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Best Albums of 2019

Our Album of the Year 2019 is 'No Home Record' by Kim Gordon.


No Home Record - Kim Gordon

Kim Gordon - No Home Record

Invention and reinvention have always been central to Kim Gordon's work, and both her pioneering spirit and artistic restlessness are captured to perfection on her debut solo album. You read that correctly. Nearly 40 years into the game this is the first time Kim Gordon has put her own name to a record - and whilst she doesn't need to prove anything to anyone, it shows. One of the most original albums of 2019, its sheer thrill factor was destined to land it at the top our list since its first play here in the office.


Here's a full rundown of the 50 best albums released this year, in our sort-of collective opinion.


1. Kim Gordon - No Home Record

A new solo record from the iconoclastic Kim Gordon, co-founder of Sonic Youth and an acclaimed solo artist since their demise. No Home Record is preoccupied with the feelings of transience and displacement - both physical and spiritual - that go hand-in-hand with modern existence, and consists of nine tracks of exploratory alternative rock.


2. Oh Sees - Face Stabber

Some things are always true.  You're always less than 6 months away from a John Dwyer release. That release will be by a band using a variant on Oh Sees as its name. Dwyer will have recorded some of that album wearing jean shorts that stop below the knee. And the songs that fill that release will be high intensity fuzzy garage rock. 


3. Bill Callahan - Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

Guess what? Bill Callahan got married....and fathered a child. Lovely news but what it has meant is that Bill's music has taken a back seat in recent years to the rigours and glories of family life. He's more that made up for it though with this 20 track album of new material. Don't panic though, not an endless double album these are short, sharp compositions exemplifying his songwriting talents.         


4. black midi - Schlagenheim

black midi are one of the most exciting acts to come out of...um....we presume London in some time. Signed to Rough Trade and fond of creating a enigmatic image,  this is their much anticipated debut. We at least have their names now (there's at least one double-barrelled in there) and we've been given the slither of info that this was recorded with Speedy Wunderground's Dan Carey. Could be one of the year's biggest new things.  


5. Little Simz - Grey Area

Little Simz AKA Simbi Ajikawo has already toured with Gorillaz and Anderson .Paak and now releases her third album to date. This pioneering hip-hop artist has broken out of her home conurbation of North London and is living out her dreams with her energetic performances and critically acclaimed albums.


6. Vanishing Twin - The Age of Immunology

Vanishing Twin fuse ‘60s pop and electronic music in way similar to Broadcast et al. On The Age Of Immunology, their second full length, the band explore the full breadth of their sound by recording it in a variety of non-standard settings, including the Croatian island of Krk. Features some of the most vital flute interventions I've heard in years. On Fire.


7. Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Geographically confused chanteuse Lana Del Rey returns with her sixth album and her first since she discovered swearing. She's pictured on the cover cavorting with none other than the grandson of Jack Nicholson and possibly as a matter of note I should say that it contains fourteen new songs most co-written with fun.'s Jack Antonoff. Buy your copy from Norman Fucking Records.      


8. Big Thief - U.F.O.F.

Those of you that worried Big Thief were over when Adrianne Lenker released her solo album last year worry no more. Firstly, she’s done that before y’know, and secondly, here’s the band’s third album U.F.O.F.  Apparently the last F stands for friend as if that info means it make sense. Anyway, you know this lot are a decent band - they’ve shown it twice before, so let’s not let an album title get between us and the music! LP and CD on 4AD.


9. American Football - American Football (LP3)

20 years ago American Football, formed by Mike Kinsella of Cap’n Jazz, made their eponymously titled post rock-meets-emo debut and split up. The album is highly regarded in many quarters, including here at Norman Records. A follow-up surprised us in 2016, with Mike’s brother Nate expanding the line-up, and now we have the third installment. Features guest performances from Hayley Williams of Paramore and Elizabeth Powell of Land Of Talk.


10. Caterina Barbieri - Ecstatic Computation

Caterina Barbieri is one of modern minimalism’s most curious and vital thinkers, exploring a kind of heightened lysergic trance. Ecstatic Computation is a key title, this is, after all, a piece of truly ecstatic music, Barbieri using modular machines and syncopated patterns for the purpose of extreme sensory overload. It’s as valuable as anything from this utterly singular composer.


11. Fenella - Fenella

Fenella is a project from one Jane Weaver, one of the 21st century's most adept practitioners of psychedelia. Along with two of her bandmates, she has created a soundtrack for Marcell Jankovics’ 'Fehérlófia', a 1981 Hungarian animated film that is a perfect match for Weaver's brand of warm and colourful psychedelia. 


12. FKA twigs - Magdalene

One of the most anticipated sophomore album releases of the decade is finally upon us! Released over half a decade ago, Tahliah Debrett Barnett’s debut FKA twigs album LP1 was one of the most thrillingly original and forward-thinking pop releases in years, its shifting rhythms and immersive soundscapes informing a great deal of subsequent music. The intervening years have seen Barnett suffer physical and emotional upheaval, something that’s informed the sound and themes of Magdalene. Features production from Nicolas Jaar.


13. Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains

Here it is then. Purple Mountains. The new name for David Berman. The new name for Silver Jews. We were promised hand crafted country rock full of wit and wisdom and and that's exactly what we got. It's rare a late career album builds so thoughtfully on a musical legacy. From 'Magaritas at the Mall' to 'I Loved Being My Mother's Son', 'Purple Mountains' is an instant classic.


14. (Sandy) Alex G - House of Sugar

He just gets better and better. From lo-fi beginnings (Sandy) Alex G has slowly but surely emerged as one of the best songwriters of his generation. 2017's superb Rocket added a fascinating experimental bent to his songs and was a multi-faceted unpredictable riot of sound. Early indications for House of Sugar are of further warm country-tinged songs with nods towards Elliott Smith and Lou Barlow but complete as always with Alex G's wistful, autumnal melancholy. 


15. Moor Mother - Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes

Moor Mother is Philadelphia musician and poet Camae Ayewa who has previously collaborated with The Bug and Justin Broadrick (Godflesh etc). This should give you some idea of where she's coming from with this her third album under the Moor Mother moniker. She uses elements of free jazz, noise, rap, reggae and industrial music to create freeform splurges and matches them with explosive subject matter on subjects such as police brutality and enslavement. Another dark missive from the undergrowth from one of today's most thought provoking artists. 


16. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana

Been a long wait for this one. Anyone who’s had even a passing interest in hip-hop throughout the 2010’s knows that Pinata, the 2014 collaboration between Freddie Gibbs and Madlib, is one of the strongest rap full-lengths of the decade. The pair repeat the trick on Bandana, an LP five years in the making. Though the weight of anticipation must have been heavy for this one Gibbs and 'lib are as steely-eyed as ever - Gibbs spits iron-wool bars over Madlib’s beat odysseys. Masterpiece, obviously. Pusha T, Killer Mike and Yasiin Bey are among the guests.


17. Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow

Remind Me Tomorrow is the first album in four years by Sharon Van Etten. Despite not making any solo albums in that time she’s been rather busy having a baby, gaining psychology qualifications, working with David Lynch and writing a score for the movie, Strange Weather. All this action has lead to her making a more upbeat album. Produced and arranged by John Congleton. LP or CD on Jagjaguwar.


18. Lingua Ignota - Caligula

The eagerly anticipated new album from Kristin Hayter under her Lingua Ignota moniker, following up her rapturously received self-released 2017 album All Bitches Die. A study of the abuses of power set to raw soundscapes influenced by industrial and ambient music, Caligula sees Hayter access the next level of artistry. 


19. Bat For Lashes - Lost Girls

Natasha Khan gets back to Bat For Lashes for the project’s fifth album, and it’s vintage-tinted synth-pop baby! Lost Girls positions itself as a soundtrack to an imaginary 80’s teen movie, and it certainly fits that bill, with all the tropes and details in just the right place. Lost Girls is released by Bat For Lashes Records.


20. Föllakzoid - I

Chilean band Föllakzoid deliver their fourth studio album a very long four years after their last one. I (confusingly following 2015’s III) differs from their previous albums in that it was constructed painstakingly from dozens of musical stems, rather than done in single live takes with the band in the studio. 


21. 75 Dollar Bill - I Was Real

Third album from 75 Dollar Bill. Their sound is something like ambient blues? The guitar sound is there, but it's sparse and often left to ring out. Bluesy riffs are looped while percussion grooves along behind it. This all makes I Was Real surprisingly dancey and fun. An incredibly moving album that offers a moving alternative to what minimalism can be. 


22. Mahatma X - A Mobtown Suite Vol. II

This MALK kid, eh? Fresh from winning our Album Of The Year with 'Death From A Love', here he returns with his future-legendary hip-hop trio Mahatma X and a welcome follow-up to the acclaimed A Mobtown Suite Vol 1. Volume 2 carries on from where Volume 1 left off, but puts it in technicolour adding an incredible array of loops and beats creating a sound collage of dusty beats, Avalanches-like magpie enthusiasm and haunting nods to the golden age of hip-hop.


23. The Comet Is Coming - Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

On their latest LP the futuro-jazz trio The Comet Is Coming encourage us to Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery. Whether or not you think such a sentiment is sound advice is up to you, but one thing that we can all agree on is that this is another incendiary set of electrified saxophonic fare from Shabaka Hutchings et al (he's the one from Sons Of Kemet, by the way). Kate Tempest guests on ‘Blood Of The Past’.


24. Ana Roxanne - ~~~

Exploring themes of identity as an intersex artist, Los Angeles-based singer Ana Roxanne delivers an EP of songs with the enigmatic title ~~~. Her restful sound is distinctively modern, but has a throwback feel to the Eighties and Nineties R&B that inspired her as a youngster, evident in the haunting interpolation of Chaka Khan’s ‘I’m Every Woman’. 


25. Angel Olsen - All Mirrors

On her fourth album, All Mirrors, Angel Olsen shows us her darkest side. Its introspective nature was an important step for Olsen. Through its brooding tones and lyrics she tells us about learning to trust yourself and move on, find peace in your own company. Valuable lessons, perhaps. On Jagjaguwar.


26. Danny Brown - Uknowhatimsayin¿

Detroit rapper Danny Brown returns with the brilliantly titled ‘Uknowhatimsayin¿’, his follow-up to the industrial and post-punk tinged modern classic ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. The screwball MC has straddled the line between rap superstar and experimental music deity since the release of his breakthrough album ‘XXX’ way back in 2011, meaning you’re just as likely to see him reviewed in The Wire as seeing him lend a verse on a track with rap royalty. ‘Uknowhatimsayin¿’ is an alternative rap record released on the legendary Warp Records, complete with production from A Tribe Called Quest legend Q-tip and guest spots from Run The Jewels, Blood Orange, and hyped underground MC JPEGMAFIA. Danny has once again reimagined what a hip hop album can and should be with his latest opus.


27. Giant Swan - Giant Swan

With a recently announced UK tour coming later this year, Giant Swan - a noise-rock project conceived by Robin Stewart and Harry Wright that grew out of their roles as guitarists in The Naturals - release their long-awaited and much-anticipated self-titled debut album. Early indications are that it will successfully translate their live energy onto record, and could be one of the finest British underground releases of 2019. 


