Ich lass mich in den Äther saugen | The Best Records of 2019

41 mins read

Als wir das letzte Jahrzehnt mit einem Dekaden-Rückblick abgeschlossen haben, wurde 2019 bewusst ausgelassen. Hier dafür eine ausführliche Liste der besten und interessantesten Alben aus 2019. Wie gehabt quer durch alle Genres, von Liturgy bis Legendary Pink Dots, von Chemical Brothers bis Vienna Rest In Peace.

Cover artwork done by the extremely talented Lin W. | IG: @rabiapasteup

Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild (Sacred Bones, 2019)

Two years after the phenomenal World Eater (Sacred Bones, 2017), Benjamin John Power, aka Blanck Mass delivered another album of fierce, pounding electronic music that could be filed somewhere under the umbrella of Deconstructed Club. It uses elements of Metal, and Noise/Industrial music, but not without some strong Pop sensibilities.
Animated Violence Mild is a very dense and captivating album, that will immediately grab your attention and not let go of it during its 43-minute run time. There are many quite catchy tunes on this album, and among all the distorted sounds, some melody always remains. Even the more abrasive songs, like the second track, “House vs. House”, feature some beautiful, uplifting melodies. The song slowly builds up from distorted cacophony, to an epic climax with a quite uplifting, trancey synth and chopped up vocal samples. Overall, the album feels warmer, more uplifting and less aggressive than its predecessor, but keeps the intensity and the unique, epic distorted sound which have become a trademark for Blanck Mass. Fans of harder styles of electronic music should not miss out on this gem! – Benji

The Chemical Brothers – No Geography (Virgin EMI, 2019)

The Manchester duo came back this year with a bang, as they took a refreshing turn towards some of the old „tricks“ that made them memorable in the first place. This time around, they deliver a very consistent album with an assortment of tracks, ranging from trippy ones like the entry track „Eve of Destruction“ or „Gravity Drops“, to old-school dance gems like „Bango“. Catchy beats, well-developed vocal collaborations and impeccable sampling straight from the 60’s and 70’s protest music scene make for a highly enjoyable record like the Chem Bros hadn’t presented in a while and one that hopefully will interest new generations of listeners into the wider arrange that their full work consists of. – Reg

clipping. – There Existed an Addiction to Blood

With their latest release, experimental Hip Hop project clipping. manage to pump fresh blood into the rotten veins that is Horrorcore. While peaking with Gravediggaz Six Feet Deep (Gee Street, 1994), Addiction to Blood arguably paints a very different but just as outstanding picture to add to the rather small haunted gallery of the most spooky Hip Hop subgenre. And it is not a pleasant one. Gone are the tongue-in-cheek-tales of cannibals and atrocities of the 90s scene. Stories of gritty, urban horror supported by 80s inspired Synth beats haunt every corner, every dark corridor with it’s flickering lights hides an all-to-real cop-murder-spree or gang violence narrations. A new genre benchmark. – Gaps

The Comet Is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (Impulse!, 2019)

One of the most stimulating records of the year emerged, unsurprisingly enough, from the Jazz scene. Trust in the Lifeforce is an amazing trip through synthetic landscapes that evoke faraway lands from another dimension or perhaps from a dystopian future on a yet-to-come Earth. The scarce bits of spoken word help to elevate the already absorbing instrumentation of the record, consisting of an amicable scuffle between the wind section and the percussion, accentuated in turn by the synth work. Generally speaking, this is an album that appeals to the imagination of the listener as if it were focused on the crafting of an individual experience that can’t possibly be shared through words, and that alone encouraged us to love it from the first listen. – Reg

Danny Brown – uknowhatimsayin¿ (Warp, 2019)

After putting out a classic such as Atrocity Exhibition (Warp, 2016), many were skeptic as to how likely was Danny Brown of charming us with brand new material. Well, this record proved we needn’t worry, as it displayed a myriad of humorous and ironic storytelling, all while accurately describing the urban landscapes and the odd encounters that can be experienced in this peculiar setting. Accompanying Danny’s already characteristic voice were a series of western-ish, old-school beats, as well as a couple of features with some of the best rappers out in the current game, delivering an album with as much personality as the author himself  – Reg

