So it’s that time of year again – time to reflect on the past twelve months of music and pick out our highlights. We’ve had a scorcher for rock music, that’s for certain – festivals rammed with fantastic acts, favourite bands bursting back on to the scene (that’s right, only a couple of lines in before we HAD to mention My Chemical Romance…), but nothing sums up how good our year has been better than the albums we’ve picked out here. Every denomination of rock is thriving, so here’s the 20 albums we think demonstrate 2019’s rock scene at its best!
20. Twenty – Taking Back Sunday
Trust us to put Taking Back Sunday on our top albums of the year countdown… YES this compilation counts, okay? We’ve put it further down as it isn’t technically a brand new album, but that doesn’t stop it from being absolutely amazing. Also, it’s at twenty which is incredibly fitting; Released in celebration of Taking Back Sunday’s twenty years together (as well as their accompanying tour), Twenty is an album ram-packed with absolutely superb tracks. It’s the perfect way for a newbie to fall in love with a classic band so undeniably integral in forming our current rock scene.
Highlights: Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team), Liar (It Takes One To Know One), A Song For Dan
19. Be Content – Indoor Pets
Indoor Pets’ debut has been long-awaited, and we hope Be Content was an instruction to their fans upon its receipt, because we certainly are content. Be Content is wonderfully calamitous; opening track Hi sets the tone for the rest of the record perfectly. Indoor Pets stick mainly to a mid-speed tempo, relying instead on their singalong refrains and soaring guitars to keep you hooked, but this means that the fast-paced bangers like Pro Procrastinator and Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated grab you by the shoulders and shake you around – in the best way ever.
Highlights: Cutie Pie, I’m Bloated, Being Strange, Teriyaki
18. STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS – FEVER 333
If you’ve not heard of FEVER 333 then… where have you been? The trio is a true powerhouse, combining the minds of former Letlive vocalist Jason Aalon Butler, The Chariot guitarist Stephen Harrison and Night Verses drummer Aric Improta. This year they released STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS, an album that takes elements from metal, punk and rap – and the result is remarkable. Single BURN IT won Best Song at this year’s Kerrang! Awards and it’s clear why… after one listen you’ll be screaming ‘I AM A GOD ON THE RUN’ to yourself for a quite a while.
Highlights: BURN IT, ANIMAL, INGLEWOOD/3
17. Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow – YONAKA
Yoanaka have been on our radar for a few years, but 2019 has truly allowed them to shine. They’ve upgraded from playing in the small tent at 2000trees to storming the main stage, and they’re only set to get even bigger. Debut album Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow never falters for a second, as enchantingly cool as it is catchy as hell. Just listen to Fired Up and you’ll be hooked – there’s something irresistible about this album’s energy, and Theresa Jarvis’ fabulous vocal performance is the cherry on top.
Highlights: Fired Up, Don’t Wait Til Tomorrow, Creature
16. How Do You Love? – The Regrettes
The Regrettes second full-length record is fifteen songs long – that should be enough, right? Not by half! How Do You Love is so permeated with sunny, happy vibes, frontwoman Lydia Night’s vocals delivering both spades of charm and immense authority whilst still sounding vulnerable and unaffected. While they’re all smiles, Regrettes certainly bring the attitude on tracks like Has It Hit You? And Go Love You – but gorgeous tunes like California Friends and Pumpkin prove that they might just be the most cheerful punk-rock band around, and we love them for it.
Highlights: California Friends, Has It Hit You?, Here You Go
15. Berkeley’s On Fire – SWMRS
SWMRS’ debut back in 2016 encapsulated a delightful kind of youthful energy with tongue-in-cheek California delivery. And this year’s sophomore effort Berkeley’s On Fire provides us with exactly the same, but with a touch more restraint that makes for tracks that feel like they have even more power because of how consciously held-back they are. Less noisy verses mean that wild, guitar and bass-driven choruses pack a punch with even more vigour, and SWMRS skilful manipulation of this energy demonstrates their incredible prowess as musicians.
Highlights: Too Much Coffee, Steve Got Robbed, April In Houston
14. Amyl and the Sniffers – Amyl and the Sniffers
Oh Australia – nobody can master the art of pub-punk quite like you. Melbourne’s own released their self-titled debut back in May and we’ve had it looping every since. It’s 29 minutes of absolute chaos, a riot of energy that has you gagging for a pint. With a quality combination of meaty guitar riffs, an unstoppable tempo and Amy Taylor’s slick vocals, it’s no shock that Amyl and The Sniffers won Best Rock Album at this year’s ARIA Music Awards.