28. Viagra Boys - Street Worms

Viagra Boys are another of those scuzzy Scandi punk bands. There’s been plenty of excitement around the Stockholm group these past few years, and debut LP Street Worms demonstrates why. This is ramshackle, wiry and drily witty post-punk in the vein of Fat White Family and Devo. Street Worms is out on YEAR001 (Yung Lean, Bladee).


29. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen

Ghosteen is the new album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the first since the heart-breaking Skeleton Tree in 2016. Recorded in Brighton, Los Angeles and Berlin, Cave says of the album that the songs on the first record are children and the songs on the second record are the parents. It seems he’s thought about it, anyway. 


30. Tunes Of Negation - Reach The Endless Sea

Shackleton teams up with avant-garde musician Heather Leigh and percussionists Takumi Motokawa and Raphael Meinhart for this electronica supergroup Tunes of Negation. Five lengthy pieces of freewheeling, globally-minded psychedelic dance music spill across four sides of vinyl on Reach The Endless Sea. 


31. A Winged Victory For The Sullen - The Undivided Five

Their fifth release (but only their second official studio album) and based around the idea of the perfect fifth, A Winged Victory For The Sullen begin a new life on Ninja Tune with a bold different direction on 'The Undivided Five'. Built on their neo-classical and ambient roots, it’s by far the duo of Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie's (Stars of the Lid) most immersive and detailed work yet.


32. Michael Kiwanuka - KIWANUKA

Just to make absolutely sure that you know it’s him, Michael Kiwanuka has gone for his own (sur)name as the title of his third studio LP. KIWANUKA sees the singer tripping down a bit of a psychedelic soul route - tracks like ‘You Ain’t The Problem’ are shimmering What’s Going On-type things that coalesce around Kiwanuka’s poised, soulful singing. Dangermouse and Kiwanuka’s longtime ally Inflo are the producers.


33. DIIV - Deceiver

'Deceiver' is the third album from Brooklyn, New York band, DIIV. The band trade in fuzzy shoegaze dream pop with poetic lyrics. Their last album, 'Is The Is Are', was critically well received and even got a decent review on here! At least this album title is a little easier to say out loud than its predecessor.


34. Bon Iver - i,i

Justin 'Bon Iver' Vernon is one of the artists who continues to push the art of autotune forward alongside the likes of Future and Charli XCX. He applies his craft to an incredibly earnest indie-folk that has steadily been taking over the world. i, i is likely an allusion to second album Bon Iver, Bon Iver and has more than enough heart to match that wonderful record.


35. clipping. - There Existed an Addiction to Blood

clipping. are very much what you'd expect from a rap group on Sub Pop. Their production is noisy and abrasive and they know their history. This is especially true of MC Daveed Diggs who is now considerably more well known for his role as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Hamilton, the musical. 


36. Theon Cross - Fyah

Theon Cross is likely best known for being the tuba player in the Mercury Price nominated and Wire Magazine album of the year winning Sons of Kemet. Cross plays the tuba with a deftness and fluency that it feels like he's fighting the instrument's identity. The result is a sound all his own, and on Fyah is given a wonderful platform to flex by his band of London's current wave of jazz musicians.


37. Holly Herndon - PROTO

Like it or lump it, A.I. and other forms of automation are playing increasing roles in everyday human life. It’ll be good and bad, but it won’t be stopped. Tech pop boffin Holly Herndon’s newun PROTO looks to the exciting and optimistic possibilities of ensuring such changes are on human terms. The tracks were created with assistance from her specially trained A.I., Spawn. Attabot, Spawn.


38. Zonal - Wrecked

Justin Broadrick (Godflesh/Jesu/JK Flesh) and Kevin Martin (The Bug/King Midas Sound) got together to form Zonal. The pair had previously collaborated as Techno Animal. On Wrecked, Zonal mix bass, dub, noise and drone to make a gargantuan album of slowly corroding, brooding, shady sounds. A match made in heaven; Moor Mother brings lyrical fire to half the cuts. 


39. Solange - When I Get Home

Earning rave reviews upon its surprise release back in January, Solange’s second studio album When I Get Home at last gets a proper vinyl edition, arriving on a special clear LP. Including insightful highlights like ‘Almeda’, Solange can now surely do no more to shake off the insulting tag of merely being Beyonce’s sister. 


40. HTRK - Venus In Leo

Astrology's hot in 2019. 'Venus In Leo' is the fourth album from HTRK, the minimal electronic duo. Theirs is a sound that is finds an intense sadness in mundanity, that is communicated with minimal beats now freed from their noisy shells. As a Leo, I should probably have something to say about the album title. Unfortunately I know literally nothing about astrology.


41. Hildur Guðnadóttir - Chernobyl (Music from the Original TV Series)

Chernobyl has been one of the most talked about TV shows of 2019. Apparently this is because it’s very good. At some point in the near future I will be finding out what all the fuss is about. For those of you who are lucky enough to have seen it already, you can now buy the soundtrack by Hildur Guðnadóttir and relive the drama in sound form.


42. Chromatics - Closer To Grey

David Lynch’s favourites Chromatics took their fans by surprise a month or so ago with the release of their first new album in seven years. Keeping their signature minimalistic synth-pop sound intact, Closer To Grey now arrives boasting resplendent covers of Simon & Garfunkel (‘The Sound of Silence’) and the Jesus & Mary Chain (‘On The Wall’). 


43. Ellen Arkbro - Chords

A new slice of explorative minimalism from Ellen Arkbro, one of the most exciting young voices in this area of music. Chords is a simple title for a complex work, with Arkbro working with precise intervals and harmonics to create remarkable sonics. Two versions of the piece are here, one for guitar and one for the organ at Malmo’s St. John’s Church. Out on Subtext.


44. Nilüfer Yanya - Miss Universe

Bold and bright modern pop from Nilufer Yanya, bursting out of your stereo in the form of debut full-length album Miss Universe. The confidence of that title is all over the album’s sound, which combines soul and electronica details with gnarly guitar, helmed by Yanya’s big vocals. It's good folks. On ATO Records.


45. Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel

I've never heard of them. Seriously, I've never heard of them. They made four hotly received double A-side singles last year which I never knew about and got airplay on Steve Lamacq (which I never heard) and have played sold out shows across Europe which I never attended. Turns out they play snotty indie/post-punk with vocals that seem to sit somewhere between Mark E. Smith and Cathal Coughlan. But what do I know?  


46. r beny - echo’s verse

California based ambient musician r beny (all lowercase, please) returns with echo's verse on Dauw. The main inspiration for the album was the notion of an echo, not just the physical phenomena, but how we might understand the concept in terms of human communication. The result is warm and life-affirming, and always beautiful.


47. Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising

Winning the award for most confusing, convoluted press release of the decade is the new album from Weyes Blood. It turns out her fourth album is influenced by things as disparate as Bob Seger, madrigal choirs, Hoagy Carmichael and scholar Joseph Campbell. It's also influenced by the Titanic -  a boat which sunk once. Her last album was just great so here's hoping those array of influences allow something equally magical here.  


48. Fly Pan Am - C’est Ça

One of the Constellation label’s greatest early signings, Fly Pan Am disbanded in the mid-Noughties following a series of acclaimed, enjoyably messy post-rock albums. Reuniting a couple of years back, the Montreal band have effortlessly slipped back into their previous impressive form, with new album C’est Ça sounding like they’ve never been away. 


49. Blood Orange - Angel's Pulse

Oh here he is again. He gets where water won't....and stop sprawling so much on the sleeve. Sit up straight man. Maybe he has good reason to be tired as this mixtape release comes just months after his previous album proper Negro Swan. So it's being marketed as a mixtape rather than an album which seems to mean that it is an addendum of sorts to his last record - a series of sketches and ideas made in the months since. There's guests such as Toro Y Moi and Porches helping out. 


50. Drab Majesty - Modern Mirror

Where most musicians opt for a brief sojourn in that there Berlin to get their creative juices flowing (something in the water I've heard), Drab Majesty opted for the Athens in Greece. Modern Mirror is the result, a guitar saturated dark synth pop interpretation of the Greek mythology that asks what it is to love. On Dais.



And here are the 50 best reissues of the year...


1. Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Expanded Edition)

'Emperor Tomato Ketchup' is often held up as the crowning achievement of post-rock/psychedelic outfit Stereloab, fronted by the bizarre, left-field songwriting of Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane. On 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup', the band's affection for pop music and for newer strands of experimental rock intersect, making for a record both more accessible and ambitious than the three noise pop records that preceded it. 


2. Mark Hollis - Mark Hollis

Following the sad passing of Mark Hollis earlier this year we all collectively turned back towards the impressive career arc of his band Talk Talk. Referenced less was his self-titled solo album released in 1998. It didn't help that the record was out of print at the time, but this re-issue is a chance to wallow again in the intimate grooves of a record that was initially intended to be released under the Talk Talk moniker. It is a gorgeous thing, full of woodwind, jazz-inflected drumming, pastoral guitar and Hollis's fascinating, mumbling verse. So quiet that you can hear the squeak of the musicians' chairs. Essential. 


3. Mort Garson - Mother Earth's Plantasia

Mort Garson was a pioneer of electronic music in the 1960s and an early user of Robert Moog's synthesizer. 'Plantasia' released in 1976 added warmth to the previously darker and colder melodies of earlier electronic releases. By turn playful, surreal or sinister, this is a diverse collection of sounds from a true innovator.


4. The Pop Group - Y

Y by The Pop Group was their debut album, originally released in 1979. The post-punk band from Bristol were seen as pioneers of the genre. They mixed jazz, reggae and dub influences with punk to create something quite original. The band claim they were trying to mix Funkadelic with Captain Beefheart to see what happened.


5. The Raincoats - The Raincoats (40th Anniversary Edition)

Luckily for record labels everywhere, a lot of good music was released in 1979 so we have plenty of 40th Anniversary re-issues to look forward to this year. The latest is the debut LP from the Raincoats, their spindly surprisingly tuneful art-rock influenced generations of future legends such as Kurt Cobain and Kim Gordon and is now available on marble vinyl, re-mastered from the original tapes with limited edition prints from founding members Gina Birch and Ana Da Silva.  


6. Neil Young - Dead Man: A Film By Jim Jarmusch (Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture)

Dead Man is Jim Jarmusch’s self-proclaimed ‘psychedelic western’. Neil Young improvised most of the soundtrack as he watched and played along it in his studio. This way he was able to give a raw response to the drama and emotion. It mixes his acoustic and electric meanderings and is interspersed with Johnny Depp reading the poetry of William Blake.  


7. Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Out Of Season

For those of you hungry for more Portishead content I have some good news. In 2002 Beth Gibbons connected with Talk Talk's Paul Webb (here using the name Rustin Man) to produce 'Out Of Season'. It's a record that's much more indebted to folk and jazz than the trip hop Gibbons is known for, and alongside her recording of Górecki's 'Symphony No. 3', proves she's one of the most versatile vocalists alive.


