Guest Post: Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2019

Aside from compiling my own lists, I really enjoy looking over other people’s albums of the year rundowns and none more so than Mr. Johnny Feeney.

An insightful musical sage, Johnny’s guest appearances are always interesting and bring added flavour to the blog and I look forward to reading his contributions – of which, surely I’m not alone?

Yes, we’re a bit late with this one but sure better late than never, right?

A huge thanks to Johnny for taking time out to compile this list, and on that note, I’ll leave you with his favourite records of 2019.

10: DIIV – ‘Deceiver’

Following up 2016’s supreme Is the Is Are, Brooklyn shoegaze quartet DIIV’s third album Deceiver draws obvious comparisons to My Bloody Valentine with its multiple layers of shimmering, squalling guitars and lead singer Zachary Cole Smith’s dreamy vocals. Expect plenty of loud / quiet / loud moments on this dazzling return.

Listen in full here.

09: Hot Chip – ‘A Bath Full of Ecstasy’

Although their newer material has perhaps lost some of the menace of their early output, ultra-consistent Hot Chip prove they are still adept at releasing dance-pop of the highest calibre. A perfect antidote to the grim global political and environmental situation we find ourselves in today, I challenge anyone to listen to the likes of ‘Positive’ or ‘Melody of Love’ and not feel a wave of joy wash over you.

Listen in full here.

08: Black Midi – ‘Schlagenheim’

The Mercury-nominated debut album from this four-piece experimental-rock band hailing from London is definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste. From the brutal opening salvo of ‘953’ to the wonderful closer ‘Ducter’, this relentless record is one that never lets go. A highly ambitious record, understandably it doesn’t always quite come together. But when it does hit the mark it’s absolutely thrilling. Improvised mayhem never sounded so good.

Listen in full here.

07: Marika Hackman – ‘Any Human Friend’

The latest LP from Marika Hackman certainly has a much more pop-leaning sound than her early fans would expect from the English singer-songwriter. Hackman’s usual vocals and guitar lines are regularly joined by jaunty synths to create upbeat tunes merged with deeply personal lyrics exploring themes such as same-sex relationships (‘All Night’) and masturbation (‘Hand Solo’). The jaw-dropping title track that closes the album is beyond staggering.

Listen in full here.

06: Drahla – ‘Useless Coordinates’

This bludgeoning debut record from Leeds post-punk outfit Drahla comes with driving guitars, a pummelling rhythm section, and Luciel Brown’s breathy vocals. Viciously, skewed saxophones add to the overall sombre atmosphere. Clocking in at a breathless half an hour, Useless Coordinates starts off dark and doesn’t veer off course once.

Listen in full here.


05: Mattiel – ‘Satis Factory’

The highly accomplished second album from the Atlanta-based singer-songwriter prominently features Mattiel Brown’s distinctive, booming vocals and some delightful, grooving and soulful blues-rock. Brown has an uncanny ability to create expertly crafted sub three-minute rock songs with an infectious hook. A very impressive piece of work.

Listen in full here.

04: The Murder Capital – ‘When I Have Fears’

The superb debut album from the Dublin post-punk five-piece is a moody, atmospheric affair. Brooding, menacing guitars and percussion are paired to pulsating effect with the haunting, angst-ridden vocals of lead singer James McGovern. A formidable live act, the group’s sound has been captured masterfully on record by UK producer Flood. Along with Fontaines DC and Girl Band, the Murder Capital are at the forefront of an exciting wave of great new Irish rock bands.

Listen in full here.

03: Aldous Harding – ‘Designer’

New Zealand folk artist Aldous Harding’s third studio album is the epitome of easy listening – nine tracks of blissful, exquisitely arranged songs. Harding’s tender vocals are accompanied by multiple layers of instrumentation and backing vocals to devastating effect throughout. A gorgeous album that gets better with every listen.

Listen in full here.

02: Vampire Weekend – ‘Father of the Bride’

After a six year hiatus and losing a key member in multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij back in 2016, Vampire Weekend fans could be forgiven for worrying if maybe this was the beginning of the end for the New York indie-poppers. Instead Ezra Koenig re-emerged with an exceptionally strong set of tracks, enlisting the help of the likes of Danielle Haim on vocals and guitarist Steve Lacy. The result is an immensely enjoyable, if overlong, album.

Listen in full here.

01: Fontaines DC – ‘Dogrel’

The eagerly awaited debut of Dublin punk rock quintet Fontaines DC delivers emphatically on every level. An extremely diverse and lyrical record, lead singer Grian Chatten’s miniature vignettes of Dublin City are accompanied by an ever-changing soundtrack from the rest of the group. From the piledriving punk of ‘Chequeless Reckless’ and ‘Hurricane Laughter’ to the jangling stomp of ‘Sha Sha Sha’ and ‘Boys in the Better Land’ via the tender ‘Roy’s Song’ and ‘Dublin City Sky’, not a single foot has been put in the wrong place. In a new Golden Age of Irish guitar music, it’s the Fontaines DC’s star who’s shining brightest at the moment.

