At the start of the 2021, I set myself a new year’s resolution / lockdown project to listen to 50 albums released this year. We could see to the river is the way I tried to keep myself honest to completion. However, armed with a streaming account and my headphones, it’s been a great experience and I would encourage other people to do it too.

New music needs all the friends it can get. It is just much harder for musicians to breakthrough into the public consciousness now. I watch 30 year old Top of the Pops and marvel at the democracy. If people liked it enough to buy it, they played it on BBC1. Bands got their 3 minute shop window to the nation on a level playing field. Imagine what Black Country, New Road would do with that kind of exposure. As Slime City rightly have it, Less Jools, More Top of the Pops.

It’s much easier to package the past rather than champion the moment. Even today, as Sean O’Hagan remembers Mick Rock’s contribution, he can’t help but build Rock’s legacy at the expense of today’s performers. But the voices in Little Simz’s head are compelling, as is the enigma of SAULT, as is The Anchoress’ vulnerability and theatricality or Black Midi’s combustible nature. From Sons of Kemet to Wet Leg, there are more special artists making great music than you have time to listen to. Let go of the past and celebrate them, invest in them, listen carefully to them.

This playlist is 3 hours representative of the music that stayed with me in 2021. It’s not exhaustive, it’s not ranked, it’s listed for flow. It’s also a manifesto for the site. If you like this playlist, then stick around because I’ll be writing about more like this in 2022. The next great album is just around the corner and it deserves your ears.

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