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Last Active 12-18-20 5:25 pm
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|Allan's 2021 Yearly List Thing|
2021 has been an odd year for me emotionally. First time I have really experienced heavy amounts of burnout, the first time the COVID isolation created a dense amount of loneliness, and the first time I really questioned my academic career path. However, it has also been a huge step in what I have learned as a Ph.D. student and the progress I have made with it (for better or for worse). However here is my year-end list for 2021. I reviewed 453 full length albums and 90 EPs/mixtapes this year, which is a lot. But I love exploring and finding new music. Every year there is a certain genre(s) that sticks out as a huge highlight for me and which I really never liked in the past. This year was deathcore and post-punk (with art-punk obviously also in that conversation) and it's always hard to explain why a genre sticks out every year. One thing is for certain, this list is my opinion...so take it or leave it and tell me what you think :).
|50||sonhos tomam conta|
Primary: Shoegaze, Emo
Secondary: Blackgaze, Post-Rock
The new wave of blackgaze is in full force and this Brazilian artist is leading the charge…will see them again later down the list.
An Evening with Silk Sonic
Primary: Smooth Soul
Secondary: Philly Soul, Funk, Pop Soul
What is there to say about this collaboration other than it produces some of the best vintage soul that has been done since the 50s and 60s. Banger after banger; this is filled with some absolute classics for both Bruno and for Anderson.
Hitler Wears Hermes 8: Side B
Primary: East Coast Hip-Hop, Gangsta Rap, Boom Bap
Secondary: Jazz Rap, Drumless
Buffalo legend and Griselda creator Westside Gunn comes back with another installment and it completely outshines his last few releases. Some extremely catchy tracks on here and flawless production as always.
The Act of Forgiveness
Primary: Indie Rock, Art Pop
Secondary: Indietronica, Jazz Fusion, Chamber Rock, Pop Rock, Indie Folk, Singer/Songwriter
I’m kind of surprised not more of the pop mainstream hasn’t taken to Alejandro. The dude is making some extremely powerful and memorable pop music I have ever really heard. Although a clustering of a lot of ideas this album is extremely well performed and put together.
Primary: Avant-Garde Metal, Post-Industrial, Utopian Virtual, Progressive Electronics
Secondary: Blackgaze, Electro-Industrial, Electro-Clash, Glitch, Cybergrind, Jazz Fusion, New Age, Sequence and Tracker,
Honestly, you have to listen to this absolute masterclass in how to make the most out-there metal and electronic music of all time. This thing is jam-packed with explosive and bombastic fusions.
Primary: Ambient Pop
Secondary: Neo-Psychedelic, Indietronica
Although not as good as the last album he produced, Helado has come a long way to get where he is and the ideas are all still sweat, light, and airy, which keep me coming back for more.
Primary: Jazz Fusion
Secondary: Chamber Jazz, Spiritual Jazz, Third-Stream
The legendary hip-hop jazz outfit finally come through with one of their most forward pushing and exciting releases in a long time. Although not fully realized at spots, a true masterclass in exceptional structure and craftmanship from front to back.
Primary: Synthpop, Alt-Pop
Secondary: Bedroom Pop, Sophisti-Pop, Electropop, Dream Pop
I am infatuated with these obvious Billie Eilish clones, but something really speaks to me about “CINEMA”. A fun and bright little pop album that showcases a lot of promise for another young artist.
A Color of the Sky
Primary: Dream Pop
Secondary: Ambient Pop, Alt-Country, Indie Folk, Slowcore
A dreamy, bright, and pleasing little pop record that has a lot of charm and ambiance that has me coming back again and again.
Primary: Art Rock, Indie Rock
Still kind of confused on why this album and this band are so special. Nothing about them really speaks as original or even good, but every time this album or any of their songs come on I have to listen because they are so infectious to my ears.
|40||Brand of Sacrifice|
Secondary: Symphonic Metal, Electronic
Although not a perfect album, one of the few examples we will see on this list of the new bombastic and meme-centric deathcore that is taking over the hardcore space.
Secondary: Progressive Electronics, Post-Modern Classical
A subtle yet enchanting minimalist classical piece that has the perfect balance of synths/drones and piano to keep your mind wandering as you listen.
