God Is In The TV > Features > Jim Auton’s Best of the Year 2021

Jim Auton’s Best of the Year 2021

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It was the worst of times, it was the not so worst of times. 2021 struggled and strained to get started as we felt the prick of needle, watched the prick of a PM and awaited the opening up of the world again, again. Finally, gigs, but also lots of great recorded stuff, written as we all huddled sheltered away from each other. Ten great LPs, five amazing EPs and a few gigs that needed celebrating.

Stay healthy, get inoculated, vaccinated, jabbed and jibbered. Have a Happy Christmas and an actual New Year, not another false start.

Albums of the Year

1. Desperate Journalist – Maximum Sorrow

Not sure if much more needs to be said about this band. It seemed implausible that they could keep getting better and yet here they are with an utter masterpiece. From the understated opener of ‘Formaldehyde’ through the rampaging brilliance of ‘Fault’ and incredible eye rolling cynicism of ‘Personality Girlfriend’ to the apocalyptic ‘What You’re Scared Of’ and kiss off of ‘Was It Worth It’, this is the newest pinnacle for Desperate Journalist, the best band in the country, and I will not shut up about them until this is a universally held truth.

2. Anna B Savage – A Common Turn

Anna B Savage, owner of the greatest voice of this millennium. A Common Turn was a long time in the making but worth it a hundred-fold. Had the pleasure of interviewing Anna, having her as a guest on the Pod and chatting at one of her gigs and it is always gratifying that one of your favourite artists is so lovely and gregarious. With super fan Marc Riley extolling this record, highlights include THE WHOLE BLOODY THING, but if I must, ‘Corncrakes’ with the a cappella breakdowns and ‘A Common Tern’ with it’s devastating insights into a failing relationship, are just incredible. She’s amazing live too.

3. Kiwi Jr – Cooler Returns

Joyful power-pop indie magic. Non-sequitur’s flying around like shards of glass from a shattered window of barbed sarcastic vocals. This LP has the best pop melodies you will hear this year. From opener ‘Tyler’ and it’s rousing ascending intro, through early noughties, NYC aping titular song to the inexplicably more popular single and final track ‘Waiting In Line’ where every song before is indie-pop gold, but it’s still great.

4. Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg

So dry, so laconic, so brilliant. A step up from their early EPs, this is a collection of songs to back up Florence Shaw and her delivery whose pan is so dead the doornail has crumbled and turned to filings.

‘Scratchcard Lanyard’ was an early moist maker but the upward trajectory got steeper with ‘Unsmart Lady’, ‘Strong Feelings’ and ‘Her Hippo’, culminating with ‘Every Day Carry’ and its deceiving coda. They found their feet at the end of their epic new long leg. 

5. Siobhan Wilson – Survivre

I was fortunate enough to hear some early mixes of this beautiful record after she appeared as a guest on our Show Me Magic Podcast last year, and now the finished article is a stunning collection. ‘My Kiss is Not a Messenger’ with its soaring, travelling strings that evokes a murmuration of starlings escaping to warmer climes, previous single ‘Your Moon Has Come’ is a sparse echoing perfect showcase of her classically trained beautiful voice. ‘Warning Signs‘ foreboding and Bond theme slow burning and strings is spine-tingling. Covid and Brexit bollocks is delaying the physical release but be sure to grab a very limited vinyl with handmade sleeve. Stunning.

6. Drug Store Romeos – the world within our bedrooms

Living on another plain, another dimension. Ethereal intergalactic pop with earworms and bops a plenty.

7. We are Scientists – Huffy

The most consistently brilliant U.S band of the past 20 years. Songs about losing your shit and cutting own hair. Humour and great pop songs.

8. LUMP – Animal

Anything with the goddess Laura Marling on is going to be great. She only provides the voice and lyrics, Mike Lindsay is the maestro. Lovely, lovely.

9. Squid – Bright Green Fields

One of the most interesting and innovative bands around. A sprawling jazz fused epic monster.

‘Pamphlets’ and ‘Narrator’ singles are catchy enough to make it as accessible as pop gets.

10. Shame – Drunk Tank Pink

The sarf laaandaan boys stretch themselves on from their debut with a darker post punk take. Inspired by lockdown in Charlie Sheens pink bedroom.

EPs

1. Lowertown – The Gaping Mouth

Brilliant wonky lo-fi new wave pop. Reverb-y guitar all over the shop, angsty but intense beautiful poetry, and that je ne sais quoi that you can’t put your finger on. Debut LP due next year. Ones to watch.

2. Bleach Lab – A Calm Sense of Surrounding

Startlingly beautiful and powerful. There’s a delicateness to Jenna Kyle’s vocal that on songs such as ‘Flood‘ are a perfect paradox to heavy shoegaze guitar.

3. Lizzie Reid – Cubicle

Another beautiful, delicate voice but Lizzie has a vulnerability and crack that pulls at the heartstrings and lifts it to classic voice status. So natural and graceful. Stunning.

4. Flossing – Queen of the Mall

The most enigmatic artist of the year, Flossing aka Heather Elle, is a multimedia artist that is in a purple patch. This first EP is industrial and harsh with a maniacal grin. ‘Switch‘ is the standout on a great first outing for her alter-ego

5. Heka – (a)

Francesca Brierly uses textures and a sonic palette to paint pictures with sounds. ‘(a) wall‘ perfectly embodies the ethos and character behind her, the mixture of her Italian and British roots.

Live

1. Anna B Savage – The Louisiana, Bristol

Finally got to see the god-like Anna B Savage live five years after hearing her debut EP. I was never likely to be disappointed but she was ethereal and magical and brutal and beautiful with further proof her soulful unique voice is no trick. Truly, truly stunning. This will not be the last time. (And she is an incredibly lovely person too)

2. Desperate Journalist – Rough Trade East, London

First gig for seventeen months when I was used to double figures every month, so this was always going to be a bit emotional and for it to be the best band on the planet was even more thrilling. As brilliant as always. Unfortunately, the only one I saw this year due to Covid bollocks.

3. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, The Social, London

Just the most joyful gig of the year, Tom Rees is perpetually smiling and strutting, and its hard not to be sucked in by such huge should-be-mega-hits as ‘30,000 Megabucks’, ‘New Age Millenial Magic’ and ‘Crescent Man v Demolition Dan’ from forthcoming debut LP Backhand Deals, alongside glam rock anthems from last year’s EP, Non- Stop, like ‘Double Denim Hop’, ‘Hollywood Actors’ and ‘John Lennon is my Jesus Christ’.

4. Laura Marling, Albert Hall, Manchester

Her angelic majesty was as sublime as ever at her solo gig in Manchester supporting last year’s stand out record Songs for Our Daughter. Just her and her guitar is something truly spiritual to behold and she is up there with the greats now seven albums in to her career.

5. Lowertown, St Matthias Church, Dalston, London

Such a thrill to see this Atlanta band as they haven’t gigged much at all this year (for obvious reasons) but were over in the UK to record their debut LP at the same place they did for the best EP of 2021. Slightly strange venue for the Pitchfork Festival gig but they already seem to have a healthy following both sides of the pond. The future is bright.

 

 

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