VultureHound has been a little quiet of late, but good news! We’ll be back again in the new year! For now, take a look at some of our favourite records from 2021.
Turnstile – Glow On
The one thing to say about this album is spectacular. The album showcases every aspect of the band in beautiful fashion, ranging from hardcore to dream pop with metal influenced riffs throughout. Turnstile is here to leave a footprint and let it be known that they are special. If you’re a fan you’re going to love it. If you’re not and this is the first thing you hear from Turnstile, you’re going to love it.
Idles – Crawler
The consistency and never ending progression of Idles has created a much deserved rise to domination. With this release they just keep pushing boundaries the ballads are especially strong this time round with both vocals and musicianship reaching new heady heights. Lyrically this is another fine example of the rawest of emotions and an ability to challenge the system with grace and understanding.
Illuminati Hotties – Let Me Do One More
Sarah Tudzin’s second album proper as Illuminati Hotties (after the Free I.H. mixtape released last year to help release her from a stifling record deal) finds her building on the self-described ‘tenderpunk’ sound of 2018’s excellent Kiss Yr Frenemies and taking it to new, great extremes. The record veers constantly between frenetic, upbeat pop punk on tracks like MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA or Joni: LA’s No. 1 Health Goth and songs of beautiful, tender restraint like Protector and Growth. It’s a wild ride, equal parts great fun and emotionally devastating – which in many ways makes it a perfect record for 2021.
Every Time I Die, Radical
The buffalo brotherhood come with it again. Strong, heavy, bone crunching sound from start to finish. Easily one of the best records from them, creating an album that every song could be the highlight track of the record. It is relentless in the best possible way, only like ETID can provide.
Supermilk – Four by Three
This record is a LoFi gem absolutely stuffed full of wonky pop songs. As songs progress this release introduces instruments and themes to deliver a record with a real sense of purpose. With every track nodding all over the place at alternative, indie and the hooks of all the best pop songs.
Pom Poko – Cheater
Norway’s Pom Poko have created something special with their second album Cheater. It takes all the big wonky riffs, extreme falsetto and instincts for a pop banger from the best Deerhoof records and reconstitutes them as something new, weird, and wonderful. There’s a sense of barely restrained chaos bubbling behind hooks that burn themselves into your brain throughout this joyous record. They’re a great live band too, and anyone who’s seen them will know frontwoman Ragnhild sings the songs with a huge smile on her face – but what’s really extraordinary about Cheater is that you can actually hear that smile on the album.
Lucy Dacus, Home Video
If you don’t know this household name by now, that rock you’ve been living under is extremely effective. Dacus is a strong presence be it her haunting and hymn like singing, emotionally charged lyrics, elegant guitar work. Home Video is a showcase for all these things as well as her story telling, nostalgia and love pour from every song and it’s an accomplishment that should not be overlooked.
Jeff Rosenstock – Ska Dream
This year’s album of the year contender from JR is a reworking of last year’s No Dream with a huge ska twist in the form of a full band and some re-jigged track names. This record is an absolute joy to listen to and combines all waves within the Ska genre to produce something that is technically outstanding.
Cheekface – Emphatically No.
There are a lot of ‘talky’ bands around these days – many of which comfortably assume the well-established if slightly unimaginative mould of basically just doing The Fall. Cheekface are not that type of band. Frontman Greg Katz’s vocals are wry and dry-witted, charming, constantly disarming, and always laid back. You get the impression that all he’s doing is occasionally looking up from his phone at the world around himself with mild amusement at how seriously everyone else is taking things – instantly dismissing the vaguest attempt at self-seriousness. And while that could easily be irritating, this is a warm and fun record, always inviting the listener in on the joke.
Chubby and the Gang – The Mutts Nuts
This release combines utter ferocity with a delicate touch to create a hybrid of post punk and hardcore that truly stands out. Each short sharp burst of a song is packed with crushing instrumentation and gallows humour. Comparisons will be made to Idles but the sense of fun and rocket pace within this album puts it in a world of it’s own.
The Bronx – VI
At this point we know what to expect from The Bronx and with this album they continue to be one of the most consistent bands in heavy music. With a turbulent political period for inspiration this is another perfectly considered series of angry yet relatable songs which are made for a sweaty room.
Citizen, Life in Your Glass World
The guys in Citizen took a deep breath and what was released was something fresh, fun and dare I say danceable? Can you breathe out something danceable? That aside, Life in Your Glass World is step forward for the group. Allowing a lighter and pop sound take the stage, Citizen proves they will not be pigeonholed into genre.
Mannequin Pussy – Perfect EP
Mannequin Pussy’s masterful third album Patience saw them perfectly poised to take over the indie punk scene, give or take some hesitancy from the mainstream about their confrontational band name (about which they remain admirably defiant, and justifiably pissed off that it’s all anyone ever writes about). Since then though they’ve lost a member, but it’s clear from the new Perfect EP that Mannequin Pussy are just as strong as a three-piece. The EP shows the same masterful skill for emotional, hard-hitting anthems as they displayed on Patience as with opener Control, and an undying punk edge on full display with the barnstorming title track, or the menacing, growling anti-authoritarian Pigs is Pigs. It’s an EP full of promise for the future.
