LITTLE SIMZ – OFFENCE
One of the most original songs of the year takes the fundamentals of hip-hop; typically associated with sampled loops, and performs them with a live band.
Straight away you are transfixed by the musicianship before Simz even begins a bar.
When she does come in, playful claims of self brilliance are rife (and very much justified) as the rest of the Grey Area album allows you to see a more vulnerable side to her art. Such capability within different realms of self-assessment proves that she is much more than a mere false claim. “I’m Jay Z on a bad day, Shakespeare on my worst days” doesn’t sound too exaggerated, as the Mercury prize-nominated artist continues her journey on the right side of genius.
FONTAINES DC – BIG
The opener of modern poetry/rock n roll relic ‘Dogrel’ is not necessarily the best track on the album alongside ‘Liberty Belle’ & ‘Chequeless Reckless’ which were initially released as singles in 2018, but can’t not be mentioned.
Weighing in at 1:46 in length, the track is a sharp hook to the senses, displaying fleeting imagery of rainy Dublin pub crawls and an idealistic yearning for more, laying the foundations that the rest of the album so brilliantly expands on.
SLOWTHAI – DOORMAN
The ragtag caricature has made a marmite-esque impression on UK music this year with his unreserved antics. The standout track from ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ adopts a more post-punk approach in comparison to his other hip-hop/trap/grime inclined songs, and is an inspired injection of child-like colour into the dark abyss of a rhythm section. Here’s to hoping that Slowthai will continue to explore this route in future releases.
SQUID – MATCH BET
Squid have had a solid year that included the release of four singles and an EP, garnering national radio support in the process.
Match Bet channels a feel of Talking Heads if they’d have swapped their New York high-rises for a rural Great British garage. Saying this, they aren’t trapped in a world of 1970’s rehash – as they tick boxes consisting of both old and current influence, and the BBBC agrees, dubbing them as one of the predicted sounds of 2020.
SLEAFORD MODS – KEBAB SPIDER
The Nottingham duo continue their tirade as one of the most accurate representations of Britain today. Their lyrics have always had a certain homeliness to them in relation to small town monotony, but seen as they have spent the majority of their last 4 albums dissecting said ethos, they have now become more media/music industry facing, and no topic or public figure is safe. ‘We ain’t shoe-shine boys for fakers, bingo punks with rickenbackers, you’ve had a record deal for nearly 30 years what dyou know about agencies, looking for jobs, shit wages?’ enforces their refusal to dampen down what they have to say even when up against the supposed gatekeepers of their very career.
OUR FOLD – A LITTLE TOO LATE
A band that have been around the houses before releasing their debut album this year. From slots at Isle Of White & Glastonbury to supporting Dave Grohl’s Them Crooked Vultures – ‘Sick of Normal Life’ has been highly awaited, and fans’ patience is worth it. This gem in particular showcases lyricism, vocal ability and bare boned rawness of the highest order that deserves every ounce of acclaim.
The opening line is brilliant;
‘Break my branches lady, watch me splinter to the bone/The leaves may die but the root survives so I come back even more/A lesson needed teaching, but the pupil dilates/another fracture line in your china mind that expected me to wait”
FOALS – SYRUPS
A solid contender for the bassline of the year. The loping groove climbs its way up your synapse and is gradually joined by complementing instruments, before a tempo change shifts the song to a climactic fade-out. This is classic of Foals and their ability to build a song from the ground up before releasing it into epiphany.
TWISTED WHEEL – NOMAD HAT
Nomad Hat signifies the comeback of a true cult classic of a band. A tale of highs & lows, in both the industry and personal life, have fuelled this show of defiance. It kicked off the storm that has just recently seen them play a sell out show at Manchester Ritz. Even after all these years on the circuit, Johnny Brown & co show that they still have the youthful vigour that set them apart from their peers way back then.
STORMZY – CROWN
Stormzy – Crown: Stormzy released Crown off the back of the Glastonbury milestone that further propelled the former underground upstart into a household name, and with this track, he has won over many naysayers. For one it is more accessible than earlier material for those who are not necessarily fans of grime music, yet still maintains the highly poignant lyrical content, addressing issues such as racism & classism. The self-sung chorus that if delivered by say Liam Gallagher or more ‘esteemed’ artists, would be praised as biblical by Stormzy’s typical sneer-mongers. Irony-soaked generalisations aside – Crown is a truly brilliant heartfelt piece of music.