Created by the CLUNK Magazine staff

It’s that inevitable time of the year again where every magazine, blog, zine & publication throws out their top albums of the year. Of course, we are obliged to do the same and what a year for music we’ve had. This is never an easy task but we put our heads together and have delivered what we feel was 2019’s standout albums.

Twin Peaks – Lookout Low

By Kieran Webber

When bands like Twin Peaks inevitably “grow up” (whatever that means) it can throw the fanbase. Normally the Twin Peaks dudes thrive on their rowdy reputation but things are taken a tone down in their fourth release ‘Lookout Low’. The album takes infuence from the likes of The Grateful Dead, Neil Young and even Led Zeppelin, putting a focus on their musicianship instead of their ability to crowdsurf.

The opening track ‘Casey’s Groove’ is a stunning start that sees the listener delicately brushed with a flurry of guitars and harmonious vocals. This is something that is felt throughout the whole album. It’s a musical conquest that shows that they’re more than just your average garage rock band. Highlights are the bongo lead ‘Dance Through It’ and the groove riddled ‘Oh Mama’.

It’s easy to fall by the wayside when you float within this genre and even easier to sound too similar across albums. Twin Peaks show us just why they have such a dedicated fan base whilst simultaneously boasting their musical capabilities. This may not have been the critical success they wanted but this album is fun and totally underrated.

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets – And Now For The Whatchamacallit

By Kieran Webber

The newly emerged Psychedelic Porn Crumpets tore through the cosmic ceiling with this ripping third album. ‘And Now For The Whatchamacallit’ is a psychedelic celebration that brings layers of fuzzy whimsy. There is something for every psychedelic rock within this album from the blaring, chaotic riff of ‘Bill’s Mandolin’ to the Beatles inspired ‘Dezi’s Adventure’.

The album takes a more varied sound than their previous releases which focuses more on neck breaking riffs. It was an album to stamp their authority in their genre and it did so masterfully. Psychedelic Porn Crumpets are more than just a great band name their a true force to be reckoned with.

Ty Segall – First Taste

By Kieran Webber

Ty Segall yet again subverts our expectations with this barrage of bizzaro. The prolific garage ricker ditches the guitar and indulges in a variety of other instruments. Yet still proves that you can strum the life out of the Greek bouzouki and a Japanese koto. ‘First Taste’ still carries the typical tropes of Ty Segall, frantic freak outs, Lennon-esque vocals and plenty of inventiveness. Yet the album boasts Ty’s ability to constantly create new and brilliant music, even though he manages to release around 3 albums a year (generally).

‘First Taste’ offers up sounds we’ve not heard from Ty before. The looming synths in ‘When I Met My Parents Pt.3’ indulges his more intense and experimental nature. Whilst ‘Self Esteem’ see a sneering sax pulse through the harmonic vocals, creating a real sense of unease.

However, we also get moments of that Ty magic that make us love him. Especially in ‘Self Esteem’, ‘Taste’ & ‘Radio’. Pulsing riffs backed by that retrospective classic rock sound.

It’s a standout album in Ty’s overwhelming discography and shows that Ty is an ever evolving artist. He’s relentless and i’m all for it.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies

By Kieran Webber

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard is an ever evolving and ever changing band. They’re this generation’s musical chameleon. This year saw them release two albums that were in total contrast. The first being ‘Fishing For Fishies’, a Grateful Dead inspired album that saw peace, tranquility and plenty of harmonica. It’s the bands protest album if you will, based around the emerging climate crisis that we find ourselves in.

It’s a nonchalant album that is wonderfully whimsical. Across the album you are treated to a variety of brilliant sounds. Whether that is the hip swinging ‘Plastic Boogie’ or the electronic sounds of ‘Cyboogie’.

It’s a varied journey that boasts the bands talent for spreading a message and creating a story through their music. As well as showing us that no matter the genre they can master it.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats Nest

By Kieran Webber

This album was arguably the biggest surprise of 2019. Where on earth did this come from? The last thing anybody was expecting from the Australian band was a Metalica sounding thrash rock album. On paper it shouldn’t work, but by god is this album incredibly impressive.

