MMM Staff Picks: Padraig Mara’s Top Ten Favorite Albums of 2021
#10. Amyl & The Sniffers – ‘Comfort to Me’
Amyl and her boys can do no wrong in my eyes. These 21st-century sharpie delinquents make music to crack 40’s and have a drink, even if you don’t do that anymore. Comfort to Me, The Sniffer’s second full-length album, shows some growth from their debut, touches a bit on current events, plays around with some electronica. But when you get down to it they sound like Motorhead had Lemmy been born a working-class Australian Sheila.
#9. Shame – ‘Drunk Tank Pink’
I gave this album a listen based on the title alone. For those of us unfortunate enough to have experience, this album’s name evokes a special kind of horror. A unique and exquisite misery. Shame makes a type of post-punk that has made a comeback in a big way this deep into the 21st-century and we all know why. This album explores the confusion, the isolation, and the dread we are all feeling.
#8. The Armed – ‘ULTRAPOP’
The Armed is more a tribe than a band and the music they make is unmistakably their own. This album is more art than music. It gives you breakdowns but just as you begin picking up change like the pavlovian you are, they go silent, the music goes oblique, weird, and sideways. ULTRAPOP features Mark Lanegan, Troy Van Leeuwen from Queens of the Stone Age, and now, full-time, Chris Slorach of Metz, and the whole recording was partially inspired by the transformative properties of bodybuilding. However, somehow all this chaos and dissonance is soothing. I listen to this when I need to get my head together, which is more often than I care to admit.
#7. Pardoner – ‘Came Down Different’
Came Down Different is a beautiful album. Sebadoh, Archers of Loaf, some hardcore freakouts; you can hear what Pardoner grew up on. There’s a track called “I Wanna Get High To The Music” and the whole album reminds me of getting stoned and playing records over shitty speakers on a high school afternoon.
#6. Provoker – ‘Body Jumper’
I try to get out of my comfort zone, now that I’m getting older. Give stuff a chance now that I wouldn’t have back in the day. I hate synthesizers. It’s an old beef, I’ve hated that electro sound since ’83, easily. I started to listen to Body Jumper on someone’s recommendation at 3 a.m. on a cold Icelandic night and hated it. But, I put it on that next day and the next, and I hear something new every time.
#5. Turnstile – ‘GLOW ON’
This really isn’t complicated. Baltimore’s Turnstile took old school capital “H” hardcore and put it through a 21st-century pop filter with GLOW ON. Socially distanced circle pits, and stage dives on Zoom. I kid, I kid. It’s good.
#4. Mdou Moctar – ‘Afrique Victime’
Mdouc Moctar is an ethnic Tuareg from Nigeria and Afrique Victime is his 6th studio album, first with Matador Records. A lot has been written about this joint but it needs to be heard because comparisons are useless. This is some joyful, confusing, auto-tuned, guitar heroic African madness. Go get it.
#3. Golpe de Gracia – ‘Ustela’
Remember how a couple of lines up I said I try to go outside my comfort zone in what I listen to? This is not that. Golpe de Gracia (Coup de Grace) are an Oi! band from Madrid and Ustela (rotten, in English) is a nasty piece of street punk. It is excellent.
I liked everything this band has put out since they formed in Bristol in 2009. There was some flak sent their way by Jason Williamson, half of the Sleaford Mods, regarding IDLES appropriating the voice of the working class despite having come up in some comparably more comfortable surroundings. Usually, I’m all for ripping into blue-collar posing. But, in this case, I don’t believe they appropriated anything, and if they did I don’t care. IDLES’ music is about men attempting to get well and CRAWLER further documents the journey.
#1. Sleaford Mods – ‘Spare Ribs’
I love the Sleaford Mods. Period. Jason Williamson is a poet more in line with Barney Rubble (look up Strength Thru Oi!) than Byron, and I bounce my head furious-like to every couplet. Spare Ribs isn’t even their finest album, but I have had it on repeat because, as I mentioned earlier, their brand of snotty, beat-heavy rants has made a bad year better.