What?! New content on this website?! Yep…a lot of great music was released in 2021 so I decided to spotlight my top 10 favorite songs released in 2021.
10. “Fire In Your House (feat. Johnny Clegg and Jesse Clegg)” – Walk The Moon
On its own, “Fire In Your House” is an absolute banger of a track. But even more importantly, Walk The Moon’s Nicholas Petricca wrote this song with the legendary South African activist-musician Johnny Clegg—one of my all-time heroes—and his son Jesse Clegg shortly before Johnny’s passing in 2019. I did not expect to hear Johnny’s words and voice on a pop track released by an American band two years after his death, so that alone earns it a spot on this list. Also, Jesse Clegg is an amazing artist in his own right and it’s a damn shame his music gets little to no airplay in the U.S.
9. “Orion from the Street” – Field Music
Field Music is such a fun band, especially for someone like me who loves prog AND quirky, smart pop. A little bit of XTC, a little bit of Talking Heads, a little bit of Peter Gabriel and dash of Prince…that’s Field Music. And “Orion from the Street” is a good example of that.
8. “The Exchange” – The Anchoress (feat. James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers)
Staying with prog-pop for a moment, the much-praised The Art of Losing by The Anchoress (Catherine Anne Davies) is one of my favorite albums of the year — and PROG magazine named it the BEST album of 2021. “The Exchange” is a powerful song augmented further by the presence of Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield.
7. “Orwellian” – Manic Street Preachers
Speaking of Manic Street Preachers…they released a great album this year, The Ultra Vivid Lament. I don’t know how I never got into MSP until this year because they’re right in my musical wheelhouse. Thank goodness Philadelphia Eagles beat writer Reuben Frank played a track from the album during a guest DJ spot on WXPN a few months ago, or I may have missed out on it. “Orwellian” is sadly a perfect song for these times.
6. “Victim” – The War on Drugs
Honestly, most of this list could have been tracks from The War on Drugs’ brilliant 2021 release, I Don’t Live Here Anymore. But I’m sticking to one song per artist for this list. “Victim” is tonally similar to the 2018 track “Thorns” by Lo Moon, which actually features TWOD’s Adam Granduciel and Charlie Hall. Bringing things full circle, Lo Moon’s Matt Lowell sings backing vocals on “Victim.”
5. “Paprika” – Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast’s amazing Jubilee album is another that could have filled up this list on its own, but I’m going with “Paprika” since it is such a fantastical album-opening track. It really sets the stage for the greatness that follows.
4. “All The Things I Do To Get To You” – Modern Chemistry
Strangely, I discovered this New Jersey band that’s been around for a few years just this past summer when they were played on BlowUpRadio.com‘s New NJ Music show right after a song of mine (yeah, I released music this year under the name Ferocious Designs). “All The Things…” ticks so many boxes for me and I blast it in the car every chance I get, which is often.
3. “The Tipping Point” – Tears For Fears
Zero chance that the first single and title track of the first new Tears For Fears studio album since 2004 wouldn’t make this list. “The Tipping Point” somehow sounds fresh and new with a vintage TFF feel. Can’t wait for the album, due out Feb. 25, 2022.
2. “Dream Never Dies” – Lo Moon
I have been waiting for new music from Lo Moon since late 2018, when they released the standalone single “For Me, It’s You” a few months after releasing their incredible debut album. I am a huge fan of this band and frequently interact with its ringleader/frontman Matt Lowell on Twitter. “Dream Never Dies” is an achingly beautiful song dripping in nostalgia that really ticks all the boxes for me. No word yet on when their sophomore album is coming out, but I would expect it to be released some time in the first half of 2022.
1. “Robber” – The Weather Station
The Weather Station is the music project of Toronto-based singer-songwriter/actor Tamara Lindeman. After several folk-influenced albums, Lindeman wrote 2021’s Ignorance as a comment on climate change drawing a lot of musical inspiration from Talk Talk/Mark Hollis — and, as you may know, Hollis was and continues to be a source of musical inspiration for me. Ignorance is my album of the year and the intricately danceable and intelligent lead track/first single, “Robber,” is my top song of 2021.