8. John Frusciante - Curtains

John Frusciante enjoyed two stints as guitarist in Red Hot Chili Peppers from 1988-1992 and 1998-2009. Frusciante’s solo albums have a bit of a cult following and there’s quite a lot of them too, 14 in fact. Curtains was his eighth album, originally released in 2005. It features guest spots from Autolux drummer, Carla Azar, upright bassist Ken Wild and regular collaborator, Mars Volta and At The Drive-In guitarist, Omar Rodrigues-Lopez.


9. Stereolab - Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (Expanded Edition)

Back in the early 1990s, when grunge and Britpop dominated rock music, Stereolab were doing something very different indeed. Combining motorik drone-rock a la Neu and avant-garde radicalism with elements of slick space-age exotica and retro Euro-pop, this their sprawling 1993 opus reissued and expanded here, sounds just as fresh today.


10. Various - Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990

Light In The Attic’s obsession with reissuing Japanese records shows no sign of abating. For their next trick they’ve given us a collection of ambient compositions made in the country during the ‘80s. Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 includes delicate pieces from Yellow Magic Orchestra, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hideki Matsutake and many other distinguished artists. Visible Cloaks’ Spencer Doran has compiled this one.


11. Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf

A long-deserved vinyl edition for Queens Of The Stone Age’s commercial breakthrough record, 2002’s Songs For The Deaf, particularly for its original red background and black graphics artwork. After the critical adoration heaped upon 2000’s Rated R, Josh Homme and co. hired Dave Grohl to deliver his trademark powerhouse drumming, resulting in one of the most admired straight-out rock albums of the Noughties. 


12. Don Cherry - Brown Rice

Imagine having a name as cool as Don Cherry! Anyway, Eagle Eye’s dad and Neneh's stepdad wasn’t just cool by name, he played a mean jazz trumpet too. Brown Rice is a 1975 album that fuses jazz, rock, indian, African and Arabic sounds. What’s more it features Charlie Haden on wah-wah bass! Reissue LP on Blue Note.


13. UT - Conviction

Reissue of UT's debut album Conviction. By 1986 the band had left behind no-wave New York for post-punk London. On the album the trio of Nina Canal, Jacqui Ham and Sally Young, explore the shared space between no-wave, post-punk and even the more improvisational space of free jazz to create songs that are simultaneous taut and expansive. 


14. Akiko Yano - Japanese Girl

Reissue of Akiko Yano's debut album Japanese Girl from WEWANTSOUNDS. First released in 1976, Japanese Girl mixes together elements of Japanese folk music with 70s rock and funk to create something hypnotic. Yano's vocals dance around the instrumentation with a sense of joy and yearning, providing an emotional anchor for the album.


15. Various - Strain Crack & Break: Music From The Nurse With Wound List - Volume 1 (France)

You’ll probably know what the Nurse With Wound list is if you’ve taken even a passing interest in experimental music over the past few decades, but once more for good luck: Compiled by the three original members of the group (Steven Stapleton, John Fothergill, and Heman Pathak) back in the 70's, the list runs to hundreds of artists and has since become an encyclopedia for fans of the musical avant-garde. Now, more than four decades since the first version of the list emerged, Nurse With Wound mainstay Stapleton has got together a compilation based around it. Strain Crack & Break features a baker’s dozen of pieces composed by some of the list’s French entries. Igor Wakhévitch, Jacques Thollot and the late Pierre Henry are among Strain Crack & Break’s tracklist. Out through Finders Keepers.


16. Rain Tree Crow - Rain Tree Crow

Japan didn’t reform but all the members reunited in 1989 and spent a year or two improvising and recording music. The result was a self-titled album by a new band called Rain Tree Crow originally released in 1991. David Sylvian, Mick Karn, Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri were joined by Be Bop Deluxe guitarist Bill Nelson and session guitarist Phil Palmer. On Universal.


17. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica

Well, what can be said about this masterpiece of a record that hasn't been uttered a hundred times before? A timely reissue then of Captain Beefheart's absurdist, Dadaist epic romp through art-blues, 'Trout Mask Replica'. None other than Jack White himself has seen fit to re-re-vinyl-ise this at his Third Man record plant. Complete with original cover art tracked down from its 1969 source. On 180-gram black double LP.


18. Alice Clark - Alice Clark

Soul, jazz, funk and raw emotion all play their part in making the one and only self-titled album by Alice Clark one of the most sought after pieces of wax known to man. It was originally recorded in 1972 over a two day session. Very little is known about Clark apart from what happened on that two day stint. No need to crate-dig in a blind panic anymore as Wewantsounds are reissuing this highly regarded album.


19. Boris - Akuma No Uta

Never fear - although they may share a name with our troublesome and idiotic prime minister, Boris are excellent, combining ultra-heavy riffing with thunderous percussion ever since they came into being in 1992. Third Man Records re-issues their 2003 album, Akuma No Uta, to collide with a brand new American tour. 


20. Roy Montgomery - Scenes From The South Island

An expanded double-vinyl re-issue of Scenes From The South Island, the cult classic debut album from New Zealand’s guitar experimentalist Roy Montgomery (The Pin Group, Dissolve et al.). Originally released in 1995 on San Francisco label Drunken Fish Records, these instrumentals take in all kinds of moods and sounds at the intersection of post-rock and rural psychedelia. Now, it’s re-packaged with three bonus tracks courtesy of Liz Harris's (Grouper) Yellow Electric label.


21. The Dukes of Stratosphear - 25 O' Clock

'25 O' Clock' rock, around the clock... The debut album from the mysterious and elusive Dukes of Stratosphear (not actually that mysterious and elusive, just XTC having some fun) is a good argument for the value in knowing your musical history. The 80s were not the 60s but that doesn't mean you couldn't make great 60s music in the 80s. 


22. Caspar Brötzmann Massaker - Black Axis

Originally released in 1989, Black Axis was the second album by Caspar Brötzmann Massaker. The power trio were dominated by Brötzmann’s gigantic guitar sound and could go from thumping rock to cacophonous racket in the space of one song. Sounds like fun to me. LP and CD on Southern Lord.


23. Nyah Fearties - A Tasty Heidfu'

Nyah Fearties released this scraggy old thing in 1986, and it has been a secret jewel of the Glasgow underground music scene ever since. The Nyah Fearties sound is kind of Celtic-folk via post-punk and (genuinely) industrial percussion. All very Scottish. Now a proper full vinyl reissue, thanks to the Good Energy label!


24. Various - Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-1986

Light In The Attic’s fascination with Japan continues with Pacific Breeze, a compilation that celebrates one of the country’s most fertile musical epochs. Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-1986 presents some of the best and artists from the period - Haruomi Hosono, Taeko Ohnuki and Minako Yoshida all feature. Andy Cabic (aka Vetiver), Zach Cowie and Mark “Frosty” McNeill (dublab) have done a fine job of curating Pacific Breeze.


25. Prefab Sprout - I Trawl The Megahertz

I Trawl The Megahertz was originally released as a solo album by Prefab Sprout's  Paddy McAloon in 2003 but was pretty much ignored by everyone apart from us Sprout obsessives. Shame because it is a incredible work...the album is largely instrumental and spoken word, featuring some his most experimental work, such as the 22 minute title track and one track that, according to McAloon, sounds like a depressed Van McCoy. Now that it won't do the brand too much harm, it is now being issued as a Prefab Sprout album. 2LP (featuring an etched side) and CD on Sony.


26. Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno - Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (Extended Edition)

First released in 1983 as the soundtrack to documentary film ‘For All Mankind’ about the Apollo moon landing, and now highly recognisable in its own right after use in countless films, TV shows, ads and the Olympics opening ceremony, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois’ album Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks gets a deluxe re-mastered release. Also includes an entirely new album of 11 instrumental compositions re-imagining the soundtrack to the original documentary. 


27. Buzzcocks - Singles Going Steady

Singles Going Steady was originally compiled to introduce The Buzzcocks to the US. As time has passed its assumed a life as their 'best of' or 'greatest hits'. However you want to refer to it, it is a truly marvellous collection of songs by and incredible band. Reissue LP, with 8 page booklet, and CD, with 36 page booklet, on Domino.


28. Ernest Hood - Neighborhoods

Created using fields recordings, strange stringed instruments, and treated samples, Earnest Hood's 'Neighbourhoods' is imbibed with a profound sense of nostalgia. You can just hear the faint hum of a radio and the chirp of crickets, the album sounds like a summer's day. Although much of the sounds are familiar, Hoods synthesises a series of alien soundscapes that sounds like great sonic glaciers glancing off one another. Not only that but it was made in 1975! It still sounds wholly fresh and modern. FFO Mort Garson, Ellen Arkbro, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. 


29. Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady

Charles Mingus and company conjured magic on 20th January 1963. The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady is a composed piece spread over six parts, with occasional blasts of full-ensemble free improvisation. Still sounds mind-blowing all these years later - a true original at the intersection of jazz and folk.


30. The Kinks - Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)

While it was met with confusion on its original release in late 1969, The Kinks’ seventh studio album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) aged incredibly well and is now regarded as a masterwork. To mark its 50th anniversary, BMG is releasing a lavish box set containing four CDs, four 7” singles, softback book featuring essays and interviews, printed memorabilia and enamel badge. Essentially, the final word on one of the Sixties’ most distinctive records. 


31. Coil - Stolen & Contaminated Songs

Coil made so much good stuff when making their 1991 album Love’s Secret Domain, there were enough outtakes of sufficient quality to make another album. That album was 1992’s Stolen & Contaminated Songs. The album shows Coil’s ability to balance experimentation with tradition and give abstract ideas widescreen scope. 


32. David Sylvian - Secrets Of The Beehive

An absolutely wonderful album. Secrets of the Beehive sees David Sylvian at his autumnal best on a beautiful song cycle with contributions from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Steve Jansen and Danny Thompson. Perhaps his most emotional album and a certainly a must for fans of Talk Talk and the Blue Nile. Now re-issued on 180g vinyl.   


33. Cabaret Voltaire - 1974 - 76

Cabaret Voltaire dropped their debut LP in 1979, but they were going for a full six-years prior to the release of Mix-Up. The 1974-76 compilation collects some of the group’s home demos from their formative years. Rough around the edges, but you can hear Richard H Kirk, Stephen Mallinder and Chris Watson honing their pioneering sound in real-time here.


34. Galerie Stratique - Horizzzons

Galerie Stratique is the brainchild of Quebec based electronic music composer Charles-Émile Beullac and Horizzons is his 2003 masterpiece that we've kindly pressed onto vinyl for you. This, we feel, is one of the most underrated gems of early 2000s electronica  - a dream like series which compress the ideas of long form ambient into shorter, 'pop length' tracks. Its hazy, woozy sound is comparable to Boards of Canada, Plaid and Arovane.      


35. Gene Clark - No Other

Originally released in 1974 to critical praise but little commercial impact, The Byrds’ founder Gene Clark poured his heart and soul - and quite a lot of his own money - into No Other, a massively ambitious and strikingly beautiful record spanning psychedelia, country, folk and soul. For its 45th anniversary, 4AD are re-issuing the re-mastered album on CD and LP, and also in a lavish box-set containing a myriad of alternate mixes and bonus tracks, a documentary film and extensive liner notes and essays. 