...And Again into the Light
Primary: Americana, Black Metal
Secondary: Atmospheric Black Metal, Post-Metal, Post-Rock
Panopticon continues to create one of the most interesting crossovers with extreme metal and this album might be one of their best in a long time. Harrowing screams, warm americana, and lush atmosphere keep you warm on a cold cold night.
Primary: Art Punk, Art Rock
Secondary: Jazz Rock, Baroque Pop, Experimental Rock
The first post-punk album we will be seeing and although it's closer to the bottom I think the sonic landscape of this band has a higher ceiling than some of the others we will see because of how energetic and fun this sound is. Some of the singles on here are extremely exciting.
SINNER GET READY
Primary: Neoclassical Darkwave, Avant-Folk
Secondary: Christian Liturgical Music, Appalachian Folk Music, Drone, Chamber Music
Kristin Hayter drops much of the noisy and abrasive electronics for a more haunting and cathartic neoclassical darkwave album that continues to show she is a wrecking force in the genre.
Primary: Indie Pop, Chamber Pop
Secondary: Synthpop, Sunshine Pop, Dream Pop
Japanese Breakfast once again creates a summertime indie anthem that all can love and enjoy with bright instrumentals, explorative melodies, and insightful lyrics.
|34||Tyler, the Creator|
Call Me If You Get Lost
Primary: West Coast Hip-Hop
Secondary: Jazz Rap, Art Rap, Neo-Soul, Synth Funk, Hardcore Hip-Hop
Tyler is turning into a very consistent artist, and not only that but one of the artists that will continue to push hip-hop into new highs. Although not as good as “Flower Boy” in my opinion, this is still a really amazing album for him with only a few hiccups here and there.
Bright Green Field
Primary: Art Punk, Post-Punk, Experimental Rock
Secondary: Dance-Punk, Krautrock, Jazz Fusion
Although not the best post-punk album this year as we will see above, the debut album from the UK band still has a lot of progression in the rock sphere that I can’t wait to see all these bands build into great artists into the future.
|32||Mild High Club|
Going Going Gone
Primary: Jazz Pop, Psychedelic Pop, Hypnagogic Pop
Secondary: Cocktail Nation, Smooth/Dinner-Time Jazz, Sophisti-Pop
Well, this might be a very niche album for me (as we will see later on) but I do love some jazzy and easy music that feels like a drooling hot day in the middle of summer.
Secondary: Dark Ambient, Electroacoustic, Progressive Electronics, Noise
A dark and harrowing post-industrial piece that will have you looking around your back every second it's on making sure no one is following you.
Secondary: IDM, Ambient, Future Garage, Neurohop, Dubstep, Wonky, Tech House
Every year there seems to be an electronic album like this that just sounds too damn good not to give it a high rating. The intense and hypnotic beats and grooves keep you dancing all night long.
|29||Circuit Des Yeux|
Primary: Neoclassical Darkwave, Avant-Pop
Secondary: Psychedelic Pop, Baroque Pop, Progressive Pop
Neoclassical Darkwave is one of the most interesting genres as of late and the way Haley Fohr and Jackie Lynn create that on their newest album is really nothing I have ever heard. Focusing more on bright textures and soundscapes with baroque pop and psychedelic pop influences rather than the very somber instrumentals on most neoclassical darkwave albums. Some truly breathtaking performances all over this album.
Blood Rushing Like Current Through A Powerline
Primary: Melodic Dubstep, Synthpop
Secondary: Post-Rock, Midtempo Bass
I believe much of the dubstep and brostep hype has rightfully died the last few years (yes there are still music festivals in the summer that do it, but most people don’t avidly listen to it). Something about this sophomore record from the NY producer is just mesmerizing and intense. It almost has a bit of an IDM quality to it without being IDM. Great listen though if you want some vintage dubstep, but with a more artist vision.
Primary: Chamber Music, Screamo
Secondary: Avant-Folk, Baroque Pop, Chamber Folk
Although I believe there is more in the tank for this French band, the combination of classic chamber instrumentation with screamo makes for a really interesting and intense listen. Can’t wait to see if they expand upon this sound into the future with maybe a more neo-classical influence.
Primary: Singer/Songwriter, Contemporary Folk
Secondary: Soft Rock, Chamber Folk, Baroque Pop
Not sure why out of all the Jack Antonoff produced records this year, Clairo’s new album “Sling” was the one to fully resonate with me. Classy and sophisticated, yet open and outspoken. A dreamy and cloudy album that really hits home sometimes when fully listening to it.
