BEST OF BIRMINGHAM 2021
By King City Online ©
The dearth of live gigs notwithstanding, 2021 was a vintage year in the recording studios of the second city. We couldn’t really get out and about as much as we’d like, so we were more reliant than ever on local radio to keep our fingers on the pulse. This list couldn’t be compiled without the likes of Tim Senna, Pete Steel, Raw Sound TV, Alex Noble and Adrian Goldberg, who bring Birmingham’s best tuneage to our headphones on a weekly basis through their brilliant shows. Thanks for all that you do guys!
Albums of the Year:
Truemendous - The Miseducation of Chyvonne Johnson
All the usual witty yet cutting lyrical content we’ve come to expect from the hardest working woman in hip-hop, allied to high-end production values and stunning instrumentals. With a run-time of well over an hour, this is a sprawling magnum opus with real rap gravitas.
Katherine Priddy - The Eternal Rocks Beneath
Priddy’s debut album was a genuine ‘star is born’ moment that took the folk world by storm with its haunting melodies and lyrics and an accessibility that truly transcends the genre.
Laura Mvula - Pink Noise
Mvula’s third great album in a row - harnessing perfect eighties pop production, accomplished songwriting and vivid musical imagination.
Table Scraps - Coffin Face
A thrill ride of three-minute psych-punk pop songs that build up to the classic crescendo of album closer Heartache, a track so brilliant it compels you to listen to the whole album again. Recorded and mixed in Digbeth, yet somehow bringing to mind late-sixties California. Marvellous.
Cult Figures - Deritend
One of the many great acts championed through the year by Adrian Goldberg on his brilliant Adventures in Music show on Brum Radio, Cult Figures reformed and released this post-punk masterpiece after a decades-long hiatus. Deritend is a worthy addition to the ‘Named after a Birmingham district’ album list populated by such luminaries as The Twang (Jewellery Quarter), OCS (Moseley Shoals) and Steel Pulse (Handsworth Revolution). Opening track Chicken Bones is a bona-fide classic.
Songs of the Year
L.O.V.E - Lady Sanity
This sumptuously-produced release saw Sanity show her versatility by adding a smooth neo-soul dimension to her impressive back catalogue.
Castaway - The Novus
All the energy and power of the best live band in Birmingham, effortlessly recreated in Gavin Monaghan’s Magic Garden studio. One of five stellar tracks on Thaleia Standing, Brum Radio’s EP of the year.
Changes - overpass
When Tim Senna recommends a band, we listen, and not for nothing does he describe overpass as one of the most exciting indie bands around. Changes is the latest in a series of singles that get better with every listen.
1000 Nights - Jaykae ft Jorja Smith
Two of the best lyricists on the scene address the everyday hardships of everyday people in a collaboration of the regions’ big hitters.
Emergence of Forgotten Power - Pagans SOH
Incredible energy from Marcus and the boys on this punky hip-hop party. Intelligent, witty, profound and playful.
Cross Me - Point A
Soaring strings rise and fall on a wave of funky backbeats, chiming guitars and uncompromising lyrics as Point A introduces herself to the world. Yet another red-hot protege of the legendary Gavin Monaghan.
The King (You and Me) - Sam Lambeth
Reflection, regret, mandolin and melancholy from the mighty fretboard of Wolverhampton’s finest, Sam Lambeth. Mid-west Americana straight from the West Mids.
Whatever I Do - Certain ft Ange Lloyd
A gorgeous mid-tempo ballad that sounds like a seven-inch vinyl discovered facedown on the floor of a Detroit record warehouse and given life at Wigan Casino, but in actual fact was made in Wolves in 2021 and unveiled to the world by Pete Steel on Brum Radio.
Bus - Cage Park
A jaunty and heart-felt homage to the best bus route in the world (the 50 from town to Druids Heath via the Castle & Falcon and the Hare & Hounds). The sky’s the limit for Cage Park in 2022.
Time of Our Lives - The Clause
A relentless riff and awesome power from the Brummie boys, conclusive proof that In My Element was no fluke.
All That We’ve Got - The New Consistent
Neo-soul tinged hip-hop with sunny guitars, a shuffling beat and an easy, conversational flow. Nobody in the game like him.
Livin’ With The Zombies - The SRB
A bluesy, groovy, mouth-watering appetiser from the SRB’s Piece Of The Action album, to be released in February 2022 with a live gig at The Night Owl.
Molly - Quentin Francis
We heard a timely reminder of this gorgeous slice of indie magic blasting out of our radio just the other day. Raucous abandon and a chorus to die for.
Faker - Abz Winter
The voice alone is enough to catapult this into our list, then there’s the personality and attitude - and the song ain’t bad either!
Step Away - Yikes
Light, shade and a contagious chorus from the Birmingham quartet. If they wanna keep calling themselves ‘anti-pop’ they need to stop being so damn good at it.
Beady Eyes - Sipho
Reminiscent of mid-nineties Prince with a heavy hint of the wonderful Jacob Banks, this has an abundance of Soul and Blues, yet is somehow ultra-modern at the same time. One to keep your beady eye on in the future.
DIV - Lady Leshurr
The queen of the diss track mercilessly retains her crown - not that it was ever under threat from the likes of IVD, the hapless, hopeless victim of this witty yet eviscerating tirade.
The Maffia, RM, Caps, Mvrnie, OG Niki, C4, Sox, Fox, Trilla Jermaine Trilloski, Trills, RK - Brum Town All Star Anthem Part 1
A regal role-call of Brummie rap
legends and up-and-comers with a high velocity celebration of their home city.
Keep it coming in 2022 please guys!