Mixdown's Favourite Albums Of 2019

Our Writers Wrap Up The Year In Music

As another decade draws to a close, we put our writers to the test to decide upon their favourite releases of 2019. Slap on your headphones and discover, or reacquaint yourself with, the cream of the crop from the year that's been - happy listening!

Will Brewster (Digital Editor)

 

Top Five Albums of the Year

1. Assume Form – James Blake

 

 

Blake’s most romantic and focused effort to date by far, I’ve probably listened to Assume Form every week since it was released in January - in fact, it showed up that I'd listened to it for a total of 72 hours in my Spotify Wrap-Up list. The songwriting is sublime, the production untouchable, and those features – who would’ve ever thought Andre 3000 and Travis Scott would appear on a James Blake record? This one’s a classic.

 

2. So Much Fun – Young Thug

While it’s not his best effort (JEFFERY and Barter 6 take the cake here), So Much Fun is definitely a victory lap for this Atlanta iconoclast. There’s some big name features – Lil Uzi Vert, J. Cole, Future and Gunna’s contributions are major highlights of the record – but the focus is always on Thug here, with Thugger showing off his acrobatic flows and signature cadence over 19 giddy beats. It really does sound like Thugger's just having fun, and who are we to stop him from that?

 

3. Pang – Caroline Polacheck

Pang completely floored me! Caroline Polacheck’s vocals are absolutely bonkers here, and the futuristic synth-pop production courtesy of PC Music is just fascinating. The Kanye inspired Autotune vocal solo on ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’ is hectic too. It’s an odd one, but definitely worth a spin.

 

4. When I Get Home – Solange

I actually didn’t really vibe When I Get Home when it first came out, but boy did it grow on me. Solange is just so forward thinking. The fusion of jazz, funk and hip-hop on this album is so fluid, the vocals are eye-poppingly good, and Solange’s keen eye for collaboration creates a dense yet fascinating musical experience - Playboi Carti’s baby-voiced rap feature on ‘Almeda’ is a huge highlight too.

 

5. My Own Pool Of Light – Holy Holy

Holy Holy are definitely one of Australia’s best rock bands, and My Own Pool Of Light is easily my favourite local release from the year. The instrumental arrangements are so lush, the story telling is top-shelf, and the flow of the record makes for a listening experience unlike any other from this year.

 
Honorable Mentions:

Crush – Floating Points, Dawn Chorus – Jacques Greene, MAGDALENE – FKA Twigs, Bandana - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
 

Favourite Song of 2019:

‘Can’t Believe The Way We Flow’ - James Blake

Honorable Mentions:

‘Linked’ - Bonobo, ‘Bags' - Clario, ‘Dawn Chorus' - Thom Yorke

 

 

Best Live Show:

Tough pick, but I’m going to have to say Splendour In The Grass. Tame Impala and Foals were killer on night one, Matt Corby, James Blake and SZA on Sunday night were sublime, but top-set honours here goes to The Streets. Mike Skinner is one of the most charismatic figures in music, and seeing him play so many cuts from Original Pirate Material to an absolutely gacked crowd was such a special moment.

 

Favourite moment in music this decade:

I actually had another answer here, but I've had to ammend it given the recent news that John Frusciante has rejoined Red Hot Chili Peppers. John Frusciante was without doubt the most important figure to my development as a musician, and continues to inspire my playing even today. Other than that, I think Frank Ocean's Endless/Blonde bombshell release in 2016 was pretty profound, and I also have incredibly fond memories of listening to Jamie xx's In Colour and getting lost in its magical

 

Your musical predictions for the next decade:

A song written by artificial intelligence will top the charts and trigger a Y2K-esque social panic. Yodel-trap will be the next big crossover hit. Pharrell Williams will continue to look like he’s 23 years old, and Burial will team up with Lauryn Hill to release the most anticipated record of all time.
 

