Everett True’s favourite 40 songs of 2019

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…or not. I have no real way of knowing.

These are in no particular order. Not all of them came out this year. And yes, of course I have missed loads.

1. Grimes – We Appreciate Power
You know how rare it is they play death metal on the Radio One breakfast show? How can this NOT be my jam? Submit. Submit. You have any idea of the shit I have to wade through just to get to one good slalom? My only regret about my job at BIMM London is that I don’t get to wear latex bodysuits 24-7. That, and the tiredness.

2. Billie Eilish – Bury A Friend
I have this on constant repeat and it races round my head on a loop of delight and discovery. It is playful, it teases but it is also maudlin and it depresses. It is conflicted, confused. I love conflicted, confused. That is my main jam in life. Feeling conflicted. Such a natural pace and rhythm and timing. The way it stops and then jolts awake. The way it jolts awake and then screams silently and then stops and then runs away and then loops around once more. The way it falls asleep. The Way It Keeps You In The Dark. We all fall asleep. We all feel excited and depressed and maudlin and charged simultaneously. We all like to be playful with our darkest spirits. We all crush. We all crash. We call crush.

3. The Specials – Vote For Me
The story goes that, right at the height of Tricky’s first flush of fame, the notoriously moody trip-hop pioneer was flown first-class to Seattle to DJ. He showed up with a copy of the Specials’ first album under his arm, nothing else. “Er, that’s lovely Tricky,” stuttered the nervous club owner, “but where’s the rest of your records?”

“This is it,” came the reply. “It’s all you need.”

4. The 1975 – Love It If We Made It
I’m increasingly of the opinion that The 1975 are the greatest rock band in the world right now. (Note: define rock.) (Note: I am using the traditional (male) definition here because of course there is no way that the greatest rock band in the world right now are male.) This 1975 song reminds me of XTC circa ‘Senses Working Overtime’. (Note: it sounds nothing like it.) (Note: I am talking about the way the vocals have been treated, and the modulations, the pauses for breath. Not the content.) Between this and the new Billie Eilish one, it can be quite exciting listening to the Radio One Breakfast Show these days. Fact of the matter is: politics, sex, a sense of belonging. Fact of the matter is: jarring, explosive, political, not pandering. Fact of the matter is: passionate.

5. Robert Forster – Inferno (Brisbane in Summer)
NOT TO SELF, BUT TO ALL OF YOU: splurgy-troth brilliance. Place on repeat, let the lyrics and the pronunciation and the guitars soak through you 20 times, the insistent two-note piano, and then start playing it for real. For real, man. For real. I fucking wish fucking YouTube didn’t keep taking me through to Sharon Van fucking Etten at the song’s end however. Do YOU remember the winter at all?

Look at the way the man dances with his mower! Look at him.

6. Sleaford Mods – Kebab Spider
Don’t need to describe this, surely. Fucken blast of fucken fresh air on a delayed 7.15 back home from Guildford, shit cycle ride home.

7. Nilüfer Yanya – In Your Head

“Dang she’s pretty,” comments one Guardian reader picking up on one of the undeniably least interesting aspects of both the music and video.

  • Why the fuck does YouTube keep trying to force me to listen to Sharon Van Etten?

You want comparisons, reference points? OK.

  • ANY FEMALE ARTIST WHO IS CONSIDERED VAGUELY LEFT-FIELD AND PLAYS GUITAR BECAUSE GOD KNOWS THERE ARE ONLY TWO OF THEM

8. Dave – Black
Apologies. This should have gone up a few weeks ago. My only excuse is that I was too gobsmacked at hearing this played on the… pause for emphasis… Radio One Breakfast Show. What can I say? Just listen to the man.

9. Her’s – Harvey
So beautiful, so delicate, so fun. So naive. So wonderful. There is so much to love about their music, and so much to mourn. I am so sorry I never heard Her’s before now. Usually I go online to check out the latest news in Culture about Billie Eilish, and wonder quite how much I love her. This reminds me of Kings Of Convenience playing a starstruck show at Duke of York’s, early 2000s and my continued love affair with the debut Aztec Camera album. Music for melancholia-stricken teenagers.  These are my people. I know them even if I never met them, and I am sorry that they are no longer with us.

