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Presenters’ Picks – 2019

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite albums and tracks of the year …

Alan Johnson

Album: Becky Hill – Get To Know

There’s plenty on this album for lovers of dance music, which isn’t surprising when it’s largely a compilation of previously released collaborations with some of the biggest names in the business – such as Sigala, Oliver Heldens, Jonas Blue and MK. There were some new tracks too, hopefully giving a taster of much more to come.

Track: Gorgon City & MK – There For You

The opening drum beats grabbed me the first time I heard them – and with the rest of the song’s familiar house structure there was little chance of me not liking it!

Chay Appleyard

Album: Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Parts One and Two

Upon first listen I knew this was going to be the winner. The second part is great but I think the first one edges it for me. I think the two part album is a clever idea, having two separately releases for the same project six months apart. So many great tunes – I love fluency in albums!

I love the how thing to feel like an experience as opposed to a collection of songs. I feel as though a lot of work has gone into this. I think the albums up to this point by Foals have been brilliant but I think this project is what they’ve been coming to for the last 12/13 years.

Track: Fontaines DC – Boys In The Better Land

This was harder than I thought I’ve changed my mind a few times this year. I could’ve easily gone with Sigrid again with Don’t Feel Like Crying. My 12 year old inner child loved some of Busted’s recent output, (M.I.A and Nostalgia), Upto maybe six weeks ago I was gonna go with Hypersonic Missles by Sam Fender… until I turned to my other half and said “Do you know what, honey? I’m going to invest in some Irish Punk”.

This led to me buying albums from The Murder Capital and Fontaines DC. The latter particularly led me to rest my case in this silly notion that “guitar music is dead” is just pure nonsense. It’s funny, full of character, great lyrics, jangly guitars, powerful! It’s been the song in my head for the best part of the last two months – punk perfection with pop elements!

Chris Stagg

Album: Rammstein – untitled

Rammstein exploded into 2019 with their first new album in 10 years. A powerful reminder of why they are the best in the World at what they do; unapologetic industrial metal with equal measures of controversy and dark humour, they continue to do what they always have; make music exactly the way they want to.

In this album you may find slightly more electronica, as if S&M keys player Flaké has been let off his leash (figuratively and literally!) Every track on the album is a gem in its own right, but for me the biggest stars are the heart-breaking Puppe, East German rebellion number Radio, Euro dance Ausländer and Epic opener Deutschland. A track that laments the pain of loving a country that has such a dark history.

Rammstein are a band who have never put out a poor album and 2019’s offering is easily in their top 3 along with Sehnsucht and Mutter. Powerful, beautiful, funny and thought-provoking; Rammstein are back with the biggest of bangs … oh ja!

Track: Ghost – Kiss the Go-Goat

A special track from this year’s EP Seven Inches of Satanic Panic, Kiss the Go-Goat is a supposed re-release of a 1969 track found in the bowels of the Ghost archives. The music video explains the story, where Patriarch Papa Nihil, remembers performing the song at the Whiskey A-Go-Go at the end of the 60s.

We are then transferred back to the performance with Tobias Forge playing a youthful version of the crumbling Papa. What follows is a performance that looks, sounds and feels authentic of the time and is testament to Forges creative genius. Aesthetics aside, Kiss the Go-Goat is a structurally intelligent heavy rock track that showcases musicianship at its best, so catchy that you will be singing along to a song that glorifies allegiance to the Devil in a way that only Ghost can. Another masterpiece from the darlings of pop metal Satanism!

Daren Mootoo

Album: Ed Sheeran – No.6 Collaborations Project

I love the concept of Ed setting up him in a Nashville studio and – Dick Turpin-like – accosting any artist passing by to come and record with him.

I much prefer Ed’s recordings to his live performances, where he seems to me like a profusely sweating street busker who’s had far too much coffee!

Track: Ed Sheeran feat Stormzy – Take Me Back To London

Great production and sparring between “Ted” and Stormzy. I love the lyrics contrasting the street life of Stormzy with Sheeran talking about having crisps with his pint!

