The Best Of 2019

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I am making these sort of lists for years and introduction usually takes me more time than the whole massive yearly analysis. So let’s not waste time. Please take this list of The Best 20 albums of 2019 as my personal expression ranging from melancholic ambient, through progressive rock till smooth jazz. I hope you will discover something which will hit your heart and soul.

 

Short list of the top 20 albums of 2019:

01 – DIIV – Deceiver

02 – Alfa Mist – Structuralism

03 – Brutus – Nest

04 – Gaahls WYRD – GastiR – Ghosts Invited

05 – Jolly – Family

06 – Lingua Ignota – Caligula

07 – Esoteric – A Pyrrhic Existence

08 – The Comet Is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery

09 – Tool – Fear Inoculum

10 – Šamanovo Zboží – Čtvrtá Polnice

11 – Mac Ayres – Juicebox

12 – Rival Sons – Feral Roots

13 – Black Mountain – Destroyer

14 – Kayo Dot – Blasphemy

15 – Cigarettes After Sex – Cry

16 – Alcest – Spiritual Instinct

17 – Diamond Head – The Coffin Train

18 – Mayhem – Daemon

19 – Anderson .Paak – Ventura

20 – Martin Brunner Band – Levels of Life

 

01 – DIIV – Deceiver

It was really hard to pick an album which would end up on the first place. But when I was thinking about it, third album from unique American shoegaze band DIIV is one of those albums, I loved returning to regularly in the previous months. I must say, I realized I feel extremely comfortable in a melancholic setting. It’s not negative nor extremely positive. It simply puts me in a great relaxed flow, where I feel more aware of my surrounding. Next to it, especially in the evening hours, it’s a perfect setting for walks where memories are popping up. I could say, I solved majority of personal issues during last year. But let’s be honest to ourselves: There will be always things do deal with and experiences to go through in your head over and over again. But with experience and great music, you can be more prepared. Deceiver, which came with little bit heavier sound than its predecessors, is a perfect grey cloud, moody lake or melancholic blanket which offers you setting for every occasion.

 

 

02 – Alfa Mist – Structuralism

You probably heard people saying some album or a song changed their life. There were couple for me thought out the years, but there was no other album important to me in the last decade as Alfa Mist’s Antiphon album in 2017. As somebody mentioned on YouTube, it’s like a magma for your brain. It was extremely helpful tool to relax my mind while leaving corporate marketing world, but it was even more valuable in opening new music universe for me. Through Spotify, I was suddenly discovering numbers of modern jazz bands but also plenty within soul, intelligent pop or eighties synth pop. Alfa Mist’s latest album Structuralism managed to stand bravely next to gigantic pillar of my life and brought me hours of peace with tracks as Mulago, Glad I Loved or Door (Feat. Jordan Rakei). God bless you Alfa.

Video interview here

 

 

03 – Brutus – Nest

One of the coolest discoveries for me these years is a Belgium trio Brutus. I discovered them, as they supported Chelsea Wolfe in Prague. At first it took me some time to get used to their wild power trio sound and very energetic vocals, but it turned out as their main powers. We conducted a video interview and stayed in a contact since. It was hell of a useful, when they came to Czech Republic again last year. After another video interview, it gave me a chance to introduce them to a Czech band Brutus, which is active for couple of decades. It was really interesting to discover Belgian Brutus have a t-shirt of Czech Brutus in their practice room, including a fact, drummer and a singer Stefanie often wears it. Their performances are always amazing and I am really happy, their track War also did great among my audience within Music for the Blind presentations.

 

 

04 – Gaahls WYRD – GastiR – Ghosts Invited  

I was always extremely picky within black metal. I never enjoyed Gorgoroth but I love every second of Gaahl’s new album. Since the first second it creates absolutely stunning atmosphere and carries the listener through a massive universe. During the journey you will reach your personal lows, as well tops. I almost wrote cheesy bullsh*t like: “In the end, you will never be the same.” Simply breathtaking atmospheric black metal album.

Video interview here.

 

 

05 – Jolly – Family

There were plenty of artists, which disappointed me in 2019. Therefore I was getting very nervous when I heard progressive rock/metal band Jolly was coming with a new album after six years. Their previous album The Audio Guide to Happiness Vol. II was extremely important to me. As it was defined on metalstorm website as “metal for gentleman” it was a perfect mix of progressive metal, meaningful melodies and great lyrics. On top of it, these guys were experimenting with binaural sounds and as name of the album says, it was supposed bring a listener into a happier state. Simply revolutionary album. Therefore I was stressed, if they will manage to keep up the level and they came out with an incredible album, having very diverse progressive tracks, as well tasty melancholic pieces. Longer production time didn’t hurt them and they handled all of their challenges (leaving InsideOut label, all of their equipment got flooded during hurricane Sandy) with respect.

