Already there have been many wonderful albums released in 2021. Here are some of our favorites so far......
Black Country New Road - 'For The First Time'
One of the years mostly hotly anticipated releases really lived up to the hype. Despite only having 6 tracks, 2 of which had already been singles albeit re-recorded for the album, it managed to capture the breadth and quality of the band. The only disappointment was the lack of a few fan classics (Snowglobes, Basketball Shoes) but the recent run of live shows has seen these resurrected along with lots of new songs. Maybe we’ll get a second album before the end of the year!
The Coral - 'Coral island'
A massive record from a band long into their career. An epic undertaking of songcraft. A milestone in the life of The Coral, can't wait to hear these songs live!
Ben de la Cour - 'Shadowland'
Whereas the songwriting is the first thing that jumps out when listening to this album, Ben is a really sympathetic and very versatile singer as well. In the last three tracks alone he manages to sound first like Kris Kristofferson, then Nick Cave and Grinderman and finally like Leonard Cohen, and all the while the album does not feel disjointed at all. Is it too early to shout ‘Album Of The Year’?!
Dry Cleaning - 'New Long Leg'
The post-punk band (there I have labelled them) have arguably beaten the other trendy inventive young bands by producing a truly memorable album where lyrics in the sanggesbrach mode alternate between the cutting and the downright ridiculous “....spent seventeen pounds on mushrooms for you...because I’m silly” I rest my case. The band that drives the lyrics is tight and the riffs brilliantly put together.
Du Blonde - ‘Homecoming’
Indie-pop earwormery of the very finest. Every tune has a catchy essence that you will be humming endlessly! Lyrics that are so open and heartfelt only endear you even more to Du Blonde’s Beth Jeans Haughton. You’ll be dancing around the kitchen to these tunes with their fine guests inc Ezra Furman, Shirley Manson and Andy Bell until final beautifully crafted track Take Me Away, which will have you sobbing like a baby!
Robert Finley - 'Sharecropper's Son'
Robert and Dan give us the perfect record. Louisiana soul singer Robert's third album was produced by (Black Keys) Dan Auerbach who also plays guitar on this record of Soul, Blues, and Gospel that is an absolute joy and delivered with style.
Aaron Frazer -'Introducing'
Classic soul sound from main member from Durand Jones and The Indications.
Greentea Peng - 'Man Made'
A magical record. 'Man Made' is a truly impressive debut. Over a hour long which gives you time to take yourself away for a breather, shut your eyes and drift off to a new space and return to the modern world, renewed.
Lande Hekt - 'Going To Hell'
Going to Hell is the debut solo album from Muncie Girls singer. Featuring carefully crafted and intriguing songs about queerness, sobriety, displacement, anxiety and hating Tories.
Kiwi Jr - 'Cooler Returns'
I first became aware of Canadian band Kiwi jr. when i heard their single ’Waiting In Line' in early 2021. This song was backed by two other superb tunes crammed full of indie pop goodness. Glad to say all three tunes feature on their ‘Cooler Returns’ LP. As i listen to this album i’m put in mind of The Killers’ debut Hot Fuss, not just because of the North American/UK indie cross-over but because Cooler Returns simply delivers great song after great song. There’s even a nod (i’m not sure if intentional) to Peter Gabriel* : in their lyrics to 'Nashville Wedding’ they rhyme ‘face meant’ to ‘basement’.
In a year when we’ve got a load of excellent releases that challenge us to listen intently and understand complex time changes and darker themes, Kiwi jr have delivered a superb indie rock record that i’ve no doubt will stand the test of time.
Portico Quartet - 'Terrain'
A recommendation for your ear-soothing and a ticket to freeing the mind, people might try 'Terrain' by Portico Quartet. They’ve been doing records since the noughties, but this one has a fuzzy warmth and a sonic energy that’s a bit like the buzz from that second espresso Martini you didn’t really need.
What is it like? There’s a classical construction to the record in its three parts: it’s undeniably jazzy and it’s deeply ambient, but it’s twinkly too. It’s got herbs, but it’s also made from the remnants of black holes and NASA’s 1960s prototype spaceships.
If you want to fade out of whatever life noise is happening, this will take you there whether you’re wearing slippers or ruffling your toes through some daisies.
St Vincent - 'Daddy's Home'
This album is my favourite of the year so far. And her best yet. Intoxicating mix of prog, funk and late night jazz. Wonderful.
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
The two singles 'The Last Man On Earth' and 'Smile' both of which preceded the release of Wolf Alice's third album 'Blue Weekend' only hinted at the musical ambition and ability found throughout an album confident in the strength of its songs across a diverse range of musical styles.
'Blue Weekend' is bookended by two songs; 'The Beach' is a thirst for a seaside meeting with friends with a nod to Shakespeare “When will we three meet again? In thunder, lightening, in rain” and 'The Beach II' when the reunion eventually happens. Sandwiched between the two visits to The Beach are the Haim-like 'Lipstick On The Glass' and ' How Can I Make it OK ? '; the full on rock-outs of 'Smile' and 'Play The Greatest Hits'; the beautifully simple melody of 'Safe From Heartbreak (If You Never Fall I Love)' and the tear-jerking ballad 'The Last Man On Earth'. Each track is strong enough to stand alone but the track scheduling means the album makes most sense when listened to in full.
'Blue Weekend' continues Wolf Alice's upward direction from the Mercury Award wining 'Visions Of A Life' through to certain festival headliners. “To be, Or not to be” one of the best bands in Britain; certainly the band's confidence in 'Blue Weekend' should get them to that level. For any doubters consider the message contained in 'Smile' “I am what I am and I'm good at it. And you don't like me well that isn't fucking relevant.”