Editor’s Picks: Top 50 songs of 2019 – Part One

2019 eh? You’d laugh if you weren’t too busy crying… Bloody good year for music though.

Throughout the past 12 months we’ve been cracking on with uncovering new music, a keen ear amongst our contributors for anything and everything new and exciting. From a personal standpoint, I’ve probably purchased more new vinyl this year than any other (just the ticket when you’re about to move house…)

With it being the end of the year, we’ve joined the long list of your other favourite websites to compile the best songs released this year. 50 songs sounds like a lot to work with until you have to compile said list. With that in mind, honourable mentions and shout outs must go to a number of artists and singles that have been on our radar and in our playlists throughout the year.

From the METZ reissue of ‘Pure Auto‘ to various songs from Mac DeMarco’s latest album ‘Here Comes The Cowboy‘, Show Me The Body’s raging ‘Camp Orchestra‘ to the mega dance number from Stealing Sheep in ‘Jokin’ Me‘. Then there’s Demob Happy’sLess Is More’, False Advertising’sYou Won’t Feel Love‘, Grey Hairs‘ ‘Hydropona‘, Claw The Thin Ice’sTropic of Cancer‘ and ‘Looking For The Cure‘ from William The Conqueror. All great tunes, not enough space.

Here’s the first of two parts featuring a list of the 50 best songs released this year – in my personal opinion, the person who puts all this together. In alphabetical order mind you, as things are complicated enough as it is don’t you think?

Aiming For Enrike – Hard Dance Brainia
(Music For Working Out)

Where else to start than with experimental instrumental duo Aiming For Enrike out of Norway. An invigorating burst of dance-floor ready math-rock that builds and builds to a joyful climax. Almost as good as their live show.

Aiming For Enrike talked us through their 2019 musical highlights as part of our What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod feature – Check out their picks here.

B Boys – Pressure Inside
(Dudu)

A song that’s been on constant rotation from an album that has been listened to at least once a week since release (and then a month or two prior to that thanks to our review stream!) This trio of New Yorkers gripped me like no others this year – potential contender for best single of 2019!

Bike Thiefs – Hockey Dad

Toronto trio Bike Thiefs came new to us this year with the captivating ‘Hockey Dad‘ and its stream of consciousness vocals against scrappy instrumentation. At the time we suggested it’s in the ballpark of Flat Worms and Parquet Courts and we’re still feeling that comparison.

Blood Wizard – Carcrash

The solo project of Cai from Kagoule, it’s no surprise that he hits the ground running with a song that already sounds like a bit of a classic. A sun-soaked jam out in November, but still one to enjoy in the colder months.

BODEGA – Domesticated Animal
(Shiny New Model)

Another cucumber cool bopper from NY art-punks BODEGA. A chorus that reminds me of the sort of team spirit mantra you might hear from a cheerleader outfit, it continues the great BODEGA tradition of being ludicrously catchy (as is everything else this lot put out).

Vocalist Ben talked us through his 2019 musical highlights as part of our What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod feature – Check out his picks here.

Alex Cameron – Stepdad
(Miami Memory)

There were shades of it on last album ‘Forced Witness‘ and now with ‘Miami Memory’, Aussie songwriter Alex Cameron is blurring the line of comedic artist who pens a good tune to bona fide pop star. ‘Stepdad‘ is bleak at times but the bombastic instrumentation and Cameron’s knack for an earworm chorus mean it’s one to triumphantly sing along to.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Cameron earlier this year – Check it out for yourself here.

The Chats – Pub Feed

MEDIUM WELL!” Snotty Aussie punk that’s as catchy as it is daft. A song about smashing your tea at the local pub, what’s wrong with that?

Corridor – Domino
(Junior)

From their Sub Pop debut (the first francophone act for the prestigious label), Montreal outfit Corridor put out this sun-soaked 60’s sounding jam in the second half of the year and we’ve been hooked ever since. Following a lengthy hypnotising stretch in the middle, they expertly drop you back in with that swell hook in head-spinning fashion.

Crack Cloud – The Next Fix
(Pain Olympics)

In typical Crack Cloud fashion, fuck knows what’s happening with this (is it on an album coming out?!) They get weirder and more engaging as they go on and latest single ‘The Next Fix‘ is no exception. Follow up, Part Two of the Pain Olympics series (‘Crackin Up‘) is just as brilliant; the Canadian ‘multimedia collective’ remain one of the most exciting acts knocking about today.

