Best of Music 2021
Published Issue 096, December 2021
Throughout the year this column focuses on local music so here are 40 of the greatest records not from Colorado that made 2021 much better.
Alien Boy – Don’t Know What I Am
Emo goth anthems for the wounded but unhardened heart.
Arlo Parks – Collapsed in Sunbeams
Downtempo jazz pop in melancholic yet hopeful tones.
Armand Hammer & The Alchemist – Haram
Brooding and incisive takes on life under American racism and the ultra wealthy.
Black Dice – Mod Prog Sic
Futuristic, mutant, noise disco bangers.
Buck Gooter – Head In A Bird Cage
Primal, industrial, psychedelic punk born of the American political and cultural wasteland.
The industrial noise 2021 Fear of a Black Planet.
Startlingly poignant folk punk/indie pop record from one of underground hip-hop’s stars.
Deerhoof – Actually, You Can
Eighteen albums in and still showing that pop never has to sound like anyone else.
Dry Cleaning – New Long Leg
Suburban Lawns + 99 Records + cinematic existential poetry = this post-punk greatness.
Enumclaw – Jimbo Demo
Thrilling musical offspring of 90s emo, Dinosaur Jr. and shoegaze.
Firefriend – Dead Icons
Psychedelic doom echoes of falling empires.
Ghösh – Alien Nation
Surreal digital punk/hip-hop from the future of a parallel timeline.
Goat Girl – On All Fours
Jazz lounge krautrock-esque post-punk pop commentary on modern malaise.
Grouper – Shade
Whispery and deeply vulnerable acoustic sketches of paths to personal serenity.
HIDE – Interior Terror
Ragingly brooding and caustic denunciations of internalized oppression.
Indigo De Souza – Any Shape You Take
Multifaceted, mystical, rock and soul pop.
Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee
Heartfelt and tender synth pop swimming in jazz and R&B sensibilities.
Julien Baker – Little Oblivions
Heartbreak, lessons in compassion and psychological pain has rarely sounded so real and gloriously expressed.
Kira – Kira
Dusky, cinematic, gripping vignettes of the human heart from former Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler in her solo debut album.
Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready
Fiery hymnal drones on the destructive habits of human civilization.
Loraine James – Reflection
IDM deep house for dance clubs catering to introverts.
Low – Hey What
Imagine if Tim Hecker and Liz Harris produced another sublime Low record.
Mega Bog – Life, and Another
Calypso, collage avant-pop not short on literary flourish.
Modest Mouse – The Golden Casket
Reconciling angst with faint hope and a defiant spirit manifested as existential psychedelia.
Marissa Nadler – The Path of the Clouds
Hazily luminous musical daydreams of dark personal secrets given voice.
The Narcotix – Mommy Issues
Powerful folkloric tales told in pan-tribal folk dream pop style.
Parquet Courts – Sympathy for Life
Post-punk funk techno fusion and sharp insights into life in the American oligarchy.
Phew – New Decade
Unsettling drones like the voices of ancestral ghosts coming home to shuffle off the abusive colonizers.
Pierce With Arrow – Shatter
Soundtrack to an unrevealed Nicolas Winding Refn horror film manuscript.
Ploho – Phantom Feelings
A deep sense of resignation lit up with a glimmer of hope permeates these melancholic yet bright synth melodies.
Shame – Drunk Tank Pink
“Human, for a Minute” is the most tenderly heartfelt post-punk song of 2021.
The Shivas – Feels So Good//Feels So Bad
Exuberant psych pop in a time of uncertainty and the band’s most joyously focused record.
Sleaford Mods – Spare Ribs
UK hip-hop post-punk brimming with more irreverent attitude and humor than virtually every other band.
Spirit of the Beehive – Entertainment, Death
Warping, layered, mind-altering pop straight from the depths of dreamtime.
Studded Left – Spray Painted Clouds
Gritty, creeping, industrial drone psych.
Tamar Aphek – All Bets Are Off
Edgy, genre swapping, psychedelic prog.
Tropical Fuckstorm – Deep States
Jodorowsky-ite indie noise pop.
Virginia Wing – private LIFE
Strong resonance with Laurie Anderson-esque social commentary and Eurhythmics’ soundtrack to 1984.
Wild Pink – A Billion Little Lights
A deep evocation of the acceptance of the unexpected uncertainties of adult life.
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
A rewarding blend of delicate tonal colorings, saturated atmospherics and an impulse to own the full range of one’s emotions.
For more see queencitysoundsandart.wordpress.com
Tom Murphy is a Denver-based music writer and science fiction/fantasy/horror creator. He is also a musician, historian and itinerant filmmaker.