10. SOPHIE – Ponyboy
OMG (etc_). How did this pass me by (etc_)? Big SHOUT OUT to Cindy Stern on FB (etc_). Shades of TG, BK, CXCX, BE and CV (etc). OMG (etc_). Epilepsy-inducing (etc_), not always. Wonderful, near always (etc_). PC Music (etc_). Innovative, inventive, solipsistic, lipstick, terrifying, blunt, fluid, challenging (etc_). None of the above (etc_).

11. The Membranes – A Strange Perfume
No reason, but this feels important. Doubtless my 23-year-old self would disagree with me – he always was a cantankerous bastard – but I feel that out of seemingly nowhere The Membranes have made the greatest album of their career. (Let’s not call it a career, eh?) Of their lives. I would go over the recent review I wrote about it for Classic Rock, and dwell on each and every word, but. Do not take my word for it. This is high praise, from me, from my former self certainly. I had a couple of main noise bands in the 1980s – UT, The Birthday Party, Membranes, Sonic Youth – and one of them has returned after a near three-decade gap and made the greatest album of their lives. (It’s their second in recent years, and the other was almost equally as fine.) Playing out of their skins. Literally. So good, all I can do is gape at the hollowness inside my hollow inside and wonder why some of my friends are so great at growing old while others (well, me) are so crap. Pain, humiliation, death – this is all that life promises me as I edge closer towards 60. Not for John Robb and his merry bunch of swaggering, dissolute reprobates though.

12. Clinic – Rubber Bullets
When did Clinic get to be this good?

Or were they always?

13. Jarv Is – Must I Evolve?
What reason is there not to love this? Unless you are a child, and not into inebriation. Unless you are a parent and not flirting with authentication. Unless you are a cunt and too built on world domination. Unless you are a wizard and have no need for sophistication. Unless you are a water-gatherer and realise the futility of masturbation. Unless you are a sheep in search of mastication. Unless you are a rabbit caught up in fornication. Unless you are a chat show host built on degradation. Unless you are a Time Lord set loose on some deep space station. Salvation. Intoxication. Menstruation.

There is no reason not to love this.

14. Tropical Fuck Storm – You Let My Tyres Down
Whiny, maleficent malcontents. Bruising, beautiful brawlers. Out of tune, out of time, dissonant and a glorious sprawl of ugly loose-ends and shimmering dissonance. Anger, isolation, fuck you attitudinal beauty. Drug-fueled inertia. Disgust and disillusionment given vent in a way no male American rock band has managed in two decades now. Jesus, this is so good. Jesus, this makes me feel so homesick – no not for fucking Brisbane but for my core city of Melbourne with all its rain-washed grimy streets and sun-burnt rock formations in the middle of the fucking beyond. Jesus, this makes me want to tackle that fucking right hand turn single-handed. Jesus, this makes me want to drink and brawl and fuck and fight and argue loudly with whoever the fuck comes into the vicinity, and go twirling round numerous beer-soaked dance-floors and laugh at that fucking excuse of a beard on your face. Jesus, but this is glorious even if the dweebs do round off the song about 10 minutes too early, just as it’s getting going and becoming Coloured Balls epic. Fuck death and depression when there is shit like this still happening, still being created out there in the world.

15. Otoboke Beaver – Don’t Light My Fire
Overwhelming consensus demands that I feature this extreme noise terror from Japan. I do not have the slightest problem with that, indeed can only stand a few feet back from the action in a respectful daze and applaud with all my might.

