Slush Pup's 60 favorite songs of 2021, ranked!
I'll be updating this post as I count down the songs from 60 to 1
Why 60 songs? That's about how many songs I can reasonably squeeze into 2 two-hour radio shows.
What's the criteria? The songs do need to be something that I could reasonably play on my radio show at KRFC Radio Fort Collins, so some genres that I enjoy will be under-represented. I ranked the songs based on personal preference, with a bit of an eye towards objective quality, if that's even possible. I've never really done a "ranking" before, and it was interesting to realize through this process why I like some songs more than others. I tend to favor songs with interesting melodies and lyrics, and I do enjoy songs with fun musical "hooks". There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but I think one could categorize my core musical preference as "indie pop".
You'll note that many of the songs on the list contain swear words; those I typically have to edit out for radio broadcast, but links here will more often than not contain the "full" lyrics. Also I limited myself to one song per artist. In the case of some of the artists, I think I could have placed 3, sometimes 4 songs in this list (see Wolf Alice, Japanese Breakfast), but I wanted to represent more artists in this list.
Without further preamble, let's get into it!
#1 - "Chaise Lounge" - Wet Leg
The song we needed in 2021. Self-assured, eccentric, escapist, fun. Weg Leg dropped this in time for the summer of 21, providing a post-punk slice of nonsence with a gloriously silly video to boot. And that eye contact! Wet Leg didn't even have a supporting album (coming in April of 2022!) for this comet blast. The song ostensibly deals with that post college graduation low-level "what now" feeling, but I think you can read into it what you want. Or simply read nothing into it if that's your mood. Fans of that late 70s post-punk wonder-era will instantly gravitate to this bouncy masterpiece. Long live Wet Leg.
#2 - "Paprika" - Japanese Breakfast
This is a statement of joy in a somewhat grim, but wonderful, album, the joy of experiencing your artistic creations come to life and have an impact on others ("it's a rush!", she sings). This is a delightful synth-pop gem, the opening track from her critically-acclaimed 2021 album "Jubliee". I could have chosen 4-5 other tunes in this spot (see Wolf Alice at #3 for a similar argument), and "Be Sweet" deserves recognition as one of the first songs in 2021 to grab my attention. But the effortless, winding, never-ending melody of "Paprika" keeps me in a state of bliss like few other songs in this year. Also note the bridge, which provides a terrifying counter-argument to the theme; the recognition that within the "rush" lies a bottomless void of despair waiting to welcome you to the comedown with open arms when the lights dim and the applause stops. Beautiful and meaningful and if not for a blazing comet at #1, my favorite track of the year.
#3 - "Lipstick on the Glass" - Wolf Alice
My album of the year presents about 5 songs that could have been in my top 60, but I decided to rep each band with only one song, so I picked my favorite from them, "Lipstick on the Glass". Here Wolf Alice creates an atmosphere of resigned hopeless malice that matches the lyrical content beautifully. The singing is otherworldly, and goodness, can Ellie Rowsell hit some high notes here. The bridge features some spoken word a la their earlier hit "Don't Delete the Kisses", but mirrored darkly, without hope or love.
#4 - "Open Up the Heavens" - Jade Bird
24- year old English musician Jade Bird roared out of the gates in '21 with this tight and taught Nashville-tinged rocker. I love the construction of this song, each section building on the last, nary a wasted moment. Jade treats us to an aggressive, throat-searing vocal in which I fear for her longevity, and love her all the more for it. This song grips you tight and only loosens it for a brief respite in the middle 8/bridge section, somewhat ironically when the song title is uttered. If you're looking for that perfect no-nonsense 4-on-the-floor rocker by a very promising young artist, hop on this thrill ride.
#5 - "Pay Your Way in Pain" - St. Vincent
St. Vincent gives us a tour of the 70s in her great 2021 album "Daddy's Home". "Pay Your Way in Pain" is good old fashioned dirty funk from who might be the closest thing we have to Bowie in this age. The song is clever, fun, raw, constantly shifting and sliding around. Greasy.