Highlights: GFY, Got You, Punisha
13. Almost Free – FIDLAR
What do we love about FIDLAR? Their riotous, messy, chaotic energy, of course! Except we love them just as much, if not more, on their most polished record yet, Almost Free! How can this be? Well, it’s because even when branching out into (slightly) less chaotically skate-punk sounds, they channel a more precise sound into creating vicious builds, flickering, angry riffs, and mosh-pit worthy dance tracks that definitely live up to the precedent set by FIDLAR and TOO. And of course, in tracks like Alcohol and Too Real, we’ve still got the visceral, fast-paced, screamy punk that we love them for.
Highlights: Too Real, Flake, By Myself
12. SO WHAT? – While She Sleeps
Metalcore heroes While She Sleeps absolutely nailed it this year with the March release of SO WHAT?. The album shows how these Sheffield lads have matured over their time together, more sure of their sound than ever. The album is what every metalcore band strives to create; As soon as you hear opening track ANTI-SOCIAL, you know you’re in for an absolute treat. SO WHAT? has killer guitars, growling vocals and has you gagging to get to a live show IMMEDIATELY – it’s fair to say it ticks all of our boxes.
Highlights: HAUNT ME, ELEPHANT, ANTI-SOCIAL
11. Stuffed and Ready – Cherry Glazerr
How noisy does an album have to be before you can stop calling it dreamy? Cherry Glazerr provide the answer here: really really really noisy, because Stuffed and Ready is a virtual wall of sound, but still maintains its ethereal quality thanks to Clementine Creevy’s stunning falsetto bridging the gap between dreams and screams. Fuzzy, grungy guitars thrash under witty, cynical lyrics, pushing forward on tracks like Daddi and holding back on grooves like Self Explained. CG experiment across a variety of subtly different tones on Stuffed and Ready to great effect, but the album still feels like one cohesive, savage piece.
Highlights: Wasted Nun, Self Explained, Juicy Socks
10. Primrose Path – Dream State
We’re longtime fans of Dream State here at Bittersweet, so you can imagine our excitement upon the release of their debut album! And safe to say, it didn’t disappoint. CJ Gilpin’s always-raw delivery of both crystal-clear vocals and dirty, guttural growls cement’s Dream State’s status at the forefront of our current post-hardcore scene, Primrose Path sees them dipping into metalcore and electronica too just to bulk out their already-glowing repertoire. Guitars spiral and flicker over crashing, commanding drumbeats – it’s addictive and amazing.
Highlights: I Feel It Too, Hand In Hand, Open Windows
9. Tough Crowd – Nervus
Nervus are angry – and rightfully so, given the climate we’re in socially and politically. And we aren’t quite going to say we’re grateful for our societal situation, even if it does mean we get albums as charged, passionate, and packed full of bangers as Tough Crowd; we will say, however, that we’re grateful that Nervus are a bunch of people talented enough to channel that anger so powerfully. They Don’t’s refrain alone saw thousands on thousands of people screaming it back all summer long at festivals, testament to the power of a protest punk band. It’s less of a personal album than their two previous ones, but Nervus’ journey from inward-looking to outward calling to arms is one we’re glad to be following.
Highlights: They Don’t, Burn, The Inconvenient Truth
8. Nella Vita – Grayscale
There are few genres that are as 100% fun as pop-punk (even – or especially – on their sad songs), and there are few bands tearing up the pop-punk scene with such finesse as Grayscale. Nella Vita is a perfectly pitched sophomore album, with just the right balance of emotional sing-along hooks and crashing and mosh-pit-worthy riffs, whilst avoiding falling into the ‘generic pop punk’ trap and releasing a one-note record. Baby Blue is tinged with irresistibly danceable indie vibes, but following track In Violet’s verses wouldn’t feel out of place on an Evanescence album. Nella Vita is pop-punk that does it all, and it does it all to the highest quality.
