The songs of the (academic) year

9 months is a long time in music. There’s been a flood of great tracks since September, but we asked our writers which tracks stand out from the academic year’s releases.

The Menzingers – After the Party

Philadelphian punks The Menzingers returned this year with a corker of an album. ‘After the Party’, the title-track, mixes the band’s trademark ferocity with broken Americana like an angst-ridden Springsteen track. A perfect interplay of punk instrumentals and poetic lyrics reflecting the jaded life of not-so-young-anymore millennials.

From Indian Lakes – Blank Tapes

From Indian Lakes hit their stride this year, moving away from acoustic-flavoured indie-rock to ethereal alt-rock. Nowhere is this more evident than in Blank Tapes. Atmospheric yet cloying, ‘Blank Tapes’ leaves you in awe at its beauty, but not wholly comfortable.

Sorority Noise – No Halo

When I saw Sorority Noise live in October there was no hint of what was to come in their third album. ‘No Halo’ is the cathartic lead single from ‘You’re Not As _____ As You Think’ and details lead singer Cam Boucher’s grief at the loss of his best friend. Three minutes of intense emo-pop that hits hard.

Emperor X – Oversleepers International

Emperor X is not for everyone. Dense, verbose and often just downright weird, latest album ‘Oversleepers International’ is reflective of his eclectic career so far. Though there are no weak cuts, the way the title-track flickers between beauty and mania could act as a highlights reel for his career so far.

The The – We Can’t Stop What’s Coming

Released for Record Store Day, this was The The’s first new output for fifteen years. Frontman Matt Johnson delivers a touching tribute to his late brother Andrew with a brilliantly understated backing, featuring, among others, Johnny Marr and Swedish singer Meja Kullersten.

Paul Weller – New York

One of many standouts from Weller’s recent album A Kind Revolution, the soulful New York was written about meeting his wife Hannah. Andy Crofts’ timely squirts of Hammond and Ben Gordelier’s superb drumming back Weller’s funky bass line and trademark Silk Cut matured voice.

Pictures – Save My Heart

In the highlight of German indie-rockers Pictures’ eclectic debut LP Promise, singer/guitarist Maze Exler bares his soul after a turbulent past of musical near-misses and heroin addiction. “I’m gonna change my life,” he cries, and you can tell he means it.

The Chainsmokers – Paris

Following 2015 mega-hit Closer would be hard, and after a few attempted imitations The Chainsmokers found success with Paris. It’s not quite as groundbreaking as Closer but when it comes on in a club, everyone still goes crazy.

Ed Sheeran – Castle on the Hill

Even those who don’t like the music of British pop star Ed Sheeran seemed to love his recent album ÷. With a catchy chorus about a castle not too far from UEA, Castle on the Hill is undoubtedly the best song on the album.

Cold War Kids – Love is Mystical

They’ve taken their time, but Cold War Kids have become an indie band that reliably delivers great songs, as Love is Mystical proves. The lighter blues influences in it than their other songs seems to work well.


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Tony Allen

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January 2022
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