Listen in full here.

The JUNGLES!!! – ‘Roller Coaster’

The JUNGLES!!! are Japanese noisemaking outfit comprised from members of Red Bacteria Vacuum.

Together this trio make one hell of a noise as evidenced by furious new single ‘Roller Coaster’. Released as part of a new Japanese compilation called Tokyo Chikatetsu Vol 2, ‘Roller Coaster’ is wild! It is just under four minutes of furious, unrelenting energy and thunderous noise as pounding drums fearlessly keep a frantic tempo as scintillating riffs, meaty guitars and screeching vocals wield a furious and powerful spell. The potency and pace never lets up, it is an absolute riot, and all cloaked in layers of fuzz and distortion. 

Listen to ‘Roller Coaster’ below – and turn it up loud!

NANCY – ‘Clic Clac’

Based in the North East of England, NANCY have demonstrated a propensity for audacious sonic adventures in art-rock meets post-punk.

This enigmatic talent has already afforded us an insight with furious and colourful whirlwind EP The Mysterious Visions last year and weird and wonderful single ‘When I’m With You’. NANCY has returned with another super single; raucous new foot-stomper ‘Clic Clac’. Clocking in just shy of two-minutes, ‘Clic Clac’ is a spectacular return, a hyperactive frenzied blitz of bone rattling drums, furious, jerky guitars, buzzing riffs and fizzing effects as slightly deranged vocals roar above. A chaotic, wild and arresting jam.

‘Clic Clac’ is out now – tune in below:

ALFFA – ‘PLA’

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Alffa are Dion Wyn Jones & Sion Eifion Land, a two-man riff machine from Llanrug, Wales.

Performing in their native Welsh, this pair have a massive sound and craft explosive tunes echoing the likes of The White Stripes, The Black Keys & Royal Blood et al. The self-dubbed “punk-blues” two piece introduced themselves with powerhouse singles ‘Creadur’ and ‘Tomos Rhys’ late last year, and Alffa are back with new single ‘PLA’ – provoing once again they are a force to be reckoned with. ‘PLA’ is every bit as muscular as it predecessors announcing it’s presence with a deafening combination of ferocious, serrated guitar riff, thunderous and propulsive drums and searing, biting vocals. It is a thundering three-minutes of gritty rock ‘n roll abandon as mammoth riffs crash into pulverising percussion for a dazzling and mighty whirl of noise.

You can listen to ‘PLA’ below – and if that is to your liking, there is plenty more where that came from here too.

 

BILK – ‘CM2’

BILK are young Essex trio of Sol Abrahams (vocals/guitar), Luke Hare (bass), and James Holland (drums) who’s preference is an angsty blend of indie, rap and punk; and a fondness for Fred Perry and Adidas.

The trio introduced their  feisty, energetic and raw wears toward the end of last year with ‘Slob’ and the good news is, BILK’s first offering of 2019 in just as thrilling. New single ‘CM2’ is a fast, furious and ramshackle dose of gritty guitars and spat-out vocals, combining tongue-in-cheek humour with insightful social commentary. An apologetically raw and lippy indie-punk sound, laced with crunching guitars, buzz-saw riffs and furious fast-paced drums providing fuel for the volatile, semi-rapped/spat-out streetwise lyrics that are brash and mouthy. ‘CM2’ is a tongue-in-cheek homage to the boys hometown of Chelmsford, if I’m honest, I’d hoped it was a homage to Championship Manager 2 but that is more than a little before their time but regardless of their muse, this is an absolute gem. 

BILK play Eastbound Festival, Dublin (in the Sound House on Eden Quay) on May 12th.

Tune into ‘CM2’ below:


The Red Leslies – ‘Intercourse Weapon’

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The Red Leslies are a garage-punk band from Southern California revolving around core members Luis Sanchez and Adrian Martinez whose sound is derived from influences like The Ramones, T. Rex, The Strokes, Buddy Holly and Lou Reed.

Having formed in 2015 The Red Leslies have spent the intervening years playing gigs at rowdy house parties, empty swimming pools, along with more traditional venues, and now have their debut record In White primed for release in March. And with that news comes lead single ‘Intercourse Weapon’; a fast, furious and fuzzed-up burst of guitar driven energy. It is riff driven garage rock at its triumphant best, fuelled by a fizzing vitality it races forward, pumped with adrenaline that is tempered by a melodic sensibility and hooks you could hang your hat on – and topped off by some simply scintillating vocals. This is a full-blood garage-rock explosion with raucous and riotous energy dripping out of every pour.

