 Cate Le Bon: Reward
It was on a mountainside in Cumbria that the first whispers of Cate Le Bon’s fifth studio album poked their buds above the earth. “There’s a strange romanticism to going a little bit crazy and playing the piano to yourself and singing into the night,” she says, recounting the year living solitarily in the Lake District which gave way to Reward. By day, ever the polymath, Le Bon painstakingly learnt to make solid wood tables, stools and chairs from scratch; by night she looked to a second-hand Meers — the first piano she had ever owned — for company, “windows closed to absolutely everyone”, and accidentally poured her heart out. The result is an album every bit as stylistically varied, surrealistically-inclined and tactile as those in the enduring outsider’s back catalogue, but one that is also intensely introspective and profound; her most personal to date.
This sense of privacy maintained throughout is helped by the various landscapes within which Reward took shape: Stinson Beach, LA, and Brooklyn via Cardiff and The Lakes. Recording at Panoramic House [Stinson Beach, CA], a residential studio on a mountain overlooking the ocean, afforded Le Bon the ability to preserve the remoteness she had captured during the writing of Reward in Staveley, Lake District.
Over this extended period a cast of trusted and loved musicians joined Le Bon, Khouja and fellow co-producer Josiah Steinbrick — Stella Mozgawa (of Warpaint) on drums and percussion; Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) on bass and saxophone and longtime collaborators Huw Evans (aka H.Hawkline) and Josh Klinghoffer on guitars — and were added to the album, “one by one, one on one”. The fact that these collaborators have appeared variously on Le Bon’s previous outputs no doubt goes some way to aid the preservation of a signature sound despite a relatively drastic change in approach.
08 Vanishing Twin: The Age of Immunology
These are sultry songs for aliens – folk played on synths from another planet.
Cathy Lucas (singer-songwriter / multi-instrumentalist), Valentina Magaletti (drums), Elliott Arndt (flute/percussion), Phil MFU (guitar) and Susumu Makai (bass) are from London and Margate. Syd Kemp engineered and Malcolm Catto mixed seven of the tracks. Sweet, bubbling songs with murmuring synths play together in the reflection of echoing wah wah guitars and flowing vocals. Library music from a parallel universe.
09 Ex:Re: Ex:Re
Elena Tonra, guitarist, vocalist and lyricist of Daughter with her solo project.
Both formats with a bonus CD – Live at Hoxton Hall. Elena Tonra is the singer, songwriter and guitarist for Daughter. This is her first album for the new project that she runs simultaneously alongside Daughter. The album was recorded with Fabian Prynn (4AD producer/engineer) with Josephine Stephenson on cello and inspired by a shattered relationship.
Warm, rattling, reassuring strings, tickling percussive beats and rhythms. Soft soothing vocals pair with warm strings, wrapping themselves around the vocals and hugging the strings of your heart. Sliding, picked strings match heartbeat rhythm pulses. The intimate, warm sound of home. Mood is turned into an instrument and a feeling of closeness surrounds you. Eastern tinges edge into the music, climbing vocals and sinuous, resonating drums. An eloquent tale, a catharsis of feeling. The sound of a heart breaking is something to fall in love with.
Elena said of the album, “Although the record is written for someone, a lot of the time it’s about the space without that person in it. In every scenario, there’s either the person in memory or the noticeable absence of that person in the present moment. I suppose it is a break-up record, however I do not talk about the relationship at all, and he hardly features in the scenes. He is only felt as a ghostly presence.”
10 The Comet Is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery
On Trust In The Life Force Of The Deep Mystery, the Mercury Music Prize-shortlisted futurist jazz voyagers The Comet Is Coming are making music for these crisis times of chaos and mass meltdown.
The title of the album, the band say, concerns“finding meaning in that which you cannot grasp”, it considers “truth in the existence of a primordial energy”. It asks “What does it mean to be human? The music on the trio’s second record, out on impulse!, fluctuates between pulsating, danceable, electronic groove-centric pieces and quieter, melodic jazz-infused compositions. The Comet Is Coming are: Danalogue (keyboards/electronics), Betamax (drums) and King Shabaka (saxophone).