Editor’s Picks: Top 50 songs of 2021 – Part One

What a year it’s been. Still though, 2021 next year! What’s that? Oh fuck… December 2021 and bloody hell if we’re not hurtling back to where we were a year ago in the UK!

It is all doom and gloom, however the new music just keeps on coming (to the point we’ve found it hard keeping up) and once again we find ourselves tasked with picking the 50 best songs that came out this year to give them the Birthday Cake For Breakfast seal of approval. Some choice cuts here.

As ever, the list that follows is alphabetical rather than a crowning achievement for the number one spot. After all, it’s not a competition (though surely the Birthday Cake For Breakfast #1 song of the year would be a coveted accolade? Alas…)

Amyl and The Sniffers – Hertz
(Comfort To Me)

Nails Aussie punk from Amyl and The Sniffers, taken from an album which has planted itself firmly in my nut this past few months. Revved up and mega infectious, when vocalist Amy Taylor shouts, you listen.

Anz – You Could Be (ft. George Riley)
(All Hours)

Manc artist Anz caught our attention mid-year with the wonk-pop joy of ‘Unravel In The Designated Zone’, following it up swiftly with a new EP and the straight pop brilliance of ‘You Could Be’. Some tune this!

Arab Strap – Fable of the Urban Fox
(As Days Get Dark)

Fuck off back to fox land, these streets are fucking full.”

Following a lengthy break, Scots Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton reunited once more in 2021 for the release of ‘As Days Get Dark’, one of our favourite releases of the year. Moffat is famed for spinning a yarn and it’s the captivating ‘Fable of the Urban Fox’ which particularly took hold of us this year.

For a full review of ‘As Days Get Dark’, look no further.

The Armed – All Futures

DETROIT! Excellent return single from ‘Motor City’ hardcore shape-shifters The Armed. We came for the video (Clark Huge!), but we stayed for the tune. Though we mainly just like watching the video and seeing this lot looking so splendid… A proper anthemic adrenaline rush.

Lots more words can be found in our ‘Ultrapop‘ review here!

Audiobooks – The Doll
(Astro Tough)

Christ this is catchy stuff! Eccentronic Research Council comes to mind on this oddball number from London based duo Audiobooks. A moody club backing sits under a weirdly captivating tale of the search for a missing doll, told in hypnotic fashion by vocalist Evangeline Ling.

Black Midi – John L

They’re still an outfit that divide opinion. But opinions can change. Mine certainly did with ‘Cavalcade’, the now three-piece behind it ticking all manner of boxes on their second album (including the surprising Prefab Sprout numbers we weren’t expecting). The manic head-trip ‘John L’ is our favourite at the time of writing…

A review of ‘Cavalcade‘? But of course.

Max Bloom – Pedestrian

Following on from a wonderful solo debut last year, the former Yuck vocalist returns in 2021 with album number two – led by title track ‘Pedestrian’. A John Lennon solo stylee mingles with bursts of brass on this beautiful piece.

Max talked us through second single ‘Palindromes’ ahead of the album release, which you can read here.

Bodega – Doers
(Broken Equipment)

Writing the 2021 anthem we’ve all had on our minds (‘Bitter, Harder, Fatter, Stressed Out‘), New Yorkers Bodega line up their second album with a ludicrously infectious return single. Never a foot wrong, this lot.

The Bug Club – We Don’t Need Room For Lovin’
(Launching Moondream One)

The debut offering from Welsh lot The Bug Club had us hooked from note one, their garage rock chops making for quite the head-nodder. Can’t fault a faded out guitar solo neither, and hey – we’ve not been as stoked about the alphabet since primary school!

Silly questions were answered by The Bug Club earlier this year, which you can read here.

Chubby and the Gang – Lightning Don’t Strike Twice
(The Mutt’s Nuts)

The punks came up trumps this year off the back of signing to Partisan, with the release of their hotly tipped second album. ‘Lightning Don’t Strike Twice’ captures the vigour and anthemic nature of their debut ‘Speed Kills’, with a chorus that just won’t quit.

A full rundown on ‘The Mutt’s Nuts‘ can be found here.

Cold Comfort – Too Stained
(Weak and Dazed)

Northwich based solo artist Ben Forrester followed up on his noisy roots this year, influenced by the likes of Health Plan and METZ, to create a fuzzy five-track EP that sounds a bit like Bloc Party at their most infectious on the quiet. Dead good this!

Forrester talked us through some of those very influences just last month, which you can find here.

