I listened to a lot of cool music in 2021. The problem is all the “new” artists I got into were artists who had released albums in 2020. So not only did it fuck this year’s list, it fucked last year’s list too. If you’re curious those bands were Beach Bunny, Vulfpeck, and Khurangbin. Thanks a lot 2020.
The hard part of listmaking this year was I had no road map. I gave up on Pitchfork about a year ago cuz they think they’re so big. YouTube turned out to be helpful. I follow a couple of indie record labels and try to keep tabs on up and coming artists. KEXP’s YouTube channel is incredibly helpful. Those guys r kewl.
And I’m not embarrassed to admit I still check the Billboard Hot 100. Well, maybe a little embarrassed. I say all this and I didn’t end up with that crazy of a list. At least it’s not crazy to me. I’m not crazy. Anyways, here’s my not crazy list.
I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you.
(The featured image comes from the best live performance of 2021: Final Fantasy XIV composer Masayoshi Soken’s rendition of the “La Hee” meme. You might need to hear the real song for context.)
For the second year in a row, I find myself feeling disconnected from the annual top 10 process. I can think of a few possibilities for that, and, first and foremost of them is the fact that I’m in my thirties now and therefore much less cool and getting lamer by the day. But also there’s still this whole thing going on and that prevailing despair definitely effects my mood. Plus, that situation means a lot of media is still getting delayed, cancelled, or changed as we learn to adapt – which ultimately makes the idea of confining years feel less essential than ever before. But now I feel like I’m getting all Neil deGrasse Tyson on you, so I’ll stop and say: check out some awesome music below!
Unlike the past few years, 2021 didn’t particularly feel like a stand-out year for music. The easiest thing to blame this on would be the (still) ongoing pandemic, which continued to disrupt the ecosystem of the music industry in various ways, from artists having to cancel already-rescheduled live dates to indie labels having trouble getting their vinyl releases pressed. It was a year that had a lot of good albums, but only a handful of great ones. Also, it was a year where music felt less essential as we got further into it and we humans felt a little more free to go out and do things with other humans instead of hiding in our homes and hoping a good collection of songs could give us some comfort. Yet here we are, tucked back inside our homes with the cold weather and another wave of the virus raging, while these albums still feel like a suitable respite from it all. Continue reading
Lana Del Rey – Blue Banisters
Since I left things a little open-ended with my short review of Chemtrails Over The Country Club, I feel compelled to at least offer some thoughts on her second album of this year that often felt like a Lana Del Rey song. Blue Banisters also feels like another important chapter in 2021’s saga of Jack Antonoff’s falling from favor as pop’s most reliable producer. As I emphasized in that piece as well as my Solar Power review, I still believe that Antonoff should only be employed by any singer for one album, and then the artist should move on. Blue Banisters proves this theory somewhat, as I’d say that it’s a slightly better album than Chemtrails (though it is a little long) even if the reasons for this mostly have to do with LDR’s songwriting. Continue reading
In a simpler time, back in December 2019, I chose to look back on the 2010s by going in-depth on Adele’s 21, the best-selling album of the previous decade. It was not my introduction to Adele, since obviously she’s been one of the more iconic singers of the 21st century. However, it was my introduction to listening to an entire album’s worth of her songs, and it became pretty clear to me why her albums (and 21 in particular) have been such gigantic sellers in an era when “big event albums” only come around once in a blue moon. Not only does Adele’s music appeal to a pretty diverse age bracket of listeners, but her songs are good! Sure, they may be a little on the melodramatic side, but really no one does drama better and 30 is another testament to that, as much like 21 it sees Adele channeling her real-life heartbreak into another triumph. Continue reading
When Lindsey Jordan released her first album as Snail Mail three years ago, I found myself enjoying a few stand-out tracks while also being a little skeptical that she was the real deal. Though her knack for beleaguered songwriting mixed with a trace of ’90s slackerdom was easy to put on and listen to, there wasn’t a whole lot separating it from other talented singer-songwriters coming up in the indie rock game who weren’t getting quite as much notice. “Valentine”, her new album’s latest single, kinda eradicated that for me. The track shows a whole range of emotions, going from moody and reserved to boisterous and catchy, and the album it kicks off is similarly nuanced, even if it was a little ridiculous to release an album called Valentine in November. Continue reading
Merry Hanksmas! So… the last movie in our Hanksgiving trilogy of episodes took us a little longer to finish. Some of this could be due to how long Cloud Atlas (and the movie we reviewed before it) is, and some of it could be due to the fact that we’re just not very good at scheduling these things. Anyways, just like this movie, we go in a lot of different directions, which includes the movie’s questionable make-up decisions, the movie’s less questionable use of parallel storylines, Tom Hanks’ forgotten pair of Dave Eggars adaptations, and whatever’s going on with Christmas crackers. Continue reading