[sic] Magazine

Sub-Ed’s Albums & EPs Of The Year 2021

We said the same thing last year, but what a year, huh? The spectre of pandemic, of course, still looms large over the landscape, countless personal tragedies the world over its sombre backbeat. Respectfully, the public more or less remain stoic. We make do. We grieve. We move on. The music industry remains deeply challenged. Gigs are cancelled are the drop of a hat. Interruption to touring starves artists of a vital stream of revenue. Streaming services, too, remain – at best – ethically questionable. And demand continues to outstrip supply, leading to 12-month queues at the pressing plants, again hindering marketing efforts (sorry bands, if your order isn’t in now, you won’t be releasing vinyl in 2022). And yet there are the green shoots of recovery. The industry is in a better position this year than the same time last year (new lockdown decisions pending). Every band in the world has been busy recording too, so we know there’s lots of great tunes to come. And great tunes continue to arrive now despite everything, and we should still celebrate them.

Here, simply, then is what I consider to have been the best albums and EPs of the year – those that have stood out most from that which I’ve listened to. The humble singer-songwriter continues to stake their claim in this list, the dark allure of post-punk never, of course, far behind. Some lighter moments soundtracked a relatively carefree summer, more experimental sounds leaving us with things to ponder during the seasons before and after.

Particular credit this year though goes to the gloomy Sargent House stable, so too the self-explanatory Fuzz Club for each being responsible for four entries on this list, ever-present tastemakers Thrill Jockey, Matador and Tough Love not far behind on three. Other statistical analysis shows a continuation of a theme from last year, just 85% of the artists in this top 100 entirely or partially calling the US, UK and Ireland, Canada, or Australia and New Zealand home. The world now just a global village, it’s especially pleasing to South America represented via contribution from Brazil and Venezuela. Turn over enough rocks and good music abounds everywhere.

It must be said though that, as per every year, I have only one pair of ears, a set number of hours in the day and a bank balance that is far from inexhaustible, so there are, perhaps, certain omissions from the list below. In any case, who knows what may have been, but here is what definitely was (linked where reviewed – rough genre given in brackets):

1. MakthaverskanFör Allting (Indie/Dream-Pop/Goth) [Makthaverskan]

You wouldn’t be remotely surprised if someone told you För Allting was a lost, 80s cult favourite as it has everything: jangling guitars, harder Goth floor-drums, glistening dream-pop sequences, the menacing undertow of bass, Maja Milner’s superbly swooping vocals, spectacular solos and arms-wide, atmospheric reverb over the lot. Gothenburg band Makthaverskan initially self-released only for Run For Cover to come calling to repress its countless highlights.

2. The Underground YouthThe Falling (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Fuzz Club]

The Underground Youth have been many things – psych-rock, shoegaze, post-punk – and they’ve been pretty good at all of them. The Falling is different. For a start, it’s consistently great. Who knew that Craig Dyer had a semi-acoustic, alt-folk LP in him though, as customarily dark as it is? Reputedly born of necessity when stranded without much of their equipment, it’s part louche, Murder Ballads-era Nick Cave, part classic Leonard Cohen, every track a stunner.

3. EnumclawJimbo Demo (Garage-Punk/Slacker-Rock) [Youth Riot]

Enumclaw don’t hit all the right notes, play a little out of tune and have lyrics about self-betterment being out of reach yet not wanting “to be a loser”. Yes, the Jimbo Demo is firmly in the realm of slacker rock, but so do its seemingly ever-more-perfect five tracks house a few fuzzy rippers that hit like No Age at their best. Melody, a beating heart, throughout is key, a peg on which these downbeat, distorted anthems can lay their hat.

4. MONOPilgrimage Of The Soul (Post-Rock) [Pelagic Records]

Some people like Mogwai. Some prefer Amusement Parks On Fire. And then there’s MONO. This list just ain’t big enough for the three of ‘em. The Japanese have an uncanny knack for taking something, amplifying it, concentrating it, finding its essence, and then unleashing it back upon the world. The soul in Pilgrimage Of The Soul may as well be music itself as it’s this exact transformation and journey undertaken by these majestic missives.

5. juliePushing Daisies EP (Grunge/Noise-Rock/Shoegaze) [S/R]

Absolutely gagging for a reprint with just 70 tape copies made, this deliciously underproduced self-release from LA-based trio julie is just 4 tracks long but it bristles with distorted, alt-rock/grunge-gaze and no-wave noise-rock, coming too with nods to Swirlies and with the deadpan delivery of Sonic Youth. Amidst the protesting feedback, you’ll wonder if Pushing Daisies is too good to be true and then you’ll blink and it’ll be gone.

