It’s that time of year when every man and his dog compiles a list of their albums of the year, so as it’s December 31 I suppose i’d better do mine.

I’d say it’s been a good year for new music, with lots of artists releasing good albums, and a select few releasing great ones.

Without further ado, and in reverse order, here’s my Top 20 albums of 2019:

20. The Alarm – Sigma (Twenty First Century Recording Company)

Thirty six years after my attention was grabbed by early single 68 Guns, Mike Peters’ band were at it again with their second album in just over a year. At once a celebration of their past and a look to the future, it’s surprisingly good. Read the full review HERE.

19. Agnostic Front – Get Loud! (Nuclear Blast Records)

The 12th album by the godfathers of New York hardcore, Get Loud! sees Agnostic Front firing on all cylinders, and this is an album packed with power, speed and aggression. Read the full review HERE.

18. Booze & Glory – Hurricane (Scarlett Teddy Records)

The fifth album by the London-based streetpunks sees them take a further step away from their roots as a bootboy band. It’s a record which has divided opinion, but I like it. Read a full review HERE.

17. Snakerattlers – All Heads Will Roll (Dirty Water Music)

Snakerattlers are a husband and wife duo from York who I first came across early in the year as a support act. I liked their twisted rock ‘n’ roll so much I bought this, their second album, and have seen them twice more since.

16. Martha – Love Keeps Kicking (Big Scary Monsters)

I’ve loved DIY indie-punk band Martha, from Durham, since the first time I’ve heard them, and was far too excited for a (then) 52-year-old when I heard they were releasing their third album. Read the full review HERE.

15. The Futureheads – Powers (Nul Records)

Another North East band who set my pulse racing with news of a new record were Sunderland’s post-punk heroes The Futureheads, particularly as it was their first in seven years. Read the full review HERE.

14. The Aggrolites – Reggae Now! (Pirates Press Records)

Another band who released a new album after a long gap – in their case eight years – were LA’s purveyors of ‘dirty reggae’, The Aggrolites, and what an album it was. Read a full review HERE.

13. The Specials – Encore (Universal Music)

Talking of comeback albums, was there a better one this year than this? It was unrealistic to expect a carbon copy of their classic debut 40 years on, but what we got was a record full of social commentary just as relevant. And the three original members actually get on, which means we might get a follow-up.

12. Grade 2 – Graveyard Island Hellcat Records)

Grade 2 are a young streetpunk band from the Isle of Wight, and this is their third album, recorded with Rancid’s Tim Armstrong as producer. The result is a fine slice of modern punk. Read the full review HERE.

11. Amyl And The Sniffers – Amyl And The Sniffers (Rough Trade Records)

If I’d got this album when it came out instead of a month or so ago, it would probably be higher up the list, as this is a super slice of rowdy glam-punk by an Aussie band fronted by the force of nature that is Amy Taylor.

10. Holy Moly and the Crackers – Take A Bite (Pink Lane Records)

Holy Moly are one of the North East’s best-kept secrets, but that is slowly changing thanks to this excellent third album from a six-piece band who make ‘riotous party music for the masses’. Read a full review HERE.

9. Kickback Generation – Stand By You (self-released)

There’s a healthy DIY punk scene in the North East and Kickback Generation are one of the best bands in it. They launched this third album at Rebellion Festival in August and it’s a cracker. Read a full review HERE.

8. The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears (Human Season Records)

This brooding Irish post-punk band were new to me when this dropped into my inbox for review, but I loved it immediately and it’s stayed in my top 10 in the face of some stiff competition. Read the full review HERE.

7. The Old Firm Casuals – Holger Danske (Pirates Press Records)

OFC are the side project of Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen and this is their second album. They’re a hard-hitting streetpunk band, but you’ve never heard them heavier than this. The best album AC/DC never made.

6. The Menzingers – Hello Exile (Epitaph Records)

Album number six from the Philadelphia-based blue-collar punks sees them ploughing familiar territory with their evocative storytelling. This could have been No 1, as could the next 5 albums. Read the full review HERE.

5. Gimp Fist – Blood (Sunny Bastards)

Gimp Fist, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, are one of my very favourite bands, and this is their seventh album of heart-on-the-sleeve streetpunk. They just don’t make bad records. Read a full review HERE.

4. Boilermaker – Kill Or Create (Closed Shop Records)

Gimp Fist’s powerhouse drummer Mike Robson is also in Boilermaker, from neighbouring Darlington, and this excellent second album muscled its way into my Top 5 when it was released just before Christmas. Read the full review HERE.

3. Subhumans – Crisis Point (Pirates Press Records)

I was never a big fan of anarcho-punks Subhumans back in the day, but this record – their first in 12 years – knocked me off my feet and I’ve just about got back up again. Fantastic. Just listen to it. Read the full review HERE.

2. Membranes – What Nature Gives … Nature Takes Away (Cherry Red Records)

You’ll either love or hate this prog-punk masterpiece by John Robb’s revitalised 80s post-punk band. It’s bonkers, but I loved it when I first heard it, and still do. It was so close to being my No. 1. Read the full review HERE.

1. Fontaines D.C – Dogrel (Partisan Records)

It’s BBC 6 Music’s album of the year, and probably a few others’ as well, but I earmarked this as a contender the first time I heard it. Read the full review HERE. The Dublin five-piece ‘s debut album is a stunning slice of indie-rock which bears examination over repeated listens.

So there you have it, my Top 20 albums of 2019. There are doubtless a few bands you’ve never heard, and others you’ve never even heard of, but these are the records which rocked my world the hardest in the year just ending.

I could list another batch which just missed out; the likes of Richard Hawley’s Further, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds’ Ghosteen, Peter Perrett’s Humanworld, Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars, Skinny Lister’s The Story is…, Giuda’s E.V.A, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes’ End Of Suffering, Knock Off’s You Get One Life, and The Toy Dolls’ Episode XIII.

Then there’s albums that for one reason or another I haven’t got round to listening to, which could well have been contenders: Queen Zee’s self-titled debut, Bob Mould’s Sunshine Rock, Sleaford Mods’ Eton Alive, Bad Religion’s Age Of Unreason, Hands Off Gretel’s I Want The World, Pixies’ Beneath the Eyrie, and The Wildhearts’ Renaissance Men, to name just a few.

That’s the Christmas cash spent then. Thanks to everyone who’s clicked on one of my articles this year for giving me the encouragement to persevere with these musical ramblings. See you in 2020…

Gary Welford
gary.ipamusic@gmail.com
ipamusic.co.uk owner