It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2019 rapidly approaches and we somehow end this decade- we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been another crazy year filled with plenty of highs and lows- it’s the releases that have once again pulled a lot of people through the year.
Now in it’s 9th year, we let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists. Telling us their most loved events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
Our next take-over comes from the wonderful artist William Covert. Casting back to the start of this year, we were delighted to announce a new release and a new venture for Space Blood’s William Covert. In January, we shared details of William’s planned debut solo record which was unleashed to the world February 1st via Coup sur Coup Records. Then in the summer William returned with a new EP, a companion release to the full-length album. William has worked relentlessly and we are in awe of his releases. We hand over to William to discover more about his year in music…
Top 5 Releases of the Year
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats Nest
After years of not listening to this band mostly due to the band name, Infest the Rats Nest, is the album that converted me to be a believer in this band and a King Gizzad & the Lizard fan. Honestly, it just completely turned me upside down the first time I heard it and I thought it was the most original and fresh album I heard this year. The album is an unbelievably amazing homage to thrash metal while also retaining all these other musical stylings and influences to sound very original with a well thought out central lyrical concept of the album tied around climate change and income equality, but in a dystopian sci-fi motif. The album is just banger after banger and my favorite drum work of any album I’ve heard in 2019.
Liturgy – H.A.Q.Q.
This album is a tour de force that came out nowhere near the end of the year and had my attention immediately after hearing the first track. The combination of black metal with electronics is not new for Liturgy, but adding classical strings as well as piano and chorus vocals to that combo of esoteric lyrics and musical stylings is just something to be heard. The playing on the album is stellar from beginning and end, and the mathy elements interjected throughout H.A.Q.Q. makes it sound more than just a metal album in my opinion.
Battles – Juice B Crypts
Juice B Crypts was my favorite math rock album of the year, and my favorite Battles album since Mirrored. The further evolution of Battles sounds as just a musically two-piece on this album really showcases the creative juggernaut Ian Williams and John Stanier are together.
American Draft – The Rescue
The Rescue by American Draft was my favorite instrumental album of the year (albeit one small segment of vocals in the title track). The song writing is on point in every song weaving together aspects of angular math rock, krautrock, heavy post rock, post metal, ambient, and experimental music to make a compelling album from front to back. The 17 minute long title track is definitely worth a listen. American Draft live up to being another great Chicago math rock / post rock band.
Buildings – Negative Sound
Fantastic noise rock album by Buildings. I’ve been listening to these guys for over half a decade and they are my favorite contemporary noise rock band to emerge from the noise rock revival of the past couple years. There’s a lot of growth and experimentation in these songs from the band’s previous albums, and highly recommended for anyone into angular guitar driven rock music.
Favorite Show I Played This Year
My favorite show of the year was a solo show I played with Elephant Gym at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, on March 18. I’ve been a long-time fan of Elephant Gym so it was awesome to get to play with them in Chicago, and it was also a sold out show with really awesome crowd energy throughout the night. It was the largest crowd I’ve played to as a solo artist and it was just a very memorable show.
Best Gig Attended and Why
Battles at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, on December 8. I’ve seen Battles a half dozen times over the years, and seeing them as a two-piece on the recent Juice B Crypts tour really blew me away and was probably my favorite show I’ve seen of the band. Seeing Ian Williams and John Stanier play old songs like “Atlas” and “Ice Cream” and figure out ways to play old Battles songs with less members and incorporate new uses of different electronics they hadn’t used previously was just awe inspiring to see. I literally bought a new synthesizer within a week of the show due to some ideas I got from watching Williams and Stanier live with the current iteration of the band. Great show, great band!
Highlights of the Year
I went out on a limb at the beginning of this year and released my first solo album, Music for Synthesizer and Drums, and getting that out in the world and the response I’ve gotten to it was a major highlight for me when looking back at 2019.
My band Rust Ring, who’ve I’ve been playing with for nearly 4 years also put out our first full-length album in July, Genuine Me, which took a long time to put together and was very happy with how it turned out.
Any tour I get to do it always a highlight for me. I spent over a month collectively on the road this year with 4 different bands – Droughts, Rust Ring, The Eradicator, and my solo project – which was an awesome way to spend my time. I got to play multiple fests in the US this year including playing FEST down in Gainesville, FL, for the first time and had a max capacity crowd. I toured in Canada and played Toronto for the first time with Rust Ring as well as played New York multiple times for the first time in years. Overall, I had a good year touring and hope to do it more next year.
Breakout Band To Watch In 2020
For Your Health – they’re an awesome post-hardcore / mathy screamo band from Columbus, Ohio. They put a great split with the band Shin Guard early in the year, and hit the road hard playing I believe over 100 shows in 2019. Droughts played with For Your Health a couple times this year, and you could just tell from their live performances that this band has a lot of energy and momentum, and I only see bigger things for them in 2020.
Best Discovery This Year
Rut – Rust Ring played a show with the band Rut in Rochester, NY, this Fall. I hadn’t heard of the band until the show was put together and they were one of the best bands I’ve played a show with this year. I was immediately blown away by their live performance and they recently put out an album that is also very, very good. Sometimes when touring you can come across bands and labels kind of randomly, and the best discovery of the year for me was Rut.
Plans For 2020
I’m working on a follow-up to my first solo album that I’m hoping to get done and released in 2020. Rust Ring is already working on a follow-up album as well to our full-length, Genuine Me, that came out this year and eyeing a 2020 release for that album. I have a handful of tours already in the works for the first half of the year and looking to get on the road more than I was in 2019.
What a year! Already looking forward to hearing more from you and thanks for contributing!