2021, the year everything got back on it’s feet and we saw all those bands that cancelled during the great year of the plague. Oh, except we didn’t. There was a window of being in rooms with sweaty overexcited people which slammed shut again leaving us cradling our music collections and sobbing as we lamented not being able to break our new docs down the front at a gig.
This is my take on the music of this year, it’s not the same as yours and it shouldn’t be. If you don’t like it then feel free to berate me for having terrible taste in music… so, deep breath, here we go.
10 – Joy Orbison – Still Slippin’ Vol. 1
Joy Orbison’s debut album consists of beats, skipping across genres with ease and recordings of his family, who he didn’t see for the lockdown and only communicated with by facetime. It’s a brilliant slice of UK dance culture.
9 – Various Artists – The Beat From 20,000 Garages – The Best of Rebels Vol. 3
We said ‘The sixteen bands here are reprobates from all around the globe. Picked out by the heads at Raving Pop Blast! Put the needle down on the slab of yellow at any point and you may get a distorted blues shrieker telling you he is a dog, or a pulsing organ with a spooky screaming rock’n’roll lo fi vocal. There’s proper nasty fuzz with a sweet vocal warning you to get off the road. Smooth flowing hippy pop goodness and a nutter in a Mexican wrestler mask singing punked up rockabilly with added saxophone. I could go on but you need to get this madness deep in your head.
Amyl and the Sniffers – Comfort To Me
Amyl and the Sniffers gave us a punk rock emotionally loaded record to follow their Damned meets AC/DC debut. When Amy tells us that she’s got plenty of energy it’s the moment when you realise just how much you want to be with her down the front with the rest of the freaks. They sound and look pretty unhinged but they make music that punches you in the face then gives you a hug and buys you a drink.
7 – Score – Post Everything
We said ‘It’s been pieced together meticulously, every sound is in exactly the right place and feels totally natural. There are darker moments, but the melancholy of ‘Put Down’ is as beautiful as the rest of the music. It’s music to wake up to sunshine with. Music to walk slowly along bright paths. It leaves you feeling like saying goodbye. With all the emotions you feel when you leave someone or somewhere that means something. When you are glad to go but want to stay, missing them already but moving away and forwards.’
6 – Gazelle Twin & NYX – Deep England
I’ve seen Gazelle Twin twice, both at the Supersonic Festival. But not this brilliant reimagining of the Pastoral album with the deep choral sounds of NYX making it even more political and inspiring. The other half of Fighting Boredom doesn’t get this at all, but this is my list so I don’t care.
5 – The Mudd Club – Bottle Blonde
We said ‘It sounds like a bunch of kids have snaffled a lorry load of sweets, high caffeine fizzy pop and their wonky neighbours priceless collection of sixties garage and seventies punk seven inch singles. Ran away screaming at each other as they hide the loot and then, after scoffing and digesting the lot bounced around a badly soundproofed attic creating the best slice of teenage, fuzzed, naughty, nasty, punked out rock’n’roll since I don’t remember. It’s quite a record.’
4 – Sons Of Kemet – Black To The Future
I’ve got more and more into Jazz this year but have mostly bought old records. I snapped this up as Alun took it out of the box that had just been delivered to the record shop. It is brilliant. Shabaka Hutchings and his band have captured the sound of the black struggle in these grooves. A record that is best listened to all the way through.
3 – The Bug – Fire
From the first moment I put this on I loved it. It’s a warning, a slice of life from the disenfranchised, a call to arms and a deep deep bass heavy monster of an album. Played on my cheap stereo in my old, old car it sounds like the bonnet is about to fall off. Like Sons of Kemet the Bug uses collaborators to make the music stronger. A masterpiece.
2 – The Armed – ULTRAPOP
This may or may not be better than The Bug. For me it just edges it aside. I said ‘ I was sent the download but I bought the record, bought the concert ticket and indeed bought into the whole thing. Listening to this is like plunging into an ice cold pool. It’s breathtaking and shocking. It’s got a pop sheen production but underneath you get both pop hooks and the thrill of ferocious hardcore. ‘
1 – Mogwai – As The Love Continues
Obvious choice? Well, if you look at the record I’ve played the most this year and started most of the days with it’s this wonderful album by Mogwai. I didn’t review it mainly because everyone else in the world did. I just listened, a lot. Because that’s what I do.
Other stuff that was very close
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – G-d’s Pee at STATES END
Hemi Hemmingway – Lonely Hunter
Joy Orbison – Still Slipping Vol. 1
Liars – Apple drop
Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime
Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
Black Mekon – We’ve Learned Nothing
The Courettes – Back In Mono
Shannon and the Clams – The Year of the Spider
Beatnik Filmstars – Pop Scum
Immersion – Nanocluster vol1
Amenra – De Doorn
Iceburn – Asclepius
Brodka – Brut
Blanck Mass – In Ferneaux
See you in 2022
All words by Adrian Bloxham