Mark J. Keenan
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Updated: Dec 24, 2021
What's your favourite new release for the year?
Is it a whole album?
A single song?
An artist you've followed forever, or someone new who caught your ear?
According to my listening statistics for 2021, in ten months I've listened to roughtly 130000 minutes of music, 6000 different artists, and 400 genres (whatever that means!).
For those who like maths (and I am one of them) this works out to 7 hours per day.
By the time you add in the weekly online radio shows I listen to, LPs, CDs, cassettes, music videos, etc....I'm guessing it's close to 8 hours per day.
Why is this relevant? Well, it's probably not, but it does make it hard for me to collate my favourite new release albums for the year. Hard, but not impossible.
So, here they are, my top twelve of 2021, in no particular order (except I am duty bound to list the first one first, and the last one last, so you remember them).
Live At The Prince of Wales 1984
v. Spy v. Spy
This one arrived as a surprise from the Australian Road Crew Association, a not-for-profit supporting the wonderful humans who (normally) keep the live music industry alive. Roadies.
A sound desk recording of the Spies in the days before they had a full album released, and about the time I discovered them. Raw, full of energy, and (not surprisingly) I love it.
This Is What's Important
I'd not heard of Billy Davis until a gig I had tickets to was cancelled. Billy Davis was to have been the support act.
Since then I haven't been able to switch this album off and Billy was my number one listen this year by a mile. Full of soul. Loads of heart. Funky. And fun. I will be listening to this for a long time yet.
If you didn't know who Baker Boy was before, you should know after his spectacular performance at the AFL Grand Final.
Danzal Baker's debut album is the best thing to hit the hip-hop world this year and full of inspiration for everyone. It is the meditjin we need. But don't take my word for it. Check it out yourself.
Rivers Of Nihil
Three albums listed, and not one metal artist in sight. Let me fix that now.
When Lachie Watt mentioned this album on The Racket, he talked about powerful lyrics from the first track, The Tower. He was talking about the line "there's no use in all this guilt surrounding us, pick up your feet, let's go." BOOM! The whole album IS that good....better, even.
For Those I Love
For Those I Love
I find out about new music from some random places. This one was in a newsletter from the Emerging Writers Festival with staff saying what they were reading, watching, and listening to.
Millie mentioned a "hard to define Irish electronic spoken-word banger of an album". It's full of absolute crackers.
Austin's bio mentions how he worships Whitesnake, loves Paramore, idolises Tom Petty; a drummer who got his singing ability and guitar chops playing in his pastor-father's church.
What was I supposed to do? Not listening didn't seem to be an option.
"I am a black sheep, living in a daydream."
This band has been making noise in Canada for a few years, but this, their first album, smashed metal charts worldwide. And with good reason. It's damn fine.
Every song is different, every song is a gem. The opener, Sun Killer, is my favourite (today, anyway) but if you want an emotional tune and a heart-wrenching clip, try Constance.
I Feel Better But I Don't Feel Good
Sometimes with the music I enjoy, the lyrics are indiscernible. Other times they are the thing that hooks me in. That's the case with Alice.
Alice writes lyrics which hang around in your thoughts for days, weeks, maybe even years. My favourite, about a living room inside my head, is in Grand Ideas.
I adore this band and everything they create, not least because they describe themselves simply as "Deafheaven, a metal band," and mostly because they create beautiful soundscapes full of extreme noise, near silence, and everything between.
If the idea of listening to metal fills you with trepidation, put this on and feel it.
Twelve Foot Ninja
When I first saw them play, I was attracted to their alternative sound, and their awesome name.
They don't fit one musical genre. They don't do things by halves either and this album was released with a comic book and a novel. And hilarious clips.
For Those That Wish To Exist
Animals, on this album, was this years Parasite Eve (BMTH) for me. A song which captured the world state in a succint, but deep, way. No surprise when it arrived as my number one song listen, beating Billy Davis and Spiritbox tracks only by a smidge I reckon.
Metalcore band. Symphony orchestra. Abbey Road Studios. GO!
SPY v SPY
Last week, I was messaged by someone I haven't seen in three decades. New tunes. Excited? You're kidding, right!
It's not the originals. Mike died in 2018, but Cliff (OG drummer) joined Mike's band to make new songs. It's gritty and aggressive. It's missing Craig's bass and his voice, but I still can't stop playing it.
I hope you enjoy some, if not all, of them. Let me know what your favourite albums were for the year, and I'll give them a spin as well.