The 8 best albums from January 2021

Start the year with some exceptional sounds

We knew it’d be different. A whole month into the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel year and all we have to show for it are these eight albums, better than sourdough and ready for you to sink your teeth into.

Artist: Anna B Savage
Title: A Common Turn
Label: City Slang
What is it? The debut album from London-based singer-songwriter tackling some big questions with an even bigger voice, somewhere between Leonard Cohen and The Spice Girls.
L&Q says: “Despite the ambitious sonic twists and turns – a driving force in the record’s foundation – it’s the impenetrable air of solitude in her performances which are most effective in captivating the listener.”

Read Zara Hedderman’s full review here and Ian Roebuck’s interview with Anna.

Artist: James Yorkston and the Second Hand Orchestra
Title: Wide, Wide River
Label: Domino
What is it? A collaborative improvisation on parenthood, mental health and friendship between the ever prolific Scotsman and a Swedish orchestra.
L&Q says: “It’s a testament to the connective power of music – people who otherwise would be nations away bonding over a love of creation.”

Read Sam Reid’s full review here.

Artist: Urban Village
Title: Udondolo
Label: Nø Format
What is it? Music found in a South African cab, blending folk and soul music with Zulu rock, Xhosa funk, mbaqanga and maskandi.
L&Q says:Udondolo transports us through all the colours of Soweto, inviting us to walk together towards a united world.”

Read Georgina Quach’s full review here.

Artist: Divide and Dissolve
Title: Gas Lit
Label: Invada
What is it? Instrumental doom, drone and sludge metal with the social agenda to dismantle white supremacy in all its forms.
L&Q says: “Divide and Dissolve are the coolest thing to happen to metal since Deafheaven.”

Read Dafydd Jenkins’s full review here.

Artist: Goat Girl
Title: On All Fours
Label: Rough Trade
What is it? A playful sophomore from the South London post-punk band who never saw themselves as a post-punk band, now with songs longer than two minutes.
L&Q says:On All Fours feels like a transitional record, but in the best sense of that term. This band’s possibilities remain wide open.”

Read Fergal Kinney’s full review here and Tristan Gatward’s interview with the band.

Artist: The Body
Title: I’ve Seen All I Need To See
Label: Thrill Jockey
What is it? The terrifying and heavy sounds of oblivion from a duo returning to their roots in monolithic, sludgy noise.
L&Q says: “a naked display of raw power that makes everything else feel insignificant in its wake.”

Read Dominic Haley’s full review here.

Artist: Daniel Knox
Title: Won’t You Take Me With You
Label: H.P. Johnson Presents
What is it? A moreish fifth studio album from the well-travelled Chicago-based crooner with darkly comic stories, dejected characters and decadent soundscapes.
L&Q says: “like returning to a favourite TV series reprised for another season, it feels as though we never left, with characters, storylines and relationships ready to be recommenced.”

Read Tom Critten’s full review here.

Artist: Sleaford Mods
Title: Spare Ribs
Label: Rough Trade
What is it? A masterclass in comedy and confrontation, taking on the privileged political classes, musical deadweights and poseurs with some of their sharpest songwriting to date.
L&Q says: “Sleaford Mods present Spare Ribs, a testament to the entirely contradictory facts that they’ve grown a lot, and yet changed so little.”

Read Jo Higgs’s full review here and Fergal Kinney’s cover feature with the band.