The album kicks off with immense style with the soon to be extinction rebellion theme song ‘Planet B’. A relentless attack on the senses that carries hard, fast and powerful riffs to the forefront. The whole album follows suit with this momentum apart from ‘Superbug’, which see’s the pace take a step back, it is here where Stu’s newfound James Hetfield vocals take precedence.

The album comes to an intense end with the final track ‘Hell’ which accumulates all of the former sounds of the album into one behemoth of a track. The final chord of the album comes to an end you are left jaw agape, unsure of what you’ve heard. The album is a relic of the past, a throwback to bands such as Metallica and Motorhead. Yet through the rock n roll juice there is a level of depth to the album, especially within the songwriting. It tackles the social problems of today, financial cruelty, elitism and climate change. It’s a superb body of music that keeps giving with every listen and further solidifies King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard as one of the world’s most prolific rock bands.

Giant Swan – Giant Swan

By Laura Turnbull

Forget album of the year, this one owns our decade. Bristol tech-noise duo Giant Swan topped off our 2019 with this earth-shattering debut, released via their own label Keck in November. In the run-up to its release, Harry Wright and Robin Stewart spent the year throwing themselves around a monstrous set up of drum machines, effects pedals and synths, attacking our eardrums and ripping apart our expectations of what a techno show entails. No hierarchies, no pretentious gear talk, no anonymous producers basking in the sterile glow of a laptop screen. Giant Swan‘s mutant breed of techno is disruptive in the best possible sense: a massive fuck off to those stand-offish genre conventions that have been built up around electronic music. 

At a time when politics is creating major rifts amongst us all, and as those people in charge stand on their podiums making promises that never materialise, their inability to empathise with the daily experience of most people leaving us all feeling more at odds than ever before, Giant Swan are making sounds that celebrate collective experience and genuine expression in all its messy glory. This is what it means to look out for the people around you and make sure no one gets forgotten. 

Sermon aside, though, this album delivers a blistering set of sounds. The glitching thunder of lead track ‘55 Year Old Daughter‘ is the Giant Swan we know and love: that nasty, pulsing kind of bass that drives you to pummel your body against the walls and demolish your ego, while tracks like ‘Not A Crossing‘ and ‘Spisbah‘ furl out less frantically but play on acres of atmosphere. If ever there was an album to confront and challenge our bleak and chaotic current state of affairs, this is it.

Penelope Isles – Until The Tide Creeps In

By Laura Turnbull

Penelope Isles‘ debut album is a soft, fuzzed salute to long summers – the kind you left behind for adulthood and suddenly learning to be serious, along with forgetting what it’s like to live in moments instead of media feeds. ‘Until The Tide Creeps In‘ stands with its feet on two islands. Sweet melodies dip into warm, old memories while lyrics stand on the shore waving those less complex times off. Growing up is hella hard, we decided. Adulting, we’re over you. Luckily, Penelope Isles have rinsed these tricky life transitions in a ton of woozy psych-pop sound, and the tunes on this triumph of a debut come out the washer feeling bittersweet in the best kind of way.  

Penelope Isles are Brighton-based, but it all started with two siblings from the Isle of Man. Jack and Lily Wolter sing to the wavy skyline and comfy memories of their home shores on ‘Until The Tide Creeps In‘. Just like those endless beach days when you were a kid, this is the kind of album you could happily lose hours on. Soft distortion blunts the edges of each track, allowing the sounds to wash over you in a daydreamy kinda way. Whilst recalling the bleached, blissed-out sound of Tame Impala and channelling a touch of the gentle and quirky quality that blooms out of Grizzly Bear’s oddball indie offerings, Penelope Isles still manage to concoct a heady music brew all of their own.  

It’s not all smooth sailing, though. This brother and sister led band sing about home as sudden strangers to its comforts. You know that awkward, big kid feeling you get when you come back home for Christmas and you’re sleeping on a camp bed in your mum’s front room? All those feels get shook up in these songs. Sure, the blow-up mattress isn’t too shabby, but you’re about to suffocate on all the old memory-lane dust. “Could stay but I already know my head would fall into a hole,” Lily Wolter sings on the album’s final track ‘Through The Garden‘. ‘Until The Tide Creeps In‘ serenades a past that it’s impossible to get back to. Granted, “cut your hair and sit down in an office chair” doesn’t sound too appealing, but we’ve all outgrown the garden and it’s time to give the desk a whirl. Gratitude in bucket loads to Penelope Isles for easing us into this strange new world with a true glowing sunset of an album.