#6 - "Disco" - Geese
I know, I know, stop trying to make Geese a thing, right? I've been obsessed with this song since I randomly came across this single over the summer. These kids from Brooklyn have just released their debut album, and "Disco" (not a disco song at all) was the lead song. This is not a perfect song by any means, it's probably too long, and the parts seem stitched together inelegantly, but the overall effect is perfect NYC/Brooklyn post punk glory. The lyrics fall into that glorious NYC tradition of obsessive, self-involved paranoia, reaching back to the best of Television and Talking Heads via Interpol and The Strokes. Long live that angular, arty, unhappy NYC music scene.
#7 - "Tend the Garden" - Gang of Youths
Australia is pumping out an outsized share of great music these days. This lead single from Gang of Youth's new album "Angel in Realtime", "Tend the Garden" wins my coveted (I swear) "best of down under" for 2021. GoY tells a story of a deathbed confession by the singer's father, about a secret child, a half-sibling he never knew. This revelatory and sad tale is backed by a smooth disco vibe. This improbable combination works incredibly well. This is dance pop full of heart and feeling. I keep coming back to this gem. Can't wait to hear the rest of the album!
#8 - "Broken Harvest" - Madison Cunningham
This is an astonishing, meditative, reflective acoustic masterpiece from Madison Cunningham. "Broken Harvest" approaches the untouchable For the Roses era Joni Mitchell. I'm beguiled by this song; introspective lyrics, innovative melodies and surprising chord changes abound. The song never seems to settle down or do what you expect, but it's not strange for the sake of being strange. There are lovely surprises around every corner, and the outro part seems to dissolve into beautiful nothingness, as we follow her as she fades away.
#9 - "Kill Me" - Indigo De Souza
This is the closing track from Indigo De Souza's acclaimed 2021 album "Any Shape You Take". What draws me into this song in particular is the way it keep building upon itself. It's really fun to listen to how she adds more and more insanity to what is at its core a somewhat straightforward melody. It's yet another youngster looking back at 90s alt rock, and I'm loving it.
#10 - "Like I Used To" - Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen
This collaboration between indie darlings Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen bursts out of the gates like a powerful "Born to Run" aftershock, but with a fully modern sound. VE & O give us a beautiful romantic duet full of longing, nostalgia, and faint hope. The melodies are so perfect they must be stolen from somewhere, but I can't figure out where exactly. Their voices contrast each other but blend wonderfully. The song reaches a nice over-the-top drawn-out crescendo which leads to a somewhat surprising instrumental outro, leaving me wanting one more chorus. I may have had this tune on repeat as a result.
#11 - "Good Days" - SZA
This is a stunning, beautiful R&B tune from St. Louis native SZA (no association to the Clan, she's just a big fan). This was a massive hit single in 21, and one can see why. The melody is endless and beautiful, and the chord progression is varied and surprising. To me it channels some of the best of Prince; think a slightly more subdued "Adore". Simply gorgeous.
#12 - "Nice Guys" - Beach Bunny
Lovely it is to experience the age where the kids born after the 90s are mining, sifting, and interpreting the big loud fun music of that decade. Beach Bunny released a stellar little 4-song EP in 21, featuring this mid-tempo monster. This sound right in place on the first Weezer album, with huge guitars, soaring choruses, and some sing-along bits. The lyrics are passionate, earnest, and a big middle-finger to insincere "nice guys". Awesome stuff.
#13 - "Seventeen Going Under" - Sam Fender
Tyneside lad Sam Fender throws down a good old fashioned earnest big music tune, a letter to his somewhat younger self. This is sincere, immediate, real, from the heart stuff. It's not groundbreaking or full of surprises, but fans of that big 80s stuff (think U2, The Alarm, The Waterboys, Simple Minds, etc.) will find much to enjoy here.
