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There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.

There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Jack Rafferty’s Top 2019 Albums

By Jack Rafferty

1. Lingua Ignota, Caligula.     
This year the decision regarding the #1 spot wasn’t even close. Caligula had no challenger from the first listen. It has no challenger from each of my top albums of recent years. It is very nearly the album of the decade for me. There is no way for me to overstate this album’s magnificence or importance. 

2. Richard Dawson, 2020.
Richard Dawson is the most distinct sounding musician I have heard in the folk scene in I don’t know how long. There is such tension and sorrow and beautiful melody in each of his songs. The songwriting and narrative structures are obscure enough to be interesting and mysterious, while still being specific enough to have immense meaning. I think the album lulls slightly with the track “Heart Emoji,” but other than that it is nearly flawless. I find myself having at least one song from this album stuck in my head every day. It is so devastating and beautiful. This is immensely important working-class music. 

3. Cattle Decapitation, Death Atlas.
This was probably my most hyped album of 2019, and it was almost assured early on that it would take my #1 spot without a problem. That was before discovering Lingua, though. Death Atlas doesn’t quite live up to Anthropocene Eraor Monolith for me, but it is close. This band remains one of the most present and important in my life. 

4. clipping., There Existed an Addiction to Blood.
I never thought clipping. would top Splendor & Misery, but I was wrong. Ever-changing, this stage in their chameleon career has them tackling horror as a concept, theme, and atmosphere, and it is executed (pun intended) brilliantly. Why search through overused Lovecraftian concepts for horror when one can simply observe the experience of black existence in the United States? Pig-faced and riot-shielded monstrosities abound. 

5. Hypno5e, A Distant (Dark) Source.
Hypno5e does no wrong. Their most recent album, Alba - Les ombres errantes, was wonderful, but didn’t quite pull me in like Acid Mist Tomorrow or Shores of the Abstract Line. If I could go back, I would bump Shores to at least #2 on my 2016 list. I don’t think A Distant (Dark) Source quite achieves what Shores does for me, but it is damn close. 

6. Warforged, I: Voice.
I was pretty convinced this would at least land number 2 on the list this year. Shows what I know about being blindsided by great music. Not being in the top 3 should not dissuade anyone from believing in the excellence of Warforged. This band had me hooked when they released their nebulous EP, Essence of the Land. Five years later, they produce their debut full length, and it’s a doozy. Seventy-three minutes of dizzying, cinematic, murky, and utterly unsettling wonder. Also, this band has a penchant for the cinematic, consistently releasing accompanying videos that span the length of their releases. Watching their more recent reveals their clear influence from and admiration for David Lynch, which is appropriate, as their music strongly evokes such dreamlike, unnerving feelings that Lynch is known for. 
this is the water 
and this is the well 
drink full 
and descend 
the horse is the white of the eye
and the dark within.
—The Woodsman, Twin Peaks


7. Little Simz, GREY Area.
I would ardently argue that Little Simz released Britain’s best hip hop album this year. Simz injects such life into each track, with a refreshing variation and distinction between tracks that makes each listen anything but a chore. Simbi’s lines are fucking great, her flow is immaculate (being precise while also having personality), and each beat paints its own world. It is emotionally powerful, politically important, harrowing at times, and just plain fun at others. Wonderful. 

8. Sarathy Korwar, More Arriving.
Another blindside. I was completely unaware of Korwar until this year, and More Arriving has been a great introduction. Mixtures of gorgeous jazz compositions, irreverent-yet-poignant spoken word sections from superb poets like Zia Ahmed. Such a needed album. Also tracks like the twelve-minute City of Words with lush, dark instrumentals that take you so many places, or the more up-tempo tracks like “Mumbay” that demand dancing. This album is a journey. Fuck, I love it.

9. black midi, Schlagenheim.
My thoughts about this album are best explained in the review I wrote for it earlier in the year. Zany, dark, unpredictable, wild. Depths upon depths of potential already being realized by a young band. Can’t wait for more. 

10. Moon Tooth, Crux.
“Awe at All Angles” is a song that got more play throughs by me this year than most others. Moon Tooth take such a revitalized and heartfelt approach to rock. The vocals on Crux are just absolutely crushing and soaring. The interesting and uplifting melodies they spin together are so refreshing in the darkness of this world. This album makes me want to fight my boss and dance naked around a bonfire beneath the stars. 

