Nick Triani negotiates the overloaded release schedules to bring you a One Quart Magazine playlist of the favourite music he listened to during 2021.
It’s all too much
Can we collectively hold our hands up and say 2021 has been the year where popular music’s proficiency has reached an all time high? Be it the pandemic and artists having too much time on their hands, with only a partial return to touring already being curtailed, creativity has been booming across the musical genres.
Initially I felt that 2021 was a year where I simply lost touch with what was going on – merely being content to keep abreast of the music I was working with was seemingly enough to satiate my music consumption. But with Spotify recently admitting to uploading 60 thousand songs a day, it’s obvious that a saturation of releases has created a feeling in me of being totally overwhelmed by music. It wasn’t until I compiled this playlist of my favourite music of the year that I realised I’d enjoyed so much new music.
…it’s obvious that a saturation of releases has created a feeling in me of being totally overwhelmed by music. It wasn’t until I compiled this playlist of my favourite music of the year that I realised I’d enjoyed so much new music.
The pull of nostalgia has been heavy over the last 12 months, with even ABBA making the most newsworthy of comebacks. With no sound or genre dominating the year, it really felt like a year of stagnation for pop culture, especially in the more mainstream echelons. But if you looked closely, the margins, thankfully, showed signs of creative life.
And the winner is
My favourite single of the year was Self Esteem’s ‘I Do This All The Time.’ Frank, funny and honest, Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s lyrics framed the narrative heavy album Prioritise Pleasure – a record that was completely ignored in Finland (despite a strong international presence.)
Low’s Hey What album stood out for me – expanding the sound palette of their previous game changer album Double Negative, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker made more space for noise, gospel tinges, social commentary and ambience on their new album. Hey What endured as the year rolled on.
Re-issues have gathered momentum with the return to popularity of vinyl with anniversary releases being celebrated with the same gusto as new albums. The record I listened to the most this year was The Beach Boys Feel Flows collection – covering seminal albums Wildflower and Surf’s Up. The reissue captures the emergence of Dennis Wilson as songwriter and the waking up of Brian Wilson to create Beach Boys music as potent as their standard for all times, Pet Sounds.
The Beatles ‘Get Back’ was astonishingly the most discussed musical happening of the year, which merely confirms how enthral to nostalgia popular music has become. Still, Peter Jackson’s documentary not only showed us a bunch of ridiculously talented songwriters struggling wearily with their ‘celebratory status’ whilst being Beatles, ‘Get Back’ possibly destroyed the traditional talking head, after the fact music documentary. ‘Get Back’ was a first hand visual document; often brutal, funny and at times brilliant (if a little overlong.)
Get Back possibly destroyed the traditional talking head, after the fact music documentary. ‘Get Back’ was a first hand visual document; often brutal, funny and at times brilliant
This OQM playlist reflects not only some of my favourite new releases of the year, but some of those re-issues of 2021 I enjoyed along with other music I obsessed over (Brazilian music of the early 1970s, French Psych-pop of the 1960s, Jazz piano players, folk music of the 1960/70s.) I realised that 2021 was a year I ended up listening to a wider variety of styles than ever before as well as a deeper volume of music. Mass music output really did result in my own mass music consumption.
So, what of 2022? With a palpable sense of excitement I can say, bring it on.
Nick Triani is an editor and contributor to One Quart Magazine.