Well here we are, right at the point where the old year gives a feeble cough, exhales and lets its eyes roll back as the violins swell. Hogmanay afternoon is a nothingy sort of time, so it’s a good chance to write my last blog of the year. As ever, it’s the list of the records that got me through the year, and this year took a bit more getting through than most. No-one at the lang cat shares my music taste, so although I say this is the lang cat’s list it’s really just mine, but no-one’s going to call me out on it if we’re honest so there we go. I’ve done one of these every year since we started, so I can’t stop now, and if you think it’s self-indulgent then you’d be…absolutely right. So for my own edification as much as anything, here we go.
This year I definitely went slower, doomier and a bit more tuneful than in previous years; not as much brutality. Some, but not as much. That means things like Carcass, Archspire, Praise The Plague and more didn’t make it on and that’s a shame, but on the plus side no-one will ever read this, so there’s that.
10. A DREAM OF WILDERNESS – AEPHANEMER
The French melodeath is a stronger melodeath than you might think. I don’t like this as much as Prokopton, but it’s growing on me and definitely worth a spot in the hallowed top decile.
9. SKELETON LAKE – HANGING GARDEN
Hey, has Polson put some Finnish doom in his list yet? Yes, yes he has. This is great, and the best thing is that Hanging Garden is just getting going; I reckon future records could be even greaterer.
8. THE WIDE, WIDE RIVER – JAMES YORKSTON AND THE SECOND HAND ORCHESTRA
As any fule kno, all JY records immediately go in The List, even if they’re not all that and a bag of chips. Here’s why, best beloved. Happily, this really is; playing with the SHO seems to have given Jamesy a shot in the arm.
7. AS THE LOVE CONTINUES – MOGWAI
In which Mogwai do the things that Mogwai do, and we are all very pleased about it. Wins best track name of the year for ‘Ceiling Granny’ and also did a totally historic Tim’s Twitter Listening Party this year for it.
6. CARNAGE – NICK CAVE AND WARREN ELLIS
Exactly as brilliant as you’d think it is. Not fun, mind.
5. MARCHING IN TIME – TREMONTI
Quite a lot more polished than I normally like stuff like this, but sometimes stuff that’s buffed to perfection really is just what you need, and that’s what you get with Mark Tremonti. If anyone’s buying I’d like one of his signature PRS guitars, please, and maybe the 100w MT100 head when it comes out. Ta.
4. ONLY SKIN – LOWRI EVANS & TOM MCRAE
This is a lovely record that I’ve just played and played. Also contains what might be my favourite ever Christmas song. I never knew about Lowri Evans until she teamed up with Tom Mcrae for this, but I’m enjoying finding out now.
3. PER ASPERA AD ASTRA – RISE TO THE SKY
See, it’s not all just Finnish doom. Sometimes it’s Chilean doom. One-man Chilean doomster (and very nice guy) Sergio wrote this as a tribute to his dad, and it hit hard. Absolutely massive and never far away from the Turntable Ov Hell in Polson HQ.
2. IMPERIAL – SOEN
Soen had to go some to beat Lotus, which got AOTY in 2019’s list. When I first heard Imperial I thought that they had in fact shat the bed, but the more I listened to it the more I got it. Sort of not-metal, but still very heavy and probably the main soundtrack to 2021 for me.
1. AS DAYS GET DARK – ARAB STRAP
I said last year that this would be #1 without even having heard it, and I have no regrets about that. Something happens when Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton get together and nothing else ever really comes close. OMINOUS GUITAR MUSIC. The bit from 3.00 to 4.40 is my favourite part of 2021.
Disappointment of the year was Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu, which was still a good record, but not one that I could ever really be arsed putting on. Gig of the year – well, I only went to one or two, and so it was Marillion at the Usher Hall, but that’s not saying much.
Ach well, that’s that. To the bin my friends, tonight we vacate Earth.
Happy New Year