It’s time to bust out the flip flops and clean off the cooler that’s been on your porch for 9 months- summer is here! And the start of summer means the start of something else annual and highly anticipated:
Last year Cassie won and none of us were happy for her. It was a close contest, but after 4 rounds of fan voting NomBe (Cassie’s pick) edged out Shelley FKA DRAM (my pick) to win the title of SONG OF THE SUMMER 2021.
For a little context, for the next few summer months the Indie Pong bloggers are going to be highlighting the songs of the summer on our summer playlist:
And then at the end of the summer we’re going to vote on what truly was the song of the summer. This is something we’re doing every summer, so blast that follow button to keep track.
I’m clearly winning this contest so far with these four absolute bangers:
‘Surprise Me’ – Mallrat
This album drops in 8 days and it’s bout to be the album of the year- quote me now. I haven’t been this excited for an album in a while, every one of the singles so far has been amazing.
‘Smile and Wave’ – Tomorrow Kids, Josh Dominguez
This song gives me the feels, so honest and excellent. You love to see it.
‘Something Ain’t Right’ – ZHR
This single from one of the dudes from Australia’s Northeast Party House is easily one of my favorites of the year already.
‘Tainted Love’ – Isaac Dunbar
What a pop banger.
And then some other Indie Pong bloggers have songs on the playlist or whatever idk.
Final picks from last year just for fun:
May the games begin! Don’t forget to blast that follow button on the playlist for updates all summer. And also don’t forget to check our socials to send in your own songs of the summer or shit on ours.
Full-disclosure, I first met Siergio as a freshmen in high school. Fairly quickly, he established himself as a personality due to his singing, and what I recall as a vehement defense of superstar singer Monica’s vocal prowess.
It’s been a joy to hear him pursue his art these last few years. He seems poised to release another excellent set of tunes, if his latest single, a classic R&B slow burner, “Complicated,” is any indication of what else will show up on forthcoming LP, “Before it’s too Late” (available for pre-order here).
Listening through the song, you can hear his appreciation of Monica shine, albeit, through the prism of a variety of other influences. This allows Siergio to do something that strikes me as fairly unique within the world of modern R&B: call to what’s inspired him, but not so loudly, that his influences overwhelm the specifics of his persistent truth as a vocalist.
In a musical landscape in which it can be increasingly hard to tell singers apart, Siergio has found something that is uniquely his own within his voice.
This has come about as a result of pursuing craft with steadfast dedication.
Outside of gorgeous production that manages to create a sense of cavernous depth, the song is marked by Siergio’s control of his voice. His singing reminds of a guitar player who understands that he’s in the business of handling business, but doesn’t feel like he has to let everyone know all the time. Throughout the song’s run, Siergio pulls off a variety of vocal flexes that on their surface, might appear to be light, but speak to careful consideration, and/or restraint on his part. Where he could easily, pop an octave or hit a run, he instead chooses to make his voice swell or fall accordingly.
It’s an incredibly admirable set of choices and keeps a certain amount on tension in play. When release finally arrives, it shows up in the form of a contemplative, three-guitar over/under interplay that sounds like the R&B equivalent of what you mind find on an 80s King Crimson record.
It’s an inspired choice that adds a nice additional flavor to the song, allowing it to fade out with a blissful release that feels earned.
If you haven’t already done so, head back up to the top of the page, and hit play on the YouTube link.
What a just absolute clinic by Rina Sawayama in the first tour date of the US tour for the songs on the self-titled Sawayama. As in, this was her first US show with all of her new content since she blew up and it was a WILD night. People waited in line for five hours (I didn’t I was eating a FAT dinner before) and I can only imagine it was completely worth it for them, because that was truly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
Like, just look at this energy:
This girl is just an absolute STAR. She will NEVER play at a venue as small as the Fonda again (our tickets were an arm and a leg second hand), and I was so grateful to be there. I frankly kind of got Elton John Troubador vibes (I know it’s different but) it just felt like a special night and the not birth, but milestone of a star in the making who isn’t going away.
Further to this, Rina played a new song called “Catch Me In The Air” which is just absolutely GORGEOUS:
^Video from a different show in London, (ours was even more lit)
She just brought it, a total mastery of the audience, full of confidence (like the boys), and the utter starpower it takes to walk up to a hungry audience expecting the best show of their lives and delivering in full.
