Things of 2021: Bands on their favourite music, films, books and more of the past 12 months ft. Salt The Snail, Tacsidermi, Lewsberg, GROUSE, Mild Orange, Reptaliens, Annie Hamilton, Foamboy + Lorkin O’Reilly

It’s been another tumultuous year of lockdowns, delays and cancellations for bands around the globe, but despite everything that’s been going on there’s been some truly outstanding new music, books, films, theatre, comedy and art created and released into the world in 2021. We caught up with nine artists to find out what’s been floating their boats this year.

The Wildcard of Salt the Snail/Society of Losers

Favourite song of 2021: Public Service Broadcasting – Blue Heaven
It just feels like an instant classic, like a song I’ve heard a hundred times before, I actually had to check that it wasn’t already a classic song. Perfect songwriting.

Favourite album of 2021: Novelty Island – How Are You Coping With This Century?
An incredibly talented group of artists who have put together a joyous celebration of surrealist multicoloured pop. Vivid lyrics, a breeze to get through and highly re-listenable.

Favourite gig of 2021: Willy Mason at St Mary’s Creative Space, Chester.
One of our generation’s truly special songwriters, in a church with a crowd that were spellbound by him. What more do you want.

New music discovery of 2021: Oorya
Spellbinding, mesmerising, went about signing her to Society of Losers as soon as I seen her at CRAPFEST.

Favourite film of 2021: Luca
My son Cub has had me watch this 50+ and it doesn’t get boring. A heartwarming story and loads of funny moments. Its also got Mac’s Mum in it so thats another bonus.

Favourite live comedy of 2021:
Not Ricky Gervais in Leeds cos it was pretty disappointing. Man came on stage for about an hour, took a selfie as his encore and spent most of the time meandering around old jokes. Came off as a parody of himself. 

What have you been up to this year?
Since coming out of lockdown we have been getting all of our shells in a row, ready for 2022, practicing, writing, recording and we managed to fit in a few sold out shows in there too.

Moment of 2021 for the band:
The entirety of CRAPFEST. Getting to see all of our friends and getting to play in Liverpool for the first time in nearly 2 years, it was like nothing had ever happened. An epic day.

What do you have coming up soon?
We are doing our first ever headliner in Manchester on December 14th which is pretty big for us. Other than that, look out for new releases next year. We are brewing a lot of things.

Follow Salt The Snail on Facebook
Get a free download of their track ‘Matador’ on The Joyzine Advent Calendar
Find out more about Society of Losers Records on their official website

Tacsidermi (Gwenllian Anthony)

Favourite song of 2021: Goat – Dreambuilding
I’ve really got into experimental /Turkish psychedelic music and anything influenced by it so I’ve really enjoyed the whole album. 

Favourite album of 2021: Nala Sinephro – Space 1.8
It’s like a massage to the head. It’s amazing! 

Favourite gig, festival performance or live stream of 2021:
Seeing Kelly Lee Owens for the first time in Green Man, she blew my mind! 

New music discovery of 2021: Jessica Pratt
She has such an unique voice and I can’t stop listening to her albums. 

Favourite book of 2021: Monolithic Undertow by Harry Sword
I’m not a big reader but this book has really got me in a chokehold this year. I havent finished it yet though. I thoroughly recommend. 

What have you been up to this year?
We’ve been working on an EP which will be coming out early next year, and working on some album tracks too! 

Moment of 2021 for the band:
I think releasing ‘Ble Pierre’ was definitely a highlight. We loved writing it and were so excited for everyone to hear it. 

What do you have coming up soon?
We have an EP coming out early next year and hopefully going into record the album too so there’s lots of things coming!

Follow Tacsidermi on Facebook
Read Joyzine’s review of ‘O Fy Nghof

Lewsberg (Arie van Vliet)

Favourite song of 2021:
I’m more of an album listener than a song listener, but there’s one song that’s been an exception to this rule for years, and that is Bert Jansch’s ‘Needle of Death’.

Favourite album of 2021: Klas Trollius – Sånger Till En Människa.
I don’t know that much about it, other than that Klas Trollius is a Swedish musician, and this record was released by Swedish record label Discreet Music. But it’s a wonderful album, and I don’t need to know any more about it.

Favourite gig, festival performance or live stream of 2021:
We played a show with a band called Marcel Wave in Oxford, at the Fusion Arts. They’re a pretty new band, and I think they have only recorded a demo so far, but that show in Oxford was just perfect. Their songs are great and the sound and atmosphere at the Fusion Arts really fitted their music.