Richard Dawson – Two Halves
(2020)

Jogging‘ first grabbed our attention back in August, a hilariously bleak lengthy saga of someone struggling with anxiety from the little moments in life. It would have been included here had it not been for follow up single ‘Two Halves‘. A wonderfully captivating tale of what one assumes is a children’s football match and all its highs and lows and levels of incompetence. I laugh every time I hear a defeated Dawson sing “I am inconsolable” but the line “Stop fannying around, keep it nice and simple. You’re not Lionel Messi, just pass the bloody ball” is one of the best from an album full of terrific lines.

Deliluh – Lickspittle (A Nut In The Paste)
(Beneath The Floors)

I’ve been listening to this record a lot while walking round the local park – big fan. First single ‘Lickspittle (A Nut In The Paste)‘ packs in a lot of influences but all at once sounds fresh and new.

Vocalist Kyle talked us through his 2019 musical highlights as part of our What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod feature – Check out his picks here.

Die! Die! Die! – Casualties of Decades
(O)

Crunchy as hell new single out mid-year from New Zealand punk leg-ends Die! Die! Die! From a new four-track EP, the first new material written with returning bassist Lachlan Anderson,Casualties of Decades‘ is absolutely pummelling and the band sound as vital now as they might have ten years ago.

We spoke with 2/3 of Die! Die! Die! around the release of their new EP, which you can read here and here.

Dinosaur Pile-Up – Thrash Metal Cassette
(Celebrity Mansions)

Dinosaur Pile-Up sure know how to write a raging lead single don’t they? A few year’s back they did it via the crushing ‘11:11‘ for the album (get this) ‘Eleven Eleven‘ and in 2019 they’ve once again knocked it out of the park with ‘Celebrity Mansions‘ lead single ‘Thrash Metal Cassette‘. Bigland and co. give a nod to their thrash heroes in throat-shredding fashion whilst still sticking to the DPU hallmarks of a dynamite singalong chorus.

Baxter Dury – Slumlord
(The Night Chancers)

Very much a continuation of the sounds heard on last album ‘Prince of Tears‘ (a firm favourite following its 2017 release), Dury thrives in his character based showboating, bigging ones self up with a horrid, dingy undercurrent. As ever, the female vocal is the key here and sounds splendid in contrast to the crumbling bravado of Baxter.

Field Music – Money Is A Memory
(Making A New World)

From the album ‘Making A New World’ due out in early January – one which evolved from two very special live performances at Imperial War Museum’s Salford and London – ‘Money Is A Memory‘ is a funky romp that tells the tale of an office worker in the German Treasury working on the final instalment of reparation debts made in 2010, some 91 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed… The brothers Brewis strike gold once again.

Flat Worms – Into The Iris
(Into The Iris)

Fuzz attack from California trio Flat Worms – That deadpan vocal still tickles our fancy and the raging closing stretch is perfect. What else would you expect from these three?

The Futureheads – Electric Shock
(Powers)

A favourite band returned in 2019, recharged and revitalised following a hiatus. A new album followed and was everything we’d hoped for, with ‘Electric Shock‘ being a delight tucked into the middle of the record. I’m a huge Barry Hyde fan and his vocal performance here is superb – filled with such emotion (for what was apparently a mishap in the kitchen!) The shouts of bassist Jaff and guitarist Ross in the chorus get the hairs standing to attention every time it’s played. Rager!

We had the pleasure of interviewing The Futureheads after all these years away – read that here.

Gauche – Flash
(A People’s History of Gauche)

Genius move from Gauche – combining my favourite aspects from two great post-punk bands (Daniele Yandel of Priests and Mary Jane Regalado of Downtown Boys) and forming a DC supergroup of sorts. In ‘Flash‘ we have a really vibrant, groovy dance-a-thon with arse-shaking in mind.

Girl Band – Shoulderblades
(The Talkies)

I remember hearing this for the first time and being completely stuck to the spot for its six minute duration. I then had it on whilst I was cycling and was so hypnotised I’m surprised I didn’t come off… An incredibly energising yet unsettling piece of music from Irish noise outfit Girl Band.

Grotbags – Big Baby
(Grotbags)

From the best Manchester boy band (with a female member), ‘Big Baby‘ tells the tale of a black pudding eating, triple-XL sized infant and is absolutely hilarious. The only issue is that i’ve lisened to it so much that it’s almost gone past the point of ‘hahaha, this is dead funny, this‘ to unconsciously singing it during the day. The new album is a peach and is already my favourite album of 2020.

