VPME Albums of The Year 2021

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Another weird year for the world and for music draws to an end as it soils its ill-advised advised trousers before staggering toward the finishing line. At the time of writing there seems little respite from Corona hindered in no small part by lack of clarity from a government led by the “cabbage patch Draco Malfoy*” (*©Marina Hyde)  who seems more concerned with appeasing libertarian nob heads and the 1922 Committee than protecting public health. And yet now the Toris seem shocked that the bumbling fuckwit wearing the Boris Johnson mask turns out to be, well … Boris Johnson. The man whose “oven-ready Brexit Deal” transpired to be a slightly warm cowpat.  The vaccines arrived and essentially saved us from spending the entire year binge-watching Netflix. Dystopian Koren drama Squid Game became the year’s surprise hit smashing records having been watched by 111 million subscribers in its first 28 days. 

Elsewhere billionaires launched their phallic-shaped insecurities into space and the rise of the conspiracy theorist and Anti-vax movement continued to spew its arrant bollocks all over social media and threatened to take us back to the start of the pandemic whilst in America, Capitol Hill was stormed by QAnon loons at the behest of outgoing President Donald Trump. Like the massive orange man-baby he is, The Donald refused to accept the result of the US election, it was all apparently as fake as his tan, yup it’s all fake news baby. However, nobody predicted when the revolution came it would be led by a group of dentally challenged yee-hawing miscreants who looked as though they’d just wandered off the set of Deliverance.  Or that a bloke who resembled a cross between a buffalo, a  reject from a Village People tribute act, a Poundland new age shaman and JK from Jamiroquai would become their poster boy. The Twat in the (tin-foil) hat.  Joe Biden took over and when he managed to stay awake promptly disappointed but hey at least he’s not Trump, which let’s face it is setting the bar pretty low. 

In the UK GB News was launched to much fanfare as Britain’s answer to Fox News( was that a question that even needed an answer?)  by everybody’s favourite creepy Uncle, the rubicund faced brillo pad connoisseur Andrew Neil and much unintentional hilarity ensued. The channels mission statement was to “fight cancel culture and reflect marginalised voices not heard in the media”, because of course such views had previously only been championed by The Sun, the Daily  Mail, The Express, The Telegraph and co. ie. The “mainstream media” ie. the actual media.    Ironically Neil left the “anti woke” channel after becoming somewhat “woke himself”  claiming he couldn’t sleep due to stress after presenting just eight programmes in three months before flouncing off. 

In the world of pop music  Taylor Swift’s mission to re-record her early albums gathered pace with the release of Fearless and Red,  the latter garnering Spotify’s biggest opening day streams of all-time for a female with over 90 Million plays (review HERE ). It just goes to show how dysfunctional the music industry is if arguably the biggest pop star in the world can be f**ked over by her previous label deal. This doesn’t bode well for “Indie” artists. Talking of which the so-called indie scene in the UK ploughed the same derivative shit strewn furrow with even more yawn-inducing lad rock and made Gary Barlow’s beige oeuvre seem somewhat innovative and groundbreaking. All hail the return of landfill indie.

Live music came back and there were some fabulous gigs, and yet ……and yet … something still didn’t feel quite right, there was an edge,  an undercurrent of unease. I wouldn’t frame it as “joyless” as one friend described his experience, but it certainly felt a little flat and not the joyous release I’d perhaps anticipated. Although my own personal live highlight, Wet Leg’s debut headline show at the Night and day Cafe in Manchester was 100% joy and demonstrated they genuinely have the ability to transcend the huge hype that’s surrounded and totally baffled them. Review HERE 

The pandemic also demonstrated just how  f**ked up the music industry still is.  There were tales of abuse enabled and subsequently covered up by those in the industry, proving that it’s still very much an old boys club and that sexism is endemic at every single level. And still, some of these artists are supported by people who should know better. What the fuck is up with these people?  Yer Brit Pop heroes of yesteryear aren’t looking too safe are they lads?  Expect more sordid revelations next year.  Oh and this isn’t so-called “cancel culture” this is holding people to account for being vile.   As live music opened up festival lineups continued to be dreary sausage fests. They’d say it’s because that’s what sells tickets. I’d say it was down to a paucity of imagination and ingrained old school attitudes. If that wasn’t all quite bleak we then had scrutiny of the piss poor streaming rates for artists. But hey that’s fine because bands make all their money these days from touring and merch sales, Right? Wrong,  not when venues are taking up to 20% of a bands merchandise sales. And there are also venues that utilise concession companies to run the merch stands and take up to 25% – whether an artist wants the service or not.  Honestly burn the whole dysfunctional skip fire shit show to ashes and start again – it truly is not fit for purpose.

