I featured the other days albums that impressed me much and was played often at my place and I thought it was the time to write down the best songs of this year. Many of them you can find on the long posts and I have to admit that I am not the one that is able to finish the list because there were so many songs I heard the first time this year that made me happy once or several times. Other songs crossed my attention weeks later when I listened to them on my yearly playlist on Spotify where I collect new songs year by year. Looking at this playlist I find more than 200 songs and the more I think about it I can't decide which one would reach a top ten. So here are some songs, subjective of course and not showing the full range of music I listened too but still worth to be named when you look back on this year.
Part two of my personal review of albums that impressed me much this year. When I look at the list it seems that my taste in music reduced speed and turned into more ambient. But this is not the truth. It is only because less complete albums made me feel to listen completely for several times. Anyway, a list I can agree and I hope there were some inspirations for you all.
Liminanas / Laurent Garnier - Le Pelicula
Saint Etienne - I've Been Trying To Tell You
The Vendetta Suite - The Kempe Stone Portal
Richard Norris - Hypnotic Response
Daniel Avery - Together In Static
The Grid / Robert Fripp - Leviathan
Tindersticks - Distractions
Late Night Tales - Version Excursion with Don Letts
The year is almost over and it is time to have a look back to the releases from 2021. I have to say that there were many albums released that are worth to be mentioned in a retrospective. Not all albums that impressed me or made fun got it on the year and list. What doesn't mean that they are no good at all but I decided to list 21 albums from this year without scoring in the order.
Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg
Sault - Nine
Ben Watt - Storm Shelter
The Orb - Abolition of the Royal Familia (Guillotine mixes)
Jah Wobble returns with his new album to his roots and made a dub-version of PIL's 1979 classic album Metal Box. And it is not surprising, that he doesn't play it in the same way he did more than 40 years ago. He returned to this album to present us interesting versions of the songs on a floor of dub. I think you can't compare the original with this version. It is more a new album paying tribute to Metal Box. A surprising and wonderful new release that made me to listen to the original once again.
Talking about female soul singer of the 60's there were mostly named singers from across the Atlantic ocean. Sadly it was overlooked that Great Britain had also wonderful soulful voices. If it was Welsh singer Mary Hopkin, Essex born Sandie Shaw or Scottish singer and actress Lulu - all of them had a great voice and veritable hits almost 60 years ago and worth to be remembered.
Today I start my annual journey to Sri Lanka again. So there will be only a few posts in the next weeks. Have a wonderful time and stay safe.
Short before the turn of the century Richard Fearless released with his band Death In Vegas a classic record that I rediscovered a few days ago. I got this record by recommendation by a friend and what I heard blew my mind. I seldom listened to an album that was different and never boring. A melange of loops inspired by The Velvets, JAMC and The Stooges and combined with the best electronic music could give you at this time. And it was no wonder that Iggy Pop, Bobby Gillespie, Dot Allison and Jim Reid appeared on this forgotten masterpiece.
Copenhagen's Anders Trentemøller is back with a few more tracks from his upcoming album and he turned into darker and noisy style. A track that features another side of him. There is nothing to add to the press information to this song:
A hooky bass line opens the track, ultimately taunting whip-crack drums into entering an unabating duel. Oscillating echoes materialize, like murmurs from the netherworld, eventually culminating into actual voices.
Last week Drew posted that a copy of a new vinyl arrived at his place. I didn't knew that Pete Namlook's album Air from 1993 was re-released so I checked out my CD and listened to this once again. Peter Kuhlmann is a German ambient and electronic-music producer and composer and released as Pete Namlook more than 100 solo albums and collaborations. Air is an overlooked beauty in ambient and solar drone music. Led by slow electronic groove and accented guitar licks the songs are suitable for a one hour trip into space.
Another few songs from the era where female vocalists were big in business and simply greats songs were released. The first one is by Lesley Gore, a singer where Quincy Jones got aware in 1963 and the result of several test takes was her greatest hit - It's My Party. To the other ones I doesn't have to lose many words. Martha Reeves had many hit singles with The Vandellas and Nina Simone stands for everything a female soul voice should have.