As a fellow Japanese it’s been beyond cool to see Rina’s rise to superstardom. Growing up half-Japanese in the Midwest I always had cool Japanese shit to fall back on like Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc., so it’s not like my culture was never appreciated, but there were never stars that were Japanese (and real human beings for that matter). I’m enamored by the emergence of stars from all different backgrounds and I can’t wait to see it develop even further.
But regardless of diversity or anything else, Rina Sawayama is a fucking star and you’re a bad friend if you think otherwise.
Here are some more highlights from the show (I just screen recorded Rina’s Instagram story lol) in case you need further convincing on top of this top quality prose. Also my video is bad quality but you’ll notice Classsy Cassie got a Rina repost nbd. Me CC Jen and notable non-bogger Meg caught a fire show that’s immediately going on the all time list:
P.S. Rina literally played the interlude from modern city pop GOAT Plastic Love and danced to it…….. best show ever.
Happy Valentine’s Day fam – self-designated cupid Classy Cassie back again this year for round two of Hot New Singles For You Hot Singles. Unattached and looking for love, these 14 musical singles hot and ready for your eardrums. Remember, the below dating profiles are for the music, not the artist.
Purple Disco Machine, Sophie and The Giants “In The Dark“
Dating Profile: This single is rebellious, independent, goes to the club alone to dance – don’t join this dance party unless you’re ready for a hot makeout sesh on the dance floor that begins and ends with a touch of the lips. Names? Occupation? None of it matters. Pucker up and get ready, this single is already dancing the night away.
DatingProfile: This “new and improved” single is back and ready to date….again. A messy history of gold diggers and unassuming sugar babies has left this single on a skeptic rollercoaster for the last few years – but who knows, maybe you’re the one to help this single feel trust again? Start off with a more casual date to check the vibe before jumping to high stakes dates.
Dating Profile: Soft and gentle, you can take this single for their word. Genuine and authentic, this single will be happy Netflix and cuddling at home, out for a nightly cruise by the beach, or grabbing cocktails at a sexy low-lit bar. Helpful tip: prep strawberries and chocolate for the end of the night.
Dating Profile: This powerhouse single is willing to fight for the connections they believe are genuine, and don’t hide behind their pride. They hold their heart close, but can recognize when someone is worth taking their guard down for. If this single opens up for you, hold them close and ride the vibe. Expect a romantic dinner and grab that sexy outfit you’ve been saving “for the right night”.
Dating Profile: This hot single is new to Los Angeles and is trying to navigate through the sea of F-humans who are looking for a one-night stand (but unable to communicate it), and is naturally on a major f*^% you rampage. You might be able to convince this single to go on a date with you, but expect a lot of hesitation and skepticism. Helpful tips: stay off your phone and look them in the eye for a chance of greater connection.
Dating Profile: This single is a former punk rocker who grew up on Avril, has deep nostalgia for the 90’s, spends half their time on @iamthirtyaf instagram and is definitely into Megan Fox and MFK drinking each other’s blood. Dress in grunge, and meet at the local music bar/pub and reminisce on your favorite 90’s artists.
Dating Profile: Says they’re super California chill but actually has high functioning anxiety and will insist that they’re “not trippin'”, although it is very, very clear that they are indeed trippin’. This single loves long walks on the beach, not because they’re a romantic but because they’re working through shit and need the peace. They’re seemingly easy going and you’ll have a nice time with, but don’t be surprised when they go for insomniac smoke walks.
Dating Profile: Sultry, confident…..and a somewhat slowed down and refined version of a recent ex? Do you have a type, or have you been here in another galaxy? Slow down and connect with this sexy single and you might unlock parts of themselves they lock away.
Dating Profile: This hot single is ready to take the lead – one of you will end up in handcuffs by the end of the night, and hopefully the sexy kind. You’re likely to end at their hotel as this hot single definitely has a quiet roster to attend to.
Dating Profile: This single has spent the last couple years of lockdown really working on themselves and pursuing personal growth. Expect deep conversations, sharing tales of personal growth, and deep, passionate *evening moments* – just be careful of overzealous love bombing.