16. Fontaines D.C. – Too Real
I feel like I am stepping into a time warp.

It ain’t that it don’t feel real. (It do.) It ain’t that the guitars don’t blister and scour and bleed annoyance and aggravation everywhere they turn. (They do.) It ain’t that this Dublin group ain’t intelligent and sassy: Sleaford Mods smart. (They is.) It’s ain’t that their songs boast a heavy narrative rarely seen outside grime and hip-hop, and that their music boasts a heavy swagger and cleansing grace rarely heard outside the music of Sonic Youth and another group who aren’t Sonic Youth. (They do.) It certainly ain’t that these lads don’t take a heavy pride in their heritage coupled with equal disgust and distrust. It ain’t that (intriguingly) this group have the potential to turn into something horrendous by the time they come to release their third album (let those radio programmers and Spotify drones get their hands on this beauty).

It ain’t any of that.

17. Taylor Swift – Lover
It’s in her swagger, the sweeping gestures, the…

18. Asea Sool – Sunshine
I do not deny I do not know even the first thing about Asea Sool, even who recommended the band to me. I just know what I love, and I fucking love  this. “British rock’n’roll, US delta blues, French chansons and Georgian folk,” they reckon – and that sounds about right. This music has got this otherness that is so hard to fake (very nice scream, too) – sure, I can hear elements of British and American rock and pop music in this duo’s other songs, but to me that is the least interesting aspect of their sometimes unhinged, often contrary sound. And that is why this next song is my favourite. That, and its untrammeled infectious energy…

19. Little Mix – Bounce Back
When I first heard this song, I was underwhelmed, but the more I do not concentrate on it, the more it grows on me. I already know that in five years (10 years, two months) time if I hear this song again by chance, a small pleasure circuit in my brain will light up and I’ll be like, “Now, who is this again…?” Hear it enough times now, and it might even stick with me that it’s Little Mix channeling Soul II Soul (a song that Little Mix had never heard of before it was brought to their attention by their songwriting team) and I’ll be able to momentarily show off my limited knowledge of pop music 2019. Like I say, this is neither here nor there. If I don’t concentrate on this song I really like this song. And if I do? Well, nadir.

20. Lizzo – Juice
None of them compare to, “I want you to sing this song like it’s fucking YOURS, like it belongs to you and you only” and Lizzo’s society-crumbling flute. The crowd make it. Absolutely. Music has never been just about the performance, it has always been about the reception as well. But obv it does not hurt one bit if the performer is total 1970s soul sister-style inspirational…

21. Stormzy – Vossi Bop
Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible
Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible
Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible
Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible
Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible
Glacial melting in Antarctica may become irreversible

Love this song.

22. No Sister – My New Career
It bothers me that I have never attained the level in my writing style where I can be direct without being dull.

  • I have no idea what you’re thinking.
  • This is way better than you think it is, however good you think it is.

It bothers me that when I try to capture beauty I usually end up bruising it. This one line from the band themselves: No Sister’s upcoming release is an acknowledgement of an elemental, unavoidable creative facet: influence: is brilliant. Hemmed-in, but with the creative freedom such acknowledgment brings.

Building on the shoulders of giants. This is a billowing, bruised beauty – isolation and solace and the echo of late night footsteps receding. So fine. You don’t have to believe me. Just play the song over and over again, thinking of me playing the song over and over again, grappling to articulate emotions the closer I get to the further they slip away.

23. Little Simz – Venom
Rage. Where’s the rage? Hard to rage in the midst of this heat. Far easier to seek escape, let someone else do the worrying. Rage. Life’s fucked but it’s all we’ve got. You feel entitled? You shouldn’t. You really shouldn’t.

24. Beyoncé – Spirit
I do not want to dissect, discuss Beyoncé, or her music. I do not want to be that critic sat at a bar pretending that on any level I am the equal of the artist. I do not want to dispel the magic. I often tell my students then when I step on stage – i.e. when I stand up to start another class – I picture myself walking down the steps, performing the intro to ‘Crazy In Love’. That’s what I aspire to, anyway. There’s a swagger. An insouciant joy. My love for Beyoncé’s music goes way beyond that though, keeps changing and mutating with the times. Homecoming was mind-blowing enough. This new one is pure magic, especially considering the source material. I want to be Beyoncé, not to know her or write about her. Simply be her.

