What an incredible year for music. There were so many amazing releases this year that I had to keep track midway through the year so I would not forget the albums that were already out against the onslaught of albums yet to come.
Like many, this year was a continuation of COVID life. I actually found myself listening to music less while working from home somehow. I never realized how much I used music in the office just to drown out the noise pollution that comes with open office layouts. I began traveling a bit more for work so I did a ton of my listening this year in airports and on airplanes. Not exactly a great environment if one wishes to actively listen. This is all to say, whatever combo of circumstances 2021 brought, it made me realize I miss blogging/writing about music so I plan to (re)launch a place online for me to jot out my thoughts on various music-oriented topics.
And to the meat of the topic at hand: my AOTY this year is by the insanely talented Leon Bridges and his release Gold-Diggers Sound. Something about the sound of this album just resonates down into my bones. I love that Leon makes typically taboo subjects or feelings for men into topics that should be discussed and without any fluff. Highlights of the album, for me, are: Motorbike, Why Don't You Touch Me, Sho Nuff, Don't Worry, Blue Mesas. While The last track, Blue Mesas, is the personal favorite of mine for tackling depression & not sharing those feelings, the penultimate track, Don't Worry, really steals the show on this album. Telling the tale of a happy couple who split and meet later down the road, the track is both a great composition and story. It's duration requires some patience for those unaccustomed to longer music. Though with T Swift having the longest track hit #1 makes me hopeful that the larger music audience will accept Tool-length songs in the mainstream.
If I mix around the order of the remaining 4 albums in the top 5, I would be happy. They are all absolutely killer, start-to-finish. Hell, even the last 5 are bangers from beginning to end. Each is well worth a listen if those genres interest you.
My personal Top 10 list:10. Parannoul - To See the Next Part of the Dream
Stand-out track: Analog Sentimentalism9. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - Butterfly 3000
Stand-out track: Catching Smoke8. Parquet Courts - Sympathy for Life
Stand-out track: Plant Life7. Viagra Boys - Welfare Jazz
Stand-out track: Ain't Nice6. Amyl & the Sniffers - Comfort to Me
Stand-out track: Guided by Angels5. Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
Stand-out track: Posing in Bondage4. Middle Kids - Today We’re the Greatest
Stand-out track: Stacking Chairs3. Manchester Orchestra - Million Masks of God
Stand-out track: Angel of Death2. Wet - Letter Blue
Stand-out track: Clementine1. Leon Bridges - Gold-Diggers Sound
Stand-out track: Don't Worry
I also want to shout out the album Year of the Horse by the Canadian band Fucked Up. This would have been on my list but I didn't get the LP in the mail until last week so it's too early-on to say whether it edges out the competition.
The entire album is about a horse named Percival and is amazing start-to-finish. If art/hardcore is your thing, give this band a listen.
Con-Z-epT : Artificial Ignorance by Gandhabba
ParaSeoul : Donda by Kanye West & Screen Violent by Chvrches
ManaByte : Senjutsu by Iron Maiden
Jennings : too many to list
Corpsepyre : The Ruins of Beverast by The Thule Grimoires
Loke : Oxidized by Frontierer
p_xavier : The Greater Light to Rule the Night by Armin Van Buuren & Rank 1
teezzy : 2-way tie: Wild Type Droid by Failure & Nitrous by Chevelle
Lionel Richie : Sinner Get Ready by Lingua Ignota
OmegaSupreme : If I can't Have Love, I Want Power by Halsey
Richard Packer : Boldy James by Bo Jackson & Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Sincerely Adolf by Westside Gunn
T8SC : God Save the Rave by Scooter
Winter John : too many to list
Kagey K : DEMIDEVIL by Ashnikko
DonJorginho : Donda by Kanye West and And Evening With Silk Sonic by Silk Sonic
marcincz : Today We're the Greatest by Middle Kids
MastAndo : Kid A Mnesia by Radiohead
It's all in the wrist : OK Human by Weezer
Mossybrew : Once Twice Melody by Beach House
chris121580 : top 5 listed below
The Atlantic : New Long Leg by Dry Cleaning
AV Club : Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast
BBC Radio 6 : Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz
We asked our presenters to pick their favourite, tallied all their votes, and we can now reveal the final results. Find out below which records made the Top 10, and see each presenter's personal pick of the year too!
Billboard : Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
Complex : ‘Call Me If You Get Lost’ by Tyler, the Creator
Here are Complex’s picks for the best albums of 2021, ranging from Hip-Hop and R&B to Pop. Find out which if your favorite project is the top album of the year.
Consequence of Sound : Call Me If You Get Lost by Tyler, the Creator
Entertainment Weekly : Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan
The Fader : Nurture by Porter Robinson
The Guardian : Prioritise Pleasure by Self Esteem
The Independent : Sometimes I Might be Introvert by Little Simz
From pop-punk that captured Gen-Z anxiety to otherworldly hip-hop, 2021’s greatest albums felt designed to help us process – or escape – what we were faced with over the past 12 months. The Independent’s music team count down their favourites
KCRW : Collapsed In Sunbeams by Arlo Parks
From iconoclast jazz to astral punk, minimal psychedelia to raw soul, knockout debuts to long-anticipated returns, these are the albums that defined the triumphs, defiance, and surreality of 2021.
LA Times : Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan
The Needledrop : Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz
NME : Seventeen Going Under by Sam Fender
NPR Music : Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan
NPR's annual list of the year's best albums is full of work by musicians who hit career peaks, discovered their voices or willed something new into reality.
Paste Magazine : Promises by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra
People Magazine : Montero by Lil Nas X
Pitchfork : Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan
Revolver : Fortitude by Gojira
Rolling Stone : Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
From Adele’s heroic return to Rauw Alejandro’s thrillingly unpredictable breakthrough to Lil Nas X’s pop-rap victory lap, and much more, here are the records that pushed music for…
Stereogum : I Don't Live Here Anymore by The War on Drugs
We made it! Mostly. Kind of. The COVID era, which utterly derailed music and most other things for the better part of two years, isn’t quite over. But around the time that most of us got our second arm-jabs, the whole economy surrounding music started to sputter to life once again. It’s not...
Time Magazine : Promises by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra
Vulture : Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan
Jeff Bezos : Whole Lotta Red by Playboi Carti
Wired : Heaux Tales by Jazmine Sullivan
Yahoo Entertainment : Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast, Silk Sonic, Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X and more: Yahoo Entertainment staff picks for best albums of 2021
The albums that helped us power through a difficult year were wide-ranging, but there was some consensus — even though the competition was so close, we ended up with a couple of ties in our overall top 10.
Bandcamp's Top Releases
NPR's song of the year: Montero by Lil Nas X
Think of the best songs of 2021 as a playlist catering to the most basic human urges. Within it, booties were called, muffins were buttered and bloody revenge was contemplated. It was quite a year.
NME's song of the year: Good 4 U by Olivia Rodrigo
Stereogum's Top EPs
In all the years that we’ve been doing this list, 2021 is the first time that it seems like so many artists released multiple EPs over the course of the year, or released sequels that revisited ideas from previous EPs that they had put out. I don’t know why that is! Maybe the pandemic has got...
Worst Album Covers
5. Sum 41 13 Voices You remember that kid who started smoking cigarettes in elementary school and loved buying temporary tattoo...
Walls by Kings of Leon
So, pray tell Gaf, what is your album of the year?