2019 has been another sensational year for music, with some of the finest records of the decade squeezing into the debate, including Michael Kiwanuka’s glorious third album, KIWANUKA. There’s also been the return of TFFT favourites The Unthanks, Lucy Rose, Sharon Van Etten and Big Thief, as well as a celebration of truly-exciting, new talent, including Billie Marten and Angie McMahon. So once again, we’ve put together our annual list of TFFT Favourite Albums Of The Year – take a trip below…
Remind Me Tomorrow is a gorgeously crafted piece of art, with Sharon’s striking vocals drenched in reverb, the minimal yet dynamic arrangement of the instruments and synthesisers, and the general pace of the album altogether; the space in her arrangements allow for space to breathe, and elicits a meditative vibe.
Unlike many artists, there is a reality that we share with Angie. This time though, the voyage of discovery has been hers. Thankfully she speaks for us all on this wonderful, wonderful record.
With Two Hands, Big Thief have produced their most consistent and compelling album to date with a personality that sets it apart from previous releases.
Aldous Harding – Designer
Bird Songs Of A Killjoy is a truly special piece of work. There’s nothing new here, but as a record it provides a much needed moment of respite – it’s peaceful, dreamy, melodic and deeply beautiful in so many ways.
Navigator shows that Joe and Helen just love making music and whatever they seem to do it works. It is an album that seems to be a lot about break-ups and failed relationships but to borrow a line from ‘Hurts Like Real Love’, “even if you break my heart, I won’t give you up,” – this should be the feeling of everyone that crosses the music of Cattle & Cane, as to hear them sing of lost love actually is a not just a good healer but a great healer.
Although Bon Iver have matured into a more experimental indie rock sound, leaving folk back in that cabin in the woods, the band still manage to prove that they are an exciting group to track in the industry.
Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
The record in fact is musically excellent, Wesley Schultz’s voice is impeccable. The sound is consistently more raw, laced with hurt and at times hope.
Feeding Seahorses By Hand is a quite wonderful second-album, presenting a perfect blend of raw and minimalist tracks with a more developed, mature and experimental approach. It is a record that indicates a very bright future for Marten, and a curiosity into what is to come next from this young, exciting British talent.
With simple yet profound lyrics and a simple cord progression, Mike is able to keep his fans intrigued without losing them to fancy instrumentation or studio production. Simplicity and emotion.
Morning Dancer takes us on a journey through the varying styles that fans have come to expect from Matthew And The Atlas, which has at various points utilised different styles to give us synth-laden songs, through to simple finger-picked acoustic melodies and roaring rock numbers which fill rooms when played live. With the additional brass instrumentation the record delivers a set of familiar and yet different songs weaved together with the warm familiarity of Hegarty’s voice, allowing fans to enjoy a record which ends all too quickly.
Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Right now, despite all the problems out there, we are rejoicing in the warmth of loved ones and good times. Right now, we are ready to do it all again. Kiwanuka’s having a great time, and we’re doing just fine as well, thanks.
A car door slams and a V8 engine is gunned into life before a scratchy FM radio informs us that “the problem with this country is consumption… we consume too much.” The radio crackles and distorts, the engine howls and the car heads down a highway of destruction before the opening track from Sturgill Simpson’s insanely impressive new record eventually emerges from the maelstrom.
This album is incredibly honest and emotional lyrically, whilst musically it feels raw and quite minimalist. It is an album that has knocked me for six and makes me want more words from Lucy Rose, as this is her at her best.
Whilst many of the songs are short in their nature, the full force of both the Unthank sister’s singing style and the superb music from the collected band mean that you are left slightly longing for fuller stories. Overall the collection is beautiful, and the arrangements by McNally are outstanding.
The narrative of Titanic Rising nods to apocalyptic world endings and the ironies of modern love, but the joy of following a singular woman’s journey through a universe of her own making is what catapults this album skyward.
This album is lovely. From the first note, Whitney’s sophomore release Forever Turned Around smothers you with a warm blanket, brings you a cup of tea and asks how your day was. It feels like it cares more about you than your boyfriend. It isn’t life-changing, revolutionary or even particularly ground-breaking, it is just lovely.
What is so joyous and timely about this album is that it ties in seamlessly with the rhetoric that so many people have espoused following Scott Hutchison’s suicide; talk to your friends, know that people care about you, make tiny changes to earth. If an album of covers by the band’s friends, colleagues and collaborators doesn’t meet that criteria, I don’t know what does. And so, whilst it was never intended to be, Tiny Changes is reluctantly a tribute album. It is also, as was intended, a celebration of a record, a band and a man who have had a more profound effect on their fan base than they could ever have anticipated or appreciated.
Finally, to celebrate the music from each of these incredible 20 records, we’ve put together an ‘Albums Of The Year 2019’ playlist, for you to spin all the way through to the New Year…