Several Uninspired Ways of Re-listing My Year in Music

by Rob Hakimian

I listen to a lot of albums. This year has been no different. In fact I think it’s been the best year for music in a while. 

I’ve attempted to rank 200 of the albums / EPs / mini albums I enjoyed this year, but we all know that’s a pretty facile action. That’s especially true after about 80 or so. 

Anyway, if you want to see my Top 200 albums of 2021, you can do so here.

I thought for this piece I would look at my favourite music of the year in other ways. But it’s been a long year and I wasn’t feeling too inspired, so this is what I got.

My most played tracks of 2021

Even though I’ve ranked my favourite albums in the order that I say I enjoyed them the most, there’s no denying the cold hard stats. These are my top 10 most played tracks of 2021, as recorded by my (fuck you Sp*tify Cr*pped).

10=. Spirit of the Beehive – “The Server is Immersed”

Entertainment, Death as a whole is one of my pinnacles of the year, but it kind of hangs together as an album much than the songs do individually. Though if you’re gonna pick out any one track to persuade someone to listen to it, it’s definitely this dreamy little oddball.

10=. Self Esteem – “Prioritise Pleasure”

I’ve been caning this song since it came out as a single, and then even moreso once Prioritise Pleasure landed. The sheer musical and lyrical force behind this one makes it hair-raising in the right circumstances.

9. Mannequin Pussy – “Control”

A rugged pop punk banger in the mold that Mannequin Pussy perfected on Patience. “Control” is pretty much just as epic and catchy as any of those songs, and definitely kept me sated as we wait for the next proper album.

Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes
Something’s in your eyes

8. Iceage – “Vendetta”

Iceage have always had attitude and more recently they’ve been maturing that into swagger. “Vendetta” is probably their suavest moment yet, I just love the muscular guitar earworm and the way Elias snarls lines like “this ain’t no place for a sightseer”.

7. Famous – “Nice While It Lasted”

To me, this song is amazing in the verisimilitude between the lyrics about driving around at night and the way the guitar and drum chug sounds like an engine in overdrive. Add to that Jack Merrett singing about being “king of the dark times” and I just can’t get enough.

6. Deafheaven – “The Gnashing”

I remember when Deafheaven released this one as a single, Andy Johnston made the quip around the BPM watercooler that it should be called “The Ganaching” because it’s so sickly compared to their previous music. I 100% endorse that point of view, and I also 100% love this song.

5. Cassandra Jenkins – “Hard Drive”

I wrote my pretentious blurb about this song for our overall Top 50 Songs of 2021 list, so I won’t say much – except that it definitely deserves to be BPM’s number 1. It’s simply such a delightful song in a multitude of ways.

And Cassandra was one of the most lovely people to talk to – I remember seeing the snow-laden branches of a tree on an NYC street through the windows in the background while we chatted, and it felt like being right there in the room with her.

4. Self Esteem – “I Do This All The Time”

If you counted all the times I heard this song on the radio or overheard my girlfriend listening to it, I’m sure it would be my most played song of the year by far – and that’s absolutely fine with me, as this is my favourite song of the year. Anything that earnestly borrows from Baz Luhrmann’s wonderful cultural oddity “Sunscreen” and updates it to make a much more powerful, pertinent and modern song is never going to become tiresome to me.

3. Snail Mail – “Valentine”

I was absolutely obsessed with Snail Mail’s Lush so of course I got hyped up on the lead single for her follow-up. Especially as it took me a few listens to even click – the way she accelerates from the sombre verse to the lashing-out chorus seemed awkward at first but now I think it’s fucking genius. Incredible video too.

2. Self Esteem – “How Can I Help You”

When I first heard this song I didn’t like it. I thought the obvious “Black Skinhead” rip off was kind of cool but the “I don’t know shit” repetition was a bit grating. Then I kept listening to it and also learned more about Rebecca Taylor’s personality and suddenly a flip switched and I suddenly started pumping my fist in anger with it. The video, with Taylor’s excellent explanation, definitely helped too.