6. GustafAudio Drag For Ego Slobs (Post-Punk) [Royal Mountain]

Cool, cool, cool. Brooklyn band Gustaf are oozing the stuff on their debut. Indebted as much to the no-wave funk of ESG as they are the arch punk of early B52s, their wiry guitars, call-and-response vocal parts and liquid rhythms are ants-in-your-pants addictive, oddball pitch-shifting of the vocal a divisive, but distinctive calling card in the band’s arsenal too. Love it or loathe it, there is zero chance you’re staying still while listening to it.

7. Amyl & The SniffersComfort To Me (Punk/Pub-Rock) [Rough Trade]

For pound-for-pound fun you don’t have to look much further than Comfort To Me, Amyl & The Sniffers’ snotty sophomore helping. It’s really not big, and it’s really not clever, but sweaty, boozy hoots really shouldn’t be. Amy Taylor grabs this one by the scruff of the neck early on and throttles the life out of it. There’s some meaty guitar to contend with, but she shouts those down too, prowling the front line in magnetic fashion.

8. IceageSeek Shelter (Punk-Rock/New Wave) [Mexican Summer]

The fifth Iceage LP is dark, as you’d expect, despondent even in places, yet it’s also their most accessible album, poppy some might say with the inclusion of danceable synths and beats. Its attraction is obvious, yet it takes time to reveal itself fully. Pay attention and pick out Lyre Of Orpheus-style gospel, Primal Scream baggy, drunken Titus Andronicus rabble-rousing and concessions to 60s exotica. All of that, you didn’t expect.

9. Dry CleaningNew Long Leg (Post-Punk) [4AD]

The world that South London post-punks Dry Cleaning inhabit is one of crushing routine, creeping paranoia and the minutiae of agoraphobic living. The essential soundtrack to lockdown life then? Yes, as New Long Leg is not only relatable, it’s also witty, deeply intelligent and – with Flo Shaw’s unique delivery and tumble of near-spoken-word the undisputed selling point – a wonderfully peculiar proposition to boot.

10. Yo No SeTerraform (Grunge/Hard Psych) [Stolen Body]

You’d imagine the thirty-year Nevermind anniversary couldn’t come around soon enough for Bristol-based hard-rockers Yo No Se (“I Don’t Know” in Spanish). Let’s not beat about the bush, some of Terraform is straight Cobain copycatting, but look past (or enjoy, to each their own) those parts and be treated to a full-throttle, if slightly crusty belter, distorted thrash tackling serrated grunge with an edge of brutal psych. Turn it up loud.

11. MadmessRebirth (Psych/Prog-Rock) [Hassle Records]

No matter how much Google tries to tell you differently, that’s Portuguese three-piece Madmess with two Ms and Rebirth is not a new Suggs record. Some people might be disappointed by that fact, but deep psych afficionados won’t be amongst them as Rebirth is nose-to-tail gnarly. A feast for guitar lovers, it’s all action all the time too, big stoner rock for ripped amphetamine freaks rather than blissed-out naval-gazers.

12. The Limiñanas / Laurent GarnierDe Pelicula (Psych-Rock/60s Psych) [Because Music]

Fresh from writing two actual soundtracks, cinematically styled garage-psych duo The Limiñanas figured they’d now write their own movie with new hook-up, veteran DJ and Gallic compatriot Laurent Garnier. A concept record that details the sordid road trip of two teenagers, we’re treated to a super-charged romp through the catalogues of Can and Kraftwerk, revving engines, wheezy organ and grinding garage keeping De Película on brand.

13. Fine PlaceThis New Heaven (Dream-Pop/Darkwave) [Night School]

There’s an otherworldliness to the gloomy This New Heaven, a kind of accidental higher plane of consciousness unexpected of Frankie Rose (Vivian/Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts) and Matthew Hord (Pop. 1280 – see below – and others). Buzzing synths and whipcrack drum-machines in unison with her vocal drift take on transcendental form, crunching guitar jarring you out of working-from-home reverie and back into the timely, cold compressions of reality.