Guest Singer – New Experience
(I’m Irrelevant Now)

Guest Singer a.k.a. Jake Cope really reminds me of Alex Cameron. Not so much in appearance or the Aussie’s treading the ‘is this a piss-take?’ line, more-so in producing moody 80’s sounding synth-pop ragers that sound timeless. ‘New Experience‘ was the debut Guest Singer single released at the start of the year and was very much a hit the ground running moment for Jake and co.

Guest Singer answered a host of daft questions for us as part of our a/s/l feature – Get your chops round that here!

The Hecks – Flash
(My Star)

More 80’s vibes from Chicago outfit The Hecks, a band whose new album ‘My Star‘ has wormed its way into one of our favourites released this year. At the time of first hearing them, we described The Hecks sound as “quirky pop in an accessible, ludicrously catchy way similar to the likes of Flasher and Trouble In Mind alumni OMNI. Listen to the closing stretch of ‘Flash‘ – A stroke of throwback, prog-y genius.

International Teachers of Pop – I Stole Yer Plimsoles

Featuring the great Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods, ‘I Stole Yer Plimsoles‘ is the latest arse-shaker from International Teachers of Pop, following the release of their debut album earlier this year. A massive pop tune, it sounds like the sort of thing you might have heard on the radio between the likes of ‘I’m Horny‘ or something from Madison Avenue back in the day.

ITOP Button-presser and knob-twitcher Adrian Flanagan talked us through his 2019 musical highlights as part of our What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod feature – Check out his picks here.

Julia Jacklin – Pressure To Party
(Crushing)

Australian artist Julia Jacklin captured my heart earlier this year with the release of the wonderful ‘Pressure To Party‘ and the album that followed is a delight. Joyous instrumentation contrasts an almost cracking vocal as she sings of things one might be forced to do post-break up.

KAPUTT – Accordion
(Carnage Hall)

In our End of Year ‘What’s on Michael Portillo’s iPod‘ feature, Freddy of Leeds noise outfit THANK mentioned David Byrne when talking about Glaswegian outfit KAPUTT and I’ve not been able to shift it when listening to them. “FORWARD, FORWARD, I’m always looking FORWARD” sounds like something you might’ve heard during any Talking Heads period. ‘Accordion‘ is a banging little post-punk number from their debut on tastemaking label Upset The Rhythm.

For those sorts who don’t read, you can listen to all of the above (and the forthcoming PART TWO) in our handy Spotify playlist here!

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod – End of Year: Deliluh

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make.

In 2019 we’ve had all sorts talk to us about inspirations, including the likes of International Teachers Of Pop, Working Men’s Club, WARMDUSCHER and Die! Die! Die!

With the year coming to a close, we’ve decided to turn it on its head a bit and ask some of our favourite artists what releases from this year they’ve been raving about. With that in mind, we’re chuffed to have Kyle Knapp of Toronto outfit Deliluh talk us through their favourite releases from the past 12 months.

(Photo Credit: Jean-Adrien Morandeau)

Hélène Barbier’s album Have You Met Elliott?
(Emotional Response/Caballito Records)

“This one’s been on repeat for me since we played with Hélène this summer. She’s previously collaborated in notable Montréal bands PHERN and Moss Lime. Her solo debut nods to some of the styles of those groups, but with a more direct edge. The vocal and guitar hooks of every song interact in a natural and provocative way. Wicked songwriting/stacked album.

Flore Laurentienne’s album Volume 1
(Costume Records)

Another great record from Montréal. Dramatic string arrangements and vintage synths culminate into a super satisfying and cinematic play through. Not sure on much of the backstory, which sort of adds to the appeal for me at this point. Listening in full feels like watching an old film, full of tension/release and completely different moods. And when the ‘Fleuve’ theme returns, it’s one of the best bookends I’ve heard in a long time.”

Cares’ album Control Isn’t Real
(Collusion/Euphonic Recordings)

“Insanely talented electronic act from Toronto. Seeing Cares perform at Electric Eclectics Festival in 2018 is still one of the heaviest sets I’ve witnessed in years, and the album that dropped last month rips. Violence contrasts with the serene to make for very dark dives. Definitely worth keeping an eye out, he’s one of the more dangerous artists in the field.

Lungbutter’s album Honey
(Constellation)

This band cranked out some amazing EPs a number of years ago, and then fell off the map. I never got to see them live (still haven’t), but we’d frequently play them in our van touring through Canada. It’s great to hear them come back with such a mature sound, without sacrificing the grit. The first 5 seconds of ‘Flat White’ made it an instant classic off the jump for me – unreal guitar tone. Nice to see Constellation Records dropping something this dirty too.”