Interview here

 

 

06 – Lingua Ignota – Caligula

Over the years there were number of artists from Sargent House which blew my mind including Russian Circles, Chelsea Wolfe or Emma Ruth Rundle. Name Lingua Ignota popped out couple of times and I was eager to cover as many albums from 2019 as much as I could, as I hated to do it in February and finding too many albums, too late. In the previous months I was really into very melancholic music. I feel very comfortable in that setting. It’s a gentle blanket on which nothing can shock me and memories come out in a condition, where I can filter them with a view of distance, including coming up with new epiphanies. However, listening to Caligula album this pushed it all to another level. Even, if I sometimes felt miserable, I was hoping for the positive side or fighting my way eventually towards the change. Yes, if I feel sh*tty, for some reason, I love to listen to even darker and more depressive music to reach my sort of “Nike” effect. But in the case of Lingua Ignota, she doesn’t offer that positive solution. Listening to Cult Of Luna can be extremely hard, but it’s a curing process through darkness and I love to recommend this form of medicine. Fortunately it worked for couple of people I know. Not only in my Music for the Blind group. But in the case of Lingua Ignota, I still don’t know how to handle it. For now, I just grab what I need. Same as in personal life. I am not a post hipster or a full time Buddhist. I just use what feels right for me. On Caligula there were so many aspects of her music which brought me to a darker side, but there was no way back. YOU have to possess capabilities to check in and leave when YOU want. Just check these lyrics.

May Failure Be Your Noose: Who will love you if I don’t? Who will fuck you if I won’t?

If the Poison Won’t Take You My Dogs Will: Life is cruel and time heels nothing. And everyone you love will leave you.

This sort of new view blew my mind but at the same time, I felt as Homer Simpson at his monitoring desk. There were so many red lights popping up. I have bunch of issues with her image or marketing activities. But it might be just my issues and I would rather do more research and especially conduct a proper interview with her to clarify my thoughts, rather than throwing some very raw thoughts out loud.

 

 

07 – Esoteric – A Pyrrhic Existence  

Esoteric doom metal – I cannot help it, it just bloody fits. I discovered these guys on the last day of 2018’s Brutal Assault festival. I was damn tired and it was really cold, but my friend convinced to check them and Wiegedood after that. Another coffee, another shot and it was damn worth it. They don’t hang around doom metal big names as Paradise Lost, as their song structures are quite extensive, but they are damn great. Their previous album Paragon Of Dissonance got my attention but A Pyrrhic Existence fits my current taste even more. You just let yourself get carried away by the grey smoke. As they said in Interstellar: “You can only observe.” Only leading points in this world are great guitar ambient solos. They are rare, but whey eventually come, it’s a true nirvana. On the other hand, you can experience, as name of the tracks Consuming Lies gives an idea, is a true esoteric hell.

 

 

08 – The Comet Is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery  

I discovered The Comet Is Coming same as plenty other fascinating modern London jazz bands through Spotify. Their track Blood of the Past belongs into a category of rather darker tracks, therefore it needs time. I personally kept it on a side for a while and started getting into it step by step. But as soon as you manage, it proves fascinating. Breathtaking saxophone, amazing dark music background and impressive monologue by Kate Tempest in the Blood of the Past.

Video interview here

 

 

09 – Tool – Fear Inoculum

One of the few albums, you will very probably see in other yearly polls as well. No wonder. These guys are a cult. But to be honest, I was keeping them on a side for years, even though I have some friends which are positively obsessed and continuously bringing me their epiphanies within lyrics. But in order to move from “I am fine with my Stinkfist and the rest is total mystery to me,” I gave some time to 10,000 Days and I was impressed. Naturally I continued with the latest release, which was a huge thing on the rock music scene and still will be for some time. As nobody else they have an insane taste for song structures and you know very well you are spending time with royalty, which can teach you a lot. I will keep that relationship growing further.

 

 

10 – Šamanovo Zboží – Čtvrtá Polnice    

I was always very critical at Czech music scene but due to a job at Seznam TV, I managed to interview and discover many impressive bands. However, next to a big names, there are luckily great talents which have a bright future. Art rock artists are pretty much aware their audience is limited, but if there are some bands within progressive art rock, to make an impact, it’s there guys. I follow Šamanovo Zboží for a couple of years already and their taste for progressive rock is undisputed. However, in the early days I felt they were looking for an ideal compromise between progressive structures, catchiness and heavy psychedelic sound. It came all well together on Čtvrtá Polnice which brings also some great psychedelic explosions and growing taste for poetry.

 

 

TOP 11 – 20

11 – Mac Ayres – Juicebox

Mac Ayres is one of my biggest discoveries during the recent couple of years. Actually Spotify emphasized, he is my artist of the decade. His debut Drive Slow was one of the first I used Spotify for and got hooked on it totally. It perfectly hit my smooth eighties pop, soul, r’n’b taste. His third album Juicebox did not beat the debut level, but still damn good!