 

Nicholas Simonsen (former Editor)

Top Five Albums of the Year

  1. All Hail - Norma Jean
  2. White Bat - He Is Legend
  3. Peach Club - Emarosa
  4. Gold & Grey - Baroness
  5. Scream Through The Walls - As Cities Burn

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Dimly Lit - From Indian Lakes, Beautiful Oblivion - Issues, Deeper Wells - Thrice, A Dawn To Fear - Cult of Luna, A Pill For Loneliness - City & Colour

 

Favourite Song of 2019:

'Careen' - Norma Jean

Honorable Mentions:

'Frail State Of Mind' - The 1975, 'Imagination' - City & Colour, 'Borderlines' - Baroness

Best Live Show:

The 1975 at Margaret Court Arena, because who doesn't love a beer and a boogie with big Willy B!

 

 

Favourite moment in music this decade:

Glassjaw releasing their first full length album in over 15 years.

 

Your musical predictions for the next decade:

Glassjaw will release another full length without another 15 year wait…..

 

Joshua Martin (Sub-Editor At Large)

Top Five Albums of the Year:

1. U.F.O.F - Big Thief

When Adrianne Lenker screams halfway through U.F.O.F’s opener ‘Contact’, Big Thief become more than another Pitchfork band. The record is a perfectly contained folk-space-opera occurring within the confines of Lenker’s head, issued with eerie instrumental restraint. It’s not an album to address This Political Moment; it’s an intergalactic escape into the self.

 

 

2. Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains

After spending years away from music, David Berman’s return as Purple Mountains brought his trademark punchline poetry aged grit, as he stared at the morbid future with painful awareness. Berman’s recent death by suicide unfortunatley means the album will never tour, but as a musical last will and testament it sits next to Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker in gothic majesty.

 

3. MAGDALENE - fka twigs

MAGDALENE is a breakup album like few others; its uncanny production is an auditory portrait of emotional disfigurement. Using Mary Magdalene as a personal archetype, fka twigs exhumes her broken heart with a painful degree of intimacy.

 

4. Titanic Rising - Weyes Blood

Titanic Rising is the record Joni Mitchell hears in her dreams. Weyes Blood orchestrated this polished ‘70s throwback with the desire to halt the rising tides in life and return to simplicity; her childhood, the world of movies, the galaxy, and self-satisfaction. She couches her desire in an irresistible mix of chamber pop and woozy ambience, letting a little existential dread seep through.

 

5. 1000 gecs - 100 gecs

Forgive me for this one, but 100 gecs might be the future of music. The duo of Dylan Brady and Laura Les’ music sounds like several layers of ironic online music forums jokes squeezed through a dial-up connection and produced by Skrillex. 1000 gecs is often brilliant, sometimes intolerable and always hilarious in all of its bubblegum bass, chipmunked, abrasive glory.

 

Honorable Mentions:

No Geography - The Chemical Brothers, Tasmania - Pond, Crush - Floating Points

 

Favourite Song of 2019:

'bmbmbm' - black midi

Black Midi were partially spoiled by the breathless hype of middle-aged music journalists desperate for the feeling of writing about 2000s guitar bands again, but ‘bmbmbm’ remains the business. The deafening pop of the pitched-down bass feels like grindcore in slow motion, while singer Geordie Greep squawks about a woman with a magnificent purpose. Ironically, the song has no regard for purpose; it is a surge of adolescence, draped in virtuosic madness.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

'All Mirrors' - Angel Olsen, 'Jenni' - Big Thief, 'Doorman' - slowthai

 

Best Live Show:

black midi at U Street Music Hall, Washington D.C

 

Favourite moment in music this decade:

Kendrick Lamar winning a Pulitzer Prize for DAMN. was the perfect screw you to boomers worldwide who continue to dismiss rap through the barely veiled racism claim that “it’s not music”.

 

Your musical predictions for the next decade:

There will be far more rap crossover hits in the vein of 'Old Town Road'. Popular music will calcify into two aesthetic streams; nostalgic and PC Music-offshoots. Spotify mood playlists will start to consist of actually computer generated music.

 

Name: Eddy Lim (Product Review Specialist)

 
Top Five Albums of the Year:

  1. Salt - Angie McMahon
  2. Crushing - Julia Jacklin
  3. U.F.O.F. - Big Thief
  4. Anak Ko - Jay Som
  5. Means to Me - Long Beard

 

 

 

 
Honorable Mentions:

Fluid Motion - 30/70, One Of The Best Yet - Gang Starr, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 2 - Foals, Grey Area - Little Simz, S/T - Rachael & Vilray

 

Favourite Song of 2019:

It’s honestly impossible to pick a clear winner, but ‘Companion Pass’ by Cory Wong is pretty fantastic. It begins with a head-bopping instrumental groove, then slowly morphs into a motivational altar call, which eventually reveals itself to be a hilarious sales ploy. What a trip.

