It’s this time of year again. I’ll admit I was fairly horrible at keeping up with new releases this year and found myself taking comfort in familiars, plus finding undiscovered loves from the past (especially John Prine and Karen Dalton – cheers Matt!).
I want to give these artists/albums a shout out too, these are other releases I’ve really enjoyed and returned to repeatedly, all of these you might have heard in the shop while I’ve haunted it: Underdark Our Bodies Burn Bright On Re-Entry [Atmospheric Black Metal]; Armand Hammer Halam [Hip-Hop], Flying Lotus Yasuke OST [Electronica]; Alice Coltrane Kirtan: Turiya Sings [Ambient]; Deantoni Parks A Self [Electronica/Ambient]; Dean Blunt Black Metal 2 [Indie/Experimental], Lealani / Snakefoot Lealani Snakefoot [Electronica/Pop] and King Woman Celestial Blues [Doom Metal].
I also have a 2021 playlist that contains a favourite track per release I've heard this year, as well as non-album/EP singles.
10. SUPINE – NO ALTAR FOR THE COMPANY MEN
Genre: Skramz (Screamo)/Hardcore/Post-rock
A new band to me and this is their debut album, following an EP and single. I saw some of their set captured by hate5six and got curious. This is a real vicious whirlwind of genres, sorta reminiscent of Loma Prieta, mixing the likes of screamo, hardcore, post-rock, black metal and sludge - even a bit of industrial and doom on under lock and tesseract. I'm excited to see what they come out with next.
9. F.S. BLUMM & NILS FRAHM – 2X1=4
WE HAVE THIS!
I’m admittedly unfamiliar with F.S. Blumm, but a long-time fan of Nils Frahm, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, and it wasn’t any of the guesses I had before. This is an electronic dub album – Frahm is someone I associate with an acoustic piano, and some electronic too. The dub element was the surprise and the duo’s ability to warp basslines and moods so stylishly, while really conveying moods, has had me hooked. It’s a nice ‘un to chill to.
8. SUUNS – THE WITNESS
WE HAVE THIS!
Genre: Black Metal
This was a surprise album, only announced a week before its release on the 17th Dec. Now, I fucking love Funeral Mist, their 2018 album “Hekatomb” was one of my favourites of that year and still gets played on occasion. While that was an experiment in black’n’roll, “Deiform” sways back to that relentless black metal attack from before, but still with the odd surprise that works for them. It’s easy to lose originality with a pure black metal sound, but they’ve somehow given every track a signature again.
Children of the Urn, I love everything about that one – the sample, the band and Arioch’s vocals. Divine.
6. BLOODY HEAD – THE TEMPLE PILLARS DISSOLVE INTO THE CLOUDS
Genre: Sludge/Noise Rock/Punk
WE HAVE THIS!
I’d seen Bloody Head’s name on line-ups for gigs a few times, great line-ups too, and with a name like that it’s hard to forget. Then we had copies of this and their EP come in, it felt like fate, and so finally got round to checking them out. Obviously I really enjoyed it, and this album is easy to put on again when it ends. This is dirty, alcohol-smelling, living day-to-day sludge/noise-rock. Cynical and fed up, but self-aware and humorous.
Fans of Melvins, Todd, The Men and Pissed Jeans will find something to like here. “Let’s get weird and small”.
5. OBEY COBRA – OBLONG
Genre: Jesus, I don't know. Indie/Post-punk/Experimental/Shoegaze/Drone?
Extreme late entry. I’ve practically only just heard this, but I’ve managed possibly 20+ listens since - this album has sparked something in me that I’ve been missing a lot this year. A mess of genres so satisfyingly done, it’s the musical equivalent of different flavours of ice cream melting together, and I want endless refills. At times its grungey post-punk, then shoegazy punk, nightmarish doom the next and later on its jittery techno.
And there’s even more than that, all done phenomenally. With every listen there’s a new detail to notice. This is a band stretching the seams of creative ambition.
4. YVES TUMOR – THE ASYMPTOTICAL WORLD
WE HAVE THIS!
If you’ve been in the shop while I’ve been working, you’ve definitely heard this at some point. I can’t even put it into words why and how much I like it. I might not bother. I probably won’t. But I can tell you that it’s another turn for Yves, and executed beautifully again. Still some of that general futuristic funk feel (potent on Jackie), but there’s a more punk and post-punk approach.
…And Loyalty is a Nuisance Child is an anthem of 2021, personally.
Favourite tracks: ...And Loyalty is a Nuisance Child, Jackie, Secrecy is Incredibly Important to the Both of Them.
3. DRY CLEANING – NEW LONG LEG
This was a big one and I’ve seen it on a few lists, that does speak for itself in this case. The repetitive and minimal yet layered instrumentals, along with the acidic and passive lyrics is a luscious blend for me. Amazing oneliners repeatedly jab you, easily connecting and relatable, basically a rolling internal monologue you might have in situations.
“Just an emo dead stuff collector,
Things come to the brain.
Too much to ask about…
So don’t ask.”
2. THE BODY & BIG|BRAVE – LEAVING NONE BUT SMALL BIRDS
WE HAVE THIS!
Wow, this was a shock! But considering The Body’s willingness to experiment, I guess it shouldn’t. Yes, I was familiar with The Body and not Big|Brave, and even after checking them out, I’m at a loss at whose doing what aside from the latter’s distinctive vocalist. Both are heavy bands: The Body punishing with distortion, noise and shrieks; while Big|Brave lean to doomy post-metal but also experiment.
Yet this is a (traditional?) folk album. No-one could have guessed this was coming, and it’s incredible with its atmosphere, as if it's a document from a very certain time and place. It’s hard to describe, pained yet beautiful.
1. KNOCKED LOOSE – A TEAR IN THE FABRIC OF LIFE
WE HAVE THIS!
HOLY SHIT! WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?!
Admittedly I thought “Laugh Tracks” was their only album, so I’ve been behind with the band, but this EP is a step up and a new level for ‘em. Knocked Loose were always stupid heavy with their beatdown hardcore style, on this EP there’s definitely big death metal, grindcore and sludge influences – with a crisp and very thought-out sound. It is HEAVY. Ridiculously so.
And there seems to be a running concept that involves the samples, circling around a radio station and car crash that gives it a spine-chilling effect. Jimmy of Running Punks explains it far better in his running review than I can.
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- Tags: AOTY, Black Metal, Dub, Electronica, Experimental, Folk, Funk, Hardcore, Indie, Metal, Post-punk, Richard, Rock, Sludge