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 Secret Meeting Records of 2019:

Ada Lea – What We Say In Private

It’s well documented that What We Say In Private  was born out of her need to record the end of an important relationship, where she documented six months of painting and writing in private to create what would feel like a journal entry to detail the cycle of intense emotions you might expect to feel in that situation. The result is a musically intriguing, yet immediate record that carries a raw, emotive edge that should allow people to connect. (DB)

Aldous Harding – Designer

It’s hard not to like Aldous Harding. The New Zealand-born artist received almost unanimous universal acclaim for her last album, Partyand rightfully so. It was a heady blend of jazzy alt-folk and pop that was deeply captivating. Now she has returned with its successor, and boy does it live up to its predecessor. (PS)

Amy O – Shell

Shell  is by far Oelsner’s most complete work to date, but maintains her signature homespun indie-pop sound intertwined with her captivating lyrical personal story telling. The album deals with the transition from youth to becoming an adult, including the complications of when the ‘adult’ self has moved forward with its life – while other parts of ourselves associated with our younger lives are left behind. (RW)


Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

Olsen has always shown promise that she could create a ‘classic’ album, and All Mirrors is as close as she has come. Not only because of the production, but because she has written some beautiful songs too. The album closer, Chance, is a fine example of how this production has enhanced the artistic vision, even though you’d imagine the song would thrive if it was simply Olsen’s voice and a piano. (PS)

Ari Roar – Best Behavior

The streaming only record sees more of the concise, yet beautiful guitar pop featured on his debut. However, this time the sound is more dreamy, and the melodies are steeped in 60s pop from the likes of The Monkees and The Beach Boys. Recorded in a converted shed on a Tascam tape recorder, there is a considered maturity from new father Roar (real name Caleb Campbell). (PS)

Bat For Lashes – Lost Girls

The dense synth arrangements of the album’s opening pair of Kids In The Dark and The Hunger give the visage of derivation – as does the latter’s staccato and slide bass licks – but the melodies of Natasha Khan’s vocals are so wonderful that any concerns about originality fade away into hazy, synth-pop extravaganza. Cherry picking tracks may give you a sense of nostalgia, but listen to the record as a whole and you’ll enjoy something that is simply a superb pop album. (PS)

Bedouine – Bird Songs Of A Killjoy

The LA based singer’s label, Spacebomb, is building a reputation for releasing exclusively beautiful sounding records. Recorded with Beck and Norah Jones collaborator, Gus Seyffert, Bird Songs of a Killjoy is undoubtedly up there with the best they have released to date. And despite its overarching feeling of poetic darkness, it’s a world that’s yearning to get lost in. (PM)

Beirut – Gallipoli

The prolonged opening shimmer of the title track encapsulates this. Melodic phrasings are distinctive yet, at times, jarring – evoking memories of the majestic The Flying Club Cup. The opening thirty seconds marry together a beautiful, harmonious wall of sound – finding an artist at his wistful best, and bringing his role of conductor to the fore. (JP/PS)

Belle & Sebastian – Days of Bangold Summer

Simply, it’s great – and features some of the band’s most vital songwriting in almost a decade. I’ll Keep It Inside is classic B&S, with Murdoch’s keen eye for kitchen sink style lyrics on show. He’s always had a knack for observing the drudgery of life, and capturing it quite like no other, and ‘inhale your first cigarette… get the sun round your pigeon legs; it’s pissin’ rain – we’re in the old bus shelter…’ is further proof, not that we needed it. (PM)

Better Oblivion Community Center – Better Oblivion Community Center

This is a record that celebrates the very essence of collaboration and togetherness. When it clicks, it offers both special and fun moments. With things the way they are on both sides of the Atlantic, community has never been more important. (PM/JP)