Dating Profile: This hot single is done being single and ready for love and stability after a seemingly never-ending amount of time spent working on themselves and romanticizing love during lockdown. This single has a TikTok “like” page filled with romantic ideas that would give a Pinterest board a run for its money. Expect a home made dinner with candles and rose petals and be prepared to end the evening in the tub together.
Dating Profile: This single is good times and won’t have a plan in advance, but will do their best work on the fly. If you’re down for a “Yes Night” that will leave you with a mental photo album of fun times, meet this single at the grocery store parking lot and see where the night takes you.
Dating Profile: Summertime rooftop rave, let’s goooo. This single keeps the party going year round and has one of those fancy poolside rooftop bars in their home that would give Enes Yilmazer’s showings a run for their money. You might show up for this single, but once those daytime rays get your buzz going, you’ll be floating around and this hot single will end up just being the facilitating cupid.
That was a brutal superbowl for Cincinnati fans like my friend Jake or my Cinci native dad who is still relishing the Pete Rose Reds. Tough times.
Can we talk about this diss track tho, absolute kill shot:
If you read the original blog I guess the whole NFL hates him, didn’t know. You can just hear the malice in this as it blows coverage out your speakers.
Bummer, was rooting for the Bengals, but this isn’t a sports blog so I’ll leave it alone.
This was a ram horn to the gut of Eli Apple for sure, but it’s still nowhere close to the best sports diss track of all time:
Also, since we’re here I guess we need to talk about the possibly greatest halftime show of all time?
It was near perfect. I could have used more Paak, but it was just great to see his smiling face. It was honestly kind of hard to watch Em follow Kendrick bc Kendrick from LA and absolutely crushed it, but I also get it. Could have also used a little more homage to Tupac, but the opening notes to this before Still D.R.E. were at least something:
Don’t forget to follow the playlist for hot new tracks every week:
Happy New Year, my friends. I made a promise last year to write an article a week. That worked out great for about 5 months. Then, I went on strike. My strike was… well, not great. No one noticed. It wasn’t until a friend’s bachelor party where Mates flippantly commented “Oh, you were on strike? I literally didn’t notice. Haha you suck.” At that moment I realized that I am nothing and that my outburst was futile at best.
Which brings us to this moment, 2021 is the year of quality over quantity.
The music will still be topical. I will still make jokes that apparently only I think is funny. But now, there will be no expectation of timelines or general forethought. Off the cuff and off schedule is the name of the game for 2022.
This brings me to my next point. All of these end of year lists are too damn long. I get it. You listen to a lot of niche arthouse indie. That’s great. Good for you. But, I don’t want to trudge through 75 songs to see not one Wet Leg song was featured in your top songs for 2021, Mates. Give me the hearty stuff. It’s winter. I want meat, potatoes, and top tens.
So, without further ado, I present my top ten for 2021!
10) “Off the Dial” Native Sun
Brooklyn’s very own, Native Sun, came out with this track at the start of 2021. Native Sun are a band of immigrants and first generation Americans with musical tastes that are as eclectic as the product that they produce. “Off the Dial” is set up as an amalgam of two songs. A thrashing speed punk anthem followed by a deliberate and dark doom-rock break down. This anti-conformity anthem is one that I will be continuing to listen to throughout 2022.
9) “Pain Without a Touch” Sweeping Promises
We have some fast and funky New Wave with an electric feel on our number 9 track. This duo from Boston via Arkansas and, apparently, Mars are quickly ascending my list of indie bands to watch for. Pain Without a Touch is Sweeping Promises first release since their debut album: Hunger For a Way Out. Sweeping promises have been able to create a devote following for a band that has sparingly toured due to the pandemic. You can count me in as one of their henchmen ready deliver pain to anyone who does not sing their praises this new year.
8) “Head Cheerleader” Pom Pom Squad
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band lean more into their name than Mia Berrin’s Pom Pom Squad. I’ve been really into Pom Pom Squad since their initial release Hate it Here. “Head Cheerleader” is one of the more grandiose songs released by Pom Pom Squad to date. The sound is big, and powerful. It crests through the song until the eventual release on the bridge. The lyrics are clear and vulnerable. They take the listener through the turmoil of being lovesick for someone without a choice in the matter. This song has all the makings for a post-pop-punk anthem and I for one am completely here for it.