On the album front, some artists released career bests, although for many it was touch and go whether they’d be able to tour them and some big artists released damp squibs but remained fireproof to critique. 

Anyway here are my best albums of the year, (no EPs or mini albums)  You may disagree, which is fine … But know this … I am entirely correct  Wink Happy Xmas , Stay safe .

 

 

Album Of The Year 1. Wolf Alice: Blue Weekend

“Blue Weekend is a stunning return and one that should cement Wolf Alice’s reputation still further. As ever it’s an eclectic yet cohesive collection of songs that demonstrates maturity, and an unerring ability to craft beautiful, heartfelt genre-defying music full of warmth, depth, and emotional intelligence.”  Read my full review for Under The Radar HERE 

2. Self Esteem: Prioritise Pleasure

“Her 2019-released debut album, Compliments Please, laid out her ambitious template, but with her just-released second album, the game-changing Prioritise Pleasure, Taylor has delivered an astonishing piece of work. It’s an album that is driven by bruising honesty, defiance, and Taylor’s trademark dark self-deprecating humor. It’s also an album that feels very much like an exhilarating reclamation of the self”. You can read my No holds barred interview with Rebecca lucy Taylor HERE 

3. Still Corners: The Last Exit

Still Corners—the musical project of singer Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist/producer Greg Hughes—have been crafting sprawling Lynchian dream-pop noir together for over a decade since a chance meeting on a train. Their fifth and latest album, The Last Exit, was inadvertently given a helping hand by the current global pandemic.  Read the interview HERE 

4. Low: Hey What
5. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: Carnage
6. Lucy Dacus: Home Video
7. Japanese Breakfast: Jubilee
8. Emma Ruth Rundle: Engine Of Hell  – Review  HERE
9. New Pagans: The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots And All
10. Penelope Isles: Ways To Be Happy  – Review HERE 
11 Linn Koch Emmery: Being The Girl – Review HERE
12. Du Blonde: Homecoming –  Interview HERE
13..The Anchoress: The Art Of Losing – Review HERE
14. Goat Girl: On All Fours  – Interview HERE 
15 Magdalena Bay: Mercurial World
16. Allie Crow Buckley: Moonlight And Devious – Interview HERE 
17. Black Honey – Written And Directed –   Review HERE
18. Ada Lea : One Hand On The Steering Wheel The Other Sewing A Garden
19 Chvrches: Screen Violence
20. Piroshka: Love Drips and Gathers – Review HERE
21. London Grammer: Californian Soil – Review HERE
22. Pip Blom: Welcome Break – Review HERE
23. UV-TV: Always Something – Review HERE
24. Indigo De Souza: Any Shape You Take –  Interview HERE 
25. Desperate Journalist: Maximum Sorrow
26. Ora the Molecule: Human Safari
27. Dry Cleaning: New Long Leg  – Interview HERE 
28 . John Grant: Boy from Michigan
29 Middle Kids: Today We’re the Greatest – Interview HERE 
30. The Joy Formidable: Into the Blue  – Interview HERE
31. Pom Pom Squad: Death of a Cheerleader
32, Drug Store Romeos: The World Within Our Bedrooms
33. Princess Goes To The Butterfly Museum: Thanks For Coming  – Live Review HERE 
34. Noga Erez: KIDS (Against The Machine)
35. Damon Albarn: The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows
36. Billy Bragg : The Million Things That Never Happened
37 Snail Mail: Valentine
38. Claud: Super Monster – Review HERE
39.Illuminati hotties: Let Me Do One More –  Review HERE
40. Jane Weaver: Flock
41..Garbage: No Gods No Masters – Review HERE 
42. White Flowers: Day By Day
43. Lael Neale: Acquainted With Night
44. Bad Waitress: No Taste Review HERE
45. Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth: Utopian Ashes
46 Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
47. TORRES: Thirstier
48. Olivia Rodrigo: Sour
49. Wednesday: Twin Plagues – Review HERE
50.Scott Von Ryper: Dream State Treasure – Review HERE

Playlist

Andy Von Pip

ANDY VON PIP - Founder, editor, writer, reviewer, photographer and all-round good guy at the VPME.com. House photographer for The Academy Music Group, Zuma Press, Event Magazine and Rex Features worldwide. You can check out his photography at Andy Von Pip Photography Currently writing for U.S. Magazine and website Under The Radar. Andy been new music tipster on BBC6 Music, Amazing Radio, and DJ on Strangeways Radio (USA.) Regular podcasts can be found on Mixcloud and Spotify. He's also been a moderator for BBC 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson's Fresh on the Net, and a former member of "BBC's Sound Of" panel. Written and photographic work has been published worldwide wide and appeared in the likes of The Guardian, The Times, The Quietus, Music Week, Record Of The Day, GIITV, The Sabotage Times, The Skinny, Louder Than War.

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