Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums 2019: #1 End of Suffering – Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Politics and mental health have been a recurring theme of my top ten albums this year (and were prevalent themes of last years too), and both feature heavily on Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes latest, especially mental health, as Carter continues to battle with the ball of fire that’s been in his belly since he was part of Gallows (and if you haven’t checked their early albums out, fucking do that now!). End of Suffering is a very different album into 2017’s Modern Ruin, in that Carter came across as a very angry man, something he’s made a career of, here he’s more mellow, more self-reflective and challenging his historical views and the effects its had on the health of those around him as well as himself, especially in songs that will become life performance anthems such as Anxiety.

It’s also worth checking out some of the remixes they’ve created from tracks on this album.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Album 2019: #2 Cut & Stitch – Petrol Girls

Petrol Girls need to be so so much bigger than they currently are and I hope they grow and fulfil their potential. They’re a band that I keep trying to expose my daughters to listen to as they discuss so many issues that affect women everywhere whilst tying it all into some absolutely fucking amazing punk music, just listen to Big Mouth, what a fucking track. The whole album feels extremely experimental and yet awesomely polished, this group know exactly what they’re doing, they don’t want you to be comfortable, they’re here to absolutely smash the patriarchy and if you don’t like that then they’re more than happy to tell you “up yours”. Petrol Girls are our this generations The Slits.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums 2019: #3 Strength in Numb333rs – Fever 333

To describe Fever 333 I’d probably turn to a mix of Rage Against The Machine and Linkin Park, theres that political aggression that the former are so famed for, and indeed there are moments you do wonder if you are listening to Zack de la Rocha rapping, then the choruses kick in and there’s a polished Linkin Park feel to proceedings that will, hopefully, allow them so much more exposure and reach out to so many more people as their careers progress. Seriously, listen to Burn It and try and tell me this band haven’t got something special going on.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums 2019: #4 PSYCHODRAMA – Dave

I wrote about this album back in September because it’s such an important piece of work for UK music, for mental health awareness, for the fight against toxic masculinity and for survivors of domestic abuse. It’s an album, that as a man, forces you to reflect, think on the things you take for granted, the things you bottle up and just how easy it is to let things snowball and get out of hand, its an album that forces you to notice the warning signs, don’t write off just because you don’t listen to rap music or because it isn’t designed to be chart or festival friendly like previous releases such as Thiago Silva.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums of 2019: #5 Gold & Grey – Baroness

I’ve been listening to Baroness since 2012’s Yellow & Gold and they continue to blow me away. Some people will notice there’s a distinct lack of Metal on my list this year, but there’s always room for Baroness melodies. There are very few bands out there that, in my opinion, do what Baroness do, where the vocal performance fuses perfectly with the music being played and you are instantly just lost in the wall of noise that they create. Admittedly they can often be intimidating, but the pay off is always absolutely worth it. If 2015’s Purple was about trauma (after the band suffered a massive bus crash which led to two members leaving), then Gold & Grey is about acceptance and heading on to the next stage. Here Baroness very nearly descend into Prog Rock, but still continue to keep things Metal and, as ever, produce something unique and special.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums of 2019: #6 Dogrel – Fontaines D.C.

If Sleaford Mods are almost taking the piss out of their political leanings, Fontaines D.C. are wearing their beliefs on their hearts, with them witnessing their communities struggling to keep up with the modern world. This post-punk outfit are rubbing shoulders with the likes of IDLES and Shame (who both appeared on my 2018 list, IDLES were at #1 whilst Shame came in at #7). Songs like Sha Sha Sha feature repetitive rhythms that drill their way into your mind whilst Television Screen’s almost lazy vocals really get you singing along and lastly Hurricane Laughter has an almost Iggy Pop feel to it.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums of 2019: #7 What’s It Like Over There? – Circa Waves

Circa Waves are probably one of the “safer” artists I’ve listened to this year, their very radio-friendly as popular single Times Won’t Change Me shows. That’s not to discredit them as they’re a very talented group that create some excellent and highly listenable tracks, though it’s probably The Way We Say Goodbye (from How to Train Your Dragon 3) that really caught me off guard and, with the past two years of my life in mind, really brings a lump to my throat every single time I listen to it, its an emotionally difficult track that always gets me teary-eyed and is reminiscent of Jimmy Eat Worlds “Hear You Me”.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums of 2019: #8 Body Bag Your Scene – Riskee & the Ridicule

Grime is usually regarded as the modern equivalent to 1970s punk, however there’s not been a big movement that combines the two. Riskee & The Ridicule are on a mission to rectify this. As you’d expect from such an infusion, Body Bag Your Scene is very politically charged, and its a sign of our times that there is evidently a lot of anger there in both the music and the lyrics follow suit as evidenced on Our Time “Are you scared of the working classes? Well we’re coming for your blood clot arses”, verses are spit fast and loud whilst chorus’ are catchy and a lot of the time have a real Vans Tour pop-punk hook to them. These guys are, in my opinion, going places.

