Friday, 3 December 2021

My Top Twenty-One of 2021: #19

Today is the 15th anniversary of my life as a blogger. My first ever blog post (not here, but on this blog's predecessor, Sunset Over Slawit) was dated December 3rd 2006.

My how things have changed. One thing that hasn't is my need to record my favourite albums of the year in December. Here's the Top Ten from 2006, complete with my commentary...

10. Teddy Thompson – Separate Ways. Released at the back end of last year, but the singles came out in ’06. Mature, emotional song-writing… not entirely in his dad’s class (and obviously he can’t play guitar like Pops – who can?), but he deserves to stand on his own.

9. The Crimea – Tragedy Rocks. Also released back-end of 2005, this is a new band led by former Crocketts lead-singer Dave McManus. From what I remember of The Crocketts, they had one really good song. Here, there’s a whole album of them.

8. Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit. Not as strong as (and less commercially successful than) Dear Catastrophe Waitress (maybe I’m just a sucker for Trevor Horn), but a definite grower. Stuart’s decision to let the rest of the band chip in with some of the songwriting might have something to do with this. Saw them live this year and it was all a bit of a shambles, but enjoyably so.

7. Jarvis Cocker – Jarvis. Very excited to finally have Jarvis back, and half this album is really strong. The other half, while good, strives a little too hard to be… well, not commercial, because I think he’s given up on that… but perhaps the word I’m looking for is ‘tuneful’. Jarv made a big deal before the record came out that it wasn’t going to be just him whinging on about life, that there would be some proper songs in there too. I’d have preferred more of the whinging!

6. Monkey Swallows The Universe – The Bright Carvings. Saw this lot supporting Richard Hawley earlier this year, and although they looked like a bunch of sixth-formers, they made a lovely noise. 

5. Thea Gilmore – Harpo’s Ghost. The critics call her “the best British singer-songwriter of the last ten years” and I find it hard to disagree. Unfortunately, we seem to be the only ones listening. She’s hard working too – when I saw her live this autumn, she was 35 weeks pregnant, and she’s back on the road in the New Year.

4. Morrissey – Ringleader Of The Tormentors. Only Number 4? Moz, you’re slipping! No, ROTT was a good album, but just didn’t have the staying power of YATQ. 

3. The Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Far too much has been written about them already… if only this album didn’t live up to the hype!

2. The Handsome Family – The Last Days Of Wonder. Grower of the year. I’ve been a HF fan for ages, and couldn’t get into their new one at first… but now, I just can’t stop. Rennie Sparks is one of the best short story writers stuck in a songwriter’s body you’ll ever encounter, and her husband Brett looks and sings like Walter from The Big Lebowski. An album about the life of Nikola Tesla, the frustrations of being a ghost, and falling in love with the girl at the drive-thru window.

1. The Divine Comedy – Victory For The Comic Muse. Sometimes it seems the better a songwriter gets, the fewer people listen. That certainly seems to be the case with Neil Hannon, who delivered possibly his strongest record to date this year, then shot himself in the foot by releasing its weakest track (‘Diva Lady’) as the lead single. A collection that is in turn touching (‘Lady Of A Certain Age’), hilarious (‘To Die A Virgin’), quirky (‘Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World’, which I still think could have been a crossover hit in the vein of ‘National Express’ if he’d bothered to release it), inspiring (‘Light Of Day’) and literate (‘The Plough’). He also gave us the year’s best b-sides, which could easily have placed a second album in this Top Ten had he compiled them. Great live too, possibly my gig of the year.. I do hope he makes enough money to keep at it!

And now back to the present...

19. Smith & Burrows - Only Smith & Burrows Is Good Enough

Here's one that probably won't appear on many year end lists, more's the pity. Tom Smith is the lead singer of The Editors. Andy Burrows was the drummer in Razorlight, but don't hold that against him. He was also the drummer in We Are Scientists. And he played drums in David Brent's band, so give the guy some credit. He'll work with anyone!

Lately though, he's been doing more of the singer-songwriter thing, with a particular penchant for the 70s. It's therefore not completely absurd to call this record a modern day version of Godley & Creme... or maybe even Wax... which is about as uncool as you can get.

But I like uncool.

Ten catchy, quirky pop songs that feel like they've fallen out of a time warp. You might need to give them a few listens, but they soon work their way under your skin...


  1. Looks like you got to more gigs back then Rol!

  2. Happy 15th blogging anniversary, Rol.

  3. Long time no see! Curious to find out if Bo Burnham will crop up among your top 21 for 2021. If not, his comedy album Inside I think would appeal to you Rol. Look forward to the rest of the countdown.

    1. I'm halfway through watching the Bo Burnham special on Netflix, and yes, there are some great songs in there.

      Good to hear from you again Chris. I hope you're doing OK.

    2. Rol: I'm well thanks.

      If you ever do a list of top 10 internet songs, "Welcome to the Internet" deserves to be included. It might be the song of the year for me.

  4. Happy 15th anniversary - You were a youngster when you started out. A different landscape now (in more ways than one) but glad you've kept up the momentum. Until I joined the blogging fraternity I wouldn't have known about half the artists on your 15 year ago Top Ten but now I know all of them. It's been an education.

    Long may you continue.

    1. Thanks, Alyson. Hard to remember being 34...

  5. 15 years! Brilliant. Huge congrats Rol and thanks for being consistently good in this everchanging world.

  6. Quite a feat, Rol. Congratulations. A thoroughly enjoyable read, and I always look forward to visiting. Thanks for all the years of effort. Keep it up, my good man.


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