14. The Goon SaxMirror II (Slacker/Indie-Rock) [Matador]

Brisbane trio The Goon Sax have connections and they have pedigree. On their indie major debut with Matador, they now have an album to back the use of them up too. Founding Goon Louis Forster is the son of the Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster, but Mirror II doesn’t come from exactly the same playbook. A masterclass instead in slacking, simple structures come decorated only with a little synth work. Sometimes, remember, less really is more.

15. Mandy, Indiana… EP (Experimental/No Wave/Noise) [Fire Talk]

In a strong year for EPs, none was more unique than this Mandy, Indiana offering (FKA Gary, Indiana). With the frenetic rhythms of someone like Battles, the jaw-drop dance-punk excitement of someone like HEALTH, and the no-wave noise-rock delivery of all the cool bands ever, it somehow coalesces into an out-there, but ear-grabbing lesson in listenability. 2022 promises to be a big year for the Manchester-based band newly signed to Fire Talk.

16. A Place To Bury StrangersHologram (Industrial/Post-Punk/Noise) [Dedstrange]

All change over at Oliver Ackermann’s NYC HQ. Suddenly alone, he’s joined here by Skywave and Ceremony friends for a five-track EP on his own label and it, at least, is a reassuringly familiar cocktail of noise, with a few new ideas brought to the table with the line-up modification, the touchstones of MBV and J&MC never far away too. Evolution in action, Hologram sounds like the present, past and future in one composite waveform.

17. For Those I LoveFor Those I Love (Spoken Word/Post-Dubstep) [September Recordings]

This poetic blast of 90s nostalgia won’t be everyone, but neither should it be. Written against the backdrop of his best friend’s suicide and via a succession of post-dubstep/UKG beats, David Balfe revisits cherished memories of their time together, his heavily accented spoken-word taking you straight to the Dublin streets of his working-class upbringing. Intended only for a close-knit circle, his necessarily raw tales simply resonate too strongly to stay contained.

18. LiarsThe Apple Drop (Experimental Rock) [Mute]

We all know that Angus Andrew has been through a lot this, what, past decade, give or take, so it’s rewarding to hear him getting his shit back together on The Apple Drop, his best album since WIXIW back in 2012, probably since Sisterworld in 2010 truth be told. By Liars standards Apple Drop is a rather refined affair; by most others’ standards, it’s still quite odd, warped and lurching like a wild animal that’s gotten drunk off the fermenting windfall.

19. The Reds, Pinks And PurplesUncommon Weather (Singer-Songwriter/Indie-Pop) [Tough Love]

What do you look for in good indie-pop? Crystalline jangles, of course. Toe-tapping melodies? They almost go without saying. Dark subject matter? The preserve of the cognoscenti. A bit of a DIY scruff on stage with a vaguely librarian whiff about them? Absolutely textbook. Veteran scenester Glenn Donaldson has been around long enough to know all of this and knocks out such gems with ease, the breezy Uncommon Weather a career highlight.

20. Alexis MarshallHouse Of Lull. House Of When (Singer-Songwriter/Experimental/Noise) [Sargent House]

The frontman of Daughters was never going to make a chilled-out solo record, was he? To say House Of Lull. House Of When is intense though would be an understatement. This is the sort of stuff that’d eat Lingua Ignota for breakfast, his tense spoken-word becoming a pained howl as high-art is thrown down the stairs with the kit clattering behind it. Marshall makes pin-drop effects hit just as hard as abject noise and that just makes it all so much more terrifying.

21. NOV3LNon-Fiction (Post-Punk) [Tin Angel / Meat Machine / Unheard Of Hope]

Post-punk is so broad a church it’s refreshing to hear a record from time to time that couldn’t be anything else. Non-Fiction sounds like what should have followed Gang Of 4’s Entertainment in ‘80/’81 and there’s simply no denying it. Itchy rhythms abound, choppy vocals dance awkwardly to the accompaniment of sheet metal left in the mix. File under homage rather than pastiche though because it’s all so lovingly done.

22. ShameDrunk Tank Pink (Post-Punk) [Dead Oceans]

Bands grow up; of course, they do. Drunk Tank Pink is a more mature Shame record because it has to be. A less mature record than Songs Of Praise at this point would have been ridiculous in any case. It’s an album that for all its obvious post-punk traits no longer resembles anyone else. Less eager to please, less laddish and more revealing as a result, it’s the record on which Shame get real. It’s the record on which Shame finally become themselves.