New music discovery of 2021:
Usually it’s Michiel who discovers music for me. He listens to a lot more music than I do, and every now and then he sends me something he thinks I might like. This year it was Eve Adams. She released a new album called Metal Bird, but her older albums are beautiful as well. We were all so impressed by her first album In Hell, that we asked Eve if we could do a vinyl release of it on our own label Soft Office, that we started last year. We are happy she said yes.

Favourite film of 2021: Chungking Express
Actually a film from 1994, but this cinema in Rotterdam called Kino had a special program with screenings of movies by Wong Kar Wai this year.

Favourite book of 2021: ‘Soms ik voel mij zombie’ by Pelumi Adejumo
It’s a poem, mostly written in Dutch, but even if you don’t understand the language, you might understand the rhythm of the words, and the graphic design.

Favourite theatre of 2021:
I don’t go to plays that often. When I want to see some good drama or comedy, I turn on the television for a football match. So much theatre. I especially enjoy it when the Dutch team loses. So for this year, I’d like to pick the 2-0 loss against the Czech Republic during the Euros.

Favourite exhibition of 2021:
It might sound a bit weird, but I don’t really like exhibitions. The only thing I was looking forward to, was the Frida Kahlo exhibition in the Drents Museum. But then I read a review that didn’t have anything good to say about it at all, and that ruined my whole experience in advance.

What have you been up to this year?
The first half of the year nothing much happened. But then we recorded an album, released it, played quite some shows, started the year as a three-piece and will end it as a four-piece again. So despite the first couple of months, 2021 has been a pretty productive year for us.

Moment of 2021 for your band:
I can’t speak for the others, of course, but when we arrived in the UK a couple of weeks ago, for me it felt like someone finally pressed the play button again, after being on pause for so long.

What do you have coming up soon?
It looks like 2022 is going to start as busy as 2021 ends. We have a new 7” single on the way (though I can’t say too much about that yet). And then there’s the upcoming vinyl release of In Your Hands, quite some shows in the agenda and plans for a couple of new releases on Soft Office, like the beforementioned In Hell by Eve Adams. Hopefully I can still find some time to sleep every now and then.

Find out more on Lewsberg’s official website

Photo by Brian McNamara

GROUSE (Ronan Carroll)

Favourite song of 2021: Mick Flannery & Susan O’Neill – Trouble
The first song on my favourite Irish album of the year, In The Game. I happen to think Susan O’Neill has one of the great all time voices. It kills me every time, truth be told. I could have picked any of the first 3 songs on this album.

Favourite album of 2021: Badbadnotgood – Talk Memory
Love this band and I reckon this is their best album. Elements of funk/ soul, hip-hop coupled with experimental jazz. Great grooves, writing and playing.

Favourite gig, festival performance or live stream of 2021: I played a couple but I wasn’t in the audience for a single gig in 2021. I just can’t get into live streams but I did really enjoy black midi’s – ‘Live on KEXP at Home’.

New music discovery of 2021: black midi
Great to see a band who is making challenging and experimental music breaking through.

Favourite film of 2021: Breaking Out
A beautifully made and often funny documentary about Irish musician, Fergus O’Farrell, who lived his whole life with muscular dystrophy. His phenomenal voice and charisma shine through.

Favourite book of 2021: Humankind by Rutger Bregman
It was published in 2020 but I’ve been reading this lately. It challenges the whole Machiavellian notion that humans are bad, selfish and evil and instead we’re naturally good, peaceful and altruistic. It proffers that it’s civilisation that has us messed up. Interesting!

What have you been up to this year?
I released my fourth Grouse album, ‘Interpolate’, in November. The early part of the year was spent finishing the music and then artwork etc. Then came the months of thankless promo!

Moment of 2021 for you: The aforementioned release and some very nice reviews.

Find out more on Grouse’s official website
Read Grouse’s track by track feature on new album Interpolate

Photo by Kenzie Pigman

Mild Orange

Favourite song of 2021: Sam Wave – You Again 
Mehrt – I may be biased because Sam is my older, more talented brother, but seriously, this song has easily been my most played song released in 2021. It’s a symphony of guitars coupled with a relaxing rolling snare, and it is so effortlessly capturing such a wholesome and uplifting vibe. It makes me think fondly of home.

Favourite album of 2021: Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Jah – My introduction to this album was through Little Simz tiny desk at home performance. She has such a unique voice and is a talented lyricist. Her band were equally as phenomenal and so tight.