Black Encyclopedia of the Air
Primary: Conscious Hip-Hop, Abstract Hip-Hop
Secondary: Experimental Hip-Hop, Jazz Rap, Poetry, Illbient
Moor Mother is turning into another one of those, always consistent, artists that really can’t miss when she gets on the mic. Although for some this is not her best release, something about this album hits me on a different level, and any fan of rich abstract hip-hop with detailed lyrics, then this is for you.
|24||Gazelle Twin & NYX|
Primary: Ritual Ambient, Post-Industrial
Secondary: English Folk Music, Choral
Although a pretty challenging listen from front to back, the use of English folk music on this extremely haunting NYX and Gazelle Twin album keeps you on your toes with how explosive and detailed it is. A truly breathtaking listen that might have you thinking about the black plague again and how it relates to our modern-day COVID outbreak.
|23||Mild Sorrow Integrated|
Meadow Platinum, Vol. 3
Primary: Ambient Drone, Progressive Electronics, Plunderphonics
Secondary: Space Ambient, Dreampunk, Brostep, Epic Collage, Dark Ambient
There is really no reason for this album to be good, but something about the coming together of the samples and the way those samples are heavily manipulated makes for one of the most interesting and intense ambient projects this year.
Smiling with No Teeth
Primary: Neo-Soul, Experimental Hip-Hop
Secondary: Post-Punk, Funk, Synth Punk, Psychedelic Soul, Conscious Hip-Hop
For a debut album, this could be one of the greatest, and it's scary to think that there is even more probably coming into the future. The combination of hip-hop, funk, soul, and punk music is something that cannot be ignored. There is really nothing out there right now like this and Genesis Owusu creates a really strong showing for himself.
Primary: Gothic Metal, Atmospheric Sludge Metal
Secondary: Doom Rock/Metal
Two legendary artists in their respective fields of metalcore/mathcore and gothic singer/songwriter come together to create one of the most intense and tightly written metal albums of the year. I am not a fan of anything going on with this album, the slow sludgy metal riffs, the gothic atmosphere, and at times the doomy-droning melodies. But man the performances and interplay between them is truly special. Looking forward to seeing if there is more to this “Bloodmoon” series between these two legends.
The Romance of Affliction
Secondary: Mathcore, Sasscore, Emo-Pop, Post-Hardcore
Ohh baby, if you loved that classic warped tour, mall goth, late 2000s emo, and post-hardcore sound then you need to listen to the sophomore record from the California-based band. “The Romance of Affliction” is both a throwback to that heavy-hitting sound, while also being forward-thinking because of its heavy use of glitchy mathcore and modern sasscore with its lyrical content taking on toxic masculinity, and the mistreating of LGBTQ+ individuals. A passionate album that any fan of that style needs to hear.
Primary: Ambient Pop, Post-Rock
Secondary: Dream Pop, Art Pop, Space Ambient
Although the amount of Radiohead and Sigur Rós influence is immense, this brand new album from the Poland-based band is a rich and enchanting listen that focuses heavily on the day-to-day issues of dealing with chronic depression and the loss of a central figure in one’s life. The interplay between the space ambient layers, post-rock instrumentals, and droning singing creates a lush soundscape that anyone should hear.
Primary: Synthpop, Electropop
Secondary: Folktronica, Glitch Pop, Progressive House
There are very few albums that give joy and happiness a run without coming off as corny and this sophomore record from the North Carolina singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer perfectly encapsulate the feeling of spring. Warm synthpop melodies and singing, bright electropop grooves and beats, and to top it all off an introspective look at who Portor Robinson is and wants to be.
Primary: Post-Industrial, Avant-Pop
Secondary: Noise, Glitch Pop, Electroacoustic, Ambient Drone
There is a reason why this album got nominated for best production on an album, there is really nothing else like this brand new Low album. The amount of manipulation done to the drones and synths creates this extremely rich and fulfilling listening experience that anyone should experience.
|16||Parannoul / Asian Glow / sonhos tomam conta|
Downfall of the Neon Youth
Primary: Shoegaze, Emo, Noise Pop
Secondary: Blackgaze, Post-Rock, Post-Hardcore, Lo-Fi Rock, Indietronica
Individually all three of these artists are genre-pushing artists, and together they produce one of the most interesting emo albums that I have heard in a long time. Emo has been dead for a while at this point and you really only see it shine bright in the emo rap space. But the combination of shoegaze, noise, post-hardcore, and post-rock all produce this rich and dense showing from the three magical artists. A truly breathtaking listen when you sit down to digest it, and definitely born out of the internet age.
