Ryan’s Favourite Music of 2021! (so far…)

Hi everyone, it’s coming to the end of March and the first quarter of the year is already almost done. So I thought, there’s no better time to give you all some of my favourite albums, songs and EPs and what I’ve been listening to for the last three months! From pop to rock to drum and bass and everything in between, I hope you find something you like in here 🙂 I’ve added everything here into a playlist at the bottom of the post, so you can just hit play or find anything you want 🙂

ALBUM: The Prototypes – Ten Thousand Feet & Rising

The second studio album from the Brighton DnB veterans is packed with 11 party-ready bangers. Whether its the nostalgic ‘Reason’, the intense ‘Rocket Guns Blazing’ or the futuristic ‘Paradise’, if drum and bass is your thing this is a great place to go. Technically this was released last October, but it’s too good to not include. Funnily enough, I only found it through the singer LOWES, who also featured on CamelPhat’s single ‘Easier’, who features on ‘Reason’ here, my personal favourite.

SINGLE: Blind Channel – Dark Side

Finland’s Eurovision entry for 2021 is a pop-metal smash and will hopefully take Rotterdam by storm in May. Catchy and dark, this is right at the front and centre of a genre of rock which takes a lot of its inspiration from heavier music but tinges it with a pop sensibility which makes it accessible to the masses. I can’t see this winning ESC, but it deserves a place in the top 10 for being so different to the others.

ALBUM: Tom Grennan – Evering Road

Tom Grennan’s second studio came out two weeks ago and happily became his first number one. It’s a great collection of tracks without any skips, and builds on the pop/indie rock sound of his previous music with the inclusion of orchestral instruments (at times). My top tracks from this are ‘If Only’ and ‘Little Bit Of Love’, although this is a 10/10 album through and through.

ALBUM: Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets

Swedish rockers Normandie dropped their third album in February, and although it doesn’t tread any new ground, it’s a more personal set of tracks. These are made to be screamed to at a live concert and with tracks like ‘Thrown In The Gutter’ and ‘Holy Water’, this 10 track collection doesn’t let up or get boring.

ALBUM: Danny L Harle – Harlecore

Danny L Harle is used to pushing boundaries of pop and electronic music, and he certainly manages to do it on this varied album, also released in February. Whether he’s branching into hardstyle (‘Interlocked’), straddling ethereal pop (‘On A Mountain’) or paying homage to 90s rave culture (the manic ‘Piano Song’, or ‘Car Song’), the quality never lets up. We already knew that he was an exceptional talent, and this new set of tracks only proves it.

SINGLE: James Newman – Embers

It’s so nice for the UK to have a Eurovision entry which I can actually get behind for once. Although the last decade has been categorised by dreary pop attempts, digging up ageing pop stars who should know better and, quite frankly, embarrassing efforts (looking at you, Electro Velvet), the BBC have finally chosen a modern, upbeat and fun track, which both sounds good and well represents the UK’s music scene. I can’t resist dancing to this or singing along to the chorus whenever it comes on, and while I don’t have high hopes for its final position at the final event in May, it’s a step in the right direction – and a certified bop.

SINGLE: Rita Ora & Imanbek – Bang Bang

Originally I started listening to this song as a joke because it samples Axel F’s ‘Crazy Frog’, but now I’m actually a big fan. The lyrics are, essentially, nonsense, but Imanbek’s production is excellent and compliments Rita Ora’s vocals. The whole EP, which also includes David Guetta and Gunna, is worth a listen.

SINGLE: Years & Years – It’s A Sin

Years and Years, who recently announced that their upcoming third album would be both coming out in Spring and an Olly-led project, recorded this cover of the Pet Shop Boys’ 1987 hit for the incredible Channel 4 miniseries of the same name. Poignant and modern but true to the original, this is nothing short of a masterpiece; additionally, the TV show it soundtracks is the best thing I’ve watched all year.

EP: Axel Boy – Delirious EP

For a few years now I’ve been listening to Axel Boy, one of the leading voices in UK’s bass scene. Although his stuff can be hit and miss for me, his new Delirious EP contains four of his very best tracks, especially closer ‘Lunacy’. If you used to listen to dubstep back in the day, this sort of music is probably a logical next step, and he’s got some decent tracks spanning a few different genres so he’s definitely worth checking out.

SINGLES: London Grammar – Lose Your Head & How Does It Feel

London Grammar release their delayed third studio album ‘Californian Soil’ on April 16th, and even though nothing yet has matched the pure incredibility of the title track, the third and fourth singles are brilliant. Their newest era seems to maintain their ethereal, inward-looking indie sound while harnessing just a little more solid instrumentation, and Hannah’s vocals yet again are what really make this band stand out. There’s very few things more exciting than a London Grammar release cycle as you know the finished product is going to be flawless. I can’t wait for another load of songs to fall in love with next month.

SINGLE: Destiny – Je Me Casse

When you think of the great musical nations of the world, you probably don’t think of Malta. Indeed, if I wasn’t such a big Eurovision fan, I wouldn’t either, but they have been serving some incredible tunes for the last few editions – and this could be the year they finally take the world’s biggest song contest to Valletta. Destiny Chukunyere won the 2015 Junior Eurovision Song Contest aged just 13, and after last year’s ‘All Of My Feelings’ was sadly unable to be performed (like everyone else’s), she’s come back and surpassed herself. ‘Je Me Casse’ is a modern pop banger, with feminist tones, some witty lyrics (‘Excuse My French!’) and a total menagerie of genres and influences. I honestly believe this could win the whole thing in May, especially as we already know she has an incredible voice to match the song. The bookies seem to too, and this means that the top three songs in the running all have French titles, with Switzerland’s ‘Tout l’Univers’ and France’s ‘Voila’. For me though, ‘Je Me Casse’ is an entire planet ahead of the others.

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