23. FirefriendDead Icons (Noise-Rock/Shoegaze) [Cardinal Fuzz/Little Cloud]

The latest in a hot run of Firefriend LPs, the cool-as-you-like three-piece may just be getting better. Cherry-picking the best motifs from both contemporary and 60s psych, so too from the fertile hunting grounds of arty noise-rock and spacey shoegaze, Dead Icons pours petrol on the embers of their back-catalogue while conflating many of the best guitar records in history with reverential glee. Sit back and watch them burn.

24. Squirrel FlowerPlanet (i) (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Full Time Hobby]

Outdoing the likes of Lucy Dacus to land the best female-presenting, trad singer-songwriter LP of the year is no mean feat. Planet (i) is a real step up from 2019’s otherwise quite decent I Was Born Swimming, and a number of its tracks sound suspiciously like classics in waiting, Ella Williams growing into the role with a level of familiarity that makes listening to her songs feel like a hug when one is needed most.

25. Fucked UpYear Of The Horse (Hardcore/Prog-Metal) [Tankcrimes]

The most ambitious band in hardcore aren’t going to succeed if they don’t try, are they? Year Of The Horse is a concept album that takes place over four acts, comprising 71 tracks and lasting a full 90 mins. It’s a natural successor to the 18-song rock-opera David Comes To Life, but immediately out does it by having recruited a playwright to draft some sort of medieval romp, giving the band full licence to be as outlandish at they want.

26. Rose City BandEarth Trip (Psych-Rock/Alt Country) [Thrill Jockey]

As Rose City Band, Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips/Moon Duo) is on extremely laidback form, his patented guitar dappling soothing to point of serenity, his shuffling melodies barely able to carry their own weight. It’s porch-dwelling stuff for a hot summer’s night and so it proves as he introduces pleasing pedal steel into the heady brew, perfect for drifting off into an idyllic dream. Careful though, after a couple of spins you might never come back.

27. GoatHeadsoup (Psych-Rock/World) [Rocket Recordings]

A lot of folk went nuts for that Mdou Moctar record this year, the Tuareg musician incorporating Western psych-rock into his West African roots music. At a pinch, his record may be more authentic when it comes to “world music”, but it wasn’t a better record that the similarly styled Here Lies Man album (see below) and it certainly wasn’t as good as the knowingly titled Headsoup, Goat’s most consistent and dizzying dose of globe-trotting psych to date.

28. White RingShow Me Heaven (Witch House/Industrial) [Rocket Girl]

Bless White Ring, witch house’s closest thing to an ever-present force despite the tragic passing of founding member Kendra Malia back in 2019. Now taking the glitchy sound in heavier, bottom dwelling directions, Show Me Heaven is a top five album in the genre, such is the paucity of LPs made, but don’t let that dissuade you of its abrasive charms, disembodied trap beats now losing the battle to ghostly moans and speaker-shaking sub.

29. White FlowersDay By Day (Dream-Pop/Shoegaze) [Tough Love]

Sure, you could just listen to Heaven Or Las Vegas, which no one would argue isn’t much better, but it’s comforting to learn some youngsters pull from the more idiosyncratic side of the spectrum when wearing their influences on their sleeve and Day By Day does a reasonable job of emulating their heroes without robbing them blind. As frostily swoonsome as you’d expect then, White Flowers peaks during the breathy “Help Me Help Myself” and it’s to die for.

30. BIG|BRAVE Vital (Doom/Alt-Rock) [Southern Lord]

Hard-hitting doom connoisseurs BIG | BRAVE (that glyph is called a vbar or pipe, in case you were wondering) also did an album with [sic] favourites The Body this year, who in turn also put out a solo record too (see below), but for our money Vital is the best of the bunch, the truest to any of their core sounds and thus the most effective, Robin Wattie’s howling coming across like a particularly demented PJ Harvey at her most antisocial.

31. Black Country, New RoadFor The First Time (Post-Punk/Experimental) [Ninja Tune]

The highest placed Speedy Wunderground graduate on this list, Black Country, New Road (so named by a random generator) are as complex as Squid, as intellectual as black midi think they are, and consequently they’re in a league of their own. Nominally, For The First Time is post-punk, but that’s used as a bit of catch-all to encompass mathy composition, spidery post-hardcore intensity, and sprawling post-rock vision that’s always turning the screw.

