Playlist: New tunes from 2021, part four

Well, we made through another year. It’s New Years’s Eve, a mere handful of hours left of 2021. I would normally be all optimistic for the new year, but I can’t help but question if things will really get better with the turn of the calendar. I saw someone post a meme recently on social media somewheres that gloomily said: “That moment that you realize that 2022 is pronounced twenty twenty too.” I laughed out loud because it rang so true.

Still, traditions must be adhered to. The countdown will go on, resolutions will be made and broken, young lovers will kiss at midnight, sparkling wines will be uncorked and guzzled, and of course, I will post the final instalment of my annual four-part playlist sharing some of the new tunes released during the year. You are welcome to go back and revisit parts one, two, and three, which include songs from the first three quarters of the year. And this final playlist, twenty five songs, much like the previous three, collects the bangers from the last three months. However, since new releases are typically scant at this time of year (the calendar usually being more full of reissues and box sets for Christmas), I bolstered whatever spots remain with the b-sides, or tracks that just missed being included in the previous three parts.

As rough as the year has been personally and for all of us collectively, we’ve at least had some great music being created and released to keep us going. In some areas of the world, things began opening up in the fall and live shows were being held, a sort of tease and taste of how things can be if they ever return to normal, and then, Omricon swept in to remind us that this pandemic isn’t quite beaten yet.

But let’s focus, just for a few minutes, on the joy of music, shall we? Right then.

Highlights of this playlist’s last twenty-five songs include:

    • “Still the same” is infectious synth pop from the latest album by Princess Century, the solo project of Maya Postepski (ex of Austra and TR/ST)
    • Always whimsical and dreamy and mellow rocking, Luna frontman Dean Wareham delivers fun on “The past is our plaything” from his newest solo album
    • On “Dying in LA”, Canadian indie electronic rock band, Gold and Youth, channels OMD and Simple Minds for the soundtrack of the film that John Hughes never made
    • And speaking of 80s revival, Nation of Language do their best impression of New Order on “Across that fine line”
    • It’s almost sickening how Elbow keep continuing to make untouchable and beautiful music each and every album but songs like “Six words” draw me in every time
    • Departure Lounge came out of nowhere earlier this year to release their first album in two decades and songs like the jangly “Australia” show why more people should have missed them
    • And finally, “(We like to) Do it with the lights on” is just one of many reasons I’m glad that Nicholas Thoburn didn’t stop making music as Islands, as he had threatened back in 2016

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as I’ve created it, complete with links to YouTube videos:

1. “Pool hopping” Illuminati Hotties (from the album Let me do one more)

2. “Human touch” Pond (from the album 9)

3. “Still the same” Princess Century (from the album s u r r e n d e r)

4. “Mid-century modern” Billy Bragg (from the album The million things that never happened)

5. “The past is our plaything” Dean Wareham (from the album I have nothing to say to the mayor of L.A.)

6. “Aquamarine” Hand Habits (from the album Fun house)

7. “Bessie, did you make it?” Marissa Nadler (from the album The path of the clouds)

8. “Wasted” The War On Drugs (from the album I don’t live here anymore)

9. “Proud home” Lily Konigsberg (from the album Lily we need to talk)

10. “Miss Moon” Penelope Isles (from the album Which way to happy)

11. “Dying in LA” Gold & Youth (from the album Dream baby)

12. “Across that fine line” Nation Of Language (from the album A way forward)

13. “Turning green” Courtney Barnett (from the album Things take time, take time)

14. “It should have been fun” Pip Blom (from the album Welcome break)

15. “Royal morning blue” Damon Albarn (from the album The nearer the fountain, more pure the stream flows)

16. “Six words” Elbow (from the album Flying dream 1)

17. “Tell me tell me tell me” Rinse (from the EP Wherever I am)

18. “Australia” Departure Lounge (from the album Transmeridian)

19. “Too loud” Autogramm (from the album No rules)

20. “(We like to) Do it with the lights on” Islands (from the album Islomania)

21. “When I come around” Nap Eyes (from the EP Nap Eyes)

22. “When it breaks” Quivers (from the album Golden doubt)

23. “The right thing is hard to do” Lightning Bug (from the album A color of the sky)

24. “In the stone” The Goon Sax (from the album Mirror II)

25. “Jaywalker” Andy Shauf (from the album Wilds)

As always, wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe, continue to be well, and well, enjoy the tunes.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.


Best tunes of 2002: #21 Departure Lounge “I love you”

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Do you have anything in your digital music library by an artist about whom you almost know nothing? It could be just a song, or better yet, a whole album that you just love but of whom nobody else that you know has ever heard. You’re not even sure where you first heard of them yourself but you’re reasonably sure that they made their way on to your computer by way of Napster or Audiogalaxy or Limewire or perhaps some friend’s zip drive during the height of illegal downloading madness. You don’t have physical copies of the song(s) in question and this may be partly because you’ve never seen their CDs in the shops, new or used. Yet over the years this artist has come up, over and over, and gradually, the songs and/or album has become amongst your favourites. Is this sounding familiar at all or is this phenomenon particular to me?

The artist in question for me is Departure Lounge and what I’ve learned was their final album, “Too late to die young”. I still don’t have a physical copy of the album and I think it highly unlikely that I ever will, given that I’ve all but stopped buying CDs and the album was never pressed to wax. However, I can actually say I know a bit more about the group after listening to the album a few times over the past number of weeks and after making a concerted research on the internets. For instance, I was surprised to learn that the frontman, Tim Keegan, formed the group with Jake Kyle, both former members of Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians. And also that both of Departure Lounge’s full-length albums were released on Simon Raymonde’s (Cocteau Twins) record label, Bella Union.

With both Raymonde and Hitchcock making contributions to “Too late to die young”, I shouldn’t be surprised at how much I like the album. My understanding, though, is that it is somewhat different than its predecessor, the guitar rock base given an ambient veneer with production by French electronic musician, Kid Loco. Indeed, the sound checks off a lot of boxes for me. There’s some 60s trad rock, space rock, shoegaze, and even a bit of acid house baggy thrown in at moments.

Track four on the album is this brilliant and shiny and uplifting psychedelic number, “I love you”. It evokes bright colours and lava lamps and drugged up optimism. There’s a lot of haze in the hot box, washes of keys, horn flourishes and sighing harmonies. As Keegan sings, without a hint of irony: “It’s beautiful and true, I love you”.


It is beautiful and true and worthy of just laying back with a pair of earphones to let it all wash over you.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.