#14 - "If I Don't Hear From You Tonight" - Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett released a lovely new album in late '21, and this is my favorite single from the lot. Courtney Barnett sings a world-weary love song in her distinctive Lou Reed-esque delivery. Her vocal style may not be for everyone, but on this I think her voice suits the vibe perfectly. This is a quietly resigned defiance in the face of disappointment, backed by a solid, unassuming mid-tempo rock vibe. To me this song has spring form the same deep well from which Johnny Thunders pulled some of his amazing tunes.
#15 "Don't Play" - Turnstiles
Pinning this band down is like pinning wind to a wall. Their entire "Glow On" album is a hard-rockin' delight. For sheer fun it's hard to top "Don't Play", which roars out of the gate like a d-beat Bad Brains classic, before settling in to something resembling Seplutura with less aggro vocals. The vox are all emo oughts, but not overly whiny. Great stuff.
#16 - "Bunny is a Rider" - Caroline Polachek
Man, watch this space. Caroline Polachek is destined for the big-time in the electronic dance-pop arena. The former "Charilift" chanteuse has been on her own for a couple years, and is now collaborating with the likes of Charlie XCX (who narrowly missed my list this year), and Queen Be herself. "Bunny is a Rider" is slinky, cool, and beautiful. Caroline possesses incredible range and tone, and this song spectacularly highlights her vocal, songwriting, and production chops.
#17 - "Cheers" - Faye Webster
"Cheers" is funny, dirty, spacy, cool. Faye's delivery is tired, sexy, melancholy, and full of feeling. And those fat synths! Faye is somehow lumped into the country genre, I guess b/c she is from the south. There's nothing traditionally country here. Not sure what it is, exactly. 'Cept very cool.
#18 - "Valentine" - Snail Mail
Very much in the emo-soft-loud-soft 90s vibe, nonetheless Lindsey Jordan came roaring out of the gate with the advance single of her new LP, "valentine" with this title track. Atmospheric verses dive straight into soaring, big-music choruses featuring the requisite musical and vocal hooks. The middle 8/bridge section ends up putting the breaks on the entire song, serving as a somewhat surprising outro. Hey it's a pop song, no need to prolong things unnecessarily, I suppose! Backed by a big budget and frankly terrifying video, Snail Mail makes a bid for the biig time with this radio-friendly (minus the f-bomb) tune.
#19 - "Unsmart Lady" - Dry Cleaning
Dry Cleaning dropped a bomb with 2020's "Scratchcard Lanyard", and followed it up in early 2021 with 2021's best noise rock pop single "Unsmart Lady". Florence Shaw talks her way through a minefield of post punk guitar (think Bauhaus' Daniel Ash) and a menacing rhythm section. Fans of Sonic Youth will rejoice in the wake of this arty, uncomfortable brilliance.
#20 - "Where's My Brain???" - The Lazy Eyes
Australia seems to be in the middle of a psychedelic reawakening. Relative newcomers The Lazy Eyes make my list with this runaway 6+ minute tripped out thrill ride "Where's My Brain???" (yes, three question marks are part of the title). A driving beat propels the song straight into interstellar space, featuring spacy vocals, precise guitar leads, and room to contemplate a hyperdrive repair job before a final successful blast into mega-super-hyperspace. Set the controls for the heart of the sun, and hold my beer.
#21 - "Two Face" - L'Rain
Yeah. This is beautiful, interesting, stylish indie dance pop. It is full of fun surprises but not to the determent of the songcraft. And that drum track, funky as all get out. Yeah it's weird, but good weird.
#22 - "Little Things" - Big Thief
Big Thief is back with a new double album in 2022, and "Little Things" is the advance single. It's gorgeous. It's like Stevie Nicks hooked up with The Cocteau Twins and wrote a song with Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, which was the combination I never knew I needed. Seriously what time signature is this in?? The whole thing is astonishing, enveloping. The lyrics free-flow over the music, which is gorgeous, layered, from somewhere not near the earth we inhabit. The secret sauce is the really cool lead guitar, which starts to sneak in around 1/2 way through, and eventually takes over, but does so subtly, organically. This is an absolute stunner.