Pat Fish formed in 1982 one of the best bands from the early 80's. The Jazz Butcher could be described powerful indie-folk band with a massive touch of great arrangements and the ability to create great lyrics to songs full of hooks. They accompanied me during a lot of years and I often came back to their music. So I felt sad when I got the news several weeks ago that Pat Fish died too early, a songwriter right between Ray Davis and Pete Townshend. But they also made great cover versions and with We Love You they made the old Stones song sound like an early Acid House track. During the last months Fire Records released a couple of their albums and a few days ago Dr. Cholmondley Repents a four CD-Collection of their A-sides, 12-inches and rarities. A good way to enter the universe of The Jazz Butcher and their magnificent sound.
Something Wild was one of the best movies from the mid-80's and probably one of the best soundtracks. One of the songs was Pili Pili by Jasper Van't Hof. Van't Hof is a Dutch jazz-pianist and keyboard player. Since the early 70's he played with the creme of jazz musicians and became a leading figure in jazz and fusion. In the early 80's he formed his band Pili Pili where he combined European jazz with African rhythms and danceable grooves. This was maybe one of the first jazz influenced tracks for dancefloor and still his masterpiece for me.
Wolf Alice are back and released another song from their last album Blue Weekend. And one more time the song lives by the voice of Ellie Rowsell. She is able to sound between Sarah Nixey from Black Box Recorder and Sarah Cracknell from Saint Etienne. The sound is still the same - a washed-out wall of sound with guitars and a few electronics. Also nice listening to her experiences on the west-coast.
In the early 80's Manchester's Inca Babies appeared on the scene with a great fresh kind of post-punk and Rock and Roll. I was surprised what these kids are able to do because seldom in these days I heard this kind of mixing genres and influences by Link Wray, The Cramps of The Birthday Party with the energy of new wave. The spine of their sound was a deep rolling bass combined with sharp guitar riffs and drifty drums - perfect for three minute hymns.
It was a few weeks ago when I got a sampler by girl groups from the 60's. This bought was full of classics from times long gone by but listening to them after all these years it is a great fun. So I decided to make a little series out of it. The CD's were full of great voices from both sides of the ocean and maybe you call me nostalgic but these songs were part of my musical education and there is no reason not to feature them at this time. Most of the songs were simple but with great hooks or a voice that was outstanding. I think I don't have to say much because you might know and probably like these songs. If it turns you back to some better days (when we didn't discussed our today's problems) I feel happy.
José Gonzalez, a Gothenburg born son of Argentine immigrants is one of those artists that makes a kind of music that is hard to describe. Influenced in his young days by hardcore bands like Black Flag and later by Joy Division (Love Will Tear Us Apart is a regular part of encores in his live appearances) he turned the last years into singer/songwriter genre. During the last years he released some remarkable folk songs torn between Nick Drake and Paul Simon. What make them different from many others is his languorous singing and picked acoustic guitar playing. He released his last album Local Valley a few months ago and now DJ Koze remixed Tjomme (what means dude) and the result is Caribian/Balearic groove. A song to let the sun in.
Höga Nord Records from Gothenburg, Sweden is one of those record labels that are fantastic for me releasing great electronic music - especially re-releases from bands I never heard before. The last one I found was Lovin Hell an EP originally released in 2016 by Vox Low a band from Paris. Their dark sound is somewhere between cold, minimal Cologne techno and post-punk guitars like JAMC did. One of the best findings this year
Andrew Weatherall recognized their abilities much earlier and they were part of his Convenanza festival in 2015. Soon later Vox Low remixed his and Nina Walsh's The Last Walk. Also a beauty that didn't played too often.
Jonas Wehner aka Warm Graves, a Leipzig based collective, announced a few days ago the release of their new album in spring 2022 after their first release almost nine years ago. Since then he played their atmospheric and wide sound on various festivals in Europe. Based on krautrock bands like NEU! they are back with repetitive drum grooves, dramatic organ sound and echoed chorus inviting to a trip into space. A new name but worth to investigate.
