December 30, 2019

HCTF's best of 2019 (10-6)

HCTF's annual list of the 20 albums that will be in regular rotation for many years to come. As per usual many genres are represented. This blog covers a lot of ground and it shows in this eclectic, final tally.

Today: countdown from number 10 to 6.

Please shop at your local record store, buy directly from the artist, attend live shows. Don't block anyone's view with with your phone (better still, switch it off altogether). Shut the fuck up while the band is playing. Educate your friends. Word-of-mouth can't be beat as the prime source to discover new music.

10 Tracy Shedd: The Carolinas

Move to Carolina with husband + make album = win.

The influence of the music of the couple's side-project Band & The Beat comes to the fore in the Free Love, with it's Eighties-inspired synth rhythm. Her love for garage rock gets a nod with songs like Kissing and Romancing and Good Times. Shedd is obviously quite happy in her new abode and her relationship is doing great as well (Letters). Few albums can earn the badge "all killer, no filler", but The Carolinas has every right to wear it proudly.

» Full review

9 The Sorry Kisses: Life's An Illusion

UK/US indie pop trio incorporates the best of both worlds.

(...) will sit comfortably next to albums by the Sundays and the Bangles. There are monsters besides the unicorns and rainbows and with two-thirds of Englishness in the band a Hollywood ending is not a given. Recommended if you like happy-sad music after a bad day.

» Full review

8 Sasha Bell: Love Is Alright

Long overdue solo album getting it right on the first try.

This is not the debut of prodigy, but the full-blown statement of a musician who knows that there is dark side to life and dealing with it can be done by music to release the tension, to remember and to wonder at the weirdness or sheer futility of it all. Baroque, intense, and with superb dynamics that will the test the outer limits of the capabilities of the listener's audio set-up.

» Full review

7 Portico Quartet: Memory Stream

Minimalist avant-jazz for indie lovers.

They explore every nook and cranny of their compositions, repeating motifs for prolonged times or abandoning them within the space of a couple of bars. Memory Stream solves the problem of what to play after Radiohead's Kid A. It is a collection of adventurous, gentle avant-garde that keeps lingering inside the listener's head long after the record has ended. Play it is as a whole and make sure that the "do not disturb" sign is up.

» Full review

6 The Fierce And The Dead: Live USA 17

English prog instrumentalists teaching the Americans a thing or two.

Hitting the Americans over the head with post-rockers like Spooky Action and the towering power of Truck and soothing them with the pastoral The Wait and a superb rendition of the complex Andy Fox they build their set like a classic English mansion: balanced, yet with plenty of hidden rooms and weird details. Ending the set with the latest two episodes of their "Part" compositions they made their mark as the cream of English prog inventors. (...) Live albums sometimes serve as a stop-gap release, but this is a document of a band that is always busy writing the next chapter, trying new things and reinventing the tried-and-true material

» Full review

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