36. Doves - Lost Souls

Doves were of course once Sub Sub who had an enormous hit with *that* song 'Ain't No Love (Ain't No Use)' but in a twist in the usual guitar band picks up synths career pattern put down their 303s and picked up guitars to become a decent big league emotional rock act as Doves. 'Lost Souls' is their debut album. Originally released in the year 2000.


37. Horace Tapscott with the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra - Horace Tapscott with the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra Live At I.U.C.C.

Even by their usual high standards Soul Jazz Records have outdone themselves here. Horace Tapscott was an influential West Coast jazzer who simply does not get the credit that his outstanding catalogue warrants. Horace Tapscott with the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra Live At I.U.C.C., a recording Tapscott made with his Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra back in 1979, has been out of print for decades. It’s an absolutely superb example of large-ensemble spiritual jazz and is more than worthy of a reissue. Not to be missed.


38. Cornelius - Point

Point was the fourth album by excellent Japanese musician Cornelius and was the follow up to his breakthrough album Fantasma. It has become something of an influential record over the years with its technicolour palette of sounds infusing records by the likes of Beck, Phoenix and the Strokes. Now is the time for the luxury re-issue which includes three previously unheard remixes. 


39. Fad Gadget - The Best Of Fad Gadget

Francis John Tovey, better known as Fad Gadget recorded for Mute. He appeared along with a number of trailblazing electronic acts such as Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and The Normal. His particular blend of industrial and new wave was played on synths and whatever he had lying about such as drills and electric razors and had a pop edge. The Best Of Fad Gadget includes tracks from 1980’s Fireside Favourites, 1981’s Incontinent, 1982’s Under The Flag and 1984’s Gag. 


40. The Fall - Bend Sinister / The 'Domesday' Pay-Off Triad-Plus!

We're still literally scratching the surface with the Fall re-issues, Beggars have been first off the mark and here re-issue 1986's semi forgotten Bend Sinister alongside a bunch of extra tracks culled from various singles. The CD has even more bonus stuff from peel sessions and even some unreleased takes. LP comes with replica program for the Riverside production of ‘Hey Luciani!’   


41. Susan Christie - Paint A Lady

For those of you who like your psychedelic folk tinged with the sandy dirt of country music, then this lost classic is for you. Susan Christie, who once had a minor hit with a song called I Love Onions,  recorded Paint A Lady sometime around 1970, but her label at the time decided in wasn’t commercial enough. Fortunately, Andy Votel got his hands on one of three test pressings and released it on his Finders Keepers label.


42. Michael O'Shea - Michael O'Shea

Few artists out there with a story as fascinating as Michael O’Shea, a street musician who due to finances had to construct his own instrument. O’Shea had travelled around the world and owned instruments such as the sitar or zelochord but had to sell them to fund his lifestyle. The resulting instrument - build from things such as an old door and chopsticks - created a profoundly DIY - in the true sense - take on minimalism and traditional forms of Asian and North African music. Originally issued in 1982 on Wire/Dome fellows Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis' Dome Records.


43. Ryuichi Sakamoto - Thousand Knives Of

A timely re-issue of the first solo album from the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto. 'Thousand Knives Of' was originally released back in 1978, when Sakamoto was still in the equally groundbreaking Yellow Magic Orchestra, and established a blueprint for both artists going forward. Notably, this is the first time that the record is being released on vinyl outside of Japan. 


44. MONO - Hymn To The Immortal Wind (10 Year Anniversary Edition)

Mono’s album Hymn to the Immortal Wind (their first with a full chamber orchetra) is such a big epic boy of a post-rock album, I can’t quite believe that the big chords have even faded away yet from their original playing. And yet here we are, with a one-decade anniversary reissue. These reissues have been remastered by Bob Weston, and are presented in truly luxurious fashion by Temporary Residence.


45. Holden - The Idiots Are Winning

The Idiots Are Winning (now there’s a sentiment that holds up well today) was the debut album by one time overlord of computer music, Holden, or James Holden, as we’ve come to know and love him. It was originally released in 2006 and contains the classic tracks Idiot, Lump, Corduroy and 10101. James Holden went on to make The Animal Spirits, No.2 in the Norman Records albums of the year in 2017. 


46. Explosions In The Sky - How Strange, Innocence (Anniversary Edition)

Recorded in the space of two days at the end of 1999, Texan post-rock heroes Explosions In The Sky made small but significant ripples in the underground scene with a limited CD run of their humble debut How Strange, Innocence. Twenty years later, it eventually gets a thorough double-vinyl treatment, with beautiful etchings and inserts. 


47. Normil Hawaiians - What's Going On?

High-grade reissue of the 1983 album of Normil Hawaiians, who were not Hawaiian but were based within the vivid Brixton squat scene of the time. Operating in the grim depths of Thatcherism and following the suicide of a close associate of the band, Normil Hawaiians recorded this remarkable suite of unusual and highly-collaborative group music, which sadly sank without a trace as a consequence of label failings. But this reissue gives What’s Going On? the love it deserves, with lots of liner notes and seven bonus tracks, as well as a fine remastering job.


48. Scott Walker - Tilt

Contrary to what it may seem, ‘Tilt’ was not a complete shift in trajectory for the former pop star Scott Walker. Prior to its release in 1995, Walker had spent years finding ever more oblique methods to communicate his ideas, however, is undoubtedly true that ‘Tilt’ was his most daringly realised attempt yet. Desolate, ardently experimental, but also beautiful, a pathway which would lead to later opuses such ‘The Drift’, ‘Bish Bosch’, and ‘Soused’ - his collaborative LP with drone metal legends Sunn o))) .  


49. Ø (Mika Vainio) - Olento

Olento was the third album on Finnish techno institution Sahko from electronics whizz, fellow countryman and one half of Pan Sonic Mika Vainio under his Apple Mac-unfriendly Ø moniker. Unlike his work with his parent band these are more experimental and abstract journeys into ambience but marked as always by the playful minimalism that Vainio was noted for. 


50. Odd Nosdam - Flippies Best Tape

With a whopping 66 tracks delivered in a taut 80 minutes, Flippies Best Tape saw legendary hip-hop producer Odd Nosdam in his element, piecing together a bewildering range of source material for samples - everything from garage rock to dub and jazz - for one of the most singular sonic experiences in recent memory. Now, it gets a loving double-LP re-issue. 



In random order, here are 50 of the things that ever-so-nearly made the Top 50.


Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis

Matana Roberts has now reached the fourth instalment in her highly praised Coin Coin series. With the first three records exploring avenues of avant-garde composition, ranging from a large band down to solo work, Chapter Four: Memphis restores the collaborative motif, and sees Roberts lay out her most diverse musical vision yet, based on her scholarly research and passion for her subjects. 


Aesop Rock & TOBACCO - Malibu Ken

Who knew we needed Tobacco, frontman for Black Moth Super Rainbow, to build fascinating and nauseating beats for Aesop Rock? Tobacco's solo stuff strays from the relatively poppy sound of BMSR towards darker beats and stranger worlds, perfectly built for Aesop Rock. The word-heavy New-Yorker turned San-Franciscan as always delivers high-paced raps on their new collaboration Malibu Ken.


Jay Som - Anak Ko

Jay Som is solely responsible for Anak Ko. She was songwriter and musician, producer and engineer. The result is a record that is indisputably hers. Though she proudly wears her influences on her sleeve (Cocteau Twins, the Cure etc...) there is no denying that she makes the realm of dream pop entirely her own. 


The Gentleman Losers - Make We Here Our Camp Of Winter

It must be something about the dark days of winter that these guys want to capitalize on, with their quiet, melancholy, and perfectly fine-tuned electronic music. Finnish ambient post-rockers The Gentleman Losers already put out one of our favorite albums of 2018. Make We Here Our Camp of Winter continues in the same vein but, not unlike my personal life, is a bit emptier, bleaker, and slower.


The Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe

The Cinematic Orchestra do not work with haste. To Believe is their first full, proper studio album since 2007’s Ma Fleur, and its title track (with gorgeous vocals from Moses Sumney) has been circulating as a single since 2016. But now, when they are good and ready, they present To Believe in full! Guests include Heidi Vogel and the great Roots Manuva, and this one promises to be another deep classic. On Ninja Tune.


Fennesz - Agora

Can you believe it’s been nearly five years since the sumptuously singed guitar and synths of Christian Fennesz graced a solo album? It’s amazing but true. And his return to the format is a little unusual, in that it was put together away from the studio in his bedroom using only minimal equipment. Touch continues to touch.


Nivhek - After its own death / Walking in a spiral towards the house

Portland, Oregon based ambient master Liz Harris aka Grouper self-released this initially, and it disappeared so quick you couldn’t be blamed for not knowing of its existence. Luckily the Superior Viaduct subsidiary, W.25th have us covered reissuing it in all its glory. As Nivhek Harris takes here ambience further into delicate minimalism, where the stark and sheer tonality is all consuming.


Fire! Orchestra - Arrival

For those who haven't heard of Fire! Orchestra what you need to do is imagine a big band willing to channel all its resources into one thing: weight. Their previously resources have been heftier than most most metal releases, and though they've trimmed down from 28 to 14 members for Arrival it doesn't make them any less potent. Sublime in the way that music so rarely is. On Rune Grammofon.


Equiknoxx - Eternal Children

On their latest LP Eternal Children the pioneering Jamaican group Equiknoxx try something a little different. Usually each new Equiknoxx drop features a selection from the group’s five-strong membership, but this time all of the quintet (Shanique Marie, Bobby Blackbird, Gavsborg, Kemikal and the excellently-named Time Cow) have got involved in making the LP. Their massed ranks produce another potent record of future-forward bashment and dancehall that is unafraid to incorporate influences from hip-hop, pop and balladry. Swing Ting affiliate Fox is among the guests.


Blanck Mass - Animated Violence Mild

Benjamin Power returns one more time as Blanck Mass with the enticingly titled Animated Violence Mild. Since making the switch from dense ambience to something more industrial after the Fuck Buttons man's solo debut, each subsequent record has gotten more noisy, more intense, and more catchy, all at the same time. Animated Violence Mild is no different, with Power reaching for sound as varied as black metal, hardcore, and europop. 


Eluvium - Pianoworks

Pianoworks is one of those things that belies a deeply depressing message, the loss of childhood wonder and joy, with deeply beautiful and moving music. It is an album that was apparently 'recorded, re-recorded, and re-re-recorded in the span of nearly a decade', in Eluvium's quest for the perfect sound. Opener 'Recital' is meant to mimic just that, the recital of a piece of music. It does so in such a way that conveys the adherence to form and technique, but never loses a sense of magic from the simple act of playing piano. It is, as the press release states, 'uncomplicated as it is uncompromised'.


These New Puritans - Inside The Rose

The twin brothers Barnett are back: it’s These New Puritans, joined by Graham Sutton (Bark Psychosis) David Tibet (Current 93) and a sizeable list of other chums. In the bobbing, neoclassical wave wake of 2014’s Field of Reeds, the band seem to have found their way into a more energetic, seething post-punk for this one.


Andrew Wasylyk - The Paralian

Andrew Wasylyk spent five months in remote coastal Scotland on a residency. The resulting album, The Paralian, contains a great many instruments, and indeed field recordings, but the core of the album is a restored Erard Grecian harp from the 1800’s. The tender plucked strings of that harp sets the tone for a plaintive, rich and subtle suite of pieces. Out on Athens Of The North.