25. Mabel – Don’t Call Me Up
I’ve never been able to keep up. I have always been overwhelmed by the volume of alternatives available within my own limited spheres of music. I don’t even listen much to anything outside of pop music these days (define that how you like) and I still can’t keep up. No, it ain’t my age. No, it ain’t my distance. I have a distinct gender bias to the music I listen to, have had for years now – and I still can’t keep up. My sources, my connections, are frayed and splitting at the ends but still I can’t keep up. Sure, I no longer am paid to listen – but honestly? You reckon that was ever the motivating factor? People like to argue among themselves which was the best year for music. Is it 2019? they ask themselves. Is it 2018? Will it be 2020? Most certainly. The bewilderment, the profusion of riches and charm and seduction grows with each passing month, as does the backlog. I am continually surprised, seduced, captivated by music new to me – the most intoxicating drug of all, it lifts you to a far greater high than alcohol or friendship or heroin. Not that I’d know – right? That new Taylor Swift single, OMFG! Like Taylor Swift with some Miley, some Mazzy, some Lana Del Rey rolled in. Who doesn’t love music like this? I cannot keep being fixated on the same thousand or so artists though. (Why not?) These years, I have to Google to discover whether I’ve even written about someone or not.

Mabel. I haven’t written about Mabel yet. Johnson fuck, what am I thinking? Here she is. Quick! Better than ANYTHING I’ve heard before. No, really. I hear so many harmonies, so many echoes, so many anxieties, so many possibilities, so many futures and pasts, futures and pasts in her music. Mainstream shit, right? Man alive. Just the odd 120 million listeners or so ahead of me.

26. Georgia – Never Let You Go
This is boss. This is banging. This is heavy metal. This is my frontal ear lobe, distorted out of shape by the sullen repetitive beats. This is Cristina. This is a (train) ride to nowhere. This is one too many late nights out spent shimmering in a dislocated spotlight, propped up by the bravado brought on by too much alcohol. This is knowledge. This is fantasy. This is a conversation backstage at the Falls Festival in 2008, knowing that whatever happens next will change everything. This is Robyn. This is a pulse, pulse, pulse beat. Moving towards the pulse beat. Moving towards the pulse beat. This is a beauty not dimmed by frequency or repetition but brightened, made more elusive and enticing. This is hope against the grey. This is the pair of you – all of you – fighting over my knees. This is disorientation. This is the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral, a busted closed door, nothing between us and oblivion except that jutting-out gargoyle. This is Giorgio Moroder. This is smart dance. This is a nonstop erotic cabaret. This is the beginning and the end and the whole and the moment, and the feeling of hanging lost, suspended in time. This is Georgia.

Dancing is always smart.

27. Tones And I – Dance Monkey
If you’re looking for more straight-up euphoric pop…

28. Jad Fair and Kramer – Some Things Last A Long Time
I’m sorry. I should have been there. I don’t know how it would have been possible and I am scared to venture outside the parameters of my day-to-day existence these days, scared to cross the road, but somehow I should have been there. Jad’s guitar on the following… more even than the beautiful harmonies and keyboards – sum up how I feel. The confusion, the blur of emotions. The futility. The beauty. The distortion.

29. Richard Dawson – Jogging
“It’s very good but it feels a bit bleak” – Howard Monk

“It’s a bit Chav mystic” – Jo Kendall

“It’s almost like a cry for help, isn’t it?” – Howard Monk

“Sleaford Mods mixed with Psychic TV” – Jo Kendall

“This is like Complaints Choirs with the melody removed” – Jerry Thackray

“Music that pushes you close to the edge” – Howard Monk

“This is my life!” – Jerry Thackray

30. Kim Gordon – Sketch Artist
If this was from Radiohead, you’d all be wetting yourselves it’s so fucken good. Dissonant. Danceable. Delirious. More fucked-up poetry from the queen of fucked-up poetry.

