2021 Wrapped - Our Top Ten
How is it this time again already?
It's been one hell of a year on all counts, but especially for music! We finally got back out to live events after what felt like a lifetime, and on top of that, there have been some absolutely incredible releases from some of our favourite artists - as well as from some very-fucking-exciting emerging talent. So without further ado, the Coven presents our top ten albums and singles of the year!
OUR TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2021:
BUMMER - cleopatrick
The debut album from Canada's finest, BUMMER viscerally captures the fears, rage and hope that comes with being in your early 20s. Picking up right where the iconic hometown left off, BUMMER steamrolls forward with the massive VICTORIA PARK, followed by fuzz-laden feast THE DRAKE, cut-throat declaration of frustration FAMILY VAN and double-edged sword GOOD GRIEF. 2008 is another stand-out track; its raw vulnerability in stark contrast to the monstrous raging noise of the rest of the album. With just 10 tracks, BUMMER effortlessly encapsulates what it is to be relatable, honest, gritty, and melancholic - yet ironically is just about as far as it gets from actually being a bummer. We fucking love it. Obviously.
Typhoons - Royal Blood
This is not the same Royal Blood you know and love from debut Royal Blood and How Did We Get So Dark. With third album Typhoons they evolved, sobered up, and produced a tighter, punchier sound - a sonic metamorphosis originating from Mike's mission to regain control of his life after struggling with substance abuse. The pair have managed to maintain their outstanding ability to make a fuck-tonne of noise with essentially just two instruments, whilst striving forward into a world of groove-infused - yet still thick and deliciously heavy - flavour. Taking inspiration from outside the "rock" genre, they sought influence from artists like Daft Punk and Justice - audible particularly on Hold On, Mad Visions and Million and One. Typhoons is a fucking triumph - jam-packed with tense, modern rhythms that ebb and flow, fierce metallic grooves, and most important of all, massive, dirty riffs.
As Blue As Indigo - Tigercub
After a break following the release of their 2016 debut Abstract Figures in the Dark, Brighton trio Tigercub burst back onto our radar in 2021 with As Blue As Indigo. Thematically sparked by the idea of colour theory and subjectivity, frontman Jamie explores his own personal issues through a similar prism - not shying away from heavy topics like anxiety, depression, toxic masculinity, and suicide. This second album will initially lull you into a false sense of security with the opening title track, As Blue As Indigo, the duality of which will leave you breathless and well-prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions and sounds you're about to experience on the next 9 songs. Riff-heavy Stop Beating On My Heart is startling juxtaposed with the soft sorrow of Funeral, before Beauty picks you back up and throws you around again. A work of art in its own right, this LP is quite the journey. Bring tissues, but don't forget your air guitar.
Fall In Fall Out - The Luka State
Fall In Fall Out is 35 minutes of heavenly rock n roll belters, showcasing The Luka State's ambitious - yet perfectly executed - musical breadth. From an elbow to the face in the pit with Bury Me to slow-dancing alone in the living room with title track Fall In Fall Out, these Winsford lads will take you on a stadium-rock journey you won't forget in a hurry. Opener Feel It launches out the starting gate, packing a playful and powerful punch that sets the tone for the rest of the LP. Highlight Bury Me is the rapid-fire follow up that'll get your pulse racing and make you ache to feel the body heat of 500 strangers in a cramped, steamy venue. Showcasing their more vulnerable side, Fall In Fall Out is a heartfelt ballad, but still with that signature Luka State rock sensibility. This album has everything it needs to become an absolute classic in years to come, so get on this shit early!
Written & Directed - Black Honey
If Black Honey's self-titled debut introduced the band as indie stars with a filmic flair, then Written & Directed is their cinematic masterpiece. With over two years of growth between albums, Written & Directed is bigger and bolder than we've ever seen the band - it's heavier, the lyrics are more personal, and the sounds are more experimental. In ten thrilling tracks laced with theatricality, punk-rock attitude, and vulnerability, Written & Directed continues to exhibit Black Honey's range and prove that they have the drive to push their retro-tinted indie-rock to the next level. Phillips settles into her lyrical voice as she narrates a womanhood-centric rock record and opens up to reveal her softer, less polished edges, crafting the band's most personal songs yet, while boldly making a statement of empowerment.
