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 fourth part of Secret Meeting’s Records of 2019:

Julia Shapiro – Perfect Version

Although it may have been born out of crisis, Shapiro has clearly used Perfect Vision as a focus – and while in some ways it’s unfair to compare it to her previous band works, it is undoubtedly the best record of her career, and a fine way to announce herself onto the solo stage. (PM)

Julien Chang – Jules

So often, we become obsessed with labelling records and pigeon holing artists, but the New York based artist has produced a debut that’s borderline genreless. And having not yet even turned 20, that really is no mean feat. (PM)

Kevin Morby – Oh My God

Despite the opener clanking in with sporadic piano, Oh My God feels a very considered record. From the moment Morby’s excellent voice enters on the title track, and the first of a number of harmonised choir parts swell alongside Talk Talk-evoking saxophones, there’s clearly a change in the air. (PM)

Kim Gordon – No Home Record

Nothing about the album is straight forward, which makes it even more engaging. Channelling the anarchy that saw her delve into music in the early eighties ‘No Wave’ New York scene, there is a fire that smoulders throughout the record. Paprika Pony’s backing could easily be a hip-hop track, but hears Gordon add words and phrases seemingly without link, encouraging the listener to fill in the gaps. (PS)

Kishi Bashi – Omoiyari

Steeped in empathetic reflection, Kishi Bashi’s fourth album, Omoiyari, is informed by the imagined experiences of his parents and the thousands of other Japanese immigrants who were held in camps following the attack on Pearl Harbour. Combined with the multi-instrumentalist’s fantastic ear for melody, it makes for a vivacious 43 minutes. (PM)

With shades of Talk Talk, the middle section of the record does requires more careful attention – four tracks in a row clock in over the six minute mark – where, at times, a little editing and a tempo shift wouldn’t have gone a miss. But there are enough immediate moments elsewhere across the collection, and by the time we reach the LPs finale, Flower, Wagner has dropped the computer-trickery – here evoking Cat Stevens and Jim O’Rourke’s Simple Songs in equal measures, as a plucked acoustic and a harmonica fanfare see out the the record with its most simple and beautiful moment. (PM)

Maija Sofia – Bath Time

Our view of history tends to lack nuance – where, in reality, human beings have always been as complex as we are today. What this record does is to lay bare these complexities, as well as addressing the misrepresentation and mistreatment of women throughout history, while allowing Sofia to take stock of her own life. It is a stunning album, and is as important thematically as it is wonderful to listen to. (PS)

Mannequin Pussy – Patience

If Mannequin Pussy have previously been of punk pedigree, in 2019 they are now a mongrel of different styles –  a cross-breed of emo, college rock, indie, shoegaze, and a wagonload more. The chugging, crushing bittersweetness of Fear/+/Desire sees Dabice trade banshee wails for innocent straight forwardness, while the grand, Americana-indie rock of Who You Are that takes in elements of The Hold Steady, The Menzingers, and Superchunk. (CH)

Marika Hackman – Any Human Friend

The music is a bonanza of stylish guitar lines and achingly catchy melodies, with structures that allow these facets to shine. In creating this record to help people “accept each other for being these brilliant, golden shiny things”, she has also made a new “brilliant, golden shiny thing” for us all to enjoy. (PS)

Mattiel – Satis Factory

The difficult second album is usually a cliche that can be shaped to suit the mood of reviewers. If it’s bad then it proves the rule, and if it’s good then it dispels the myth. Satis Factory definitely falls into the latter camp, and eclipses its predecessor in both ambition and final product. Mattiel then are quietly building a deeply impressive back catalogue, and where they go next will be met with plenty of intrigue. (PS)

Merival – Lesson

Lesson is an album that takes a while to untangle lyrically and musically – it tends to keep you off balance and only after a few listens does it start to weave its way into your psyche. That earlier metaphor of an unfinished puzzle is only partly correct; at times it maybe feels like an unpickable lock, and then like a window that’s fogged over so you can only make out vague shapes. With each listen, the haziness clears, bringing the listener a little closer to understanding the record. And as the final bars ring out, you can’t help but feel like you’ve learnt a little more – which, in a way, is exactly what Lesson is all about. (CH)

Michael Cormier – Days Like Pearls

As an adult, it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic nature of every day life that we forget to look back. Days Like Pearls is a healthy reminder that when we do cast our minds, it’s often the silliest of little moments that can often be the fondest. (PM)

Modern Nature – How To Live

Cooper is testament to the ‘try, try and try again’ philosophy. For almost a decade and a half, he’s been releasing music. But How To Live really does feel like a record that he’s been building towards his whole career. It’s a true joy to be in its deeply engaging, thoroughly evocative presence. This is a quietly understated masterpiece. (PM)

Mr Ben & The Bens – Who Knows Jenny Jones?

Who Knows Jenny Jones?, from Sheffield-based Mr Ben & The Bens, is a concept album – but it’s one that doesn’t fall into the usual traps that can stifle a band. It’s central story tells us of the eponymous Jenny Jones – a perpetually downtrodden woman who floats through life anonymously in 1970s Pitsmoor (a village in Sheffield). Having failed her third job interview in a row, she heads, uninvited, to a local dance. On her way there, she takes a shortcut through the graveyard, when (wait for it…) she gets abducted by aliens who grant her the ability to be the best disco dancer in town. (CH)

Nick Cave -Ghosteen

Cave tackles faith, love, loss and life on the most poetic record of his career – all set to Warren Ellis’ soundscapes that evoke the Twin Peaks Theme and A Clockwork Orange‘s soundtrack in equal measures. (PM)

Ohtis – Curve of Earth

Curve of Earth is a document of the struggles through which Sam Swinson has had to face, but, through the adversity, he’s channelled his anecdotal experiences with careful passion and produced one of the most positive debut records this year. (PM)

Orville Peck – Pony

Peck’s rich country tones permeate the record, adding a depth and resonance that emboldens this excellent long play. Set against the rolling backdrops, Peck has presented a collection of songs that elevate the more they are consumed. (JP)

Palehound – Black Friday

Black Friday is a cathartic voyage through the emotional complexities of everyday existence. It is a cool refreshing statement of intent that refuses to compromise – instead laying out a vital soundtrack to life in 2019. Magnificent. (JP)

Patrick Watson – Wave

Make no bones about it: this is Watson’s magnum opus. What he has achieved here is a record that emotionally connects with its audience, but feels like it was made purely to exorcise his own demons. Even if nobody ever heard it, you get the impression that it simply being made would be enough for Watson. That he has allowed us a glimpse into his own tragedies, and to share in his own hope is a real privilege. As we near the end of a decade littered with wonderfully tragic indie records, this stands up amongst them, just creeping in before one last rendition of Auld Lang Syne rings out. (PS)

Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains


When such important figures return after such a long period of time, it would be easy to prematurely gush and get carried away. But Purple Mountains truly does contain some of Berman’s most impressive ever work. While this may be one of the Illinois native’s saddest records, over time, large sections of it will prove to be some of his best. And Berman’s proved he did not come back to be a legacy artist – like we ever doubted him! (PM)


PM- Philip Moss

PS – Phil Scarisbrick

CH – Chris Hatch

JP – Joseph Purcell

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