Dream Theater – Distance Over Time (InsideOut, 2019)

Es ist unglaublich, welche Kreativität manche Künstler*innen nach Jahrzehnten des Musikschreibens immer noch aufbringen können. Nach dem eher sanfteren Sci-Fi-Opus The Astonishing (Roadrunner, 2016) haben sich die Musiker von Dream Theater gemeinsam in ein Haus zurückgezogen und innerhalb von 18 Tagen ein Album geschrieben, das ihre letzten Platten der 2010er Jahre weit in den Schatten stellt (obwohl das wirklich gute Scheiben waren).

Distance Over Time wartet wieder mit mehr Härte auf und klingt deutlich frischer. Im Vergleich zu den vorigen Alben hat sich der Stil der fünf New Yorker stärker weiterentwickelt, sie wagen mehr Neues und vergessen trotzdem nicht was ihre Musik eigentlich ausmacht. Überhaupt kommt die Platte um einiges eingängiger daher, ohne dabei die Progressivität zu verlieren, auch wenn sie sich mit den komplexen Instrumentalpassagen etwas zurückgehalten haben. Mit einer Länge von knapp unter einer Stunde (inklusive Bonus Track knapp drüber) ist das neue Album für Dream Theater-Verhältnisse kurz und knackig, von den Songs ist keiner über zehn Minuten lang.

Dream Theater haben mit Distance Over Time ein besonderes Glanzstück geschaffen, das sich vor allem modern anhört und sich definitiv immer noch mit den jungen Nachwuchstalenten des Progressive Metal messen kann. Und mal ehrlich: Ist das Cover-Artwork nicht geil? – Philip

Ellende – Lebensnehmer (AOP, 2019)

2011 startete L.G. das Soloprojekt Ellende und seit 2012 gibts das Ganze auch mit Liveband. Das dritte Album der Grazer Band hat definitiv den hohen Erwartungen standgehalten. Nach dem exzellenten Vorgänger kam dieses Jahr Lebensnehmer (man beachte die Wortverwandtschaft mit Todbringer (Talheim, 2016)).
Die schroffe und düstere Natur der österreichischen Alpen, die eisigen Winde und die dort zu findende absolute Einsamkeit sind (gefühlsmäßig) Hauptthemen des Albums. Wieder einmal schaffte es L.G., melancholische Musik zu produzieren, ohne dabei in Selbstmitleid zu versinken.
Die Mischung aus akustischen Tracks und dann wieder starken Lyrics macht die ganze Platte zu einem Erlebnis, bei dem es einem kalt den Rücken runter läuft. In „Liebkosung des Eiswinds“ scheint man auf einem vereisten Gipfel zu stehen und in die langsam anbrechende Nacht zu schauen, während einem die Kälte den Atem stocken lässt und während das darauffolgende „Du wärst eine schöne Leiche“ einen am Boden zerstört.
Ein wunderschönes und gleichzeitig herzzerreißendes Album.

Fågelle – Helvetesdagar (stream it on bandcamp!)

From the cold lands of Sweden comes a deeply personal and spacious record, proving once more that Pop and Noise don’t have to be on opposite extremes of the spectrum to be successful and interesting. Klara Andersson’s debut manages to convey such a wide arrange of emotions that it’s difficult to be unmoved by it. Her sincere lyrics are suitably accompanied by string lines and noise arrays that act as the perfect contrast, adding depth to the performance and creating a richer atmosphere, the kind that can only be achieved through a lack of fear of experimentation. All in all, this is a record that speaks promisingly of what is yet to come for the Swedish composer. – Reg

FKA twigs – Magdalene (Young Turks, 2019)

Expanding on some of the boldest aspects of LP1 (Young Turks, 2014), FKA graced us this year with a beautiful and thoughtful record of Art and Glitch Pop that felt introspective and close, without lacking at all in the production department –if anything, it displays perhaps one of the more pristine ones of the year. While listening to it, it’s inevitable to be reminded Kate Bush, Björk, PJ Harvey and some other members of Pop royalty. However, it doesn’t feel like a rehash by any means, due to how creative and put-together the final product is; beautiful and unexpected elements come up here and there, with some strings and winds accompanying the more electronic work, all of it topped by one of the best voices in the current Pop scene. The combination of all these elements results in nothing less than one of the most memorable records of the year, as well as yet another triumph for the British artist.  – Reg

Giant Swan – Giant Swan (get it on bandcamp!)