31. Baby Rose – All To Myself
I have not felt this way since Amy.

Just listen.

32. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
VERSION THREE
Would he have got five-star reviews whatever he produced? I mean, whatever.

VERSION FOUR
Walker, Cohen, Cash, C.S Lewis… fill in your own. I don’t know what I’m doing here really, but I am so happy that Nick Cave exists in my world. “Try to imagine nothing,” Isaac once said to me when he was 4 or 5. “You can’t.” The question most folk address is what happens when we’re dead, but really it should be what happens before we’re born. This life seems a fucking rotten one, most the time.

EPILOGUE
Around 23.05, I started crying. Thirty seconds later, I had to switch the music off.

33. Chromatics – On The Wall
Just like honey. Simply thrilled. Gorgeous. The Mary Chain always were their own worst enemy. Don’t bother going back to listen to the original. It has already been spoiled for all eternity.

34. Hurtling – E Flat One
The press release also calls it alt. rock but this if this is alt. rock then it is alt. rock from those wonderful five seconds when alt. rock was not a dirty word. In places, this is Bitch Magnet good.

Listen to this one, and hey fuck yeah. I’m still Everett True bitch and I ain’t dead yet.

35. Låpsley & DJ Koze – Operator
You may be wondering to yourself what genre this scintillating 12-inch slice of extended disco belongs to. Well, let me set your mind to rest right now.

It’s disco.

Disco, baby.

Disco disco disco disco.

Disco disco disco disco disco.

D-I-S-C-O (but no, not disco like that).

36. Flowdan – Welcome To London
Neil Kulkarni: Jerry Thackray my only point of disagreement here is the notion this is outside yr comfort zone. You’ve been writing about this kind of music for decades. Plus anyone struggling in modern England has a right to this record and a say cos it’s one of the few things this year to nail things so sharply x

37. FKA twigs – Home With You
That’s a deep bass. That is smart use of silence and tease. That is smart use of distance. More to admire than love. You can taste the tension as she pulls back on the joystick. It’s all about the visuals, the imagination. The reaching for the unobtainable. The withdrawal from loneliness, from despair. It’s all about the visuals, the occasional acknowledgment of what may be going on in the outside world. That is one deep bass; one startling counterpoint. It’s all about the soaring. More to love than admire, surely. Wait, is it starting all over again? This is smart use of the stark, of the unnerving, of the Voice. I can feel the disconnection, the cerebral, the isolation. I can feel the effort, the drop, the art.

38. Purple Mountains – All My Happiness Is Gone
ah, this was the side of pavement i always preferred. with the double darkness lyricism of david berman. i did not get round to listening to the album before david died and now he is dead listening – like much of life – seems futile. most weekends i spend wondering how old my kids need to be before i can die without anyone noticing. most days and evenings are spent dreaming of sleep. lush and orchestrated and opulent and still this music cannot keep the darkness at bay. all his happiness is gone. how many times did he need to tell us before we started believing? i ain’t accusin’, ain’t finger-pointin’. the strings sound beautiful but strings usually do. the intro should last forever. that would solve something surely. yes i do. i too would like to create beauty before i die but i too see the ultimate futility in this.

39. Porridge Radio – Lilac
The problem here is the bar.

The bar is insanely high, No, not for them you dunderhead. For me.

I do not know. Honestly, I do not know where I can go from here. Never known. That remains consistent, but… no. I do not k

now. Ever since those heady few months after my/our return from Brisbane and it felt that momentarily life was going to be OK and new friends were announcing themselves  and I was able to speak to people and I wasn’t stuck, I wasn’t uncomfortable and I wasn’t stuck. I knew how to make you feel better, so it seemed. In fact, I was buzzing and I was flying and for the first time in years it felt like I could still achieve anything and I saw 40 seconds of the greatest band

40. Kanye West – God Is
All of Jesus Is King now works so hard, hurts so bad for me I am astonished that for even one minute I was an unbeliever. This is awesome. Album of the year and all that. Whatever. I don’t give a shit either way.