Tyler, The Creator – IGOR

By Laura Turnbull

Tyler, The Creator set the bar high for a follow-up with his 2017 Grammy nominated masterpiece ‘Flower Boy‘, but considering the American rapper’s unique imagination and razor-sharp wit, it should’ve been no surprise that his fifth studio album ‘IGOR‘ upended the benchmark with ease when it was released by Columbia Records back in May. ‘IGOR‘ is the full package, from  sparkling production to smart accompanying visuals, the blonde wig and fancy blazers that feature in the album’s music videos are a creative triumph.

Through the lovesick shimmer of ‘Earfquake‘ and the shady obsession of ‘New Magic Wand‘ (with its magical nod to Erykah Badu) ‘IGOR‘ charts the back-and-forth saga of those especially intense romantic relationships where one of you ends up going a bit mental (we’ll laugh about it later, right?) It’s a completely seductive set of songs. Now, time to make like the opening words of ‘New Magic Wand‘: “Sometimes you gotta close a door to open a window.” We can’t think of a greater way to climb into 2020.

Laurel Halo – DJ Kicks

By Laura Turnbull

Before segwaying into the club circuit, Berlin-based producer Laurel Halo cut her teeth in classical orchestras. It’s a strange path into electronics – one that probably accounts for Halo‘s sounds never feeling standard, and her DJ Kicks effort is no exception. We fell for Halo‘s mix when it came out in March, head-over-heels hard, mainly ‘cos it introduced us to star track ‘Sweetie‘. A dreamy collection of chimes and snares, ‘Sweetie‘ is feel-good without being sickly and offers up the perfect antidote to dark winter days. Hey there big skies, sultry evenings and endless summers.

Deli Girls – I Don’t Know How to Be Happy

By Laura Turnbull

Deli Girls are raging New York duo Danny Orlowski and Tommi Kelly. Emo as hell and fresh from Brooklyn’s underground scene, the pair released ‘I Don’t Know How to Be Happy‘ back in February via Sweat Equity, a label with an ear for the untamed and a reputation for hosting ferocious live shows – the perfect fit for the band’s synth-smashing Screamo.

Picking up where Throbbing Gristle and Nine Inch Nails left off, Deli Girls whip up an answer to industrial noise that embraces electronics, with the added bonus of being blissfully untethered from those Trent Reznor superfans who specialise in joy-kill via mind-numbing NIN trivia. ‘I Don’t Know How to Be Happy‘ is   freaky, defiant, and noisy af. “Put your money where your mouth is/I don’t believe your shit“, Orlowski screams, letting loose on lying politicians, twisted media feeds and warped body politics the world over. Now there’s a battle cry we can get behind.

Burial – Tunes 2011 to 2019

By Laura Turnbull

Compilation albums don’t always get a good press, but this is Burial, so we’re overlooking that particular music-snob pet-peeve ok? In celebration of Hyperdub’s fifteenth year, the electronic enigma created a mammoth soundscape of his post-Untrue experiments for ‘Tunes 2011 to 2019‘, and it’s even more haunting and introspective than we hoped for.

All the sounds of shadowy, post-rave pavements and lonely night buses are collected in this epic, from the comedown hum of ‘Stolen Dog‘ to ‘State Forest‘s echoing ambient siren song, but we’re not brow-furrowing the whole way. The moody trip through Burial‘s back catalogue is broken up by some pulsing, strip-lit gems, the strobing melody of ‘Loner‘ being one. The real highlight, though, is ‘Claustro‘, a dazzling hit of “I want you” repetitions and frantic breakbeats which summon up club romance in all its sketchy euphoria.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: School Disco, Thee Oh Sees, Earth Tongue, Mac Demarco.

Let us know what you think!