Top Albums of 2021

This year I said farewell to Berlin, road tripped around southern Germany, and moved to sunny Colorado. Here’s my list of favorite albums that soundtracked it all:

  1. Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime My first concert in over a year and a half, Mdou Moctar did not disappoint. While the guitar playing is undoubtedly the feature, be sure to appreciate the skill of the drummer as well.
  2. Night Beats - Outlaw RnB I’ve been a Night Beats fan for years but until this album, I was convinced I preferred the psych rock of their first couple albums over their more recent soul/R&B sound. This one grew on me more with each listen. They also released a great album of acoustic versions of these tracks and did a Levitation Sessions. I included a track from the latter on the playlist below.
  3. Fuzz - Levitation Sessions Just about any Levitation Sessions release makes for a great listen; most definitely this one. There was also a nice Part II of the OSees Levitation Sessions released this year, but I resisted the urge to include it after having three of their albums on last year’s list.
  4. Fruit Bats - Siamese Dream Siamese Dream is one of my all-time favorite albums. This cover album chills everything out and does every track well.
  5. Buck Meek - Two Saviors I surprised myself by how often I kept coming back to the Big Thief guitar player’s second solo album. There’s so much detail in the lyrics and the melodies are catchy enough to hum to yourself once they infect your subconscious.
  6. Floatie - Voyage Out Floatie immediately reminded me of Palm, another math-rock favorite of mine. I’ve praised their label, Exploding in Sound Records, more than once over the years and Floatie is another good example of the kind of sound I like to have exploding in my vicinity.
  7. Meatbodies - 333 Does this sound an awful lot like Fuzz? Yes, and that’s precisely why I like it.
  8. Na$ty - The Rodez Tapes While we patiently await new Kendrick & Earl Sweatshirt albums, Na$ty was a new discovery for me that scratches a similar hip-hop itch. Boasts like “So ahead of my time I wrote this rhyme last week” flow effortlessly over laid-back lo-fi beats. Dig it.
  9. Charley Crockett - 10 for Slim & Music City USA This year gave us a couple batches of new-but-retro-sounding country songs from Mr. Crockett. I’d love to see him live, but tickets are over $100 each! Maybe I’ll get a copy of each on vinyl and some good whiskey for a night in instead.
  10. Wednesday - Twin Plague There’s always something shoegazey on this list and Wednesday fills that role this year. Droning, swooping, fuzzed out guitars alternating in a loud/quiet dynamic. Yep, this’ll do nicely.

Here’s a playlist with a song from each of the above albums: