It is that time of year again when we take some time to look at all the wonderful music that has been released during the last twelve months. In previous years, we have ranked our favourite records from 2017 and 2018, but this year we’ve tried to do something a little bit different. Rather than ranking our favourite records in an arbitrary manner, we’ve decided to simply write a list of one hundred albums from 2019 that we highly recommend you spend some time with. So – in alphabetical order – here is the fifth and final part of Secret Meeting’s Records of 2019:

Richard Dawson – 2020

2020 is a fascinating expedition. Dawson’s playing of almost every sound heard underpins bitterly desperate tales – opening with the chopping rhythm of Civil Servant ‘I’m coming into work today’, as he laments the austerity driven job the subject has to carry out. Queens Head, set in the financially barren towns of Northern England, conjures the backdrop of run-down flood defences against the inevitable tide of burst river banks, a landscape of barren markets and derelict schools, accompanied by the pitiful bitter figure blaming ‘benefit scrounging immigrants’ blinded by hate filled manipulation, unable to see the true villain of the establishment. On the most embellished and carefully pieced arrangement, Jogging superbly tackles the failing health service and lack of support provided for the millions who are crippled by mental health issues. (PM)

Rustin Man – Drift Code

The meticulous nature with which he has created the record has allowed Webb to produce something that sounds timeless. Despite a feeling of vulnerability, you also get the sense that our narrator has taken and absorbed everything the world has to throw at him and is still standing. Whether this world is the one we inhabit or the one in Webb’s mind isn’t clear, but the thirty-seven minutes we spend there are jarringly wonderful. (PS)

Sasami – Sasami

In her own words, the album is like a series of ‘over-dramatic drafts of texts that you compose in the Notes section of your iPhone, but either way, they come from a place of getting something off my chest.’SASAMI doesn’t choose to bear all – and the ambiguity is definitely part of the charm. (PM)

Shana Cleveland – Night of the Moon Worm

Throughout Night of the Worm Moon, Cleveland gives glimpses of her true potential as a songwriter. The early tracks, whilst heartwarming, do flirt with safety, but when she hits her stride and bends the defined genre, she breaks boundaries which restrict many of her contemporaries. (JP)

Shannon Lay – August

Despite being steeped in folk traditions, Lay has plugged into an eclectic undercurrent on August – channelling psych rock, dream pop and new wave jazz elements into her direct song writing. Few of the tracks stretch beyond the three minute mark, but within each, Lay succinctly forms a narrative arc that offers up the time required to tell her story. (Cho)

Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow

Throughout, Remind Me Tomorrow is musically brash and confident, but at times lacks the subtle nuance found in her back catalogue- Hands is a strutting slab of glam slop that hangs on a weak, throwaway chorus, but is layered with ‘throw the kitchen sink at it’ production from John Congleton (David Byrne, Angel Olsen) that is reminiscent of his work on St Vincent’s MASSEDUCTION. (PM)

Siskiyou – Not Somewhere

In another pair of hands, Not Somewhere could be a bonafide folk pop record – such are its exquisite melodies. But thank the Lord that these songs appeared to Huebert. Because what he’s shaped on his fourth record under the Siskiyou moniker is one of the most interesting, intrepid records of 2019 to date. (PM)

Sleaford Mods – Eton Alive

When we reviewed their last release, a self-titled EP in September, we noted it was possibly the best work they’d done. It is testament to their development that this is the case again – only this time across a full long player. Fearn’s beats may be very minimal on the surface, but they create a nuanced dynamic that allows Williamson’s voice the space to resonate. Williamson, despite taking a step up the social ladder, doesn’t seem to have had his ability to pick up on social nuances affected. (PS)

Stephen Malkmus – Groove Denied

To bill this as an electronica album is rather silly. It has its moments, but no more than that. However, the overarching question is why were Matador so opposed to its release a year ago? This is another fine entry to the Malkmus’ canon and there’s more than enough here for longtime fans to enjoy.(PM)

Swimming Tapes – Morningside

Sometimes a record can appear at just the right moment. In a world filled with political angst, music can be the perfect tonic – and Swimming Tapes’ debut album, Morningside, is the ideal distraction. In trying times, it is full of shimmering warmth, and could be the ideal escapism you are looking for. (PM)