Jon Good

Album: Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra (Her-o) – Chilled Classics

As I’m not a huge fan of today’s modern music, I like to see my generation bringing out the tradition Christmas albums. This not only brings back old songs, but chills them out a bit and with added strings making them beautiful to relax to.

Track: Soulecta – Not Like That

This has to be one of the best songs I’ve heard not just this year but ever. It features local artist Leanne Louise. I was always a huge garage fan, so to hear it again 20 years after my garage days pleases me.

Matt Horton

Album: Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles

BRITs Critics’ Choice Award winner Sam Fender and his number 1 debut album Hypersonic Missiles is certainly my album of the year. The North Shields based singer-songwriter touches upon topical and important subjects like suicide, domestic violence and the importance partying, making this album a must listen for 2019. Sam’s haunting vocals and clever lyrics, sprinkled amongst dazzling saxophones and classic guitars have seen many draw comparisons between Sam and Bruce Springsteen. Unlike Springsteen however, Sam Fender has produced not only the album of 2019, but possibly one of the best albums of the decade.

Track: The 1975 feat Greta Thunberg – The 1975

Sometimes a great song isn’t great because of its catchy chorus or ability to make you dance, but is sometimes great because of the message it conveys and the context in which it’s released. The 1975 have never been afraid to speak out about social injustice and key issues in the world, with this track being no different. The 4 minute and 55 second track features an essay read by 16 year old climate activist Greta Thunberg herself, soundtracked by a delicate and beautifully produced instrumental from the band. Greta speaks passionately on the global climate and ecological crisis we face and how we all must immediately act to prevent further and irreversible damage to our planet. Although it may not be the greatest singalong or biggest selling track of the year, the take home message of The 1975 is clear and unquestionable – “Everything needs to change … it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel”.

Nadia Harding

Album: Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka is one of my favourite male artists and his first two albums established him as a folksy soul man. Within his latest album he manages to add a modern twist to these genres whilst also still keeping a retro sound to his music. It’s a very unique album and his music has a timeless quality, the perfect soundtrack for chilling on a Sunday afternoon.

Track: Lizzo – Juice

Her music can only be described as ‘self love anthems.’ Lizzo as an artist that empowers fans to be proud of who they are unapologetically. This track does just that and its a lot of fun!

Nigel Fitzmaurice

Album: Simply Red – Blue Eyed Soul

A great album as I love blue eyed soul!

Track: Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now

Very catchy, infectious and a great dance tune.

Steve Robertson

Album: Elbow – Giants Of All Sizes

A downbeat commentary on modern day Britain. Guy Garvey’s vocals work well with this style and the album’s release in late October makes me think this album will stand the test of time.

Track: Spoon – No Bullets Spent

The band released their greatest hits album this year, ‘dropping’ this track as the one new song for a bonus. Another great track from a very underrated band, this Britt Daniel-written song is very much of the time as his comment on gun control.

Stewart Pink

Album: High/Low – Down The Wave

Let’s be honest, most albums come with a heavyweight lead single and a few half decent supporting tracks to prop it up. High/Low’s third studio album, Down The Wave, isn’t one of those. It’s the sort of rock out you can rely on to get the air guitar juices flowing and keep you bopping along at a safe distance from the “skip” button.

Every track has a catchy, fuzzy riff, a hook that’ll stick in your head for weeks and a solo that always seems to hit just the right notes. The only thing that I didn’t enjoy about this album was deciding which song to play on The As Yet Untitled Rock Show next!

Track: Vix20 – Hashtag Change

Whoever you are, whatever your beliefs, we can all agree that 2019’s news bulletins have been a never ending box set of political drama! This year it all kicked off in every sense of the phrase and Vix20’s Hashtag Change provided the perfect soundtrack for all of it.

Complete with Donald Trump voiceover, this tongue-in-cheek power-pop/rock anthem gives us a chance to reflect on the ridiculousness of it all, inspiring a punchy, guitar driven revolution where a sense of humour prevails over whatever life and world leaders throw at us!

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