7) “Time Walk” Bnny
I am psyched that this one made my top ten for various reasons. Bnny is a Chicago band so that is just fantastic for me. They are on Fire Talk records which is my favorite indie label at the moment (with the likes of Dehd, Deeper, Mia Joy, and Wombo). As Bnny was releasing singles for this upcoming album I kept thinking to myself, “Man, this is going to be a great rainy day album. Lot’s of slow and subdued tracks that would keep me great company in front of the fireplace as I drink hot coco (read: whisky). I was very happily surprised when I saw just how varied this album really is. “Time Walk” shows this range that Bnny is developing. Where “Ambulance” and “August” are spacey and slow paced, “Time Walk” is fun and sped up. The tart guitar lines punctuate lead singer Jessica Viscius’ whisper singing.
6) “WUSYANAME” Tyler the Creator, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Ty Dolla $ing
The fact that this song is number 6 on my list shows just how strong 2021 was for music and indie music specifically. This song not only has one of the top 5 pickup lines of all time in it, it also has the best verse of the year. YoungBoy puts on an absolutely clinic. His sing song delivery pairs perfectly with the pseudo-soul instrumentals of the song like a fine wine and cheese pairing. I am the first person to use fine wine and cheese reference with NBA Youngboy and I’m fine with that.
5) “Bumps & Bruises” Boldy James
When is Boldy James not releasing new music? Call this man Boldy James Brown because he’s got to be the hardest working man in rap right now. Super Tecmo Bo is probably my favorite project this year start to finish. It’s really polished and Alchemist is completely locked in. What makes “Bumps & Bruises” my favorite off of this project? Boldy’s relaxed delivery pairs perfectly with the spaced out trumpets and slowed drums. At a few points in the song the beat drops out for effect.
4) “Too Late Now” Wet Leg
It is pretty well known at this point that I love Wet Leg. This duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers have had perhaps the quickest ascent that I can remember in a long time. For reference, Wet Leg, has only 4 songs out and they are featured on 7 different Spotify verified playlists. I know that this is not the barometer of success, but to be featured on more verified playlists than songs released is just outrageous. “Too Late Now” is a departure from the other 3 songs they have released (so far). Rhian Teasdale sings in a trudges through the first two verses in a sing-song soprano over a steady bass line punctuated by sharp plucks of the lead guitar. This leads to an eventual breakdown both in the song and in the lyrics. As the music speeds up and the energy heightens the lyrics turn introspective. This song rocks and I could write about it for a full article but neither of us has time so we move on.
3) “Cigarette Packet” Sorry
This song is fast paced and a lot of fun. Cowbell to boot. I love a sped up bassline and this has that in droves. I love the drums a lot in this song as well. I think it adds a lot of texture to the song when the bass drum comes in. This song has just enough of an electric touch to it, activating my LCD Soundsystem lobe while also being completely unique and catchy on its own volition. Whenever I put this song on my feet automatically move. Dance people, DANCE!
2) “Gang Signs” Freddie Gibbs and Schoolboy Q
Finally, Mates and I agree on something besides the fact that the National League should really adopt the DH position. Gang Sings is a bonafied hit. I still cannot believe that this is the first song that Gibbs and Q have done together. They both are so similar in their subject matter and ability to paint a vivid picture in their deliveries while having completely unique sounds that play off each other so well. On this track we have Freddie Gibbs delivering his melodic delivery a la Bone Thugz and Do or Die. To balance it out we have Schoolboy Q delivering a verse in his typical, gritty delivery to offset the melody laid down by Freddie Gibbs. It’s a really well-balanced song. Oh, and the music video is great as well.
No surprises here. Chaise Longue is currently one of my top 5 favorite songs ever. It just winds me up and spins me around every time that I listen to it. I haven’t heard a song like Chaise Longue in a long time. The fact that this so polished as the first ever single for Wet Leg is amazing. Whenever I listen to this I hear a lot of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even a touch of the Arctic Monkeys. The bass, the fast paced drum fills, and the ascending guitar riffs all comes together with some objectively strange lyrics to make a classic. The fact that this song is not on Mate’s 75 song end of year list is criminal and next time I see him I will be citizen arresting him.