Damon Locks / Black Monument Ensemble - Where Future Unfolds

Major work from Damon Locks and a fifteen-piece group he has gradually built up called Black Monument Ensemble. Where Future Unfolds began as a solo work of sound collage, by the time his group performed it at Garfield Park Botanical Conservatory in Chicago, where this live recording was made, it had become an epic of African-American music, encompassing gospel, avant-jazz, and fierce drum machine groove. A richly compelling performance, on International Anthem.


Wand - Laughing Matter

L.A.’s psychedelic rock sons, Wand, return with their 5th album, Laughing Matter. Despite the Ty Segall connections (Evan Burrows and Corey Hanson played in Segall’s backing band The Muggers), They seem to be moving away from a fuzzed-out rock sound to more contemplative Radiohead-ish territory. Plenty of experimentation going on, so all is good. 


Battles - Juice B Crypts

Having attracted some criticism for their indifferent last outing four years ago, experimental rock enthusiasts Battles drop their fourth studio album, which presses the reset button on expectations once again. Which is to say, there's only two of them now. Juice B Crypts is a veritable whirlwind of sonics and features collaborations with Shabazz Palaces and tUnE-YaRdS.


Thom Yorke - ANIMA

Thom Yorke (of you know... Radiohead?) will not be releasing his third solo album via BitTorrent. Instead, us lowly so-called "record stores" get a chance to hawk his dirty work. Anima is a companion piece to a film made with auteur director (and regular collaborator) Paul Thomas Anderson. Expect fidgety electronics, haunting vocals, and anxieties of all varieties.


Kevin Richard Martin - Sirens

Kevin Richard Martin is of course the man behind Techno Animal, God, King Midas Sound and of course The Bug. This strike out under his own name is the debut on wax of a new work which was made to document the feelings Kevin had around the delivery, receipt and early days of his first child. The record is therefore tumultuous, emotional and at times heartbreaking. Lawrence English realises a long held dream by releasing it on his Room40 label.   


Klein - Lifetime

South London-based producer and musician Klein drops her second full-length album. Her previous releases, which saw her briefly signed to the illustrious Hyperdub label, have been building up to the kind of all-encompassing, deeply personal material heard on Lifetime, which Klein describes as “giving someone your diary”. 


L'épée - Diabolique

L'épée is a collaboration between Brian Jonestown Massacre main man, Anton Newcombe, French psych-pop duo, The Limiñanas and French actor, former model and singer, Emmanuelle Seigner. Diabolique was recorded in The Limiñanas studio in the south of France then taken to Berlin by Anton, where he gave the songs a darker, more psychedelic edge. 


King Midas Sound - Solitude

Sardonically released on Valentine's Day, this is the best one yet from King Midas Sound, once again stripped back to the duo of Kevin Martin (The Bug/Techno Animal) and poet/music-maker Roger Robinson. The tone is icy and bitter, the many narrations consumed by spiteful jealousy in a post-brakeup haze. All the rhythmic pulse of dub has now subsided, a wraith-like presence which blankets Robinson's malice fuelled spoken word.      


House and Land - Across The Field

House and Land are a folk duo comprising of Sally Ann Morgan (Black Twig Pickers) and Sarah Louise, whose solo album Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars impressed critics upon its release in early 2019. Across The Field is the duo’s second album and mixes traditional folk with psychedelic folk making for a refreshing take on folk music.


Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria - Are Sing Sinck, Sing

These two seem to be good friends now. The Godspeed person and the Growing lad are now officially a duo having toured together mainly to play the songs off Efrim's recent Pissing Stars opus. Everything went so well on stage that they decided to work together in a more permanent fashion and these are the first fruits. It's a heartwarming tale.   


Stella Donnelly - Beware of the Dogs

Stella Donnelly ain't going to take any shit. Abusive men, idiot bosses and clueless exes all get it in the ear on this debut album but, as on her debut EP Thrush Metal, she is armed with loads of lovely tunes. Her winsome, post-grunge songwriting has something in common with the early records of Liz Phair and she has a way of tempering her anger with an ability to bring out the beauty in the world. 


Shana Cleveland - Night Of The Worm Moon

Shana Cleveland is the voice of La Luz, but working solo for a change on this here Night Of The Worm Moon album allows her to travel further afield in terms of sound and content. This is an LA dreamer’s album, with UFO sightings and other night-moods represented with sun-tipped psychedelic singer-songwriter new-folk. Very West Coast, very good. On Hardly Art.


Fat White Family - Serfs Up!

Oh lord they are back. "The most gratifying and unexpected creative volte face in recent musical history!" screams the press release. The first track released from the sessions 'Feet' spends its time begging to differ as it just sounds like Fat White Family. But why let actual music get in the way of a hyped press release and their usual flirting with dodgy imagery. It's certainly something that never stopped Fat White Family before so in that respect it's same as it ever was. We'll reserve further judgement til we've heard the whole thing maybe.  


Nérija - Blume

Domino's turn to get a slice of the 2019 London jazz scene pie. Nérija feature the already legendary saxophonist Nubya Garcia along side an ensemble of six other musicians. Blume, their debut album, is an incredibly vibrant and lovely work, that gets close to capturing how captivating the band are in the flesh. 


Trash Kit - Horizon

Trash Kit are a three-piece comprising of Rachel Aggs (Shopping, Scared Paws), Rachel Horwood (Bas Jan, Shopping, Bamboo) and Gill Partington. Horizon is their third album and first in five years. With the members being active in many other musical projects, lots of influences feed into the Trash Kit sound, but it’s fair to say that The Raincoats and Sleater Kinney have been fairly influential here.


Pelada - Movimiento Para Cambio

Exploring topics such as environmental justice, surveillance, power and identity, Pelada's 'Movimiento Para Cambio' is by no means your average light and easy background sounds. The fiery, squelchy and raw production only compliments the themes at hand too well. Intense stuff from the Montreal-based duo.


Death and Vanilla - Are You A Dreamer?

Super Swedes Death and Vanilla return for their first album since 2015's To Where The Wild Things Are. The group peddle a lovingly retro form of synth and dream pop which has drawn comparisons to Broadcast, Cocteau Twins and is heavily influenced by library music, German Krautrock and 60s psych. I daresay you are going to love it. 


Otoboke Beaver - Itekoma Hits

New Otoboke Beaver is always something worth celebrating, but when the release in question the group’s first LP of original material for six years then it feels extra special. Itekoma Hits finds the Kyoto group flying out of the traps, all manic punk energy and delirious riffage. It’s brilliantly exhilarating stuff reminiscent of early be your own PET. Itekoma Hits is out via Damnably (Shonen Knife, Say Sue Me).


Gang Starr - One Of The Best Yet

Classic Brooklyn hip-hop duo Gang Starr disbanded in 2003. It seemed that there would be no more. In 2010, one half of the duo, Guru, tragically died seemingly ending any hope once and for all. His partner in rhyme over the years, DJ Premier, never gave up hope that there would be another Gang Starr album. 16 years after their last album, The Ownerz, we have a new album. One Of The Best Yet lets us know from the off that it’s up there with classics such as Step Into The Area. Features a guest appearance from J.Cole.


Kali Malone - The Sacrificial Code

An exciting new work of minimalist wonder from Kali Malone, with additional contributions from Ellen Arkbro. The Sacrificial Code stretches across nearly two hours, and it's all about the organs. These majestic instruments are played with an austere drone purity, and are recorded in such a way as to give them a very particular texture. Out on iDEAL Recordings.


Kazu - Adult Baby

Having made her name as the lead singer of indie-rock veterans Blonde Redhead, Adult Baby represents the first-ever solo album from Kazu Makino. Featuring contributions from some stellar names include Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, Son Lux’s Ian Chang and none other than the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto, the album is an opportunity for the star to reveal a new aspect of her personality. 


Mndsgn - Snaxx

Not to be confused with 2018’s Snax - note the extra ‘x’ - Snaxx is a new beat-tape from popular dude Mndsgn. Snaxx is actually the Snax sequel, so if you got a whiff of the previous LP you’ll know what to expect here. This is a set of breezy, funky hip-hop and neo-soul that draws equally from the Chill Vibes (tm) of Homeshake and the Brainfeeder beat style. Oh, and it’s pronounced ‘mind design’ by the way.


Vic Mars - Inner Roads and Outer Paths

Hereford. I have no idea about what goes on their but I have a feeling Vic Mars third LP for Clay Pipe might just tell me. You see Vic has trawled back through his memory banks to recall his childhood pottering about the Herefordshire countryside. He also made a trip back there to see how it had all changed in the years since. All of which has inspired this album which uses old 80s software and array of school instruments to get that none-more-nostalgic sound. And will you just look at that artwork. Absolutely gorgeous as ever from Frances Castle and her wonderful Clay Pipe label. 


Jenny Hval - The Practice of Love

Musical witch lady Jenny Hval is back to cast her sonic hexes ‘pon us once more. Hval’s seventh LP 'The Practice Of Love' is another fine work of modern-day Gothicism from the Norwegian artist, one in which she leans a little heavier into the pop stuff than she has done previously. Julee Cruise, Visions-era Grimes and that there David Lynch are the related artists you’re grappling with on 'The Practice Of Love'.


Loscil - Equivalents

For the twelfth Loscil album, inspiration has been taken from the photography of Alfred Stieglitz. This is a very wise decision, as the silvery shimmer of his cloud and sky photos meet their perfect sonic analogue in the sound of Equivalents, which drifts gorgeously along in classic Loscil / Kranky style.


Xiu Xiu - Girl with Basket of Fruit

Having briefly set Xiu Xiu aside to drop an album under his own name, Jamie Stewart is back on his xiulshit. The project's latest LP, Girl With Basket Of Fruit, is a frantic listen intended to convey the general mayhem of emotion that is being alive in 2018. It does a pretty good job, too - try the feverish, Scott Walker-inspired ‘Scisssssssors’.


Jessica Pratt - Quiet Signs

This is Jessica Pratt's first recording in a professional studio environment after a series of home recorded releases but, as the title suggests, she still makes quiet music. In fact more so, as the home-fi film is removed to realise the clarity of her vision. This is an artist growing comfortable with her environment, and baring more of her soul along the way.  


Guided By Voices - Sweating The Plague

Robert Pollard slams his hand down hard on the top of his guitar amplifier. Sweat pours from his brow; his eyes, heavily-bagged from the sleepless nights, glower with deranged intensity; his clothes are now but rags, ripped and filthy.

‘Again! Dammit, again! We’ll play … the songs … again.’

‘B… but Robert’, pipes up one of his fellow Guided By Voices members - it’s hard to tell which seeing as all of the band are now a huddled mass, cowering in the darkest corner of the rehearsal room - ‘Robert, we’re exhausted. We’ve been in this room for three days, playing melodious indie-rock in the Hüsker Dü/Pavement mould non-stop, and we simply can’t go on any further. We need rest. We need food. We need to see our families. We’ve already released two LPs in 2019 anyway - isn’t that enough?’

‘No!’ shouts Robert, punching a hole in the wall to emphasise his point. ‘No. We go again. We’ll be in here rehearsing our new record Sweating The Plague until it’s done, and it’s done why I say it’s done. Kapeesh?’