#23 - "Dark Horse" - The Velveteers
ok I'm biased, obviously. This doesn't pretend to be an objective list, but we all knew that. I'm rooting for this Boulder-based trio of misfits. The Velveteers signed to Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound label in 2020, and dropped their debut LP "Nightmare Daydream" in late 2021. My favorite track is the opening number, "Dark Horse". It's a crunchy throwback to early 70s heavy sludgy proto metal, with a dollop of psychedelic wizard stuff. It's melancholy and terrifying and extending a hand to either take you on a quest or throw you in a dungeon. And that instrumental middle 8, so heavy and crunchy.
#24 - "Walking at a Downtown Pace" - Parquet Courts
This is everything great about NYC music. Parquet Courts hit a home run with this DFA-via The Hacienda dance pop single. Love the beat, love the bass line and rhythm guitar, the lead guitar, the vocal melody, the gang vocals. It's fun, trashy, bouncy, slightly obnoxious. An absolute banger.
#25 - "Brightside" - The Lumineers
Colorado's own The Lumineers (I think we can claim them, right?) surprised me with this fuzzed out, sparse love song in late '21. For me this feels like a 180 from their recent fare, which has tended arty and adventurous. Stripped of ornamentation and resting on songcraft and emotion, "Brightside" is in some ways a throwback to their debut, but sonically really quite different. Quite a lovely little tune, this.
#26 - "Days Like These" - Low
This is an astonishing track. Low manage to write something very assessable and completely insane, all at once. The song starts with a very lovely melody, and then repeats the melody with a completely disorienting and overblown amount of distortion. This is all over in the first 2:30 of the song, leaving about 3:00 for an extended ambient outro. Props for creativity!
#27 - "See Me" King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
GH&LW released two albums in 2021, the in-form slightly strange "L.W." in the early part of the year, and the really very strange "Butterfly 3000" in June. "See Me" dives head-first into psychedelic disco with an infections shuffling off-kilter beat and a driving bass line. The band riffs on a somewhat chromatic exotic-sounding melody and drives it into the ground. I'd have chosen "If Not Now, When?" as my favorite from this album but it technically came out in 2020.
#28 - "Nudge It" - Sleaford Mods (f. Amy Taylor)
I think we in the states can comfortably, if not a little lazily, lump Sleaford Mods in with bands like Idles and Fontanes DC, i.e. post-punks with a message. There's quite a bit more techno and hip-hop going on with this track, however, a call out to "class tourists" who didn't actually come from the grimy North, from the council estates. The backing track goes absolutely nowhere but the groove is so good it hardly matters. And a pedantic rap from none other than Aussie nut-job Amy Taylor (from Amyl & the Sniffers) adds a lovely bit of over-the-top kookiness to the track. I feel like I'm dissing the song, but I love it because of it's simplicity, not in spite of it.
#29 - "Too Good" - Arlo Parks
Backed by a sparse funky R&B vibe, Arlo Parks lays down a cool soul vocal steeped in a hip-hop vibe. This is 21-year old Arlo Parks' debut release, and "Too Good" is the last of 7 (!) singles released from the album. It made a bit of a splash stateside, and is album-of-the-year material back home in England. This track sounds beautiful. If you like something smooth and funky, give Arlo a listen.
#30 - "Alaska" - Pinegrove
This is just a perfectly constructed two-minute blast of big jangle-pop music. Every part flows seamlessly together, the vocal melodies build on each other with the right amount of drama in the verse and chorus, and it doesn't hang around too long. Maybe not long enough, even! Not a wasted moment in this song, well done.
#31 - "Sometime" - Ritt Momney
I keep thinking I shouldn't like this song as much as I do, but there's no accounting for taste, is there! Ritt Momney is out of SLC, so bonus points there for the spoonerism of LDS politician Mitt Romney for the band name. There's that 90s alt rock sound again. Can't get away from it in 2021.