Tune into ‘Intercourse Weapon’ below and keep those eyes peeled for their debut record In White come March.

Johnny Fenney’s Albums of 2018

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Aside from compiling my own end of year lists, I always look forward to checking out other people’s take on the year and none more so than that of Johnny Feeney.

A reliably insightful musical sage, Johnny’s guest appearances are always interesting and add an extra flavour to the blog and I look forward to reading – of which, surely I’m not alone?

A massive thanks to Johnny for taking time out to compile this list, and on that note, I’ll leave you with his Mr. Feeney’s favourite records of 2018.

10: Parquet Courts – ‘Wide Awake!’

New York City garage-rock outfit Parquet Courts enlisted the help of Danger Mouse on production duties for their sixth full-length studio album, with a more polished sound evident throughout. The band’s trademark spiky guitars are joined intermittently by keyboards, cowbells and whistles to create a highly entertaining and fun record.

Listen in full here

9: Django Django – ‘Marble Skies’

The kaleidoscopic third album from Django Django is a veritable smorgasbord ranging from the group’s distinctive, jangling Beach Boys-style surf rock to lilting dancehall to electronic club bangers. Although there are some slower moments of real beauty present, the high points are when the Djangos speed things up such as on ‘In Your Beat’.

Listen in full here

8: IDLES – ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’

The Bristol punk-rock quintet go from strength to strength with their second album, following up from last year’s brilliant debut Brutalism. The album’s twelve tracks of pummelling, angry punk are a furious state-of-the-nation address to post-Brexit Britain, with moments of lacerating wit thrown in for good measure by formidable lead singer Joe Talbot. Powerful.

Listen in full here

7: Dream Wife – ‘Dream Wife’

The debut album from this London-based all-female trio is punk-rock at the other end of the spectrum from IDLES but is nonetheless a fantastically good listen. Dream Wife specialise in melodic, (mostly) radio-friendly pop-punk with incredibly catchy hooks, lots of attitude and feminist undertones that may not become too apparent until you see the band live.

Listen in full here

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no reception. – ‘Door Mat’

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No reception is a one woman pop punk machine, the brainchild of Claire Julian who takes charge of roles as songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and drummer.

Julian’s brilliant brand of angsty, lo-fi indie with a pop-punk streak is clear for all to see on new single ‘Door Mat’. Taken from the recently released EP, See Through, ‘Door Mat’ is a super buoyant affair that unleashes a three-minute, power-pop blitz of catchy riffs, crunchy guitars, infectious pop melodies and fast paced drum grooves that are all coated in a light fuzz and imbued with youthful energy and punky aggression. An irresistible power-pop punk nugget!

Listen to ‘Door Mat’ below now – and the entire EP is available here.

BILK – ‘Slob’

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BILK are young Essex trio of Sol Abrahams (vocals/guitar), Luke Hare (bass), and James Holland (drums) who’s preference is an angsty blend of indie, rap and punk; and a fondness for Fred Perry and Adidas.

Their latest single ‘Slob’ is an absolute riot; it is frenetic, feisty, energetic, raw and anthemic. Crunching, raw guitars and buzz-saw riffs meet furious fast-paced drums to drive the energy forward, providing fuel for the volatile, semi-rapped streetwise lyrics that are brash, mouthy and tongue-in-cheek.Talking themes of youth, unemployment and drugs the trio present a firm middle finger to the people who looked down on them as dosers for choosing music. This is an apologetically raw and lippy indie-punk sound.

Tune into the sound from the suburbs, ‘Slob’ below:

Thumper – ‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’

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‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’ is the second single – following ‘AFL‘ – lifted from THUMPER‘s forthcoming EP Out of Body Auto-Message, due out in November.

The Dublin five-piece deliver a thrilling (sort of oddball) seven minutes of spiraling effects, psych fuzz, repetition and tension. Hyperactive guitar riffs saw their way through the fuzz and fueled by a steady, rock solid drum beat as frontman Oisin Leahy Furlong screams, demanding your attention. It’s a bit of slacker noise-pop, a bit power-pop, a bit psych but a whole lot of magnificent. Not for the faint of heart, it is thrilling trip that spirals out of control in the final moments. It’s not often that a song of seven minutes will ebb and flow to such a degree as to keep you on the edge of your seat guessing where it will charge to next but ‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’ does, and at a frenetic pace. A raucous, seven-minutes of irresistible noise-pop loaded with contagious energy and loaded with purpose that is all kinds of brilliant.

Tune into ‘(You’re Bringing Me) Down’ below now & keep an eye out for the forthcoming EP, & THUMPER play a late show on Friday, November 30 in the Workmans, Dublin.