A Great Big Pile Of Leaves, Pono
AGBPOL have been quiet for a while, their last studio album in 2013. So when there was rumblings of the band recording something new many many eyes and ears were at attention. The indie quartet have been solidifying their name among the indie crowds, and with Pono they are beyond ready to capture the hearts of everyone else in the world
Tyler, the Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost
Another slice of technically produced complex rap from a true maverick. Once more Tyler has come through with an album that will mould the genre for the next few years. The off beat flows and forever complex backing creates yet another special release.
Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
Dry Cleaning are another band who puts their spoken word vocals front and centre. Frontwoman Florence Shaw builds oddly affecting webs from the offhand cuts of poetry she tosses across each of the tracks on Dry Cleaning’s brilliant debut album. I can’t really put my finger on what it is that makes them work so well. No matter how skilfully the band build the tracks (and the bass is particularly great across the record), there’s still no reason a line like ‘seems like too much garlic’ should make me feel so emotional. And yet…
Laura Stevenson, Laura Stevenson
Stevenson will capture you for many reasons, a major one is the emotional output she creates in every song. Be it a song where it’s primarily her and a guitar or the full band, the heart and soul she expresses in every line and word on the self titled album, is sung with purpose and intent.
Lande Hekt – Going to Hell
Lande Hekt has developed with every release and this debut full length shows a songwriter at the very top of their game. The delicate touches within the musicianship create the perfect backing to lyrics full of clever touches and raw emotion.
Manchester Orchestra, The Million Masks of God
Every album from this band could easily be mentioned in a top ten list of the year in its release. Not only are the consistently creating unique and great music, but also tweaking and integrating new techniques. Andy Hull’s vocals both cut through you effortlessly while cradling and letting you feel peace wash over you.
Snail Mail – Valentine
The second album from Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan finds her reflecting on difficult experiences with love, written from a difficult and seemingly pretty lonely perspective of being a young indie star, thrust into the limelight and abandoned with no instruction manual on what to do next. Not that she needs one, as Valentine finds her sounding more confident than ever. The album’s stacked with indie bangers like the title track and the fantastic ‘Glory’, but also nods towards more mainstream pop with tracks like ‘Forever (Sailing)’ or the excellent St Vincent-esque ‘Ben Franklin’.
Julien Baker, Little Oblivions
Baker is known for that haunting guitar or piano playing with overflowing emotional lyrics without ever letting up. She continues to do this, but this time allowing a bigger sound encompass her stories with a full band. Never taking away from what Baker does best, the band only allows for the artist to create with a different foundation allowing Baker to strengthen her artistry.
Delta Sleep – Spring Island
The ever progressive Delta Sleep have pushed their math rock stylings even further with this album. Once again they continue to flex their musical muscles without losing the clever hooks and accessibility. Spring Island is a triumph of both composition and lyrics and there are very few bands who can match Delta Sleep.
Black Country, New Road – For the first time
Hearing that Black Country, New Road’s debut album would have new, slightly different versions of their brilliant early singles Sunglasses and Athens, France made me apprehensive. What if I didn’t like the new versions as much? Added to which there are only four other tracks? Six tracks isn’t enough for an album! Turns out I needn’t have worried. This is a fantastic, artful and intelligent band who have built on the early promise of those singles brilliantly – balancing admittedly indulgent pretentiousness with raw, roaring abandon in equal measure. The two old singles are refreshed with undeniable new power in this new iteration, and the new tracks on the album are so long and densely packed with content that six is more than enough for even the most demanding listener.
Fiddlehead, Between the Richness
It’s pretty easy to understand why Fiddlehead’s sophomore album is an impressive second release. The fundamentals are improved upon, there’s a no frills sensibility about the record and with no intention on trying to impress anyone. While doing this, impressing a lot of people. Cementing themselves as a band you should see live, the band also creates that atmosphere in your ears while you put this album on repeat.
Fortitude Valley – All Hail the Great Destroyer
Indie-pop supergroup Fortitude Valley is former Tigercats keyboardist Laura Kovic’s new project, with members of Night Flowers and Martha filling out the band. And all those influences combine and complement one another perfectly on a joyful and effortlessly charming debut record that breezes by in just over half an hour, planting its unforgettable hooks in your brain as it goes. Plus they get bonus points for the title track being about a cat.
Fresh – The Summer I Got Good at Guitar
Fresh are a hidden gem within the DIY scene and this EP pushes the already sterling work of the band even further. With razor sharp harmonies and choruses that will haunt your ears for weeks this is a band who can express even the darkest parts of the human condition in a way that inspires nothing but joy.
Me Rex – Megabear
When earlier Adele flexed her considerable star power muscles to convince Spotify to remove the shuffle button from albums for the release of her new record – I immediately thought of Me Rex. The London outfit led by Myles McCabe had only recently released their debut album Megabear – an audacious, ambitious and fascinating experiment consisting of 52 tracks designed to be listened to in random order. The individual tracks are all the same tempo, and are designed to flow into one another – so that whichever way you listen to it you’ll always hear it differently. It has no true beginning, and no end – and as such it feels alive in a way that few albums do. Maybe that’s why Adele felt so threatened by it?