#32 - "Foutre le Bordel" - La Femme
French alt rockers busted out with this up-tempo new wave throwback single in early 2021, in advance of their really interesting album "Paragidms". This is a hyper-kinetic dance-punk romp featuring a fantastic guitar freak out, 100% harmonized / gang-vocals, and an infectious pogo-dance-inducing beat. Nothing to see here, just the French going à l'état sauvage.
#33 - "Pretty Picture" - The Pleasure Dome
Bristol England is killing it right now. Maybe The Pleasure Dome is riding in the significant wake of Idles at the moment, but this blast of punk-metal is en fuego, as they would say in Bristol (note, they probably aren't saying that). This song checks all the boxes: sung-shouted vocals, heavy, loud, and fast driving beats, and massive distorted guitar lines. It's an arresting listen and features a hilarious (to me) drum break towards the end of the tune. Also the irony isn't lost on me that the lyrics of this song are all about the artificiality of your life on social media.
#34 - "Hey Lou" - Liz Phair
Well well well, look who the cat dragged in. With all this 90s nostalgia in 2021 I suppose it was only a matter of time before Liz Phair made a return to form. "Hey Lou" is a delight, a quietly funky, mostly acoustic ballad with some orchestral flourishes. LP sings the song from the perspective of Laurie Anderson singing to Lou Reed, mostly castigating Lou for his well-documented loutish behavior. This is getting all the way back to LPs early vibe, fairly lo-fi, fun, thought-provoking and provocative material.
#35 - "Baby Don't Cry" - Sunflower Bean
SB continues to tease us with really fun singles during the pandemic. No word on if there is a full length album around the corner here in 2022, though a tour may hint at more material. No matter, "Baby Don't Cry" is a fun, fuzz-blasted slice of 90s alt rock from this NY trio. Shirley Manson, Kim Deal, Justine Frischmann, come see what your musical children have built upon your edifice.
#36 - "Jazz on the Autobahn" - The Felice Brothers
The Felice Brothers turn in a sunny ode to the apocolypse that give a nod to Dylan, certainly, but also Lou Reed, Guthrie, The Band, etc. You get the drift. Nonetheless, for all its influences, the tune feels fresh somehow. There's a strong upstate NY vibe here. Good stuff.
#37 - "Waiting In Line" - Kiwi Jr.
Wow, this song vibes hard as an outtake from "Of Skins and Heart" from The Church, down to the vocal stylings. This is a happy, bouncy ditty with very melancholy lyrics about a failed relationship, and it's perfectly put together. Imagine my surprise to discover these lads are not from Australia, but Toronto. Go figure.
#38 - "Ut Oh" - Children Collide
Yeah this is more like it. Trashy guitar rock with tons-o-hooks. Admittingly this is stealing a bit from the old 7 Nations Army riff, but with more of a fuzzed out 70s stoner rock feel. I'm just saying, I don't see marching bands lining up to learn this one, but this song rocks, and that's good enough for me.
#39 - "True Love" - Hovvdy
I've decided the correct pronunciation of this band is "Ho-viddy". All my references are coming up 90s today. This song somehow reminds me of Built to Spill without electric guitars. And a little home spun sincere Americana in there. Beware, potential listener; this sweet little nugget is extremely catchy. Listen to put yourself in a good mood.
#40 - "Gorgon" - Juliana Hatfield
I must admit I've been sleeping a bit on Juliana Hatfield since the 90s. She wrote a great memoir "When I Grow Up" in 2008, and has continued to release quality music with consistency since the days of "My Sister" and of course, "Spin the Bottle". Her 2021 album "Blood" is another quality effort, and I particularly dig the song "Gorgon". This is a sprightly piano-fueled pop tune with defiant feminist lyrics. The extended outro is pure gold, the sound of a band enjoying the moment, being spontaneous, and feeling the minimally funky vibe.
#41 - "Hush" - The Marías
The advance single from this LA-based band's debut LP "Cinema", "Hush" is a downtempo synth driven pop tune that checks all the boxes for me. The sections flow together nicely, there is great variety in the singing and vocals, and it maintains a cool, slightly nasty vibe. It was nice to see this song get a little airplay from the local stations when they came through town in late 2021.