“The physical act of a woman playing a drum means your tits move – all I ever wanted to do was play but it always came with this fear of being looked at in that way. Now my tits move for me, my song, my video” – Rebecca Taylor

1. Snail Mail – “Ben Franklin”

I got heavily addicted to this song. First few times listening to it it seemed like Jordan doing her take on a Kurt Vile song – just cruising along at a loquacious pace on a dominant beat, adding and subtracting sounds as it goes, drawl-singing magnetically. I still believe there’s truth to that, but after listening more to the words, it’s an inescapably Lindsey Jordan song. My heart goes out to her when she sings about rehab, and I am absolutely enamoured with the way she delivers so many of the other lines on this song, especially the central “sucker for the pain, aw honey.” Another one with a great video.

My favourite album covers of the year

Presented with no explanation. 

(Except that I have several of these on vinyl and it makes me cherish the artwork even more – invest in physical media, friends.)

Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark
Black Midi – Cavalcade
Goat Girl – On All Fours
Indigo De Souza – Any Shape You Take
Juliana Hatfield – Blood
King Woman – Celestial Blues
Loraine James – Reflection
Lost Girls – Menneskekollektivet
Spirit of the Beehive – Entertainment, Death

My favourite song titles of the year

Again, presented without rhyme or reason.

“Kebabylon” by Arab Strap

“He Called Me Bambi” by Audiobooks

“the only solution i have found is to simply jump higher” by aya

“Timid, Intimidating” by BADBADNOTGOOD

“Hogwash and Balderdash” by Black Midi

“Pareidolia” by Buck Meek

“Emotional Rent Control” by Cheekface

“Sculpting the Exodus” by Circuit des Yeux

“That’s Mr. Bitch To You” by Claud

“No Butterflies, No Nothing” by Erika de Casier

“Jazz (in the Supermarket)” by Goat Girl

“Monty Don’s Handset” by Hen Ogledd

“Long distance conjoined twins” by Home Is Where

“Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism” by illuminati hotties

“Misandrist to Most” by Lady Dan

“I Who Bend The Tall Grasses” by Lingua Ignota

“Carried By Invisible Bodies” by Lost Girls

“To The Bin My Friend, Tonight We Vacate Earth” by Mogwai

“Baroque Denial” by Pom Poko

“Brother Mouzone Library Card” by R.A.P. Ferreira

“Only Seeing God When I Come” by Sega Bodega

“Fucking Wizardry” by Self Esteem

“Prelude to the Age of Transhumanism” by Soccer96

“I Suck The Devil’s Cock” by Spirit of the Beehive

“Oversharers Anonymous” by Wild Pink

“Don’t Think You Can Escape Your Purpose” by Yoo Doo Right

“Secrecy Is Incredibly Important To The Both of Them” by Yves Tumor

Albums I definitely haven’t spent enough time with

This list is definitely much more for my own reference than for anyone else’s interest.

aya – im hole

Clairo – Sling

Crumb – Ice Melt

Drinking Boys and Girls Choir – Marriage License

Floatie – Voyage Out

Genesis Owusu – Smiling With No Teeth

Hiatus Kaiyote – Mood Valiant

Iglooghost – Lei Line Eon

Irreversible Entanglements – Open The Gates

Izzy True – Our Beautiful Baby World

Joseph Shabason – The Fellowship

Joy Orbison – still slipping vol 1


L’Rain – Fatigue

Lala Lala – I Want The Door To Open

Leon Vynehall – Rare, Forever

Liars – The Apple Drop

Magdalena Bay – Mercurial World

McKinley Dixon – For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her

Mdou Moctar – Afrique Victime

Mega Bog – Life, and Another

Nala Sinephro – Space 1.8

Origami Angel – Gami Gang

Rosali – No Medium

Snapped Ankles – Forest Of Your Problems

Sofia Kourtesis – Fresia Magdalena

Succumb – XXI

Theon Cross – Intra-I

Turnstile – Glow On

Water From Your Eyes – Structure

Yves Tumor – The Asymptotical World

Ok that last list has exhausted me by reminding me that even though I’ve listened to a shit ton this year, it’s never enough. Signing off.