Big Thief – UFOF

After already putting out two very strong records over last half decade, Big Thief have well and truly dismissed the difficult third album myth. U.F.O.F is a huge statement of intent: a genuine classic album that not only sets the four piece apart from their contemporaries, but confirms them as one of the most uniquely exciting bands America has ever produced. Yes, it’s that good. (PM)

Big Thief – Two Hands

On Two Hands, perhaps more than ever, Big Thief channel many of the great songwriters, yet this time elevate themselves to stand alongside them, melting down age old structures to create their own twisted classics. Golden ages of music don’t exist – they are a myth constructed of nostalgia and hindsight. If there is any justice, Big Thief will also one day be viewed through this lens as Two Hands is another standout moment in their ever growing – yet still fledgling – discography. (CHo)

Bill Callahan – Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest

Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest is a twenty-song travelogue into the amorphous consciousness of Bill Callahan whose recent history has been a microcosm of the whole tapestry of human experience and what is left is a vast document of great beauty in the pain and pleasure of simply being human. (MR)

Black Belt Eagle Scout – At The Party With My Brown Friends

Paul’s sophomore collection represents a considerable change in direction for Black Belt Eagle Scout, but the firm sense of solidarity with those groups marginalised within society still burns as strong as ever within this album. Black Belt Eagle Scout has delivered an album which will continue to add members to the ever-burgeoning fan base, and cements Paul as one of the most interesting songwriters in alternative music today. (RW)

Black Marble – Bigger Than Life

Bigger Than Life is a record that sees Black Marble seeking a balance between his music and his lyrics. The blistering Private Show is the finest example of this, and the album’s highlight – capturing that overwhelming feeling of travelling through the bustle of a major city and at once being both inspired and disoriented by the multitude of stories, and lives, and sights, and sounds all around. Bigger Than Life has the ability to make life seem both minuscule and vast, all at once. (CH)

Black Sea Dahu – No Fire In The Sand

Moving from fluttering folk guitars and Cathrein’s affecting voice – which somehow feels agreeably familiar – Rhizome displays her ear for pop sensibilities from the off – digging its roots deep into your conscious in that magical way the best songwriters do. Glittering synths blossom, seemingly, out of nowhere – and bristle against stuttering drums and her words of irrationality and doubt. (PM)

Bon Iver – i,i

i,i has been referred to as Bon Iver’s autumn album: the fourth release representing the last of the four seasons. It feels like a natural culmination of the band so far, featuring all the best parts of the back catalogue that Vernon has carefully refined and brought together. He has produced something special. (SC)

Bonnie Prince Billy – I Made A Place

Despite the wider world becoming ever stranger, twenty five plus years into his career, Oldham is still writing very, very special songs that focus closer to home. The choice to leave out the two lead singles (In Good Faith and At The Back of the Pit) seems an odd one – such is their quality. But, remarkably, it’s still an LP that would provide a perfect starting point for new fans to his wonderful back catalogue, while, for obsessives, being yet another essential addition to the collection. (PM)

Bonnie Prince Billy, Bryce Dessner & Eighth Blackbird – When We Are Human

When We Are Inhuman is a body of work that has been developed with The National’s Bryce Dessner, and the contemporary classical group, Eighth Blackbird. The record is yet another fine installment in the Bonnie Prince Billy saga – and as a group of collaborators, this record certainly makes you wonder what they could rustle up with a full set of new, original songs. That really could be something special. (PM)

Brittany Howard – Jaime

Though this album has been made between Alabama Shakes releases, it feels like so much more than a stop gap. The way Howard exposes her inner conflicts is profoundly affecting. The music blends various styles that are perfectly attuned to the subjects that each song tackles, and are performed with a flair that makes the backing as engaging as the stunning vocals. (PS)


PM – Philip Moss

PS – Phil Scarisbrick

JP – Joseph Purcell

DB – Dave Bertram

SC – Stewart Cheetham

MR – Martin Ramsbottom

CH – Chris Hatch

RW – Richard Wyatt

CHo – Craig Howieson

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