Album of the Year 2021
It’s been hard to remember to listen to music. When I worked in an office, I had music on all day to drown out the sounds of the office. But working at home, I’ll go hours or sometimes a whole day plugging away in silence. I’ve started to notice that I feel worse when I don’t listen to enough music. Even writing this now I just realized I’ve been sitting in silence for the last half hour. Despite this, music has remained important to me. If anything, it’s become increasingly important. I just need a smartwatch that complains at me if I haven’t had music on in awhile or something.
2021 continued 2020’s theme of punk-influenced music outplaying pop-influenced music. I still haven’t gotten back my taste for modern pop music and at this point I’m not sure if I ever will. There have been a few exceptions to the rule, but I’m really not interested in the unchallenging alternative acts the algorithms keep shoveling down my throat.
I’ve also shifted away from collecting vinyl this year as major label releases have clogged out most of the stuff I’m interested in. Moving crates of 180 gram releases to new houses didn’t help my opinion either. I still bought a few and will probably continue, but it’s less of an emphasis for me. Maybe I’ll get super into cassettes and Super Audio CDs in 2022.
I’ve tried to include direct digital purchase links for each album where available. For streaming convenience, I’ve included Apple Music and Spotify.
Turnstile - Glow On
August 27, Hardcore
I did not expect Glow On to be my album of the year. Turnstile has always been a band proud to wear their influences on their sleeves, and that remains true here. But the range and uniqueness of these influences brought together for this album makes for a deep and fulfilling experience.
The Rest of the Top Ten, Chronologically
The Dirty Nil - Fuck Art
January 1, Rock
While Master Volume had been more of a slow burn for me, the first time I heard Fuck Art I knew it would make my year end list. The album is full of sing-along anthem after anthem.
Julien Baker - Little Oblivions
February 26, Alternative
The addition of full band tracks make Little Oblivions the most accessible album by one of my favorite songwriters.
Origami Angel - Gami Gang
April 30, Emo
I had Origami Angel’s first full length, Somewhere City, on constant repeat in 2020. Gami Gang follows up the PMA emo of their debut with deeper lyrics and the same power pop riffs. I’ll never understand how this band of two people gets such huge sounds.
The Armed - Ultrapop
April 16, Experimental Hardcore
Ultrapop is aggressive, uncompromising, and demands to be played loud. This album has as many influences as there are members and shows there’s no limit to how creative and diverse a band with gang vocals can be.
Fiddlehead - Between the Richness
May 21, Post-Hardcore
Sweet, passionate, and rich, taking the energy and tones of hardcore without being confrontational. I had this album on loop for days.
Tyler, the Creator - Call Me If You Get Lost
June 25, Hip-hop
Every two years Tyler puts out a new thing to make my top ten. Though more of a straight up hip-hop album than Flower Boy or Igor, Call Me If You Get Lost continues Tyler, The Creator’s trend of self diagnosis of loneliness and belonging by way of an alter-ego. It’s full of catchy tracks and great collaborations.
Ghösh - Alien Nation - Ep
October 1, Grime/Gabber
Alien Nation is an infectious hybrid of hip-hop, grime, and gabber. I would leave this album on repeat for hours.
Every Time I Die - Radical
October 22, Metalcore
Come for Post Boredom’s fantastic music video and stay for the brooding, progressive songwriting. Radical presents a mature, introspective template for other metalcore bands to follow.
Converge & Chelsea Wolfe - Blood Moon I
November 19, Metal/Post-Hardcore
Converge has been an important band for decades and somehow each album remains relevant. Blood Moon continues the trend, bringing in Chelsea Wolfe, Ben Chrisholm, and Stephen Brodsky for a dark, cavernous album.
Single of the Year 2021
Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen - Like I Used To
Dear Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen,
Please record an album together, I beg you.