01.07.2019

Beat’s best albums of 2019 — so far

Amyl and the Sniffers
Photo: Jamie Wdziekonski

Time for a quick rewind.

We’re only halfway through the year and already we’ve been gifted with an onslaught of killer records. Amongst glorious debuts and long-awaited returns, industry legends have rekindled our love and up-and-comers have caught our attention. As the releases keep on coming thick and fast, here are our absolute favourite albums from the past six months.

Baroness – Gold & Grey

At a mammoth 17 tracks, the adventurous heavy metal outfit deliver Gold & Grey in such a way that you forget it’s an hour long. Sustaining, daring and a solid attempt at a lengthy LP, could this be Baroness’ magnum opus? More here.

Amyl and The Sniffers – Amyl and The Sniffers

Amyl and The Sniffers is blissful chaos from a band that’s pegged pub punk to a tee. Those who have seen The Sniffers live know they have a stage presence that can’t be matched, and their debut LP almost needs to be witnessed in a live setting to get the full experience. More here.

The National – I Am Easy To Find 

After 19 years, it’s easy to write a recipe for an album by The National. Mix a glass of bourbon, a simple drum pattern, an obscure literary reference and a sense of existential dread. Voila. None of these characteristics drone on in I Am Easy To Find, however, which manages to breathe new life into The National’s raison d’être. More here.

Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

At 18 tracks and clocking in at just under an hour, Father of the Bride could easily be at risk of feeling bloated, but it just allows for more great tunes and experimentation to be given the light of day. The New York City outfit are in top form and show no signs of slowing. More here.

Little May – Blame My Body

Some of Blame My Body has you up dancing, other sections belong in a moody indie film. It’s an oscillating ride from start to end with little elements of personality that make it the Little May sound. More here.

Ferla – It’s Personal

Breakup songs aren’t in short supply, but Ferla’s rendering of relationship decay displayed macro perspective while also being idiosyncratically particular. It’s Personal mightn’t arrive at a satisfying resolution, but when a quaking heart produces such high-class songwriting, there’s really nothing to complain about. More here.

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

It doesn’t take long for Titanic Rising to bathe you in its sumptuous baroque flourishes. Its culmination of nostalgic melodies and crystalline production makes this album sound like a wonderful piece of escapism, however, this is juxtaposed with the subjects that Natalie Mering explores. More here.

Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?

Diversity is key here; one minute you’ll be assaulted with the trap beats of ‘you should see me in a crown’ and then lulled into the childlike ‘8’. Ultimately, Eilish leaves us desperate for more with the bold statement of an artist who is only just starting to find her voice. More here.

The Murlocs – Manic Candid Episode

More fondly known as ‘Uncle Murl’, The Murlocs’ delivery of Manic Candid Episode presents an arrangement of tracks that remain familiarly within the realm of their signature psychedelic fuzz rock while stressing the band’s development and increasing complexity. More here.

Stella Donnelly – Beware of the Dogs

Throughout her first LP, Donnelly brandishes her quick wit and humour as a weapon against the subtle patriarchal standards and structures plaguing her home country of Australia. Despite her ascension to international acclaim, Donnelly’s Aussie twang and starkly realistic lyrics are as consistent and raw as when she quietly released 2017’s Thrush Metal. More here.

Amanda Palmer – There Will Be No Intermission

It’s bold, intimate, uncomfortably stark yet overwhelmingly rich; the kind of album with the careful consideration of a final swansong, though There Will Be No Intermission feels much more like a triumphant rebirth than any kind of last goodbye. More here.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1

Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, the fifth studio album from British four-piece Foals, is a peerless sonic document that is truly reflective of the zeitgeist. The record makes a strong case for consensus that Foals are an era defining rock band. More here.

Mansionair – Shadowboxer

Sprawling over 16 tracks of dreamy alt-pop, the Sydney-based trio’s first LP combines their killer singles ‘Easier’ and ‘Violet City’, with a plethora of new bangers and melancholic cuts. It’s taken three years of recording and perfecting for their debut album, Shadowboxer, to land. And boy does it stick that landing. More here.

Julia Jacklin – Crushing 

Julia Jacklin’s arrangements are simple, aiming not to weigh down the two things that give her music wings: her lyrics and her voice. You might find yourself mentally storing some of these new songs away, to be queued up in future emotional scenarios. More here.

The Beasts – Still Here

Still Here is, put succinctly, a fucking stomper. While the album might be missing a couple of familiar faces, what remains is a raucous celebration of everything that the band ever stood for, from ‘84’s The Axeman’s Jazz until now, reimagined by (most of) the men who were around to make it so. More here.

Mavis Staples – Live In London 

This recording fulfils all aspirations, bereft of all inessential gimmickry, leaving nothing but pure and imperial soul. The band are suitably wild; cacophonous and spellbinding, and it’s clear why Mavis Staples is so revered. More here.

James Blake – Assume Form 

A careful balance of soft electronics and rattling trap beats craft the sound of Assume Form. A love letter to a blossoming new relationship, the record’s fluttering beats mimic that of James Blake’s own heart; happily thumping with every pulsating melody. More here.

Maggie Rogers – Heard it in a Past Life

Heard it in a Past Life is a journey of sorts, chronicling Rogers’ evolution as a songwriter and as a young woman finding her place in the world. It deals with themes of heartbreak and happiness, uncertainty and growth, all rolled into lyrically evocative songs that stir something within you. More here.

Two People – First Body

First Body is such an immersive, atmospheric experience that it’s not hard to close your eyes and fall into a trance. Each track features a dense instrumental that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Hollywood thriller, and amongst it you will hear Phoebe Lou’s hypnotic vocals that guide you to its meaning. More here.