Albums of The Year 2019 – XS Noize Top 20

Albums of The Year 2019 – XS Noize Top 20

2019 has been an incredible year for music, with releases from legendary artist’s including The Who, Northern Ireland’s very own Snow Patrol and Liam Gallagher. But it’s not all been about the Legends making a comeback to close out the decade. From the eccentric to the brash, the underdog’s to the future stars, 2019 was a musical elixir giving you the vitality needed to really take on 2020.

The list compiled by the Editorial Staff of ranking in descending order will take you down the rabbit hole and let you explore the sounds of 2019, but only one can take the #1 spot. Voted for and agreed upon by our staff.


20. Status Quo – Backbone

“2019’s Release from Status Quo has divided the band’s legion of fans. The first new music since the death of founding member Rick Parfitt in 2016, Backbone marks out a new era for a band that’s already had its fair share of eras.

Whether it should or shouldn’t have been released under the name of Status Quo, or recorded at all for that matter, is an argument that can be played out elsewhere – we’re not getting into it here.” – Daniel Lynch

19. The Who – WHO

“Who is the first LP The Who has released in thirteen years. Sounds like a long time? However, waiting is nothing new for The Who fans. Fans had to wait twenty-four years between their 1982 LP, Its Hard, and their 2006 LP, Endless Wire.

Whilst Pete Townsend has said that his former, now deceased bandmates Keith Moon and John Entwistle were “f**king difficult to play with”; Pete also said that “The alchemy we used to share in the studio is missing from the new album, and it always feels wrong to try to summon it up without them.” With “no theme, no concept, no story”; the analysed results of Who are bound to be interesting.” – Michael Barron

18. Toy – Happy in the Hollow

“To critics of the London band Toy (including myself) a few songs aside, there has often been something about their music that’s never quite clicked into place.

However, after a four-year absence, the group’s fourth album Happy In The Hollow presents a reinvigorated unit who have finally come into their own.” – Ben P Scott

17. The Chemical Brothers – No Geography

“While many of the great Britpop and alternative bands of the 90s have been pulling off brilliant comebacks recently, the era’s dance and electronica legends have also seen a definite resurgence lately.

Last year saw ‘No Geography’, a hugely melodic affair full of the most memorable hooks Tom and Ed have produced in over two decades.”  – Ben P Scott

16. Coldplay – Everyday Life

“Clocking in at a shade under 53 minutes, the eighth studio album from Coldplay subverts expectations of typical double album excess and marks a sharp left turn for a band who have again embraced their experimental streak, merely hinted at on 2017’s Kaleidoscope EP.

For much of the previous decade, they wholly embraced pop music amidst collaborations with the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé” – Gareth O’Malley

15.Maps – Color.Reflect.Time.Loss

“Three years in the making, ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ is illuminated by the richness of life experience. It is an album he could only have made now and one that represents a creative reinvention for Maps. 

‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ is an ambitious album that sees the bedroom producer step out of the bedroom with his most collaborative project to date, including work with classical ensemble The Echo Collective, percussionists and guest vocalists from across the world.” – Amanda Stock

14. Lydia Ainsworth – Phantom Forest

“Phantom Forest” is an exquisite listen. Lydia Ainsworth has created another album that successfully merges classical and electronica in her own inventive and distinctive style, seamlessly blending strings with synths whilst at the centre of it all, that one additional instrument – her dazzling voice.” – Amanda Stock 

13. Cigarettes After Sex – Cry

“Cry” is a compact, near-on perfect collection at just nine songs and whilst the album doesn’t mark a massive change in sound or direction from its predecessor – Gonzalez always makes it so much more to listen to. 

“Cry” is a slow, sonic catharsis on sex and romance, of love and lust. The reward comes with repeated listens as each song stands up on its own merits – haunting and hypnotic.” – Amanda Stock

12. King Nun – Mass

“Mass is undeniably an album for the youth, but it can also be appreciated by elders, providing them with an opportunity to connect with the way the youth interacts with music and their experiences which leads to the lyrical and musical interpretations of King Nun.

Despite many of the songs lasting less than three mins and none of the songs exceeding four minutes. No time is wasted. So much is covered and explored across eleven tracks.” – Michael Barron

11. Idlewild – Interview Music

“Idlewild allow themselves to venture into new territory on Interview Music. They have not mellowed, they have evolved and demonstrated that they can both galvanise and captivate with pianos and organs just as much as they can with the guitar.  