32. LoticWater (Electronica/Producer) [Houndstooth]

You’d frankly be delighted if someone told you this was the new FKA Twigs LP. A showcase in future beats, high-end R&B corruption, and cavernous production for discerning dancefloor warm-ups, Water follows Power on the revered, but now defunct Tri Angle label and it shows. It’s a template for what’s to come in watered down form, an isolating but Bass heavy experience that equally swells the rafters of all structures before it.

33. MhaolGender Studies EP (Neo Post-Punk) [Tulle]

Spoken/near-spoken post-punk is everywhere and this is a good thing because, at the moment, all of it’s great. With a vinyl version to come next year, Gender Studies is an outlier in this market despite ticking all the boxes. The aptly pronounced Mhaol (male like gaol/jail) tackle societally hot topics, they have the smarts to do so considerately, and make an awkward guitar noise as suitable backing. It all comes across as new though and very few manage that.

34. GnodLa Mort Du Sens (Industrial/Noise-Rock) [Rocket Recordings]

A bunch of noisier ne’er-do-wells you’re unlikely ever to meet. Salford cacophony crew Gnod have settled into a particularly grinding form of industrial racket of late, earlier rhythmic psychedelic work expelled in favour of gruff punk, leaden drum assaults, piercing metallic effects and, of course, that unpleasant sax skronk which accompanies most of their free-form expeditions. It remains to their credit that the result is not only artistically impressive.

35. LowHey What (Slowcore/Experimental) [Sub Pop]

Picking up where 2018’s stunning Double Negative left off, Hey What is further proof that, in the hands of Low, distortion has never sounded so beautiful. Clearly not done with the break-out success of that album’s blown-out glitch, we’re largely treated to more of the same here, the veteran outfit’s trademark, tender songcraft picked over perversely by stuttering static and acid-bath scree. And, still, it’s lovely stuff. Magic.

36. Ty SegallHarmonizer (Garage-Rock/Fuzz) [Drag City]

A whopping two years since the last Ty Segall record, Harmonizer finds the garage whirlwind at a fertile crossroads. He’s more concise than he’s often been, keeping the run time down to 35 mins. He’s less indebted to The Beatles, preferring heavier hunting grounds and ear-catching laser effects over jangling melodies. Everyone has their favourite Segall sound and this is a new one, doomy fuzz and catchy synths given equal footing. It might just be the future.

37. FACSPresent Tense (Post-Punk/Experimental) [Trouble In Mind]

It felt like a real shame when Chicago band Disappears folded in 2015, but from their tense, angular ashes sprung FACS, now on their fourth supremely gloomy album in as many years, as many as their parent band managed in a similar period. Each of them has been decent in their own way too. It begs the question, at what point does FACS stop being the band Disappears became and become instead the band Disappears were always intended to be?

38. Godspeed You! Black EmperorG_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END! (Post-Rock) [Constellation]

Any year there’s a new GY!BE album is a good year. The post-rock titans may be wilfully challenging, their track and album titles these days just a scramble of alphanumerics, but few bands have the power to thrill like they do. All it takes is a killer riff picked out over the noise. A well-timed tempo change. A pivot at crescendo to find an ear-filling level you previously thought impossible. And much of it is done in gleeful slow-motion, the listener held entirely captive.

39. SquidBright Green Field (Post-Punk/Math-Rock) [Warp]

Some London bands sound horribly smug. Some ridiculously pretentious. Squid tread the line at times, but are skilful enough to avoid most of the Capital’s pitfalls, their clever take on post-punk simmering artfully as accepted rules on time signatures and song design are ripped apart and sewn back together haphazardly. Sequences become code though, Squid both holding the key to the golden ratio but also rather reluctant to share it.

40. Lost GirlsMenneskekollektivet (Synth-Pop/Experimental) [Smalltown Supersound]

Long-time fans of Avant Garde artist Jenny Hval will find much to admire in Menneskekollektivet’s envelope-pushing, New Age pop. Identifiably Nordic in its wide-screen, melancholy delivery, Lost Girls nevertheless lets Hval explore her own vision of Balearica, synths washing over clapping effects and nebulous drones, the second half of the magnificent 15-minute banger “Love, Lovers” seeing her haunt some comedown show like an angel.

41. Yard ActDark Days EP (Indie-Rock/Post-Punk) [Zen FC]

Few artists have blown up in the way Yard Act have this year. With an album ready to go, the Leeds lads have been the first name on everyone’s 2022 tips lists (alongside the likes of Wet Leg, of course). Dripping with sarcasm and wry story-telling, there’s a ragamuffin allure to their work that’s both appealing and relatable, their oikish take on neo post-punk potent without being pretentious, self-aware without being overly silly.