Subatomic Party Cool - Beach Riot
A celebration of the Brighton quartet's career so far, Subatomic Party Cool featured the best bits from Beach Riot's impressive catalogue of singles - and surprised us with some totally new tracks, too. Bubbling with Beach Riot's distinctive blend of slacker-rock, heavy riffs, and in-your-face power-pop, this album comes out the gate running with high-octane heavy-hitters B.A.D. and Wrong Impression, while Unrequited Love offers something new: a softer, stripped back side of the fuzz-loving Brighton babes, with touches of vulnerability and haunting-yet-seductive harmonies. Older tracks like Medicate for Success and Serial Scruff, revisited with some light touch-ups for the album, remain fresh and energetic, completing the collection of both new and old tracks that showcase Beach Riot at their best.
Different Kinds of Light - Jade Bird
Jade Bird's second album, Different Kinds of Light, arrived this summer as the follow-up to her self-titled debut album from 2019. Marrying her rockier edge with softer notes, Jade finds harmony between both as she explores romance and all the chaos surrounding. Lead single Headstart set our hopes high for the album with its catchy alt-rock hooks - and of course we weren't disappointed when the full album landed. Other favourites include Candidate, a track about being a magnet for pricks, and retro-tinged stomper Open up the Heavens. A step up from her debut, Different Kinds of Light conjures rock anthems, romantic strokes, and even some country-rock with impressive ease.
-!- - Dead Poet Society
Los Angeles four-piece DPS kept us waiting a hot minute for their debut album, releasing only two EPs and a handful of singles since 2013 - but this year we ravenously got our teeth into 16 tracks on -!- (we don't know how to say it out loud either). Opening with an ominous war cry in the form of some excruciatingly good chainsaw riffs, instrumental .futureofwar. makes light work of setting the apocalyptic tone for the rest of the LP. Highlights include .getawayfortheweekend., .intoodeep., and .SALT. - all gut-punching beats with a dirty western edge. Jack's vocals spread across the tracks like honey, dipping in and out of falsetto with ease, but still brimming with attitude. This albums spans effortlessly across multiple genres without losing its undeniably DPS essence, making it seriously binge-worthy. You won't get bored of -!- in a hurry, that's for sure.
Blue Weekend - Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice's long-awaited third album Blue Weekend arrived in June to an overwhelmingly positive response. Announcing their new era with swelling piano ballad The Last Man on Earth was a bold move, but they've never been shy of risks. Follow-up single Smile brought the dirty bass action and bite from frontwoman Ellie Rowsell, and remains one of our favourite tracks of the year. Slow-burner How Can I Make It OK? is the soundtrack to a late-night kitchen sing-along, while punk hard-hitter Play The Greatest Hits is raucously tongue-in-cheek. We were even lucky enough to see Wolf Alice debut some of these song live at their first gig in almost two year. Overflowing with versatility, it's no wonder Blue Weekend earned the band their third Mercury Prize shortlist nomination.
This Time Next Year - Kid Kapichi
Hastings rockers Kid Kapichi melted our eardrums with their sleazy debut album This Time Next Year. Brimming with ferocious attitude and beefy riffs, it's no surprise that we ate this album up at the Coven. From scuzzy banger Glitterati, to headbanging punk track Self Saboteur, and gritty What Would Your Mother Say, sizzling with street-wise vocals, Kid Kapichi's debut album is as energetic and ravenous as you'd expect. We were lucky enough to experience the album live in all of its glory at a sold-out Scala, supported by Brighton legends SNAYX and PROJECTOR - check out our review here.
OUR TOP 10 SINGLES OF 2021:
Hung Up - The Mysterines
Hung Up was our second taste of upcoming debut album Reeling, after the deliciously devilish In My Head was released earlier this year. Immediately tearing through your eardrums with a hefty, fuzzy riff - our favourite kind, naturally - Hung Up wastes no time in establishing its dominance as a stomping, post-grunge anthem. Frontwoman, icon, and rock n roll goddess Lia Metcalfe's dangerously brooding vocals are dripping with lustful vengeance as she effortlessly takes down a relationship that's slowly and painfully running its course.
Sympathy Boy - Demob Happy
Opening with delectably layered celestial synths, Sympathy Boy takes a more laid-back approach than you might have come to expect from the Demob boys - but still maintains the well-established gritty garage-rock undertones you'll have heard on tracks like Autoportrait and Less Is More. Even when the unrelentingly punchy beat and basslines kick in, every element of the track melts together seamlessly to form a beautifully smooth and ambient audio experience. Dripping with psych-rock nostalgia, it's instantly a classic. With its repetitive, catchy melodies, Matthew's signature unaffected vocals, and groovy rock 'n' roll riff to remind you who the fuck they are, this song sets the stage for a boundary-pushing and genre-bending future sound for Demob Happy.