‘Y… yes Robert.’


Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury

Following on from their rather good Come Play the Trees album, London avant groove-sters Snapped Ankles are back with an album that appears to be a concept album about the property industry. A record to soundtrack the constant threat of developers perhaps but these are fun guys with many moments of memorable scuzz under their belts and Stunning Luxury should see them develop further.


Ucc Harlo - United

UCC Harlo (aka Annie Garlid, a collaborator of Holly Herndon) makes her debut with an album six years in the making, representing a journey from classically-trained orchestral violinist to experimental producer. United features classical baroque styles filtered and re-focused, amongst synth drones, field recordings and much else besides, forming a fascinating and detailed whole. On Subtext.


Full Of Hell - Weeping Choir

Weeping Choir is the fourth album by Pennsylvanian grindcore band Full Of Hell. They have also released three collaborative albums - one with Merzbow and two with The Body. Weeping Choir is their first for Relapse. They have retained Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, who twiddled the knobs on 2017’s Trumpeting Ecstasy, as producer. He seems to know how to bring the best out of the band’s brutal sound.


The Heartwood Institute - Tomorrow’s People

Tomorrow’s People sees Jonathan Sharp continue his fascination with Seventies counter-culture on his latest album as The Heartwood Institute. Sampled dialogue provides a very loose narrative thread for the record, while Sharp lays down a series of soundscapes that deeply evoke the feeling of dread felt by the era’s idealists and progressives. 


Gnoomes - MU!

Third studio album from Russian psychedelic pop outfit Gnoomes, a newly expanded quartet thanks to the addition of Masha Piankova on synths. Trailed by wonderful lead single ‘Sword In The Stone’, MU! aims to capture the pulsating sonic assaults of the group’s live shows, following the huge success of their recent European tours. 


Lankum - The Livelong Day

Dublin's Lankum have been gaining quite a following blend traditional Irish folk music with more modern day drone, post rock and psychedelia. So much so that big hitters Rough Trade have stepped in to release their new album the Lifelong Day. They use harmoniums and Uilleann pipes to create beautifully heavy soundscapes with an emotional heart at the core. Very affecting music that could help soothe us in these troubled times. 


Bobby Krlic - Midsommar (Original Score)

Bobby Krlic removed his Haxan Cloak to work alongside film director Ari Aster on Midsommar. The movie is a pagan horror in the Wicker Man mould, and Krlic’s frightening compositions really augment the sense of ceremonial doom that pervades Midsommar. Nails-on-blackboard screeches, pulse-racing drums, unsettling micropolyphonic drones, it’s all in there. Krlic's music is in dialogue with the great and the good of chilling movie scores, from György Ligeti to Johnny Greenwood to Dean Hurley.


Pye Corner Audio - Hollow Earth

Not to be confused with 2017 EP Where Things Are Hollow (which is really good, by the way), here we have another new LP from Pye Corner Audio entitled Hollow Earth. The third album Martin Jenkins has done for Ghost Box as PCA sees him updating the sound of some of the label’s classic artists. The quixotic electronica of The Focus Group and The Advisory Circle is beefed up with a little bit of techno edge by Pye Corner Audio here.


Daniel Pioro - J. S. Bach: Partita No.2 In D Minor

Another release on Jonny Greenwood’s classical label, Octatonic. This time it’s the turn of violinist Daniel Pioro playing J.S.Bach’s Partitia No.2 In D Minor. As well as the music you get a booklet which includes J.S. Bach’s original score and an essay written on the piece by Daniel Pioro himself. 



And here are the 50 top sellers of 2019 - new and not-so-new.


1. John Frusciante - Curtains

John Frusciante enjoyed two stints as guitarist in Red Hot Chili Peppers from 1988-1992 and 1998-2009. Frusciante’s solo albums have a bit of a cult following and there’s quite a lot of them too, 14 in fact. Curtains was his eighth album, originally released in 2005. It features guest spots from Autolux drummer, Carla Azar, upright bassist Ken Wild and regular collaborator, Mars Volta and At The Drive-In guitarist, Omar Rodrigues-Lopez.


2. Thom Yorke - ANIMA

Thom Yorke (of you know... Radiohead?) will not be releasing his third solo album via BitTorrent. Instead, us lowly so-called "record stores" get a chance to hawk his dirty work. Anima is a companion piece to a film made with auteur director (and regular collaborator) Paul Thomas Anderson. Expect fidgety electronics, haunting vocals, and anxieties of all varieties.


3. Kim Gordon - No Home Record

A new solo record from the iconoclastic Kim Gordon, co-founder of Sonic Youth and an acclaimed solo artist since their demise. No Home Record is preoccupied with the feelings of transience and displacement - both physical and spiritual - that go hand-in-hand with modern existence, and consists of nine tracks of exploratory alternative rock.


4. Sleaford Mods - Eton Alive

The fifth studio album from never-knowingly-short-of-a-pun duo Sleaford Mods is on their own new 'Extreme Eating' label following a relatively brief sojourn with Rough Trade. Eton Alive is an aptly-titled affair in a year when which the actions of certain Old Etonians are in real danger of tearing the United Kingdom apart. Be assured that Sleaford Mods will have plenty to say on the subject of Brexit, austerity, and pretty much everything else related to the "shit pipe of this tatty civilisation" - all splurted out in their usual inimitable rattle-and-rant style.  


5. Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains

Here it is then. Purple Mountains. The new name for David Berman. The new name for Silver Jews. We were promised hand crafted country rock full of wit and wisdom and and that's exactly what we got. It's rare a late career album builds so thoughtfully on a musical legacy. From 'Magaritas at the Mall' to 'I Loved Being My Mother's Son', 'Purple Mountains' is an instant classic.


6. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen

Ghosteen is the new album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the first since the heart-breaking Skeleton Tree in 2016. Recorded in Brighton, Los Angeles and Berlin, Cave says of the album that the songs on the first record are children and the songs on the second record are the parents. It seems he’s thought about it, anyway. 


7. Pye Corner Audio - Hollow Earth

Not to be confused with 2017 EP Where Things Are Hollow (which is really good, by the way), here we have another new LP from Pye Corner Audio entitled Hollow Earth. The third album Martin Jenkins has done for Ghost Box as PCA sees him updating the sound of some of the label’s classic artists. The quixotic electronica of The Focus Group and The Advisory Circle is beefed up with a little bit of techno edge by Pye Corner Audio here.


8. Oh Sees - Face Stabber

Some things are always true.  You're always less than 6 months away from a John Dwyer release. That release will be by a band using a variant on Oh Sees as its name. Dwyer will have recorded some of that album wearing jean shorts that stop below the knee. And the songs that fill that release will be high intensity fuzzy garage rock. 


9. black midi - Schlagenheim

black midi are one of the most exciting acts to come out of...um....we presume London in some time. Signed to Rough Trade and fond of creating a enigmatic image,  this is their much anticipated debut. We at least have their names now (there's at least one double-barrelled in there) and we've been given the slither of info that this was recorded with Speedy Wunderground's Dan Carey. Could be one of the year's biggest new things.  


10. Big Thief - U.F.O.F.

Those of you that worried Big Thief were over when Adrianne Lenker released her solo album last year worry no more. Firstly, she’s done that before y’know, and secondly, here’s the band’s third album U.F.O.F.  Apparently the last F stands for friend as if that info means it make sense. Anyway, you know this lot are a decent band - they’ve shown it twice before, so let’s not let an album title get between us and the music! LP and CD on 4AD.


11. Mark Hollis - Mark Hollis

Following the sad passing of Mark Hollis earlier this year we all collectively turned back towards the impressive career arc of his band Talk Talk. Referenced less was his self-titled solo album released in 1998. It didn't help that the record was out of print at the time, but this re-issue is a chance to wallow again in the intimate grooves of a record that was initially intended to be released under the Talk Talk moniker. It is a gorgeous thing, full of woodwind, jazz-inflected drumming, pastoral guitar and Hollis's fascinating, mumbling verse. So quiet that you can hear the squeak of the musicians' chairs. Essential. 


12. Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel

I've never heard of them. Seriously, I've never heard of them. They made four hotly received double A-side singles last year which I never knew about and got airplay on Steve Lamacq (which I never heard) and have played sold out shows across Europe which I never attended. Turns out they play snotty indie/post-punk with vocals that seem to sit somewhere between Mark E. Smith and Cathal Coughlan. But what do I know?  


13. Death and Vanilla - Are You A Dreamer?

Super Swedes Death and Vanilla return for their first album since 2015's To Where The Wild Things Are. The group peddle a lovingly retro form of synth and dream pop which has drawn comparisons to Broadcast, Cocteau Twins and is heavily influenced by library music, German Krautrock and 60s psych. I daresay you are going to love it. 


14. The Cinematic Orchestra - To Believe

The Cinematic Orchestra do not work with haste. To Believe is their first full, proper studio album since 2007’s Ma Fleur, and its title track (with gorgeous vocals from Moses Sumney) has been circulating as a single since 2016. But now, when they are good and ready, they present To Believe in full! Guests include Heidi Vogel and the great Roots Manuva, and this one promises to be another deep classic. On Ninja Tune.


15. The National - I Am Easy To Find

Album number 8 from Ohio success story The National. I Am Easy To Find is not just an album, it's also a short film directed by Mike Mills - the guy who directed 20th Century Women, not the R.E.M bassist. Mills co-produced the album with the band. It includes guest performances from a whole host of artists including Sharon Van Etten and Lisa Hannigan. 


16. Bill Callahan - Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

Guess what? Bill Callahan got married....and fathered a child. Lovely news but what it has meant is that Bill's music has taken a back seat in recent years to the rigours and glories of family life. He's more that made up for it though with this 20 track album of new material. Don't panic though, not an endless double album these are short, sharp compositions exemplifying his songwriting talents.         


17. A Winged Victory For The Sullen - The Undivided Five

Their fifth release (but only their second official studio album) and based around the idea of the perfect fifth, A Winged Victory For The Sullen begin a new life on Ninja Tune with a bold different direction on 'The Undivided Five'. Built on their neo-classical and ambient roots, it’s by far the duo of Dustin O’Halloran and Adam Wiltzie's (Stars of the Lid) most immersive and detailed work yet.


18. Beth Gibbons & The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra - Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs)

Been wondering what Gibbons has been up to? Well nothing we can tell you from the last four years but in 2014 she performed Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs) alongside the Polish National Radio Symphony conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki one of Poland's leading composers. Now several years later you can get the whole performance on audio and with the special LP version and the CD you get a visual DVD.  

 


19. The Comet Is Coming - Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

On their latest LP the futuro-jazz trio The Comet Is Coming encourage us to Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery. Whether or not you think such a sentiment is sound advice is up to you, but one thing that we can all agree on is that this is another incendiary set of electrified saxophonic fare from Shabaka Hutchings et al (he's the one from Sons Of Kemet, by the way). Kate Tempest guests on ‘Blood Of The Past’.


20. Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Geographically confused chanteuse Lana Del Rey returns with her sixth album and her first since she discovered swearing. She's pictured on the cover cavorting with none other than the grandson of Jack Nicholson and possibly as a matter of note I should say that it contains fourteen new songs most co-written with fun.'s Jack Antonoff. Buy your copy from Norman Fucking Records.      


