Some sonic goodness to counter a fanatical, plague-filled Dark Age.
As always, all songs were released or rereleased this year, except where noted. Spotify player below and here.
It's a Good Good Feeling. Joe Bataan. This Fania Records compilation features NYC soul with hints of island horns & percussion. It's fantastic. 2021 Needed this.
Minus Me. Alostmen. The Jabba the Hut growler and initial funk bass are almost embarrassing, but this thing turns into a true rug-cutter.
You Are In My Vision. Tubeway Army. Not of 2021, obviously... except I heard Gary Numan's influence everywhere. Tubeway Army's Replicas (1979) is absolutely perfect. I became a little obsessed this year.
Shock Appeal. The Suicide Commandos. This comes just a few years (1977) after the Stooges' Shake Appeal and feels like a perfectly snotty evolution. It wasn't until I read a story this year about the Replacements and their influences that I ever gave 'em a proper listen.
Getting Nowhere Fast. Girls At Our Best. Heard this on KALX while pulling into the driveway this summer. 1980. Brilliant. From Leeds. How have I never heard this song before this year?
Good Enough. Mudhoney. 30 years since Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge. Maybe it's not Mudhoney's best, but I still love love love this record and this song is all-time.
Buggin' Out. Tribe Called Quest. Also 30 years old. 1991 was epic. I return to his record a lot. It just sounds so effortlessly cool.
Fear No Man. Little Simz. My favorite song of 2021, from my second favorite record of the year. There are so many chicken-shit nazi cowards crawling around, Fear No Man is just perfect.
Kologo. Alostmen. I try not to repeat acts, but this one's got such a groove. What'd I say about Tribe Called Quest? Same.
The Call. Madlib. Sometimes all I want from a DJ is to introduce me to a song. This is just Terry Britten's Bargain Day (psychedelic ode to Jesus) sliced into pieces.
Genuine Hesitation. Matthew E White. I hear my dad in this song. Not his voice, just a steady calmness. His vibe is in "I'm hanging tough, there's no doubt about that. I'm always swinging for the fences, there's no doubt about that. You'll be all right, there's no doubt about that." The rest of the lyrics aren't terribly accurate. But my dad haunts the song, nonetheless.
Guided By Angels. Amyl & the Sniffers. Best record of the year. Australia is punk mecca.
Remain Intact. GG King. This song's tempo is inside of me. All the time.
As Seen on TV. CIVIC. CIVIC's New Vietnam appeared on my 2018 list. The Stooges + Radio Birdman. Again, Australia = punk mecca.
I Can't Pay You to Disapear. Osees. Of the few live performances I saw in 2021, the Osees were the most fun. Following an warmly wicked introduction by John Waters, they just blasted and grooved through songs at a breakneck pace. Glorious. This one comes from their Big Sur live recording. Honestly, I don't know why anyone does it any other way. The mix is perfect. Get their Big Sur and Levitation Sessions. Worth it.
I Ain't. Dinosuar Jr. This entire record could be plucked directly from Green Mind era Dino Jr. and that's a fabulous thing. Don't change a thing, Mascis & co.
Reverie. Son Volt. This record could be plucked from No Depression era Uncle Tupelo and that's a fabulous thing. Don't change a thing, Farrar & co.
Lavender Fields. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis. Cave continues his absolute dominance in my annual faves. This record is the dirge 2021 deserved. Crushingly beautiful.
In the Summertime. Chrissie Hynde. A collection of Dylan covers feels like a parody of a pandemic project, but her voice is a nostalgic salve.
Ten Mysterious Photos That Can't Be Explained. Billy Bragg. Bragg does not aim his righteous sword at the internet but approaches it with a bit of jovial, bitter humor.
Be and Bring me Home. Neko Case. Roky Erickson cover. Its sparseness fits her voice perfectly.
Twabonaabona (We Sufferd). Evaristo Muyinda. Nyege Nyege Tapes (thanks for the tip some years back from Nikos) released a collection of African field tapes. I don't know what this is, but it sure sounds like a lament directed squarely at 2021 and it's surely pretty.