42. Luis VasquezA Body Of Errors (Darkwave/Industrial) [2Mondi]

Luis Vasquez is darkwave enthusiast The Soft Moon and A Body Of Errors, recorded under his own name instead, doesn’t stray far from a winning template. Industrial compressions lead the charge, venting their fury by way of percussion as blackened synths chop and pulse bleakly. 80s drum machine wheezes and stutters away at the top end nostalgically, conjuring thoughts of what New Order might have sounded like on a major downer.

43. BummerDead Horse (Hardcore Punk) [Thrill Jockey]

We have little against The Boss over here at [sic] towers, but noisy Kansas City trio Bummer clearly have beef. “I Want To Punch Bruce Springsteen In The Dick” they scream rather seriously, the crunching sludge that vomits all of the speakers straight after setting the tone for all the charming Dead Horse has to offer. Not one perhaps for Christmas Day, but crank it in the car after a bad day at work and you’ll find your tension melting away.

44. DeafheavenInfinite Granite (Post-Rock/Black Metal) [Sargent House]

The actual metal part of Deafheaven’s material is getting less and less easy to identify, the much-misunderstood San Francisco outfit finding more comfort these days in smothering post-rock and really quite pretty patterning. They’re no mugs, though, and still have a primal howl and brutal percussive fill in their back pockets whenever they do need to step on the pedals, Infinite Granite a fine addition to a very strong back catalogue.

45. ArcaKiCk ii/iii/iiii/iiiii (Future Beats/Experimental Pop) [XL Recordings]

Four albums in one, KiCk i’s successor is a staggering offering that cements Arca’s place at the forefront of pop experimentalism. Its ground-breaking future beats will be plundered for samples for years to come, its scrambled channels of zeitgeist production, Latin essentials, Bass and Reggaeton residing at the bleeding edge of contemporary composition. Naturally the quality control over such a work is questionable, but this remains a melting pot of gold.

46. The Altered HoursConvertible (Indie/Noise-Rock/Shoegaze) [Pizza Pizza]

You won’t find a stronger opening on any record this year than on Convertible, its introductory bars simmering in delicious shoegaze distortion, Cathal MacGabhann’s dreamy vocal effortlessly picking out its peaks on the album’s lead single. It’s just one of several highlights as he and Elaine Howley mournfully share centre stage, leading a concise 30-minute procession though ramshackle indie and fizzy rockers of impeccable taste and origin.

47. The ArmedUltrapop (Hardcore/Experimental) [Sargent House]

Pushing hardcore into truly unexpected spaces, the maximal Ultrapop is well named, sounding like every genre ever conceived getting drunk and partying together. The Detroit band are breathless throughout, knowing they’ve struck a rich seam and determined to extract every ounce of potential from it. What initially seems quite punishing softens on repeat. What initially seems quite bewildering suddenly begins to make a lot of sense.

48. Mildred MaudeSleepover (Psych-Rock/Shoegaze) [Sonic Cathedral]

Increasingly good friends over these past few years, psych-rock and shoegaze make for impeccable bedfellows when handled correctly and Cornish improv trio Mildred Maude do it better than most. Sleepover is a thus a woozy encounter, its lengthy jams patient in their pursuit of pay-off, guitar-on-guitar action stinging the ears when they lock onto a groove, these thrilling instrumentals truly a Siren song to the tinnitus crowd.

49. Guardian SinglesGuardian Singles (Garage-Punk) [Trouble In Mind]

It’s not easy to make a great garage-punk record. You don’t just need to get your influences spot on, look the part, attack the sound with just the right level of skill, and have the tunes to back it all up. Knowing when to go for it and when to dial it all back takes practice too, as does balancing rough and ready delivery with melody in just the right amount. Stand back and be impressed then when Guardian Singles make it look so simple.

50. GroupieEphemeral (Indie-Rock/Dream-Punk) [Handstand]

There’s something about New York that produces frostily disinterested bands like Groupie. Maybe it’s the fast pace of the city. Perhaps the size of it, making anonymity inevitable. Maybe it’s just Kim Gordon’s legacy, writ into the DNA of all fledgling bands in the boroughs. The wistful Ephemeral is dreamier than you’d expect though, feedback and rudimentary production wrapped up in cotton wool and stamped fragile for international shipping.