Idlewild has worked out how to blow people’s minds with non-mainstream ideas and sounds and yet consistently keep Interview Music as a record that is instantly accessible and never uncomfortable or over challenging. As well as doing all this; Idlewild also pay homage to the earlier rawer and gruffly sound seen particularly on 100 Broken Windows” – Michael Barron

10. Thom Yorke – Anima

“Anima” continues Yorke’s alluring draw as he attempts to deliver Electronica with social awareness. It is always interesting to hear Yorke front and centre without the ability to enmesh himself into the woodwork of Radiohead; which allows him to unbridle his Electronica proclivities. 

“Anima” reveals his current obsessions and musical investigations which are informed by his day job but in no way imitate or look to copy those efforts. The latest album gets better with each listen revealing more of it lyrically and sonic brilliance. Ultimately “Anima” takes the listener through their emotional paces, Jung would be so proud. Thom Yorke with “Anima” may very well have created one of the top Alternative listens of the 2019 summer.

9. The Japanese House – Good at Falling

” “Good At Falling” is an excellent debut – Bain has an ability to create labyrinth melodies with lush dream pop and brooding electronica.

She may have gone through a tumultuous journey with the making of this album but the process has strengthened her songwriting talent and the result is an album that draws from Bain’s life more than ever before – its honest, personal, vulnerable and absolutely gorgeous.” – Amanda Stock

8. Snow Patrol – Reworked

“These 16 inspiring, tracks allow Snow Patrol to embrace the past. Reworked is a chance for the band to show any fan old or new their history, their legacy and give us a brief look of what is yet to come.” – Helen Russell

7. Bastille – Doom Days

“In their third studio album, ‘Doom Days’, Bastille creates “an apocalyptic party album”, which captures and reflects upon the turbulent political atmosphere of the last three years.

Unlike its predecessor, ‘Doom Days’ is not concerned with the world at large; this time, there are no tracks dedicated to analysing the death penalty, or shout-outs to Tim Peake. Instead, Bastille is looking at themselves—at the regular people—and the feelings of powerlessness that many of us experience” – Phoebe Hedges

6. Liam Gallagher – Why Me?, Why Not.

“Certain critics will no doubt complain about the non-complexity of the lyrics and the lack of originality, but for what it is and based on its own merits, this is top class indie rock n roll. And in many ways, it’s Liam personified.

A triumph. The resurrection continues in a confounding fashion.” – Ben P Scott

5. The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All The Time

“The Twilight Sad continues to be their own unique entity, adding to their potential as they draw from their varied recent musical experiences.

The results are evident on It Won/t Be Like This All The Time it is their strongest effort to date, proving they have come a long way from the ear-bleeding loudness that sometimes obscured their genius on their early albums.” – Lori Gava

4. Kitt Phillipa – Human

“This is an album filled with rich string’s and dramatic rises and falls, it’s the type of album that fit’s a smokey blues club, and the Royal Albert hall, one that would provoke silence from the crowd throughout, it’s one that would leave you in deep thought throughout and let you take from it what you need to.

It’s not an album for a car-ride, nor background noise while you work, it’s comparable to a great literary work, it deserves your undivided attention, for you to take a seat and put those headphones on and lose yourself in their world for its runtime, let yourself be taken by the hand and guided through Kitts mind, their thoughts and feelings and maybe let yours out too” – Conor Kinahan

3. Elbow – Giant’s of all Sizes

“Giants of all Sizes is proof that after eight LP’s and the loss of a long-standing key member of their band that Elbow is still able to innovate, draw the best of their established sound without falling into the trap of reinventing the wheel or plagiarising the sound of their last LP” – Michael Barron

2. Hozier – Wasteland Baby!

1. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

“Dogrel has seldom any experimentation to it. The production is basic as if it is an intimate live recording. From the outset, Dogrel is an indie-punk album telling the collective experiences of the five members of Fontaines D.C. living and bonding together. Bassist Conor Deegan III had a point in saying that “Through each other (Fontaines D.C.), we found ourselves a lot quicker”.

Through Dogrel, Fontaines D.C. also re-introduces Dublin and Ireland, not just to the Irish, but to an international audience.  Chatten once said, “I’m going to try and do this and if I fail, fuck it, I’ll work in the factory in Monaghan for the rest of my life, but I have to try it.” From the outset, the collective passion is consistent and unwavering.” – Michael Barron


Xsnoize Author
Conor Kinahan 32 Articles
With a camera in his hand from an early age and a veteran photo journalist in the UK and Irish music scene, Conor is the senior photographer for XS Noize.

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