Favourite gig of 2021: Julia Jacklin live at San Fran Venue, Wellington, New Zealand
Barry – This was one of her first shows coming out lockdown to a silent and respectful sold out crowd. It was poignant, raw and beautiful. Thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. 

New music discovery of 2021:
Jack – Rediscovering Gang Of Youths through their new releases. They’re better than ever.

Favourite film of 2021: The Suicide Squad
Mehrt – I see DC Comics on a poster and usually get turned off. But daaaamn, this movie was good. It’s so self aware of the overdone superhero movie tropes and takes the piss in all the right ways.

Favourite book of 2021:
Jah – While not written this year, the best book I’ve read in 2021 would be The Force by Don Winslow. A gripping crime thriller which tells the tale of NYC cops blurring the lines between good and bad. A hard one to put down.

Favourite comedy of 2021:
Barry – There certainly has been a lack of live comedy this year.. I’ve loved the content coming from Chris Parker on Instagram. A very funny guy for sure.

Favourite exhibition of 2021:
Jack – The Festival Of The Lights in New Plymouth, NZ. Music, gardens and light art, is as good of a trio as Fridays, sun and beers.

What have you been up to this year?
Mehrt – We’ve just finished our third album, which has taken just over a year to make. We were in and out of beach houses and studios around New Zealand to record. Creating accompanying videos with collaborators in Indonesia, Japan, France, USA and Germany has been a highlight for this project, and has kept us in touch with the world outside NZ while we remain here.

Moment of 2021 for the band:
Jah – Finally announcing our first international shows in a long time. We can’t wait to get back on the road in Jan/Feb 2022 and play for fans in UK, Europe, USA, Canada and Mexico. We’ve also decided to relocate to London after.

What have you got coming up?
Mehrt – Our third album Looking For Space will release on February 10, 2022 – the same day we play at Jazz Cafe in London!

Find out more on Mild Orange’s official website


Favourite song of 2021: Marinero – Through the Fog
This song feels so light and breezy and complicated all together.  Reminds me of a modern, San Francisco pop version of Joao Gilberto.

Favourite album of 2021: Turnstile – Glow On
It’s the perfect mix of pop and hardcore.  Every song is good from start to finish. 

Favourite gig, festival performance or live stream of 2021: Post AnimalLevitation Session
Such a dynamic set.  It makes you dance, smile, reflect, and erupt.  They have somehow captured how to be metal, psychedelic, adorable, rhythmic, and have perfectly harmonized vocals at the same time.

New music discovery of 2021: Surprise Chef
Heard them during “New Jazz at Lunch” on our local jazz station (KEXP) and I have been obsessed ever since.  They are groovy, chill, and thoughtful Australian jazz and I just can’t get enough of them.

Favourite film of 2021: Dune
We were skeptical at first because of how much we loved David Lynch’s depiction, but HOLY SPICE, it was great.  Can’t wait for the second half.

Favourite book of 2021: Night of Light by Philip Jose Farmer  
This is an old book, but we discovered it in 2021 and love it.  It’s a super psychedelic sci-fi journey to a faraway planet where once a year the inhabitants either stay awake to watch the two very polarized gods duke it out for power, or take drugs to sleep through the process.  The book follows the journey of one man who chose to stay awake.  It’s absolute incredible chaos and I’ve never read anything quite like it.

Favourite comedy of 2021: Kyle Scheele on Tik Tok 
He is so harmless and hilarious with his unique style of comedy.  He just plays around with everyday mundane things and inserts himself into them.  The first video I saw of him was when he got the idea to make a giant cardboard cutout of himself with a pizza guitar, and put it in a gas station promoting “The Kyle Scheele Meal”, which was completely made up, just to see how long it would take the station to realize it was fake.  He just wants to have fun with the world around him and everything he does is hilariously gentle and fun. 

Favourite exhibition of 2021: It’s $50, so I haven’t seen it, but there’s an interactive Van Gogh exhibit at our Convention Center.  

What have you been up to this year?
Bambi learned how to sew and we got really into TikTok.  Spent a lot of time in rural California working on a weed farm. Saw Cole’s grandma a lot and got really into Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch. Cole shaved his head for the first time.  Bambi almost cut her hair.

Moment of 2021 for you/your band:
We wrote and recorded our third LP ‘Multiverse’.  Made a super fun music video for the first single “Like a Dog”and got to go on tour again for the first time since 2019.