The Mountain Goats – In League With Dragons

17 albums in, Darnielle shows not even the slightest sign of losing focus or his ear for a wondrous tune – in fact, quite the opposite. And regardless of narrative, the concept here is simple: great tune after great tune. All Hail The Mountain Goats! (PM)

The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears

The Joy Division comparisons will be inevitable, and they’re justified to a degree. Not only because of the music, but also in the subject matters that the band take on. They aren’t simply another post-punk band trying to imitate though. There is a real substance to what they’ve created. The lyrics are incredibly open, there is no pretence or allusions, just an honest account of the contents of McGovern’s consciousness. It is a stunning debut, and one of the most exciting of the year so far. (PS)

The National – I Am Easy To Find

There may be fans of the band who struggle with this record, but what the band – along with their army of collaborators and the visionary, Mike Mills – have created is a record like no other I can recall. There are little moments you can pinpoint to previous National releases, but everything feels fresh. As slow burners go, some of the record simmers away more than other parts. All you are doing though is peeling off the layers before it consumes you. It may take a while to fully get your head round, but it is also the most compelling work the band have done yet. (PS)

The Tallest Man On Earth – I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream

Despite the huge critical acclaim that has come Matsson’s way over the eleven years since his breakthrough debut, and the 150 million Spotify plays his previous releases have racked up… whisper it… this is his best and most addictive collection yet! I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream is a triumph. (PM)

The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All

When a band has a career that lasts over ten years, there is often talk of them selling-out, writing arena rock records, or generally mellowing with age. And while this album is more accessible, and their most well-produced yet, it is still a visceral, honest, distillation of everything that has been good about the band over their career, and has resulted in their most confident sounding record to date – maybe even their best. (CH)

Thom Yorke – ANIMA

The accompanying Paul Thomas Anderson film – which you can catch on Netflix – adds a level of Inception-inspired visualisation to the music, and actually helps to make more sense of the auditory experience. The music itself is incredibly cinematic – with an abundance of colour and vibrant vignettes that flicker and drip into sepia and darkness. Though it doesn’t really break any new ground for Yorke, it is another memorable addition to his titanic back catalogue. (PS)

Twin Peaks – Lookout Low

Lookout Low is a thrift shop find of an album: the kind of thing you’d unearth from your parents’ record collection, brush the dust off, and become obsessed with. It’s an album that takes the best parts of classic 70’s songwriting and adds a shot of vibrancy and soul that makes it an utterly relevant release. In short, it’s their best album yet. (CH)

W.H. Lung – Incidental Music

It’s rare in modern times that groups are given the necessary time to develop, and Manchester label, Melodic, must be given credit for this. But, knowing what a special group they had on their hands, probably made the decision easier – no matter how much they must have been desperate for the world to hear this record. Either way, one thing is for sure: Incidental Music is anything but incidental. (PM)

Weyes Blood – Titanic Rising

Mering’s writing style is very much based around improvisation and this comes through in waves throughout the record, resulting in each track feeling more of a journey as opposed to a monotonous cycle – and the confidence in her own craft means she’s comfortable in leaving a chorus out. She’s pastoral and explores a number of heavy themes, but the record’s bouyancy ensures it never succumbs to despair – the result is something wonderful. (DB)

Wilco – Ode To Joy

Since Wilco’s last LP, 2016’s Schmilco, Ode To Joy arrives off the back of two Jeff Tweedy solo records released last year, WARM and WARMER. Plus, add to that the Tweedy record, Sukierae in 2014, and Wilco’s vastly underrated Star Wars in 2015, Ode To Joy is Tweedy’s sixth release in as many years. Personally, I cannot think of a better run by any contemporary over such an intense period. Here is yet another reason for fans of this special songwriter and band to rejoice. (PM)

Will Johnson – Wire Mountain

Johnson hasn’t redefined the genre on Wire Mountain. What he has done is to assimilate all the elements of what he does best without ever masking it in an impenetrable sheen. It bleeds with a poignant grace that is still raw enough to be relatable. Painting in bruising shades of black, purple and blue, he emphasises the slow burn of darkening clouds. There is an overwhelming atmosphere to the record that penetrates beyond the consciousness. It is an atmosphere to revel in, and one which you are unlikely to find on many other releases this year. (Cho)


PM – Philip Moss

PS – Phil Scarisbrick

JP – Joseph Purcell

DB – Dave Bertram

CH – Chris Hatch

CHo – Craig Howieson

Want to keep up to date with all our latest pieces? Follow us on social media…