21. FKA twigs - Magdalene

One of the most anticipated sophomore album releases of the decade is finally upon us! Released over half a decade ago, Tahliah Debrett Barnett’s debut FKA twigs album LP1 was one of the most thrillingly original and forward-thinking pop releases in years, its shifting rhythms and immersive soundscapes informing a great deal of subsequent music. The intervening years have seen Barnett suffer physical and emotional upheaval, something that’s informed the sound and themes of Magdalene. Features production from Nicolas Jaar.


22. Aldous Harding - Designer

Aldous Harding’s critical and commercial acclaim really picked up following her last album, Party. She’s following it up with Designer. She recorded the album between Wales and Bristol with John Parish (PJ Harvey) and it includes guest appearances from H Hawkline and Sweet Baboo. LP and CD on 4AD.


23. Galerie Stratique - Horizzzons

Galerie Stratique is the brainchild of Quebec based electronic music composer Charles-Émile Beullac and Horizzons is his 2003 masterpiece that we've kindly pressed onto vinyl for you. This, we feel, is one of the most underrated gems of early 2000s electronica  - a dream like series which compress the ideas of long form ambient into shorter, 'pop length' tracks. Its hazy, woozy sound is comparable to Boards of Canada, Plaid and Arovane.      


24. Cate Le Bon - Reward

You know what? Everything Cate Le Bon involves herself in is of interest. Le Bon’s previous work has encompassed all manner of sounds and quirks; think pop music with a difference. The far-afield sounds of psychedelia, art pop, indie rock and pop meet with wistful guitar lines, fanciful vocals, intriguing lyrics and melodies which skip and wander. Quirky and beautiful songs, delivered with Le Bon's distinct Welsh Valleys lilt.


25. Black Country, New Road - Sunglasses

You’d be forgiven for mistaking the band name Black Country, New Road as a band’s album title, but I can assure you in this modern world where bands can be called anything from We Were Promised Jetpacks to I Shot My Horse or whatever, that this is their name. 'Sunglasses' is the London rock band’s second single and on Blank Editions.


26. Dalham - Heat Death

Dalham, as you may know, released his first two records on our magnificent Public House Recordings label - and very popular they were too. For his third he's stepped on up to Castles In Space - a label getting a pretty decent reputation if you ask me. For the uninitiated, this is excellent electronic music with nods to Boards of Canada, Plaid and Concretism. Melodic, accessible but also slightly unsettling. Time to get on board if you haven't already.


27. Snapped Ankles - Stunning Luxury

Following on from their rather good Come Play the Trees album, London avant groove-sters Snapped Ankles are back with an album that appears to be a concept album about the property industry. A record to soundtrack the constant threat of developers perhaps but these are fun guys with many moments of memorable scuzz under their belts and Stunning Luxury should see them develop further.


28. Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want

The first Daughters LP for Ipecac Records (Mike Patton, Faith No More) finds the grindcore-turned-noise-punk band in good nick. You Won’t Get What You Want is a ten-song set that, while heavy as ever, sees Daughters expand their palette to good effect. ‘Satan In The Wait’, for instance, is a seven-minute vaudeville punk number that is both ghoulish and caustic. More straightforward rockers like ‘The Reason They Hate Me’ have something of the Pissed Jeans about them.


29. Big Thief - Two Hands

"I have two hands" - the words of synth wizard Viv Savage. Big Thief are the latest band to do that 'record two albums at the same time' thing  - see also Beach House. So if you bought this years U.F.O.F and are still enjoying it then you can move seemlessly into its sister album. Basically it seems where U.F.O.F was wet then Two Hands is dry both in the weather conditions at recording time and in the sound produced. Here the songs were recorded live with few overdubs as the band showcased their latest batch of songs with a no frills, bone dry approach.  


30. Sunn O))) - Life Metal

Here they come again, churning away. This time slo-mo metallers Sunn O))) have recorded with grumpy recording engineer Steve Albini who, when answering the phone from the big hairy guys said "Sure, this will be fun". And fun it was as the band drafted in violin ace Hildur Guðnadóttir (Mum, Pan Sonic) to add textures and all sorts to the ever expanding brew. Also Anthony Pateras guests on pipe organ.      


31. Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow

Remind Me Tomorrow is the first album in four years by Sharon Van Etten. Despite not making any solo albums in that time she’s been rather busy having a baby, gaining psychology qualifications, working with David Lynch and writing a score for the movie, Strange Weather. All this action has lead to her making a more upbeat album. Produced and arranged by John Congleton. LP or CD on Jagjaguwar.


32. Pye Corner Audio & Faten Kanaan - The Darkest Wave

Right then here is a biggie. A 7" collaboration between label mates Pye Corner Audio and Faten Kanaan on the increasingly collectible and high profile Polytechnic Youth imprint. The A side features Kanaan's New York narrative over some ice cool synths with a John Carpenter/Umberto feel. Over on the flip Pye Corner Audio offer a stripped down piece  in keeping with the label's minimal synth aesthetic. 

Grab one now as this will soon sell out. 


33. The Murder Capital - When I Have Fears

The Murder Capital are a punk/post-punk/art punk band from Dublin. Their lives shows are becoming the talk of the town for their dark, brutal, edge-of-the-seat thrill ride. Their sound will draw comparisons to classic bands such as Joy Division as well as newer bands like Shame and Savages. When I Have Fears is their debut album and was produced by Flood, who is just the person you’d want to produce an album like this.


34. Angel Olsen - All Mirrors

On her fourth album, All Mirrors, Angel Olsen shows us her darkest side. Its introspective nature was an important step for Olsen. Through its brooding tones and lyrics she tells us about learning to trust yourself and move on, find peace in your own company. Valuable lessons, perhaps. On Jagjaguwar.


35. Mort Garson - Mother Earth's Plantasia

Mort Garson was a pioneer of electronic music in the 1960s and an early user of Robert Moog's synthesizer. 'Plantasia' released in 1976 added warmth to the previously darker and colder melodies of earlier electronic releases. By turn playful, surreal or sinister, this is a diverse collection of sounds from a true innovator.


36. The Beatles - Abbey Road – 50th Anniversary Edition

Absolutely everything about The Beatles’ final album Abbey Road screams ‘iconic’ - the much-parodied artwork, the second half’s famous song suite, the top class contributions from all of the Fab Four (yes, even Ringo’s ‘Octopus’s Garden’...). In 2019, it gets the 50th anniversary re-mastering treatment. With the new stereo mix handled by Giles Martin at the famous itself, this re-issue comes in: standard CD; double CD; single, double or triple vinyl; or a lavish 4xCD box-set with hardcover book and Blu-Ray. Various versions include outtakes and demos. 


37. The Utopia Strong - The Utopia Strong

If anyone was going to release the debut album by the Utopia Strong it was going to be Rocket. Steve Davis (of having an opinion about women snooker players' fame) and Kavus Torabi have maintained a solid DJing relationship for a while now. Together, with Michael J. York, they make music that sounds like Emeralds jamming with Cluster. 


38. Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars

You’re not The Boss of me, now! And you’re not so big! Except you are, because you’re Bruce Springsteen.* Western Stars finds bossman Brucie back from Broadway and turning in another set of paeans to The Common American. ‘Hitch Hikin’’, ‘Tucson Train’ and ‘Sleepy Joe’s Cafe’ are the sort of things he could have called his tracks at any point in his discography. Sounds like a Bruce Springsteen album, though a bit mellower and more wistful than some of his previous efforts.

*On a side note - why do people call Springsteen ‘The Boss’ anyway? If he’s meant to be on the side of the working man, why does he consistently side with management? Surely it couldn’t be that dear Bruce licks boots? [editorial note: Bruce has said in the past he does not like the name because he dislikes bosses and I will not stand idly by while his good name is dragged through the dirt.]


39. Shellac - The End of Radio

It's not too easy being a Shellac fan is it? Their studio records are few and far between and their tours seem to happen just when they feel like it. So here's something to get starved Shellac fans juicing at the mouth, it's a collection of the band's two Peel sessions including their 2004 live set in front of a small (lucky) audience. Full of alternative versions of tracks you now know and love, the band were known for testing out future material on these sessions. Essential. 


40. Moon Duo - Stars Are The Light

Moon Duo (I preferred them when they were a trio) go disco! One of the steadiest and most reliable bands in psych rock have discovered a new muse. As well as being influenced musically, they've also found inspiration in the liberatory qualities of the dancefloor. Produced by Mr. Sonic Boom so it's no less psychedelic than their past output. 


41. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Wolf of the Cosmos

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy has always been of particular interest to me - not because of his music - but because of his name. Why exactly does he need to claim to the 'Prince' status? Is he actually a prince? Or is he actually an unnecessary ego? Who knows. Either (or neither) way, Wolf of the Cosmos is available on vinyl LP and CD on Domino. 


42. Vanishing Twin - The Age of Immunology

Vanishing Twin fuse ‘60s pop and electronic music in way similar to Broadcast et al. On The Age Of Immunology, their second full length, the band explore the full breadth of their sound by recording it in a variety of non-standard settings, including the Croatian island of Krk. Features some of the most vital flute interventions I've heard in years. On Fire.


43. Vampire Weekend - Father Of The Bride

Vampire Weekend’s new album comes to us without any information other than the number of different formats there are (4). It’s their first album in five years, so yay! It’s called Father Of The Bride and features a bunch of guest artists including ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij. Early single suggest all the jokes people tell about the band will continue to have legs.


44. Khruangbin - Hasta El Cielo (Con Todo El Mundo in Dub)

After 2018's Con Todo El Mundo blew everyone's collective mind, Khruangbin have turned to legendary dub producer Scientist to freeze that album's tracks in time. Doing this has enabled the band to find the spaces in their music, and make them wide screen. Hasta El Cielo offers a different perspective on the band's psych sound.


45. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel

This here offering is Courtney's second album following up {long title}, but also that thing she did with Kurt Vile. Here her witty observations are matched with a more serious tone capturing more obviously the beauty and warmth in her delivery. She's becoming increasingly popular so this will be a big 'un.


46. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures (40th Anniversary Edition)

If you haven't bought Joy Division's debut album before then perhaps now is the time to do it. To celebrate 40 years of its existence the kind people at Rhino have pressed it onto ruby red vinyl for your listening pleasure. But whose idea was it to invert the sleeve? Don't bloody touch it. The album is of course very good, basically inventing post-punk, goth and a form of industrial electronics in one swoop.  


47. The Brian Jonestown Massacre - The Brian Jonestown Massacre

Now weirdly busier than ever, Anton Newcombe was planning two albums for 2018 but the success of Something Else and it's associated tours has led this self titled follow up to be pushed back to 2019. Well at least we have a brand new the Brian Jonestown Massacre album to listen to before we all die.  Something Else was really rather good so we are looking forward to the treats on offer here.  


48. Burial - Claustro / State Forest

(sings) All we are saying is 'Give Us an Album'. Burial's last full length LP the magnificent Untrue came out in 2007. That's 12 years ago. Since then all we get are these 12"s of which Claustro/State Forest is the latest. I know we're supposed to get excited but grrrr. Anyway it's something at least. I think I liked his last thing. Did I? I can't remember. Maybe.  


49. Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Expanded Edition)

'Emperor Tomato Ketchup' is often held up as the crowning achievement of post-rock/psychedelic outfit Stereloab, fronted by the bizarre, left-field songwriting of Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane. On 'Emperor Tomato Ketchup', the band's affection for pop music and for newer strands of experimental rock intersect, making for a record both more accessible and ambitious than the three noise pop records that preceded it. 


50. Stereolab - Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (Expanded Edition)

Back in the early 1990s, when grunge and Britpop dominated rock music, Stereolab were doing something very different indeed. Combining motorik drone-rock a la Neu and avant-garde radicalism with elements of slick space-age exotica and retro Euro-pop, this their sprawling 1993 opus reissued and expanded here, sounds just as fresh today.



2019 wasn’t just the year of ‘Old Town Road’, but it sure seems like a good place to start. In times of darkness and division there was something affirmingly unifying about the success of this single from the hitherto-unknown Lil Nas X.

It’s the sort of thing that isn’t really in our wheelhouse. The song was a wholly viral phenomenon, first coming to prominence as a meme on TikTok, and viral hits don’t tend to translate into vinyl sales. So we didn’t stock it. That said, just like everyone else we were all rooting for track as it galloped away to become the year’s biggest hit on both sides of the pond.

But let's head back to things that we do know more about - slabs o’ wax, reels o’ tape, patches o’ bald. As the curtain comes down on 2019, let’s crack open the eggnog, gather round the fire and try to flog you our excess stock reminisce about another twelve months on this crazy little planet.


First, a trend to watch: the Japanese reissue wave

In the world of vinyl reissues, trends tend to phase in and out. Often these fads have symbiotic relationships with popular artists or scenes of the time, something that makes their arcs difficult to track. For instance, would there be such resurgent interest in Haruomi Hosono if Mac Demarco hadn’t been singing his praises for the past few years? Or is Demarco’s success in part because of Hosono’s resurgence? The truth, as always, is somewhere in between.

That said, Hosono’s homeland has been enjoying particularly fruitful times in the reissues game of late. It feels as if the past couple of years have seen a long-overdue reappraisal of Japanese music by the western world. Buoyed by a generation of artists who have been influenced by Japanese art and culture to a hitherto-unprecedented degree - we have everything from the 2002 Men’s Football World Cup to Pokemon to the Gamecube to thank for that - the past few years have brought a steady flow of reissued Japanese classics, curios and compilations (not to mention great new work from the likes of Chai and Otoboke Beaver).

Chai - Choose Go!

Spurred on by resurgent global interest in the genre, several imprints have opened us up to a whole world of Japanese jazz that we didn’t even know existed. Studio Mule, the reissues-focussed offshoot of Mule Musiq, continued to lead the way on this front in 2019, but labels like BBE, WEWANTSOUNDS and We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want (WRWTFWW) have put in work.

The last two on that list are part of a glut of labels have extended their Japanese reissues projects far beyond the borders of jazz. Building on past successes from Midori Takada and Yasuaki Shimizu, WRWTFWW have journeyed further into the realm of post-minimalist, ambient and discrete composition. Seminal work from Sora, Yutaka Hirose and Satoshi Ashikawa has all been given a new lease of life under the auspices of this excellent Swiss label.

Yutaka Hirose - Nova

Meanwhile WEWANTSOUNDS added a set of Akiko Yano editions to their catalogue as well as new pressings of classics from Yukihiro Takahashi and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Takahashi and Sakamoto were members of the Yellow Magic Orchestra alongside the aforementioned Hosono, and to modern ears both the City Pop of Takahashi’s ‘Saravah!’ and Sakamoto’s post-genre melange ‘Thousand Knives Of’ feel just as influential as their bandmate’s quirky exotica.

Yukihiro Takahashi - Saravah!

Indeed, a City Pop resurgence has been a throughline of this new Japanese era (for those unfamiliar with the term, City Pop is a slick and chintzy brand of synth-pop which became popular in the country during the economic boom of the 1980s). One of 2019’s most notable genre surveys was Light In The Attic’s bumper compilation ‘Pacific Breeze: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1976-1986’, a bespoke double-LP which dovetailed with their beloved ‘Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990’ earlier in the year. The success of ‘Kankyō Ongaku…’ probably has something to do with all those WRWTFWW pressings we were talking about a couple of paragraphs ago - see what we were getting at when we said that everything’s become pretty incestuous in this reissues game?

Satoshi Ashikawa - Still Space

We can’t leave the Land Of The Rising Sun behind without mentioning the ever-expanding video game music market. If you’re hot for some retrotastic gaming sounds then you should look to labels like Iam8bit and Mondo - the latter are on a particularly strong run with Konami’s in-house sound team the Konami Kukeiha Club. Video game OSTs have become so in-demand in recent times that even Hyperdub got in on the act last year, and in 2019 their ‘Diggin In The Carts’ compilation begat a set of remixes from label-boss Kode9.

Kode9 - Diggin’ In The Carts


Other notable reissues

Aside from the Japanese wave it has been harder to discern trends among 2019’s other reissues. There have been a fair few anniversary editions this year, but aside from each reaching a milestone in 2019 there’s not much to link these records. Seminal tomes from Sigur Ros, Kurt Vile, The Raincoats, Pinback and Repulsion all celebrated birthdays, but that’s a sweep from elegiac Icelandic pop to legendary grindcore. A forgotten classic from little-known Scouse skifflers The Beatles also hit a half-century this year - first we’d heard of it … 

The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun

As is always the case, there were also some superb new collections and rare gems. 80s post-punk heroes Beat Happening and A Certain Ratio were both honoured with definitive boxsets; Horace Tapscott, a significant artist in the West Coast spiritual jazz movement who hadn’t been getting the attention that he deserved, was finally honoured with new editions of two fantastic LPs he cut with his Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra; Rupa’s ‘Disco Jazz’, an ‘Old Town Road’-ish phenomenon in the sense that the clamour for reissue had gathered momentum from YouTube algorithms, sounded little like disco or jazz but was still a delightful 80s tidbit nonetheless; Lee Moses, a soul-star who never was, was given new focus; and as the end of 2019 began to hove into view, we were treated with the early Christmas present of Arthur Russell’s ‘Iowa Dream’, the latest set of archival ballads to emerge from the catalogue of this singular, incomparable artist.

Arthur Russell - You Did It Yourself


What about thew actual new music?

It’s always a bit harder to appraise the new music of a year just gone than one in the more distant past. Which albums will age well? Are the sounds of the day here to stay or simply a flash in the pan? Is this latest record by (Thee) Oh Sees really that much better than the millions upon millions they have released previously? (Yes, it probably is.)

Oh Sees - Face Stabber

What’s beyond dispute is that, as we stand at the end of it, 2019 has produced a fantastic haul of LPs. It feels like a lot of rising stars have really found their level this year. Giant Swan, a name on the lips of anyone who’s had a passing interest in hard club music in recent times, more than delivered with their scuffed-up techno masterpiece of a debut album. Big Thief ascended to indie-rock’s major leagues with two great albums - ‘U.F.O.F.’ being the pick of the bunch from our end - and Angel Olsen consolidated her spot with ‘All Mirrors’. Meanwhile, on our bubblers list, Jamie Stewart did the most Jamie Stewart thing ever by pronouncing ‘coconuts’ and ‘bananas’ in an utterly ridiculous way on the new Xiu Xiu album ‘Girl With Basket Of Fruit’. Like it or lump it, for sheer ‘wtf’-factor the 2.35-mark on the album’s third track ‘Amargi ve Moo’ was arguably the year’s most memorable musical moment.

Xiu Xiu - Amargi ve Moo

Some leading lights of the black musical underground all made big plays this year too. In hip-hop, Little Simz delivered her most fully-formed work yet in ‘Grey Area’, a Kendrick Lamar-esque tome that almost bagged her the Mercury Prize, while Freddie Gibbs & Madlib matched the class and craft of ‘Pinata’ with ‘Bandana’. Moor Mother and clipping. continued to operate in the negative space between hip-hop, punk, industrial music and spoken-word, while Q-Tip brought Danny Brown back from a similar plain with the classicist ‘Uknowhatimsayin¿’. ‘Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery’ reminded us that The Comet Is Coming are a space-jazz act like no other. Meanwhile FKA twigs and Michael Kiwanuka both left the underground behind and soared into the stratosphere on full-lengths of ambitious, aching pop music.

Little Simz - Offence

But for all this talk of culminations, it was a returning favourite who topped out 2019 for us. At 66 years old, Kim Gordon made music with enough energy, guile and invention to leave the young pretenders in the shade on ‘No Home Record’. While some of the record channelled the grungy avant-punk of her work in Sonic Youth, there were also forays into industrial beats, lo-fi trap, drone and slurping noise that pulled ‘No Home Record’ into the orbit of Death Grips and Moor Mother. While we can’t speak for all of 2019’s LPs, we’ve got a feeling that this one will stand the test of time.

Kim Gordon - Air BnB


Departure lounge

No set of reflections would be complete without taking a moment to honour those musical luminaries who left us in 2019. Some went way, way too soon - we think particularly of Juice WRLD here, the latest in a line of deaths of rappers from the Soundcloud scene who tragically passed at the age of just 21 earlier in December.

Juice WRLD - Lucid Dreams

Others were taken in middle-age. Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill and The Prodigy’s Keith Flint, both artists who thrived in the fissure between 90s alternativa and the pop mainstream, died in the first half of 2019. Daniel Johnston and David Berman, two enduring favourites here at Norman Records, went in late-summer - the former from a suspected heart-attack, the latter by his own hand. While Johnston remained beloved largely for the beautiful and idiosyncratic songs that he wrote in the 80s and 90s, former Silver Jews mainstay Berman continued to produce work right up until the end, dropping a superb LP of thoughtful, wracked Americana under the name Purple Mountains less than a month before his death.

Purple Mountains - All My Happiness Is Gone

Others passed older, but their age made it no less hard. Whatever you thought of Cream kitman Ginger Baker as a person, his influence on the popular musical landscape is undeniable - many of the records that we stock, both those which featured his playing and ones which bear his influence, simply wouldn’t sound like they do without Baker’s limber drumming style.

Fela Ransome Kuti & The Africa ‘70 With Ginger Baker - Ye Ye De Smell

From our point of view, perhaps the most pertinent loss of all was the great Scott Walker, an artist who was enjoying a late-career renaissance the likes of which we’d never seen. Having made his name as a teen-pop icon in the 60s, Walker’s later years were spent crafting some of the most fearless, challenging and vital avant-garde songs in living memory. LPs like ‘Bish Bosch’ (2012) and Sunn O))) collaboration ‘Soused’ (2014) are quite peerless, and there was simply no-one else out there taking risks like Walker - he was known to lurch into ghastly Daffy Duck impressions mid-song and punch slabs of beef to get the percussion sounds he desired. Within all of this experimentation his work remained utterly bewitching. We will miss him dearly.

Scott Walker - Epizootics!


Enjoy our medley of some of 2019's best tunes.