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 third part of Secret Meeting’s Records of 2019:

Frankie Cosmos – Close It Quietly

In a lot of ways, it’s refreshing that Frankie Cosmos have stuck to their guns, and some credit should go to Sub Pop for giving them license to do so. This isn’t the major label album a lot of music industry observers will have been waiting for from Frankie Cosmos, but it is arguably their best yet. Their creative trajectory has been a gentle one, but thankfully it is still on the up, and with tentative steps towards more introspective lyrics, and a toe-dipped-in-the-water of a bolder sound. (CH)

Friendship – Dreamin’

Lead single, Clairvoyant, encapsulates this, telling a story of a friend who offered support during a tough period in Wriggins’ life- ‘You asked if I’d been crying lately / I said, “how can you tell?” / You said, “I’m clairvoyant, baby!’”. The subject matter serious, but the storytelling told with a knowing deadpan – akin to that of Bill Callahan. Friendship have delivered an album which is definitely be a late contender to be considered one of the best records to be released in 2019. Hopefully it reaches the audience that Wriggin’s songwriting clearly deserves. (RW)

Gruff Rhys – Pang!

Much will be made about the fact that the album is in Welsh, mainly by those who don’t speak it. The effect it has on the listener though is akin to the supposed effect that going blind has on the other senses. Without being distracted trying to analyse what is being said, you dial into the melodies and rhythm more acutely. The cadence of the vocal becomes more pronounced because it is the only tangible element. In the end, your experience is one that is not diminished, but merely altered and enjoyed in a different way. It also goes to show that great music isn’t just there to be understood, but to be enjoyed. (PS)

Hatchie – Keepsake

There’s no getting away from the fact that Keepsake relies heavily on its influences – but those influences are so varied that it never feels lazy or derivative. It’s almost like a Greatest Hits of indie music from 1985-2000 – there really are elements of everything from bubblegum pop to industrial electronica – yet it feels greater than the sum of its parts. Initial listens were fun, but each play peels back another layer, and reveals another hidden melody- leaving you with the feeling that you’ve known these songs for years. (CH)

Heather Woods Broderick – Invitation

Opener, A Stilling Wind, confirms what a beautiful voice Broderick possesses – but its musical palette also displays her fine ear for arrangement as it floats in with fluttering pianos and a looping acoustic guitar. ‘I spent the year, at the edge of the cape, feet swingin’ in the atmosphere- a stilling wind, thick with fear, picked up all the tiny pieces to redeposit them here,’ she sings before it swells with Sigur Rós-evoking seduction, carried by the pattering of light percussion and lugubriously emotive strings. (PM)

Helado Negro – This Is How You Smile

To say this is the best LP of his career may be prematurely rash, but it is most certainly a crystallisation of his works to date. Lange’s genre hopping spirit is blatantly evident across this twelve track set, and it is quite simply a joy to be in its presence. So open your ears and your mind, and let This Is How You Smile’s understated brilliance wash over you. (PM)

Hovvdy – Heavy Lifter

Heavy Lifter refuses to follow a set path, but its beauty is in its eclectic meanderings and fondly told narratives, which still somehow managing to work as one. An absolutely addictive return. (PM)

Jade Imagine – Basic Love

The whole record feels so effortlessly constructed, yet, when you really pay attention, you can feel the intricate care that has gone into it. Recording live and in analogue gives it a ‘classic’ feel, but the subjects covered are firmly planted in the present. Although it may fly under the radar a bit, those who give it chance will surely be experiencing one of the year’s strongest debuts. (PS)

James Yorkston – The Route To Harmonium

The Route To The Harmonium is yet another example of why Yorkston means so much to so many. As expected, there’s nothing here that is likely to win him a Brit Award, and one senses that’s exactly the way he likes it. But what we do have is another record that will definitely see his cult status continuing to grow. (PM)