#42 - "Get High" - Chet Faker
This came out early in 2021, while we were still mostly going stir-crazy in the winter and collectively losing our marbles in frozen isolation. Chet Faker comes along with a downtempo funky electric-piano driven balled and brightens my mood considerably. Thanks Chet! Great vibe, and a super funky keyboard-synth solo to close out the track. Man, this was a top 5 tune for me early in in the year. That it fell so far may be due to a bunch of other great tunes that came out throughout the year, but I still love this funky little gem.
#43 - "Puppy and a Truck" - Jenny Lewis
Jenny Lewis has put out a ton of interesting stuff over the past decade plus. "Puppy and a Truck" finds her in an autobiographical country mood. What's not to like? Good chorus, great middle 8 section, amusing and self-deprecating lyrics, great melody, and a few swear words thrown in for good measure.
#44 - "Bones" - Rosali
I can't remember how I stumbled upon this cool tune, but PA-based Rosali turns up a great downtempo rock song in "Bones". I hear Neil Young via The Drive-By Truckers, with just a sprinkle of Tusk-era Lindsey Buckingham on lead. Rosali's alto has that Chrissie Hynde vibe. It's a big, messy, old school rock song. Rock on, Rosali.
#45 - "I Need You" - Jon Batiste
A joyful deep south hip-hop spiritual from Jon Batiste is one of several standout tracks from his awesome 2021 release, "We Are". There is nary a wasted second on this tight little track.
#46 - "B-Side" - Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
Come on, now, this is beautiful stuff. Texas-based indie artists Khruangbin & Leon Bridges have teamed up for a couple EPs, and "B-Side" is my favorite track from the lot. It's a somewhat sparse mellow funk, with a nice little nod to Remain in Light era Talking Heads. The groove is deep, not fierce. What a cool pairing!
#47 - "New Romance" - Beach House
You like your synth with a side of synth, and your vocals with mostly echo? Beach House has what you came for. New Romance is one of a few advance songs from their upcoming new album "Once Twice Melody". Yeah, maybe it's a bit 80s 4AD but it's so beautiful and pure.
#48 - "Church of The Misdirection" - Kate Vargas
The spiritual love child of Tom Waits and Betty Davis, NYC artist Kate Vargas sounds spiritual and dangerous, unafraid to sound raw and unpolished. "Church of The Misdirection" is a wonderful little New Orleans - inspired stomper, right out of the Mr. Waits playbook. Big props.
#49 - "Hypotheticals" - Lake Street Drive
Some easy, breezy blue-eyed soul from Boston's Lake Street Drive. This feels a bit backhanded, but they are excellent craftsmen and women, and this song is beautifully put together. It's all a little AOR-safe, but there are tons of fun hooks to enjoy, and everything about the song is perfect, if perhaps just a bit on the safe side.
#50 - "Doesn't Matter" - Benee
I was just thinking about N. Ireland singer SOAK recently, wishing for something new from them. Benee will fill in quite nicely, thank you very much. Benee is a bit of a star in native New Zealand, but not yet well known in the states. "Doesn't Matter" is a wonderful late-night mellow and melancholy tune, perfect for late night/early morning. And perfect for song #50.
#51 - "Fisher Island Sound" - Beirut
The advance single from Beirut's new album of b-sides and rarities, "Artifacts" (due in January 2022), this is a bouncy mellow somewhat twee tune that has its feet firmly in the baroque pop style of the late 'aughts. It is thoroughly enjoyable, and has a nice instrumental section. It wraps up a little too quickly for my taste, but it's a nice sunny vibe.
#52 - "Jackie" - Yves Tumor
Yves Tumor threw down a quick little EP in 21, featuring this big-music electro-pop single "Jackie". YT serves up a sweet melancholy lovesick tune with synth hooks out the wazoo. It's not really pop, or dance, or rock, it sort of slots in right between all that. It sort of feels a bit by the numbers given the insane genius we know inhabits YT's brain, but even Bowie wrote hits, right?
