We maybe said this last year and maybe the one before – but it’s been a weird 12 months…

But, the quality of music has if anything been better than ever – maybe isolation focuses the creative mind, or something.

We’ve as usual limited ourselves to 50 albums (if I counted right), and it’s pleasing to see that at least 45 of them are available on Bandcamp – they’re indie releases in the main but sensible acts are getting with the programme (there are a couple of acts who are clearly happy to give their money to Jeff Bezos to spray into the atmosphere – we’ve self-righteously ditched the Amazon links except where there only alternative would be Spotify… (we have ordered the top 20 as usual but opted for a sort-of random list for the ‘bottom end’ of the chart).

We’ve also ditched the wee ‘pen pictures’ of the top 5 as we have better ways to spend the holidays. er, sorry, we believe that we should let the music do the talking.

So, without further ado, please find below our favourite 50 of 2021 – an oddly-ordered list of top recommendations to hear before another onslaught of quality music arrives in 2022.

1. Hamish HawkHeavy Elevator (Assai)

2. Lonely TouristNear Here (Tourist Info)

3. Constant Follower Neither Is, Nor Ever Was (Shimmy Disc)

4. Mogwai As The Love Continues (Rock Action)

5. Limo Cunningham Scenic Routes (Bandcamp)

6. Annie Booth Lazybody (Last Night From Glasgow)

7. Arab Strap As Days Get Dark (Rock Action)

8. Broken Chanter Catastrophe Hits (Last Night From Glasgow)

9. Adam Stafford Trophic Asynchrony (Song, by Toad)

10. Sulka Take Care (Lost Map)

11. Mood TaegAnaphora (Happy Robots)

12. WozniakBruises (Morningside Young Team)

13. James Yorkston and the Second Hand OrchestraThe Wide, Wide River (Domino)

14. Iklan Album Number 2 (Soulpunk)

15. Callum EasterSystem (Moshi Moshi)

16. We Were Promised JetpacksEnjoy The View (Big Scary Monsters)

17. Stanley Odd – Stay Odd: The Magic of Everyday Things (Handsome Tramp)

18. Minerva WakesMirrored Moon (Traffic Cone)

19. Admiral FallowThe Idea of You (Chemikal Underground)

20. Randolph’s LeapSpirit Level (Fika Recordings)

and the best of the rest…

Conscious Route & True NoteLost Routes Flip Tape (True Hold)
Slovenly HooksSlovenly Hooks (Baba Yaga)
Grant J RobsonLit By The Dark (Bandcamp)
Starry SkiesDo It With Love (Fox Star)
The PoppermostHits To Spare (TLAK)
Martin John Henry – RTFCL PRSN
Jan the ManLong Player (Chute)
Loup Havenith Big! (Heavenley Creature)
Paul ResearchSkate The Royal Mile (Prevs)
King Ugly DelightNational Disgrace (Bandcamp)

Adrian CrowleyThe Watchful Eye Of The Stars
Chris Connelly and Monica Queen The Birthday Poems
Andrew WasylykBalgay Hill: Morning in Magnolia (Clay Pipe)
Wojtek the BearHeaven By The Back Door
Django Django – Glowing in the Dark (Because)
Mungos HifiAntidote (Scotch Bonnet)
Teenage FanclubEndless Arcade (PEMA)
Main Primate…For The Lamplighters (Brawsome)
Deer LeaderWe’ve Met Before, Haven’t We (Last Night From Glasgow)
Roddy WoombleLo! Soul (Modern Way)

Scott Twynholm Tekstura (Blurred)
Gates of Light – Gates Of Light (Shimmy Disc)
Willie CampbellNothing’s Going To Bring Me Down
Damaged Goodz / Butterscotch Brothers From Another Planet
Fuschia PhloxSnurgleria
Robin GuthriePearldiving
National Jazz Trio of Scotland Dreams 2021
Iain BethelA Modern War
Jim McAteerHere Be Dragons
Linzi ClarkAll I Have Now
Eliza ShaddadThe Woman You Want

*Usual E&OE. We’re bound to have forgotten some album or other – and compilations etc would probably have doubled the list, so we had to draw the line somewhere – so if your favourite is missing then best just assume that rather than it being (IMO) rubbish, it simply got overlooked, perhaps by just being so good everyone was dazzled by its brilliance or it had become so much a part of our lives that it was hiding in plain sight.

*And, sorry, no playlist – since we’re supporting the #boycottspotify campaign you’ll have to wait util Bandcamp have added in that functionality… just click on the links!