And, that will do it! I hope you all enjoyed and I will be talking to you all soon.
2021 happened, or so we think? The music came every week, giving us a way to distill the dark and prepare to start anew. Below is a playlist of the best 25 albums of the year and some words on the musical artists who captured my attention.
Musical Highlights of 2021: Cassandra Jenkins majestic swirls, as they weaved across dynamic words. Weather Station’s thought provoking lyrics and the world that she brought to us. Genesis Owusu’s splash of rhythm and ability to make us sit down and dance. Squid’s sci-fi avalanche, that angst and post-punk movement. Tyler, the Creator’s inventive ways of expressing honesty and prowess. Snail Mail’s decidedly raw ability to rock.
These artists almost made the cut: Parannoul, Hand Habits, Wolf Alice, Xenia Rubinos, and Ada Lea. Don’t let these inspiring people go unheard!
This year when you were waiting in line for vaccine shot, taking an Uber to a bar for the first time in a year, or killing time in between watching any of the following:
Joe Biden’s inauguration The Tokyo Olympics Giannis dominate the NBA Tom Brady dominate the NFL (again) The process of freeing Britney (we did it) The fluctuating prices of crypto and NFTs or Squid Game
You were probably listening to something. And it was probably Adele or Olivia Rodrigo. But a lot happened in music this year, including a robust year for indie music, the return of concerts, the first annual Indie Pong Song of Summer Competition, and me finally seeing Everclear live and absolutely losing my mind. You were listening to something, and when you look back and listen to it a few years from now it will always remind you of the year that we got our lives back. Here are my top 75 songs of 2021. Keep in mind that this is objective and definitive, and if you have a different opinion it’s probably wrong.
75. “Be Sweet” – Japanese Breakfast 74. “deja vu” – Olivia Rodrigo 73. “Eastside” – F.A.B.L.E., ‘Kechi, Sage P, Domerie 72. “Great Mass of Color” – Deafheaven 71. “HUH?” – Serena Isioma 70. “I Do This All The Time” – Self Esteem 69. “peacewise silence” – Ackerman 68. “ENTERTAINMENT” – SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE 67. “Txu Txu” – PPJ, Páula, Povoa, Jerge 66. “Never Been More Sure” – Royel Otis 65. “Name” – spill tab 64. “Come To Life” – Kanye West 63. “American tterroristt” – RXKNephew 62. “You Lose!” – Magdalena Bay 61. “Brand New” – TARYN 60. “All Grown Up” – Londo 59. “Take Off” – Prinze George 58. “Crying During Sex” – Carol Ades 57. “Surrender” – Tseba, PRICIE 56. “Heaven is a Pill” – thanks for coming 55. “Head Cheerleader” – Pom Pom Squad 54. “Velcro” – spill tab, Gus Dapperton 53. “telephone wires” – maxime. 52. “Gang Signs” – Freddie Gibbs, ScHoolboy Q 51. “Sister” – TSHA 50. “Give Me Your Love” – Girl Ray 49. “Hidden Qi 隐.气” – Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 and Tim Shiel 48. “Root Mean Square” – Summer Like the Season 47. “These Things Will Come To Be” – DJ Seinfeld 46. “Down On Your Luck” – SACHI 45. “Comerte Entera” – C. Tangana, Toquinho 44. “Basement” – Church Girls 43. “the angel of 8th ave.” – Gang of Youths 42. “La Perla” – Sofia Kourtesis 41. “Silk Chiffon” – MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers 40. “Swing of Things” – MAY-A, Powfu 39. “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” – The War On Drugs, Lucius 38. “Back To Oz” – Sufjan Stevens, Angelo De Augustine 37. “Hard Drive” – Cassandra Jenkins 36. “You Could Be” – Anz, George Riley 35. “Handsome Man” – Wednesday 34. “Mazda5” – MyKey, marinelli 33. “Rich & Famous” – Shelley FKA DRAM 32. “3 AM” – HAIM, Thundercat 31. “Welcome To The People (Baltra Remix)” – Jaded, Baltra 30. “Only for Tonight” – Pearl Charles 29. “spit it out” – Roksana 28. “Strawberry” – Doss 27. “Skyscrapers” – Nina Kraviz 26. “Bouncin” – Tinashe 25. “Enough” – Appleby 24. “Wake” – Big Scary 23. “Good Ones” – Charli XCX 22. “Jail 2” – Kanye West 21. “Little Things” – Big Thief 20. “Louisiana Jukebox” – Mad Gatsby 19. “Cold Blood” – Junior Varsity 18. “Go Outside” – Ratboys 17. “Payday” – Doja Cat, Young Thug 16. “Peaches” – Justin Bieber, Daniel Caesar, Giveon 15. “But She Loves You” – Merk 14. “We’ll Figure It Out” – Black Dresses 13. “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS*” – BLACKSTARKIDS 12. “Xiu” – Yu Su 11. “The Mission” – Bakar 10. “He Gets Me So High” – beabadoobee 9. “Don’t Need You” – Genesis Owusu 8. “Breathe” – Lawrence Rothman, Caroline Rose 7. “Starstruck (Vegyn Remix)” – Years & Years, Vegyn 6. “THE DOOR IS CLOSING” – SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE 5. “She Likes To Get High” – Cry Baby 4. “object permanence” – Sydney Sprague, Danielle Durack 3. “The Beginning” – Magdalena Bay 2. “Show Up” – Samia 1. “Jackie” – Yves Tumor
68. “ENTERTAINMENT” – SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
You have to listen to the whole song, I admit the beginning is… challenging. But the transition from chaos to catchy and light-hearted perfectly sets up one of the best albums of the year.
67. “Txu Txu” – PPJ, Páula, Povoa, Jerge
Love this track. I specifically wanted to single it out because my ACTUAL favorite track of 2021 was released in November of 2020, and it’s amazing:
26. “Bouncin”- Tinashe
Why does Tinashe never miss, ever?
27. “Skyscrapers” – Nina Kraviz
This one is really interesting to me, because Nina is basically the most badass techno DJ in the game. I never expected a pop song, and I certainly didn’t expect one so aggressively good.
25. “Enough” – Appleby
It was hard to choose only one of Appleby’s songs, there were a lot of contenders. This Chicago native is up next. Mark my words, up next.
16. & 17.”Peaches” and “Payday”
These songs are truly so, so good. Peaches was more or less an anthem of this year along with Kiss Me More, which is also a banger but didn’t quite make the list. Payday did though, well-deserved.
15. “But She Loves You” – Merk
This song is so cool. To me it’s the quintessential song of the year that demonstrates doing more with less. The sounds are so simple, but the way they crescendo together is brilliant. A top 15 spot was a no brainer.
13. “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS*” – BLACKSTARKIDS
BSK are the best, and continue to steadily rise with groundbreaking sounds and just… energy. All the love.
11. “The Mission” – Bakar
I’m not here to die on the hill of that nepotism is a good thing, but this take on nepotism being an earned thing that we all aim to get for our kids is refreshing.
9. “Don’t Need You” – Genesis Owusu
Easily one of the best albums of the year.
5. “She Likes To Get High” – Cry Baby
How fun is this song? What a just absolute jam. Tickles the ol’ nostalgia bone.
4. “object permanence” – Sydney Sprague
This was my #1 most listened to song of the year on Spotify
One thing I can say for sure about object permanence is that it has lasting power, times a million. I’ve listened to this song almost everyday for a year and it’s never gotten old once. The way a top 5 should be.
3. “The Beginning” – Magdalena Bay
This was album of the year for me, not close. I don’t know how they did it- Magdalena Bay somehow made an album that sounds like Rumours but done by Britney Spears. Every song sounds different, the melodies are amazing, it’s just a home run.
2. “Show Up” – Samia
According to Spotify Wrapped I’m a a Samia superfan so I guess you have to take it with a grain of salt but
SAMIA IS THE GREATEST ARTRISAT DISFJNSKDNFLKJSDF
Sorry I blacked out for a second, Samia has some chill tunes.
Also Big Wheel doesn’t make me cry nothing makes me cry:
1. “Jackie” – Yves Tumor
The thing with the best song of the year is that you just know. This song blows my mind every single time. Yves has also been making bangers for years. Keep being the coolest human being on the planet Yves, you’ve earned it.