Honorable Mentions:

‘Ruiner’ - Wilsen, ‘Georgia’s Track’ - Tiana Khasi, 'Rectify' - Wurli​

Best Live Show:

Foals at Margaret Court Arena was pretty – as Yannis Philippakis himself would say – feral. Apart from going through Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1, the band dove deep into their back catalogue, even bringing out old crowd favourites from Antidotes. Along with the insane lighting and sound systems of Margaret Court Arena, this was definitely a show to be remembered for 2019.

 

 

Favourite moment in music this decade:

Gang Starr’s latest album release, which includes posthumous verses from Guru, was phenomenal. From its first track to its last, the record exudes reverence and respect to the late rapper, as finely detailed in many of DJ Premier’s interviews. It might have taken over 18 months for its completion, but the album is definitely worthy of bearing the Gang Starr name.
 

Your musical predictions for the next decade:

Honestly, I don’t have any exciting predictions about where music is headed – all I really care about is finding out if Kanye will be president in 2024. But for the short term, I’m really looking forward to the new Black Star (Mos Def/Yasiin Bey & Talib Kweli) album which they keep saying is coming out “soon”. I’m also super, super, keen for Phoebe Bridgers’ sophomore record!

 

Jack Swann (Keyboard Columnist)

 

Top Five Albums of the Year:

 

1. Crush – Floating Points

Floating Points does it all for me – and after a bit of research you’ll find that he quite literally does it all. Crush pays homage to the clubs of the UK and around the world – an improvised album recorded in just five weeks. Now he’s performing it live, solo and with the ability to tweak every parameter imaginable with his fingertips and feet. This album includes just the right contrast between simplistic and complex, ambience and dance.

 

 

2. Structuralism – Alfa Mist

This frontrunner of the UK jazz scene graced us with a much heavier beat driven album in comparison to his last, opening with a killer round of solos on the opening track ‘.44’. A recurrence of spoken word between Alfa and his sister intermittently breaks it all up as they discuss notions of identity and our lack of ability to communicate in such a structured society – an unusual twist that Alfa blends seamlessly utilizing his background in hip hop and grime production.

 

3. Assume Form – James Blake

Another one of a kind artist, James Blake, returned with yet another beautiful addition to his discography. He’s continued to channel his outstanding song writing skills, vocal prowess and production expertise into an album that’s closer associated with hip hop – featuring Travis Scott, Metro Boomin and Andre 3000. Melt into the vocal harmonies on ‘Are you in Love?’ and tell me you aren’t.

 

4. Lonely City – Laura Misch

Inspired by the sound and feeling of a city, Laura Misch poignantly reflects on the loneliness ensued by our urban landscapes. Self-written, performed and produced Misch blends intricate soundscapes and tight percussion with free-flowing melodies and saxophone harmonies that take the listener on a solo journey from the depths to the dark streets. Lyrically and musically she has something to say – and they’re both worth hearing.

 

5. The Loop – Shafiq Husayn

Although it was a tough decision between The Loop and Flamagra, I couldn’t not include this. Purely because of its killer list of features and collaborations; Thundercat, Erykah Badu, Fatima, Bilal, Hiatus Kaiyote, Robert Glasper, Anderson Paak, Kamasi Washington and Flying Lotus. A mix of hip hop, soul, jazz and funk – I’d highly recommend getting around the Stevie Wonder sample in ‘Message in a Bottle’.

 

Honourable Mentions:

Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery – The Comet is Coming

I had the pleasure of catching their album launch to witness what they’ve rightfully termed “cosmic jazz” – certainly not for everyone. They’re probably one of the biggest and boldest sounding trios; consisting of drums, synthesisers and a tenor sax running through a multitude of effects. This album takes avant-garde jazz through the realms of psychedelic rock via an electronic highway.

