After dispensing with the Album of the Year on Monday and a more fleshed-out list the week prior, I’m back to wrap up 2021 with a variety of thoughts on things. I’ll discuss music as a whole, where I’m personally at and going with this blog into the new year, and I’ll give out a few “… of the year” awards as I go along.
The End Of The Year In Music, 2021
It’s about time to bring 2021 to a close. Christmas is just days away, and with that just one more week until 2022 begins. The COVID pandemic rages on after a brief glimmer of hope in the summer. Political unrest and partisan hostility continue to define the social conversation. We appear headed to the brink of some dystopian disasterpiece, but it’s kinda hard to say.
In music, the industry and artists tried their best to get back to the business of making music, tours and money. Legacy acts sold off catalog rights for large sums while smaller acts hit the road in uncertain conditions to try and make a buck. Bands who had sat on albums hoping to air them out as part of a new touring cycle instead chose to release their efforts and see some recompense.
Psychical formats came back strong, even in the wake of massive streaming numbers. But those formats might be threatened by short supply. Record plants are backed up on orders for years, only pushed further when one of the world’s biggest artists needs half a million copies of her album pressed ASAP. Cassettes have returned as a novelty but are only made in one place on a mountain in some remote Himalayan nation. More and more physical format collectors are casting fond eyes once again at the CD, a format thought to have been rendered obsolete by streaming. Hey, some people want to have something on their shelves.
Fans have turned out again for the bands who have braved the perils of travel to tour. While many places in the world continue to lock down over virus concerns, other parts have flat outlawed health restrictions and are as open as they were before 2020. It’s in these enclaves that bands and fans have met again after a nearly dead touring scene in 2020. It appears that the touring machine is preparing to fire up in a bigger way for 2022, replete with arguments about vaccination requirements and other protocols that have become as divisive as opinions about the best Metallica record.
2022 appears to be promising for a real return to the business of music, at least on the surface. Bands left and right are queuing new albums for next year’s release and many acts who sat on the sidelines during 2020 and last year are gearing up for tours this next go around. It might be a tenuous hope, but it is some hope after all that these groups can get back to what they need to do in order to keep themselves going.
Live Album Of The Year 2021
I’ll just be real – I didn’t listen to a lot of live albums this year. I don’t know of that many even released. I know some legacy acts like Kiss and Metallica pump them out almost in constant rotation, and that Deep Purple dumped a few old recordings on the market. Hell, I guess Pink Floyd just did a massive dump of early 70’s live stuff the other day. But I haven’t got to any of it yet. There’s stuff I’ll give a spin to later, sure, but live albums as a whole aren’t the biggest part of my music experience.
Of course, one live album did get released that caught my attention this year. In fact I spent a good portion of time on here discussing the band in the lead-up to the album’s release.
The live album of the year, to probably no one’s shock: Oasis – Live At Knebworth 1996.
I went into very full detail on this album and the accompanying documentary already in this earlier post, so I’ll spare details now. I’ll probably back off on Oasis content for awhile since knocking out the first two albums and the Knebworth discussion does tend to cover most of their career highlights. Liam does have a solo record hitting sometime in 2022 so I’ll certainly give space to that, but for now Oasis can give way to a multitude of other stuff I want to discuss.
This Blog In 2022
I was uncertain how I’d feel about getting back into blogging after a 10-plus year absence. Also I was unsure of sticking with one topic – in the past I would just write about whatever I wanted. But these days require a bit more specialization of subjects to hold any attention at all and music has always been one of my primary interests, so music it was.
So far I have to say I’ve been quite pleased with how things have turned out. I don’t find myself with as much time to write and plot out future stuff as I’d like, but I’ve started getting a handle on that. I have some new series and project-style features I want to air out and I should be getting to some of those early next year. I do hope at some point to expand to at least 4 days a week of posting, but for the time being I’m going to hold to 3 a week as it suits my present routines and time constraints.
One project I had intended to have going by now was a YouTube channel. I figured it would be a good way to do some list-style things like ranking a band’s albums and stuff of that nature. I haven’t found the time to get to work on that yet though I have a bit of planned content ready to go. It is a whole other animal with more demanding time requirements than the blog so it’s been a bit to get it going. I’ll be knuckling down after the holidays to get that ball finally rolling, though in reality the blog will remain my main mode of expression.
Thanks to everyone who has dropped by and read, and either left comments here, on social media or in person. It’s been a different world than when I blogged in the past, when it was semi-anonymous and almost no one knew or cared what people were writing. Even in an age where social media and video have driven many people from this written format, I’ve still found that people are interested. Time marches on into the new year, and this thing will keep going.
Song Of The Year
I’ll leave off with one more “award” presentation. Albums are fine and all but the individual songs do mean something and have their own processes to evaluate and take in. I didn’t bother with a ranked list or anything else for this one. Perhaps next year I’ll take some extra time to give a list.
But for this year I’m just going to crown a champion. I discussed this EP early on in the blog’s beginnings and I’ve been over it a time or two since. It wasn’t much of a contest for me to determine my pick for Song of the Year – To The Hellfire by Lorna Shore.
I went over it in my Spotify Wrapped review a bit ago – I played the shit out of this song. I was reeled in right when I heard it. I did miss it when it actually released in June due to being busy with a million other things, but I got into it right when the EP released in August. And I played it a few hundred times since.
I’ve noticed a lot of adverse reaction to this song after the hype built for it across the Internet. Now I can find as many people dismissing it or digging up every other deathcore release in 2021 to proclaim that “better.” I guess that’s how things go, but no other deathcore act captured that many ears and put up the kind of numbers that Lorna Shore and this song did.
But hey – it isn’t worth it to try and argue against people arguing against something. The song struck a nerve with a whole lot of people and did great things for the band and the subgenre as a whole. A rising tide lifts all ships, as they say. Lorna Shore have completed recording their new full-length, an album I’d expect to see sometime next year. They gave themselves a tough act to follow with this song and EP, we’ll see if they can live up to it.
Wrap It Up
That’s about all for my look back at 2021. A wild year, unsettling and chaotic with everything going on and the uncertainty of the future. But the music landscape looks to possibly be brighter in the coming year, and even with all the chaos, it seems many artists were able to turn in some great releases over this pandemic-soaked landscape.
I will be posting on my regular schedule for the rest of the year – this coming Friday and 3 days next week. And I’ll have a special album of the week that ties in to the coming of 2022, I’ve been looking forward to this since I got this up and running back in August. Have a good holidays, I’ll be around on my normal schedule, and off to the new year we go.