Saturday, July 3, 2021

The MIDDYs: Favorite Songs

I know you have been marking your calendars and waiting for this moment with bated breath. Without further ado, here are my favorite songs (in no particular order) from the first half of the year. Albums and reissues will follow. Extra points to the first reader who identifies the undeserving Grammy winner above.

A few of these picks will feel like old friends. After a stint with Terry Chambers as TC&I, Colin Moulding had, seemingly, given it all up. Yet, here he is, one of the stars of the beloved XTC, with his first solo single. Before this year, I had not bought an album from Teenage Fanclub since 'Howdy' more than 20 years ago. Although 'Endless Arcade' probably won't make my list, there are bright spots. These days, Crowded House are mostly a family affair plus Mitchell Froom, and it's great to have one of my favorite songwriters back at it. Speaking of long-awaited comebacks, Acid House Kings have given us their first new music in a decade. A couple of names that may surprise you are Jim McCulloch of Soup Dragons and Rachel Love from Dolly Mixture. These new sounds are worlds away from their old bands, but the quality is there in spades.

A quick word about Verandan. That's Ville Hopponen's latest project. You will know him best from Cats on Fire. How often do you mourn the loss of that band? Amelia and Rob are on the list twice, first with Hue Williams, formerly of Pooh Sticks, as Swansea Sound. I didn't include any songs from albums that will make my MIDDYs list, but the Catenary Wires are here with a recent cover of the Mamas and the Papas that my family has been listening to obsessively. If you have paid attention to past lists on these pages, just about everyone else has appeared here before except Hadda Be. The Scottish band has received plenty of favorable press, and I will agree album 'Another Life' has its moments. What are your favorite songs from 2021 so far?

Colin Moulding - "The Hardest Battle"
The Goon Sax - "Make Time 4 Love"
Massage - "Michael Is My Girlfriend"
The Umbrellas - "She Buys Herself Flowers"
Teenage Fanclub - "Home"
Crowded House - "To the Island"
Gruff Rhys - "Loan Your Loneliness"
A Certain Ratio - "Keep It Together"
Red Sleeping Beauty (featuring Mary Wyer) - "Second Time"
Acid House Kings - "A Little Dancing"
Jim McCulloch - "When I Mean What I Say"
Verandan - "Hideaway"
Stephen's Shore - "Brisbane Radio"
Real Numbers - "Brighter Then"
Boyracer - "Bulletproof"
NAH... - "Airy Day"
Rachel Love - "Primrose Hill"
Swansea Sound - "Indies of the World"
Hadda Be - "Another Life"
Ducks Ltd. - "As Big as All Outside"
The Catenary Wires - "California Dreamin'"


Khayem said...

Welcome back, Brian! I hope you had a great break. I'm looking forward to diving into your favourites selection, most of which have so far passed me by.

Albums-wise, I've immersed myself in John Grant's Boy From Michigan since I got the CD in the post last week. Prior to that, a lot of love for:
Andy Bell - Another View
The Anchoress - The Art Of Losing
Jane Weaver - Flock
10:40 - All Of Us
The The - Official Bootleg Volume 002

Individual songs, possibly too many to count already. It's been a great year so far!

Rol said...

As always, much to investigate here, since I only recognise one of those tunes at first glance. It's been an odd year so far. I have bought a lot more CDs than I did last year, but I'm also still catching up on stuff so I feel strangely out of time at the moment.

McPop said...

Hi Brian,
Some great tracks on your mid-year songs list. I didn't know about the new Colin Moulding single so thanks for the heads up on that one. Here are my mid-year favorite records:
Quivers- Golden Doubt
The Telephone Numbers- The Ballad of Doug
The Chills- Scatterbrain
The Boys with the Perpetual Nervousness- Songs from Another Life
The Reds, Pinks and Purples- Uncommon Weather
Massage- Still Life
Tuns- Duly Noted
Rat Columns- Pacific Kiss
Teenage Fanclub- Home
Kiwi Jr. - Cooler Returns
Real Numbers- Brighter Then
Ducks Ltd- Get Bleak
Real Estate- Half a Human
Stephen's Shore Brisbane Radio

Special mention: The Keys "Unlocked" LP very long awaited (40 years) followup to the great self-titled 1981 debut.

Take care. / Matt

Brian said...

Thanks for the encouragement, fellas. McPop, as usual, there won't be much need for you to return for my brief albums list. We are listening to almost exactly the same stuff. That's not a surprise, is it? Rol, funny but I have bought less new music this year than last. I do have a mess of preorders coming down the pike, however, if the vinyl actually gets made on time. Seems like a pretty serious problem right now. Khayem, Andy Bell's The View From Halfway Down was a huge highlight last year. Haven't bought this followup, but what I have heard is great. Big fan of Jane Weaver too. Will need to catch up with your other mentions. Especially intrigued with this The The release. I just picked up that Soul Mining box that came out a few years back. Really into them right now.

Jim Dubai said...

Looks like the Starland Vocal Band and Afternoon Delight as your grammy winner

Brian said...

Looks like and is, Jim, my boy. Nice job. That's digging deep.

The Swede said...

I feel even more out of touch than ever this year, so am grateful to recognise at least a handful of the tunes mentioned here. Slightly daunted to be confronted with the awful truth that Teenage Fanclub released 'Howdy' over 20 years ago though - in my mind I still consider it to be one of the band's more recent albums!

Khayem said...

The Official Bootlegs are CDs available via The The's website: 001 was Gun Sluts-era outtakes; 002 was various live from The The v. The World tour 1990. I've just ordered 003 which is a compilation of songs by The Gadgets with Matt on lead vocals, plus an interview with Colin-Lloyd Tucker. The first two have been great.

Indiggy said...

Hey McPop - Is that Keys record really only available as an LP? No download?