Details of any upcoming shows/releases/anything else you’d like us to mention in the article:
We’re headlining a national tour with Yot Club and Renata Zeiguer in January and February.Our third LP Multiverse comes out January 21st.

Follow Reptaliens on Facebook

Photo by Michelle Pitiris

Annie Hamilton

Favourite song of 2021: There has been so much amazing music this year but I was absolutely heart-crushed by ‘Nothing New’ by Taylor Swift + Phoebe Bridgers. 

Favourite album of 2021: Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams

Favourite gig, festival performance or live stream of 2021: Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys playing at The Country & Inner Western Festival

New music discovery of 2021: Ethel Cain – Crush

Favourite film of 2021: 
Ok so it wasn’t released in 2021 but it was the best thing I watched in 2021 – Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli – so magical. 

Favourite book of 2021: 
My favourite book that I read this year was The Chronology Of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch. Her use of language is seriously powerful. 

Favourite podcast of 2021: 
Love Clews! it’s the best! It makes me feel like I’m just chatting to my best friends. I binged the whole series in lockdown. 

Favourite exhibition of 2021: 
While I was in Darwin earlier in the year I spent a few hours at the Northern Territory Art Gallery & Museum – so much incredible First Nations art on display in a beautiful gallery by the water. 

What have you been up to this year? 
I’ve spent the year working on my debut album, which is now finished and will be coming out early next year! It has been a massive project that has kept me going through lockdown and I’m so excited to be sharing the first bits of it now. 

Moment of 2021 for you: 
After four months in lockdown, the first show I played this year was a stripped back show in a beautiful new performance space called Phoenix. I re-arranged and re-imagined four of my songs with my wonderful band, Cat Hunter, Rosie Fitzgerald and Jenny McCullagh – you can check it out here.

Details of any upcoming shows/releases/anything else you’d like us to mention in the article: 
I’ve just released my latest single, Electric Night, along with a video that I made with my friend/housemate/bandmate Rosie during lockdown. We shot in on a 2002 handycam in my house / garden / rooftop and it’s my favourite video that I’ve ever made. I made myself a glittery pair of batwings and filmed the fruitbats flying overhead from my rooftop.

Find out more on Annie Hamilton’s official website


Favourite song of 2021: Pond– America’s Cup
So funky! So Groovy!  Perfect summer anthem. The guitar at the end is *chefs kiss.

Favourite album of 2021: Leon Bridges – Gold-Diggers Sound
Just a super solid soul/R&B album. Sounds so classic and fresh at the same time. Also that album cover!!!

Favourite gig, festival performance or live stream of 2021:
Cheekface and Rosie Tucker at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland. I went to the concert to see Cheekface (high-energy 3-piece with ironic lyrics about late-stage capitalism), but Rosie Tucker (moody, lyric-driven indie) was perhaps one of my favorite openers of all time. 

New music discovery of 2021: Leon Bridges
He is definitely old news, but I discovered the album Good Thing this February and it rocked my world. What a treat to have a new album release from him in this same year!

Favourite film of 2021: The French Dispatch
Wes Anderson delivers another visually stunning, timely, and surprisingly hilarious film. Loved how the film was organized into a few separate short stories that work together to fill out a grander story. 

Favourite book of 2021: Cultish by Amanda Montell 
Entertaining and interesting read about how cults and cult-like groups use language to engage and entrap people. Everything from Jonestown to SoulCycle.

What have you been up to this year?
We’ve been preparing for our album release mostly. Shooting music videos and prepping for PR stuff. Other than that Katy’s been chugging through grad school, and Wil is working full-time while writing new music in his free time. 

Moment of 2021 for the band:
Our favorite moment so far was either getting our music played on KCRW, or playing our first show in Portland and selling out! 

Details of any upcoming shows/releases/anything else you’d like us to mention in the article:
We’ll be playing more shows in the spring, possibly touring, so keep an eye out on our socials! Also new music coming your way hopefully soon!

Find out more on Foamboy’s official website

Lorkin O’Reilly

‘Graveyard Shift’ by Melanie MacLaren really blew me away this year. I remember hearing it for the first time whilst in Scotland doing work on my grandma’s house. It was on repeat all week. Melanie’s approach to writing feels so refreshing without trying too hard. I was reminded of a 70’s folk song I’d never heard with the production value of Novo Amor or Joshua Burnside.I’m very much looking forward to the full EP when it is available.

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