The best of the rest (no particular order):

Here Lies ManRitual Divination (Hard/Psych-Rock) [RidingEasy]
Still CornersThe Last Exit (Dream-Pop) [Wrecking Light]
Sarah Mary ChadwickMe And Ennui Are Friends, Baby (Singer-Songwriter) [Ba Da Bing!]
Julien BakerLittle Oblivions (Singer-Songwriter) [Matador]
The BodyI’ve Seen All I Need To See (Doom/Black Metal) [Thrill Jockey]
Nick Cave & Warren EllisCarnage (Singer-Songwriter) [Goliath]
GravegonzoTheir Fantasy Mirrors (Shoegaze/Dream-Pop) [Airbag Records]
GrandbrothersAll The Unknown (Electronica/Neo-Classical) [City Slang]
Xiu XiuOh No (Synth-Pop/Goth) [Polyvinyl]
Flock Of DimesHead Of Roses (Dream-Pop/Alt-Folk) [Sub Pop]
The AntlersGreen To Gold (Slowcore/Dream-Pop) [Transgressive]
CrumbIce Melt (Dream/Psych-Pop) [Crumb Records]
VeikSurrounding Structures (Krautrock/No Wave) [Fuzz Club]
Mannequin PussyPerfect EP (Punk-Rock) [Epitaph]
Indigo SparkeEcho (Singer-Songwriter) [Sacred Bones]
YungOngoing Dispute (Post-Punk/Indie-Rock) [PNKSLM]
Opposite SexHigh Drama (Post-Punk/Noise-Pop) [Spik & Span]
New CandysVYVYD (Psych-Rock) [Fuzz Club]
Whispering SonsSeveral Others (Post-Punk) [PIAS]
Maple GliderTo Enjoy Is The Only Thing (Singer-Songwriter/Alt-Folk) [Partisan]
ReptaliensWrestling EP (New Wave/Synth-Pop) [Captured Tracks]
Lucy DacusHome Video (Singer-Songwriter/Pop-Rock) [Matador]
Folly GroupAwake And Hungry EP (Post-Punk) [So Young]
NewDadWaves (Indie-Rock/Shoegaze) [Fair Youth]
HildegardHildegard (Folktronica/Experimental) [Section 1 (2)]
Birds Of MayaValdez (Hard Psych/Lo-fi) [Drag City]
Acid DadTake It From The Dead (Garage/Psych-Rock) [The Reverberation Appreciation Society]
Penelope TrappesPenelope Three (Singer-Songwriter/R&B) [Houndstooth]
Lingua IgnotaSinner Get Ready (Singer-Songwriter/Doom) [Sargent House]
Drug Store RomeosThe World Within Our Bedrooms (Indie/Dream-Pop) [Fiction Records]
Meatbodies333 (Garage-Rock/Fuzz) [In The Red]YvetteHow The Garden Grows (Post-Punk/Noise) [Western Vinyl]
Water From Your EyesStructure (New Wave/Synth-Pop) [Wharf Cat]
HTRKRhinestones (Downtempo/Dream-Pop) [N&J Blueberries]
Bored At My Grandma’s HouseSometimes I Forget You’re Human Too EP (Indie/Dream-Pop) [Clue Records]
10000 RussosSuperinertia (Psych-Rock) [Fuzz Club]
WednesdayTwin Plagues (Indie-Rock/Alt-Rock) [Orindal]
Pop. 1280Museum On The Horizon (Synth-Punk/Goth) [Profound Lore]
The OscillationUntold Futures (Psych-Rock/Post-Punk) [All Time Low]
Cindy1:2 (Slowcore/Dream-Pop) [Tough Love]
Ducks Ltd.Modern Fiction (Indie/Jangle-Pop) [Carpark]
JOHNNocturnal Manoeuvres (Sludge-Punk/Fuzz) [Brace Yourself]
GrouperShade (Ambient/Dream-Pop) [Kranky]
IDLESCrawler (Neo Post-Punk) [Partisan]
Parquet CourtsSympathy For Life (Punk-Rock/Dub) [Rough Trade]
Strand Of OaksIn Heaven (Heartland Rock/Americana) [Galacticana]
LuggageHappiness (Post-Hardcore/Post-Punk) [Husky Pants]
Molly PaytonSlack (Singer-Songwriter) [Bug Records]
Witch FeverReincarnate (Grunge/Punk) [Music For Nations]
Converge & Chelsea WolfeBloodmoon: I (Doom Metal) [Epitaph]