Apologies. Missed this one.

41. Dua Lipa – Don’t Start Now

How NOT to write about music – 122. Hurtling

Here is what you should know about me.

  1. I don’t listen to music these days.
  2. I don’t communicate with people these days, outside of work.
  3. I suffer from depression, loneliness.

I know that on the rare occasions I listen to music (now, for instance) it immediately serves to lift my mood. It affords me a high – artificial, temporary or authentic WHO GIVES A SHIT, what matters is the feeling. You may query why I do not listen to music constantly when I am alone (outside work) to counter the effects of 2) and 3).  That is a reasonable question. The answer lies in the very nature of 2) and 3). Plus, I am still beating myself up 18 months after my divorce. (Do I think I am a bad person? Probably.) There is a circle happening. It is vicious. If I could get 1) happening then 2) might not happen and 3) could be reversed, possibly. But because 3) happens, 2) happens and thus 1) happens because overwhelmingly I have come to realise how much music has served to bring community and friendship into my life. Last night, I did not see Tropical Fuck Storm play live in London. The night before, I did not see Tropical Fuck Storm play live in Brighton. I had plenty of notice for both, and could easily have managed the journey. In all probability, this means less than nothing to you, dear imaginary reader. To me, however… even in the depths of my despair in Brisbane I would have made the show. They’re my fucking favourite Australian rock band for fucking fuck’s sake, brilliant. Inspired. Life-affirming.

See 1), 2) and 3).

You nay have noticed that on this blog I increasingly write about pop music, Top 40 stuff. (My god, how great is that title track from the new Charlie’s Angels movie?) The reason for this is straightforward enough: I no longer immerse myself in music (or I do very rarely, which amounts to the same thing). So I need the quick fix, the easy buzz. Ariana cooing about how she wants a new boyfriend? Blam! Lizzo reliving glory moments of the 70s? Blam. Listening to music on the train does not cut it. Too many distractions, and also the music is there to serve another purpose – to block the outside world, the stifling grey, the braying laughter.

So here is what you should also know about me.

I haven’t completely given up. Not yet. The faint echoes of “I’m Everett True, bitch” come back to haunt me, mockingly. Occasionally, the stars will align, the mood will be right. I will turn on the music. And you know the fuck what? The music so rarely lets me down. This evening, I finally got round to listening to this London band Hurtling. I’ve been meaning to, for a couple of weeks now. Don’t know the first thing about them, but here’s why.

  1. The dude at their record company sent me their CD.
  2. Neil Kulkarni gave them a shout-out on Facebook.

More than enough reason. I’d have taken it off, 10 seconds in, if I hadn’t liked the way it sounded: waver-y and woozy, lots of loud-soft loud-soft dynamics and fuzzed-out distorted guitars and a female vocal that burns and connects to sweetly with my heightened frightened senses that I spend half the time thinking, wow man Madder Rose were such an underrated band of the 90s man, and half the time thinking, god damn god fucking damn Throwing Muses really were the fucking greatest band of the late 80s, 90s , 00s and whatever decade you deign to name and I am such a dotard retard for not ALWAYS acknowledging this, and then another half the time thinking that this music – and fuck the comparisons – is making me feel so high, so alive, so ready to take on anyfuckingthing again and fuck 1), 2) and 3). I have no idea why the dude from their record company did send me the CD but… thanks.

Good job I didn’t read the press release before I wrote any of this, or I wouldn’t have even bothered playing the album. Yes, it does mention Smashing Pumpkins. I did think that occasionally I heard a little Veruca Salt but.. no man no. No fucking way.

The press release also calls it alt. rock but this if this is alt. rock then it is alt. rock from those wonderful five seconds when alt. rock was not a dirty word. In places, this is Bitch Magnet good.

Listen to this one, and hey fuck yeah. I’m still Everett True bitch and I ain’t dead yet.