NTS: Time Is Away – W.G. Sebald: Austerlitz In Marienbad

Maybe the most inspiring thing I listened to all year (thanks Jude), so tossing it in here even if it’s not technically an album. W.G. Sebald reads from his novel Austerlitz, accompanied by a selection of minimal arrangements and musical excerpts. Sebald’s voice is deep and rich, and the clarinet piece by Blue Lake counterpoints as a returning motif, luring the listener back into the character’s charming disposition before falling into unease. Sebald died two weeks after the reading – so beautiful to hear this document within a musical context.

Also, Time Is Away is definitely a program worth checking out. We listened to it a bunch on the road this fall.”

Beneath The Floors – the stunning new Deliluh album – is out now through Tin Angel Records! Read our review here!

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Album Review: Deliluh – Beneath The Floors

Toronto band Deliluh pile subtlety onto restraint onto understatement to make a sprawling, excessive heap made entirely of minimalist gestures, like a huge mound of small bits of sea glass. Kyle Knapp’s clean guitar and mostly spoken vocals are the band’s sound. With both instrument and voice, he favours a very simple no frills and highly repetitive style. As a lyricist, on the other hand, he is highly complex and abstract, the songs often an avalanche of words falling too fast to catch them all and intoned with little affect to provide any further point of purchase. The sound is different but the effect is similar to Bristol’s Repo Man. Sometimes his vocals are duplicated, lots of Knapps talking to each other or repeating the same point; again, minimalism compounded until it becomes glorious excess.

Alongside Knapp’s voice and guitar, other sounds fade in and out. There’s typical rock instrumentation like drums and bass, played, like the guitar, simple, clean, and repetitive, as well as the occasional piano, broken and noisy distorted guitar, and what might be synthesizers or found sounds. The repetitive and spare guitar, bass, and drums all work well with the other more sprawling and stranger elements, in that each sets the listener’s ear up to better appreciate the other.

One of my favourite parts of the record is the track ‘Master Keys‘, when the band vamps for a long time on a simple – again, clean, spare – riff that’s mostly guitar and bass, with a bit of pretty synths. This goes on at length as recordings of conversations fade in, unintelligible but familiar – quiet hubbub like the company of strangers in a diner, hushed voices in a library, a stranger walking by talking and laughing into her phone.

It reminded me of Jawbreaker’sCondition Oakland’, where a recording of Jack Kerouac’s voice and Steve Allen’s piano undulate among the band’s music. That recording, however, was one group of artists appreciating other artists, while on ‘Master Keys’ Deliluh sound to me like artists elevating ordinary life to their level, like documentary photography. Those conversational recordings alongside the music were pretty on their own and I took them as an invitation to think about how the sounds all around us can be enjoyable if we think of them that way. Art is in some respects training in aesthetic perception, and we can to some extent apply that perception to objects that are ostensibly not art.

Another standout track is ‘Falcon Scott Trail’, a moody and jittery instrumental that mixes tape manipulation with a mournful-yet-threatening saxophone that would be at home on the last Sly & the Family Drone record (Sly and Deliluh should absolutely tour together. Someone make that happen, I insist; I deserve this.) That song turns over into another instrumental, ‘Con Art Inc’, a similarly uneasy sax writhing atop undulating post-punk bass and drums, with stranger and harsher noises – scraping, reverbed feedback, what sound like animal calls – and tape manipulation.

It’s tempting to call Deliluh art rock – it’s definitely art – but there’s not a lot of rock here, nor is there much pop. There are some energetic parts and some hooks, but mostly there is a lot of repetition and atmosphere. That’s not a criticism. The music reminded me of bleak landscape photography of Midwestern winters. There’s a lot of space to stretch out and in one light all that openness and emptiness is captivating, while in another it’s oppressive.

In the sampling and tape manipulation, Deliluh reminded me a little of Burial. Though they’re playing in very different genres, both artists make sounds that are cold and distant and pair them with sounds that are warm and human. There are unsettling, uneasy parts, and there is a sense of people being together. Maybe it’s no accident that Deliluh recorded this record and an earlier release at a veteran’s hall – I believe in England they’re called working men’s clubs? – a place people go to be with other people, to shelter from literal and metaphorical cold.

In some ways Deliluh is like Leeds art punks Drahla (Add them to that tour with Sly and the Family Drone. Someone needs to get on this right now. Is someone taking notes?) Both bands make music with a strong artistic vision, but Drahla have a confrontational coldness, while Deliluh play music with the warmth of a Weakerthans or John K. Samson record, though far more arty and sonically interesting. ‘Beneath the Floors’ is a record to sit with many times, to take in and mull over. It’s very good, you should go listen to it.

(Photo Credit: Colin Medley)

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