When we set out to do our radio show, I honestly thought I would be delving into the past for our soothing Sunday soundtrack. But the greatest thrill of the last year of dispensing Music Therapy to Tameside has been discovering new music. So, here are my top ten new tracks of 2021, as featured on our show. And they’re all British artists. I Do This All The Time - Self Esteem. This isn’t the only end of the year list that will feature Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s spoken word lament, but it was a huge breakthrough track that propelled her album Prioritise Pleasure throughout the year. It’s raw, honest and superbly composed. Winter Solstice - LYR. A low key band fronted by the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, who also use the spoken poetic word technique overlaying intelligent pop music. I envisage this self-pitying plea to a lost lover to be the gaslighting response to Self Esteem’s agony. It isn’t, but I discovered the two in the same week, and I possibly love this because it borrows a line from Prefab Sprout’s Desire from one of my favourite ever 80s sophistipop albums. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now - Joy Crookes. Sometimes new music roots you in the present, but great music can also be timeless. This cracker from young Londoner Joy Crookes has all the glitterball uplifting joy of 1970s soul, with a touch of Amy Winehouse. Ritchie Sacremento - Mogwai. Manchester’s iconic Piccadilly Records had Mogwai’s album, As The Love Continues as their new release of 2021. For a largely atmospheric and instrumental band, this vocal track for me is the most awesome of a very hot batch. There’s also a version knocking about that’s been remixed by Stephen and Gillian from New Order. Pond House - Saint Etienne. Lockdown has been rubbish, but one of the unexpected pleasures has been how it has perversely unlocked the experimental in many artists forced to make do and mend. Saint Etienne’s 2021 album I’ve Been Trying To Tell You is a heady mix of samples and random memories, as is the glorious accompanying film made by fashion photographer Alasdair McLelland. It’s easy to lose yourself in the beautiful Pond House, featuring Natalie Imbruglia on loop with smatterings of Massive Attack’s Protection. Everybody Knows - The Specials. No stranger to the protest song, The Specials recorded a whole album of protest reworkings in 2021, and this Leonard Cohen cover is the cream of the crop. For covers to really work they have to respect the original and bring something new to the party. This does just that, with Terry Hall’s take just right. Heartlow - Jane Weaver. We call her the Kate Bush of Marple Bridge, but our near neighbour just keeps on producing incredible mesmerising music that pulses with energy and beauty. Hooked - Cobain Jones. Another local, this time the Tameside Troubador himself, young Cobain Jones. He’s had his diamond well and truly polished by the Coral’s James Skelly and this 2021 release is a delightful jaunty pop tune. Really chuffed for the lad, who got a record deal and a support slot with Paul Weller in 2021. Lover Undiscovered - The Coral. The whole Coral Island project lit up the middle of the year with a collection of conceptual pop songs that reminded us that the water supply of Liverpool has something special in it. Glad Times - Paul Weller. How the Modfather keeps delivering the goods after all this time, I’ll never know, but I’m so chuffed that he does. His sixteenth solo album sees him pushing the boundaries of perfect pop music again. This is a great track, but at a time when we’re told no one listens to albums anymore, this should be an entree into Weller world, and just a glorious way to make life feel better again. On our Boxing Day show I'll be reviewing our highlights of the year and adding a few gorgeous surprises to the mix.
A link to the show is here.