OK folks…strap yourselves in — it’s time for my Top 5 in music for 2019!
Only rule that applies to this list is that the song had to be released in 2019. No more mucking around — let’s jump straight in.
1. Harmony Hall Vampire Weekend
Who can fail to be happy when one of their favourite bands releases their first single in aaaaaages on your actual birthday? This was a present I didn’t expect and one that kept giving the whole year long. I love everything about this song, from the catchy beat to the genre-jumping progression of muscial styles — especially when they go from what sounds like a classical piano solo into sliding country guitar. For what it’s worth, the snake in the video is super cute, too.
2. The Barrel Aldous Harding
I’m not going to lie — I have no idea what the lyrics to the song are about, but this was one of the tunes I found myself listening to over and again in 2019. It’s whimsical and somehow magical and proves you don’t have to be playing klezmer to include a clarinet on a track. Aldous Harding is a Kiwi folk singer-songwriter whose work I will definitely be checking out more regularly — though the video does prompt ever so many questions…not least of which is do I need to wear platforms to dance like that?
3. Firesmoke Kate Tempest
I read Kate Tempest’s book The Bricks That Built the Houses a few years ago and it remains one of my favourite reads of the past decade. I suspect this song will also be one of my favourites of the decade. It is an incredible, personal love song, a raw and searing portrait of intimacy. It’s Firesmoke.
4. All I Want Broken Social Scene
This one needs to be listened to up loud! It’s as bold and brash as Firesmoke is quiet and contained, but the sentiment remains the same. Canada’s indie rock darlings delivered this around the same time Vampire Weekend released Harmony Hall — it must have been quite a week for great tunes, because this one rocks and I love it.
5. Summer Girl HAIM
There is not, in my humble opinion, enough saxophone being played in songs these days (or clarinet…as The Barrel proved at No. 2 above). This song from HAIM is a poppy classic with a sax riff that gets stuck in your head in all the best ways. I love the video too: the idea of stripping off all we no longer need as we head into summer — not to mention the next decade — it one I can get behind.
Honourable Mentions this year go to James Blake for Don’t Miss It, and also to a few tracks released in 2018 than didn’t really make it onto my radar until 2019: Fireworks by First Aid Kit and No Roots by Joshua Hyslop.
And my Top 5 Throwbacks for the year (other than anything by the inimitable and still very much missed David Bowie) are, in no particular order:
- Love and Peace — Quincy Jones (1969)
- Heads Will Roll — Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2009)
- Kiss Them For Me — Siouxsie and the Banshees (1991)
- Where Is My Mind? — The Pixies (1988)
- Grateful Song — Villagers (2013)
Stay tuned for my best of 2019 in Movies/TV and books!