|StaffReviews 105Soundoffs 120News Articles 30Band Edits + Tags 59Album Edits 56Album Ratings 3285Objectivity 66%Last Active 01-16-22 5:00 pmJoined 08-27-12Forum Posts 783Review Comments 19,972
|Top 25 Albums of 2021|
The bottom eight or so were mild disappointments, but this is one of the best top 10 line-ups in years. Probably since 2017, the last really excellent year for music in my opinion. It’s heartbreaking though that a year where both Steven Wilson and Kayo Dot released new albums don’t even make my top 25 picks. Goes to show that plenty of the best new music comes from unexpected places. Thankfully, Steven Wilson releases instrumental versions of his solo albums, and that version of The Future Bites would be around 12th place or so. My #1 choice, Sweet Trip, is one of my top 5 favorite albums released since 2010.
Another perfectly acceptable post-reunion Thrice; not great, but not bad.
The Golden Casket
Another okay Modest Mouse album, my least favorite yet. I basically consider them a completely different band now compared to their fantastic 1996-2004 era (and Spitting Venom) that I first fell in love with.
Music for Psychedelic Therapy
Solid ambient with some psychedelic flourishes. Not his best of course, but a pleasant listen and I imagine effective for its purpose.
|22||Godspeed You! Black Emperor|
G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!
A return to a more post-rock sound after the wandering nature of the last few 2010s releases. Not all that memorable, but good.
|21||My Morning Jacket|
My Morning Jacket
After the ambitious psych rock of the two Waterfall albums, the band returns to a more accessible sound again. Would’ve made sense if it had come out around a decade ago, but I slightly prefer it to Circuital and Evil Urges regardless.
What is there to say? All their releases after Everything and Nothing sound the same, and there’s a new one every year now. It’s not really special at this point when there’s a new Hammock, but it’s always decent.
Now here’s something different. Seeming to channel Swans, Coil, Thom Yorke’s solo material, and other things for a massive double album of ritualistic experimental rock, post-industrial, and ambient electronic music. Can’t say it all clicks with me, but there’re some fantastic pieces here like Hiver, Ojos, and Horizons.
How Do You Live
Amon Tobin has been on a roll lately, and while this may be his worst yet it’s still a challenging and unpredictable release that celebrates the sound he’s explored recently that began with ISAM, or maybe Foley Room depending on who you ask.
Not really the direction I wanted from them, as Astronoid kind of accomplished it already. But it’s still high quality shoegaze metal or whatever lol.
A massive improvement from his previous solo record, Obsidian embraces wide open icy atmospheres not unlike Valtari, and could easily be a companion album to it. I’d imagine a perfect soundtrack for being up north in Finland or Canada at night, surrounded by snow and gazing up at the aurora borealis.
Another dependable sadgirl ambient record from Liz Harris, for the first time in a while returning to the sparse, airy folk music she explored in pre-Ruins releases.
Cynic return again, this time without 2/3 of the line-up, as both men tragically passed away over the past year. It’s nice to hear Paul Masvidal making music again, and this album is quite good despite being a bit up and down quality wise. An improvement of Kindly Bent to Free Us without a doubt.
|13||The World Is a Beautiful Place...|
The sput favorite of the year it seems like, people are raving about this up and down. Not being familiar with the band or that into this genre, I found it quite good, if a bit inconsistent. Infinite Josh and Trouble are my favorites.
|12||The War On Drugs|
I Don't Live Here Anymore
The War on Drugs going more mainstream and sounding like they’re on autopilot still makes for very good music. I wish there was more shoegaze and dream pop.
|11||Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine|
A Beginner's Mind
Well, I’ll certainly take this over whatever that was he released a year or two ago. Sounds like more of a traditional Sufjan album than that. The highlights are mostly in the first half, but a very pleasant listen overall.
Julien Baker goes for a more band-oriented sound on her third LP, sacrificing some of the intimate, emotional impact found in Sprained Ankle and Turn Out the Lights. Her songwriting talents are still in full effect however, even if I think her strengths lie in the more low-key singer/songwriter approach on the debut.
Hushed and Grim
I’m not that into post Crack the Skye Mastodon if I’m being honest, as the style just isn’t as suited to me. But this album was highly impressive, with almost every song being great in one way or another. I don’t think I’ll jam it very many times, but it makes me tempted to listen to this band again after having exhausted listening to their music many years ago. I even ranked all their songs at one point, in one of my very first lists.
Another achingly beautiful neofolk record and the first follow-up to Woodfall, their breakout hit. This particular style of folk from Musk Ox really appeals to me, as the instrumentalists are so technically skilled and the compositions complex. Perfect winter listening.
|7||Big Red Machine|
How Long Do You Think It's Gonna Last?
This supergroup consisting of Aaron Dessner of The National and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is a real treat, and their sophomore release is a musically diverse indie pop album with numerous guest appearances by the likes of Fleet Foxes, Sharon von Etten, Ben Howard, Taylor Swift, and others. More expansive than the debut, with a longer track list than either The National or Bon Iver have done before. Might slightly prefer this just for the sheer variety, whereas the debut was more uniform. Favs are "Latter Days," "Phoenix," "Ghost of Cincinnati," "Mimi," "Magnolia," and "Brycie."