Jay Som – Anak Ko

Anak Ko finds Duerte welcoming the influence of others, while managing to retain her own identity in uncompromising fashion. It is not abound with immediate standouts, but at just 34 minutes long, it’s one that totally engrosses across multiple listens. (JP)

Jeff Tweedy – WARMER

Lead single, Family Ghost, is perhaps the collection’s most immediate cut, but – as was the case with WARM – this record is littered with beautiful, reflective moments that more than warrant their own billing, and, most importantly, repeat listens. (PM)

Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love

Coming in at just over half an hour long, it is thrilling yet fleeting journey around the psyche of one of the most interesting minds in music today. Not only that though, it is delightful to listen to with vibrant colours and shades illuminating the mirror it holds up to the listener. It wouldn’t be going too far to label it one of the most essential records of the year. (PS)

Jenny Lewis – On The Line

On The Line was born in a period where Lewis had ended a twelve-year relationship with fellow musician, Johnathan Rice, as well as losing her mother to liver cancer. This sense of loss and reflection courses through the album’s veins – combining with a soaring Americana soundtrack to create a stunning record. (PS)

Jeremy Tuplin – Pink Mirror

Pink Mirror is a perfect example of the fine work that independent artists in the UK are producing at the moment – this one, however, proves that Jeremy Tuplin is definitely ready to be embraced by a bigger audience. (PM)

Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs

On Quiet Signs, Pratt has morphed from an intriguingly talented singer into a mesmerising enchantress. Like a haunting hybrid of Nico, Joanna Newsom and Julia Holter, with more than a passing nod to the majestic doom of This Mortal Coil, Pratt has delivered an intensely enthralling album that demands your attention. And if you open your heart to this record, the rewards are staggering. (JP)

Jo Schornikow – Secret Weapon

It could be argued that Secret Weapon should be marked an EP rather than a long player, but don’t let that put you off – it simply gives you even more of an excuse to drop the needle and spin it again. And trust me – it’s that good you’ll want to. (PM)

Joanna Sternberg – Then I Try Some More

Then I Try Some More is a remarkable debut from Joanna Sternberg. Their willingness to discuss the most harrowing experiences gives the album a raw, cathartic quality that permeates throughout. At times, it is an uncomfortable listen, yet this raw fragility is what truly connects. Instead of being defined by the trauma, Joanna Sternberg has channelled it into a brave record, and one that has a familiarity to the feelings that we all experience. (JP)

John Myrtle – Here’s John Myrtle

Warm acoustic guitars, simple, organic production, and a voice that’s distinctive yet strangely familiar, makes it feel like this is a record plucked from the back catalogue of some brilliant, undiscovered, late-1960s artist – pulling you into a world where time stood still at some point in the last half-century.. This isn’t a gaudy nostalgia record though; it’s more a collage of influences rather than a crayon-drawn caricature. Its only downfall is that it zips by far too quickly, as Here’s John Myrtle is rich, unique, and so enjoyable to get lost in. (CH)

Jordan Moser – Long Night

Sometimes, looking at life with all of its ugliest aspects left in can be the most cathartic thing. Meeting your devils head on with a smile on your face, safe in the absurdity of it all. Life after all is yours to make of what you wish. Long Night may be dark, but it is also darkly comic. Moser never lets himself stray too far into despair, at all times retaining a humour at the core of his ponderings on the peculiarities of life. (CHo)

Julia Jacklin – Crushing

Citing the honesty and intimacy of Neil Young and Bill Callahan’s work as inspirations for the record, the ‘open wound’ approach has allowed her to display a real maturity both as a songwriter and a human being. Her willingness to be overt about her fallibility, but confident enough to stand by her convictions, makes Crushing a thoroughly engaging record. The fact that the melodies and deliveries are so achingly beautiful is the icing on the cake. Crushing is a triumph. (JP/PS)

PS- Phil Scarisbrick
PM – Philip Moss
CH – Chris Hatch
JP – Joseph Purcell
RW – Richard Wyatt
CHo – Craig Howieson


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