Deliluh – Amulet B

Daddy or chips? Tough call picking between A and B on this one, both sides of the latest single from Deliluh offering up slightly different flavours (A recorded as a quartet, B as the current duo). ‘Amulet B’ is a bit more immediate, channelling Reznor and his mates, though we’re just as hot on A!

Deliluh were the first band we saw live without restrictions post-lockdown (!) – full highlights here.

DITZ – Ded Würst

Rock hard this from Brighton lot DITZ, ‘Ded Würst’ flicking between hypnotic to crushing, pneumatic drill heaviness at the drop of a hat. Love that LOUD/quiet dynamic.

DITZ told us everything there is to know about the single just the other month – you can read that here.

Du Blonde – Smoking Me Out

With a bit of an American High School movie end credits flavour (‘Homecoming’ – I get it), ‘Smoking Me Out’ chucks in ‘Joe’s Garage’ x Rocky Horror Picture Show in the mix for this uplifting, anthemic alt-pop banger.

FACS – Strawberry Cough
(Present Tense)

Shimmering and glitching away, the trippy ‘Strawberry Cough’ very much gets under your skin throughout its five minute duration. An early favourite from the latest album, you’d expect nothing less from the cucumber cool Chicago outfit known as FACS.

Just this month, FACS own Brian Case gave us his 2021 highlights – all that here.

Field Music – Do Me A Favour
(Flat White Moon)

Another year, another untouchable Field Music record. From their eighth full length studio album – full of EOY contenders – ‘Do Me A Favour’ (with its slight Tom Petty vibe) really tickled our fancy for 2021.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Field Music earlier this year – read that here.

Folly Group – Sand Fight
(Awake and Hungry)

The hype is real! Londoners Folly Group rip it up on their debut EP, closer ‘Sand Fight’ the best of a strong set. The catchiest of the current crop of UK post-punk acts knocking about, 2022 will no doubt have big things in store.

Gabriels – Love and Hate In A Different Time
(Love and Hate In A Different Time)

If it’s good enough for Elton John, it’s good enough for us. Reg called it right with the LA-based trio, producers Ryan Hope and Ari Balouzian sound-tracking an incredible vocal performance from gospel singer Jacob Lusk. A chorus for the ages, Lusk sounds timeless.

God Damn – Yout
(Raw Coward)

God Damn at maybe their most raging, the lead single from their new record ‘Raw Coward’ is ear-shredding. Frantic and crushing, it makes one long for social distancing to be a thing of the past. Throat lozenge required.

God Damn were good eggs and told us all about the single mid-year – read that here.

Gnod – Pink Champagne Blues
(La Mort Du Sens)

Proper ear-destroyer from up the road in Salford via Gnod, the driving parts of ‘Pink Champagne Blues’ proper propel you into explosive bursts of crushing noise for dizzying results.

Gnod were kind enough to put up with some daft questions from us – answers here.

Gruff Rhys – Hiking In Lightning
(Seeking New Gods)

Whilst we can’t quite shift the image of Simon Farnaby singing these songs (listen yourself – definite sound-alike), we’ve still been mad for Gruff Rhys this year and his latest epic. The driving ‘Hiking In Lightning’ is a real winner, from our favourite record about a mythic volcano (tough competition!)

Seeking New Gods! Reviewed! Here!

Aldous Harding – Old Peel

Ahead of a bumper UK/EU tour next year, New Zealand’s own Aldous Harding put out a notable live favourite this year in ‘Old Peel’. Following on the wonkiness of 2019’s ‘Designer’, the latest single is a real quirky gem.

Holiday Ghosts – Off Grid
(North Street Air)

Ripper territory from Brighton’s Holiday Ghosts, ‘Off Grid’ capturing the sound of the sea, beach frolics and the sun having his hat on. A real fuzzy garage rock trip.

Home Counties – Modern Yuppies

Great use of their time in lockdown, Home Counties invested in some old gear purchased off the net (a second-hand analogue synth and a drum machine) to add some 80s daftness into their set up. Wise move we reckon as ‘Modern Yuppies’ is an oddball delight.

Paul Jacobs – Half Rich Loner
(Pink Dogs on the Green Grass)

Released at the very start of 2021, Jacobs (who we’ve loved hammering away behind the kit in Pottery) dropped this cool little number to preview his latest solo release. Rocking with a touch of the Lindsey Buckingham’s about it, with some Zappa chucked in for good measure.

Jacobs answered a series of daft questions for us around the same time – dig it!

Like what you see? Why not stick around and check out the other articles and interviews!
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