10 votes

What was the best music you listened to this year?

Any music you listened to this year counts — not just 2021 releases.

What was the best music you listened to this year, and what made it so good?

5 comments

  1. inwardpath
    Link
    Lots of great metal releases this year, among others. There are probably 50 albums I could list, but I'll just toss out a few. Incredible amount of good music being released these past few years....

    Lots of great metal releases this year, among others. There are probably 50 albums I could list, but I'll just toss out a few. Incredible amount of good music being released these past few years. I no longer can even keep up with all the good stuff. Here are a few gems that came to mind naturally:

    Stormkeep - Tales of Othertime | Bandcamp
    Black metal released in 2021 that one could almost easily mistake for a masterful 2nd-wave 90s black metal release in the vein of Dimmu, Emperor, etc. It pays homage without overdoing it and without simply copying the style- it still has its own sense of modern creativity but through a 90s bm lens. One of my favorites of the year.

    Wraith - Undo the Chains | Bandcamp
    Blackened speed/thrash metal with a very classic feel to some of the riffs. This band rips and I found out about them this year and realize what I've been missing. Instantly makes me play air guitar and punch the air when it comes on. Just a hell of a time.

    Chvrches - Screen Violence | Bandcamp
    Well-known synth-pop group that some might consider overly mainstream or generic- but I don't feel that way about any of their albums- maybe it's just because synth-pop speaks to me in some special musical way. Screen Violence even departs a bit into darker territory, with tracks like Good Girls and How Not to Drown (Feat. Robert Smith of The Cure) being standouts for me.

    Lord of the Lost - Judas | Bandcamp
    Gothic rock with an industrial tinge. Fantastic double album with the Judas figure as the lyrical focus. Dark, vague, and with religious overtones but just looking at the figure of Judas, whether fictional or real, and viewing him from many angles and stories, not always in a negative light. The lyricist isn't religious, just fascinated by the character. Heartbeat of the Devil is my favorite track.

    Archspire - Bleed The Future | Bandcamp | YouTube so you can watch them play super fast
    If you're not into extreme metal, this may be a bit tough to absorb. One of the fastest technical death metal bands in existence (300bpm+ sometimes)- yes this genre can be gimmicky- but this band succeeds where many other technical death metal bands fail- songwriting. Not to mention, every single member is incredible at what they do- even the vocalist is fast.

    Now, Now - Saved (not a 2021 release) | Bandcamp
    More and more this album stays on heavy rotation for me. I may soon consider it one of my top albums of all time. This release probably lost them a portion of their fan base. It isn't the indie rock you hear on any previous release. It's very sparse but rich synth and guitar pop that hits me in a way I cannot describe. The vocals fit this style perfectly and I love the lyrics and the atmosphere here- I can get lost in this album over and over. KC has hinted that she may be releasing her own solo work sometime and I cannot wait.

    4 votes
  2. Wulfsta
    Link
    According to my Spotify wrapped, what I listened to the most was Spirit World Field Guide - which is relatively unsurprising to me. The album is a bit hard to get into, and I wasn’t really into it...

    According to my Spotify wrapped, what I listened to the most was Spirit World Field Guide - which is relatively unsurprising to me. The album is a bit hard to get into, and I wasn’t really into it the first time I listened through it. After giving it a few more listens it quickly became one of my favorite albums.

    3 votes
  3. hamstergeddon
    Link
    I'm gonna pluck a few from my Spotify Wrapped list. Darlingside - 1979 | YouTube It's a folk cover of the Smashing Pumpkins song. I didn't exist in '79, but the music video for the original song...

    I'm gonna pluck a few from my Spotify Wrapped list.

    Darlingside - 1979 | YouTube
    It's a folk cover of the Smashing Pumpkins song. I didn't exist in '79, but the music video for the original song has always left me deeply nostalgic for my childhood and teen years. And this cover just takes that to another level for me. Makes me feel warm, fuzzy, and nostalgic.

    The Mountain Goats - Color In Your Cheeks | Youtube
    My wife surprised me with tickets to see TMG in concert a few months back. Vax and masks required, so we felt safe going. It was the first big thing we'd done since the pandemic started and one of a handful of things we've been able to do just the two of us since we had our twins 2.5 years ago. Anyway it turned out to be TMG with just John performing solo and he started singing "Color In Your Cheeks" and the entire crowd started singing along. I had never heard the song in my life, but I loved it and have been obsessed with it ever since.

    A Tribe Called Quest - Can I Kick It? | Youtube
    This was my hype song this year. I spent the summer looking for a new job with better pay and it was a really rocky road. A lot of bad interviews, crappy recruiters, and so many applications sent. For one of the interviews, I put this song on to hype me up and within 10 minutes of the interview ending I had a job offer with a huge pay bump. I've no doubt that the song got me in good spirits and feeling confident. idk what "It" is, but suffice to say I certainly gave it a hard kick.

    2 votes
  4. space_cowboy
    (edited )
    Link
    Olan Mill - Cavade Morlem Lusine - Sensorimotor Jane Weaver - Flock Snarky Puppy - Culcha Vulcha Glenn Gould - French Suites Yosi Horikawa - Vapor Yo La Tango - Ride The Tiger Timo Andres -...

    Olan Mill - Cavade Morlem

    Lusine - Sensorimotor

    Jane Weaver - Flock

    Snarky Puppy - Culcha Vulcha

    Glenn Gould - French Suites

    Yosi Horikawa - Vapor

    Yo La Tango - Ride The Tiger

    Timo Andres - Paraphrase on Themes of Brian Eno <- this one is quite satisfying if you have already fallen in love with "another green world" by Brian Eno.

    Duplessy & the violins of the world - "Petard Chinois"

    2 votes
  5. FluffyKittens
    (edited )
    Link
    This one is very much reflective of my personal tastes, but I've had my AOTY pick since January '21, and I suspect at least a few people on here will like it (even without necessarily finding it...

    This one is very much reflective of my personal tastes, but I've had my AOTY pick since January '21, and I suspect at least a few people on here will like it (even without necessarily finding it AOTY-tier): https://album.link/us/i/1542063139.

    The album is the first LP from Buzzy Lee (a.k.a. Sasha Spielberg), who happens to be daughter of Steven Spielberg. The album isn't innovative in and of itself - Can't honestly claim it pushes any sonic or stylistic boundaries that make it exceptional, nor does it have notably profound lyrics. What I do appreciate about it, however, is sublime execution and production. Every damn song flows smoothly into the next, and the "feel" of the album is consistent without any parts that feel repetitive.

    Digging into the production a bit more, the album was produced by Nicolas Jaar, longtime collaborator/friend of Buzzy Lee and well-established experimental electronic musician. (Side note: he co-produced FKA Twigs' Magdalene in 2019, which has a similar sound.) His influence is quite apparent, and his signature smattering of neoclassical, jazz and dance give the album a much richer flavor than the "indie pop" label would suggest. For anyone interested in checking out his work, he's publicly posted copies of all the studio albums released under his name: https://old.reddit.com/r/nicolasjaar/comments/lauziz/nicol%C3%A1s_jaar_posts_drive_link_with_full/. Highly recommend Nymphs and Sirens as entry points.

    Looping back around to the Buzzy Lee album, I think the lack of standalone, high-tempo singles and the "indie pop" categorization meant many people overlooked it on release. The first four tracks on the album are really a cohesive unit that build on each other into a climax - I'd recommend trying them out blind to get a feel for the whole album before passing judgement, as opposed to hunting for singles (which I suspect is a bit of a default for both myself and other listeners checking out a new artist). Though if you do really want a single, head straight for What Has a Man Done.

    2 votes