Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Best of 2021

Yes, it is that moment you’ve all been waiting for – the top 10 albums of 2021 revealed!

I listened to all or part of around 150 albums released in 2021. I ended up buying 53, with 7 more still on my “to get” list. The list below represents the top 10 of all of those.

In terms of methodology, I struggled a bit with the final rankings, and expect that as I get to know some of these records better the order could change. However, I am not keen on “best of” lists that refuse to provide a ranking, so I’ve taken an initial stand, while reserving the right to re-order as I get to know each record better.

I’m not doing an “honourable mention” section this year, but I am going to have my list go to 11. Why, you ask? Rock and roll, that’s why!

11. TorresThirstier
 - Torres finds love, and the result is her best record in years.

10. Langhorne SlimStrawberry Mansion
 - Slim’s lighthearted jangle presents a throwback sixties approach to folk music which is the sugarcoating that helps these anxiety-ridden songs go down better.

9. Madi DiazHistory of a Feeling
 - Sometimes the inspiration isn’t love, so much as the loss of it. Diaz’s record alternates between rage and sorrow but is powerful and honest throughout.

8. Taylor SwiftEvermore
For the second straight year Swift has me regretting I hadn’t gotten into her music sooner. This record also inspired me to go purchase “Red: Taylor’s Version” which I also heartily recommend, but didn’t feel strictly like a 2021 release.

7. CheekfaceEmphatically No
- What if Cake were even more whimsical? You’d get Cheekface’s “Emphatically No” an album that is full of dead-pan humour and groovy riffs, much of which is about how this pandemic thing is kind of disconcerting.

6. Amythyst KiahWary + Strange
 - Powerhouse vocals and a style that ranges across folk, soul and gospel make this record one that I like more and more on every listen.

5. Bat FangsQueen of My World
 - Nanananah nanananah, Bat Fangs! Fresh from making great music with Ex Hex, guitarist Betsy Wright now teams up with drummer Laura King with some killer Camaro rock. If a KISS record and a Joan Jett record had a baby it would sound like this.

4. London GrammarCalifornian Soil
 - European pop is not usually my jam, but Californian Soil is an inspiring collection of anthems that lifted my spirit. I have since run out and bought their previous two records, but this is their best.

3. Nick Cave and Warren EllisCarnage
- Ho hum, just another amazing collection of songs from two of the greatest ever.

2. Sierra Ferrell – Long Time Coming
- Ferrell sings folk songs with the power of Patsy Cline and the innocence of the Carter Family. She’s an old soul breathing new life into traditional American folk music.

1. Lucy DacusHome Video
- Dacus takes us on a journey into youth, managing to fill these stories with all the uncertainty of the moment, seasoned with the perspective of time and experience.

So there you have it. Hopefully this list had that magical combination of:

  1. Albums you agree were great, filling you with the pleasant glow of confirmation bias.
  2. Albums you hadn’t heard of but will now listen to, resulting in the wonder of discovery.
  3. Albums you didn’t like and never will, but that reminded you that we’re all a little different, and how that’s a good thing.

Although it should be obvious that these are my choices, I welcome you to share anything you think I’ve missed and help me out with #2 in the process.

No comments: