Happy New Year, my friends. I made a promise last year to write an article a week. That worked out great for about 5 months. Then, I went on strike. My strike was… well, not great. No one noticed. It wasn’t until a friend’s bachelor party where Mates flippantly commented “Oh, you were on strike? I literally didn’t notice. Haha you suck.” At that moment I realized that I am nothing and that my outburst was futile at best.
Which brings us to this moment, 2021 is the year of quality over quantity.
The music will still be topical. I will still make jokes that apparently only I think is funny. But now, there will be no expectation of timelines or general forethought. Off the cuff and off schedule is the name of the game for 2022.
This brings me to my next point. All of these end of year lists are too damn long. I get it. You listen to a lot of niche arthouse indie. That’s great. Good for you. But, I don’t want to trudge through 75 songs to see not one Wet Leg song was featured in your top songs for 2021, Mates. Give me the hearty stuff. It’s winter. I want meat, potatoes, and top tens.
So, without further ado, I present my top ten for 2021!
10) “Off the Dial” Native Sun
Brooklyn’s very own, Native Sun, came out with this track at the start of 2021. Native Sun are a band of immigrants and first generation Americans with musical tastes that are as eclectic as the product that they produce. “Off the Dial” is set up as an amalgam of two songs. A thrashing speed punk anthem followed by a deliberate and dark doom-rock break down. This anti-conformity anthem is one that I will be continuing to listen to throughout 2022.
9) “Pain Without a Touch” Sweeping Promises
We have some fast and funky New Wave with an electric feel on our number 9 track. This duo from Boston via Arkansas and, apparently, Mars are quickly ascending my list of indie bands to watch for. Pain Without a Touch is Sweeping Promises first release since their debut album: Hunger For a Way Out. Sweeping promises have been able to create a devote following for a band that has sparingly toured due to the pandemic. You can count me in as one of their henchmen ready deliver pain to anyone who does not sing their praises this new year.
8) “Head Cheerleader” Pom Pom Squad
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band lean more into their name than Mia Berrin’s Pom Pom Squad. I’ve been really into Pom Pom Squad since their initial release Hate it Here. “Head Cheerleader” is one of the more grandiose songs released by Pom Pom Squad to date. The sound is big, and powerful. It crests through the song until the eventual release on the bridge. The lyrics are clear and vulnerable. They take the listener through the turmoil of being lovesick for someone without a choice in the matter. This song has all the makings for a post-pop-punk anthem and I for one am completely here for it.
7) “Time Walk” Bnny
I am psyched that this one made my top ten for various reasons. Bnny is a Chicago band so that is just fantastic for me. They are on Fire Talk records which is my favorite indie label at the moment (with the likes of Dehd, Deeper, Mia Joy, and Wombo). As Bnny was releasing singles for this upcoming album I kept thinking to myself, “Man, this is going to be a great rainy day album. Lot’s of slow and subdued tracks that would keep me great company in front of the fireplace as I drink hot coco (read: whisky). I was very happily surprised when I saw just how varied this album really is. “Time Walk” shows this range that Bnny is developing. Where “Ambulance” and “August” are spacey and slow paced, “Time Walk” is fun and sped up. The tart guitar lines punctuate lead singer Jessica Viscius’ whisper singing.
6) “WUSYANAME” Tyler the Creator, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ty Dolla $ing
The fact that this song is number 6 on my list shows just how strong 2021 was for music and indie music specifically. This song not only has one of the top 5 pickup lines of all time in it, it also has the best verse of the year. YoungBoy puts on an absolutely clinic. His sing song delivery pairs perfectly with the pseudo-soul instrumentals of the song like a fine wine and cheese pairing. I am the first person to use fine wine and cheese reference with NBA Youngboy and I’m fine with that.
5) “Bumps & Bruises” Boldy James
When is Boldy James not releasing new music? Call this man Boldy James Brown because he’s got to be the hardest working man in rap right now. Super Tecmo Bo is probably my favorite project this year start to finish. It’s really polished and Alchemist is completely locked in. What makes “Bumps & Bruises” my favorite off of this project? Boldy’s relaxed delivery pairs perfectly with the spaced out trumpets and slowed drums. At a few points in the song the beat drops out for effect.
4) “Too Late Now” Wet Leg
It is pretty well known at this point that I love Wet Leg. This duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers have had perhaps the quickest ascent that I can remember in a long time. For reference, Wet Leg, has only 4 songs out and they are featured on 7 different Spotify verified playlists. I know that this is not the barometer of success, but to be featured on more verified playlists than songs released is just outrageous. “Too Late Now” is a departure from the other 3 songs they have released (so far). Rhian Teasdale sings in a trudges through the first two verses in a sing-song soprano over a steady bass line punctuated by sharp plucks of the lead guitar. This leads to an eventual breakdown both in the song and in the lyrics. As the music speeds up and the energy heightens the lyrics turn introspective. This song rocks and I could write about it for a full article but neither of us has time so we move on.
3) “Cigarette Packet” Sorry
This song is fast paced and a lot of fun. Cowbell to boot. I love a sped up bassline and this has that in droves. I love the drums a lot in this song as well. I think it adds a lot of texture to the song when the bass drum comes in. This song has just enough of an electric touch to it, activating my LCD Soundsystem lobe while also being completely unique and catchy on its own volition. Whenever I put this song on my feet automatically move. Dance people, DANCE!
2) “Gang Signs” Freddie Gibbs and Schoolboy Q
Finally, Mates and I agree on something besides the fact that the National League should really adopt the DH position. Gang Sings is a bonafied hit. I still cannot believe that this is the first song that Gibbs and Q have done together. They both are so similar in their subject matter and ability to paint a vivid picture in their deliveries while having completely unique sounds that play off each other so well. On this track we have Freddie Gibbs delivering his melodic delivery a la Bone Thugz and Do or Die. To balance it out we have Schoolboy Q delivering a verse in his typical, gritty delivery to offset the melody laid down by Freddie Gibbs. It’s a really well-balanced song. Oh, and the music video is great as well.
No surprises here. Chaise Longue is currently one of my top 5 favorite songs ever. It just winds me up and spins me around every time that I listen to it. I haven’t heard a song like Chaise Longue in a long time. The fact that this so polished as the first ever single for Wet Leg is amazing. Whenever I listen to this I hear a lot of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even a touch of the Arctic Monkeys. The bass, the fast paced drum fills, and the ascending guitar riffs all comes together with some objectively strange lyrics to make a classic. The fact that this song is not on Mate’s 75 song end of year list is criminal and next time I see him I will be citizen arresting him.
And, that will do it! I hope you all enjoyed and I will be talking to you all soon.