Since the long gone by days of The Pale Fountains I follow the releases of Michael Head because of his abilities of writing fantastic songs. If it was with Shack or with The Red Elastic Band he always wrote timeless songs. Sadly he didn't got the recognition he should have and he is still another artist for insiders. Maybe because he had a lot to work to get rid of using drugs he wasn't featured but every couple of years he releases an album that was far over the average of many others. The last one he released was Adios Senor Pussycat four years ago and it is full of personal life-affirming songs and it one of those albums I can listen to from the start to the end. For me a perfect start into a wet autumn Sunday.
Jesse Fahnestock a Swedish producer and DJ is the mastermind behind the project 10:40 who brought us with Sleepwalker one of the best EP's from electronic beats. On Sleepwalker he re mixed another song by Spacemen 3 after after How Does It Feel almost six month ago. Both songs were released originally on Spacemen 3's third album Playing With Fire. Both songs were remixed on a down-tempo dub floor and both worth to give them more than a listen. Another remixes by great songs from an underrated album.
Soul is a genre you might love or not but sometimes artists appear building bridges from the classic sound of blues and gospel inspired music to a very own kind of psych-rock and hip hop. Curtis Harding shows on If Words Are Flowers what today's soul music can be. A smooth and voluminous voice drifting between all named genres. Perfect arranged songs shows the acoustic spectrum that modern soul could offer. Full horn sections meet guitar licks and wah-wah sounds. Sometimes I think Stevie Wonder meets Jimi Hendrix or other psychedelic guitarists. If you decide to get a modern soul album from this year go and get it (otherwise you can own the latest Sault album).
Last week Swiss Adam featured Coyote a Nottingham based duo riding the Balearic way in a very high class way. Their album Mystery Light is the perfect soundtrack for a relaxed evening when you allow your mind drifting into other spheres. I will enjoy this sound until I find myself at the beach in near future.
Another new song was released that reminded me by it's title to a song from decades long passed by. Hush was a song by Joe South and got popular by Deep Purple in the late 60's. Now Maria Zardoya, Puerto Rica and now in Los Angeles living singer released a song with the same title as The Marias. But the sound couldn't be more different. Her smoke-velvet vocals over a pulsing electronic beat with some guitar chords makes this song an outstanding indie-pop song.
And here is the Deep Purple's song from their debut album. A little masterpiece in hard-rock meets organ sound.
A few days ago I found in my vinyl collection Ry Cooder's live album Show Time from 1977 again. I have to admit that I always had an open ear for the music of his music. From his early days as a well known session musician over his first albums with eclectic song collections to his steps towards to world music and soundtracks he always made the songs he played on unique. This album was recorded in the period when he celebrated his Chicken Skin Music a melange of classic folk songs and new ones played with Mexican and Hawaiian musicians and it shows all the abilities a guitar player could have. Listening to these songs again he is one of the most influential and underrated guitar player ever and I will go on listening to his soundtracks and collaborations with Wim Wenders later.
No, this is not about one of Bruce Springsteen's greatest songs. This Thunder Road is by Martinou, a Swedish DJ and producer and taken from his latest album Rift. His music is stamped by conventions of house and techno but he reduced speed and create a flow and groove of something sublime. One of the best in this genre this year.
I can't resist to feature the great storyteller with Thunder Road right now.
Two songs today that came first to my ears a few days ago that made me believe that it is possible to make great pop songs still. The first one is from Alewya Demisse, a 25 year old Saudi Arabia born singer/songwriter, producer, model and multidisciplinary artist now living in London. I first got aware of her with her first single Sweating from last year. Now she is back with Play where minimalist polyrhythmic sound where combined with almost spoken words. Remarkable how light-footed the piece intertwines current African club sounds with the legacy of the dub in British club music.
Phoebe Green is a young artist from Manchester and she present us sparkling indie synth pop. So Grown Up is a nostalgic look back to her schooldays when she sings about the loss of virginity and a few more things. A song that could only made in Britain.
