10. Dragonball Durag – Thundercat
It’s become clearer and clearer that Thundercat’s most addictive tracks come when his dynamic bass is the headline act. While some moments of his acclaimed album It Is What It Is experimented in sparse electronics, ‘Dragonball Durag’ comes straight from the Thundercat playbook; swaying, gentle grooves, lustful words and iconic, compelling basslines that seem to lose no allure across his discography. ‘Dragonball Durag’ is further evidence, if any was actually needed, that Thundercat is still a vital and inventive artist, and rightly one of the most sought-after producers of cosmic sounds in the business.
9. I Contain Multitudes – Bob Dylan
Of the three singles to Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways, the seventeen-minute ‘Murder Most Foul’, both for its immense duration and quality, has garnered the most attention from critics and found itself in the upper echelons of countless end-of-year lists. Though, this has undeservedly left the beautiful ‘I Contain Multitudes’ in the dark. A reflection of the roles Dylan has played over his near-sixty year studio period (social commentator, hopeless romantic, Nobel Prize winner etc.), it floats in acoustic tenderness and vocal maturity as Dylan chronicles his embodiment of and associations with artists (“them British bad boys, The Rolling Stones“), poets (“I sing the songs of experience like William Blake“) and even Indiana Jones in a gorgeous illustration and poignant contemplation of his life.
8. Waving, Smiling – Angel Olsen
Despite continuing the themes of lost love from one of 2019’s most acclaimed albums All Mirrors, Angel Olsen displayed an astounding confidence in taking a stripped-back approach that echoed the sounds of her early releases in ‘Waving, Smiling’. It’s considered and collected, exuding an atmosphere that is irresistibly delicate, with the main pull being the endearingly solemn tones of Olsen which work in wonderful harmony with the smoothly-plucked strings. ‘Waving, Smiling’ works thanks to its simplicity, the candour and vulnerability of the conversation between Olsen and the listener that is seldom found today.
7. Crystallise – Kelketela! and Coldcut
While the collaborative album Keleketla! saw an astute fusion of jazz, funk, afrobeat and a whole host of other styles, its best moment came from a more minimalist composition. ‘Crystallise’ saw Coldcut given licence to truly imprint their identity onto the music. The unmistakeable sharpness of their electronics, that have endured a vitality rare over the last thirty years, sound fresh and mysterious, and are brought to life further by the direct realism of Yugen Blakrok’s rap which tell of existence in “prison cities” where “life is sweeter in the presence of death“. ‘Crystallise’ is a perfect blend of dark jazz, intense grooves and hard-hitting rap that will enchant any listener.
6. Aries – Gorillaz (Feat. Peter Hook and Georgia)
A song that epitomises exuberance and release, and who better to call upon for the anchoring riff than Peter Hook to deliver such a sound? ‘Aries’ is defined by its hopeful character – dreamy, elusive synths are called upon to provide a shimmering quality to the track, Georgia’s percussion is urgent and liberated, while Albarn’s (2D’s) lyrics ooze of an optimism that fights against the increasingly troubling backdrop of our times. Lines like “‘Cause I feel so isolated without you / I can’t play a happy tune on my own / So stay by my side” appeal to the most innocent, humane urges of compassion and togetherness, lending this track a dazzling allure that is musical, emotional and transcendental.