The Machine Is Burning...
My favorite post-rock of the year, channeling some early Godspeed vibes and having a very majestic feeling to it. Not much to say other than if you like instrumental post-rock that’s well written and emotional, this is a must-listen.
|5||Nick Cave and Warren Ellis|
This gets better as it goes along, with the last few tracks being excellent. Interesting that it’s labeled as being just Cave and Ellis, as it doesn't seem like that big a difference from Skeleton Tree or Ghosteen, as those they were also primarily those two. I guess this is the direction they've been going in for a while. The title track, Shattered Ground, and Balcony Man are wonderful and on par with much of Skeleton Tree and Ghosteen. I also like how they brought back some of the biting attitude from pre-2010s releases on the first half. Cave can do no wrong.
|4||Swallow the Sun|
One of the first metal bands I ever got into, the fact that they’re currently releasing some of their best material is impressive. The first two songs are fine, but it really gets amazing starting with Woven into Sorrow. Honestly one of the best, if not the best gothic metal albums in many years. I always knew they were special, but this takes it to a new level and further proves how special and outstanding this band has always been. If you haven’t heard of them, for fans of Katatonia, Novembre, Opeth, and Paradise Lost.
While under a new moniker, Thymiamatascension from a certain point of view could be seen as solo album number 2.5 from Toby Driver. Channeling his recent and strongest solo album They Are the Shield, he emphasizes space, silence, texture, and nocturnal atmospheres. As opposed to being traditionally song-oriented, each piece is more unpredictable and open-ended with very few vocals. "Livonomancy in Jasper" is a particularly stunning piece. Whether this haunting and occult sounding at times musical direction is indicative of where his meditative solo career will go, or simply a blissful diversion under a new name, Thymiamatascension avoids the loudness of his main bands and exists in an abstract space of engrossing, otherworldly beauty.
Deafheaven continue evolving and release their most consistently impressive and impactful record yet. Gorgeous musical passages and walls of sound are abound, with the band taking more inspiration from shoegaze and post-rock while still sounding uniquely like themselves. George Clark's clean singing voice has a wonderful, haunting goth rock quality to it, perhaps due to the reverb and vocal effects. Much of the production is dense and various instrumental elements blend together beautifully. It's not easy to pick favorites, but a few would be "In Blur," "Great Mass of Color," "Other Language," and "Mombasa."
A Tiny House, In Secret Speeches, Polar Equals
Enchanting from beginning to end, and worth the 12 year wait. Displays a masterful use of various instrumental components, the electronic/digital elements balanced perfectly with acoustic guitars and stunning bass lines coalescing into pure musical ecstasy. Each song is its own little masterpiece, flourishing with inspiration and creativity. I wouldn't be surprised if it took years and years to make this, though it seems effortless too. Easily my favorite new album in years and sounds like music made just for me. Great for spring and summer, a perfect marriage of blissful 60s psychedelic pop rock and ethereal ambient electronic music, also with Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine influences. Their best work I'm thinking, perhaps tied with the recent remastered You Will Never Know Why with bonus tracks. A must-listen.
|How close will the staff end of year list be to this? My guess is pretty different, but hopefully the top 2 at least will be on there somewhere...|
|Great list. Neat to see 24 on here, even if the blurb was lukewarm. I didn't think it was nearly as bad as everyone was saying. 19, 13, and 9 are my favorites from this year but almost every album on your list interested me a little bit at some point in 2021. I'm excited to hear #3.|
|I like a lot of those top 10 picks nice|
|Another artist I really need to check out is Musk Ox. Been putting it off for years now. |
|1 is 1, first stone cold 5 I’ve had in years. I also liked TWIABP quite a bit. Awesome list dude!|
|This is a list for sure |
|This is one of the lists ever made|
|Thanks guys, and yeah Musk Ox are excellent.|
|Can’t help but appreciate the moments of overlap here. What a year |
|Right on Nocte. Looking at your lists tho I’m a little concerned about the lack of metal in your listening habits. Like try putting the synth pop to a rest once in a while and try something heavy for a change. Not trying to overstep my bounds, just a suggestion!|
|You forgot Trophy Scars but Great list overall. I too loved Infinite Granite. |
|No Hexadedron by Ulver? :0 But you gave it a nice 3.7!|
|Trophy Scars is tied with Thrice at 25th place for me, was underwhelmed but loved one or two songs on it I remember.|
This list is what I submitted for my staff 2021 list submittal, plus my added descriptions, and they don’t include soundtracks, live albums, EPs, or comps. I might add Hexahedron to this list since it is new music despite being a live album. It would be 7th or 8th place.
|I'm glad I'm not the only one who loved 2 as much as I did.|
|Yes! 2 is is the most under-appreciated album on this list in relation to how great it is.|
|1 is 1, nice|
|Ya, best album since 2016 for me. First 5/5 rating since then too.|
|New Beach house is shaping up to be really good, that would be on here somewhere judging by combining the two new EPs.|
|Approaching the end of the year now and I don’t think any of this is gonna change, unless someone has any recs.|
|1. Bo Jackson |
|This is such a list of albums|
are they good tho
|No they’re terrible|