„What happened to the boys we fucked with at school
Now you’re in love with a man the same age as your dad And i’m in love with a girl that I can’t stand“
Since 1995 Japanese psychedelic rock collective Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. hold the flag of space music very high. During the years they released various albums with the aim travelling the galaxy for spaced out sounds influenced by late 60's progressive rock and a massive package of krautrock. Earlier this year they released their album Leviation Sessions another noisy trip into space. Not the worst way to start into the new month.
It is the last day of October and as every year you see the whole town in a Halloween mood. I have to admit that I never understood the hype for this event (except a special event for kids) and mostly tried to ignore it. But you can't go out for a beer to see the pub covered with cobwebs, skulls and more scary items. It is not my cup of tea but if someone close to Halloween I don't want to spoil this event. Here are some songs that came to my mind when I am thinking about Halloween. Enjoy and have a scary night.
In 1979 Bristol collective The Pop Group released Y an album that is one of the most radical in it's way. Dennis Bovell produced this album after his collaboration with The Slits and it was a dub-influenced melange of punk, funk, jazz and noise where Mark Stewart shouted his political statements. For me it wasn't always a pleasure to listen to this album because I couldn't bear his shouting for a longer time. But I always liked the bass-driven sound and the way they handled their reggae influences. Now Bovell released a dub version of this album and it is time to listen to this classic once again.
It was in the early 80's of the days close after post-punk when many bands tried to broaden their musical horizon and searched for more experiences in funk and dancefloor. This turning away from classical new sounds were different to many people I knew at these days but slowly I realized the roots they had and those bands opened my ears for sounds I ignored for a long time and guided me to the later upcoming sound of what made DJ-music established years later. Listening to these roots is still a pleasure and a part of my musical education.
It is 50 years ago when American rock-jazz band Chicago released the first four long player included first live album. It was recorded during a tour in the early 70's when they played for a week in London's Carnegie Hall. In my early days I enjoyed their combination of classic rock, prog and fantastic horn arrangements. And listening to their songs decades later they have still a kind of attraction to no and not only because of I was in a nostalgic mood.
Brooklyn's indie-rocker Parquet Court released their new album during the last week. I expected from them nothing more than another good album filled with good indie-music. And they fulfilled the expectations from the first song a post-punk hymn full of verve. So far so good. But there are songs on this album where they step out of their cliches and integrate groove and electronic into their sound. Marathon Of Anger has a minimal groove and the chant imitate Talking Heads to lead us into an Ian Curtis-inspired post-punk hymn.
Plant Life is more a dance-jam that could be a leftover from a forgotten sessions Primal Scream or Happy Mondays did in the early 90s. I think it has nothing to do with copy a great sound it is more transporting great things from the past into today's world. With these songs Parquet Courts show us that they are far better than many of their workmates.
It was 40 years ago when a new wave hero released a record that was far away I and probably everyone expected. Elvis Costello was always an artist that had antennas for different kind of popular music for example when he produced folk-punks like The Pogues. But with his fifth album he surprised me a lot because he turned into country music. I bought this record because I thought you can't go wrong without a new album by him. But listening to this album I was irritated a lot because I didn't expected that this sound wasn't close to me at these times. For a long time Almost Blue was a part of my collection but was played at my place very seldom. During the last decades this album became a close friend of mine because the older I got the more I could see the beauty in this songs. And this album became one of those I will never miss - not only because of Elvis' authentic versions of country classics.
Almost 40 years ago Echo and the Bunnymen were on one of their last tour through Europe and the at the top of their level. I sadly didn't had the possibility to watch them live at these days but when I listen to their live record I can imagine what I missed. They didn't only played their own songs, they more made traveled through musical history and their influences. The cover versions of songs from different decades are of course not new but they played it with a verve I seldom heard before and after. I you need to have examples why The Bunnymen should be in musics Olymp just listen to this songs. Timeless and still a pleasure listening to.
