1. Lankum - The Livelong Day (Rough Trade ) - Galway Advertiser album of the year
Lankum, already rightfully declared as "a turning point in folk" by BBC broadcaster Mark Radcliffe, made even bigger, bolder, artistic strides forward, for themselves, and Irish folk/trad, with this hypnotic, atmospheric, immersive, epic, dark, and unsettling work. Without question, Galway Advertiser album of the year 2019.
2. Stella Donnelly - Beware Of The Dogs (Secretly Canadian )
A fearless, intelligent, and brilliant feminist declaration, the Australian's debut mixed dark themes of rape, sexual abuse, abortion, and misogyny, with deceptively pretty, catchy, indie-pop, the sweetness of the delivery, at first obscuring, then revealing, all the more starkly for it, the dagger hidden within the lyrics. Truly, songs for our times.
3. Starcrawler - Devour You (Rough Trade )
What a difference a year makes. Following their enjoyable, if scrapp,y debut, the teenage quartet's second album is their potential realised, brimming with greater assurance, confidence, and maturity, and a rock swagger not seen since the 1980s. Their first great work.
4. Julia Jacklinn - Crushing (Transgressive )
One of the saddest albums this reviewer has ever heard, this mix of soul and indie-rock charts loneliness, relationships in free fall, shredded self-confidence, and the desire to "enforce boundaries". Raw, honest, and inspired, it is a difficult, but ultimately rewarding, listen.
5. Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel (Partisann Records )
Despite the heavily Dublin-centric point of view, the garage/punk/post-punk quartet have, for audiences around the country, captured the feel and essence of post-recession, homeless/accommodation crises era Ireland, with a mix of gritty observation and emotional honesty which recalls Shane McGowan at his best.
6. Ezra Furman - Twelve Nudes (Bella Union )
A howl of rage at the state the world, and especially the USA, delivered in 28 minutes of furious punk, with a little glam rock on the side, but never is it hollow. As Furman declares on 'Evening Prayer aka Justice': "If you’ve got the taste for transcendence. Then translate your love into action. And participate in the fight now. For a creed, you can truly believe." Amen to that!
7. Kim Gordon - No Home Record (Matador )
Post-Sonic Youth, and after three albums with Body/Head, the great Kim Gordon showed no willingness to eschew challenging herself and her audience with this uncompromising, sometimes thrilling, avant-rock debut solo album which fuses punk, indie, hip-hop, techno, and the experimental.
8. Ada Lea - What We Say in Private (Saddle Creek )
The debut album from Montreal singer-songwriter Ada Lea was in the tradition of the 'break-up' album, but the emotional turmoil of her personal life inspired 10 tracks of the most left-field, and original, indie-rock released in recent years.
9. The National - I Am Easy To Find (4AD )
Given The National have long been about men fearlessly addressing difficult and harrowing emotions, the turning of such songs into duets with Lisa Hannigan and Sharon Van Etten, etc, created a powerful contrast, yet also a space where women and men could converse on equal footing and with emotional honesty and compassion.
10. Jesca Hoop - Stonechild (Memphis Industries )
The fifth album, by California born, Manchester based, singer-songwriter, is a meditation on loneliness, neglect, and a feeling of not quite belonging, often hauntingly delivered through Hoop's voice and styles ranging from folk to indie to French chanson.