Albums of the Year 2019, Music

My Top Ten Albums of 2019: #10 Eton Alive – Sleaford Mods

“Funny” albums are normally a bit shit, but Sleaford Mods, a duo from Nottingham who create a hybrid of electronic, punk and rap, continue to defy the odds, both pointing fun at the world around them and themselves. There’s politics there but not on a national scale, as Policy Cream tackles such heavy topics as having more wheelie bins than you have been allocated by your local council (and who, realistically, hasn’t considered nicking the bin from that house that has just become empty on your street?). The beats here are addictive and you’ll easily find yourself tapping them out absentmindedly, whilst, again, its hard not to believe Williamson may be taking a punt at some of the more outwardly political bands doing the rounds when he spits lines such as “You’re just saying it all to look good”. However, its (purposely) not the easiest to listen, everything here is created to either turn you away or make you persevere and in doing the latter, you’ll be rewarded.

Mental Health, Music

PSYCHODRAMA – Dave

People who have been reading this blog for a while may remember that I experimented with doing a regular thing on a Friday dubbed “#NewMusicFridays”, it was a short lived experiment that I only kept up for two weeks but I never wrote off the idea of writing more under the category of music, and so we come to this week’s Sunday post, which as you may have noticed is basically me writing about anything that takes my fancy whilst the content for Tuesdays and Thursdays is fairly rigid, this is done on purpose as I spent years just writing about videogames, which I still love to do, but that time really dampened my love of the medium for quite some time.

Back on topic then, here in the UK is an award called the Mercury Prize which is awarded to the best album released in the UK by a British or Irish artist or group. It’s not something I’ve historically paid alot of attention to, I normally see the nominations and tune out when they’re performers have never really grabbed me. However, this year IDLES’ “Joy as an Act of Resistance” was nominated, which I voted my favourite record of 2018, so I was paying it a little more attention this time out.

Needless to say, IDLES didn’t win, a grime artist by the name of Dave did, now is where alot of people will tune out, but please, don’t. Let me continue.

Dave came to my attention earlier this year when he performed at Glastonbury and dragged a fan up on stage to perform a song of his called Thiago Silva, the fan was chosen because he was wearing a Paris Saint-Germain replica shirt with Silva’s name and number printed onto the back, no body expected him to do this:

Grime isn’t a genre I’ve particularly paid alot of attention to, its not that I don’t like rap music, I really like stuff from the late eighties and early nineties that I was exposed to through my brother and have been really enjoying Netflix’s “Hip Hop Evolution”. I’ve just not spent much time listening to much UK rap if I’m being honest and thats maybe a mistake on my part.

So Friday I had to go shopping, and thats the day I read that Dave had won the Mercury Prize, so I loaded up Spotify and listened to his award winning album “Psychodrama” and I can certainly see why its been so well received as its an exceptional album that, like with IDLES’ effort, is something I feel everybody should listen carefully to the message of. “Black” smashes things out of the park when it comes to educating the world on what Dave (and possibly many more individuals) feels it is to be a black man in modern Britain. It’s not an experience I can speak off with any conviction beyond seeing from the outside the experiences of a friend when I was very young man. He was in a mixed race family, his mum and sister were both white (he had a different Dad to his sister, but she was never, ever his half sister) but his Dad was absent and as the older of the two children he was often left in a position of caring for his little sister and would walk her to school every day so his Mum could earn enough to put food on the table. Every day after school (we went to different schools, he went to a church funded school, I went to the local primary) he would knock for me and we’d play football or go out in the Den or he’d push me around on my Go-Kart. But he would always be checking on the whereabouts of his younger sibling (who’s Dad was also absent I might add). Throughout “Black” I pictured him and how at 5pm every day he’d’ rush home with his sister and I’d not see him till the following day whilst at weekends he would often be helping his mum shop or be at Sunday School.

The other track I’d like to draw attention to is “Lesley (feat. Ruelle)” which at 11 minutes is a very long rap record, its not an easy listen either as it tells a properly horrible story that, to my mind, tries to raise the issue of toxic masculinity (an issue that regular readers will be aware of me trying to address and come to terms with myself) and the damage it does to everybody with the story being told from the perspective of a woman in an abusive relationship. The story being told is horrific, but the lyrical content is astounding, when it came on I was just walking along but I soon found somewhere to sit and just listen to what Dave had to say, to go any further would be to spoil the experience, but its a song I think everyone should listen to.

Mental health, masculinity and ones identity are my interpretation of the themes that Dave has tried to weave into his content on Psychodrama, that the whole album is played out with the background of being part of an appointment with the narrator’s therapist really drives that home and, much like IDLES’ record, I feel this is a record that will go down as being one of the most important in modern history. It certainly deserves to, so give it a listen, I’ve made it easy for you by sticking the whole album from Spotify below for you.