Hello everybody! Happy New Year! It has been a while. School and work kept me very busy this year. It prevented me from writing a lot of blogs this year. With that said, nothing will stop me from telling you all my top 50 albums of the year. Even though no one asked. This year has been an amazing year for music. In my list, I have a mix of the biggest releases and some underground gems. Every album here is great in my opinion. Check out these albums if you haven’t done so already.
Without further ado here are my top 50 albums of the year for 2021!
50) Billie Eilish – Happier Than Ever
49) Mach-Hommy – Pray For Haiti
48) CHAI – WINK
47) Chief Keef – 4 NEM
46) J. Cole – The Off-Season
45) Shelley FKA DRAM – Shelley FKA DRAM
44) Boldy James & The Alchemist – Bo Jackson
43) Vince Staples – Vince Staples
42) Olivia Rodrigo – Sour
41) Tony Allen – There Is No End
40) Adele – 30
39) EXUM – Xardinal Coffee
38) Zack Fox – shut the fuck up talking to me
37) IDK – USEE4YOURSELF
36) Kota The Friend & Statik Selektah – To Kill A Sunrise
35) Rejjie Snow – Baw Baw Black Sheep
34) Pink Siifu – GUMBO’!
33) serpentwithfeet – DEACON
32) Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs)
31) St. Vincent – Daddy’s Home
30) Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
29) Clairo – Sling
28) Nas – King’s Disease II
27) Conway The Machine – La Maquina
26) Paris Texas – BOY ANONYMOUS
25) Your Old Droog – Time
24) Porter Robinson – Nurture
23) Lil Nas X – MONTERO
22) Blu – The Color Blu(e)
21) CZARFACE & MF DOOM – Super What?
20) James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart
19) GRIP – I Died For This!?
18) Armand Hammer & The Alchemist – Haram
17) Turnstile- GLOW ON
16) Weezer – OK Human
15) slowthai – TYRON
14) McKinely Dixon – For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her
13) JPEGMAFIA – LP!
12) Black Country, New Road – For the first time
11) Tyler, the Creator – CALL ME IF YOU GET LOST
10) Genesis Owusu – Smiling with No Teeth
9) Magdelena Bay – Mercurial World
8) BROCKHAMPTON – ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT, NEW ROAD
7) Kanye West – DONDA
6) Injury Reserve – By the Time I Get to Phoenix
5) Backxwash – I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES
4) C. Tangana – El Madrileño
3) Spellling – The Turning Wheel
2) Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
1) Silk Sonic – An Even with Silk Sonic
Let me know what you think?
P.S. Just like last year, I have a Spotify playlist for my top 50 songs of 2021. Check it out! I also started list week on my YouTube channel (FancyMemo), if you are interested.
As it turned out, 2020 was only part one of a difficult and frankly batshit time to exist on planet earth. Fortunately, through all the muck that was 2021, we’ve been graced with some truly stunning works of art. These are the albums that were able to blend all the pain and beauty this year had to offer. Here are the albums that I continue to spin since release and will be spinning for the foreseeable future:
Bodom After Midnight – “Paint the Sky with Blood”
Cult of Luna – “The Raging River”
Soen – “The Undiscovered Lotus”
Enslaved – “Caravans to the Outer Worlds”
Insomnium – “Argent Moon”
Best Live Albums:
Ulver – “Hexahedron: Live at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter” & “Scary Muzak”
This definitely was not the easiest year to pick a best of list. I enjoyed a ton of albums but ultimately narrowed it down to twenty that have stuck with me for a variety of reasons. There are certainly some that didn’t make the cut and I’m still likely exploring those and haven’t quite figured them out yet. Devin Townsend’s The Puzzle/Snuggles and Swallow the Sun’s Moonflowers being a couple of examples. There are also a few that came very close like Maiden’s Senjutsu and Mol’s Diorama but ultimately I had to cut somewhere so here we are.