 

 

12 – Rival Sons – Feral Roots

There are only few securities in life, but the fact Rival Sons will come out with some great heavy rock’n’roll tracks is one of them. No comments needed more. Here are few facts: Do Your Worst, Back in the Woods or Too Bad.

 

 

13 – Black Mountain – Destroyer   

Good old Black Mountain! Discovering their KEXP live performance in 2016 was a pure coincidence on YouTube and a pure gold. I was playing that life footage all the time and often love getting back to it. Therefore I was very excited, what could come next after mighty IV album. It carries all the essential elements I love about Black Mountain and puts it on the hot road. The new album is heavily affected by the fact band leader Stephen McBean obtained his driving license in 2017. Can’t wait to spread this album to my friends, which are regular drivers next to reminding them to get some Creedence Clearwater Revival albums as well.

 

 

14 – Kayo Dot – Blasphemy   

If certain bands are “In your face rock’n’roll” and getting used to each other takes couple of seconds, certain projects take weeks and months. Kayo Dot is a cult avant-garde metal project of Toby Driver which I discovered sometime around 2014 with Coffins On Io. This incredible album managed to combine so many of my tastes into a combination which I never thought could work. There were eighties synth pop elements as well as moments, which reminded me of Max Payne soundtrack. Mainly the parts including drugs. Toby made a significant progress since then and I very much respect him coming to Europe and playing for sometimes bigger and sometimes smaller numbers of guests. Latest album Blasphemy was another huge portion which needs to be digested over couple of weeks, but since the first moment, I believed in it. Time well invested.

 

 

15 – Cigarettes After Sex – Cry  

During a more than a year at Seznam TV, I always spoke to artists which I like and respect. Some I knew for a long time, some just shortly. American shoegaze band Cigarettes After Sex is a formation I discovered very shortly before the interview. I knew very little about them, but on the first listen, I knew there is something about them. It turned to be a great personal video interview about relationships, dealing with break-ups and melancholy in music. Plus it was great to have that teenage moment when you listen to some track over and over again. I must have listened to Don’t Let Me Go track for thirty times in a row.

 

 

16 – Alcest – Spiritual Instinct

I am aware of Alcest existence for couple of years. Whether it was them supporting Anathema, Emma Ruth Rundle’s massive support for them, I was building a relationship with them step by step. I must say Spiritual Instinct is definitely my most favorite from their discography. Sapphire was an instant jackpot. And I didn’t mind, it was slightly too pushy on YouTube during its release. Protection and many other tracks are also just damn impressive authentically working with post rock/shoegaze and black metal elements.

 

 

17 – Diamond Head – The Coffin Train 

Same as Metallica guys, one of my absolutely favorite NWOBHM bands is Diamond Head. I listen to them for ages and I can find plenty in their whole discography, album Borrowed Time still stays my absolute favorite. It is just one of those albums, you need to listen once in a few months and just dig in. Brilliant ahead-of-its-time performances in various aspects from arrangements, length of tracks as well as vocals or guitar parts. I am very proud of them, they are still active and keeping the level very high. Including live shows. The Coffin Train is on the top from the scene and it can very bravely compete with today’s releases. Production is incredible and on top of the great band’s sound, there is a vocal, which reminds you a bit of Chris Cornell. Good luck guys.

Video interview here, not only about Chris Cornell, but also about Lars Ulrich or future plans.

 

 

18 – Mayhem – Daemon

Couple of years ago, I couldn’t imagine I would ever place Mayhem album in my yearly list. I knew about these black metal legends, but they were a total mystery to me, plus they managed to keep scary aura around them. It changed step by step. First it was Blasphemous side impressive gothic project Ava Inferi after he left Mayhem and a random tryout of Esoteric Warfare. It was a pleasant shock, which reminded me about the days when I discovered Death’s The Sound of Perseverance or Sepultura’s Beneath the Remains as a teenager. I was hooked immediately by its insane flow of emotions and energy. Latest release Daemon didn’t beat Esoteric Warfare but keeps me digging deeper and investing energy into understanding it.

Video interview coming soon.

 

 

19 – Anderson .Paak – Ventura

Within music, I have almost no limitations if the quality is good. In the case of Anderson .Paak, it’s not surprising, I do enjoy soulful r’n’b with some hip hop elements, cause it’s impressive in the case of Ventura. The funny thing is, I did get this recommended mainly by metal friends. Just get into the flow and cool lyrics as: „Baby, that ass is just unfair.”

 

 

20 – Martin Brunner Band – Levels of Life

Another great example of Czech talent. We have a long tradition of admiration of progressive rock in our country. Even though the audience might be rather limited, I am really happy, my homeland keeps the progressive rock alive.

 

 

Have a great 2020!

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