2021 was the year when life was supposed to go back to normal.
The lockdowns came to a close, restrictions were slowly phased out and as the vaccination program took off, things started to look more hopeful. But as the Summer dwindled to an end, there was a collective sense that we'd all missed out on the big post-lockdown release party.
Maybe next year, hmm?
With festivals returning in modicum and the rumours that the winter would be saddled with a third wave, what was supposed to be the third "Summer of Love" never quite materialised. In spite of this, there was still plenty of things to be thankful for, especially if you happened to be a lover of all things music.
Although there seems to be an '80s revival happening in rock music right now, there has nevertheless been a huge and widely varied approach to incorporating elements from the past into some very forward thinking sounds.
From Swedish punk-rock to English jazz fusion, these are the best rock albums of 2021.
10. Welfare Jazz – Viagra Boys
Matt Sweeney is primarily known as the touring guitarist for acts like Iggy Pop and Queens Of The Stone Age, but every now and then he lends his punk ear to the production side of things. Welfare Jazz is his latest endeavour behind the mixing desk. Teaming up with Swedish band Viagra Boys to help produce one of the most exciting, punchy and weird albums of the year.
Viagra Boys have combined post-punk with a jazzy horn section and a touch of American country music. More and more acts are fusing ever stranger musical styles together, some times it works and sometimes it doesn't. But with these guys they seemed to have found the right blend. Primarily this record is full of driving post-punk dance numbers, with plenty of fuzzy bass lines to underpin the outburst of antisocial frustration, from singer, Sebastian Murphy.
Towards the end of the record they start injecting a bit of country into their sound. Aussie punk, Amy Taylor, joins Murphy to perform a truly unique rendition of John Prine's country ballad, In Spite of Ourselves.
Country-style vocals are overlaid, atop a mixture of industrial drum beats and brooding synth melodies. The effect produces a post-apocalyptic folk ballad that isn't without appeal.