In 1978 Bauhaus appeared as one of the first one's on the post-punk scene with a very own and unique sound. Bela Lugosi's Dead were a great song played on every party I was in these days and also stamped my musical preferences for years. But I didn't expected that they were also one of those bands that formed gothic a modification of punk and new wave that brought us many new bands and pleasure during the forthcoming years. It is not my favorite kind of music but when I walk this kind of road I will always find a lot of songs that accompanied my life.
A few days ago I was in the mood to listen to glam rock again after a longer time. When I take a journey back into this era I always visit one of the best bands of this genre. Wolverhampton's Slade were the prototype of a working class based rock band and became leading bands of glam. Their sound is just a blues-rock influenced rock but Noddy Holder's voice made all their songs different and unique. In the early 70's the appeared several times on German television in shows by Beat Club and Musikladen and I can remember that they impressed me much watching them in my very early days.
A few weeks ago a compilation came to my ears that brought me back to forgotten songs of the 80's. Not that they are necessary or groundbreaking but this compilation by Gary Crowley brought back memories of a decade I almost forgot. Most of the songs are not the well known songs by the artists but reflecting these songs showed the way artists stepped into a new era. Mostly influenced by new wave they were not able to arrive in the upcoming electronic decade. Anyway, listening to these songs brought back memories and inspired me to listen to other songs of these era.
During the last days I listened a lot to Primal Scream's epic Screamadelica album released 30 years ago. I don't have to tell you much about this album only that is probably the one that combined new wave, classic rock style with the upcoming electronic era and made my ears open to a lot of new sounds. This is a seldom played remix of Come Together by BBG released again earlier this year on a remix-compilation of Screamadelica-songs.
In 1966 Frank Zappa ant the Mothers of Invention released Trouble Every Day in 1966 on their debut Freak Out. This one is one of my oldest one I own but always one I come back from time to time. Not only because Zappa was the one who made always the thing he wanted to make and his music was outstanding and far ahead of the times. Today you would call him an influencer a business you can make more money you can spent a month if you have enough followers. Trouble Every Day was by Zappa written round the the Watts riots in 1965 in Los Angeles. I have to admit that I forget this song and new interpretations came to my ears during the last weeks. First by She Drew The Gun a band that didn't get the acclaim they ought to have and second as a track on the latest release by The Specials where they featured protest songs from the last decades. Both versions are worth to get listened but the original is still unbeaten.
I can't tell the reason why I came back to an album that was released 50 years ago. Joni Mitchell released Blue in a period when she was finished her partnership with James Taylor not only because he was addicted in heroin. Blue is one of those albums by an artist that strips her soul to us. Fragile songs by Joni after she got big success after Woodstock a song that stamped almost a whole generation. All the songs were reduced to her soft and broken voice that fits completely to the lyrics of songs that showed a lot to the feelings she had in these days. I seldom listened to another album that showed an introspective to a soul she did. One of those singer/songwriter albums that are timeless. Often sad but sometimes you can see beauty and optimism like in Carey.
Day By Day by from Preston based band White Flowers is one of those shoegazed albums that I didn't ignored even if it was a genre I am not really familiar with. White Flowers make this kind of dream-pop many artist try to reach. It is certainly not a groundbreaking album but it touches my with it's post-punk influenced soft sound and the whispered Katie Drew. Both, Drew and Joey Cobb started as a songwriter duo during their art-school studies in London and went back to their hometown in Preston to finish their first album. Their songs are filled with their experiences various session on their late 80's independent sound and the result is a introverted version of the legacy by post-punk with blustering wall-of-sound guitars and the melancholic sound of Cocteau Twins. An album you can dive into if you can let it happen.
A few weeks ago I featured Margee's first vinyl In My Sleep at this place. Now Alexandre Gimard ist back with a new three track EP and offers us more of his incredible work. Pain De Me is another smooth trip into club sounds with a bass-line other ones would kill for. There is nothing more to tell about - just listen.