Giant Swan’s self-titled debut album shows the duo incorporating their vocals into their harsh Industrial Techno sound, something they have been doing at their live performances for a while now. Throughout the album you can hear stuttering machine gun voices, heavily reverbed synth-pad-like vocals, short yells, and even something resembling liturgical chants. Besides the banging Techno tracks you would typically expect from the duo, there are also experiments with a more Post-Industrial/Dark Ambient oriented sound, often lacking a driving Techno drum beat. Overall, it’s a quite fun and unique take on Techno, recommended to everyone interested in harsher styles of electronic music. – Benji

Glass Beach – The First Glass Beach Album (stream it!)

Bevor auch nur eine Note erklingt, liefert The First Glass Beach Album schon ein Statement, alleine durch seine Betitelung. Ein Versprechen des Einflusses, den die Band erreichen und die zentrale Rolle, die ihr Erstlingswerk spielen wird. Glass Beach findet auf ihrem First Album ihren Sound, in dem sie ihre ungefilterte Kreativität durch eine wahnwitzige Mischung aus Einflüssen schleusen und mit einer zügellosen Intensität auf den Hörer schleudern. Power-Pop, Emo, Indie-Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Art-Rock, Video-Spiel-Music, Bedroom-Pop, Indietrontica, Pop-Punk, Ambient, usw. … verschmelzen hier zu einem einzigartigen Sound, der bis zum Bersten mit eingängigen Melodien gefüllt ist. Bereits der Opener „classic j dies and goes to hell part 1“ eröffnet mit einer Melodie, welche direkt das Leitmotiv eines Musicals sein könnte, bevor Glass Beach ein Pop-Punk Feuerwerk zünden und auf peitschenden Drums durch den Rest des Songs reiten. Das selbstbetitelte Herzstück des Albums „glass beach“ bietet eine der packendsten Emo-Hymnen der Dekade, in der Sänger*in J McClendon sein*ihr Herz schonungslos aufreißt und mit unvergleichlicher Intensität die Hörerschaft in die Katharsis schleudert. Das zarte „dallas“ gleitet elegant durch den Klangraum, bis es in einem Wirbel aus 8-Bit-artigen Synthesizern in neue Dimensionen befördert wird. In der einstündigen Laufzeit des Albums schaffen es Glass Beach nicht nur eine unglaubliche Vielzahl an Einflüssen zu einem organischen Ganzen zusammenkommen zu lassen und dabei ein musikalisches Highlight nach dem anderen zu produzieren, sondern sie eröffnen einen neuen Klangweg für die Emo-Bands der Zukunft. So zeigt nicht nur der Name des Albums, sondern auch die Musik einen frischen zukünftigen Klassiker. – Dani

Holly Herndon – PROTO (4AD, 2019)

Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence these days, and while it has been used to create music before, Holly Herndon was probably the first who collaborated with one, instead of just letting the intelligence do its thing. Her AI “baby” is called Spawn, and she taught it how to sing, with the help of various collaborators. The result is an electronic album that is rather hard to classify – there’s elements of Techno, Deconstructed Club, and Glitch, as well as Pop music, chorals, and traditional styles like sacred harp music. It is quite varied in style – for example, the opener, “Birth”, just features random utterings by Spawn – apparently its first words, which sound like a glitched vocal recording a vocoder or similar effect applied. “Birth” is followed by the more club-oriented “Alienation”, and then “Canaan”, one of the two tracks labelled as “live training”, where you can first hear a choir singing a traditional song for the AI. The whole album sounds quite ethereal, but also rather cold and synthetic, as well as a bit disorienting – thanks to the AI’s and others’ processed voices. Overall, it’s a quite interesting experiment that has very much succeeded, and I’ll be looking forward to what Herndon and her “Spawn” are going to do next. – Benji

