I've done an end of year list at the end of every year since starting the blog in 2010. I started to pull a list of albums and songs together back in November and thought I should at least try to finish it off. Everything I've listened to since the end of November has been coloured by Isaac's death so I'm not sure if this is how the lists would have turned out if things had been different but we are where we are, as people say.
Albums of 2021
I've heard loads of good albums this year. My initial list ran to over twenty albums (and that was before the Pye Corner Audio album turned up) and there are several I've not heard yet that would surely be contenders had I got round to listening to them (I'm thinking of Carnage by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and this year's releases from LoneLady, WH Lung and Low). Floating around somewhere outside my top ten are these albums (in no particular order): Andres Y Xavi's Sounds From The Secret Bar; Stinky Jim's It's Not What It Sounds Like; The Vendetta Suite's Kempe Stone Portal; Steve Cobby's Shanty Bivouac (which has a close to perfect side 2); Richard Fearless's unsettling ambient techno masterpiece Future Rave Memory; Roisin Murphy's remixed Crooked Machine; Bicep's Isles; Reinhard Vanbergen and Charlotte Caluwaerts' Souvenir Des Bon Gout; Sons Of Slough's Bring Me Sunshine; Sonic Boom's remix album Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough; Cheval Sombre's pair of albums Days Go By and Time Waits For No One; Dry Cleaning's New Long Leg; Cerulean by Nashville Ambient Ensemble; The Liminanas and Laurent Garnier's De Pelicula; The Grid and Robert Fripp's Leviathan; Rose City Band's Earth Trip. The Bagging Area top ten looks like this-
10. Pye Corner Audio 'Entangled Routes'
9. Mogwai 'As The Love Continues'
8. Richard Norris 'Hypnotic Response'
7. Dean Wareham 'I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of L.A.'
6. Sedibus 'The Heavens'
5. Daniel Avery 'Together In Static'
4. GLOK 'Pattern Recognition'
3. Coyote 'The Mystery Light'
2. Circe Sky 'Dream Colour'
1. Saint Etienne 'I've Been Trying To Tell You'
I wasn't expecting Saint Etienne to make an album as good as this, at this stage of things- made in isolation but sounding like the work of three people in a room together, I've Been Trying To Tell You is a woozy, reflective album digging away at late 90s nostalgia (but not sounding itself nostalgic), built around samples from that period and with a strong undertow of bass and a warm wash of effects. On top of this Sarah Cracknell's voice is used almost like a sample library, cut up phrases and snatches of dialogue.
EP of 2021
5. Rich Lane 'Camo'
4. Three EPs of outstanding new music from A Certain Ratio, 'EPA', 'EPC' and 'EPR'. I couldn't separate them so have bunched them together.
3. SUSS 'Night Suite'
2. Hugo Nicolson 'Lost And Found'
1. Andy Bell and Pye Corner Audio 'The Indica Gallery EP'
No question here, the single piece of vinyl/ mp3s I've probably played as much as any other this year since it came out in April, six wondrous remixes of Andy Bell's 2020 album The View From Halfway Down. Pye Corner Audio's sunshine dreamscape remixes were the sound of this year for me in lots of ways, especially the analogue cosmische of Skywalker, Indica and Cherry Cola.
Songs/ Tracks/ Singles
So many good songs/ tracks/ remixes, I could easily list a top fifty. Someone wrote recently a top ten should be enough and I kind of agree- but all of these have been essential listening in 2021 (again, in no particular order); AMOR 'Unravel' from Lemur; Daniel Avery's Lone Swordsman as remixed by Chris Carter; Craig Bratley and Amy Douglas' No In Between; 10:40's Sleepwalker; a pair of remixes of Fontaines DC, one of A Hero's Death by Soulwax, the other Televised Mind by Dave Clarke; A Mountain Of One's Stars Planets Dust Me; Perry Granville's Dexter In Dub; Mat Ducasse's Bunny's Lullaby; Dan Wainwright and Rude Audio's Early Morning; Future Beat Alliance's Primordial Sky; Daniel Avery's remix of Winter In The Woods by Leaving Laurel; Coyote's remix of Original Cell by Projections and Coyote's two track 12" Will We Ever Dance Again; Cheval Sombre's Althea; various Pye Corner Audio one offs (Fictional Drilling and Eyes Open stand out); and last but not least Woodleigh Research Facility's All Is Not Lost and Vernal Invocation releases.
As well as all of those Sean Johnston has been responsible for a steady stream of remixes in his Hardway Bros guise, any one of which could/ should be in the list below but they can have their own sublist here-
Hardway Bros Sublist
10. Martyn Walsh and Simon Lyon 'Afterglow' Hardway Bros Dub
9. Shadowlark 'Come Around Here' Hardway Bros Remix
8. Cold Beat 'Double Sided Mirror' Hardway Bros Meet Monkton Noch Einmal Remix
7. Rheinzand 'Obey' Hardway Bros Stereo Odyssey
6. Deo' Jorge 'Sparking Plugs' Hardway Bros Sueno Cosmico remix
5. James Bright 'Suburbia' Hardway Bros ALFOS Has Risen remix
4. Psychedereka 'Screamdereka' Hardway Bros Meet Monkton Downtown
3 IWDG 'In A Lonely Place' Hardway Bros Axis Dub
2. Secret Soul Society 'Yo, We've Landed' Hardway Bros Redux remix
1. Margee 'Wrong Dream' Hardway Bros Cosmic Intervention
The top eleven songs/ tracks of 2021 at Bagging Area therefore finish looking like this-
11. Andrew Weatherall 'Y.W. Eleven'
10. Richard Norris 'Music For Healing- December' (but most of the other monthly releases in this series could get in here too)
8. 10:40 'Kissed Again'
7. Rheinzand 'We'll Be Alright'
6. Psychederek 'Screamadereka'
5. IWDG 'In A Lonely Place' (plus remixes from Hardway Bros, Keith Tenniswood and David Holmes )
4. Rude Audio 'Railton Ruckus' (plus remixes by Hugo Nicolson and Bedford Falls Players)
3. Coyote 'The Outsider'
2. Coyote 'Cafe Con Leche' from the Return To Life EP
1. David Holmes 'Hope Is The Last Thing To Die'
This song, a tour de force from Mr Holmes with vocals by Raven Violet, provided a glimmer of light in a year that has been bleak as fuck for all kinds of reasons, personal and political, macro and micro. The song is political, a call to arms, a lyric about not putting up with it any more,a demand to say enough is enough, but it works on a variety of levels for me. Hopefully 2022 will see it get a vinyl release.