Lei Line Eon
Primary: UK Bass,Neoclassical
Secondary: Deconstructed Club, Wonky, Glitch
On the sophomore record from one of the most eclectic and interesting electronic producers, Iglooghost tackles one of the most interesting genres crossovers I have heard in a while. Neoclassicism has been around a while, and several producers have tackled it. But the brightness of “Lei Line Eon” is what makes it stand out from those other producers. Something about this album just sticks well above any other in its presentation, the way the strings cross over with the wonky and glitchy synths and bass. Truly impressive to listen to.
Primary: Easycore, Emo-Pop, Pop Punk
Secondary: Midwest Emo, Math Rock
I know this is probably the most niche album on my list this year, but if you didn’t know easycore is one of the greatest genres ever conceived out of the post-hardcore scene; in many ways, it’s like ska for 2010’s emo kids and I love it. Origami Angel not only create one of the best easycore albums, but they went all-in on it and played their ass off for this album. The songwriting, production, and playing are all so great that it’s hard not to just dance along to every song.
Primary: Mathcore, Avant-Garde Metal
Secondary: Spoken Word, Dark Jazz, Dark Ambient, Sludge Metal, Grindcore
Fawn Limbs, once again, falls onto my list and it’s because of how damn creative their music is. This band feels like they are well above any and all bands in mathcore, grindcore, and sludge metal. This album is a huge experiment for them, that to me, paid off with flying colors. The use of dark jazz and ambient to create an even thicker and more explosive metal album is pure genius. Not that no one else has done these sounds before, but the way Fawn Limbs puts them together is just so perfect and tasteful.
Secondary: Glitch, Avant-Garde Metal
I have listened to a lot of mathcore in my life. From the original creators of it in the early 2000s to the more post-hardcore inspired bands of the mid to late 2000s, to its quick demise in the early 2010s because of its lack of ideas. Frontierer comes through with one of the most creative mathcore albums that I have really ever heard in a long time. It keeps to the traditions of classic mathcore of Dillinger Escape Plan, while also incorporating new and extreme sounds of glitch. Most of the time I don’t even know if there are instruments or if this album is playing with borderline noise. Great listen from front to back that will have the hair on the back of your neck standing up the whole hour.
Secondary: Choral, Post-Minimalism, Drone, Chamber Pop
I remember the more I listened to this album on its original release the more I fell in love with it. This still stands and why the new album from the UK-based producer and songwriters is so high on my list. The intricate ways that chamber music, drone, dream pop, and other forms of pop music are laced together to create a blisteringly bright, yet enchantingly serene album. Everything about this album feels like a glitch in the world and one has to listen to it to fully experience that glitch.
I will stand by this for most of my life, the original sounds and bands in deathcore do not do anything for me. They are underwhelming and mind-numbing. This new spastic style that is coming up as of late in the deathcore scene however is breath-of-fresh-air for the already dead deathcore scene. Darko might have produced one of the most bombastic, hectic, and energetic versions of this new style of deathcore that honestly should be titled post-deathcore. Get out there and mosh your head off because this album hits differently from front to back.
Primary: Shoegaze, Dream Pop
I can understand the hate this album has received from critics and fans alike; it really isn’t anything new when it comes to shoegaze and dream pop. With that said, the playing, song structure, and execution of this album are so far above any other shoegaze or dream pop album I have ever had. For a band that created the blackgaze sound, they saw the end of it and expansion of it and they wanted to do something different. Although this is not their future, it is a goodbye to a style they created in the early 2010’s so for that this is a great album.
|8||Black Country, New Road|
For the first time
Primary: Post-Punk, Experimental Rock
Secondary: Klezmer, Art Punk, Art Rock
Although Black Midi might have taken the props for the most explosive and intricate rock records of the year, this debut album from another UK based band also creates an expansive, intricate, and memorable punk record that has its hands more in the classic post-punk scene and the explorative jazz rock scene. But don’t get it twisted, this really doesn’t sound like anything of the past and I cannot wait to hear more from this exciting band.
