2021 Top Albums

20. The Notwist — Vertigo Days

The Notwist are back with the best Stereolab record since Dots and Loops. An incredible mix of tracks that push their sound forward in new ways, and yet feel familiar like you’ve always known them.

This should link directly to the start of Oh Sweet Fire, a stand out track from the new record.

19. Wednesday — Twin Plagues

Sometimes you want to rip and shred, other times you want to reflect on the darkest times and feel hope about what’s to come. What Wednesday propose is: why not both?

18. James Blake — Friends That Break Your Heart

The best James Blake song is called “If The Car Beside You Moves Ahead” and was released as a single in 2018. He’s put out two albums since it was released, and it’s been conspicuously absent from both. Perhaps it is simply too powerful.

17. Madlib — Sound Ancestors

A beautiful showcase of Madlib’s immense talent as a producer. Stepping away from the mic to let his beats shine through. Excellently mixed by four tet as well.

16. Adeline Hotel — Good Timing

The past two years have been pretty hard, sometimes you just want something you can put on and sink into. Good Timing is a record like that. It makes great background or foreground music. For folks who liked the instrumental half of Adrienne Lenker’s release from 2020.

15. Another Michael — New Music and Big Pop

We were up late online talking about new music /And you sent me a link to a song that I’d never heard before / I need to get my headphones on /Just think about the long pause after it’s gone.

14. Claud — Super Monster

13. Irreversible Entanglements — Open the Gates

Intro track, including this one because it’s the shortest.

12. Green-House — Music for Living Spaces

11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor — G_d’s Pee AT STATE’S END!

10. The Mountain Goats — Dark in Here

09. CHVRCHES — Screen Violence

08. Satomimagae — Hanazono

07. Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine — A Beginners Mind

The concept used to market this album is so funny to me. Sufjan and Angelo hold up in an AirBNB watching a bunch of old VHS tapes and getting inspired to make some songs loosely interpreting them. If we’re not getting the rest of the 48 states, I’ll take it.

06. Grouper — Shade

Liz Harris is one of my favorite artists, and every-time she announces a new project I spend the intervening months til the release dreaming of holding the new record in my hands and listening to it for the first time. Shade, a collection of songs from the past 10 or so years fills in the gaps between The Man Who Died in His Boat and now.

The day I saw Grouper play at Union Transfer in 2018 I woke up in Portland, OR at 4:30AM. By the time I got to the venue I could hardly stand I was so tired, but the minute she took the stage and the whole audience stood together in collective silence until she left. Not even interrupting the set to clap at the end of a song.

05. Parannoul — To See the Next Part of the Dream

And when I wake up today, there’s a white ceiling / And when I wake up yesterday, there’s a white ceiling

04. Porter Robinson — Nurture

I found Porter Robinson at the start of the pandemic. I’m not sure why, probably auto-played after I finished listening to something else. But listening to it brought me hope. When the singles for Nurture started to come out each one built upon that feeling. Culminating in the release of Look at the Sky.

03. Cheekface — Emphatically No.

“Just because it’s funny doesn’t make it a joke” sing’s Greg Katz in the opening track “Listen to Your Heart” “No.” effectively setting the tone for the album that follows. Cheekface’s lyrics are tongue-in-cheek satire about the state of society today filtered through a lens of infectious pop punk. The album is full of little phrases that get stuck in your head and keep you coming back.

Oh man, an omen / A man, a plan, a plain bagel and an omelette

02. Cameron Knowler, Eli Winter — Anticipation

01. Pleasure Systems — Visiting the Well

Similarly to Porter Robinson’s Nurture, Pleasure Systems managed to release an album in 2021 that tapped into exactly what I was feeling. We lost both of my partner’s parents in 2020, and my own grandmother in 2021. But besides people we lost a lot of things we took for granted. Eating in restaurants. Seeing friends. Alone time in our daily commutes. Grief takes may forms, and can be the product of many types of experiences.

Honorable Mentions

Black Country, New Road — For the first time



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Aidan Zanders

Aidan Zanders

Designer by day. Aspiring writer and animator by night. Mercy main when I can find the time.