11. Knocked Loose, A Different Shade of Blue.
Knocked Loose is my favorite metalcore band. No others exhibit despair and rage coupled together so well. An effortless blend. Laugh Tracks still gets almost a weekly spin from me. A Different Shade of Blue is better. Big deal. 

12. Dreadnought, Emergence.
Dreadnought have such a dense sound. Every album they put out has a different elemental theme. Emergence covers fire, and instead of taking the expected path of creating something roaring and uncontrollable, this is their most subdued and introspective album yet. It is also my favorite. Getting lost in a dark room with this album is nearly intoxicating. When that first shriek comes in, I still get chills after so many listens. 

13. Amygdala, Our Voices Will Soar Forever.
Utterly resilient, triumphant, with agony beyond description. Crushing. Every track on this album constantly has me nodding my head and exclaiming: “fuck yeah.” Not just for the quality of the music, but for what is being said. I want to kick the shit out of a Proud Boy to this. All my love and solidarity to Amygdala and what they do. 

14. Xiu Xiu, Girl with Basket of Fruit.
The closest comparison I can make to this album is if a David Lynch film met Bish Bosch. Just completely strange and dark and deranged, which I love. This album grows on me more every time I hear it. Undefinable. 

15. Billy Woods and Kenny Segal, Hiding Places.
Billy Woods is easily one of my favorite modern MCs. In addition to his stellar solo work, the project he does with ELUCID, Armand Hammer, has produced some of the most innovative and unsettling rap albums of the decade. Billy is dark as fuck, prole as fuck, and mysterious as fuck. For example, try googling the dude and finding his face. His lyrics, his tone, his flow, are all tenebrous and very much his own. Kenny Segal works very aptly and appropriately with this tone, creating wonderfully subtle and eerie, yet gorgeous beats. 

16. Inter Arma, Sulphur English.
It took me a couple years to “get” Inter Arma, but oh boy do I get them now. If the gargantuan Paradise Gallows is mighty monoliths of stone rising from a dark sea into iridescent twilight, Sulphur English is within the caverns of the earth, seeping from above are the ashen remains of incinerated life. This album is fucking pristine murk. Lamenting and gorgeous and spacy and smothering and gritty. This band only gets better. 

17. Aldous Harding, Designer.
Aldous Harding is a singer/songwriter that I discovered this year, and it felt like being hit with a wall of dark light. She is such an interesting figure to listen to, but also to watch. Her lyrics and visuals are densely poetic and symbolic, yet not so obscure as to prevent being evocative. Designer is so calming, jubilant, contemplative, and gorgeous. Like evening sunlight on peach groves. There are still darker tracks, such as “Heaven Is Empty,” but the overall tone is somewhat of a deviation from her 2017 album, Party, which is more somber and unnerving. Aldous has one of the most unique and intriguing combinations of ideas, cadence, sound, and visual expression that I have seen in a long time. We’re getting into “this should be higher on the list than it is” territory.

18. Full of Hell, Weeping Choir.
Trumpeting Ecstasy really got me on the Full of Hell bandwagon. I loved the shit out of that album, but I felt like FoH still needed their ultimate coming into form album. With Weeping Choir, they have achieved the just right feeling with their chimeric amalgam of grind, death, noise, sludge, so on and so on. Whenever I feel the need for music that is just harsh and aggressive, this has been my pick of the year. 

19. Matana Roberts, COIN COIN Chapter Four: Memphis.
The more experimental, free-form side of jazz is definitely something that I am more inclined to, but I will admit that it is a fine line, because there is more potential for dizzying fuckery. That is not what Matana Roberts does with this album. The fourth iteration of a continuing concept, this album is narrative-driven, compositionally dense, and unsettlingly dark. The theme of this album mostly revolves around memory, particularly the memory of trauma. With that context established, often most clearly through segments of spoken word, the disorienting and aggressive soundscape of the majority of the album are beautifully fitting. Raw and cacophonous. 

20. Denzel Curry, ZUU.
Denzel solidified himself as the real deal with his 2018 album, TA13OO, and that only continues to be affirmed with ZUU. This dude has so much energy and charisma, but also focuses on what carries that energy beyond forgetability, which is good songwriting. The production continues to be immaculate on this album, and while some tracks are a bit silly to me, I’ve found Denzel to be a refreshing character in the sense that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, while still remaining grounded in serious issues. Overall, each song on this album is catchy and fun as hell. Can’t wait to see him live. 

