Is it too late for a roundup of my favourite albums of 2019? I’m actually glad I waited so long, because a very good album from last year only recently came on to my radar.
Here’s my selection of records I highly recommend listening to, if you don’t already know them.
Tandem Felix: Rom-Com
While everyone kept raving about the latest Wilco release Ode To Joy, I’d like to make sure, this sort of like-minded band from Dublin gets some attention: Tandem Felix is the project of David Tapley, a subtle singer-/songwriter who is giving insights into his and other people’s life. It’s kind of downhearted but witty, filled with splendid melodies and a quality of mellow comfort. In-between showing moments of a slacker attitude and some psycherock tendency with the song “Oil Money”. Surprisingly, Rom-Com is a debut full-length. You wouldn’t expect that, because it shows a very fine and thought through production. The arrangements are meticulous and the song collection is cohesive. And most of all: I can listen to it every day without getting tired of it. Also, worth mentioning is the well-chosen artwork by French surrealist Guy Billout. It perfectly reflects the oeuvre of Tandem Felix.
Vanishing Twin: The Age Of Immunology
Well known for their lead single “Magician’s Success” which comes with a space pop vibe à la Stereolab meets Broadcast, Vanishing Twin have way more to offer. Seeing the band live in early December 2019 in Hamburg was mind-blowing. Percussionist Valentina Magaletti impressed with a versatile playing and obviously enjoyed keeping the group together with her jazzy shuffles, shouting commands to her three international colleagues on bass, guitar and vintage keys. Vanishing Twin are a genre bending affair and nothing like the usual indie outfit. They are modern visionaries taking a different approach in every track: old film scores, psychedelic krautrock, melodic art pop and jazzy soundscapes. The Age Of Immunology takes the listener on to an exciting adventure.
Cate Le Bon: Reward
I always liked Cate Le Bon. Her songs sometimes are kind of strange – but in a beautiful, haunting way. And after all these years, the Nico comparison still lingers on. Not only the light and dark tone of Le Bon’s voice and her Welsh accent reminds of the German singer, it’s also embodied in the artistic self-image. With a credo like: show courage and never confine your sound and vision. The music on Reward isn’t trying to please the mainstream, it’s experimental and playful. But there’s also a pop- and folk-feel and there’s always a connection between the composition and the emotion. It’s open-minded and passionate and with this combination, Cate Le Bon creates songs that sound like nothing else. She’s also an awe-inspiring producer and responsible for the slick production of Deerhunter’s latest album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? It was a pretty good year for Cate Le Bon and she’s definitely one of the most exciting artists of 2019.
Doug Tuttle: Dream Road
I fell in love with Doug Tuttle’s songwriting a few years back when he started with his psychedelic band project Mmoss. But then he started recording songs alone in his bedroom studio and he got better with every release. On his fourth solo album Dream Road, multi-instrumentalist Tuttle perfected his elegant nostalgia-soaked sound. His vocals are quite hazy, but with full of emotive lyrical content. And although this downer pop moves into delicate grounds, it’s soothing and hopeful. The fragile harmonies are hypnotic, deep and warm. Doug Tuttle’s songwriting recalls all the lost good moments of late 60s and early 70s pop with a haunting touch of psyche and Americana. I have found myself returning to this beautiful record a lot last year and it keeps on spinning on my turntable.
Kiwi jr: Football Money
This fantastic record was released in March 2019 and re-released earlier this year on a label from Leipzig (Germany) called Persona Non Grata – I still remember Persona Non Grata from the 90s, when they started out as a low-key Fanzine, covering all the Indie rock bands I was into at that time. And here’s the thing: Kiwi jr from Canada just as well could have been your favourite act from the 90s. Every track on Football Money sounds familiar: there are jangly guitars and beatific melodies. Catchy hooks and choruses to sing along are combined with a great sense of humour. It’s this kind of nonchalance we fell in love with listening to Orange Juice or Pavement. A ferocious feel-good energy is running through the veins of this debut album. It’s astute and not too calculating in referring to all the familiar sounds. It’s fun! And I hope there’s more to come from Kiwi jr.
Further records I really enjoyed in 2019:
Pernice Brothers: Spread The Feeling
Lens Mozer: Don’t Stop
Max Gowan: Bygones
Sunbeam Sound Machine: Goodness Gracious
2019 was a pretty decent year for music and it looks like 2020 is going to be a good one too! Stay tuned…