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats‘ Nest (Flightless, 2019)

,,Only’’ releasing two records in 2019 (the other one being the Boogie Rock-fest Fishing For Fishies (Flightless, 2019)), the Australian Psy-Rockers finally fulfilled something that has been brewing for the longest time: Giving us a pure Metal record. While they were teasing hints and nods hidden in their 2017 release streak (the appropriately titled ,,Doom City’’ of FMT (ATO, 2017), the riff-heavier parts on the SciFi-Opera Murder of the Universe (Heavenly, 2017) or the grinding Doom Metal stomper ,,Great Chain of Being’’ of Gumboot Soup (Flightless, 2017)) with Infest The Rats’ Nest they go all out. Stu and crew deliver on of the finest Thrash Metal records of the year, that is not shy of giving explicit political statements and a much-needed wakeup-call. Because there is NO Planet B. – Gaps

Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Polydor / Interscope, 2019)

Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff’s latest collaboration results in the singer-songwriter’s most emotionally mature, beautiful and insightful record. The agency and self-awareness Lana displays on Norman Fucking Rockwell! is absolutely refreshing for longtime listeners. The vulnerability she displays in her lyrics feels incredibly honest and intimate. From the loving warmth emanating from moments like “Mariners Apartment Complex” to the title track’s self-aware, almost cynical humor (“You fucked me so good I almost said ‘I love you’” is a hilarious, yet poignantly familiar statement on a lot of levels), all accompanied by gorgeous, lavish instrumentation, NFR!’S emotional range makes it one of the year’s most compelling pop albums. – Kata

Lingua Ignota – Caligula (Profound Lore, 2019)

Lingua Ignota’s third studio release is a masterpiece of breathtaking beauty and relentless grief and violence. Kristin Hayter (the mastermind behind the project) employs all of her many artistic inspirations and interests, from death metal to baroque church music to Bulgarian polyphonic singing, to craft an epic of biblical proportions, centered on vengeance, survival and crushing loss. Her extremely expressive vocal performances on CALIGULA are by turns terrifying, awe-inducing and devastating. Thematically, the record is consistent with the survivor narrative Hayter had previously explored on All Bitches Die and Let The Evil of His Own Lips Cover Him (both self-released, 2017) – but here it’s given a much more expansive, multi-faceted approach. From the vitriolic threats and curses of “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR” and “MAY FAILURE BE YOUR NOOSE”, to the heartbreaking laments of “I AM THE BEAST” and “FRAGRANT IS MY MANY FLOWER’D CROWN” and the pure desperation of “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL”, everything on the record is colossal and completely emotionally devastating. Additionally, the accompanying instrumentation is stunning – whether it be just a bare piano, crashing industrial noise, or a rich, gorgeous symphonic string and horn arrangement. But what’s most important is the fact that Hayter’s work is extremely meaningful and necessary. Extreme music genres are undoubtedly over-saturated with male artists’ gratuitous power fantasies (that often include violence against women), which have over time been rendered completely empty and meaningless, practically reduced to shock value. Hayter’s survivor anthems completely flip that script, instead using extreme music to express her very real, horrifying lived experiences and the surrounding emotional fallout. Hopefully, this inspires a wider shift in the current noise paradigm and we’ll see more and more gripping, meaningful records and artists emerging from the scene in the years to come. – Kata

The Legendary Pink Dots – Angel in the Detail (Metropolis, 2019)

The Legendary Pink Dots are celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2020, and because they like to start the celebrations a bit early, their new album Angel In The Detail was already released in August 2019. The album shows them adopting a new sound again, deviating from the more abstract, spacey style they had developed in the 2010s in favour of a more structured and at times very Pop-oriented approach. Even ,,Red Flag“, with its 11 minutes runtime, feels very focused, with only a short experimental collage-y section in the middle.
The album is quite dark, but also very psychedelic, with some quite interesting sound design, as expected from this group. Quite a few of the song lyrics deal with the apocalypse, either directly or in a more subtle way, but the LPD-typical elements of humour remain. It’s great to see a band still exhibiting these levels of creativity after being around for so long, and I expect to hear more greatness from them in this new decade. – Benji

Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q. (YLYLCYN, 2019)

Liturgy’s latest epic cements them as one of the boldest and most innovative contributors in the construction of the American black metal identity. Fusing familiar genre tropes with glitching electronics, rich, symphonic instrumentation and foreboding choral vocals, the sheer size of the album’s sound is overwhelming. The complexity and layering of each movement of each track are infinitely rewarding. Despite its native genre’s general gloom, H.A.Q.Q. is anything but, it’s crescendos and climaxes reaching points of religious ecstasy and inspiring beauty. It’s an incredibly ambitious release, and its ambition very much pays off: it’s life-affirming fury makes it one of the year’s most interesting contributions to the metal genre. – Kata

Matmos – Plastic Anniversary (Thrill Jockey, 2019)

For those looking for a refreshing musical experience, this record is a must. Described by many as a complex, ASMR-like experience, Plastic Anniversary is the kind of album you might want to try when testing a new pair of headphones or that cool sound system you just got, considering the beauty and depth of its sounds, masterfully put together by this San Francisco duo with an already extensive career that certainly deserves way much more recognition. At times joyful, others bleaker, this futuristic painting takes us on a ride through a plasticised world in which disposable objects and materials rule sovereign and are also the main source for musical creation. Without a doubt, a record that will most likely never get old for the ears – Reg

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen (Bad Seed, 2019)

Despite the mixed reception that had both critics and fans disagreeing –not only between each other this time–, the latest Bad Seed’s record elicited an undeniably interesting experience; piano-centred and plagued with religious imagery and choirs, this record had Nick Cave at his most preachy and vulnerable, exploring in depth feelings such as loss and desperation, as well as toying with the implications of afterlife and the possibilities of healing seemingly untreatable wounds, all of it provided with a surprising amount of underlying optimism and tenderness.  In all its one-hour glory, the record feels heavy but only because of the amount of emotional commotion to which it subjects the listener, with tracks that build entire atmospheres around you and that call for a late-night introspective listen to unleash their full potential – Reg

Orville Peck – Pony (Sub Pop, 2019)

Galloping out of the depths of Toronto and sporting perhaps one of the most intriguing covers of the year, arrived Orville Peck’s debut, a deceivingly Country record with Post-Punk drumming and a voice that might as well belong to a sibling of Ian Curtis.  The overall atmosphere of Pony is one of indescribable longing for open spaces and midnight campfires, accentuated by gliding, Sleepwalk-ish guitars and the occasional, well-placed bit of reverb, additionally powered up by the suitable storytelling present in the lyrics, which compliments an aesthetic that feels oddly relatable –even for someone who hasn’t yet had the urge to become a cowboy.  If anything, this release managed to pike our interest in this midnight cowboy and whatever he might bring in the near future. – Reg

Paula Temple – Edge Of Everything (Noise Manifesto)

2019 has been a great year for Techno, with new releases by Giant Swan, SHXCXCHCXSH (aka HSXCHCXCXHS), Ansome, and many others. Edge Of Everything, the long overdue debut album by Berlin-based producer and DJ Paula Temple, shows a quite interesting take on the genre. The album mostly consists of rather melodic Industrial Techno with a strong Trance influence, featuring eerie synth pads, distorted basslines and heavy kicks. It’s dark and distorted, but not to the same degree as artists like Ansome or Orphx do it, and some of the pad sounds also have an almost ethereal, lush quality to them. A standout track is the closer, “Dimension Jumping”, which features a trippy, detuned synthesizer arpeggio that will send shivers down your spine. Overall, it’s another very fresh take on Techno, and I hope that Ms. Temple will bless us with more material in the near future. – Benji

Rammstein – [ohne Titel] (Universal, 2019)