21. Mizmor, Cairn.
Cairn is an album of patience. Patience that is required by the listener, and also patience in terms of the pacing of the music itself. That being said, patience is rewarded in this regard. Flowing between whispering melancholy passages and tortured, screeching agony, Mizmor expertly conduct these volatile emotions with ease. Sounds like this emerge from the darkest corridors of the mind, and it is for this reason that I kept reaching out to this album during bleak moments throughout the year. This album is saturated with loss, but to those coping with loss to any degree, its desolate atmosphere provides a space to properly accommodate and alleviate those horrid feelings. 

22. Slowthai, Nothing Great about Britain.
Anyone who brings a decapitated head of Boris Johnson to what is essentially the British Grammy Awards, stomps on the lurid extravagant tables in the audience, then uses the award itself as a phallus on stage to the BBC’s horror is a friend of mine. This album is uncompromising, and it is all the more impressive because it is his debut. At times jazzy, others post-punk, Slowthai’s blunt, punching, scathing attitude is consistent throughout. In terms of social and political commentary, Slowthai doesn’t play close to the chest, and that adds to the value of what he is trying to accomplish. Overall, Nothing Great about Britain is an anguished and unfiltered display of one of the worst entities to ever exist, yet Slowthai doesn’t let the dreariness of that detract from his energy and presentation. 

23. Cloud Rat, Pollinator.
Pollinator has been my introduction to the grimy, punk-fueled grindcore that is Cloud Rat (that band name is magnificent), and I feel as though I’ve been missing out. This album takes the love of life and the dread of not just losing it, but witnessing its extermination, to manic extents of sonic aggression. That is not to say that melodic substance does not permeate this bands sound, because it certainly does, which is one of the reasons why Cloud Rat stand out so much in the genre. Their ability to couple caustic rage with poignancy and ache is what makes Pollinator a special album. I’m very excited to delve into their discography and look forward to future releases. 

24. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Ghosteen.
Nick Cave never disappoints. This album is powerfully mournful. Such a powerful rumination on loss. Nick’s grief is as lush and melancholic as the album cover art. The lyrics and the meditative auras of each song induce such emotional turmoil but also a resonant sense of calm. Sorrowful and gorgeous. 

25. Rhiannon Giddens/Francesco Turrisi, There Is No Other.
There Is No Other is haunting. The combination of Giddens and Turrisi is a bridge laden with talent and soul. From folk songs to opera classics, Giddens continues to prove her versatility is unbounded, and that she is one of the few whose prolific output does not stifle the quality of each release. Her other collaboration release of 2019, Songs of Our Native Daughters, is also superb. 


EPs

1. Pjin/Conjurer, Curse These Metal Hands.

2. Squid, Town Centre.

3. And Hell Followed With, Chimerical Reality.

4. Wormed, Metaportal.

5. Earl Sweatshirt, Feet Of Clay.


Honorable Mentions

Yellow Eyes, Rare Field Ceiling.

Abigail Williams, Walk Beyond the Dark.

Norma Jean, All Hail.

Vitriol, To Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice.

Dave, Psychodrama.

Uboa, The Origin of My Depression.

Blood Incantation, Hidden History of the Human Race.

Lightning Bolt, Sonic Citadel.

An Isolated Mind, I’m Losing Myself.

Sudan Archives, Athena.

Seba Kaapstad, Thina.

Numenorean, Adore.

Bent Knee, You Know What They Mean.

Fit For An Autopsy, The Sea of Tragic Beasts.

Sadistik, Haunted Gardens.

Hath, Of Rot and Ruin.

Wilderun, Veil of Imagination.

Big l Brave, A Gaze Among Them.

FKA Twigs, MAGDALENE.

Wormwitch, Heaven That Dwells Within.

Show Me The Body, Dog Whistle.

Tropical Fuck Strom, Braindrops.

The Comet Is Coming, Trust In The Lifeforce of Deep Mystery.

Venom Prison, Samsara.

Spirit Adrift, Divided by Darkness.

Orville Peck, Pony.

False, Portent.

Michael Kiwanuka, KIWANUKA.

Thom Yorke, ANIMA.

Tyler, The Creator, IGOR.

Lizzo, Cuz I Love You.

Immortal Bird, Thrive on Neglect.

Nile, Vile Nilotic Rites.

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