Happier Than Ever
Primary: Alternative Pop
Secondary: Ambient Pop, Electropop
I have said it for a while not that the pop landscape needed a change and although I think most of that landscape has shifted past what Billie has produced, she really creates something unique and special in her music. “Happier Than Ever” builds off the creative backbone that she and her brother created on their debut album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”, while also expanding into a wider range of sounds and styles that come together to create a more intense, infectious, and explorative sophomore record. Every single track comes together to let Billie explore what she has been feeling the last year with all the publicity.
In Asymmetric Oceans
Primary: Ambient Pop, Post-Rock
Secondary: Psychedelic Folk, Dream Pop, Nature Recording, Drone
I have listened to a lot of albums about death and suicide; with most of them taking a very dark and introspective approach to it. On this album from the UK artist, Jack Wiegold, he approaches it in a much more realistic and ethereal way than what might be expected. Swallowtail takes you through the suicide process and what it might sound like when you are about to die. From there though he also ends this exceptional record on the note of what happens when you actually come back to life and the acceptance one faces with their life when they realize they would rather stay living. A truly breathtaking listen.
|5||Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The LSO|
Primary: Third Stream, Post-Minimalism
Secondary: Progressive Electronics, Spiritual Jazz
On the surface, this album doesn’t seem like a lot. A minimal synth cord that repeats itself over and over again. With that comes a third stream style saxophone that seems to come and go when it pleases. However, this album is much more than what it is, it is a near-religious experience. What is on display in this album will surprise you on each listen and have you coming back for more every time you listen to it. For such an odd combination of artists, they come together to produce one of the most intense and introspective jazz albums I have heard in a long time.
Primary: Synthpop, Dance-Pop
Secondary: Chillwave, Electropop, Contemporary RnB
For the last 20-30 years synthpop and dance-pop have sat in a very similar sonic place, and very few people have tried to break free from that landscape. On the debut album from Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin they somehow produce one of the most enchanting, hypnotic, and explorative albums that synthpop has really ever seen (at least since its inception in the late 70s). There is really no better way to describe this album other than it’s like a 2050 disco party that holds you hostage the whole time it’s on.
Primary: Post-Industrial, Darkwave
Secondary: Ritual Ambient, Experimental Rock, Progressive Electronics, Art Pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Ambient Pop, Krautrock
For an album that is nearly two hours in length, it somehow goes by as quickly as a ten-minute EP. The atmosphere created by Italian producer and songwriter Jacopo Incani is truly a work of art. Most of the album feels like you are wandering through an abandoned factory in the middle of the woods. The sun is peaking through the cracks in the ceiling and walls. But as you get deeper and deeper the more your heart starts to pick up. The sound design and progression of this record is really something that everyone should experience, especially if you are a fan of the early synth-pop bands of the late ’70s.
Secondary: Jazz-Rock, Math Rock, Experimental Rock, Art Rock, Noise Rock
On the band's true sophomore LP, they not only build off of what they produced on their debut album “Schlagenheim”, but they create one of the most explosive and historical rock album that has really ever been produced since the grunge scene of the 90s. In many ways, this album is both a celebration of what made rock music so special in the 60s and 70s, while also creating an expansive showing of what can make rock music into the future special again. The bombastic and mathematical noises of “John L” to the Brazilian pop music inspired “Marlene Dietrich”. A truly inspirational and enchanting listen from front to back that all should experience.
We Had Good Times Together, Don’t Forget That
Primary: EDM, Atmospheric Drum and Bass
Secondary: Trancestep; Breakcore; Noise; Hardcore EDM
Through all the time I have been covering Sewerslvt’s music, there has been a progression of sounds and styles that seemed like it would finally hit its apex in the coming years. “We Had Good Times Together, Don’t Forget That” is finally that apex of Junko’s unique atmospheric drum and bass sound, and sadly it comes at Junko’s most heartbreaking and emotional time. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is extremely difficult to get through and this album is the product of that and all I can say is wow. You have to experience this album yourself to fully grasp the sonic landscape that is being utilized, but what I do know is that this album is something extremely special and hopefully will continue to inspire more experimental drum and bass into the future.
|Awesome list! I can tell you put a lot of effort into it which is always nice to see. Not personally interested in most of your top albums, but there’s a few on here I might check|