Wir sind alle Ausländer. Who would have thought that Rammstein, after such a long break (and an overall lacklustre Liebe ist für alle da (Universal, 2009)), return with a record like their 2019 release. Rammstein being Rammstein and knowing how to create media buzz, the first single ,,Deutschland’’ with the larger-than-life-video, immediately brought them back into conversation and music press alike. But the untitled record is much more than stale controversy and repetitive Martial Pop: The German pyromaniacs expand their sound pallet with exciting Synth Rock-inspired keyboard parts and more daring riffs that leaves you wanting more. – Gaps

slowthai- Nothing Great About Britan (True Panther, 2019)

UK Hip Hop, being never as popular as the US counterpart, gave us some of the finest Rap records in recent memory: The StreetsOriginal Pirate Material (679, 2002), Dizzee Rascal’s Boy in da Corner (XL, 2003), M.I.A.’s Kala (Interscope, 2007), Kate Tempest’s excellent three record run, finally this year’s Not Waving, But Drowning (Virgin EMI, 2019). And then there’s Northamptoner slowthai, with the seminal Nothing Great About Britain. Disgustingly, fantastically British. One can basically observe cig smell and disappointment rising from the speakers, produced by a young and angry artist let down by his country. – Gaps

Swans – leaving meaning. (Young God Records, 2019)

The latest rebirth of Swans is their most mature, contemplative and meditative yet. Its flavor of post-rock is mellower, more approachable and more folk-infused than that of its’ preceding trilogy, but it’s no less engaging. Like its predecessors, leaving meaning. requires patience and attention for its sonic exploration of meaninglessness and nonexistence to be fully appreciated – but the result is extremely rewarding. It’s joyful nihilism and radical embrace of the imperfect and mundane is contagious. After immersing yourself in the cleansing experience of leaving meaning, you, too might be compelled to happily cease to exist. – Kata

Tyler, the Creator- Igor (Columbia, 2017)

For real, for real this time” (,,EARFQUAKE“): IGORTyler, The Creator

On IGOR, Tyler, The Creator´s 5th studio album he comes clean with everything: his feelings, opinions and thoughts. The album seems to be about relationships – falling in love (,,I THINK“), being in love (,,EARFQUAKE“), love ending (,,I DON´T LOVE YOU ANYMORE“) and a question to reassure oneself about the relationship´s status (,,ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?“).

Tyler, The Creator was always known to be homophobic and misogynistic. This attitude started to change with the release of SCUM FUCK FLOWER BOY (Columbia, 2017) – Tyler became more of a soft person. Now, when listening to IGOR, none of these opinions he was known for came out – for real, for real this time: It doesn’t matter who you love. – Anna H.

Weyes Blood- Titanic Rising (Sub Pop, 2019)

One of the most alluring and lavish pop records of the year, Titanic Rising offers a sort of anthropological examination of love and relationships in 2019 disguised as gorgeous, 70’s flavored Soft-Rock tunes. Weyes Blood (Natalie Mering) runs a fine-toothed comb through the attitudes, situations and stories around her to craft an inquisitive, yet warm and loving narrative about people navigating the strange landscape that is the search for genuine, meaningful connection in an increasingly isolating world. Mering playfully dares us to believe that true love just might be making a comeback. And who knows? In the world of Titanic Rising, she just might be right. – Kata

Xiu Xiu – Girl With Basket of Fruit (Polyvinyl, 2019)

Yet another accomplishment of Mr. Jamie Stewart and the crew, this heavily drum-oriented record is an explosion of sound and emotion. Containing one of the greatest bangers of the year („Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy“), this album feels confrontational from the first listen –reason for which it’s not surprising that it might take a couple of listens to warm up to. GWBF is a chaotic, almost panic-attack-like album that manages to deliver the emotionally charged performance for which Stewart is already known, without neglecting the danceable potential and the experimentation amidst the songs. Perhaps of a more repetitive nature, this record is still bound to keep you on your toes, waiting for the next blow until you reach the sweet relief of „Normal Lover“ and wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life – Reg

