Every year there are wonderful, wonderful songs that draw you in, catch your ear and make you investigate an artist. Often, this leads to discovering new favourite albums and provoking lists like the very one being counted down on this site. However, sometimes the rest of the stuff struggles to match up. When I was a teenager, I had a three singles rule for saving up to buy albums – if there had been a triumvirate of splendid selections released then I figured the rest of it was worth hearing. I’m a little more cavalier these days, but I still wonder about that theory. Below is a selection of great tunes released this year but which either don’t have a parent album that made the Top 30 or simply don’t have a parent album yet. Some may seem more obvious choices than others, but they offer a decent bit of garnish for a pretty fabulous year of music. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
All We Are – ‘Utmost Good’
I have Lauren Laverne to thank for this one. She tweeted about it soon after having her first listen and was so emphatic about its excellence I gave it a go. It’s a brilliantly peculiar, woozy, hazy track, with prominent bass and falsetto vocals. It’s definitely got bed hair, but it’s a delight. No album as yet, but I’m keenly waiting.
Diana Vickers – ‘Cinderella’
Hell yeah! I do love a bit of well made pop and this is exactly that. With The Saturdays heading off down even more lyrically questionable routes, it fell to X Factor bit-part player and quirky pop presence Diana Vickers to offer up neatly crafted melodies and a killer chorus. And what a euphoric little chorus it is. The album didn’t quite live up to its lead single, sadly, but I still cherish this tune.
The Pastels – ‘Check Your Heart’
Now, the album ‘Slow Summits’ was just outside my Top 30 and is well worth forty minutes of your time, but this track is utterly adorable. Glorious indie jangle? Check. Splendidly rattly drum sound? Check. Stuttery delivery of the word ‘check’? Check. Perfect for summer afternoons, but its capacity to seduce remains undimmed by the shorter days.
Stereophonics – ‘Indian Summer’
Honestly. I blame Ash at Spillers Records for this, by the way. She tweeted something about the new Stereophonics single not being all bad and I clicked, expecting to be able to pursue a well-worn trope about just how shit they became. But, to my surprise, here was a song that utilised their one great strength – Kelly’s voice – to full effect and wasn’t desperately trying to ROCK. In fact, it doffed its cap to Springsteen, still managed to offer up some dubious lyrics and plodded along nicely. Remember when we all briefly liked them, thanks to that great debut? It’s a different incarnation of the band, but there’s still some of that magic after all.
Sadly, most of the album is predictably crap. Still, one track is one more than I was expecting to like.
Maria Taylor – ‘Folk Song Melody’
I’ve always loved Maria Taylor’s voice since hearing one of her early albums playing in Reveal Records in Derby, many moons ago. I’ve kept an ear on her work since and regularly add another of her records to the collection. ‘Something About Knowing’ was on the long list for the albums countdown but just fell at the final cut. There’s much on it to love, but this opening track is especially charming. The gently shimmying chorus is solid gold earworm material.