At the Gates – “The Nightmare of Being”: What do you mean Carcass isn’t #1?? Well what can I say other than At the Gates put out the album that really defined this year for me. The dudes put out some of their best riffs and catchiest songs to date. “Spectre of Extinction” is easily one of the best songs they’ve written and a track I simply can’t stop listening to. Not only that but ATG went full prog and I’m a damn sucker for that. Check out “The Fall Into Time” for one example of this. This is epic, brutal and exactly what I want from one of the classiest Melo-death bands around. Songs to Listen To: Spectre of Extinction, The Fall Into Time, Eternal Winter of Reason
Harakiri for the Sky – “Maere”: One of the most emotional and heartfelt albums this year comes from Harakiri for the Sky who took things up yet another notch with “Maere”. The album starts with a proper banger in “I, Pallbearer” and doesn’t let up. Songs to Listen To: I, Pallbearer, Sing for the Damage We’ve Done, Song to Say Goodbye
Between the Buried & Me – “Colors II”: Very few bands would risk making a sequel to one of their most beloved albums. Count on BTBAM for fully embracing it and making an album that while attached to the core of the original Colors, is really its own beast entirely. It’s an incredibly varied album and truly distinct. It doesn’t rely on its sibling and yet clever traces of the DNA are woven in. This is how you write a sequel. Songs to Listen To: Revolution in Limbo, The Future is Behind Us, Bad Habits
Leprous – “Aphelion”: While the last album, “Pitfalls”, was somewhat a change of pace for the band, Aphelion manages to mix the sound of that with some of their earlier albums and creates one of their finest moments yet. This has potential to become one of my all time favorites from the group and I’ve yet to grow bored of a single track. Songs to Listen To: Nighttime Disguise, The Silent Revelation, Silhouette
Rivers of Nihil – “The Work”: Rivers of Nihil pulled off quite an ambitious record with “The Work”. This could have easily gone poorly with a fairly big leap from what they did on “Where Owls Know My Name”. Fortunately with this innovative band at the hull, we’re treated to a great blend of genres and excellent songwriting. Songs to Listen To: Clean, Terrestria IV, Wait
Deafheaven – “Infinite Granite”: I’ll admit this one has been all over the map for me but I feel very comfortable where it stands on my list now. I was lucky enough to see the band perform the album front to back live and it changed the full experience for me. If you’ve previously written it off, I highly recommend catching Deafheaven’s 2022 tour if they make a stop in your city. Songs to Listen To: Great Mass of Color, Mombasa, In Blur
Steven Wilson – “The Future Bites”: Possibly my most decisive choice here (along with Deafheaven) but where “To the Bone” felt like a warm up for this direction, Wilson fully commits to an electronic sound. For my money, it works brilliantly. That isn’t to say I don’t miss his guitar led albums like “The Raven that Refused to Sing” but this is still a prog album in its own way. Just perhaps not what most are used to in the traditional sense. There are plenty of masterful tracks to discover here for the open minded. Songs to Listen To: King Ghost, Man of the People, Eyewitness. Note: I’m cheating a little bit as Eyewitness isn’t from the album proper but one of the many great tracks that was recorded during the sessions. How it isn’t on the main album is beyond me as it’s wonderful.
Dream Theater – “A View from the Top”: Did you really think Dream Theater’s latest wouldn’t be on my list? Admittedly, I don’t know if this one will stick with me as much as their last album, “Distance Over Time”, did which is why it’s lower down the list. Regardless, it’s a damn fine collection of songs by one of the best bands out there. Songs to Listen To: Answering the Call, The Alien, A View from the Top
Mastodon – “Hushed & Grim”: This is an overwhelming and lengthy listen and yet it’s absolutely stunning. It may be awhile before I can claim it’s their best since “Crack the Skye”, but I can say with certainty that the band sound on top of their game. This was only further solidified when I saw them perform several of the tracks live earlier this month. Songs to Listen To: Pain with an Anchor, Pushing the Tides, Gigantium
Tribulation – “Where the Gloom Becomes Sound”: I was debating as to which album would ultimately get the final slot in the top 10 and I found that out of the rest of the top 20 here, this is the one I came back to the most. Though it may not beat out 2015’s “The Children of the Night” in the bands discography, it’s a very solid album. Plus the vinyl exclusive track “The Damphir” is one of the best Tribulation songs period. Songs to Listen To: Hour of the Wolf, Leviathans, Funeral Pyre.