++ BONUS – EPs Of The Year ++

Ghost – Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic (Loma Vista, 2019)

Technically, Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic could be considered a single-release. However, since two tracks are presented on this blast from the past, we’ll let it slide. Despite being only two songs long, this is Ghost at their best. It’s just as cheesy, campy and catchy as you’d want your Post-Opus release to sound like, but takes the Queen-meets-Musical-pop sound explored on Prequelle down a notch. The result is a late-60s soundscape (stepping in line with harsher Beatles tunes, early Deep Purple and – surprise surprise – Blue Öyster), with just enough psychedelic sound influences to keep the trademark Forge organ-and-singsong-sound fresh and exciting. Now give the goat a smooch! – Gaps

Grim104 – Das Grauen, das Grauen (recordJet, 2019)

Being one half of the excellent Abstract and Conscious Hip Hop-duo Zugezogen Maskulin, Grim can look back at a busy and rather successful decade of releases under the ZM moniker. However, just before Alles brennt and Alle gegen Alle, the rapper proved with a self-titled debut EP that even as a solo artist, his output is more than worthwhile. This trend continues on Das Grauen, easily one of the best German Horrorcore releases in recent memory. Lost Boy Grim deals with themes of terror in (and because of) an urban landscape, the freezing bleakness of an anonymous city, the existential dread of human existence, and even approaches some poem-like, spoken word passages on four of the ten tracks. Released just in time for Halloween, this EP is made to spook and enchant you all year round. – Gaps

Mia Morgan – Gruftpop (Eklat Tonträger, 2019)

Mia Morgan´s first EP Gruftpop features a broad variety of emotions and while her EP sounds happy, upbeat and unconcerned, the lyrics let you understand some of Morgan´s darkest thoughts: from being in love with a waveboy to grief, envy and hate; „Es ist Valentinstag und ich werde dein Herz brechen / Und es blutig und heiß zu einem Glas Wein fressen“ (,,Valentinstag“). The singer also portrays some snippets of self-depreciating thinking on this album, for example her issues of comparing herself to other people (,,Valentinstag).

Gruftpop really describes the EP very well: happy-sounding pop you listen to when you´re in a dark place, such as a Gruft (vault).

Mommy Is Mental – Mommy Is Mental (get it on bandcamp!)

The Viennese all-female-rioters Mommy Is Mental (formerly known as SOLD), after gaining a reputation for their excellent live performances and packed shows over the last year, finally released their long-awaited, self-titled debut EP. This five-tracks-long shape of Mommy to come perfectly illustrates how much the Punk Grunge rockers have grown since first putting up early demos (and an extremely worthwhile music video) on YouTube. Tight songwriting, relentless rhythms, a talent for crafting infectious melodies even within the unleashed noise chaos, and lead vocalist Ella Kramer’s one-of-a-kind voice (not only singing but even growling this time around!) should leave any Punk enthusiast craving for more. – Gaps

Street Sects – Gentrification III & IV (The Flenser, 2019)

We decided to combine two releases into one for this entry, considering that Austin’s Street Sects planned the Gentrification series as a conceptual unity. Five years after releasing the first two installments, Gentrification III & IV lost none of the urgency, ferocity and chaos of their origins. If anything, they turned it up to eleven.

Vienna Rest In Peace – Amazing EP (trauerplatten, 2019)

Vienna’s finest amazed us, once again, two years after their first full-length debut. Two new original songs and an outstanding cover of Nick Cave’s ,,Weeping Song“ form the core of this melancholic-yet-upbeat Post-Punk Folk Rock extravaganza. Beware, the gleeful Indie Folk instrumentation on ,,Wer amazing sagt, muss sterben“ might lure you in, but can barely hide the somber reflection and coming-of-age-story that is presented in the lyrics. Once we reach ,,Wer schießt auf meine Jugend“, the disillusion of young adulthood is not only present in the vocals, but finally takes over the instrumentation, replacing the happy-go-lucky-sound with a gloom-heavy piano Folk ballad. Two decades of human growth condensed into two tracks, this is music worth dying for. – Gaps

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