#53 - "Are You Ready" - The Allergies
Hailing from Bristol, England, The Allergies give us a slappin' good facsimile of early 90s New Jack Swing / Northern Soul / New Power Generation Prince. The Allergies throw the kitchen sink at this track, with featured rap spots, soulful female vocals, horns, old school scratching, and a good old fashioned dance floor call to arms. I find myself wishing for one more guest MC, maybe someone with a more rapid flow to take the track up another notch, but even still this is one fabulous party jam. Party on, Bristol.
#54 - "Weights" - Bartees Strange
Speaking of Bob Mould...
Bartees Strange released a deluxe version of his wonderful 2020 album "Live Forever" in 2021, featuring this b-side "Weights", which features a straight-ahead muscularity also strongly reminiscent of Mr. Mould, and Bloc Party for that matter. There's something joyful and pleasing in the simplicity of this power rock tune from Mr. Strange. Hopefully something new from him in '22!
#55 - "The Way I Feel" - Alien Boy
The force of the 90s is strong with this one. Portland (OR) based Alien Boy turned out a critically-acclaimed album in 2021, featuring this very enjoyable 80s-90s alt rock pastiche "The Way I Feel". It reminds me of a less strident Bob Mould, but with one eye on the "jangle pop" vibe of those early days of alternative rock. Vocals can be a but whiny and the vocal range is a bit limited, but yeah, this is my kind of tune. And any band named after a classic song by The Wipers gets a thumbs up in my book.
#56 - "WHO" - The Crooked Rugs
Ft Collins' own The Crooked Rugs released not one but two albums this year, busy little bees that they are! "WHO" is taken from the first of the two releases, and it is a bit of a psychedelic rave-up and reminds me a bit of "Yin and Yang and the Flower Pot Man" from Love & Rockets, but with a bit more fuzz, and much more abbreviated. I noticed a few throwback trends with my list of songs this year, psychedelic being one of them (90s revival being another). I'm excited to see what these lads serve up in 2022, can they keep up this turgid pace? Hope so!
#57 - "High In The Grass" - Sleater-Kinney
S-K continues part II of their revival with a new album and this, my favorite track from it, "High in the Grass". HitG is a study in contrasts, with dreamy melodic verses, interspersed with heavier choruses and a driving middle 8 section. Corin's voice is in fine form, with beautiful tone and expression. There's an interesting tension to this song, like they are trying to convince themselves that things are fine high in the grass, but not quite believing themselves. I like it.
#58 "Deja Vu" - Olivia Rodrigo
Jumping right into the fray, this massive hit song from This Year's Girl (7 Grammy nominations) Olivia Rodrigo is a wonderful teen confessional electro ballad a la early T. Swift crossed with early Lorde. Yes please. OR is picking up accolades from the mainstream (Time magazine's "entertainer of the year") and the "cool" press (#10 song of the year from Pitchfork) alike, so this pop debutant just might be on to something. Songs "Drivers License" and "Good 4 U" were bigger songs, but I like this one better, for it's dynamic range and fun musical hooks. Play on, Olivia.
#59 "Safer" - Roseville
Local Northern Colorado band Roseville released a mini-album "Something About a Fig Tree" in 2021. Opening track "Safer" draws from that deep well of early 90s alt rock shoegaze vibe, with a languid pace, off-kilter rhythm, and a lovely and vulnerable melody. The recording production is excellent and this song sounds great cranked up. I'm a little self-conscious that I have so few local bands on my top 60 list but I'm pleased to represent Roseville. Thanks for writing a lovely, atmospheric, melancholy tune.
#60 "How High" - The Record Company
The lead single from the new album by The Record Company, "How High" is a solid and well-constructed bit of mild-mannered soulful rock. It's a good tune, and a people pleaser. There's nothing groundbreaking here but I like it. I feel like I'm damning it with faint praise, but there are great songs the didn't make Slush Pup's Top 60, so there's nothing TRC should be ashamed of Enjoy this solid mid-tempo AOR rocker!