It’s the last column of 2020, and what a year it’s been. Maybe I have the pandemic to thank, but Spotify Wrapped claims I listened to more new artists than ever this year, and more music in general. There have been countless new releases, whether that’s albums, singles or soundtracks. Next week I have to go through all of it, all over again, when The Independent puts together its Albums of the Year list.
For now, though, there’s more than enough new music to keep you going over the weekend. Tulliah, a 19-year-old singer from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, has shared her astonishing debut single “Just My Type (A Little Bit Lonely)”, while – a little bit closer to home – north London artist Mega just dropped her gorgeous debut EP, Future Me. Definitely check out newcomer Jany Green’s obscenely catchy single “Move” – if that can’t get you dancing, nothing will. Albums we reviewed this week include Shawn Mendes’s Wonder (read here), Yungblud’s second album Weird!, White Stripes Greatest Hits, and Tori Amos’s Christmastide (read here).
On the day my feature on the art of the cover song was published, about the spate of brilliant cover versions released this year, a lot of artists have decided to share a bunch more. Antiguan-German singer Au/Ra has done a spine-tinging take on “Moon River”, while my favourite Mongolian heavy metal band, The HU, have gone with a ferocious take on Metallica’s “Sad But True”. Newcomer Sofia Valdés, from Panama, has done a tender crooning cover of Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape”.
The lads in Bastille have dropped a surprise EP, Goosebumps, which includes their rollicking track “What You Gonna Do???” with Blur’s Graham Coxon, and the 2020 anthem, “Survivin”. Mobo-nominated rapper Abra Cadabra also has a mixtape, Product Of My Environment, out now, featuring “Seen It All” with Krept and Konan. Yet another EP comes from Dublin artist Shiv, who released one of my favourite collaborations of the year, “Again” with Irish rapper Nealo. I love “Let Them Talk”, the team-up from British-Nigerian singer Nyo, and Nigerian singer Simi.
Band-wise, there’s a cracker from Sea Girls titled “This is the End”, and also “The Crack” from south London’s Goat Girl. Sleaford Mods have released the moody “Shortcummings”, while Architects have the atmospheric “Black Lungs”. There’s strength in (socially distanced) numbers, so US rap duo Run the Jewels have teamed up with UK rock duo Royal Blood for “the ground below”. Also check out Glasgow band The Ninth Waves’s new single, “Everything Will Be Fine”.
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Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones has released an album of reworked hits and favourite tracks from the band’s career to date, including “Local Boy in the Photograph”, “Just Looking” and “You’re My Star”. He tells me that it was an interesting experience picking songs that “helped me through some tough times – plus hindsight can offer humour to the stories in and around them”.
“Meaning of songs change as one’s viewpoint on life changes,” he explains. “Writing ‘Local Boy in the Photograph’ at 19 about a friend’s suicide is a lot different listening and performing it as a father of four.”
Jones went through a difficult period last year where he underwent surgery on his vocal chords. While recovering, he had to spend several days not speaking at all. He says it was a good time for self-reflection. “I like the quiet,” he says. “It calms me. It was an apprehensive time but lined with hope and learning.”
Of putting Don’t Let the Devil Take Another Day together, along with an accompanying documentary out on 11 December, he says: “I learned a lot about myself. Challenging times are the worst – but they often allow you to come up with some gold after digging deep”
I have two spotlight artists this week. Let’s start with The Snuts, a Scottish band from West Lothian, who are gearing up for a massive 2021 – including the release of their debut album, W.L. Read my Q&A with them below:
– Hi guys, how are you feeling about 2020 being over?
For me the end of 2020 feels a tad bittersweet. We’ve found an odd comfort in having time and space to create and prepare.
As live music ground to a halt this year, it’s been really humbling observing the hunger and passion everyone has for such an essential piece of our collective culture.
The excitement for the 2021 touring calendar for fans and artists is almost volcanic and we can’t wait to see it erupt.
– What have you been up to lately?
We’ve been putting the final touches to our debut record W.L.
It’s a lifetime’s work and we’re so excited to have it out there. We’re really proud of this record and really think it has enough charm to properly inspire the next generation of young dreamers.
– What should people expect from your debut album?
I think people should expect something refreshing and creative bursting through a pretty tired, risk-less indie genre.
It’s a record a bout being loving, resilient and true. It should you make you feel at home one minute and ready to take on the world the next. I think so anyway.
– What else do you have lined up for 2021?
We have a huge tour booked already for 2021 concurring some of the most iconic venues in Britain.
It feels like forever since we’ve been able to deliver our music to people live so we really are counting down the minutes to back on the road.
Now on to my second spotlight artist, indie Irish musician Patricia Lalor. She is 15 (ridiculous, I know), and has managed to release one of my favourite EPs of the year, This is How We Connect, While You Stand So Tall. Have a read of our chat:
– Hey Patricia, tell me about yourself
I’m a musician, I’m 15, I play indie and alternative music, I live in Ireland, my all time favourite band is Radiohead and I started music by only posting covers on YouTube until I decided to post some original stuff of Spotify and here we are!
– Are you looking forward to the end of 2020?
I feel like I would be the odd one out to say I wasn’t looking forward to the end of 2020. I am ready for a fresh start from this rough year, but also what is time! I could begin my ‘fresh start’ tomorrow if I wanted to. But I do feel like the whole ‘2020 was terrible’ really rubbed off on me and yeah I am looking forward to the new year.
– Where did this EP come from – what are the themes and inspirations behind it?
All the songs came from something that was bugging me at the time, I wrote them so I could let it all out in some way shape or form and I’d say it half worked! They were all written in quarantine as well so there was a lot of time to think about the things that were bugging me, so thanks quarantine.
– Do you have a personal favourite track?
Yeah definitely, the last song “Felt Something Finally” is definitely my favourite. It’s really rare for me to still love a song I’ve written so much after it’s been released and after I’ve listened to it a million times but for some reason this songs still SLAPS which is awesome.
– What do you have lined up for 2021?
I hope to sit on my music a bit more so when I do release music I’ll be releasing the best of what I’ve written and I’ll be completely happy.
Now Hear This will return in 2021