Highlights: Baby Blue, YOUNG, Painkiller Weather
7. End Of Suffering – Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes
Think of an amazing front man… if you’re not thinking of Frank Carter, you are incorrect. This charismatic punk rocker absolutely blew our minds this year with the outstanding End of Suffering. It’s an album that taps into all of your emotions; be it the slow and raw Supervillain that breaks your heart or the cool, sexually charged aggression of Kitty Sucker, this album has it all. End of Suffering topped the Rock Album charts as well as getting to #4 on the overall UK album charts… a PUNK album? Knocking shoulders with the likes of Lewis Capaldi and DJ Khaled? Frank Carter’s our hero.
Highlights: Kitty Sucker, Crowbar, Heartbreaker
6. WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? – Billie Eilish
Controversial – a pop star in at number 6 on a rock music website? Such is the power and draw of 2019’s most talked about artist. Billie Eilish might be a pop musician, but her dark, electronic instrumentals in the infectious bad guy, the grindingly intense you should see me in a crown, and the gorgeously melancholy listen before I go and when the party’s over, and her oft-black lyricism mean that her appeal extends to our scene too. She’s taken alternative to the mainstream, and her edge is part of her universal appeal.
Highlights: you should see me in a crown, bury a friend, my strange addiction
5. Brainfreeze – False Advertising
Brainfreeze is one of the most impressive albums we’ve had the privilege of encountering this year. Think modern Nirvana meets Wolf Alice with a sprinkling of surf-punkers Wavves… You’re interested now, right? False Advertising play with an assortment of genres and absolutely conquer them, resulting in an album that is ambitious and entirely sure of itself. The sound is also diverse but consistent – You Said’s full, layered instrumentals feel entirely foreign in comparison to You Weren’t In My Dream’s dreamy, stripped back nature… yet they both capture False Advertising’s energy perfectly. An amazing debut.
Highlights: Uncomfortable, You Won’t Feel Love, You Weren’t In My Dream
4. amo – Bring Me The Horizon
Many may disagree with this ranking, but Bring Me’s controversial amo was a definite stand-out of this year. While we can admit that we’d love another Sempiternal, track heavy metal helpfully reminds us that ‘it ain’t heavy metal, and that’s alright’. Once clearing your mind of all preconceptions of what a Bring Me the Horizon album should be, amo really does slap. It’s a brave combination of metal and electronic music; where old albums would have you screaming your lungs raw, amo will have you body popping around the kitchen. Not a terrible difference.
Highlights: heavy metal, nihilist blues, sugar honey ice & tea
3. Never Not Nothing – Black Futures
Our favourite space-chase soundtrack comes in at number 3! Black Futures are truly otherworldly, their debut Never Not Nothing an absolutely alien approach to punk that we adore. To put it simply, Never Not Nothing is exciting: it’s chaotic, charged and unique. You’re sucked into the black future as soon as the album begins, and it loops in a way that is so buttery smooth you can’t help but let it run through just once more… or twice more… or for the rest of the day. If you’re interested in industrial punk or experimental soundscapes, this is an album you simply can’t miss.
Highlights: Love, Riches, Tunnel Vision
2. Barriers – Frank Iero and the Future Violents
He’s just won Rocksound’s Real Alternative Award, he’s conquered every area of the rock music scene, on his own as well as part of the most iconic band of our generation – in at number 2 it’s My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero! And doesn’t it feel good not to say ex-MCR anymore? But given how amazing and varied his solo career has been, dare we say we’re tinged with sadness at the fact it might be on hold for a bit? If it is, Barriers is a brilliant record to go out on. Showcasing the best of what Iero can do, it’s fierce, emotional, punky, and the most confident he’s made yet.
Highlights: Moto Pop, Fever Dream, Police Police
1. FANDOM – Waterparks
Crashing in at number one is the bubblegum-pop-punk masterpiece that is FANDOM. Any band that is able to somehow sonically convey an emotion is top-notch in our books – try to tell us that Telephone doesn’t give you butterflies? You can’t. Not only have Waterparks entirely outdone themselves on this album, but they’ve also proved just how confident they’ve become over the years. With a full on dirty electronic break-down on Turbulent, as well as a beautifully stripped back and honest vocal performance on Never Bloom Again, Waterparks have proved that they’re capable of tackling any genre they goddamn want to. We can’t wait for their return to the UK in January – get us to a show right now!!
Highlights: Telephone, Watch What Happens Next, I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore
PLAYLIST OF OUR TOP 20 OF 2019
2020 has a lot to live up to, but here’s to hoping! Cheers to another amazing year of killer albums!