One of Germany's best post-punk/indie-rock band announced a new album that will be released early next year. As an appetizer the released the first single Jugend ohne Gott und Faschismus. With her new single, Tocotronic take a political stand and underline the importance of a cosmopolitan attitude to life. "You spend the day with the skateboarders in the park. Later, you're tired and drifting off. In your dreams you see things. They grow everywhere. Diamonds, silver rings in supersonics, "says a line of songs. The reference to "Jugend ohne Gott" by Ödön von Horváth is also obvious. In the 1937 novel, a teacher is exposed to the racist remarks of his students, instead of defending himself, he behaves in accordance with the system. Tocotronic are still a political band and their sound based on guitar riffs are not really new and different but if you like a kind of music you don't need experiences.
A new name came to me a few days ago when Spotify introduced new releases. Ron Flatter is a German DJ and producer and trained in the techno and trance in the mid 90's. Now he is going to release another EP during the next weeks. What I heard was a relaxed downtempo house track with steady beats whre electronic excursions could be made. Not the worst way to step into the first weekend of October
Babe Ruth is one of these forgotten bands that made a song in the early 70's that might be known be the elder ones but not often played these days. The Mexican is probably the song you could combine with this band. A song their first album First Base that combines classic rock styles with the music of Ennio Morricone. It was one of those songs from my very early days when I were introduced to music by older mates and one of those I come back from time to time. What this song makes outstanding is that they gamble with different genres. I don't know if this song is close to someone out there but for me it is a classic from almost 50 years ago and I still love it.
It took decades until I heard another song that was similar to this. I had to wait until it was featured in Tarantino's Kill Bill II. This appearance by Chingon was outstanding for me because I seldom saw artists play a song in a relaxed way they did.
Back in 1980 another post-punk band appeared on the scene. The Monochrome Set were different to many other bands at this time because you can't classify them to a special sound. Strange lyrics and a distinctive intuition for melodies were a trademark for them. Love Zombies was their second album and for me a forgotten highlight of this era. I found this gem a few days ago as a copy on my external drive and I am happy to listen to them once again and turned to their 2018 superb album Maisieworld that was featured at this place when it was released.
Sometimes I think it is hip to pay tribute to artists and re-recording their songs. Many of them failed because you can't beat the originals recorded decades ago. But there are less tributes that celebrates a great album. This happened a few days ago when the songs of Velvet Undergrounds first album was re-recorded. Different artists from old heroes and young musicians made this tribute worth to listen because their interpretation spreads from similar to the old sound to a very new interpretation of those classic songs. I don't like every of this cover versions but some are really worth to give them a listen because they included them to their very own sound. Anyway, it is a good reason to listen to the fantastic originals once again.
Khurangbin is a Houston, Texas based band and their music is a melting pot of soul, funk and psychedelic groove. A few weeks ago they released a remix album of their 2020 release Mordechai. The music is dominated by Laura Lee's bass and the guitar chords by Mark Speer. When the originals have a flavour of easy going west-coast sound the remixes leads bit more into a relaxed sound that should be played as a background to a sundown cocktail.
A few days ago Bob Dylan released another part of his bootleg series called Springtime in New York. It is full of outtakes from his early 80's albums like Infidels and it was the the time he hit the Christian road and I turned away from him. Not that I didn't liked him any more but it was the time he didn't have to say much to me and other music came very much closer to me. Listening to those mostly unreleased songs shows that he was still able to write and arrange great songs. Although Infidels was produced by Mark Knopfler (I like their first album but the rest is rubbish) the songs were not polished in a mainstream way and worth to give them another chance after all these years
In addition to Echorich's yesterdays post about an album I really love I think it is necessary to post another song that I am firm with. Stagger Lee is one of those songs that made me looking to another side of life tht I am not close to. Nick told us a story of an outlaw gambling with his life and living on the edge. And I saw a lot of people coming close to Stagger Lee but not doing the things he did. But always looking from a different side of life to me. An incomprehensibility for me but this might be another fact of life. Anyway a fantastic song from the dark side of human beings.