 

Nothing Great About Britain – Slowthai

Sticking with the UK theme, Slowthai is continuing the rap traditions of the past whilst pushing the genre to its limits with a monster debut. In your face lyrics from street level to Buckingham palace over garage and grime – the title track opens the album and sets you up nicely for what’s inside.

 

 

Favourite Song of 2019:

‘LesAlpx’ – Floating Points

 

Honourable Mentions:

‘Only Human’ – Four Tet , ‘Epiphany’ – Ross From Friends

 

Best Live Show:

Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King with Mondo Freaks at Duke Street Block Party; i’ve spent a major part of this year traveling so have unfortunately missed many gigs that I would have otherwise loved to attend, however it would have been tough to top this performance all the way back in Feb. You could feel the energy emanating down the block along with her adoration for her husband/guitarist. Combined with the fact it was her debut Australian appearance in a 40+year career, and she brought on chairs for her backing vocalists to rest midway through the set made it one disco boogie to remember.

 

Favourite moment in music this decade:

I have to cop out a little on this one and simply say technology. Particularly, music streaming services – Spotify – and our newfound ability to access music from just about any period in time as well as anywhere in the world. It’s a bit of a touchy subject I know but from a listening perspective its what has by far had the biggest impact on my experience over the last decade, so there.

 

Musical predictions for the next decade:

I’d like to think we’re going to hear many more profound collaborations and an even bigger fusion of genres, to a point where naming them almost becomes null. Particularly in the electronic scene, we’ll see producers become much more virtuosic “outside of the box” and a revival of stricter live performances. It’s happening now and is best summed up by Kamaal Williams’ tag “this ain’t jazz no more” – and we’re unable to name such acts with any singular term.

 

Lewis Noke Edwards (Product Review Specialist)

 

Top Five Albums Of The Year:

  1. We Are Not Your Kind - Slipknot
  2. Alien - Northlane
  3. Death Atlas - Cattle Decapitation 
  4. Wretched Illusions - Creeping Death 
  5. Deserted - Gatecreeper 

 

 

 

Honourable Mentions: 

Dark Clouds Of The Inferno - Blackhelm, Heard It In A Past Life - Maggie Rogers, The Heretics - Rotting Christ

 

Favourite Song Of 2019:

'Bloodlines' - Northlane

 

Honourable Mentions: 

'Standing Room' - Caution: Thieves, 'Unsainted' - Slipknot

 

Best Live Show:

Necrot at The Tote. Necrot are a three-piece onslaught of grindy, doomy, Californian death metal and delivery heavier music than four, five or six-piece bands. Supported by some of the biggest bands in Melbourne death, Necrot still took to the stage with confidence, sincerity and brutality.

 

Favourite moment in music this decade: 

Parkway Drive at Festival Hall; watching a band who are one of Australia’s biggest exports of all time continue to push music previously unacceptable for radio into the mainstream, then fill a stadium, play with a string section, rotating drum cage and flames shooting all over the stage is really something else. 

 

 

 

Your musical predictions for the next decade: 

Tape recording, as well as full, live band recordings will come full circle. Recording and production will continue to become more augmented to the point that live performances, imperfections and dirt will become desirable again. Mixing and listening experiences will become increasingly third dimensional as well as interactive.

 

 

Caleb Triscari (Beat Magazine Digital Editor)

 
Top Five Albums of the Year:

  1. Crushing - Julia Jacklin
  2. I Am Easy To Find - The National 
  3. Norman Fucking Rockwell! - Lana Del Ray
  4. Salt - Angie McMahon 
  5. In The Morse Code of Brake Lights - The New Pornographers

 

 

 
Honorable Mentions:

Good At Falling - The Japanese House 

 

Favourite Song of 2019:

'Seventeen' - Sharon van Etten 

 
Honorable Mentions:

'Living Room, NY' - Laura Stevenson 

 

 

 

Best Live Show:

CHVRCHES @ Spilt Milk, Ballarat.

 

Favourite moment in music this decade:

Katy Perry's legal battle with a group of nuns over purchasing their former convent.

 

Your musical predictions for the next decade:

Apple will bring back the iPod Classic (please).

 

Revisit our staff picks from last year.

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