Another year around the sun. And another year of COVID fun. Reflecting on it all, it really wasn’t all that bad. I know some of you can’t wait to get back to “normal.” I for one don’t think the normality of pre-COVID life was anything to stick a flag into. This year brought growth, in work and play and maybe in more unwanted ways as well (#belly #covidcupcakes haha). But ya, on reflection, stuff & things are moving along and stuff & things aren’t as terrible as they and others may spout them to be.
There is a lot to unpack from 2021 but given this post is about music let’s stick to that. From a music perspective, 2021 was a stellar year. One of the better slices-o-life of our worldwide self-containment experiment of the last couple of years is that musicians took time to make some stupendous albums. And a lot of them did. I know I say I struggle most years to break it down to 10 albums but this year was the most difficult it ever has been. As such, rather than a top 10 as I normally do, you’re getting a top 20. Couldn’t be helped. I trimmed as much as I wanted to go – from over 100 albums, down to 45ish, to 30 and now 20 – ha! To trim anymore is to split the smallest of hairs. Every song on every album below is simply awesome in its own way! So, here we go!
20. Blue Rodeo. Many a mile. Canadian gems. Not a terrible tune to be heard! Favs include: It’s all in your hands, I owe it to myself, I think about you, and When you were wild
19. Julie Doiron. I thought of you. So good. The only reason this album is higher down on my list is that I only heard of it in December! Favs so far include: Thought of you, Dreamed I was, You Gave me the key, etc.
18. Pokey LaFarge. In the blossom of their shade. A few years back I saw Pokey & his gang at the RFF and they blew me away. This is a fun album! Favs include: Mi ideal, Killing time, Get it ‘fore it’s gone.
17. Gojira. Fortitude. I love these fine folks. All songs are epic masterpieces but to pick a few favs: New found, Hold on, Amazonia, Born for one thing, Into the storm, Another world.
16. Descendents. 9th & Walnut. These folks know how to rock it out. What a great album. Favs include: Mohicans, Sailor’s Choice, Nightage, man – all of it!
15. Architects. For those that wish to exist. What a fantastic album. The heaviness is next level. Favs include: Black lungs, Giving blood, An ordinary extinction, etc.
14. Wardruna. Kvitravn. What a super interesting & unique album. I simply love the rhythms and droning beats. From Munin, Kvitravn, Gra, Ni, etc. All fantastic!
13. Brandi Carlile. In these silent days. What an awesome talent. I saw her play on SNL and immediately fell in love with her music. Favs include: Right on time, Letter to the past, This time tomorrow
12. Face to Face. No way out but through. Another fantastic album from one of my all-time fave bands. Favs include: Blanked out, Anonymous, Farwell song
11. Serj Tankian. Elasticity. An EP from one of the best vocalists and songwriters out there. All is there to enjoy as it’s a short EP but Your mom is a definite standout
10. Courtney Barnett. Things take time, take time. Another fantastico album from Courtney and Co. Favs include: Sunfair sundown, Rae street, If I don’t hear from you tonight, Before you gotta go, etc.
9. Bachelor, Jay Som & Palehound. Back of my hand. So very good. Favs include: Back of my hand, Sand angel, Moon, etc.
8. Bloodbound. Creatures of the dark realm. Just a super great head-banging event. Favs: When fate is calling, Ever burning flame, March into war, Kill or be killed, etc.
7. Lucy Dacus. Home video. Super songwriter and musician. Favs: Hot & heavy, First time, Christine, Going going gone, etc.
6. Greta Van Fleet. The battle at garden’s gate. These fine folks are the real deal. Just wonderful. Favs include: The barbarians, broken balls, My way soon, etc!
5. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. When god was great. These folks are gold! Favs: MOVE, I don’t believe in anything, The truth hurts, Decide, etc.
4. The Killers. Pressure machine. The unabridged version with the storyline is so good. Favs: Quiet town, Cody, In another life, Runaway horses, etc.
3. Teenage Bottlerocket. Sick sesh! Gold! These folks I love so very much! Favs: You’re never going out of style, Ghost story, Hello dana, etc.
2. The War on Drugs. I don’t live here anymore. So so so very awesome. Goosebumps every time I listen. Favs: Harmonia’s dream, Victim, I don’t live here anymore, Living proof, etc.
1. Bleachers. Take the sadness out of Saturday night. One truly excellent album. So fantastic. Favs: How dare you want more, Chinatown, Big life, Stop making this hurt. All solid gold and was in rotation much of the year which is why it is my very top pick
0. Bowling for Soup. Getting old sucks. And just because. My favourite song released in 2021 was not any album that was released in 2021 but I’ll have you know, this band, and this song. So fucking great which is why it is here! Here’s hoping these dudes make another album soon – with this tune on it!
And there you have it. There was just no way I could reduce my top 20 down to 10 so here you have 20 solid gold albums, and one solid gold tune, from 2021. What do you think? What are yours?