Author: Bruce Jenkins  Date Posted:31 December 2021 


As Alex reported in the pre-Christmas Discrepancy "News Catch-Up", there have been stacks of notable album releases during 2021. They ranged from the unexpected—a new ABBA album—to the eagerly anticipated—a spruced up reissue of Let It Be, with a totally revamped film. Clearly the twin barrels of vinyl—new music and re-releases—were both blazing.

At the louder end of the spectrum we had anniversary re-issues from Metallica and Nirvana while Iron Maiden’s new album Senjutsu proved that the metal masters were absolutely not ambling gently towards retirement.

Singer-songwriter Cat Stevens’ masterpiece Teaser And The Firecat turned fifty while Taylor Swift demonstrated that her worldwide army of fans had an insatiable appetite for her work. During 2021 she re-recorded two of her own albums—each coyly labelled "Taylor’s Version"—to both acclaim and massive sales.

One of the most interesting reissues of the year was not a half-century anniversary, not a fortieth, nor even a thirtieth, but the marking of twenty years (more-or-less) since the first appearance of The Avalanches debut Since I Left You. This rich package contained the 2LP original album plus two further discs of remixes and is the final chapter in a convoluted story that began in 2011. The Avalanches have never been an outfit to rush things.

Leading off with the title track—a piece drawing heavily from "Everyday", the 1967 album cut by US pop group The Main Attraction—you hear immediately what the band are on about. Catchy rhythmic samples, brilliant use of repetition, and subtle grooves combine to catch and hold the listener. A successful single, "Frontier Psychiatrist", features material by US comedy duo Wayne and Shuster* and is a standout cut; it’s both hypnotic and amusing.

Since I Left you was a ground-breaking album and cleaned up at the 2001 ARIA Awards. It’s the record that re-wrote the electronica playbook, as discussed by music journalist Simon Reynolds in his fascinating liner essay**. Massively creative in its plundering of samples (try "Electricity") and hugely entertaining (check out "Frontier Psychiatrist" if you are not familiar with The Avalanches), Since I Left You is a classic of its genre… whatever that is.

Staying in Australia, alt-rock elder Nick Cave again collaborated with Warren Ellis to produced Carnage, an album that both simultaneously delighted and worried long term fans. The delight is easy to explain: Carnage is an outstanding example of Cave’s art and the duo’s musical depth. The worry stemmed from the fact that this LP is so good it had fans wondering whether Cave’s veteran band The Bad Seeds might be redundant. Time will tell, but in the interim, we have Cave’s literate, gothic stories and an octet of engrossing, filmic tracks that sound nothing like the prosaic lockdown world of the past two years yet capture the essence of our rage, fear, hope and despair. Classic Cave, then.

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Do you have a favourite new release from 2021?

What about a re-issue that lit up your turntable?

We’d love to hear.

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* Wayne and Shuster’s "Rinse the blood off my toga", a noir-detective-Julius Cesar mash-up that is itself a kind of plunderphonic audio story, is perhaps their best and most timeless recording. Worth checking out.

* * Author and music journalist Simon Reynolds is a scholar of the rave scene and author of Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction To Its Own Past (2011).


© Bruce Jenkins 2021

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