2021 has not been kind to the music industry, with many festivals and concerts cancelled. However many artists have been busy recording new material. Here are some recommendations from the class of 2021. Hopefully there’s something for everyone.

APOLLO JUNCTION – ALL IN

Yorkshire based Synth Rockers, with their follow up to their 2019 debut album Mystery. Another excellent up tempo romp with examples of U2 influence with delayed guitar riffs on tracks “Light up the Sky” and “Forever”. Vocalist Jamie Williamson reminding me of Julian Cope from Teardrop Explodes. The album finishes with the acoustically anthemic track “Are You Happy” as a refrain. We certainly are.

DRY CLEANING -NEW LONG LEG

Seminal album by this London based post punk band signed to 4AD records. The album is far more ambitious and better produced by John Parish than their previous EP’s. Female vocalist Flo Shaw gives you a stilted almost raw staccato vocal of dark humour, in spoken words with a Joy Division feel. Three singles have so far been released “Scratched Lanyard” “Strong Feelings” and “Unsmart Lady”. The album peaked at #4 in the UK album charts.

OTHER LANDS – SOUNDS FOR ISOLATED SOULS

Re-released in September on Circle and Phases. Other Lands are a Scotsman Gavin Sutherland. This album takes you on an seismic soundscape of an ambient journey for late night headphones. The swirling rhythmic beats, full of guitar and synths on “MU-D” to the laid back tempo on “Mind the Deep” If this album doesn’t relax you nothing will.

LONDON GRAMMAR – CALIFORNIA SOIL

California Soil is the third studio album from the trio of Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dominic Major. Three years in the making, following a format set by their previous two albums. Their style has been described as “a blend of ambient, ethereal and classical”. The opening intro track to the album has a choral sound  featuring Hannah Reid’s powerful haunting vocals which are prominent on all the tracks. Which the guitar based track “America” clearly showcases. The album went to #1 in the UK album charts and they will be supporting Coldplay in 2022, on the UK leg of their world tour.

THE LATHUMS – HOW BEAUTIFUL LIFE CAN BE

The Lathums pronounced The Lav-ums have come a long way in the last 12 months. This four piece indie band from Wigan. Led by singer songwriter Alex Moore, border on the pop side of indie. Their set of happy up-tempo tunes on this debut album, such as the single “I’ll Get By”  and the opening track “Circle of Faith” which from the slow orchestrated start builds to an anthem of hope. Some tracks remind you of perhaps what 80’s group The Housemartin’s, might have sounded like today. Alex’s witty lyrics and guitar are complimented by the other members to put out a happy soundscape.  The album went to #1 in the UK, holding off such luminaries as Drake & Public Service Broadcasting. Not bad for a debut.

RED RUM CLUB – HOW TO STEAL THE WORLD

Popular Liverpool sextet Red Rum Club are still plying their trade and building a popular following. With this their third album, they will only add to that fanbase. They are creating perfect pop with a Liverpool sound. In the wake of groups like the Zutons. Their subtle use of horns on the album elevates Tracks like “Vibrate” or the title track “How to Steal the World” overall, this album has a great set of pop songs.

STEVEN WILSON – THE FUTURE BITES

Steven Wilsons 6th studio album since going solo. Here we see his homage to the consumerism and greed of the 80’s. He’s even got Elton John a self confessed shopaholic to voice over on the track “Personal Shopper” with a list of things we probably have but don’t need, add to that the line “It’s the power to purchase to excess/that sets you apart and can give you the ultimate high” This album has a mix of pace with the slow introduction “Self” followed by the more up-temo “Unself” side one ends with the haunting moody vocals on  “Man of the People” or “King Ghost” modern prog rock at its best.

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING – BRIGHT MAGIC

The latest offering from J Willgoose and company . Set to a backdrop of Berlin, which inspired the Low era David Bowie albums. He says “This is my Berlin”. The album departs from their original concept of audio overdubs to music, with more tracks featuring guest vocals. Building on the format of their previous album “Every Valley” With the new material more in common with the side project J Willgoose put out during lockdown, under the guise of Late Night Final. The opening track “Der Sumph” has shades of ledgendary German Synth band Tangerine Dream. Other more uptempo tracks “People Lets Dance” and “Blue Heaven” with vocals by Blixa Bargeld & Andreva Casablanca respectively. Hark back to earlier material such as “Gagarin”. Whilst the laid back “Gib Mir Das Licht” features vocals by Eera. Not all fans will like it, but I think its a move to develop a more sustainable sound.

THE REYTONS – KIDS OFF THE ESTATE

Undeniably influenced by The Artic Monkeys. This Doncaster based indie 4 piece release their debut album. The album kicks off with “Mind The Gap” and continues with hi energy guitar driven tracks on “Antibiotics” and the catchy “Sales Pitch for the Bus Fare Home”   and include 2 tracks from their earlier EP. All 14 tracks continue in this vein, with vocalist Johnny Yerrell painting a picture about life on the estate…with titles like “What you Fighting For” and “Broke Boys Cartel” containing the lyrics “Cause your life’s a joke/You’re sitting in a cloud of smoke/You took another line of coke” life seems hard.

THE BLACK KEYS – DELTA KREAM

Latest release from The Black Keys duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney ably assisted by Eric Deaton and Kenny Brown (Junior Kimbrough slide guitarist). Another helping of those North Mississippi Delta Blues recorded live in the studio in just 10 days. The album uses the iconic 1970’s photo of the Delta Kream shop in Tunica, Mississippi. It kicks off with the John Lee Hooker “Crawling King Snake”  made famous by The Doors. But the mainstay of songs are tributes to Robert Burnside  “Going Down South” and Junior Kimbrough. This is a big helping of the deep south blues if you’re looking for it.

 

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Mark Salsbury

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