Updated: Dec 19, 2019
Words by Mof Gimmers
It’s the time of year when people all over the globe start arguing about what the best albums of the year are. There’s a raft of playlists celebrating all that was great and good in the year, inevitably followed by a comment like “GOD, CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MISSED THAT ONE OFF!” and the like.
The shop has been no different, with the staff at loggerheads about what should make a shortlist. While some had so many options, they were easy about the whole thing, others almost came to blows on the nearby carpark, and had to be hosed down.
2019 really has been an excellent year for music, with something of a revival for bands with guitars. There’s been LPs that have been angry and howling in anguish at the state of… well… everything, while some have chosen to indulge in some glorious escapism, so we can flee the dread and weirdness.
Whatever it is, it’s been brilliant, and we close out our first Christmas and New Year by looking at our top LPs of 2019.
1. Sault ‘5’
When this album first landed, we didn’t know a great deal about who was behind it, which only added to the charm. It’s rare a band that lands, seemingly fully formed, like they’ve been around for years and honing their craft… and ‘5’ strutted into view, with it’s skuzzy bass-lines, nods to Hi-Life, disco, underground funk and house, and blew everyone away.
It’s an album that works just as well in the living room as it does the dancefloor, so even if you’re not for going out and getting sweaty, this still bangs while you’re shuffling around the kitchen making a stew.
There’s real crossover appeal with the album too, with people who Don’t Normally Like That Sort Of Thing raving about it. Genuinely, it’s hard to think of any sub-culture or music fan that wouldn’t get a kick out of Sault’s debut. Even if you’re tuneless and can’t dance for toffee, ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ and ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Why Why Why Why Why’ should put some ants in your pants all the same.
‘5’ was followed up by the equally fabulous ‘7’, and Sault are threatening to do some live shows to boot, and judging by their initial releases, they’ll be unmissable.
Sincerely, this is one of the best debut albums of the past decade, so get on it already.
Sault ‘5’ is the Wilderness Record Store album of 2019!
2. Cate Le Bon 'Reward'
On very heavy rotation in the shop, ‘Reward’ mixes freak folk, with German progressive music, Talking Heads-ish wonk-funk, and honest-to-goodness psychedelic pop. Cate Le Bon has been great for years, but on this LP, so much of what she’s about crystallised into a career best.
Anyone who has burrowed down into Cate’s LP will have been left spinning along with “love you, I love you, I love you, I love you… but you’re not here”, while ‘Home To You’ has to feature the greatest “aaah” recorded in 2019.
It’s an eclectic album, but never overdoing it. Magical. A very close-run for first place.
3. Aldous Harding 'Designer'
A breathtaking album from one of the most original artists on the planet. Her performances have left people feeling a little spooked-out, which is never a bad thing. ‘Zoo Eyes’, ‘The Barrel’, and ‘Fixture Picture’ have been played a lot in the shop.
There’s something of the great freak-folk LPs of the ’70 s about this, mixed with the loose country-funk of say, The Band and Neil Young in his ‘Harvest’ period. Lyrical gems and oddness pop up everywhere, and truly, this is an album that will endure. Masterful.
4. Weyes Blood 'Titanic Rising'
Weyes Blood has been ace for ages, but on ‘Titanic Rising’, she made her most assured and fully-formed album yet. In parts star-gazing psychedelia, in others, glorious West Coast pop – this record has so much for you to love. Listen to ‘Andromeda’ and ‘Everyday’, and you should be hooked!
5. Girl Band 'The Talkies'
No-one does noise quite like Girl Band – live, this lot left half of our shop’s hair stood on end for a full week. The LP is no slouch either, delivering bone-crunching sonic terror, coupled with brain-melting washes of sound that are almost MBV-ish.
6. Julia Jacklin 'Crushing'
If you’ve been in our shop, you’ve almost certainly heard ‘Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You’ – a heavy-hearted ballad that had us all in bits. On ‘Crushing’, Jacklin’s managed to fuse grunge sensibilities with intimate alt.country, which never gets close to being too twee or saccharine. Filled with tales of heartache, life, love, this is a gem!
7. Jamila Woods ‘Legacy’
Jamila Woods’ 2019 offerings was a perfect marriage of what everyone loves about ‘90s R&B and ‘70s soul yet married with something futuristic and forward-thinking. This is one of the strongest soul LPs released in yonks, and one that all the right people have been making noises about.
8. Orville Peck 'Pony'
Country has been making a huge comeback in recent years, and what a thrill it is to see a bunch of artists going against the grain of what popular country became. Orville Peck's masked persona shook things up, and his LP mixed in road movie noir and shoegaze drones, and it was visually - and sonically brilliant!
9. Little Simz ‘Grey Area’
One of the brightest voices in the UK, mixing rap that fires on all cylinders, with ace off-kilter R&B that’s original and infectious. Little Simz has always been awesome, but on this album, she’s knocked it out of the park! Fantastic.
10. Billie Eilish ‘When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’
It’s been a great year for Weird Pop, and at the top of the pile is Billie Eilish – a prodigious teenager who looks like she’s got a fabulous career ahead of her. Mixing trappish hip hop with downbeat R&B, and fusing it with gothic Europop, 2019 was Eilish’s year, that’s for sure.
CLICK HERE FOR THE WILDERNESS RECORD STORE PLAYLIST OF 2019 - featuring tracks from our favourite ten albums, and the rest of the tracks that we loved!