Another fuckscape of a year that was, probably, better than last year... maybe? Maybe not? We're still in a pandemic. Since my last “best of” recap, we’ve lost MF DOOM, Shock G and Biz Markie. Fuck. Fuck this stupid fucking year. It may seem farcical to have a list of the "best" of anything in 2021 but there's plenty of good out there in the world, really. Patience. It'll get back to normal soon, I promise. And some good stuff happened too! Bands are touring again. That Joyce Manor cover of the National's "Mistaken for Strangers" finally reappeared on the internet. Both Steph Curry and Joe Pera seem to be in top form. Anyways, here's some music related stuff that made my life better this past year.
5. There were two songs that completely blindsided me out of nowhere this past year. The first I'll write about is Bachelor's "Anything at All". Jay Som and Palehound teamed up and shared their first single under their combined pseudonym this year. It starts out slow and sparse and somehow grows into a swirling, hypnotic joy. I've liked both artists on their own but combined they totally stunned me. Thank you Bachelor. Check it out!
4. "The Sound of Metal" was a film that technically was released at the end of 2020 but, well... you've probably also avoided theaters for a bit there. It was certainly the highlight of new films I watched at home in 2021. It's a fantastic drama about the drummer of a metal band going deaf. A seemingly normal concept that sounded interesting and unfolded into an utter nightmare. The concept of not being able to hear anything at all never really revealed itself as how terrifying it could be until watching this. Maybe just living in a world that could completely upend itself out of nowhere helped excellerate the terror? It was filmed locally and I'm suspicious that the location director just followed me around in my car for a week or two. "Hey, that's the old abandoned movie theater a half mile away from me.", "Hey, I think I've been to that diner.", "Hey, that's near the swamp trail where my mom broke her ankle." etc. are all unusual things to say to one's self while watching a film. Bravo to everyone involved.
3. MJ Lenderman wrote the other song that couldn't escape my head this year. I read about him on a blog and have never heard about him or any of his previous projects before. He wrote a song called "Someone Get The Grill Out Of The Rain" and it wrapped it's stupid claws around my brain lobes and inner ears and never let go. It's a lo-fi saunter about someone almost leaving a grill out in the rain for some reason. I'll name drop Guided By Voices and Uncle Tupelo here just because I am an almost middle aged white man. It's a mere minute and thirteen seconds long and never totally feels like it's finished. It ends and I instantly need more. It's brevity never totally scratches the itch. I'm mesmerized. It's been stuck in my head since the very first listen. Thanks MJ for the musical addiction I'll probably never recover from.
2. I got to hang out with BFF.fm folks in real life! Some for the first time!!! Lily Sloane visited family in Massachusetts back at a point in between variants. We met up and ate sandwiches and went on a scenic as all hell walk through the woods. Perfectly ideal weather and company, it was great! Cosmic Amanda and Forrest and DJ Smallcrimes also came to MA in between other variants and we headed to Cape Cod for a rainy fall weekend. We were joined by my dear friend Veronica who is yet another radio friend that lives far away. We survived power outages, super windy beaches and several dozen alcoholic beverages. Smallcrimes turned out to be a worthy ping pong partner who does the little full sized tennis jogging motion while playing. I miss everyone.
1. Back in March, I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine. I exited the local pharmacy after the ten or fifteen minute waiting period and felt relief for the first time in over a year. I got into my car and stared an elderly woman standing in front of the pharmacy entrance, mask around her chin, smoking a cigarette, as people walked by. My car radio is always tuned to criminally under recognized local college station WMBR. The DJ at the time was playing the Bee Gee's "Stayin Alive" which was somehow the most appropriate song ever after trying to fight off a global pandemic. They happened to be playing the rarely heard a cappella mix. The isolated vocals of the brothers Gibb made it a completely different listening experience. I also wondered for a good thirty to sixty seconds whether or not I had been injected with some sort of drug that took away my brain's ability to hear/comprehend musical instruments. Was the same vaccine that would keep me safe from the novel coronavirus some kind of injectable LSD? Thankfully, it was just a normal drug that has kept me safe from a life threatening disease. This happened before my viewing of "The Sound of Metal" and it's hopefully the closest I ever come to that nightmare. It was a monumental life experience with a perfect accompanying soundtrack and only so few moments like this stick out in one's life. Thank you WMBR and thank you medical professionals. You both improved my life drastically that day.
Thanks for reading these music adjacent items that I enjoyed over the past year. I hope 2022 is better for you than 2021 was. Turn on some tunes and relax. Enjoy getting back out into the world. Hug your friends and family as soon as you can. I'd like to give a special dedication to my friend Joni (R.I.P) who was probably the nicest person I've ever met and I'll miss her forever. Fuck you 2021!