False Friends - SNAYX
We like to party. And so do our punk-rock pals SNAYX, who released the unforgettable rager False Friends this year. Like their monstrous bangers Body Language and Deranged, False Friends is teeming with Ollie's snarling bass, ensnaring hooks, and a deadly edge from Charlie's venomous vocals. We can't get enough of this duo's scuzzy noise. We even had the privilege of seeing the pair tear up the stage with False Friends in three different cities: Brighton, Portsmouth, and London. Trust us, if you're after a good ol' fashioned sweaty mosh, SNAYX are your guys.
BWBB - Softcult
Boys Will Be Boys, or BWBB, continues Softcult's politically-charged movement as they lyrically tackle gender violence. Creeping into your eardrums with a vibrating bassline, BWBB shatters into an intense shredding of guitars and thunderous rage of drums. A musical manifesto against misogyny and gender-based injustice, BWBB is a killer rock track with a message - our favourite kind. The Canadian duo have been unstoppable this year, and it looks like they're not slowing down as their upcoming EP Year of the Snake, due out in February.
Lightning - Ready The Prince
The final instalment from a trio of singles over the past year or so, following Regicide and Pray, RTP's Lightning does exactly what it says on the tin. Thrashing their way into our eardrums, the Toronto power-duo really put pedal to the metal with this one - a high-tempo belter perfectly designed to be screamed in the mosh pit. Steve's incredible vocals are in the spotlight on this track, effortlessly switching between unaffected melodies and ragingly passionate snarls. The lyrics might be about being at breaking point, but Lightning makes us feel as if we could take on the world - and fucking win.
Clockwork - Lime Garden
Brighton quartet Lime Garden were one of our favourite finds of 2020, so we couldn't wait to see what they brought to the table this year. Turns out it was three very different, yet equally tasty singles: dreamy alt-pop Sick & Tired, thumping 90's-tinted bop Pulp, and our favourite, the hypnotic Clockwork. Pumping with a thick bassline and mesmerising guitar riff, Clockwork has been ticking away in our heads since its release in October. With their laid-back and effortlessly cool style, we can't help but be absorbed into Lime Garden's orbit.
happy pills - snake eyes
Scuzzy bruiser happy pills was one of the first tracks we heard from grunge-punks snake eyes - and we're so glad we found them, because we haven't stopped spinning tracks like dig or big deal since. With its vibrant riffs, fuzzy bass, and crashing drums, happy pills is topped off with its riotous chorus, making it one of the best tracks on snake eye's lovehate mixtape. We had the pleasure of chatting with the Brighton trio and witnessing their punky noise in person in October - check out the full review and interview here.
see red - swim school
Edinburgh indie-rockers swim school made some noise this year with their unique blend of angst-fuelled grunge and dreamy alt-pop. see red was without a shadow of a doubt our favourite track from their debut EP making sense of it all as it saw the band aim and fire at a toxic relationship. Fizzing with tangible anger, lashing drums, and angled guitar hooks, see red is an exhilarating revenge thriller that proves that swim school are one the most exciting rising indie-rock bands out there. Keep an eye on them - and add see red to your 'fuck you' playlist while you're at it.
Chaise Longue - Wet Leg
You know we had to include this one. Seemingly appearing out of nowhere in June, Chaise Longue was the song of the summer and the track that put Wet Leg's names on everyone's lips. With its hypnotic guitar riff, unstirred vocals, Mean Girls references, and tongue-in-cheek humour, Chaise Longue was guaranteed to be in a hit. Isle of Wight duo Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers hit the mark with their debut single, earning over 2 million views on YouTube and currently approaching 6 million Spotify streams. Infectious and carefree, Chaise Longue is the oddball single that owned 2021.
Blow Up - The Beaches
Achingly-cool Toronto four-piece The Beaches released their EP Future Lovers this year, featuring stand-out single Blow Up. Following two self-released EPs, in 2017 their debut album Late Show established them as rock n roll icons in the Canadian music scene - their refreshingly honest approach to songwriting from the female perspective is a rare and precious thing, and we just can't get enough. Featuring plenty of groovy bass and discerningly witty lyricism, Blow Up is an exhilaratingly wild ride. It's a shining example of The Beaches brand of dancefloor-worthy indie-rock, with a disgustingly catchy chorus that'll boogie around your brain for days - apologies in advance.
Ready to get dancing? Listen to our 2021 Wrapped playlist here.