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Best of 2021

 

Last year, my attention span was not wide enough to listen to a lot of LPs from start to finish.

Too much went on in 2020 to focus on 10-15 albums, so I went with only a couple to spotlight.

Well, 2021 was a little better, as I have a list of top four records, and a lot of individual tracks. 

(I made a lengthy Spotify playlist)

So, without further ado, here’s my list of favorites of the year:

Albums

Deafheaven, Infinite Granite (listen)

Hands down, my favorite album of the year. I was not sure where Deafheaven would go

after another record that brought My Bloody Valentine and death metal fans together, but

they beautifully rebooted their sound on Infinite Granite. The divisive goblin vocals are vastly

pared-down here, as are the blast beats. Sounding more inspired by Slowdive, the band has

discovered a new sonic palette that I hope they explore more of in the future. It’s a welcome revelation.

I still love their older material, but this has renewed my love of what these guys do. 

Japanese Breakfast, Jubilee (listen)

All credit goes to Hope for introducing me to Michelle Zauner’s Japanese Breakfast project. She has been a big fan for years, so when Jubilee was released this year, it was greatly anticipated in our household. This is a fantastic blend of 80s pop and shoegaze with a modern take. “Paprika,” “Be Sweet,” and “Posing for Cars” are my favorites.  


Fiddlehead, Between the Richness (listen)

I’ve been aware of Fiddlehead’s stuff for a few years, but they released a great and dense LP in 2021.

I recommend it to fans of Title Fight, Seaweed, and the Get Up Kids. I love it when modern bands recall

the joy I felt when I heard those aforementioned bands for the first time. Fiddlehead is a young quintet

that I hope continues to make quality albums for years to come.

I Feel Fine, The Cold in Every Shelter (listen)

I cannot hide my bias here, as the band reached out to me in hopes of writing a bio to land them a record deal. (They thankfully did land deals with labels around the world, and I was happy to see that come to fruition, as this record is well worth my time and yours if you dig this style of modern emo.) I was familiar with their previous work, but The Cold in Every Shelter is a wonderful step forward. This Brighton-based four-piece (where all of them sing together) made a complex album that recalls Crash of Rhinos, the Hotelier, and the Appleseed Cast for me.  


Tracks

MOTORCADE – “Slip” (listen)

I’ve heard the name Motorcade for a few years now, but this was the year I really paid close attention to their work. Namely, this incredible Echo and the Bunnymen-inspired single. I praised the hell out of it when it was released and I still sing its merits. The songwriter said it was inspired by “Never Stop,” but I’d add elements from Ocean Rain to this tune. 

Volleyball – “Slide” (listen)


We listened to a lot of dream pop this year in the car and in the house, and this was one I discovered via hopping around Recommended Artists in Spotify. I don’t know much about who makes up Volleyball, but this is some elegant joy.  

Bouquet – “Glisten” (watch/listen)

The secret to making a memorable song is having a gripping chorus with a strong verse. Adding to it would be an even stronger bridge. That’s what “Glisten” has. Mellow verses, loud choruses, and a louder bridge. Comparisons have been made to Turnover, and I’d agree with them. But this has gloomy pop hooks galore. 

Kings of Convenience – “Rocky Trail” (watch/listen)

This was a random, but welcome return from this acoustic-centric duo. They’ve made tunes that recall Belle & Sebastian and Simon & Garfunkel, and this violin-tinged pop tune is fabulous.  

Anxious – “Growing Up Song” (watch/listen)

Run For Cover Records continues to put out really quality stuff, and this, like Bouquet, Fiddlehead, I Feel Fine, and Palette Knife shows the emo revival is still in effect. The video is hilarious, and its bridge is the best part of an engaging tune.  

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