TM Staff Picks: Albums Of 2021
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
We've had an incredible 2021 here at Townsend Music, playing our part in the direct-to-fan sales of number one hit albums from You Me At Six, Royal Blood and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, as well as launching and looking after hundreds more artist stores. To finish the journey commenced with TM Staff Picks: Albums Of 2021 (So Far!), we'd like to share the albums that have held down the office stereo during a very busy 2021, running the gamut from hip-hop to post-punk by way of "cosmic krautrock", "over-produced 808 drum beats" and the limpest bizkit yet!
Bruce McKenzie: Sales Director
Jungle – Loving In Stereo
Escape into these lush dreamy cinematic funky tracks as they don’t disappoint. It's effortlessly clean and pure with a freshness of genuine 70’s authenticity.
I reckon if Curtis Mayfield or Eddie Kendricks would still be with us today, they’d be singing on this album.
Royal Blood – Typhoons
Rage Against The Machine mixed by Daft Punk playing at Studio 54; absolute class.
Simon Walsh: Senior Account Manager
Tyler, The Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost
In my assessment at the mid-point of the year, I expressed doubt that anything would beat this and I was proven correct. A true piece of art, and not much more to say than that!
Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti
An album that is on one hand all over the place as Mach drums up strong memories of the golden era of East Coast hip-hop, yet it also sounds very global. Sitting back and listening to this you could just as much imagine yourself lost in the atmosphere the record creates.
Beautifully selected samples and chilled beats, balance perfectly with the lyrical dexterity of Mach and his ability to bring several different styles to the plate. It’s an album that keeps you coming back for more; you notice something new each time, warranting repeated listens.
Limp Bizkit – Still Sucks
Seriously. It's the polar opposite to the above records that stand alone in their own stratosphere, but in 2021 Limp Bizkit have come back and made the most Limp Bizkit-y Limp Bizkit album they ever could. It may as well come with a free wallet chain and red cap.
It’s everything you want it to be. There’s no new direction, there’s no reinventing the wheel. It’s all the catchphrases (mark “Fred shouts ‘DJ Lethal!’ off your bingo card 40 seconds in), all the big bouncy riffs accompanied by numerous self-referential jokes which can’t help but make you smile. Every cliché about them is hit and hit hard.
It’s a stupid album, it really is and there’s no denying that. I don’t think even they would. However, it is stupidly fun.
Lucas Barr: Business Development Manager
Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
There are countless reasons SIMBI is my favourite album of the year, the simplest being that I haven’t stopped listening to it since its release. Simz balances a powerful mix of political statements with her own self-reflection backed by sweeping strings and resonating beats. Inflo’s production is unrivalled and with features from Cleo Sol and Obongjayar, what’s not to love!?
Luke Arthur: Account Manager
DJ Seinfeld - Mirrors
Arriving at the perfect time to soundtrack the end of a summer that saw us get back to festivals and all the good stuff, Mirrors is a record that flits between straight-up bangers and introspective deep-house pieces that sit just as well at home as on the dance floor. The whole thing sounds colourful and is something that seemed perfectly timed to lift us all out of the misery of the past couple of years.
Dave - We're All Alone In This Together
Pure poetry. Essential.
Koreless - Agor
Been waiting for this one for a long time and, though it took some time to hit home for me, I find myself constantly coming back to it with my headphones on as loud as possible and getting completely lost in it. It's always interesting when a producer has such a singular, identifiable sound, and stretching that out to LP length can be tricky to pull off but Agor does it easily. The trio of 'Joy Squad' > 'Frozen' > 'Shellshock' is frankly ridiculous!
Paul Barton: D2C Plus Manager
The Byson Family - Kick The Traces (Extended Version)
Not a bad song on this debut album by Scottish heartland rockers The Byson Family. If you are into your War On Drugs, The Black Crowes and My Morning Jacket, you will love this record. Phil Campbell ( ex Temperance Movement ) proving he has one of the best, unique voices around with a band right at the peak of their songcraft and performance.
Lucy Price: Client Account Manager
Lil Nas X - Montero
This year I found myself loving something I’d typically be the first to turn off: auto-tuned hip-hop with an over-produced 808 drum beat. But Lil Nas X has converted me. Montero is a genius combination of catchy pop melodies and ballsy statements, poking fun at all the heavyweights, and I love it. This year Lil Nas X has not only broken boundaries in pop culture but also my Spotify algorithm; you can’t help but sing along!
Yonaka – Seize The Power
After a year of listening to Architects and Bring Me the Horizon dominate the hard rock world, it was refreshing to hear the extraordinary female vocal talents of Theresa Jarvis in Brighton based Yonaka’s powerful rock album debut. Seize The Power demonstrates Yonaka’s stylistic versatility incorporating electronica, heavy riffs and pop-punk angst. One to watch I think!
P Barney Barnes: Head Of Digital
The Psychic Circle – View From The Magicians Window
My favourite releases this year have been the entire output of The Library Of The Occult, the independent label "specializing in limited edition releases for sounds of the dark arts". An outlet for the twisted musical musings of multi-instrumentalist Tom McDowell in his various incarnations, as well as carefully selected cohorts (including synthwave stalwart OGRESound), Tom fosters the label's community on his Bandcamp page to offer beautifully presented, strictly limited vinyl runs that genuinely look and feel like otherworldly, arcane relics - physical formats done properly. All the creepy-crawly gimmicks in the world would be for naught if the music didn't deliver but the tunes manage to transcend the aesthetic every time. Each release has its moments, but the 'Moog-infused cosmic krautrock' of View From The Magicians Window has not left my turntable since I received it. One particular breakdown deep into the depths of Side 2 gives me the shivers every time; Black Sabbath, Goblin and Khruangbin dropping psychedelics and jamming in a dark, damp dungeon.
The Bronx - The Bronx VI
I've dug The Bronx since I heard 'They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)' on The Lock Up Punk Show (remember that?!) on BBC Radio 1 back in 2003. What I love most about the band is that - like AC/DC, Snapcase and The Hives before them - everything is turned up to 10, all the time (including Matt Caughthran's vocals!) and within that less-is-more template, the quality of the songs and riffs reveal themselves on their own terms. On The Bronx IV there may be more space, swagger and slow tempos than on previous records but it's still essentially a rock n roll band, being loud and loving it. Joe Barresi (Tool, Melvins, Bad Religion) harnesses the chaos and reveals a more radio-friendly edge to the band without compromising a shred of the intensity that brought the L.A. punk legends to the (slam) dance.
Laura Barrett: Junior Account Manager
Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time
I’m a sucker for anything Courtney Barnett puts out, so this has been on heavy rotation since it was released. It seems a lot more open, honest and joyful than her previous records, so it’s nice to see that side of her through her music.
Dry Cleaning – New Long Legs
I still stand by this being one of my firm favourites this year. It's quirky, unique, weird and wonderful.
Ben James: D2C New Business Manager
Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams
It's hard to swerve away from the record that I was listening to at the start of the year, which has progressed to winning the Mercury Music Prize and picking up other awards and nominations left, right and centre, including Grammy Nominations for Best New Artist and Alternative Music Album.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - That Life (Single)
The tune that has filled me with the most joy in the past few months is ’That Life’ by Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Not very often do I put a tune on repeat, but I can’t get enough of this Kiwi Fruitiness.
Nic Staffa: Account Manager
Bicep – Isles
Kanye West - Donda
What can I say? It's Kanye...